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Monthly Archive: March 2015

13

Wemar Nautipad, why not e-paper instrument displays?

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They 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…

13

Wireless autopilot controls: Madman for Raymarine, Si-Tex SRS-100 for any brand

Madman_ap_control_for_Raymarine_cPanbo.jpgSome people think it’s crazy to run an autopilot with a smartphone, so maybe it’s fitting that a company called Madman Marine is the first to make this possible with Raymarine pilots. But then again Madman’s AP-WRC3iF comes with two fobs that run on a separate wireless frequency and that can also make course changes, initiate autotacks and change pilot modes. And it only costs about $235 U.S. plus shipping from Australia (with the fob-only model at about $190)…

39

AMEC Camino 701 Class A AIS, first with a nearly complete NMEA 2000 interface

AMEC_Camino_701_Class_A_AIS_front_aPanbo.jpgThere are several reasons that a yacht or workboat might want to use an AIS Class A transceiver instead of Class B, even if they’re not required to. With Class A you’ll be seen by other boats from a greater distance because you’ll be transmitting at 12W instead of 2, and you’ll be tracked much more smoothly — particularly if you’re going fast and/or manuevering — because the Class A update rate for dynamic data like position, speed, and heading is much more frequent than Class B. The problem is that the total install cost of Class A can be quite high and especially annoying on a modern boat with a NMEA 2000 network — despite what you may have read on Panbo! — because no Class A truly supported N2K until the AMEC Camino 701 came along (and it’s not perfect yet)…

16

Raymarine Chart Store, the Lighthouse format go international

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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…

47

Shouldn’t our community sourced marine data be open to all developers?

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I’ve been cogitating a lot about crowdsourced depth data lately, including the realization that “community sourced” is a better term. Whatever it’s called, Navionics in particular has made it wonderfully easy to collect and share sonar files and especially wow with the Vexilar integration. But the business stakes are high and thus we have the frustration of Navionics and Garmin butting heads. Upon further contemplation, a wistful thought from that last entry — “Wouldn’t it be great if we could upload our data to some service that would make it available to any chart developer?” — seems not only important to avoiding further messes and helping this technology proliferate, but also quite possible…

62

The Navionics SonarCharts for Garmin conflict, messy business!

Navionics_Garmin_SonarChart_beta_New_Bern_NC_cPanbo.jpgThis screenshot shows the Garmin GPSMap 8212 installed on Gizmo displaying the same crowdsourced Navionics SonarChart bathymetric data that I recently enjoyed improving via the Navionics Boating app and Vexilar dinghy sonar. In fact, all the chart data seen above came from Navionics, even the beta version was fairly usable for navigation (I thought), and the finished chart cards are now for sale. But I doubt that many will be purchased once potential users realize how Garmin is reacting to this development! Navionics and Garmin seem nearly at war, and this entry will attempt to untangle what’s happening. I fear there are no heroes in this battle, and it may even foreshadow further tensions in the critical world of chart and plotter manufacturers…

15

Vexilar T-Box WiFi fishfinder & Navionics SonarChart Live wow

Navionics_Vexilar_SonarChart_Live_skinny_water_cPanbo.jpgThis mid-January screenshot represents a very pleasing experience in marine electronics testing. Thanks to a Vexilar SonarPhone T-Box SP200 and the Navionics Boating app I’m cruising around in my 9-foot dinghy with more than just charting and a fishfinder. I have access to three different chart formats plus a live SonarChart being created as I move along, and the data I’m collecting will be available to my fellow cruisers a week or two later. It sounds exotic, but the total cost was about $250 (iPad mini excepted), installation was fairly trivial, and it all worked quite well right out of the box.