June 2007 Archives

Data bridging, a good thing

Jun 13, 2007


It may seem nuts that the Raymarine E-Series can input/output data via good old NMEA 0183, SeaTalk (Ray’s proprietary improvement on 0183), SeaTalk2 (actually NMEA 2000), and SeaTalk HS (actually Ethernet)…but it’s a darn good data architecture. For one thing, there are situations where every one one of those protocols will be used to usefully shuffle info around a boat. Plus the E’s (and C’s) do something called data bridging.

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AIS, this 'n' that #6

Jun 12, 2007

ShineMicro Radarplus AIS-BX

From the minutes of the 5/10/2007 GMDSS Task Force meeting, summarizing one portion of the FCC report:

Pending approval of AIS Class B Units: The Coast Guard has approved 4 AIS Class B Units and those same units are expected to receive routine FCC approval which has not yet been released, however.

What the ?!#$?&...

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0183 or 2000, you tell me (& G.)

Jun 11, 2007

Garmin 4212 NMEA I-O c Panbo

This is Garmin’s first reaction to my NMEA 2000 complaint:

We chose to focus on engine data since it’s primarily the only thing that you can get over NMEA 2000 that can’t be provided from another source (either our Marine Network system or NMEA 0183).  Our engineers found a dearth of N2K devices on the market that provided data that couldn’t be obtained in another way.

That’s an odd criteria, I think. 0183 isn’t going away soon, but isn’t 2000 better defined, more reliable, and more networkable? Yes! Above is an illustration of why you might want to get as much data as possible over N2K instead of over 0183. The screen shows some of the 4212’s fine 0183 support—four inputs and two outputs, each with a high or standard speed setting. To use all of them you only have to strip those12 wimpy wires and…

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J/100's, 'lectronically loaded

Jun 11, 2007

J100 electronics loaded lr c Panbo

Spent a long weekend in New York City—big fun—but was feeling old and sorry for myself while driving home from the airport yesterday. Having the second kid (of three) turn 30 and missing some gorgeous Maine boating weather will have that effect! Thankfully, though, my buddy Jack got the week off right, taking me for a spur-of-the-moment sail on his spanky new J/100 this morning. Today was the first time I’ve sailed one—sweeeet!—but I’d already been aboard two of the several that have been commissioned here. I know, for instance, that the first four all got Raymarine autopilots,  along with lots of instruments and C120’s mounted on forward cockpit bulkhead. You can see some of that on Smitten, above and bigger here . So Jack’s boat, with only Raymarine autopilot, wind, and depth, plus a Garmin 545 (I think, not installed yet), is relatively “old school.” All pretty amazing for boats that are essentially 32’ day sailers.

Garmin NMEA 2000, not really!

Jun 8, 2007

Garmin N2K(2)

The damn devil is in the damn details. Imagine my disappointment when I hooked a whole network of Maretron sensors into the Garmin 4212---no patch cable needed, much plug'n'play goodness expected---and got NOTHING! I can still scarcely believe it, but when I checked the installation manual, I learned that Garmin is hardly supporting NMEA 2000 at all. The page above says, "The GPSMAP 4000/5000 series unit...can receive data from a NMEA 2000 network...to show engine specific information...Also, the unit can receive heading data..." That seems to be it; no other standard data understood, and no data going out. Garmin even screwed up plug'n'play, for some reason needing "Device Instance" and "System Instance" specified, which I've never seen before.

In short---aside from using the right connector, and the right name---Garmin is not even close to supporting NMEA 2000 in the way we've come to expect from Simrad, Raymarine, Lowrance, and others. I am so disappointed.

