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by Ben Ellison

Perfect Picks?

By Ben Ellison | Posted May 2007 | Add a Comment

I had two strong reactions to the idea of picking ideal marine-electronics systems for three different styles of boats. The first went something like, “Yikes, there’s a fast way to annoy a lot of worthy but unlisted manufacturers,” and the second, “Oh, but that would be impossible anyway.” On further reflection I realized that truth number two would (hopefully) null out truth number one and that

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Universal Aggravation

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

Craig Wallace DaleYes!” was the almost universal response to my idea of opening this column about universal remotes with a soul-satisfying photograph of one being smashed to smithereens. I can’t think of another class of gadget that is such a universal example of beneficent technology run amuck. If you are anywhere near my age,

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Garmin 5000 Series

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

Just as the flagship 4000 series covered in the February issue was enjoying its U.S. debut at the Miami International Boat Show, Garmin upped the ante by showing prototypes of its even newer flagship 5000 series. The four models—eight- and 12-inch units, each with a choice of built-in chart portfolios—are very similar to the 4000 series except they’re almost completely

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Northstar 6100i Sirius Weather

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

Also at Miami, Northstar demonstrated how the powerful soft-key interface on its 6100i multifunction displays (MFDs) can now enable users to easily mix and view all the real-time and forecast weather elements available from Sirius Satellite Radio. For instance, that overlay key can rotate through six customizable data mix presets, each neatly represented in the little window by icons. The

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Ray218 VHF

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

Raymarine has started an impressive new VHF line with the $569 Ray218. It’s a Class D DSC set that purportedly offers the best audio specifications—like receiving sensitivity and intermodulation rejection, plus spurious transmitting emissions—in the business. It’s also the first VHF ever with soft keys, which appear quite useful for negotiating complicated menus or getting at favorite

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Furono FA30 AIS Receiver

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

The Furuno FA30’s Ethernet port means it can plug right into a NavNet vx2 network, but it also offers standard NMEA AIS output and comes with a PC AIS plotting program able to use the Ethernet feed, so it can be set up in many ways. The FA30—expected to cost less than $1,000—is a true dual-channel receiver (see more on

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Carlisle & Finch NightFinder 200

By Ben Ellison | Posted April 2007 | Add a Comment

Combining a 15 million candlepower Xenon spotlight with a 320x240 pixel thermal camera yields more than just the efficiency of shared casing, cabling, and pan/tilt controllers. You can leave the thermal going all night and if you spot something indistinct, hit it with the already-aimed spot. And if that “thing” is hostile, note that the powerful beam, aided by

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Charles IMcharger

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

Charles’ new battery charger is a good example of how old-time electrical manufacturers are getting into microprocessors, info screens, and boat networking—and hence into your helm and my electronics columns. The IMcharger, as in Intelligent Marine, really is pretty smart. It can feed four battery types—gel, lead acid, AGM, or NiCad—in up to four 12- or 24-volt

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Murphy HelmView

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

F.W. Murphy has added chartplotting ability to its 6.4-inch VGA HelmView display—just add a NMEA 2000 GPS sensor to its network, and slip a Navionics SD chart card into the slot—but its prime function is monitoring engine and other system data. Besides N2K, it has two other CANbus ports able to interface with the J1979 protocol that are even more

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Parker Fuel-Tank Selector Valve

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

Yet another big-time industrial manufacturer reaches up into the electronic helm. Parker’s Fluid Control Division developed this solenoid drive selector valve so that a skipper can change tanks without leaving the helm. In fact, the first customer, Hinckley, set it up to switch tanks automatically based on fuel levels. That six-port model you see is able to

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