marine electronics

KEP Marine Vessel Monitoring System Scalable for Any Size Boat

KEP Marine Vessel Monitoring System Scalable for Any Size Boat

Editor’s Note — As the marine world finally catches up to the rest of modern life, electronics are controlling more and more of the systems on our boats.  Although some old salts will claim otherwise, this is a good thing.  It means our engines run more reliably, efficiently and pollute a great deal less.  It also means we have more precise control of our major systems — everything from batteries, to air conditioners, tank monitors and safety and entertainment systems.  The next big step in marine modernization is monitoring — getting all those electrons to give us a complete picture of what’s happening on our boats, and giving us the opportunity to interact with and control those systems — all from the helm (or wherever else we want, as we’ll see later in this article).  There are a relatively small, but growing number of companies developing monitoring and control systems for our increasingly electronic boats.  One in particular, KEP Marine, is offering a family of products that scale nearly perfectly all the way from a center-console fishing boat to a superyacht hundreds of meters in length.  Here’s a look at what they’re offering and why I think it’s worth consideration by anyone considering a new boat or a major refit.

KEP Marine Company Logo

KEP Marine Company Logo

KEP Marine’s Intelligent Vessel Monitoring System (IVMS) can give captains of everything from small fishing boats to superyachts precise monitoring and control of nearly every system on their boats. And it does so using an open-standards system that easily handles whatever proprietary data system a particular component manufacturer may be using, so you don’t have to worry about establishing a single data bus format on your boat.  Today’s boat captains have high-definition, flat-screen, multi-function displays to help them navigate, investigate and explore. Now they can have the same kind of inward-looking vision and awareness of what’s going on inside their boats.  Ultimately, this means far fewer nasty failures and surprises and a safer boating experience.

An Open Standards System

The KEP Marine IVMS was developed using open standards, which means that standard Ethernet protocols are used.  The company has developed its system to operate with nearly any information protocol from the individual devices aboard your boat, whether NMEA 2000, CAN bus, MOD bus or company-proprietary.

KEP Marine Intelligent Vessel Management System (IVMS)

KEP Marine Intelligent Vessel Management System (IVMS)

This might be one of the most significant features of the KEP Marine IVMS, since the ongoing lack of device and network standardization in the marine industry can frustrate even the most dedicated efforts of builder, captains and installers to get major and minor systems onboard to talk nicely to each other.  Fortunately, the KEP Marine staff have worked closely with all the major systems and engine-makers and understand how to link these systems into the IVMS.  This is where years of experience in not only the marine industry, but the industrial monitoring and control business pay dividends.

WAGO Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) typically used in a KEP Marine IVMS. The PLC serves as a robust central processor for all the data in most IVMS and IVMS Pro installations. An IVMS Ultimate system might also use a dedicated PC to handle multiple display options. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

WAGO Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) typically used in a KEP Marine IVMS. The PLC serves as a robust central processor for all the data in most IVMS and IVMS Pro installations. An IVMS Ultimate system might also use a dedicated PC to handle multiple display options. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

The system uses a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) from WAGO, a type of digital computer used to monitor and control mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment.  It differs from a general purpose computer in that it is capable of many simultaneous inputs and outputs and is normally designed to withstand the environmental rigors of an industrial (or marine, in this case) environment.

Three Basic Levels Lead to Infinite Scalability

The KEP Marine IVMS is offered in three basic configurations — the IVMS, IVMS Pro, and IVMS Unlimited.  The standard IVMS package is designed specifically for recreational vessels under 50 feet in length.  It allows the captain to monitor and mange the most critical information onboard using a dedicated sunlight-readable 7″ touchscreen display.  Here’s a list of some of the typical monitoring and control functions for such a boat:

  • Battery levels
  • Shore power
  • Smoke and CO detection
  • Tank Levels, including fuel, freshwater and blackwater
  • Voltages
  • Bilge
  • Exhaust

 

Example of a typical engine-related gauges information display from the KEP Marine IVMS System. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

Example of a typical engine-related gauges information display from the KEP Marine IVMS System. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

The simplest installation might be for a center-console fishing boat, where the IVMS is monitoring all the basic systems, but might also be controlling the aeration of the baitwell when water temperature or species change. A boat owner might spend around $5,000 for a system like this, which will earn back its investment the first time you head offshore in a big tournament and discover a dying engine battery before you get stranded in the Gulf Stream. The standard package includes the 7″ display, control panel, terminal block kit and a choice of 16 monitoring selections. The graphics on the display are user-configurable.

