April 2009 Archives

Class B AIS filtering, a "meme"?

Apr 29, 2009

I wished I'd clicked on one of those AIS targets before I took this screen shot, so you could see how CE 2009 displays their properties, but our focus (after the reboot affair) was on crossing the Boston shipping lanes in pitch dark and with enough true wind on the beam (reported right at the boat icon from the PB 200) to bounce us around a bit and deposit salt on our windows.  Thank goodness for AIS.  The 277 meter S/S Explorer was lit up like a Walmart super store, and would have been intimidating if we weren't confident that she was anchored or moored.  It was also nice to easily speak with the bridge of the Haruna Express and learn that they could see us fine on their AIS display.  But the best AIS moment came a little later, when a passenger ship exiting Boston hailed us by name on channel 16 to discuss our passing situation.  So what the hell are cruisers talking about when they presume that Class B AIS has little value around big ships?...

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Gizmo Wisdom #1, reboot 'er!

Apr 28, 2009

Notice anything unusual in this photo, besides Gizmo's wonderfully spacious fly bridge (for a 37 footer) and the odd looking RAM-mounted panel (that I had already crafted for Li'l Gizmo and brought along so we'd have the PB200 output up here, and also a 25W GPS-connected DSC VHF onboard)?  Yup, the bezel is off the Raymarine C-120 and that's a screwdriver in my left hand.  Just before we reached Buzzard's Bay (above), the C-120 reported a communication error regarding its DSM 300 sounder module and we then lost all depth knowledge.  Which led to one of several lessons I'm going to start collecting under the rubric Gizmo Wisdom (or GizWis)...

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Airmar PB200 hands-on #1, & into the delivery box!

Apr 22, 2009

I'm once again way behind on testing borrowed products, and my apologies to all manufacturers involved.  The Airmar PB200 Weather Station above is a case in point.  I mentioned how well it feeds NMEA 2000 data to the lab network back in February, and Dan Corcoran shared his beta testing experience before that, but there's a lot more to say.  For instance, I didn't really understand how it delivered both NMEA 0183 and 2000 data -- did it use one of the various junction boxes available to translate from one protocol to the other? -- until I got my hands on the sample.  Now I know that the PB200 flat out does it all! ...

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Garmin GPSMap 640, hands-on #1

Apr 20, 2009

One gizmo that's definitely coming along on the Gizmo delivery is this Garmin 640 beta unit.  In nüvi mode it can navigate the highways down to Connecticut, as it's done well twice already, and I can then reboot it into marine mode for the voyage home, with XM audio and weather available all the while.  The marine satellite weather presentation seems particularly good, as you can see somewhat if you click on the screen above; it's set up so that the Nexrad radar and cloud cover are animated and a finger tap leads to a choice of local forecasts, buoy data, and more, depending where you tap.  But finding a good place for this 18 ounce "portable" on your dash or at your helm may not be easy...

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Gizmo deal for real, thanks to the A team

Apr 19, 2009

It was a bit anticlimatic, but I'm told that on Friday the funds moved, bills of sale were signed, and -- good golly, miss molly -- the Duffy Atlantic 37 formerly known as Rain Dog III is mine!  It was a learning process, for sure.  I may know a fair bit about boats (Lord knows I should), but hardly beans about the intricacies of buying a real yacht.  I'm very grateful for the help of two professionals who also happen to be friends: surveyor Steve Bunnell (above) and broker Dave Perry.  If I ever need a yacht-buying A team again, I'm calling these guys.

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Mandated AIS, an aid to pirates?

Apr 17, 2009

In the screen above I was testing Coastal Explorer 2009 with AIS target data coming in from a shore receiver network via an IP feed.  It was neat to watch the pilot boat rendezvous with a ship inbound to Narragansett Bay, and it showed off CE's ability, like NavSim's, to dead reckon targets (note how it's using COG, not heading), as well as track them and pop up useful info with a mouse click (or finger tap).  But good data and good data presentation like this could be used for very bad purposes.  Despite all the discussion of Somali pirates last week, I didn't hear anything about whether or not they use AIS to rendezvous with their targets...but I'm not surprised that they do, and that the crews thus exposed are pretty pissed off about it!

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Fugawi & iNavX & Navionics & ??, the pieces come together

Apr 15, 2009
iNavX new chart n map choices2.jpg

Wow, isn't an interesting crowd of chart, map, and data suppliers gathering rapidly around the iPhone/multi-other-platform X-Traverse service?  I recently discussed the velocity of this and other iPhone-related developements, but was still surprised to learn today that Navionics is officially on board (Americas charts and U.S. Hotmaps available now, the rest of the world portfolio coming "in the next couple weeks"), that Hilton's Realtime-Navigator fishing overlays will go up on X-Traverse in May, and that "agreements are in place with several other chart manufacturers to bring expanded coverage and choice (raster or vector)."

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Voyager Marine Electronics, squared away!

Apr 14, 2009

If you're an electronics installer who's ever spent hours wandering around a boatyard just to get a bit of wood or metal fabricated -- or the customer who wondered where those hours went! -- you'll appreciate the custom install trucks put together by Voyager Marine Electronics of Essex, Massachusetts. Heck, these guys don't even need to scrounge 110 outlets, as the vehicles are equipped with big alternators, dual battery banks, and Xantrex 3kW Freedom charger/inverters!  Voyager's shop and show room aren't too shabby either...

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Conning displays, another use for NMEA 2000

Apr 13, 2009

It wasn't just pirate drama (hurray for the good guys!) that had me thinking about big ship helms recently.  When I was reading IEC documents about AIS target plotting last week, I came across the nifty "conning display" above.  Even in greyscale it suggests how useful it is to integrate lots of usually discrete vessel data onto one screen.  While I've seen conning displays in the past, and thought that something similar could be useful on even medium size yachts, that thought is particularly intriquing because nowadays every bit of data on this screen could be delivered over a single NMEA 2000 backbone.

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AIS plotting, NavSim style

Apr 10, 2009

At the Miami Boat Show, NavSim Technology was showing some neat AIS plotting features, and yesterday I got them to send some illustrative screen shots.  In the lower right "secondary chart view" above you can see how NavSim uses yellow, green, and red target icons to show moored, moving, and dangerous vessels (a full explanation of AIS icons here, and special Class B icons are coming soon).  You can also see how a user can set an AIS Filter Range, which doesn't actually eliminate any targets but does reduce them to dots (sort of like IMO "sleeping" and "active" targets).  In the main chart window, you can see what happens if a target's CPA and TCPA violate user set minimums; the Alert pops up along with red and purple "ghost" icons depicting the target and your vessel in the worse case scenario (i.e. at the Time of Closest Point of Approach). And there's more...

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