Category: The future

ARGUS, harvesting depth data the ambitious way!

Jan 13, 2010

The concept is pretty sensational:  The ARGUS (Autonomous Remote Global Underwater Surveillance) system would equip volunteer vessels with a custom WiFi transceiver that is connected to the nav system for GPS and depth, and that can automatically upload the resulting data files (when possible) to a shore server where it's collated and quality controlled before being turned over to NOAA so it can better manage its dredging and charting responsibilities.  If it all works out as hoped, the volunteers might even get the equipment for free and be able to use the WiFi connection for their own Internet needs...

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Trends in marine electronics, your thoughts please!

Oct 21, 2009

I'm working on a January Yachting feature about trends in marine electronics, and I'd appreciate your feedback.  One thing I'm fairly sure of is that multifunction displays have come a long way in recent years, and justifiably dominate the mid size boat market.  I took a solo overnight expedition last week, and had to note again that each of the four MFD/radar systems currently installed on Gizmo is pretty darn powerful.  Especially if you imagine yourself five to ten years back in marine electronics.  Note how the Garmin 24HD radome is imaging and overlaying that low ledge seen off to starboard, without any tuning, and also the NMEA 2000 data flowing onto the 5212 screen (and every other display aboard).  Note, too, the iPhone on the dash -- right then running SailTrac, a trip tracking and blogging program I'll write about soon -- and the Standard Horizon HX850S, which also has a GPS and is ready to call in the cavalry via DSC should I screw up.  There are many trends to consider...

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Raymarine C Series Widescreen, really new

Jan 11, 2009


All hail Richard Brain. While the Consumer Electronics Show, year-end “best new…” lists and patent searches may all offer 2009 marine electronics possibilities, the real deal—mainly a passel of very interesting Raymarine preview products—is being shown at the London Boat Show. And Richard was kind enough to collect brochures, photograph them, and email them to me for your Panbo pleasure. So let’s thank Richard and say hello to Ray’s new “Widescreen” C Series, which is truly different from the original…

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Furuno FLS, the hope lives on

Jan 8, 2009


One enterprising, if anonymous, Panbot has apparently been searching out filings at the U.S. Patent Office, and discovered some interesting recent activity regarding Furuno Electric Co. and Forward Looking Sonar (FLS). You may recall that Furuno previewed the “FL-7000” at the NMEA Conference in 2005, but then scrapped the product, purportedly due to inconsistent performance. That entry and its comments demonstrate well my personal enthusiasm for improved FLS and the current state of the technology (valuable but limited, with ongoing incremental improvements). Well, patents are hard to read, and don’t necessarily mean much, but…

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Best new tech 2008, boat goodies?

Jan 5, 2009


Just like last year,’s excellent Best of What’s New 2008 edit package is rich with tech that might one day trickle up to yachting. For instance, couldn’t a version of the Lexus super wide-angle integrated cameras seen above be useful in docking? How about a satellite able to deliver 1.2 gigabit/second Internet to modest terrestrial antennas, and even modulate signal strength based on its own weather analysis? In the always exciting megayacht toy department are a trio of flying things: the world’s first production jetpack, an easy-to-fly folding-wing float plane, and an amazing RC helicopter. And isn’t Honda’s first-ever hydrogen production car a hopeful milestone? There’s more to be sure…

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New Year's wishes, of the marine electronics kind

Jan 1, 2009


Aside from Panbo’s able crew of regular commenters—some of whom I’ve gotten to know personally, and all of whom I appreciate—the sixty thousand plus unique monthly visitors here are a somewhat mysterious mishmash of marine electronics enthusiasts, product info searchers, and trades people. (Feel free to speak up your own self, and apologies in advance for the somewhat cranky comment system, which will be improved in 2009.) Actually I also personally know a lot of folks in the trade who read Panbo regularly, and have been told that several companies have a designated monitor tasked with passing along relevant entries and comments to management. How 2009/Web 2.0 cool is that? And it means that if you’d like to express your wishes for the marine electronics future, you will be heard. Russ Irwin, proprietor of the data mishmash above, gets the first word (and credit as instigator):

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Golden Shellback, waterproof your gadgets?

Jul 31, 2008

Golden Shellback blackberry

That’s a Blackberry getting dunked in pan of water, which it apparently survives just fine, thanks to a new “vacuum deposited” polymer coating process called Golden Shellback. You can see the CNET video “Waterproof your gadgets” below, Gizmodo filmed a cell taking a call while in a glass of ice water, and Tekzilla had some fun with an iPhone. But I’m a little confused; all these tech sites talk about “waterproof” but Golden Shellback itself clearly calls its technology “splash proof.” Many of us know from handheld VHF history that there can be a big difference.

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Jensen NVX3000PC, a car/boat computer?

Apr 18, 2008


Smaller, faster, cheaper! I’m wondering if some of the new automobile computers, like this Jensen NVX3000PC, wouldn’t work pretty nicely on a boat. You got your built-in GPS, 7” touch screen, 30 gig drive, Windows XP, SD card slot, dual USB ports, 12v and li-ion power supplies…even WiFi and a remote control. There’s also the Azentek Atlas CPC-1000, which apparently adds AM/FM/Satellite/HD audio, a CDRW/DVD/MP3/WMA drive, Bluetooth, and CANbus integration. And no doubt there are others, at least concepts. I don’t know if any of these things are actually shipping, and I’ve heard that states like California are clamping down on how much computing you can do, or visual entertainment enjoy, while driving…which might impede developments. But isn’t some sort of inexpensive, mass market computer going to make sense afloat?

Best new tech 2007, anything for boats?

Jan 3, 2008

Nanosolar PowersheetAt this point in the year I like to cruise around the various “Best of” tech lists, mostly for geeky fun, but also looking for innovations that may eventually trickle down to the boating world. Like’s Innovation of the year, which is this flexible, light, and supposedly inexpensive Powersheet solar panel at right. Nanosolar started producing panels just before Christmas, and I’m wondering if they would hold up on Big Gizmo’s big cabin top? Popular Science has more of interest, including sun block that’s built into hand and face soap. Then there’s PC World’s 25 Most Innovative Products of 2007, where you’ll see a few products already Panboed, like the XO learning laptop, the Amazon Kindle, and the HP TouchSmart IQ770. And Cnet’s Best & Worse tech of 2007, where the “Best smartphone” is the very same AT&T Tilt I saw boat cell guru Jeff Siegel fondling recently (more on the nifty software he showed me coming soon). Plus who wouldn’t want to check out’s top 10 gadgets for the filthy rich, along with its many other lists, including “101…strangest…gadget gift guides”.
   So what lists did I miss, or, more to the point, what new general technologies are going to make boating life easier and more fun? (But please save your “most innovative new marine electronics” choices for a discussion to come.)

Navionics 2008, cruising with Giuseppe

Sep 7, 2007


Yesterday I got to spend a few hours on a Navionics test boat tooling around Bass River, Cape Cod (unfortunately damnable cars and planes were also involved in the trip). A few of us boating writers got to fool with eight chart plotters, and see first hand what Navionics is up to for 2008 (very cool, but I can’t write about it just yet). Another highlight was spending time with company founder Giuseppe Carnevali. This is not the first demo cruise I’ve taken with this gentleman and I’ve come to appreciate his fathomless enthusiasm for cartography, the technologies that make it better, and boating. He’s been a creative force in marine electronics since he and Fosco Bianchetti developed the first vector charts in the early 80’s. Yesterday it occurred to me that with Bianchetti selling C-Map and Darrell Lowrance finally retired, Giuseppe is one of the last of his generation still pushing this field forward. And he’s going strong.