Electronics

Where To?

The four units displayed in my test lab below—ranging from the diminutive 440 all the way up to the touch-screen 5212—are a good representation of the five multifunction series that Garmin rolled out this year. Actually there are some 20 new models within those series, depending on what's included in terms of charts and functions like sounder and XM weather/radio and how you count

KVH TracPhone V7

KVH TracPhone V7

Always-on offshore high-speed Internet just became possible on yachts well under mega size. KVH's new TracPhone V7 system claims solid broadband speeds previously only possible with a VSAT antenna measuring one meter (about three feet) or more, though its 26-inch-wide dome is an astounding 85 percent smaller in

Raymarine ST70

Raymarine ST70

I believe strongly that bright, well-designed color screens can communicate information much better than the grayscale ones that we are generally used to seeing on the smaller devices around our helms. So if Raymarine's about-to-be-released ST70 instrument heads look anywhere near as crisp in real boat conditions as

Franson GpsGate 2.5

GpsGate started as a simple utility that let GPS data coming into a PC or PDA serial port work with many programs simultaneously. The latest $30 version extends the concept to things like Bluetooth and Internet, often simplifying their use in the process—and lets groups share their locations on the Web. Members can see where his/her buddies are at

Tiki Navigator Pro

Tiki Navigator is a particularly straightforward charting program with a clean, colorful interface. All sorts of help facilities, like those shown, are available but only show when you need them. The program just displays BSB raster charts, but that's the format NOAA makes available for free download (inexpensive DVD compilations are also available), and Tiki

Rendez-vous Tender Tracking

Rendez-vous uses 100-watt digital radios to create a private network amongst a yacht and her tenders. The technology, proven in the railway industry, has a 20-mile range from the mothership and farther if another tender is in between. Basic tracking information is cleverly sent in AIS data format so that any AIS-enabled plotter/computer that's also wired to any

ACR Nauticast B AIS Transponder

As you may recall from my March column, “Here Comes Class B,” I think yacht-level AIS transponders will be a valuable safety tool (even if there are a few glitches to overcome). Now I've had my first at-sea experience with one, an ACR Nauticast B, and I like it! First of

Riding on Penobscot Pilot

Huge freighters and tankers may frighten us small boaters, but they're also fascinating. I mean, how do you maneuver and dock a single-screw mountain of steel that's optimized for running long, straight legs? The answer, of course, is "very, very carefully," and it also applies to the way the pilots who specialize in this demanding task get to or from their work. I know a lot more about all this,

Magellan Crossover

In some ways Magellan's Crossover fulfills the navigate-anywhere promise even better than the Lowrance iWay 600c reviewed here last month. Compact, tough, and battery-powered, it can guide you on foot as well as in your car or boat. In fact, this 8.5-ounce PND (Personal

'Lectronics Lab

Most people, including my wife, call it a "basement," but I prefer to think of the area beneath our Maine home as a multifunctional work area, and a nice hangout. The carpentry shop under the original building, once used to finish off—well, almost finish—the floors above, even has south-facing windows, as the whole place is tucked into a hill. That topography also permitted a two-car

SeaTel Coastal 14

Last year KVH shook up the world of marine satellite TV with its unusually small M3 (see my column "TV on a 25-Footer?" November 2006). Even some big boats liked the idea of simple, solid performance in a subtle 14-inch dome, and the competition didn't wait long to respond. SeaTel's Coastal 14 ($4,395), for instance, offers the same dome size but builds in the

Sea-King 9815-RJ

King Controls, though a major player in the RV market, is still a new guy on the block in the yachting world. Hence the aggressive $3,695 price tag on its 14-inch Sea-King stabilized antenna system, which can feed two user-supplied receivers as is, more with an optional multiswitch. The 9815-RJ is also HD-compatible, which means that you'll need HD receivers, as

KVH M2

KVH has met the competition by rejiggering the original battle-beginning M3 into three models. Actually the M3st is the original—with a DirecTV receiver and IR/RF remote included—only a thousand dollars less costly at $3,995. Assuming the $4,995 position is the new M3dx, which lets you use your own HD receivers for DirecTV (plus $295 for a

