November 2006 Archives

NavSim, new products for sailors and pros

Nov 30, 2006

NavSim SailTimer cPanbo

It’s hard to make out until you view the bigger image, but this screen is a Google Map demo of an interesting utility that can guesstimate an ETA for a boat that’s tacking into the wind. It was originally developed as SailTimer, but is now going to be incorporated into a new SailBoat Edition of NavSim’s BoatCruiser. I think that full-on routing modules, like RayTech’s and MaxSea’s, can provide this same sort of real life ETA, based on weather forecasting and a boat’s performance data, but maybe I’m confused?
  Starting yesterday at the WorkBoat Show in New Orleans, NavSim is also previewing a new version of NavCruiser Pro that uses C-Map Max Pro charts. Prior to this product, the Pro format—which looked very powerful in a presentation I attended at the NMEA conference—was only available on the Northstar 8000i, a system I gushed about last year, but is only now coming to market (there were some problems). At any rate, I flew down to New Orleans today, mostly for a Charles Industries product introduction, but plan to visit the Show tomorrow (anything particular I should check out?). Which is why there’ll likely be no Panbo on Friday, but I may get to see NavSim’s latest.

Freezer Safe, minding the box

Nov 29, 2006

SetSail Freezer Safe

Here’s a useful and inexpensive gadget that was just introduced by the good folks at Just a little bigger than a pack of gum, it will apparently “record and store high and low temperature for 100 days, 100 hours, or 100 minutes”, thus helping a boater “optimize box temperature for best trade-off in food longevity vs. temperature” (not to mention power consumption).

Tiki Navigator, worth a look see

Nov 29, 2006


It’s worth checking out this screen shot in all its colorful pixels. Tiki Navigator is slowly gaining a devoted following, largely for its clean and attractive interface. I made this screen show some interesting options like the context sensitive help windows and the function key map, but they disappear completely if you want them to. Tiki only shows raster charts, but otherwise seems to have a lot of features, depending on the version you choose, all reasonably priced.

A new Nexus, and new systems

Nov 28, 2006


At METS it was announced that Nexus Marine, once a part of Silva, is now an independent operation. This won’t matter much in the U.S. where the gear has been marketed under the Nexus brand for some time (it’s a long story). What will matter is the two new instrument systems that Nexus previewed: the NXR, “unashamedly aimed at the international racing circuit and superyacht sector”, and the NX, “high-quality, compact instrumentation for the cruising sailor using technology usually associated with high-end racing systems”. The NX features a wireless connection to a (rather wild-looking) masthead wind sensor, which Nexus terms “wireless where it makes sense” (take that, TackTick!). Details should be revealed at the Miami Boat Show. In the meantime, I thought Nexus’s Web explanation of wind shear and its T.R.U.E. calibration system interesting (click on “Read more” at bottom right of main page).


Zenarc 10" touch screen monitor, in the field

Nov 27, 2006

Here’s a report from a Panbo reader (thanks Ron!):

Xenarc 1020TS web - frontI've been evaluating Xenarc's 10" touchscreen monitor for the past two months, having purchased it from Xenarc Direct thus taking advantage of their reasonable return policy {ed: Captn. Jack also has a decent policy}. Unfortunately, the first monitor proved defective but Xenarc replaced it quickly. It's connected to a laptop below decks running a Nobeltec navigation program. Also, Milltech's AIS unit is connected and displayed.

It's mounted at the helm of a sailboat and the screen's 500 nits is quite visible under all conditions, but keep in mind the bimini is always kept up. The monitor isn't waterproof as it has an open grill but the substantial aluminium case and 8 watt power demands make sealing the unit possible. A mouse GPS makes the system independent of the existent Raymarine radar/plotter system. The best part is that its $600 price makes it quite reasonable to be used as a redundant navigation system.”

