Category: The Trade

NMEA Conference 2015, back-to-back good times with the Big Four

Oct 6, 2015

NMEA Conference Schedule 9-27-15 cPanbo.jpgThose early morning Google Calender notifications above indicate my awesome Wednesday schedule during last week's 2015 NMEA Conference. It's tempting to presume that the back-to-back demo trips around Baltimore Harbor with the Big Four manufacturers mark peak intensity for my career as a marine electronics pundit, but actually the whole industry seems to be in good shape with the pace of innovation quickening...

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Pilot Line autopilot, unfinished business

Aug 17, 2015

Pilot_Line_autopilot_patent_aPanbo.jpgI hesitate to write about a marine technology that isn't an actual product yet, especially when I don't understand it! However, there may be a story here worth telling. At the end of his career, a very experienced engineer came up with what he believes to be a superior autopilot technology, but it will never become available to boaters unless someone new carries the project forward...

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Team Soltero: StarPilot, GMN, RedPort, Bliss & so much more

Aug 4, 2015

Bliss_anchoring_in_Pulpit_Harbor_cPanbo.jpgBehold the 39-foot trawler Bliss about to anchor behind Gizmo in Pulpit Harbor. She's a custom Jay Benford design (based on a Cascade sailboat hull) that already turns heads, but note the cabin top presence of both Inmarsat FB150 and Iridium Pilot antennas (the latter formerly known as OpenPort, and tested for Panbo on VOJ). The serious satellite communications -- and there are more devices less visible -- are because owner/operators Luis and Kim Soltero have spent much of their thirty year marriage creating a remarkable portfolio of satcom services and devices, and they're still at it. Yes, we had a Bliss/Gizmo geek rendezvous and it was a blast...

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Foggy, Brooklin Boat Yard builds an artful automated sloop

Jul 4, 2015

FOGGY_at_BBY_6-2015_cPanbo.jpgMaine is rightfully well known for boatbuilding but the craft was largely dormant when I got here in the early 70's, and it stayed that way for quite a while. In the late 80's many of the talented builders I worked with at WoodenBoat School were doing repairs and restorations. A commission for most anything larger than a sailing skiff was a big deal. But wow, did that change. It's been wonderful to witness remarkably crafted custom vessels launch at yards like Lyman Morse (now also in Camden!), Rockport Marine, and Hodgdon Yachts to name a few. In fact, I only learned on June 20th that Brooklin Boat Yard -- already masters at composite "Spirit of Tradition" beauties -- was working on the extraordinary sloop above...

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SRT acquires Class B AIS patent, consequences uncertain

Jul 1, 2015

SRT_Acquisition_of_Patent_release_clips_aPanbo.jpgFor me, this story began with a March 5th email titled "AIS patent wars - a tax on safety?" It referenced the SRT stock market announcement partially shown above and went on to say:

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SOTDMA Class B AIS, the "new" middle way?

Jun 25, 2015

SRT_5W_SOTDMA_AIS_Class_B_on_way_aPanbo.jpgIt may be a while before we see the first 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver actually available for sale, but it certainly is interesting to see a prototype trumpeted in SRT's Summer 2015 Pulse Newsletter (available here). Given SRT's main role as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), we may first see this "new" AIS technology -- perhaps with even more features -- branded as Simrad, Raymarine, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Comar, etc. (and/or marketed under SRT's own Em-Trak label). Or maybe Furuno, AMEC, Vesper or another of the independent AIS manufacturers will be first out with SOTDMA Class B? I don't know. More important is SOTDMA Class B as a new middle ground between the Class A AIS used on large vessels (which also works on the SOTDMA protocol) and the CSTDMA Class B technology that we're used to...

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Wemar Nautipad, why not e-paper instrument displays?

Mar 29, 2015

Wemar_Nautipad_displays_aPanbo.jpgThey look like excellent instrument displays, especially when you realize that they're portable, wireless, waterproof, touchscreen tablets that rarely need charging and shouldn't be wicked expensive. Unfortunately, though, they're not currently available. I hesitate to write about a discontinued product, but the seemingly well-developed Wemar Nautipad system above could come back on the market if another company wants to give it a go, and e-paper screens seem like an interesting idea for boats anyway...

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Raymarine Chart Store, the Lighthouse format go international

Mar 15, 2015


I heard in Miami that the online Raymarine Chart Store would soon open, but I had no idea how well stocked the virtual shelves would be. It was great when Ray enabled its own Lighthouse raster and vector chart format a year ago even though they only duplicated NOAA's entire free coverage of US coastal waters. Now there are more free charts available -- for other nations that also give their data away, like Brazil and New Zealand -- as well as access to an interesting array of commercial charts...

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Furuno TZtouch2 and FI-70, back in the game!

Feb 25, 2015


Sorry for the blown out screens, but the point of this photo is Furuno USA marketing manager Dean Kurutz, who co-delivered the NavNet TZtouch2 introduction with senior product manager Eric Kunz just like they did with the original NavNet in 2001 -- when I was just getting into electronics writing -- and every NavNet update since. The dynamic duo have been coming to Miami with the company since well into the last century and a lot of their colleagues have similar histories. If you go Furuno you get remarkable management consistency and institutional memory, but that doesn't mean they're old school...

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MIBS 2015: Ocean Signal, ACR, C-Map, Garmin GNX, Lumitec and Veethree

Feb 17, 2015

MIBS2015_Ocean_Signal_James_Flynn_cPanbo.jpgIt's often hard to organize the news from a busy event like the Miami International Boat Show (MIBS), but this year a few of my photos stood out because they also portray the people behind the electronics. So say hello to Ocean Signal co-founder James Flynn, seen here showing off their latest ultra compact rescueME safety devices. The MOB1 personal AIS beacon with its added DSC alarm seems impressively simple to fit and use, and thanks to recent FCC approval, it's now available here in the USA.

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