December 2010 Archives

Gizmo 2010-2011, Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2010

I was happy to do some late season cruising and electronics testing on Gizmo this year, and am also happy that she's snuggled high and dry under shrink wrap now that winter -- including at least a foot of the white stuff -- is really here.  But something I'm really excited about in 2011 is my plan to take the boat south next fall.  Oh, I don't intend to stop working; in fact, if the manufacturers continue to cooperate with what may be the industry's longest testing program,  Gizmo's flying bridge will look fairly similar to what I put together this season. (Which, come to think of it, I haven't shown off until now; click above for a bigger image, and be assured that I have hundreds of screen shots yet to sort through and write about.)  The thought of a long gunkholing, blogging, and boat-show-ing circuit to, say, Charleston and back is sure motivating me, though...

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Class B AIS filtering, the word from Dr. Norris

Dec 28, 2010

Why not ask the man who wrote the book?  Dr. Andy Norris writes authoritatively about ship level electronics for the Nautical Institute and Digital Ship; has chaired IEC Technical Committee 80 on maritime navigation since 1992; once worked as Technical Director for Kelvin Hughes and helped start ChartCo; and is himself a sailor who's earned an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certificate.  Plus he's helped Panbo readers (and writers ;-) better understand the limitations of Class B AIS before.  So when I recently attempted to deconstruct the notion that watchkeepers can use filtering tools built into new ship radars with integrated AIS tracking to completely ignore Class B AIS targets, and then found indications that it is sort of possible, I asked Dr. Norris -- whose IEC committee wrote the spec -- to please "clarify just what's permitted in terms of AIS target filtering."  The issue, he warned me, "is more complex than it looks"...

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ShipFinder iPhone/iPad giveaway, Happy Holidays

Dec 27, 2010

One of several things I like about the latest (2.29) version of the Ship Finder HD AIS viewer for the iPad is that when you zoom out you'll see available targets grouped by the shore receivers that Ship Finder's developer ("pinkfroot" is its unusual name) currently has access to.  Some users seem to have a hard time getting the concept, but as I've written before, "the most important thing about a remote AIS viewer -- be it on the Web, or an iPhone, or wherever -- has to be the data feeds it uses."  Pinkfroot now also has a free Web viewer that shows the same data feeds.  The truth is that coverage around much of North America is pretty darn spotty and will stay that way until more of us set up receivers and give the data feeds to Pinkfroot and all the other developers who rebroadcast it for public enjoyment...

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Vesper Marine anchor watch, Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2010
anchor- watch.png

The Vesper Marine WatchMate 850 Class B AIS transponder, which just received FCC approval this week, is already a very interesting product, as discussed here on Panbo in September.  But an extra feature that hadn't been developed back then, and still isn't mentioned on the Vesper site, is the ability to use the unit as an anchor watch.  And it can be an especially effective anchor watch thanks to the intrinsic nature of AIS and the WatchMate's particular characteristics...

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Wreck of the Lady Mary, so many lessons

Dec 21, 2010

When I came across the New Jersey Star Ledger's finely reported series on the sinking of the scallop dragger Lady Mary, I didn't stop until I'd finished all five chapters, watched the video, and done some further research.  It may not sound like a story in the holiday spirit, but aren't we about to gather during the darkest days of the year to celebrate light and love?  You're not apt to forget the loving extended family at the center of this dark tragedy.  And you'll certainly be reminded about how so many SAR gadgets and systems might and might not work...

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Standard Horizon CPN Series, the first Internet MFDs?

Dec 18, 2010

At first glance Standard Horizon's new CPN may look like a fairly standard multifunction display, but note the "turn page" screen graphic at lower right, the small (but purportedly powerful sounding) stereo speakers, and the "Multimedia Chart Plotter" designation.  The 7- and 10-inch CPNs have touch screens not only to help manage charting, optional radar, and so forth but also to select audio and video entertainment stored on front or back connected USB sources, or streaming over WiFi.  And, yes, there is a Web browser in there too!

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Standard Horizon 2011, new everything!

Dec 16, 2010


Today Standard Horizon formally announced a pant load of new VHF and MFD products. Most feature good, if incremental, changes; many have already have been shown at the Fall boat shows; and some are even listed at online stores...but at least one will likely blow your mind!  Today I'm going to run through some highlights, with links to more detail.  So how about the "ultra compact" dimensions of the Explorer GX1600 VHF seen above?  Won't that fit in many places most radios wouldn't?  It's also a full Class D DSC set for only $170 MAP, as is the new Eclipse DSC+ GX1150 for only $130.  Class D, incidentally, becomes the minimum standard for all new fixed VHFs in the U.S. as the FCC finally killed the somewhat crippled SC101 standard, and if you're not familiar with those standards check out this explanation (and note the circa 2007 VHF pricing)...

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Steve Dashew's IMO radar, an AIS myth resurfaces

Dec 15, 2010

Oh my.  This morning an email alerted me to this photo of an AIS Display Filter menu on a Furuno IMO-class FAR-2117 radar, and Steve Dashew's understandable misunderstanding of what it means.  The seductive myth that ships have the technology to completely ignore Class B AIS transponders is back!  And the comments that follow demonstrate just how destructive that myth is, like:  "Wow. That is really disturbing. I am sure it is something that the manufacturers of Class B transceivers don't want us to know. I have been waiting for the Vesper Marine transceiver to become available - I might opt for the receive only unit now and save some $$$."  Here's the truth:  No matter how that display filter is set, the 2117 radar will continue to track all AIS targets and will automatically display a filtered one -- in flashing red, with a buzzer, even! -- if it should enter the watch keeper's area of collision concern, which is exactly how the IMO intends to improve big ship AIS monitoring!...

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Simrad SonicHub, hand's on #1

Dec 13, 2010

An interesting gadget I tested a bit on Gizmo before her late haul out (tomorrow, actually) is the Simrad (and Lowrance) SonicHub "Marine Audio Server" discussed here in May.  I'm pretty impressed so far.  The screen above may be a bit disconcerting because the NSE had a little trouble displaying the (difficult) title of the iTunes TV show I'd selected (which should read, "El espectáculo ¡Seamos saludables ahora! (The Get Healthy Now Show)") and Elmo seems disjointed in the particular frame captured (though the video looked fine in motion), but I'm now confident about the concept.  That is to say, I can arrive at the boat with all sorts of music and video on an iPod or iPhone, stick the device safely away in the SonicHub dock, and then manage it all from any NSE (or NSO) on the boat's SimNet/N2K network. And of course there's more...

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Navionics Mobile 5.0/1.0, sorting it out

Dec 10, 2010

This is going to confuse people!  Navionics has refreshed all its mobile apps, but in two different ways, and they're not done yet. The iPhone versions seen in the top panel are marked NEW! because they are in fact the completely new app that I wrote about in February and that let's you download and cache whatever charts (and lake maps, in the US) you want from a much larger region than the original Mobile apps. Which is why there are so many more regions of the old HD app seen in the lower panel, except they're newish too, just having become 5.0 versions, which includes the BIG addition of UGC...

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