March 2009 Archives

The next Gizmo? Talk me down!

Mar 13, 2009

So it turns out that within my big old head still lurks the boat lust of a younger man, even when confronted with tangles of wires and other system complexities. No problem, I thought to myself, I can deal with this stuff!  But was that the irrational voice of a love stricken boy speaking?  I've been missing from Panbo for a couple of days because en route to NYC yesterday I checked out a boat I'd been admiring online...and fell much deeper under her spell. Today I've been consulting trusted advisors who know more about this sort of boat, and the used boat buying process, than I do. And I'd like to know what Panbots think...

Continue Reading

FLIR M-Series, "game changing"?

Mar 11, 2009

FLIR_M_Series_w_controller.jpgNo, the new FLIR M-Series and its controller are not the same size, but here's my attempted graphic point: That sexy dual-payload pan and tilt camera casing -- at only eleven inches tall -- is smaller than your eye might presume. While that's still taller than the competitors' search light casings, the M-Series can pan +/-90 degrees, has a horizontal swept volume equal only to its seven inch maximum diameter, and it purportedly still fits under most open array radar scanners. FLIR spent a lot of time developing this casing for the mid-size yacht market, and intends it as a platform for future developments, but the big news in Miami was that the initial M-626L model sports a 640 x 480 pixel thermal imager. Now that sounds pretty low res by current video camera standards, but in the thermal world it's such a big deal that the government puts certain limitations on its use...

Continue Reading

Vessel monitoring, Krill style

Mar 10, 2009

If graphing, say, wind speed or depth data on a little Garmin GMI 10 is useful -- which it is -- how about visualizing every desired vessel sensor trend on a big monitor?  Krill Systems has been showing off demo screens like the one captured above and intends to include the feature in a coming update of its SoftDisplay. And Krill has kept past promises...

Continue Reading

Garmin GWS 10, hands on #2

Mar 9, 2009

I'm pleased to report that wind speed and direction data from Garmin's GWS 10 NMEA 2000 wind wand shows up fine on all the N2K instrument displays and MFDs in the lab.  (There is a small problem with the GWS's air temp and pressure data, which Garmin will probably fix quickly.)  The only oddity is a substantial response lag on the Raymarine ST70 (but I understand that a major software update of that unit is coming soon). Using the GMI 10 or a Garmin MFD like the 5212 you can correct the vane's offset (if the masthead install wasn't perfect) or dial in speed and direction dampening factors if you don't like the "auto" modes (I do, so far). Aside from the ST70, all displays responded instantly to such calibrations.
    While it's nice that sensor/display mixing is possible, Garmin deserves applause for the wind screens it created for the GMI 10. The Garmin coders might consider "borrowing" that rectangular gauge design from Raymarine -- which makes maximum use of the screen -- but Raymarine, and Maretron, ought to "borrow" a lot from Garmin...

Continue Reading

Furuno SC30, NMEA 2000 every which way

Mar 6, 2009

Furuno USA has finally released the SC30 Satellite Compass, after putting it "through strenuous testing" and "modifying the software to meet our testing requirements."  Heck, I thought it performed phenomenally well last June.  The SC30 is NMEA 2000 device, and an interesting aspect of its launch is Furuno's excellent PDF diagrams illustrating all the ways it can be installed.  Today I recommended the Installation Guide in the back of the Maretron catalog as a good reference on N2K wiring, but it does tend to portray 2000 backbones in a more linear way than they really have to be. In the diagram above, for instance, the Furuno FI-50002 junction box is serving as the the entire backbone, power feed and terminators included, and all the other devices are being dropped off (to the 6 meter max). The diagrams also reveal a Furuno translator box developement they haven't talked about yet...

Continue Reading

Paradox Marine security, Miami demos

Mar 4, 2009

Marine WatchMate
is a boat security system that can include up to four cameras which can be monitored on board, on a computer ashore (via the Internet), or even on certain cell phones. The cameras can be IP based, or regular analog pushed through an A/D converter. The one I saw demoed in Miami, above, was analog and it worked fine, but apparently the IP cameras can even be panned and zoomed from your cell or PC. What a world...

Continue Reading

Save the buoys! GoMOOS!

Mar 3, 2009

GoMOOS sounds like some sort of Maine college cheer, but is actually the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, a nonprofit I appreciate for many reasons, but most especially its Penobscot Bay Weather Buoy F01.  I love Buoy F.  Whenever I want, it offers me near real time wind, sea, current, temperature, and even visibility conditions, plus trends for each over the preceeding hours.  Which I use to reality check the current marine weather forecasts, and thus often make better informed decisions about what sort of boating I can do.  Meanwhile GoMOOS data is helping to improve the weather prediction models, and advancing ocean science in many other ways. Good sensors are so important. Just like on a boat, the fancy screens (or fancy forecast graphics) don't mean much without accurate data feeds. So why the hell are GoMOOS and other regional weather buoys are getting pulled for lack of (fairly trivial) maintenance funds? And would you believe that I came across a pretty good answer on the Comedy Channel?

Continue Reading

Raymarine ST70 Plus, super all-in-one?

Mar 2, 2009

We had a peek at the ST70 Plus a while back, but I got to see them on the water in Miami, and, besides, there's a hot conversation going on about ideal instrument displays over on the forums (warning: gobs 'o' geek talk). My photo --- taken in glaring Florida sunshine, with on-screen crap you normally don't notice included --- doesn't do justice to the display's brightness, VGA resolution, and deep color saturation, but it might actually be more realistic than the glamor shots now available at The latter do, however, show many of the Plus's display choices and color palettes. Or "Colours" as they spell it in the King's English, and as mentioned in my shot above. Which does illustrate a bit of the system architecture I was originally confused about (and which is also explained in the now posted manuals). It seems like a flexible and powerful architecture (and hence inherently confusing), and probably a winner...

Continue Reading