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Monthly Archive: September 2009

5

Intellian D4 HD TV system, first impressions

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One way to know that you’re really getting high definition TV is to stumble on to a close up of Muammar Gadhafi’s face. Holy crap, what has this guy been doing to himself?  But aside from that jolt, setting up and using Intellian’s D4 HD sat tv system went smooth and easy.  Mounted the dome on Gizmo’s boat deck, ran one coax cable to the ACU (the small box top left) and one to the DirecTV receiver; ran a USB cable from ACU to receiver, and an HDMI cable from receiver to HD TV; and finally powered the former with 12v DC and the latter two with 120v AC.  After a few minutes of automatic antenna searching, holy crap I had access to some 587 channels!  (Or so the receiver claims; a lot are pay-to-view, and who’s going to count anyway?)  The amazing thing is that when I switch channels — especially between Standard and High Def — the D4 often has to switch satellites and frequencies, but it’s hardly noticeable.  The pause is about 3-5 seconds in my experience, and that’s quite a technological achievement…

11

OceanLED & Lumitec, better spreader lights

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Temporarily mounted on Gizmo’s scruffy masthead are two pretty neat LED flood lights. At right, facing aft, is a Lumitec Caprera, which purports to replace a 55 watt halogen while only using .9 amp and retailing for about $150 with a 22,000 hour output life.  It’s sealed into a deeply powder-coated cast-aluminum housing, comes with the tilting stainless bracket shown (but not the jury-rig strap), and seems very solidly built.  At left is an OceanLED Amphibian A6, which is mainly meant as an underwater light but somehow dissipates heat well enough through its polymer housing (and Tritonium lens) to be used anywhere. The bracket shown, which can cleverly fix the A6 any which way, is a new OceanLED accessory (though I can’t find it anywhere on their site). Amphibian A6’s draw .5 amp, claim a 40,000+ LED life, and retail for about $330.  To my eyes, and to those of several Gizmots, the Lumitec is a brighter light…

32

EFOY fuel cell, a winner?

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It’s easy to understand why the Newport Boat Show judges chose the EFOY fuel cell as Best New Product (even given an interesting group of nominees).  Those boxes above can automatically charge a boat’s batteries at 600, 1200, 1,600, or even 2,200 watts, depending on model, using just a modest amount of methanol, while apparently emitting just a little noise and damp carbon dioxide gas. But do they make sense on the practical level?

9

FLIR M-Series testing #1, neat dets

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I first saw a working FLIR M-626L thermal camera in Miami last winter, and am keen to try it on my own boat in familiar territory.  Obviously the shot above was taken from my mooring float before the daylight faded completely, but it does hint strongly at what I’ll get at night.  After all, the image seen on the Raymarine C140W above is all about heat, not light. Click on the photo and compare thermal to visible spectrum.  (Note that I added the black marks at top to show the slightly-panned camera’s field of view, and that everything is slightly widened because I used the Ray’s widescreen aspect ratio to fill the screen.)  See how ‘hot’ humans on the docks and even in the distant head-of-harbor park show up clearly, as does the south-facing brick wall of the library and the similarly heat-holding ledges up on Mt. Battie?  When I get a chance to try the FLIR in pitch dark conditions, I hope to see lobster pot buoys — the bane of night running around here — pop out clearly.  In the meantime, here are a couple of neat M-Series installation details…  

25

18″ radomes #5, the 3nm no-one-best-of edition

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Sorry I’ve been such a tease about the radar testing. Since entry #4, the wet edition, there’s only been a mention of dome changes and a peek at Broadband on the new Simrad NSE.  Frankly, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the research I’ve done so far — which includes hundreds of photos and screen shots — and I still haven’t spent enough time underway, particularly in rain and fog, with the four systems currently installed on Gizmo (above).  Patience, please!…

6

Humminbird SI #2, Camden Harbor bottom revealed

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The cropped Google Earth iPhone image upper right shows Gizmo’s location (Google Maps version here) among the strings of mooring floats in Camden’s inner harbor, strings I ran up and down with the Humminbird 1197C now installed on Li’l Gizmo.  Over and over again, because I couldn’t believe the detail I was seeing with side imaging!  There are thousands of Camden Harbor images on the web (including on Panbo), but I don’t think anyone, divers included, has seen the bottom as well as in that bluish half screen above.  Ever wonder how all those 30′ x 6′ two-boat floats stay safe and orderly in 10 feet of water plus 10-12 feet of tide?  Well, that’s my float’s up-harbor 2 ton granite mooring at the screen top left, just west of my northern neighbor’s down-harbor block. You can see not only the heavy bottom chain, and the furrows it’s been digging when tide and wind shift Gizmo around, but even — once your eye is trained — the 6″x6″ skid under the float itself (that straight white line lower left).  And this image was no fluke!

3

On Megunticook, w/ Navionics & Humminbird

Humminbird side scanning chart split cPanbo.jpg

I finally got the loaner Humminbird 1197c installed on Li’l Gizmo, and am pretty darn impressed with its side scanning abilities.  But before I get into that, check out that hi res map of my local Lake Megunticook.  Yes sirree, Navionics recently updated their Premium and Platinum Hot Maps to include the data I helped collect one crazy day last fall.  Frankly, the Megunticook map came out better than I expected.  I know how fast the surveyors criss crossed spots like this, and how far apart their tracks were, but I’ve sonared a few miles of lake bottom right alongside the new map, and have yet to find a surprise.  Going from the old sketch chart to plotting on this level of detail is a giant leap in situational awareness (and possibly fishing success), and adding the side scan view is another big step…

17

HYMAR, can Nigel find the electric drive grail?

E motion components page.jpg

I remember getting excited about Solomon Systems’ regenerating electric sail boat motors at the 2004 Annapolis show, but I never hear about the technology today.  Then in late 2006 I got stoked about the Ossa Powerlite diesel electric system, and even dreamed of having one in a Maine Cat P45 (which went on to become the great P47).  But Maine Cat dropped the idea after testing it on the prototype, and the Ossa web site today shows about the same few customers it showed back then.  Designing a truly practical electric drive system for cruising-size boats, great as it sounds, is clearly not easy.  However, Nigel Calder did his homework on these systems all along — and often was properly skeptical when others, like me, were infatuated — and now he’s put together an A list of companies and earned a $3,000,000 EU grant to develop hybrid marine propulsion. How cool is that?