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Panbo Marine Electronics's blog

Marine fuel prices, why so hard?

Written by Ben Ellison on May 9, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin GMI 20 & GHC 20, back on top?

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 29, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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In my opinion it was the Garmin GMI 10 that trail blazed the wonderful world of color NMEA 2000 all-in-one displays, but it's gotten major competition from the Raymarine i70 (comparison here), the B&G Triton (first look here), and the Furuno RD-33 (hand's on here). And when Garmin demoed its new 800 Glass Bridge Series in Miami, the GMI 10 also installed on the dash looked decidedly out of place. So it was really no surprise when they announced the new GMI 20 and its GHC 20 sibling last Tuesday. It will be interesting to see if they've outdone the competition but that's hard to judge as these all-in-ones can potentially do so much, though not necessarily exactly what you want... 

Verizon LTE nirvana, can it last?

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 22, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

KVH V3-IP Broadband & Thuraya SatSleeve

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 18, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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Since leaving Myrtle Beach on April 1, I've spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time messing around with WiFi and cellular Internet connections, and not only is Gizmo quite well equipped in those categories but she's stayed within a mostly first world country (just kidding, North Carolina). Admittedly my thirst for connectivity is high, but I might trade a small body part for a system that simply put me online 24/7/wherever. That's the promise of KVH's latest TracPhone mini-VSAT V3-IP, and 'simply' is the key word. KVH has for a while offered high-speed, 'reasonably' priced satellite Internet with a 17.6-inch high V3 dome antenna that can purportedly work on boats as small as 30-feet. What's new here is the unified antenna controller and modem known as the CommBox (above), which not only looks simple but can even be installed out of sight because as the "ip" in the product name suggests, you can check into this system with most any browser on a PC or tablet connected to the CommBox by Ethernet or WiFi...

Gizmo's air draft sensor & my Panbo 8th

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 14, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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This was Thursday's little challenge. It's what I've starting calling a "trawler bridge": a span high enough to let motor cruisers get at some good anchoring and/or gunkholing, but not so high that they have to share it with pesky sailboats. I kid, of course, but I had spied out a great little spot on Norfolk's Lafayette River (Google Map here) to ride out the frontal passage and it would likely be free because there's only 24-feet under this bridge at high tide. However, I wasn't absolutely sure that Gizmo's mighty antenna farm met that requirement...

C-Maps in Coastal Explorer, never enough charts!

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 11, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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Yes, it sure looks like overkill -- and this shot doesn't even include the iPad that's often mounted here at Gizmo's lower helm -- but I've definitely found ways to put all these screens to work. In this particular scene the boat is crawling out of a very shallow back creek (actually called Back Creek) where we'd hidden from the worst of a cold gusty low that had me wondering if spring would ever materialize. It was still gusting in the high 20's and that's only 2.8 feet under the StructureScan transducer that's fastened to the keel forward. If you look closely you'll see many chart types, including the C-Map Max format now well supported by Coastal Explorer. The day before I'd gotten a serious reminder about the value of multi charting...

inReach SE, will the screen do it?

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 4, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I was so focused on finally heading north that I forgot the April 1 announcement of DeLorme's new inReach SE, even though one standard step in getting Gizmo underway these days is firing up the original inReach for tracking, messaging, and much more (as discussed here last fall). But my forgetfulness does not indicate a lack of appreciation for the new model (which I've already handled briefly in prototype form). To the contrary, I think the SE (Screen Edition)  will likely make a lot of boaters as enthusiastic about the whole inReach concept as I've already become...

Paul's Cape Dory 25, just doing it!

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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What the heck? This morning In Myrtle Beach it was the same frosty 36 degrees as it was in Camden, Maine. I've got lots more install work I can do before heading north, but it's fun to check out the odd lot of early ICW cruisers who turn into Osprey Marina's narrow entrance channel. Particularly curious was this venerable Cape Dory 25 that came in looking like it had been knocking around at sea. In fact it had just come non-stop and single-handed from St. Augustine, Florida,  and had gotten there mostly offshore from Cape May, New Jersey, just last month. Yes, in February, and the owner's previous sailing experience was aboard a Sunfish on a lake. I had to know more!

Gizmo's antenna mast 2013: FLIR, Rogue, Wilson & more

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 25, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I've heard it said that if you heeded all the manufacturer advice about antenna placement, you'd need a boat 100-feet long with four or five masts. I've been meaning to ask Panbo readers about how to best use Gizmo's single (though beefy) antenna mast, but instead I went and rejiggered everything last week and your advice will have to wait for the next revision. What mainly drove the change is the long term loan of a FLIR M-Series camera system, which certainly deserves the premier masthead position...