January 2012 Archives

Vessel Vanguard, world's largest boat systems database?

Jan 31, 2012

When I first met Don Hyde, founder of Vessel Vanguard, and his business development guy Gordon Ramseier at IBEX, I may have been a little hard on them. That's because a similar plan to put all of a boat's system information into the cloud had gotten me excited last summer, but then seemed to stall. I'd realized that doing this right meant arduously creating a huge yet flexible database of specs, manuals, parts lists, bulletins, maintenance recommendations etc. for thousands of different bilge pumps, AC units, marine toilets, etc. etc. So I came at Don and Gordon with something like "Show me your database!" and, by golly, they did...

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Android marine apps: Memory-Map is in, who else?

Jan 30, 2012

It's still in public Beta, but Memory-Map has an Android version of its charting app. I've tested it with both my Verizon Incredible phone and also with the 7-inch Galaxy Tab seen above, thanks to a loan from Memory-Map developer Richard Stephens, who I profiled way back in 2005. Even then Stephens was writing good PC and PDA charting software, and the experience shows...

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BriarTek Cerberus, the DeLorme inReach alternative?

Jan 26, 2012

The photo above is meant to compliment the one I took when first testing the DeLorme inReach satellite communicator. It shows how Briartek's CerberLink is thinner in the depth dimension and also how it uses a USB-chargeable 2000mAh Lithium Polymer battery instead of a two AA Lithiums. And that's important. In fact it's pretty amazing how different the CerberLink and inReach are even though they're both based on the same Iridium 9602 SBD (small-burst data) modem and both aim to revolutionize two-way messaging, tracking, and safety beyond cellular coverage...

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AC34 San Diego, some good photos

Jan 24, 2012

I spent some time recently looking through the wonderful photography AC34 is making available to the media (the public can browse large thumbnails). Most of the images were taken by the superb shooter Gilles Martin-Raget, and I thank him for taking some that illustrate my story obessions with the underlying technology and the support fleet. Like the one above which frames the intense racing with the AC45's space-age boomkin. As described in November that gray disk most aft is a NovAtel high-precision GPS which works along with inertial motion sensors and a high speed wireless data network so that the entire AC system knows exactly where this boat is...

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Wow: Raymarine e9, e12, c9, c12, ClearPulse & VoyagePlanner, all new

Jan 21, 2012

I'm surprised because I thought Raymarine was holding off a slew of new products for the Miami show in mid-February, but today we learned that Ray's UK site has put up details on the e9 and e12 big brothers of the e7 launched last summer, as well as new c9 and c12 MFDs that are similar to the e Series but without the touch control. Which is a lot, but not all...

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Costa Concordia: "Vada a bordo, cazzo!"

Jan 18, 2012

The wrecking of the Costa Concordia is of course a dreadful and criminally unnecessary disaster. It's hard to find anything positive about what happened, unless perhaps you're another captain whose life became defined by a single major screw up, like, say, Joe Hazelwood. The Monitor did a good job delineating Capt. Francesco Schettino's Top 4 'deceptions' today and that was before Schettino made the claim that he abandoned ship because he tripped and fell into a lifeboat! I suspect that it will be a long time before anyone beats Schettino in the disgraced ship captain department...

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High-bright marine LED lights, from Rigid Industries

Jan 17, 2012

Want more LED light at less cost to illuminate your deck or the water beyond? Rigid Industries may be new to the marine industry but the company claims patented optic systems that have already made it "the pioneer of forward projecting high intensity LED light bars" for uses like long-distance racing in souped-up dune buggies (on a course that may be booby-trapped). You can glimpse the unusual reflectors (for LED fixtures) in this photo from IBEX and I can tell you that even those small and relatively inexpensive "four bulb" cubes closest to the camera are blindingly bright...

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AC34, on board the committee boat

Jan 14, 2012

Almost two months later and I'm still excited about what I saw of America's Cup 34 in San Diego. If I had a megayacht I might well dispatch it to Naples or Venice for the spring World Series events, and I'll certainly be tuning in to AC's YouTube channel. But I'm convinced that understanding the incredible technology behind the scenes helps you appreciate how pure the racing is, and I've got several more entries to write on the subject, as well as an April Yachting feature in the works. Today we're going to peek at what goes on aboard the AC 34 committee boat, a sturdy power cat named Regardless...

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DMK box hand's-on #1, developers needed!

Jan 11, 2012

Even if it only happened in my basement lab, it really is wonderful to see a boat's sensor data arrive wirelessly into an iPad app, where it could be used and displayed in so many ways. The instrument screen shown above was developed by the same DMK Yacht Instruments folks who build the WiFi box that got the data there (first discussed here in December). The wind, depth, and speed numbers went into the DMK gateway in NMEA 2000 format, but they could have been in NMEA 0183 or SeaTalk, or a mix of all three. In fact, I've tried all three source formats with some success so far, but I'm frustrated because the DMK app -- meant mainly for configuring the box, I think -- only displays the values shown fully, and no other app I know of yet takes full advantage of what the box can do. Lets hope some developers start paying attention to what's possible here!

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Navico GoFree, a WiFi & apps strategy partially revealed

Jan 9, 2012

I think of the beautiful and very powerful iPad navigation screen above as a bit of a tease. Yes, that's Furuno UHD radar overlaid on Nobeltec TimeZero Trident and, yes, I could even control it from the pad as I moved around Gizmo. But there was a lot of complexity behind the scene -- like the NavNet 3D MFD12 forwarding the radar to the PC actually running Trident -- and the control was awkward as that's not a real iPad app but rather SplashTop repeating the PC screen. Then again, isn't this a tease of what should be fairly simple and ubiquitous eventually? Heck, I've already been told that Raymarine is committed to making its RayView streaming app two-way at some point, and Furuno or Garmin could make something similar happen at any time. But Navico seems to be first with a written plan, even if it includes some uncertainties...

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