The IVMS Pro series includes all the features of the base system but expands the “human interface” software element to support additional monitoring stations, remote viewing, full engine monitoring and switching of electrical circuits.  A typical IVMS Pro installation will include one sunlight-readable panel for an outdoor station — say a flybridge — and one standard panel for an indoor station, likely the pilothouse helm. This is the kind of system you would expect to find on an offshore cruising yacht or sailboat, with more and more-complex systems to both monitor and control.

An example of an iPad displaying detailed engine information, as might be used with an IVMS Pro installation from KEP Marine. A remote, wireless display like this can give the off-watch captain some peace of mind while she is off the bridge. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

An example of an iPad displaying detailed engine information, as might be used with an IVMS Pro installation from KEP Marine. A remote, wireless display like this can give the off-watch captain some peace of mind while she is off the bridge. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

Imagine a Nordhavn or Kadey-Krogen trawler offshore with engines, generators, watermakers, extensive fuel and water management systems, hydraulic systems like stabilizers, and an extensive HVAC system with several zones.  All are easily handled with a single PLC in an IVMS Pro installation.  The owner of such a yacht might spend $50,000 to $70,000 for a system like this, once the components, installation and software development is totaled. My feeling is that level of expense is likely to be well-leveraged when insurance premiums and unscheduled repair costs are figured into total operating and ownership costs.

I have to admit that, for a recreational yacht, this level of display, from a KEP Marine IVMS Unlimited superyacht installation, would be nice on my idea of an ocean-capable trawler of the Excelsior-class starship "Enterprise." Seriously, it illustrates a conning display with the types of information important to the navigator, helmsman and captain. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

I have to admit that, for a recreational yacht, this level of display, from a KEP Marine IVMS Unlimited superyacht installation, would be nice on my idea of an ocean-capable trawler of the Excelsior-class starship “Enterprise.” Seriously, it illustrates a conning display with the types of information important to the navigator, helmsman and captain. Image courtesy of KEP Marine.

When you get into the superyacht and ship category, you will see IVMS Unlimited series systems using a PC to drive more extensive and customizable displays of all the systems.  The addition of the PC — called an “Operator Work Station” in the IVMS system, is a type-approved computer with a solid-state hard drive and Windows Embedded OS.  The Unlimited series still use the WAGO PLC for connecting and controlling sensors and actuators.  With the Unlimited series, display and control panels can be installed throughout the vessel — picture crew’s mess and cabins, engine room and other key locations.  Unlimited systems might require an investment of $150,000 or more, depending on the size and scope of the installation.  While that might seem like a lot of money, it’s quite normal in the superyacht industry to allocate those kinds of resources to safety, monitoring and control systems, many of which are required by the classification societies that govern shipbuilding at that level.

Bottom Line

Consider a system like the KEP Marine IVMS, either at the basic or PRO level if you are going to have a new boat or yacht built,  And if you are buying an older vessel and planning a major refit, particularly one where electrical and plumbing runs will be completely replaced, you’ll be in a good position to incorporate the IVMS in the refit.  The process will involve working with a local dealer and installer but you will undoubtedly work with the KEP Marine staff directly as well, since they do all the programming of the PLCs in-house.  They have programmed controllers for nearly every type and brand of system on today’s yachts, so your system is unlikely to pose any difficulty.  The PLCs they typically use in most installations are programmable via SD memory card, which makes modifying and updating the program (and backing it up) extremely simple.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boat Systems, Electrical Systems, Electronics, Maintenance & DIY, Marine Electronics, Technology
Navionics Boating App Updated With U.S. Govt. Charts, New Features

Navionics Boating App Updated With U.S. Govt. Charts, New Features

The "About" screen of Navionics newly released Navionics Boating app, showing version 7.0.

The “About” screen of Navionics newly released Navionics Boating app, showing version 7.0.

Do you have an iPad (with GPS) or iPhone on the boat with you?  Okay, then, no excuses:  Download the latest Navionics Boating app update from the App Store, now standard with access to the free U.S. electronic navigation charts (ENC) from NOAA.  There.  You’re not lost anymore.  You’re welcome (from Navionics, anyway).

Now, a little more objectively. . .Navionics today released the latest version (7.0) of its free app, Navionics Boating, which now includes integration with free U.S. government-produced charts for U.S. coastal and navigable waterways, plus additional shorelines of major lakes and rivers from other public sources.

NOAA ENC Charts Included

This means that the Navionics Boating app is immediately suitable for direct navigation in these waters.  NOAA ENCs are vector charts, which means they scale up and down in a completely readable way, and they conform to the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 standard for electronic charts.

Navionics Boating app showing a NOAA ENC chart for Long Island Sound.

