AIS Transceiver

Q: I’m installing a new AIS transceiver, and it has a built-in antenna splitter. How can I attach my AIS receiver, VHF radio, and FM stereo to the antenna?

A: Built-in antenna signal splitters invariably introduce some signal loss. So far, most manufacturers don’t specify how much, but one I talked with suggests that it’s “about 2 dB,” and that’s a lot. So since your VHF is your

Maretron SIM & RIM

Maretron’s new Switch and Run Indicator modules—the $375 SIM100 and the $299 RIM100—are at the expanding frontier of NMEA 2000. Each plain black box can convert a variety of system sensor inputs into N2K messages available to any device on a boat’s backbone. A SIM, for instance, can monitor up to six D.C. switches, such as sensors for high water, CO2, LP, and

Si-Tex T-900 Series

Not all boaters, not even techy ones, enthusiastically embrace multifunction navigation electronics, let alone new-fangled solid-state radar. The conservative bullet points are, one, that several stand-alone devices will never leave a skipper completely functionless and two, that traditional magnetron-based marine radar is still being

Broadband Radar

It’s long past time that the magnetron was consigned to the dust bin of maritime history,” enthused Larry Brandt, a commenter on my electronics blog who is both a professional mariner and a radar tech with experience working on everything from 60-ton 1960’s Air Force sky scanners to the super-compact, super-high-performance solid-state sets

Lowrance HDS Series

When Lowrance announced its all-new HDS Series in October, there seemed to be several valid rationales for the letters, which stand for “High Definition System.” All the plotter/fishfinder models have high detail but formerly black-box Broadband Sounder digital technology built in. They also have more detailed Lowrance lake and ocean cartography built-in or

FLIR M-Series

FLIR’s methodical two-year entry into the recreational marine world has been a thing to behold. Both its products, the popular entry-level Navigators and powerful Voyagers, and they way they’ve been promoted, through demo cruises, technical seminars, and the creation of a devoted dealer network, have been impressive. But while all this was going on, FLIR was also

KVH TracVision M1

The competition for world's smallest stabilized satellite TV antenna has come down to definitions. KVH's new M1 is a 12.5-inch dish that only weighs 7.5 pounds while Intellian's new i1 (see below) is an 11-incher that tips the scale at 9.5 pounds. Both make onboard TV easier to have. In fact, KVH says the M1

Fusion Marine Stereo

Now I just need the boat. When I first wrote about the Fusion Marine Stereo system in my column last July, I not only saw a lot to like but had already half talked myself into an Apple iPod as the centerpiece of my next onboard audio entertainment system. A Touch model is sitting on my desk today,


While Fusion's super safe iPod dock is reassuring (see main story), there are increasing reasons to risk carrying one around on deck. On top of the iNavX and Navionics navigation apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone described last month, Palladium Technologies has developed an interface to its

King Controls VuQube

Last year King Controls introduced a clever portable satellite TV dish called the VuQube, and some boaters began enjoying its ability to tune in DirectTV, Dish, or ExpressVu channels while only costing $899. But they had to place the 17.5''-high "cube" on a dock for stability and use its remote

Here Comes Class B, Part 2!

Now Class B-equipped Gizmo shows up on ship AIS displays and Web viewers like this.

I've never been more pleased to write this column. If you read the original "Here Comes Class B" in the March 2007 issue, you'll recall my cautious optimism about the then untried yacht version

Simrad AI50

Simrad's AI50 is the most feature-packed Class B transponder available. Most obvious is the four-inch display with its world base map. It can serve as a standalone AIS target plotter, or as a useful adjunct to your regular nav system, which the AI50 can feed with target and GPS data either via NMEA 0183

Furuno FA-50

Furuno's FA-50 is also an unusual Class B AIS transponder. While every other model mentioned in this column, including the two Simrads, is based on a transceiver manufactured by the U.K. firm SRT, Furuno started from scratch, or rather from its experience as a major manufacturer of the Class A AIS

