Electronics

KVH Tracphone FB150

KVH has joined the growing list of suppliers that are offering phone and Internet services through Inmarsat's new Fleet Broadband 150. With a dome that is just 13.5" in diameter and that weighs a little over 11 pounds, the Tracphone FB150 is the smallest and lightest of KVH's family of Inmarsat satellite broadband systems.

Described by the company as

Upgrade or Download?

It’s always nice to buy presents for the one you love—even if it is difficult, sometimes, to persuade your wife that the boat needs a new plotter more than she needs that designer purse.

But maybe you figure that now isn’t the best time to be spending big money on electronics upgrades. Well, the good news is that you can often significantly improve your

Apollo II HD and Standard Horizon’s Plotter/Fishfinders

Apollo II HD

OceanView Technologies has added a new dual-sensor camera to its line-up of night-vision systems.

As the name suggests, the Apollo II HD is a high-definition version of the company’s popular Apollo II. Like the Apollo II, the HD combines a thermal-imaging camera with a highly sensitive low-light camera that is capable of

Iridium Openport

After conducting extensive beta-testing that included sending five terminals around the world in boats competing in the Vendee Globe single-handed sailboat race, Iridium has launched the world’s only global broadband service.

Called OpenPort, the new service provides three independent phone lines and an Internet connection at anything up to 128 kilobytes

GPS Ailing and Failing?

Garmin Colorado 400C still better than a sextant even if the GPS is getting old ($599.99 MSRP; www.garmin.com)


There is growing concern that GPS performance may soon start to degrade, as the Air Force struggles to keep its constellation of aging satellites in operation.

It’s been more than 30 years since

A Fatal Error

The ill-fated fishing vessel Lady Mary, docked at her home port of Cape May, New Jersey, before the incident.

EPIRB manufacturers around the world are urging owners to make sure their distress beacons are properly registered. The warning follows the loss of the scallop dredger

Sunny Days

In this enviro-conscious age, everybody’s aware that the sun is a great source of free, clean energy. Which is why there are scads of handy chargers out there, from small multi-purpose versions to laptop-friendly models, that let you power your personal electronics using only solar rays. Rather not fire up the genset? Then why not embrace the end of outlet dependency?

ICOM IC-M36

The latest addition to Icom’s lineup of handheld VHFs is the IC-M36, a waterproof, floating radio with a couple of extra features specifically intended to minimize the effect of background noise. One is a noise-cancellation system similar to those found on headphones from Sony and Bose. A second microphone on the back of the radio picks up background noise, which

Hazardous to Your Health?

Garmin pulsed radar


The microwaves that reheat your coffee are very much the same as those transmitted by marine radars, so it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that they could “cook” anyone who gets in their way. And we all know that some types of radiation can produce deformities in unborn children or trigger the

Water-Ready

Ask anyone who’s ever dropped their cellphone in the drink: Water and electronics do not mix. But before you’re forced to replace yet another waterlogged gizmo, take a gander at these splash-proof personal electronics. From a wireless MP3 player that works when totally submerged to a protective pack that’ll help keep your iPhone safe, we’ve got the goods on the newest waterproof technology. Why

Garmin VHFs

Long known for its navigational electronics, Garmin is now about to enter the VHF market with two fixed-mount radios. Pre-release information describes the VHF100 as an entry-level radio, but at $250, it’s definitely full-featured. It’s waterproof, has a large 3.2-inch screen and straightforward controls, and can handle NOAA weather alerts as well as the usual

The End of the GPS Monopoly?

Russian technicians fit a cluster of three Glonass satellites to a booster rocket.

Sometime in the last few years of the 20th century, a new term was added to the everyday vocabulary of ordinary Americans: GPS moved from James Bond movies to the dashboards of cars and trucks, the handlebars of motorcycles, and the backpacks of

Search and Rescue

In January, thieves ran PWCs up to a 35-foot Fountain that was docked in Fort Lauderdale, cut her lines, and quickly towed her away. Within seconds, the boat’s owner received a text message on his cellphone alerting him to the fact that the vessel was on the move and providing her exact positioning, speed, and heading. Armed with this information, he contacted

Customizable Monitoring

Nauticomp glass-bridge displays give a great aesthetic to this yacht’s bridge.

Few will argue that the iPhone doesn’t represent a giant leap in digital technology. Its LCD touchscreen with myriad applications allows owners to download an entire album, listen to it while checking the tide tables, and even have songs automatically

Automatic Autopilot

John Redmond of Redmond Marine Electronics in Destin, Florida, does some pre-assembly in Betty Jane’s saloon.

Hand-steering my 1988 Grand Banks 32 Betty Jane for hundreds of miles down the eastern seaboard some years back qualifies me for a profound appreciation of autopilots. Certainly, the trip was physically onerous,

Radio Days

Everyone understands the importance of a VHF radio. A fixed-mount unit provides a key communications link to other boaters, the Coast Guard, and local police. If you travel offshore, a VHF may be your only means of requesting assistance. On the other hand, if disaster strikes or your boat loses power, a portable handheld VHF could make the difference between inconvenience and calamity.

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

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

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

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

MySiMON

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

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,

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

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