Navionics Boating app showing a NOAA ENC chart for Long Island Sound.

They include all the primary navigation data you need — depths, buoys, beacons, harzards, channel markers and more.  Of course, you can also purchase full-featured Navionics charts with enhanced detail and features such as newly improved dynamic tide and current information and displays.  The chart on the right here of the north shore of Long Island is a NOAA ENC.

You can see the little blue circle at the lower left labeled “GOVT” which means I’m using a NOAA chart.  If you click on that you can opt for a Navionics chart instead, or load one of the cool, crowd-sourced SonarCharts.  Also visible in that screen capture is the classic “navigate” button at lowest left, camera and search buttons to upper left, zoom buttons at upper right and a distance measuring tool at bottom right.

Enhanced Features

The updated app includes several enhanced features:

  • Tracking — The Navionics Boating app uses GPS to measure and record performance data.  Speed, Trip Time, Course Over Ground, Distance and more are all displayed in a new Tracking Console.  Boaters can pause, playback and review a track, and share details with others.
  • Expanded Routing — Planning and route creation are also free with the Navionics Boating app.  Boaters can measure distances, mark waypoints, create simple routes and save data across mobile devices.  The company says wind forecasts include 3-day projections, as well.  The app includes a free trial version of a Nav Module ($4.99) that includes Estimated Time of Arrival, Distance to Arrival and more.
  • Sharing — App users can share memories of their trips with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.  Using a camera function within the app, photos and videos are automatically geo-tagged while recording a trip.  Other images, such as tracking screens and stats can be shared, too.
The Navionics Boating app showing one of the menu options with the various in-app purchases available.

The Navionics Boating app showing one of the menu options with the various in-app purchases available.

Integration with On-board Electronics

As of the most previous update, v6.0, early this year, Navionics Boating includes Plotter Sync, a new feature that allows on-board electronics to connect to Navionics servers on the Internet for uploading data and downloading new charts or updates.

The company says owners of Raymarine Wi-Fi-enabled plotters — just the first of Navionics’ manufacturer partners compatible with this technology — can now use Navionics Boating as a bridge for this connection, eliminating the need to remove a memory card from the plotter to update it.  The App will sync with the chartplotter and provide the update directly.

This is especially cool when users upload and share with Navionics their fishfinder’s recorded sonar tracks, allowing the company to verify and integrate the information in to SonarCharts™ — a new high-definition bathymetry maps that reflects the ever-changing conditions boaters experience in the real world.

Updating Advice

I checked out the new version on my iPad and it’s a big change.  The inclusion of NOAA ENCs makes a HUGE difference in out-of-the-box usability.  If you’re in need of the more detailed and feature-laden Navionics charts, by all means buy them.  They’re not that expensive for most areas (at least compared to what we used to spend for charts and updates) and you won’t regret the purchase.  But for starters, the NOAA ENCs will get you going and keep you safe.  When I fired up my iPad, it didn’t offer me the app update when I went to the App Store, so I deleted the version I had (6.0.3 – the April update) and then downloaded the app again and it was the 7.0 version.  I imagine the updating will be automatic and more smooth over the next couple of days (it could also conceivably have been my own iPad’s sometimes flaky relationship with my router).  If your older version doesn’t seem to be updating, just delete it and download it anew from the App Store (assuming you don’t have any data saved that you need).

Then, when you start it up, after you acknowledge the EULA and settle on a chart area, you can download the NOAA ENC for that area for free.  I downloaded the chart for New England and it was about 68 MB, which downloaded over my Wi-Fi in about 1 minute.  Beautiful and ready to navigate.  You can see “me” in the screen capture up above, standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Long Island Sound.  I will actually need to board the boat to navigate from here, but the readers come first!

Android Version Coming Soon

Navionics says an Android version of the updated app will be out soon, with features similar to those in the iOS version rolling out throughout the year.  You will find that version in the Google Play store; we’ll advise when it’s released.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

Posted by Tom in Electronics, GPS, Marine Electronics, Navigation, seamanship, Sonar, Technology
Lowrance Offering Special Deals on High-Tech Displays

Lowrance Offering Special Deals on High-Tech Displays

Lowrance said today it was offering money-saving promotions on some of its latest displays, with cash rebates and map giveaways among the highlights. The promotion includes $200 cash rebates on HDS-9 and HDS-12 Gen2 Touch displays, as well as free map giveaways with the purchase of Elite-4 and Elite-5 HDI models. These special offers will continue to be available through June 15, 2014 in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

 

The Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch Display.  Image courtesy of Lowrance.

The Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch Display. Image courtesy of Lowrance.

