Comminication

Communication

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

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

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

Shine Micro RadarPlus AIS-BX

Shine Micro RadarPlus AIS-BX

It's been almost 18 months since the U.S. Coast Guard approved a variety of yacht-size Class B AIS transponders, and the FCC still hasn't added its blessing! I'll spare you further ranting, but understand that we may have to wait for a new administration before we can use this valuable safety tool.

The Skinny on SSB

Cruisers who enjoy spending time away from crowded harbors and anchorages need a radio that will keep them in touch with friends and receive information from many different sources. While nearly all boats carry a VHF, its maximum range isn't more than about 25 miles. This is because VHF radio waves travel in a straight line

VSAT vs. Fleet Broadband

With a solar cell wingspan of 145 feet, Inmarsat's new I-4 birds promise reliable, global coverage.

I was annoyed! I'd found a cozy corner at the Fort Lauderdale airport with a five-bar connection to the free WiFi Internet service there, but I could barely pull up a Web page, and my e-mail icon just spun hopelessly. I tried the

OrSat AL-7103 MKII

OrSat AL-7103 MKII

According to Orbit Technology, this 1.15-meter (45-inch) Ku-band marine-stabilized antenna is the first of its size range to be type approved by Eutelsat and Intelsat, meaning no further verification is needed to use either of these broadband services, which, along with

WxWorx XM Receiver

WxWorx hard- and software packages let you monitor XM Satellite Weather with your onboard PC, and its latest receiver makes installation easier than ever. Exchangeable modules allow the PC interface to be either traditional RS-232 serial, wireless Bluetooth, USB, or Ethernet, and the latter two can also supply

Digital Antenna DA 2330

Digital Antenna DA 2330

Subscribing to XM weather via WxWorx entitles you to a great rate on XM's multichannel-audio goodness, but you'll have to run yet another antenna to your boat's satellite radio-enabled stereo. Or maybe you want two XM or Sirius

Hello, Spot

Spot measures about 4 1⁄4" x 2 3⁄4".

As an innovative satellite messenger, Spot is hot, but in terms of marketing, Spot should be shot. And, thankfully, those are all the easy Spot word plays you'll hear from me. But be prepared for an onslaught elsewhere. Spot is getting a

Simrad GB40

Simrad GB40

Given the NX series and other new gear noted above, plus the big-yacht Glass Bridge GB60 system introduced last year, the networked, blackbox GB40 neatly fills the remaining hole in Simrad's lineup. Again, the

MatsyOnBoard SMART9522

MatsyOnBoard SMART9522

MatysOnBoard is a little like Spot, as it uses a satphone system's SMS facilities—in this case, Iridium's—to send one-button-push distress messages as well as other short messages and automated tracking

PulseTech Xtreme Charger

PulseTech Xtreme Charger

What with the lab and a fleet of small craft, I use and abuse a lot of 12-volt batteries. Wasn't I tickled with how well the $100 Xtreme "five-stage maintenance" Marine Charger tested and then, when possible, charged and desulphated my scraggly collection, all the while telling me what it was up to with

KVH FleetBroadband

KVH FleetBroadband

The good news is that the advent of Inmarsat's FleetBroadband in November means that a yacht cruising almost anywhere from the U.S. West Coast eastward to Australia can get a decent Internet connection ("up to" 284 kbps) and make clear phone calls with a stabilized antenna dome just a foot high—even at the

Maptech Touch Screen Navigator

Maptech Touch Screen Navigator

Next month I'll profile the exciting new Raymarine G-Series and Furuno NavNet 3D systems, both of which are actually powerful PCs, though dedicated almost entirely to navigation. Maptech pioneered this concept, along with the touch-screen nav interface, way back in 2001, first with the Sea Ray

Lowrance LVR-880 VHF/FM Radio

Lowrance LVR-880 VHF/FM Radio

In a world with so many VHF choices, two features on the Lowrance LVR-880 are especially noteworthy. One, it can receive stereo FM stations, even cut in with DSC calls, purportedly a first for a fixed VHF. Two, it uses NMEA 2000 to input GPS information and output DSC call data. This is especially

Tacktick Wireless Instruments

Tacktick Wireless Instruments Micronet Power Boat Wind Transmitter

The direction and speed of the wind are not only important pieces of information when maneuvering in close quarters, they're also a tip-off to weather changes. Tacktick makes it easy to get precise wind information—and most any other numerical

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

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

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

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