Garmin's new XM Weather, first impression

Jun 7, 2007

Garmin XM weather c Panbo

I’ve got the new Garmin GXM 31 hooked up to the 545s, and am once again impressed with how deep this “product line refresh” really went. I’ve tested Garmin XM weather on several devices over the years, and saw the interface get better and better. But they threw a lot of it away in favor of an easier, if less tweakable, presentation. For instance, the only control you have over the main chart overlay above is weather on/off, Nexrad animation on/off, and legend on/off. But the data selection is good (yes it rained shortly after that photo), and for more weather you go to the main Information menu where you’ll find a selection of weather presets, each modestly tweakable from the menu key. I didn’t have the manual at first, but pretty much figured out all the possibilties on my own.

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Purosol Screen Cleaner, wicked good

Jun 6, 2007

Purosol c Panbo

The joke going around edit circles after Purosol’s press release about its super duper Sport/Marine screen cleaner—which purportedly is “non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, contains no CFCs, no detergents and no solvents of any kind”—was “sounds like…water!” But it’s not so. In fact, I tasted it (what we do for you people). More important, I’ve tried it now on about five screens, all with possibly fragile coatings, and it not only cleans better than the standard suggestion—which is water—but it leaves a smooth non-static coating that you can feel but not see.  It is not cheap at $7.95 per ounce bottle, microfiber cloth extra, but, man, it does the job. Available direct from Purosol, and soon, I would hope, from your friendly electronics outfit.

Najade, lovin the old Furuno

Jun 5, 2007

Najad helm

My buddy CharterWave Kim took these shots at an Italian charter boat show, and I thank her for passing them to Panbo. Najade’s dishwasher-size radar is an oldish 1965 Furuno FR2010, which apparently still works fine…at least after its three minute warm up. Furuno may even still have parts (tubes!?) for it. That’s a Furuno policy that many owners appreciate almost as much as the performance. I mention it because I was bit shocked last week to see a Raymarine customer note stating that they are “sorry to say but we can no longer repair or provide parts for the ST 80 system.” Which seemed pretty harsh, as the customer says he installed his ST 80 instruments new in 2001.


Wetter Infobox, smart design

Jun 4, 2007


Back to business and a big thanks to Roy Mevers, Electra’s professional skipper and a freelance offshore racing navigator, for showing me this little cutie. Who knew? Inside that box, which is maybe four inches long, is a dual channel Navtex receiver, a ferrite rod antenna, and a re-chargeable battery. It can run three days on its own and has enough internal memory for “762000 indications”, which I’m guessing means characters of Navtex weather reports, nav aid warnings, etc. Plug it into your computer via USB and the batteries charge while you can use any web browser to access the reports, and control the receiver, via an attractive master page living in the box. Apparently the instructions simply explain how to make a shortcut/favorite to the box, and thus the Wetter Infobox can work with Windows, Macs, even Linux, no software needed, or even power and antenna cables. How smart is that?

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V2, up & running

Jun 4, 2007

State of Panbo

Woohoo, Panbo V2 is live. In fact, the switchover happened faster than anticipated, actually when I was still out on Electra (good times). I thought I had until late Sunday and thus ended up working Saturday night dealing with various issues. It turned out that my Web guru Lee was also working those weird hours and so was the HostMySite support staff (five calls so far, each answered almost immediately by a knowledgeable human…wow). Big thanks to all.
   I still haven’t finished the About and Feature pages (don’t look), and the “suggest” e-mail link isn’t working right now, and I’m sure there are other issues. Please e-mail me here if you spot one. The good news?

  • Movable Type 3.3 handles spam comments better so I’ve again made it possible for readers to speak up without authentication. (If you have Type-Key, though, please use it for instant posting; plus I can add “trusted” to your ID and you’ll never have a comment rejected even if you get rapping about Viagra or whatever).
  • The features page is going to be a good place to put more standard Web pages, like all the system lists/diagrams some of you contributed in March. I also hope to post some of the electronics articles that aren’t yet online elsewhere, and maybe get into in depth reviews, etc.
  • The possibility of direct advertising support, managed by BlogAds, means I may get more time for projects like that, not mention paid better what I already do here. Of course, your support of Panbo supporters (and Google advertisers) is what really makes the whole wheel spin. Thanks for that.