There are also some great bundle deals involving the StructureScan HD.  I saw this technology demonstrated earlier this year at a special press preview at Hawk’s Cay and it’s nothing short of jaw-droppingly impressive.  Watching the high-definition sonar displays show every little details all around the boat, and having the ability to scroll back to an interesting detail, just left me speechless.  The test boat I was on had an autopilot aboard that let me simply designate a point in that sonar history and then took me right to it.  If you fish, or explore, you NEED this gear.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Depthfinders, Electronics, Fishing, Marine Electronics, Navigation, Radar, Sonar, Technology
Argonaut Offers Android-Powered Smart MFD

Argonaut Offers Android-Powered Smart MFD

Love all those Android apps but wish there was a more integrated way to use them at the helm?  Argonaut Computer last week announced the A615 smart multifunction display (MFD) — a fully marinized Android MFD with built-in GPS and lots of delicious inputs to take advantage of all the other data sources on your boat.

The A615 Android-Powered Smart MFD from Argonaut Computer.  Image courtesy of Argonaut Computer.

The A615 Android-Powered Smart MFD from Argonaut Computer. Image courtesy of Argonaut Computer.

The A615 — a 15-inch, waterproof, sunlight-viewable unit — is also directly web-connected via its own WiFi connection, so if you are docked or have Internet access while underway, you can access live data for your apps beyond just the GPS.  Here’s a quick rundown of the specs:

  • Built In Android Processing For Web, Apps
  • Powerful Navigation App With U.S. Charts
  • Weather Monitoring with Live Radar Plot
  • Full Featured AIS App with Alerts/Status
  • On Dash Access To Over 875,000 Apps
  • Built In 2.4G WiFi Network Send/receive
  • Multiple Input/Output Signal Connectors
  • Tflex 15” Bonded Sunlight View LED
  • Precision Lock TouchPad User Control
  • Unmatched Low Power Consumption
  • Includes 48 Channel GPS Receiver
  • Shock Isolated Design, 360 Waterproof
  • Industry Leading Three Mounting Options
  • Comprehensive Two Year Warranty

The A615 is not cheap.  MSRP is $2,999, which seems like a lot until you consider that this is not just a monitor, but a fully-powered MFD, with its own Wi-Fi, GPS and waterproof, marinized construction.  That makes it on a par, cost-wise, with other stand-alone marine MFDs.  One tremendous advantage is that you can load it up with free and low-cost apps that, in many cases, are as capable as their PC- and MAC OS-based sister products.

The A615 can also be mounted in a number of different ways — surface mount it like any other fixed helm display; in an optional U-bracket, or an optional RAM arm mount.

Here’s a LINK to the detailed specs for the A615.

This is a product to consider if you’re building a new helm or looking to update one and you need a lot of bang for your buck.  It’s a great way to build in functional redundancy in your helm, or even as the centerpiece of your helm.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, GPS, Marine Electronics, Navigation, Radar, seamanship, Technology
Navionics at Center of ICW Magenta Line Renovation

Navionics at Center of ICW Magenta Line Renovation

Last year, NOAA’s Coastal Survey Office announced that it planned to discontinue the so-called “magenta line” on charts of the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) because the line placement was based on data that, in some cases, hadn’t been updated since the original charts were produced in the early 20th century.  Well, that generated quite a storm of response from the user community but that response turned into something much more substantial and positive — a commitment by some companies and from boaters themselves to help get the data updated themselves.  Navionics, known for its comprehensive charts of nearly all the navigable waterways, lakes and coastal areas visited by recreational boats, decided to employ some of its latest crowdsource-supported technology to assist in the effort.

An example of the "magenta line" on a chart of the ICW.  Image courtesy of Navionics.

An example of the “magenta line” on a chart of the ICW. Image courtesy of Navionics.

Navionics is at now at the center of the NOAA Office of Coastal Survey’s efforts to reestablish an accurate magenta line on IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) charts.  The Navionics effort involves updating the charting data on its “Freshest Data” servers with information generated by boaters who upload sonar logs and who submit edits to charts using the Edit Map function on their Navionics mobile application.  Given that there are more than 1.5 million users of the mobile apps, Don Black, global vice president of sales and marketing for Navionics, says, “We are able to deliver invaluable enhancements to charting data at an unmatched pace.”

Crowdsourcing (have you noticed how German the American English is becoming, just combining words into compound words?) is one of the hottest developments in the online world today.  The technology of “connectedness” makes it possible for users to now share local data and build profoundly more accurate databases of information.  In the marine charting world, that translates to the possibility of much safer local navigation, offsetting many years of neglect from government hydrographers who had higher priorities and insufficient budgets.

