March 2008 Archives

Speeding w/ Simrad, tracking w/ Garmin

Mar 31, 2008


That’s me in the tan shirt, aboard the 34’ Yellowfin (run by pro Mark Maus) that Simrad used in Miami to show off its new GB40 and NX systems. I’d already covered their introduction in PMY, here and here, but still have a lot to learn about their details. The demo trip wasn’t a particularly good environment for studying details, but I did learn that both can keep up a pretty good plot even at 63 MPH! Eventually I’ll write more about the monster install in that center console, but today I want to discuss tracking that personal-fastest-ever boat ride with the test Garmin Colorado that was in my bag.

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Raymarine A60, revisited

Mar 28, 2008


I remembered this Raymarine A60 today because Jim Hebert just did an up-to-date bench test over at Continuous Wave. I tried the unit alongside a Garmin 545S last summer and wrote about it for last October’s PMY. It also came up when the WAAS satellite change happened and I gather from Jim that Raymarine was never able to fix the RS12 GPS that’s bundled with the A60. An expensive fix is possible, but note that it did well in my testing without WAAS, and that the Raymarine A-Series page indicates that its price has dropped a lot since my PMY piece.

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Alpine Electronics, gone boating

Mar 27, 2008

Alpine iDA-X100M

Given yesterday’s Fusion stereo discussion, how about another new iPod-friendly marine system, from Alpine. This time we’ve got a lot of online detail on units like this iDA-X100M. But I’ll note that it is HD Radio “ready” though honestly I’m not really up on what means yet (and I’m out in LD boonies).

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Fusion MS-IP500, really here

Mar 26, 2008

Fusion TrueMarine MS-IP500 grey 

I’ve been keeping an eye out for the new Fusion marine stereo systems since the prototypesimpressed me at METS. Well, they’re not only official as of yesterday’s announcement, but at least the MS-IP500 model above, and bigger here, is already available at West Marine, which apparently has a U.S. exclusive. And the details sound even better than what I heard in Amsterdam.

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Garmin GMI 10, first impressions

Mar 25, 2008


Good things first: some of the display pages available on Garmin’s new GMI 10 are fantastic, at least as gorgeously graphic and data expressive as the official product photos (like the one we used in the April PMY). Check my real world photo of the speed dial above, which can even have those Max and Avg markers something like the useful Max/Min dots seen on the Raymarine ST70. One button step into the menu system and you could use STW (Speed through the Water) instead of GPS, assuming the paddle wheel sensor is on your network, and a little deeper you’ll find a thoroughly annotated list of all your network devices and the ability to choose which you want as a preferred source. And, yes, that screen is exceptionally color rich and well back-lit (using a direct 12v feed, as Garmin chose not to power it off the N2K network). Altogether, and along with the ST70, rich NMEA 2000 data networking plus color screens and processor smarts equals a great new generation of marine instruments. But!

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Bushnell ONIX400, & XM/Sirius merger

Mar 24, 2008


It took a while to get real, but just this morning I received assurance that I’m the list to try one of these intriguing Bushnell ONIX400 handheld plotters capable of receiving XM Satellite Weather and Audio (once they can get ahead of orders and free some units up for the media). It may be oriented to hunters, but couldn’t it be useful to boaters who want a relatively economical way to carry live satellite weather wherever they go? And, besides, how hard would be to add charts to a handheld that can already do topo and photo maps?

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Garmin 4- & 5000, what's in the box?

Mar 22, 2008


It’s fabulous that Garmin is now including, or at least plans to eventually include, a NMEA 2000 17x GPS and starter N2K backbone with its 4000 and 5000 Series networked displays (even if it took almost a year to get it all together). But if I were shopping for one of these units today, I’d be darn attentive to exactly what’s in the box. The switch from 0183 to 2000 sensor systems appears to be in transition, and I don’t know how far it’s progressed or what may still be in the supply chain (or if there is any price consequence {nice update: “no price change”}).

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More ST70, & the calibration conundrum

Mar 21, 2008


Thanks to a loan by the good John Gass of his test SeaTalk wind sensor, I’ve now got a Raymarine ST70 Wind Pod plugged into the lab’s ever expanding NMEA 2000 experiment. The Pod can supposedly gateway “any standard Raymarine wind transducer” onto SeaTalkNG and it was pleasing to see that it does indeed put out a standard NMEA 2000 Wind Data message (PGN 13036). All the displays read it fine. And, as suggested above, the ST70 has splendid graphic calibration and diagnostic facilities that work with the pod and sensor. You can correct the vane offset and apply a speed correction factor, either via an underway guided routine or manually. The ST70 can also query the components for model and serial numbers, software and hardware editions, even node voltage.

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Google marine mashups, the latest

Mar 20, 2008


The old days may be something like the new days, but not entirely! Check out the full screen of this NOAA raster/Google maps mashup; it’s the work of Just Magic, aka GeoGarage, and is not only way slicker than what we saw two years back, but is one of the neater Camden Harbor images I’ve ever seen. Of course it helps that Google has high res photo maps for my area now, and they register so darn perfectly with the raster chart. Try it live yourself, fool with those sliders upper right, search out your own harbor, and perhaps join me with big tip of the propeller beanie to those crazy Frenchmen in their GeoGarage.

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User generated marine content, 1858 style!

Mar 19, 2008


That’s not just an old drawing, it’s a sketch submitted to Mercantile Marine Magazine in 1858 by the chief mate of the ship Forerunner, and it’s accompanied by a detailed description of the spout (height of foam at base: 50’), the Southern Ocean conditions that produced it, and how Forerunner got out of its way! Mate Fletcher’s goal, of course, was to help fellow sailors understand water spouts better, and maybe brag a bit. I came across this bit of history in the most modern and wonderful way. I was Googling the name of a certain European lighthouse that might appear in one of PMY’s photo/chart contests, and one link I got was to the Google Books version of MM Magazine’s 1858 bound edition. And, mercy be, all 384 pages are searchable, downloadable, and fascinating.

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