It’s astounding how many sensors are packed into that 23/4-inch-diameter housing: ultrasonic wind, GPS, compass, accelerometer (pitch and roll), thermometer, barometer, and humidity. That means, among other things, that Airmar’s WeatherStation can separate apparent wind activity from boat motion and, thus, deliver true wind speed and direction to most any display you have, using the ubiquitous NMEA 0183 data standard. However, many displays don’t yet know how to handle, say, barometric pressure, let alone graph it or calculate a dew point. Hence Airmar has introduced the Combiner, sometimes known as a multiplexer. Data can still go to 0183 displays—working well with the E-120 and great with a Furuno RD30 (the Garmin 3120 surprisingly doesn’t do wind yet)—but it all also goes via USB to your computer, feeding either the WeatherCaster program included in the $1,100 kit or the PC charting program of your choice. Nice detail: More 0183 sensors can route through the Combiner, and it will even prioritize redundant GPS and heading data.
This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.