February 2012 Archives

Actisense QPD & A2K, more good choices in NMEA 2000 cabling

Feb 29, 2012

I believe that the new Actisense QPD-1 seen above is the best NMEA 2000 power drop yet, as long as you can live with its bulk. It's not just a split power drop -- advantages described here -- but it has its own blade fuses and LED diagnositc indicators, and it includes diodes that protect the backbone and the power sources from reverse polarity and back feed. It also comes in two models: The QPD-1-PMW above has nickle-plated brass Micro connectors meant to work with pre-made backbone sections while the QPD-1-GLA has glands to facilitate use with bulk N2K cabling. But while it's great that Actisense's growing line of cables and connectors are designed to support both install styles, you may still want to mix in parts from other manufacturers...

Continue Reading

AIS & DSC MoB devices, the standards revealed

Feb 27, 2012

Here's some good news, even if I had to Google out a non-governmental Australian site to find out what the RTCM here in the States is up to. But I've admired the clearly written expertise at gmdss.com.au before, and I'm confident that they have their facts right about the new standards for man overboard beacons using AIS or DSC VHF (or both!). Besides, the details seem pretty much what we expected, with a few interesting nuances...

Continue Reading

Florida fun: "Plures Naves Quam Mentes"

Feb 25, 2012

Yes, I was a grinning fool when Panbo -- for the second year in a row! -- received the BWI Award for Original Online Content (all awards listed here). Plus it seemed the perfect moment to debut the new Panbo logo hat I'd just received the day before, and purely by happenstance I was joined at the podium by two friends from the even smaller world of marine electronics. Bill Bishop got Third Place for his Marine Installers Rant blog (check his Award entry here and don't miss the cartoon he submitted as the essay) and Bruce Angus did the presenting because he's now Interim Director of the NMEA, which sponsored the category. But don't think that NMEA had anything to do with the judging, which was done anonymously by three fellow members of BWI. Well, actually I do know the name of one judge because she was quoted thusly: "Ellison obviously knows his subject matter inside and out, but never takes himself too seriously, actively soliciting input and contributions from his readers." For which I will be eternally grateful...

Continue Reading

Icom's "New Look" family: M92D, M424 & CommandMicIV

Feb 23, 2012


I don't know why Icom didn't hold a press conference in Miami because the company certainly has significant new products to brag about. Maybe it's because neither the GPS/DSC/VHF handheld M92D above nor the fixed M424 sibling in its new family of radios is currently FCC certified, and therefore they aren't yet for sale or even priced. But quick FCC approvals seem possible and if priced right I'll guess that "The New Look of Icom" -- that's the theme of the ad campaign -- will draw customers...

Continue Reading

Cam crazy Miami: Flir, Garmin, Iris, & OceanView

Feb 20, 2012

The surprise of the annual FLIR/Raymarine Miami Show dinner-and-demo cruise was the introduction of a higher-end M-Series camera with two-axis gyro stabilization and other enhancements. You can download the M-618CS brochure here, and also see a video illustrating how well it corrects the camera for pitch and yaw (but not roll). I saw it in action on the otherwise calm-water cruise thanks to a clever motion-simulating mount FLIR engineers came up with, and the stabilization seemed quite effective. The M-618CS -- along with its sibling,  the Raymarine T470SC -- also has a color low-light camera with 10x optical zoom. Plus its 640x480 resolution thermal sensor has a 18°x14° field of view that differs from existing M-Series models, and is purportedly able to detect a person overboard at 4,000 feet. Though even the online discounter prices are north of $33,000, I'm pretty sure that the M-618CS is the least expensive stabilized thermal camera ever...

Continue Reading

Thinking big systems, Furuno NavNet TZ included

Feb 16, 2012

Furuno has been extremely tight lipped about its new NavNet TZ touch systems, aside from the ad, but much more should be revealed in this morning's press breakfast. I'll be there and will report details in the comments section. What I gather so far is multi-touch screens that still have some buttons alongside, including the RotoKey, and are -- according to a couple of the BWI/NMMA Innovation Awards judges, neither an electronics buff -- "very intuitive" and "fun" to use. A much faster processor will be no surprise, nor will support for large SD chart cards and all existing NavNet 3D peripheral hardware.  I'm hoping that Furuno will also reveal its strategy for smart phone and pad integration -- shouldn't a multitouch interface and the company's long love of Ethernet help with that? -- but I have a particular interest in what the black box version of NN TZ is going to be like...

Continue Reading

Garmin triple wow: thermal cameras, iPad app, and Interphase FLS!

Feb 14, 2012


I'd already gotten some details on the several interesting new products Garmin is announcing today -- and was excited about sharing them -- but it wasn't until late last night that I had any inkling about Garmin's acquisition of Interphase Technologies, a pioneer in phase array forward looking sonar (FLS). Wow!  The deal means that Garmin will soon have a new and unique arrow in its quiver of MFD network sensors and that FLS for fishing and navigation will get some of the attention I think it's always deserved. It's not just that Garmin will market the Interphase technology better, but that the technology will no doubt be easier to use and to afford when integrated with Garmin displays. It will probably work better too...

Continue Reading

GOST, the serious boat security guys

Feb 13, 2012

It doesn't matter that the Paradox Marine I've enjoyed visiting at past shows has changed its name to GOST (for Global Ocean Security Technology); I bet they'll still be showing off some interesting new tech in Miami this week. And probably more important is how knowledgeable and sophisticated GOST has become about the nuances of marine security over the years. Experience is a great teacher, and GOST's has been accelerated because its home turf of South Florida has endured a plague of boat bandits who are pretty knowledgeable themselves. Can you spot the telltale professionalism being exhibited on the Contender above as it blasts toward Cuba, probably for a load of drugs, or with a load of cash, or both?...

Continue Reading

Raymarine e7, hand's on #2

Feb 10, 2012

The Raymarine e7 that's been in the Panbo lab for a few weeks is proving itself quite able and well designed, but I've come across enough little glitches and omissions that I think it's also a good test of the new Ray's ability to push out software fixes and improvements. That chart window above, for instance, should be showing spot soundings. Now it could be that I don't have the chart presentation set up right, but even if that's true, I suspect the menus involved can be improved to help a user like me. On the other hand, that screen shot is from an iPad streaming the e7 over WiFi, and that feature not only works well but continues to intrigue...

Continue Reading

AC34 LiveLine, harder than football & open sourced

Feb 6, 2012

Never mind the final Super Bowl score (and the unfortunate headlines), did you appreciate those slick digital field overlays like the yellow 1st & ten line? Frankly I'm still impressed with this technology even though it's not magic. HowStuffWorks explains pretty well the sensors, geometry, and video processing required to make that virtual line look like it's painted on the field. All it takes is precise knowledge of where the camera and line markers are in a 3D model of the stadium, plus the use of the turf color as a reverse mask so that the players -- who must never wear the same shade of green -- don't get overlaid. But once you understand that, the new LiveLine info inserted into America's Cup video seems practically impossible...

Continue Reading