If you’re a user of the ICW and you would like to participate, get onboard with the Navionics Boating APP and get your local sonar logs and information uploaded to Navionics.  You may also contact NOAA’s Coastal Survey Office directly with input and comments. Use the link above to see how.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Depthfinders, Electronics, Marine Electronics, Navigation, seamanship, Sonar, Technology
Mac User Looking for Better WiFi on the Boat?

Mac User Looking for Better WiFi on the Boat?

RogueWave WiFi Antenna and Network Bridge

RogueWave WiFi Antenna and Network Bridge

My fellow Write on The Water blogger, Christine Kling, has another fabulous tech piece on the blog today about a WiFi solution for her boat.  Christine is a successful published author (I LOVE her Seychelle Sullivan mystery series), and she did a great piece for us here on using your iPad onboard the boat.

Christine settled on the RogueWave WiFi unit, which met her needs for a simple, plug-n-play installation and setup.  Her comment was, “The set up of my new antenna and router could not have been simpler. Plug and play really is an exact description of how it works.”

Have a look at the full piece over at WOTW and let us know if you have some other good wireless solutions for the boat.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology

Simrad Yachting Launches Broadband 3G Radar

Simrad Yachting's New Broadband 3G Radar

Simrad Yachting's New Broadband 3G Radar

Simrad Yachting this week announced a significant upgrade to its “”broadband” radar capability with the “Broadband 3G Radar,” which increases the range of its not-so-old BR24 Broadband Radar.  I wrote about the BR24 when it was demonstrated at the Miami show last year and decided it was the real deal for short-range, high-definition radar detection.  At the time I thought it would make the perfect second radar unit for a typical trawler owner, who would probably have a high-power, open-array unit for long-range detection and surveillance.

Simrad's New 3G at Left, and BR24 at Right - Click for Larger View

Simrad's New 3G at Left, and BR24 at Right

As you can see in the photo above, at a 6 NM range, the new Broadband 3G has much better detection but appears to maintain the same level of high-definition target discrimination, compared side-by-side with the “old” BR24.  Although the folks who develop and program this technology really could be rocket scientists, the latest improvements derive mostly from a doubled RF transmit power.  You might recall that one of the really nice features of the BR24 was its incredibly low RF output, which meant that antenna placement wasn’t really critical anymore in terms of radiation safety.  Well, upping the power by a factor of two for the Broadband 3G really doesn’t change that; it’s still less than 1/10th the energy of a mobile phone, and 1/20,000th the energy of a traditional pulse radar.

Another really cool feature of this FMCW (Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave) radar is it’s incredible near-field detection capability.  Objects as close as 2 meters can be detected and displayed.  Ben Ellison noted that a demonstration unit he saw at a Navico press event last month clearly displayed someone walking toward the bow of the boat he was on.

Simrad Yachting says the unit will have a suggested retail price of $1,699 when it is available in June from authorized dealers and distributors in the United States and Canada.  And here is a copy of the press release issued this week.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology
Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad Yachting last week announced a new series of touch-screen multifunction displays — the NSS Sport Series.  Available in 7-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch models, the NSS Sport units feature LED backlighting and allow the user to control the display with the touchscreen, keypad and/or the “Simrad Yachting-signature” rotary control knob.

My friend Ben Ellison at Panbo was one of a special group of marine journalists invited to the product unveiling in Palma, Spain, last week and he’s got lots of details and thoughts on the overall Navico product strategy.  I haven’t had a chance yet to test the new MFDs but when I do I’ll report here on them.  In the meantime, here are some of the details from the Simrad Yachting press release:

The Simrad NSS Sport range features high-brightness (1200 NIT) bonded LED displays in 6.4-inch (VGA), 8-inch (SVGA) and 12-inch (XGA) diagonal screen sizes. All support NMEA 2000®, SimNet and composite video input. The NSS series uses little power and is designed for use in 12 and 24V DC power systems. The system has an operating temperature range of 5 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees to 55 degrees Celsius); like the NSE and NSO multifunction displays, the NSS Sport is waterproof to the IPx7 standard, and protected by a two-year limited parts and labor warranty. The new Simrad NSS Sport is also covered by Simrad Yachting’s 24-hour exchange program. In the unlikely event that the device is identified as defective within the first year of warranty, Simrad Yachting will ensure shipment of a replacement device within 24 hours.

