June 2009 Archives

Wireless N2K wind & more, Tacktick style

Jun 30, 2009

Mission accomplished!  I tried integrating a Tacktick wireless sensor and display network with a NMEA 2000 sensor and display network, and the results were quite good.  The depth seen on the remote above is coming from a Maretron DST100 in Gizmo's bottom.  The Micronet system is also getting Heading, Speed through Water, COG/SOG, and more from the N2K system, which it can display and/or use for True Wind calculations.  Meanwhile -- and perhaps coolest of all -- all displays on the N2K backbone are getting Apparent Wind info from the wireless Tacktick wind vane I simply clamped to Gizmo's mast...

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NMEA 2000 opens up, in a Dutch attic!

Jun 29, 2009

I love this photo.  It may look messy, but not only is one man's fine N2K+++ yacht system being tested here, but the standard itself is getting explored, possibly to the benefit of many boaters.  This is Kees Verruijt's attic somewhere in the Netherlands and, as explained on his new Yacht Electronics blog, that Commodore PET is the "PC" he first learned programming on back in 1979.  The rest of the gear is going on Merrimac II, a Stadship 56 now under construction that Kees and his family have obviously put a lot of thought into.  Kees wants to extend the usefullness of his NMEA 2000 data system, even to his iPhone, and he's had to go to some serious trouble to do so...

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Mcmurdo Fast Find PLB, Ritter tested

Jun 24, 2009

If the remarkably small and inexpensive GPS-equipped Fast Find PLB also works very well, what does that mean?  My guess is that it makes McMurdo king of the PLB hill, at least for a while, and that it will give pause to folks who are considering the Spot messenger at least in part as a safety device.  And who's the guy we might trust most to judge Fast Find performance?  That would be Doug Ritter, majordomo of Equipped.org, who has a long record of thoroughly testing safety devices.  In fact, it was Ritter, and a large team he assembled, who painstakingly quantified GPS problems with an earlier McMurdo PLB in a test program that ultimately forced the company to recall and update the units...

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Scanstrut Deck Pods, & a U.S. warehouse

Jun 23, 2009

The U.K. company Scanstrut has been making all sorts of radome mounts and similar gear since 1986, and I know I'm not the only one who's admired their smart and handsome engineering.  I learned at the Miami show that they were working on a line of universal electronics pods, and today that line is not only official, but a few nice new design twists are revealed.  For instance, the preview literature for the Deck Pod above -- meant to mount MFDs up to 15" on fly bridges and the like -- illustrated its heavy duty silicone gasket and other features, but showed a mount that "only" swiveled.  Well, look what they came up with for the finished product; apparently you can just unlock that lever and position the ball-mounted pod however you'd like. Nice!   I've long held that such view flexibility can make displays more useful in varying light conditions, and I've often proven the postulate using RAM mounts, but this looks like a truly elegant solution...

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Ship Finder, networked AIS for the iPhone

Jun 22, 2009

Should I rename the blog iPanbo?  I know I've been focused on these marine apps a lot, but, as noted just last week, the developement velocity is awesome.  I first heard about Ship Finder this morning from the good gCaptain, who is working on a similar app (with more of a professional slant, natch), and judging from Ship Finder's web page, I didn't even think it was Apple approved yet.  But I learned otherwise when the enthusiastic developer showed up here, had copies running on iPhone and Touch in minutes, and, wow, it's good.  This, mind you, is not AIS as presented on iNavX, which functions like a little plotter; this is AIS web style, collected from multiple shore receivers, plotted on Google maps, and often annotated with much more info than what is actually sent over the AIS system.  I hadn't realized how usefully these "live" AIS feeds could work with an iPhone's display power, portability and always-on internet connection...

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Radar teases: Garmin goes big, Panbo gets wet

Jun 21, 2009

Thanks to Rich Owings, who runs the excellent GPSTracklog site, we now know that Garmin will soon introduce four new open array radars.  The photo above comes from deep within the FCC equipment authorization database (sorry, linkage not possible), where anyone as patient as Rich might have discovered that four new Garmin radars were granted approval on Friday.  The model designations are GMR 604, 606, 1204, and 1206 -- which strongly suggest that they range from a 6 kW 4 foot array to a 12 kW 6 foot unit (hello, big yachts and sport fishermen) -- and which will probably be sold in two parts like Garmin's existing open arrays.   But what the heck is "xHD"...?...

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Wind Meter app, & iPod Touch bluetooth

Jun 18, 2009

iPhone folks will notice that the one I'm holding above is upside down.  That's because the Wind Meter app shown uses the sound of wind passing over the iPhone's microphone to measure its speed.  And -- would you believe it? -- it actually works.  I was out testing and photographing the NMEA 2000 wind rig early this morning and thus could compare Wind Meter to a consensus of five high quality sensors mounted just a few feet over my head.  No, it's not as accurate or responsive as they are (especially flaky under 3 knots or so), and it apparently can't handle speeds over about 25 knots, but still...

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Broadband Radar now shipping, installs neatly

Jun 16, 2009

Navico Broadband Radar is apparently meeting its promised "Q2" shipping schedule, and I'm already impressed with the install details.  Above you can see how a waterproof gland fits over the scanner cable -- which is just a bundle of Ethernet and power wires -- before it's screwed to the interface box.  If the ultimate destination is a Simrad NX or a Northstar 8000i, you then run a proprietary serial cable to the 'comms' port, while Lowrance HDS units use a proprietary Ethernet cable to that orangey 'network' port.  It all went together quickly and feels solid...

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SpeedWatch, wireless wireless STW

Jun 15, 2009
SpeedWatch_rowing_cPanbo.JPG That's my goose-bumped knee and I'm rowing at 2.2 knots through the water, which is my true speed in terms of performance, as opposed to speed over ground (SOG), which would be my true speed in terms of getting somewhere.  The distinction relates to endless discussions about what true True Wind is, which depends, but more relevantly to that JDC SpeedWatch strapped to my thigh.  It would be a fairly unremarkable gadget if it was a GPS (showing SOG) but in fact it's listening wirelessly to a tough little transmitter under the boat's bow seat, which in turn is wirelessly collecting STW data from a tiny magnetized propeller mounted on the hull a few inches away...

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NMEA 2000 AIS, not yet right!

Jun 12, 2009

Yesterday I fired up this sample Simrad AI50 Class B AIS transponder and found it to be pretty much as self-contained and impressive as I'd hoped.  I attached one of my boat's VHF antennas, deployed the AI50's included GPS antenna, gave the unit a little 12v juice (just 8 watts at 100% screen brightness), and, voila, Gizmo was transmitting its position and plotting other AIS targets, including another Class B I had set up as "Panbo.com Lab".  A full AI50 entry will follow, but first I'll report on its SimNet/N2K output.  I was excited about how easily NMEA 2000 could feed the AI50's target and GPS info to all devices on the network, but nervous about that how well 2000 currently handles the data (nobody has yet tried it much). Both feelings were justified...

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