GlobalStar 1700

The GlobalStar 1700 satellite phone ($999) is more than 40 percent smaller than previous models, plus it has a bright color screen and is purportedly a snap to use with a laptop, even a Mac, via a USB cable. That latter feature means that taking advantage of Globalstar’s 9.6-Kbps data rate—slow, but four times faster than chief competitor

Lowrance iWay 600c

The iWay 600c is a navigate-anywhere portable plotter featuring a bright five-inch touchscreen and a 30-gigabyte hard drive nearly filled with cartography. That includes Lowrance's complete NauticPath U.S. coastal charts (significantly improved from the original version), more than 3,000 U.S. lakes, all U.S. and Canadian roads, 5.5 million POIs, and even photo

Paradox Marine Magellan Platinium

The marine version of the Paradox Magellan wireless security and monitoring system is earning a good reputation with boaters and insurance writers. Now the original developer, Edgewater Technologies, has further focused itself by becoming Paradox Marine and improving the system’s shore connection. While WiFi and cellular may work fine for a cruiser’s online

Connected Cruising

Picture a spring evening that's so clear and calm you've jumped out from Charleston, South Carolina, planning to chug through the night to Beaufort, North Carolina, and thus skip a sometimes shallow and/or tedious section of the Intracoastal Waterway plus enjoy some offshore solitude. But, darn it, you've got 21st-century habits and would like to spend some of that time on the Web, checking your

SeaKey v2.0

SeaKey v2.0 is major upgrade from the original, adding an LCD interface and two-way Orbcomm satellite communications. However, the goals remains the same: to connect boaters underway with a call center able to both handle emergencies and deliver concierge service, plus provide geo-fence security and simple monitoring of bilge level and main battery bank when

ACR ResQFix

ACR's ResQFix Personal Locator Beacon is 35 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than its previous AquaFix model and yet purportedly performs better. This is not so trivial when you consider that this six-inch-high unit is meant to acquire a fast GPS fix in tough conditions (like from its float bag next to you in a rough sea), transmit that position and your ID via 406 MHz to the

Cobra 425

The big consumer electronics company Cobra has gotten serious about marine VHF, introducing both this feature-packed handheld and a Class D DSC fixed radio. For instance, the $170 HH425 and the $190 F80 are each submersible and backed by three-year warranties. Both also offer a "rewind, play again" feature that spaceshots like me will find handy—a built-in memory chip records the last 20

The Road to the Future

GPS technology has been the major force in bringing marine route planning into the 21st century. The Navstar GPS satellite network that made its way to us after the 1986 Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) was a godsend: CRADA brought commercially viable, federalized positioning technology to the private sector, and we boaters benefitted with the chartplotters that grace our

Man Overboard

Though some of life’s most enjoyable moments take place while boating, it’s no secret that Mother Nature can be unforgiving when it comes to the ocean. Indeed, the worst-case scenario is always a possibility. There have been many technological advances in marine electronics in recent years designed to help ensure safety on the water. Automatic-fire-suppression systems? They have been standard

Gauges to GUIs

Why reinvent the wheel? Faria tapped Maptech to help create Maestro.

You can almost smell stacks of freshly stitched and pressed Civil War uniforms as you walk around Faria's antique brick and granite factory on the banks of the Thames River just north of New London,

VHF 101

When it comes to communicating on a marine VHF radio, there are no "good buddies" and no "breaker 19s." Smokey and the Bandit may have made CB radio jargon hip for a time, but a marine VHF is definitely not a CB radio. It’s a serious piece of safety equipment whose use is regulated by the FCC and the U.S. Coast Guard. When used properly it provides a critical communication link to

McMurdo SmartFind

Similar to ACR’s ResQFix PLB, McMurdo has introduced a GEPIRB (GPS-equipped Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) that's smaller yet supposedly performs better. The $849, 1.5-pound SmartFind Plus accomplishes this largely by using LEDs for its strobe, which

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