The Simrad NSS7, NSS8 and NSS12 have suggested retail prices of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 US, respectively, and can be purchased from authorized Simrad Yachting dealers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on the Simrad NSS Sport touch-screen navigation system, or the entire line of Simrad Yachting professional-grade marine electronics, contact 800-628-4487 (toll-free) in the USA or visit www.simrad-yachting.com.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology

Maybe You Don’t Need 3G on Your iPad 2?

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

Brian Chen, at Wired, has a piece today that suggests a clever way to avoid having to pay the extra money for a 3G version of the iPad 2 just to get GPS and phone data network capability.  The solution basically involves using your current Smartphone as a wireless hotspot. 

Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

GPS transplant

The Wi-Fi iPad doesn’t have built-in GPS, but if you want to use that beautiful Maps app for navigation, you still don’t need a 3G iPad, so long as you have an iPhone. It turns out that if you hotspot with an iPhone, the connection transfers the GPS to the iPad.

Just connect the iPad to the iPhone’s hotspot, then launch the Maps app, and you’ll see the blue dot tracking your location.

(We’re not sure if this works when hotspotting with an Android phone — if you can confirm, let us know in the comments.)

For the complete article, visit the Wired article here.

There are some questions still.  For example, if the GPS data is being imported by the tethered iPad, can it be used by other nav programs instead of the Maps app?  I’m betting so, but I need to hear from somebody with the gear who is willing to experiment with it.  My best sources for iPad info are Jeff Siegel at ActiveCaptain, Christine Kling at Write on the Water (an amazing writer/sailor/geek), and my friend Ben Ellison at Panbo.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, seamanship, Technology

Routes Function in ActiveCaptain Will Change the Game

Screen Capture of New ActiveCaptain Routes Editing Function

Screen Capture of New ActiveCaptain Routes Editing Function

I know that’s a bold statement, but when I can have access to a library that will eventually likely hold many thousands of already planned (by me AND other boaters) routes, and then someday soon use those routes with more ActiveCaptain technology to tell me what’s up ahead, I will be in a different place than I am today with my capable but largely uncooperative navigation technology.  I’ve been talking to Jeff Siegel, who, with his wife Karen Siegel, is the developer of ActiveCaptain, and it’s clear to me that the live database technology of this website has reached a major new milestone.  The fact that many navigation software programs will update their ActiveCaptain integration with a live Internet link is valuable itself, but the new Routes function within ActiveCaptain is going take us much farther.

Let me back up a bit.  On April 1, ActiveCaptain will roll out a new Routes capability to the ActiveCaptain experience that will allow you to upload, modify, save and share (sharing will start in May), GPX-formatted routes.  Virtually all computer-based navigation software can export a route in this format, and although few chartplotters are also capable, you can use software such as GPSBabel and GPS Utility to translate your equipment’s native file format to GPX.

Screen Capture Showing GPX File Upload to New ActiveCaptain Routes Function

Screen Capture Showing GPX File Upload to New ActiveCaptain Routes Function

The routes will all be shared with the community — after all, what’s there to hide; your route to the floating Hooters?  That means that, within a short time, given the 100,000 active users currently on ActiveCaptain, there will be routes for many, if not most, of your typical trips; or at least for some part of them — like entering and leaving ports and harbors.

There are a number of significant advantages to this.  First, you will have yet another good way to back-up all your own meticulously planned routes.  If a belt AND suspenders are considered redundant, then you can add the elastic waistband to the mix and have yet another way to keep your trousers up.  (wow, the analogies just don’t flow some days…).

A second advantage derives from the fact that other key components of the ActiveCaptain database — that IS what ActiveCaptain is; a gigantic community database of navigational information (a Wiki-Nav?) — can tell you how good that route is for your situation.  For example, you can factor in your refueling requirements with up-to-date pricing info.  You can take into account the latest info on local hazards reported by other captains.

In fact, there is more technology coming from ActiveCaptain that will make the underway integration of all this planning capability even more impressive.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Passagemaking News, seamanship, Technology

I Think I Want This on My Flybridge

Nauticomp Tank Test of New LED LCD Panels

Nauticomp Tank Test of New LED LCD Panels

Yeah, I know this photo is from a press release.  But maybe it’s not just a cute demonstration.  Maybe it’s actually an effective way to prove a marketing claim of dust- and waterproof capabilities.  Nauticomp says it tests its marine LED-lit LCD displays to an IP67 ingress protection standard.  The ‘6’ in that designation indicates that the unit is completely protected from dust ingress, and the ‘7’ means that the unit is submersible to a depth of a meter for one minute.

I do not expect my flybridge to be submerged to a depth of one meter for ANY AMOUNT OF TIME.  But it is entirely possible, even highly likely that it will be in a downpour every now and then, so this isn’t just frivolous gilding of the lilly.  (I wonder what the IP rating for a U.S. Navy sub is??  A thousand meters for an infinite period?  Or maybe until they run out of hamburgers in the galley?  Probably classified, right?)