Big trouble in the Southern Ocean, but the electronics work

Nov 24, 2006

Alex Thomson Hugo Boss

While doing 18 knots 1,000 miles south of Cape Town yesterday, Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss experienced canting keel failure, nearly capsizing. At the crack of dawn this morning another racer, Mike Golding, pulled off a remarkable single-handed rescue, then hours later, lost his own mast! Despite all this, both skippers seem to be in regular sattellite phone contact. The story is unfolding here.

Pentax Optio W20, another waterproof digital camera

Nov 24, 2006

PentaxOptioW20 in glass of water cPanbo

The family’s giddy after the Thanksgiving feast, and so yours truly is showing off his new (birthday present!) Pentax Optio W20 by making it take pictures while dipped in a glass of water. I’ve been fooling with this “ultracompact” camera for a couple of weeks now and think this review from down under is on the mark. And the W20 suits my tastes better than the Olympus Stylus 720 I tested last spring; the USB port is a standard ‘mini’ style, the LCD seems brighter, and at least I can see what speed/F-stop the thing is using. It also takes amazing VGA 30fps QuickTime movies, using some sort of digital stabilization. But I am curious about Canon’s new PowerShot SD800 IS, which has real image stabilization (I like taking snapshots in natural low light), and quite possibly better image quality. Below—and cropped, but full pixels, here—is a shot taken in Amsterdam overcast (F3.3/1/400th/ISO 64/auto everything). Nice canal-side digs, what?

PentaxOptioW20 Amsterdam2 cPanbo

KVH M3 earns award, and competitor

Nov 22, 2006

King Control 9815-RJ Sea-KingAt METS, the DAME awards electronics category was deservedly won by KVH’s M3 satellite TV system, a product that impressed me big time when tested last summer. But the little M3 now has a competitor worth noting, the King Control Sea-King 15” Saltwater Dish at right. It’s the same size, claims the same tracking abilities, but, unlike the M3, can receive HD and local DirectTV, even work with other service providers. It also has dual LNBs making it easier to feed two TVs, and it’s significantly less expensive. On the other hand, the M3 comes complete with a 12v combined controller/receiver (you provide the receiver in a Sea-King system), and a Panbo reader reported today that a KVH tech assured him that they’re working on a retrofitable HD/local M3 upgrade. Game on!

By the way, KVH did a great job blogging METS, which I got a particular kick out of as it was a certain KVH exec who—years ago, at a big Miami trade party, in almost classic “plastics!” fashion—advised me that blogging might be a great way to capitalize on my marine electronics obsession. I’m grateful for his encouragement (I think). Here’s wishing everyone here in the States a fine and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday. 

Optea XLMulti, a boat projector?

Nov 21, 2006

Optea projector

Here’s a novel idea seen at METS: a marinized, 9–28v digital projector (front or back) meant to show multifunction nav data in the cockpit or—just swing it around—a big screen movie in the salon. The potential simplicity, not to mention lack of wires and weight, is intriguing, but I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering if any projector can overcome direct sunlight. (Plus, you know the kids are going to make wolf & bunny shadows on your plotter). My sense was that Optea has not yet put the XLMulti into full production, possibly awaiting investors or partners. Your move!

Optea cockpit

State of Panbo, Mea Culpa edition

Nov 21, 2006

State of Panbo

Due to a spam attack and a resulting warning from Panbo’s server host, I had to cut off all but TypeKey validated commenting today. I have a guy working on this and other site issues, but the spammers worked faster. Your comments add a lot to Panbo, so please consider TypeKey, which is easy, free, and ‘pseudonymous’ (“meaning that no personally identifying information is required”).
  And, while I’m tossing out Mea Culpas, here’s a big one for everyone patiently waiting to see their product discussed on Panbo, products I’ve borrowed, or asked endless pesky questions about. Got backed up; sorry!
  Then there’s my last State of Panbo, nearly two months ago, in which—just before flitting off around the world—I solicited possible sponsers for a redesigned site, and then didn’t even respond to some of the interested parties. What a sorry bonehead!