Category: Wireless & Apps

NMEA to WiFi gateways: TeamSurv's & FloatHub

Jun 2, 2017

TeamSurv_NMEA_Tools_NMEA0183-WiFi_bridge_collage_cPanbo.jpgWhen it rains, it pours (particularly at Panbo HQ this "spring"). NMEA-to-WiFi bridges are quite useful -- mainly for getting basic boat data like depth, GPS, and wind into the wonderful world of marine mobile apps -- and there have been numerous choices for a while. But yesterday TeamSurv started offering an interesting and notably inexpensive new bridge on KickStarter, and the intriguing FloatHub bridge and monitoring system will join it there soon...

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News+: Victron Venus, CruzPro SOG2, DY WindSense, Vaavud Ultrasonic, & Panbo "News+"

Apr 21, 2017

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Victron's new Venus GX is a dauntingly complicated looking blue box, but it could beautifully simplify and improve the monitoring and control of a boat's electrical power system. Essentially, Venus is a Color Control GX without the screen, which makes it less expensive, and it also has extra goodies like 3 tank level and 2 temperature inputs, built-in WiFi, and yet more I/O that hasn't been enabled yet. The Color Control has evolved (and been used) a lot since I wrote about it in 2014, and Venus can do more...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

Mar 26, 2017

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium's least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate's existing communications system...

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Navico Hawks 2017: "Full boat integration into one display cluster"

Feb 27, 2017

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The Miami Boat Show was loaded with marine electronics news, but first let's visit the Navico writers event held at Hawks Cay, Florida, earlier this month. Deeper still - Mercury engine integration, B&G Zeus PredictWind weather routing, the Halo radar VelocityTrack Doppler upgrade, Navionics SonarChart Live everywhere, Simrad's new 3kW 3-channel S5100 super sonar, and Lowrance Carbon (Gen3) MFDs are some of the goodies that were demonstrated and/or discussed. But I was especially taken with CEO Leif Ottosson's opening "big picture" presentation and think it's valuable to anyone interested in the future of boating...

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Nautic Alert, excellence in monitoring and control

Feb 9, 2017

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While my boat, thankfully, doesn't need six bilge pumps like the system above, four months of serious testing has left me deeply impressed with the Nautic Alert bilge, battery and GPS precision sensor platform. Yes, it also manages one pump or many -- probably better than any us ever will -- and it clearly informs a skipper of problems whether you're on board or off. Finally, Nautic Alert regularly assures me that all is well, and it's ripe for expansion. I think I'm in love...

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PanPan CrewWatcher, smart MOB beacon for smartphones, plus Sea Tags & Fell MOB+

Jan 23, 2017

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Does it make sense to use smartphones and tablets for a man overboard alarm and recovery system? I can testify that the first reaction of Sail magazine's Pittman Innovation Award judges was skepticism. Nonetheless we found PanPan's CrewWatcher so well thought out and potentially so useful that we gave it an award in the safety category, and then an independent second set of judges picked it for the Overall Winner. And truth be told, the finished CrewWatcher personal beacons and apps don't actually exist yet!

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Cartography lessons learned searching for the best charts of Cuba

Dec 30, 2016

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Pardon my photography, but the point is that many detailed, up-to-date, and well-crafted official paper charts of Cuba do exist. Unfortunately, they're not easy to own and the good work of the Cuban hydrographic service is also not yet fully available in any electronic form. In fact, many "current" electronic Cuba charts are based on shockingly old data with substantial chunks of critical cruising detail missing. But visiting boaters do have at least one good current chart choice, GeoCuba is moving into the modern world, and the back story reveals chart issues every navigator should understand, with a Cuban twist...

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WilhelmSK app shows what Signal K, good boat WiFi, and smart DIY coding can do

Nov 15, 2016

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Hey, those are all solid-state radomes showing on the 7-inch displays at Gizmo's lower helm, and you'd see a fourth one running on the flybridge. Comparative testing is underway, but today I'm going to write about the rather amazing WilhelmSK app running on the iPad above. It is not only mirroring the Raymarine a77 screen, touch control included, but also neatly displaying lots of NMEA sensor data that's been converted to the app-friendly Signal K protocol, thanks to Digital Yacht's iKommunicate gateway. In my opinion, WilhelmSK is a terrific early example of Signal K's potential and also a testament to Raymarine's powerful WiFi strategy...

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If you want to sail away, free FastSeas weather routing can help

Nov 9, 2016

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If you're looking for a real getaway this morning, or even just an online distraction, FastSeas.com can help. It's also a testament to how much goodness a smart boater/coder can create for his or her fellow mariners these days. And while FastSeas is primarily an online weather routing service for sailors embarking on ocean passages, it's easy and flexible enough that even a coastal power cruiser can benefit...

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Remote Boat Monitoring: here comes Navico GoFree Vessel/Track and Siren Marine MTC

Oct 19, 2016

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While off-boat monitoring was already getting better and more competitive, finally one of the big four marine electronics brands is about to join the fray. Navico's GoFree Connected Vessel concept is not just important because it will be marketed and serviced worldwide, but also because the development team took the time to think out a truly comprehensive system that can potentially serve a wide variety of boaters in multiple ways. Meanwhile team Siren Marine has been building on their years of remote monitoring, tracking and control experience and will soon announce a series of second-generation MTC products that sound exciting. This entry will take a preliminary look at both these systems and I'll soon share testing results on two more...

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