According to Nauticomp President Ryan Moore,

“Internally-sealed welds on the all-aluminum housings ensure that the display casings are watertight. All cables and external connections to Nauticomp marine displays are manufactured to an IP68 rating and the second number – 8 – signifies that they are submersible to three meters for an infinite period of time.

During the display assembly process, a silicon sealant is applied at display and back case opening to ensure water tightness on the completed unit. Nauticomp displays also feature Bonded glass, which does not “fog” up when there is a significant change in temperatures. In addition, power supplies to Nauticomp displays are external – to keep the units cool and provide added safety in the event of a power surge.”

We recently wrote about the company’s new Genesis line of monitors.  Nauticomp has some videos available for those who suspect a still image.  If you’re going to the Miami Boat Show, you can see both the waterproof demonstration and the new monitors in-person at Booth 1676 in the Electronics Room (Miami Beach Convention Center).

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.   All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics

What Would YOU Do With this Nordhavn 63 Helm?

The folks at Pacific Asian Enterprises just recently unloaded N63-01 from its freighter in Miami and brought it up to the Stuart completion center.  It’s a beautiful boat; an evolution of the N55/60 hull with the aft pilothouse and overall look of the venerable N62 (but not quite the beam of that boat).  In looking at the pictures P.A.E. posted on the Nordhavn brand website, I was drooling over the huge blank canvas of a dash in front of the helm and, naturally, I began to fantasize about what I would do if it was mine to outfit.

Helm of New Nordhavn 63-01 Before Electronics Installation.  Photo courtesy of P.A.E.

Helm of New Nordhavn 63-01 Before Electronics Installation. Photo courtesy of P.A.E.

Take a look at the photo above and imagine your favorite marine electronics installed in that non-glare acreage.  It occurred to me that you could put a 32″ HDTV in that slot and use the latest Picture-in-Picture (PIP) controls to split the screen with whatever secondary input you want.  On the other hand, one large screen like that means a single-point failure is going to be more of a pain in the rear.  So, typical design philosophy says we should split that area into two large displays.

Wide View of the Pilothouse Aboard the New Nordhavn 63

Wide View of the Pilothouse Aboard the New Nordhavn 63

I know I would prefer a black-box solution, with the displays fully customizable and redundant.  If you really want to go the full belt and suspenders route, you could probably put a multifunction chartplotter/display on the far left side of the dash.  In fact, since most owners of yachts this size will have two radars aboard, you could run the secondary radar as part of the chartplotter setup and use the primary radar on the main displays via black-box processor.

Salon Looking Forward Aboard New Nordhavn 63-01

Salon Looking Forward Aboard New Nordhavn 63-01

I’d love to hear your own thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Galley Aboard the New Nordhavn 63-01

Galley Aboard the New Nordhavn 63-01

In the other photos in this piece, all courtesy of PAE, you can see there is quite a bit of room to spread out and relax in this pilothouse, as well as a beautiful salon and galley below.  Delivery of N63-01 is set for a couple of months from now.  We did a piece a while back on an interesting design feature of the hull of this Nordhavn here on OceanLines.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Construction & Technical, Cruising Under Power, Electronics, Powerboats

Ranger Tugs, Cutwater Buyers Can Get Garmin Factory-Installed

Ranger Tugs 25SC Helm Featuring Garmin Electronics

Ranger Tugs 25SC Helm Featuring Garmin Electronics

Fluid Motion, the company that builds Ranger Tugs and the new Cutwater fast pilothouse boats said this week it has a deal with Garmin to provide that company’s marine electronics as factory-installed packages on both lines of boats.  Of course, if you don’t want Garmin gear, you can certainly order your boat without but I think there are some good reasons to consider going with the factory deal.

Garmin has been the up-and-comer in marine electronics over the past several years.  Interestingly, they’ve owned the general aviation  market for navigation and flight displays for many years and when they decided to get into marine electronics they brought some innovative stuff to the market, including the touchscreen.  In fact, here at OceanLines, we did a series on the hypothetical outfitting of a new Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition with a full suite of electronics and the package Garmin submitted was, arguable, the most compelling of all the manufacturers.

The packages that Ranger Tugs and Cutwater will be offering may or may not be as cheap as you can buy and install on your own (okay, they probably won’t be…), but you’ll be getting a package fully tested in your boat and, hopefully, well integrated into the specific systems on your boat.