Digital Yacht SPL250

Digital Yacht is a substantial U.K.-based marine electronics manufacturer/distributor that is expanding to the United States in a timely manner, given its emphasis on Class B AIS. I'm testing its $899 AIT250 Class B, which—while being the same basic transponder that's marketed by Shine Micro, True Heading,

Icom MXA-5000

Is Icom a Johnny come lately for introducing the MXA-5000 AIS receiver just as Class B transceivers finally hit the market? I don't think so. Not every skipper is as keen to be seen via AIS as I am, and if said skipper does want to monitor Class A and B AIS targets, ICOM's offering looks easy to


You may have heard that Apple's new 3G iPhone includes a GPS but did you know that someone has already developed a good $50 marine navigation program for it? iNavX is the work of the same development team that built the well-regarded GPSNavX and MacENC charting programs, and it shows. It will not only plot your

Autopilot Garminized

Garmin's new pilot head is as stylishly informative as its multifunction instruments.

The 50-foot custom Wesmac Kathleen might have been a real autopilot challenge, what with her twin 585-hp Cummins MerCruiser QSM11 diesels powering brutish Hamilton HM422 waterjets and little below for directional stability beyond her

Cellranger STIX

Cellranger STIX

The Cellranger Stix is a portable and affordable cellphone booster that I can recommend but only with certain caveats. The seductive claim is that its microprocessor technology can analyze an arriving cell signal via that five-inch magnetic-base antenna and add 50 dB of

ACR GlobalFix iPro

ACR GlobalFix iPro

ACR's new iPro GPS EPIRB earns its "next generation" marketing tag on three counts, the most obvious one being the reassuring and useful info shown on its one-inch digital display. When you self-test the unit, the screen delivers the results and even

Planar LX Mariner

Planar LX Mariner

The global display company Planar has entered the little marine world with quite a splash. Its three new LX Mariner touchscreen PC monitors—eight-, 12-, and 15-inch screens with prices ranging from $2,000 to $2,200—are bonded (no fogging), sunlight-viewable, and

Early Adopter

Mark, Natalia, and Alexis Levey enjoying Camden, Maine, from the flying bridge of Alexis.

Capt. Mark Levey is my kind of guy. When he took ownership of a new Azimut 55 in early 2007, he immediately had the factory-installed electronics replaced with the just-introduced Simrad Glass

Raymarine A-Series

Raymarine has radically redesigned its A-Series of small plotters and plotter/fishfinders, adding AIS tracking, internal “high-sensitivity” GPS receivers, Sirius Satellite Weather and Audio capability, and many of the interface improvements seen in the recent V4 software update to the C- and E-Series. The units will come with Navionics Gold cartography built

Cobra MR F300 BT

Cobra MR F300 BT

The short-range Bluetooth wireless standard, commonly used for cellphone headsets, is now usefully making its way onto boats. So while Cobra’s new MR F300 BT may look quite like a VHF speaker mic, in fact it’s designed for making cell calls possible in a noisy and potentially wet environment. It has noise-cancelling

Callpod Dragon V2

Callpod's Dragon V2 headsets

When does an everyday Bluetooth cellphone headset become a desirable boating accessory? When a pair of them can also provide a captain and mate hands-free intercom capabilities up to 300 feet apart. The powerful transceivers in Callpod’s $100 Dragon V2 headsets are also purported to double or triple

Standard BH-2

How about a wireless Bluetooth headset designed expressly for marine VHF? Standard Horizon’s BH-2 works with either the company’s new HX760S handheld or as an add-on to certain of its Quantum fixed VHF radios. It can be used in either push-to-talk or completely hands-free voice-activated modes (with two VOX sensitivity levels selectable). The HX760S—which floats

Yanmar Smart Check

Yanmar Smart Check

Unfortunately you'll need Yanmar electronic engines like the BY, LY3, and SY Series (so far) plus at least one Raymarine E-120 to even consider plunking down $795 for the Smart Check software package that will debut this fall. But once you realize all that it will do,