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Author Articles

by Ben Ellison

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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Offshore Systems Fuel Gauge

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

Offshore Systems’ nifty fuel gauge is built into a stainless steel deck fitting, right where you want it. One version, costing $349, can be used with existing analog tank-level senders and gauges; another $271 model just plugs into a boat’s NMEA 2000 network. If you go the latter route, you could also use Offshore’s $263 N2K senders, which claim two-percent

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BilgeWatch 8

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

The trouble with automatic bilge pumps is that they can hide a slowly building leak. The BilgeWatch 8 takes care of that issue, monitoring one to eight pumps simultaneously, showing you when they come on, recording their history, and delivering alerts and alarms based on your settings. The latter can trigger indicator lights, buzzers, relays, and/or auto

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Last Call VHF Repeater

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

Last Call is the good idea of a professional skipper in Puget Sound, Washington. Superficially it is simply an improved speaker for your VHF, but inside is a chip that constantly memorizes the last 60 seconds of whatever transmission breaks the radio’s squelch. Push the button on the top, and it will repeat it back to you, amplified even. This $100 accessory

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Bird on a Wire

By Ben Ellison | Posted March 2007 | Add a Comment

While isolation transformers tend to be terribly dull, they are valuable.Last summer I managed to cruise a snazzy, borrowed twin-screw flying-bridge boat from Maine to Connecticut. She was loaded with first-class, well-installed systems, most of which my relatively inexperienced crew and I learned to use pretty easily,

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Argonaut Tflex-G615

By Ben Ellison | Posted February 2007 | Add a Comment

Argonaut has broken a significant price barrier with the $995 waterproof and sunlight-viewable Tflex-G615 monitor. Its claim of an enormous 2,000-nit illumination equivalence may be exaggerated (the transflective technology used along with some standard backlighting is not really measurable), and in fact the G615 is not quite as bright as the same-size and

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Si-Tex ColorMax 15

By Ben Ellison | Posted February 2007 | Add a Comment

The $3,179 ColorMax 15 offers good multifunction display (MFD) for the money. The 15-inch, 1024x768-pixel screen is bright and sharp, rendering full-screen video as well as any MFD I’ve tested. The unit also has VGA out for a repeater and no fewer than five NMEA 0183 ports for AIS, GPS, autopilot, etc. The ColorMax 15 also supports every feature in the C-Map Max

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Sailor’s Solutions Sensibulb

By Ben Ellison | Posted February 2007 | Add a Comment

While all LED interior lights are long-lasting and energy-efficient, the quality of their light can vary significantly. The SensiBulb lives up to its claim: the warm color, intensity, and beam width of a 10-watt halogen bulb.The basic $40 bulb fits as is into most dome lights, and accessories enable retrofitting to many standard reading lamps. The

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SolLight LightShip

By Ben Ellison | Posted February 2007 | Add a Comment

The LightShip’s LEDs may be ordinary, even somewhat wimpy, but it gives you a choice of regular white or red save-your-night-vision colors, and it’s both waterproof and solar-powered. Thus the cute three-suction-cup, flying-saucer-like design makes sense; stuck to a sunny hatch or port, the $15 LightShip gathers energy for the night ahead, to be used either in

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Here Comes Class B

By Ben Ellison | Posted February 2007 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Software Radio's all-in-one PCB, firms like Comar coan easily produce Class B AIS units-once they are approved.That printed circuit board (PCB) at right may not look like much, but it's a key ingredient to the any-moment-now advent of Class B AIS transponders, and for that we kiss it. The evolving Automatic Identity

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