At next week’s Seattle Boat Show, for example, you will be able to see the brand new Cutwater 26 and 28 outfitted with Garmin’s GPSMAP 5212, along with the GMR 18HD radar, GSD 22 digital sonar, GXM 51 XM satellite weather/audio antenna and VHF 200 radio.  That’s a nice 12-inch touchscreen display, with a great radar, sounder and live weather overlay capability.  And that radio can be augmented with up to 3 wireless, full-function handsets, so you could put an extra one in the cockpit.

And on the subject of system integration, all boats in both lines, except for the Ranger Tugs 21EC, can accept the Garmin GHP 10 autopilot, which features what the company calls “Shadow Drive” technology that automatically disengages the autopilot if the helm is turned, a nice feature I wish I’d had on my Robertson AP.

On the Ranger Tugs line, there are also options for the GPSMAP5215, a 15-inch touchscreen, the GPSMAP 740 and the AIS 600.  If you do any extensive cruising in your Ranger Tug, an AIS unit is an important piece of safety gear.  Yes, I know, commercial craft are often filtering Class B AIS transponder traffic, but you can still see them and if you’re doing what you should be as far as watchstanding, that’s better than neither of you seeing each other.  Read the final word on this at Ben Ellison’s PANBO.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Electronics, Powerboats, Technology

Looking for New Helm Displays? Nauticomp’s Genesis Might be Right

Genesis Series of LED-LCD Displays from Nauticomp

Genesis Series of LED-LCD Displays from Nauticomp

Nauticomp, the Ontario, Canada-based electronics manufacturer, is showing its new Genesis line of 15″ and 19″ sunlight-readable displays at the boat show circuit and if you’re in the market for new displays, they just might be the right solution.  Marine display technology is gradually catching up to land-based consumer displays and these two Genesis units are LED-backlit, which means much better contrast and significantly lower power requirements — both good features on a boat.

Nauticomp first revealed these publicly at the 2010 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and from what I’ve seen, they’re technically among the best displays available.  There’s even one feature on the 15″ model that I can particularly appreciate, and that’s the ability to handle higher-than-normal temperatures and maintain the display integrity.  I had an older Northstar display that would frequently overheat on my flybridge because of sunlight and high ambient temperatures.  The key symptom is a screen that quickly fades to black and the only cure was to wait for it to cool down.  I’m not disparaging the Northstar unit, because for all I know the installation may not have been ideal for that unit; but the problem was real.  The 15″ Genesis model from Nauticomp can handle ambient temps up to 158°F (70°C), which is almost 20°F higher than most displays (and even the 19″ Genesis).

The Genesis models are also waterproof to the NEMA 6/IP67 standard, which means (I looked it up) that there will be NO dust ingress to the unit and that it can withstand 30 minutes of water pressure equivalent to a 1 meter depth.  My flybridge rarely got that wet.

You can download the Tech Data Sheet for the 15″ Genesis here, and the 19″ Genesis here.

The one area marine electronics — and displays in particular — have not caught up to consumer standards in is price.  You’re still going to have to ante-up for these capable units.  MSRP for the 15″ Genesis is $4,120 and the 19″ Genesis lists for $5,470.  Of course, since you will be buying these from a qualified marine electronics dealer, I’m guessing that there is a bit of negotiating/listing room in that price.  You’re also going to get the well-regarded Nauticomp service and support, though, so you’re not gonna have to worry about getting a consumer-reject lemon.

You can see the Genesis displays at the upcoming Seattle and Miami boat shows.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology
Navimatics Charts & Tides App Now Lets iPad, iPhone Update ActiveCaptain Data

Navimatics Charts & Tides App Now Lets iPad, iPhone Update ActiveCaptain Data

Image of the Navimatics Charts & Tides App Via Navimatics Website

Image of the Navimatics Charts & Tides App Via Navimatics Website

Apple has just approved the latest update of the Navimatics Charts & Tides app so that iPhone and iPad users can update ActiveCaptain data from their devices.  The update allows markets to be edited and reviews and comments to be added.  The single license works on both an iPHone and IPad at the same time, so there’s no need to buy it twice.  ActiveCaptain said this week that if you currently own Charts & Tides, it’s a free update with all new and current charts.  The big plus here is that you can update that relocated market you just discovered immediately, as long as you’re within 3G range.  Could even be a safety enhancement if you get that marker updated quickly enough that nobody else misses it.

ActiveCaptain said that Navimatics is the first developer to release an updated product with support for ActiveCaptain’s update APIs, but that other companies will be doing so with their software as well.

Our recent guest author, Christine Kling, wrote about using Navimatics Charts & Tides on her iPad in this piece.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology