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iKommunicate brings the "Internet of Things" to boats…


 

iKommunicate from Digital Yacht is a new gateway designed to get traditional marine electronics connected to the next generation of interfacing and the internet of things.  It was developed via a successful Kickstarter crowd funded project back in early 2016 and is now available as a consumer product.

NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 interfacing have been utilised for many years and are now the de facto interconnect standard for all major brands of electronics.  They are super reliable but relatively old fashioned in that they are slow and also complex for application developers to work with – like a dial up modem in a broadband age.  There are also legal issues with regard to certification and documentation which stalls innovative product development.  The next generation of marine interfacing will integrate more items like engines, switches, sensors and even other marine assets like buoys and marinas so a new standard is required.

Since 2012, a group of talented, boat owning developers have been actively creating a new open source interfacing protocol called Signal K.  The new iKommunicate gateway from Digital Yacht acts as a gateway from traditional NMEA based systems to the new Signal K platform allowing existing boat electronics to integrate with the next generation of connectivity.

Signal K is an HTML5 "web ready" JSON based data format, that makes web and mobile app development really simple – even for amateurs.  Apps can be written in minutes and data viewed in a browser.  For instance, NMEA 2000 engine data such as fuel flow, temperature and pressure could be logged and then analysed for any trends indicating an engine service requirement.  Internet integration is also easy with all sorts of social media possibilities using Twitter and Facebook for logging and tracking.

iKommunicate  can also act as a simple on board  webserver so PDF manuals can be stored and viewed as required. Files can be stored on the integrated SD card reader.

iKommunicate  features 3 NMEA 0183 interfaces and 1 NMEA 2000 interface so there’s plenty of connectivity.  It has a built in webserver and ethernet port for easy connection to a wifi router so data can be shared with devices like tablets, Kindles, PCs and smart phones.  NMEA data is also made available on the ethernet port.  There are already many apps that are compatible including NMEA Remote, iNavX, Active Captain, and Navionics (for sonar charts)

iKommunicate  is also simple to install. It’s now available as a commercial product and is competitively priced at £220.

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Signal K….

 

In what looks like an industry first, Digital Yacht have taken to the crowd funding platform, Kickstarter, to introduce a new interfacing technology for the marine electronics market.
NMEA iconnectivity has been with us for the past 30 odd years and while reliable, well proven and ubiquitous, it struggles to adequately support smart devices and smart data and in particular the next generation of the internet of things afloat. There are also some legal issues in that products and apps must be certified which is costly and stifles the smaller application developers. 

However, things are changing with the introduction of a new open source platform called Signal K which has been quietly developing over the past few years and is now ready for mainstream adoption. 

You can find out more at www.signalk.org

Signal K

Signal K aims to be the next generation solution for marine data exchange. It is intended to be used not only for communication between instruments and sensors on board a single vessel, but also to allow for sharing of data between multiple boats, aids to navigation, ports, marinas or any marine asset. It is designed to be easily implemented by web and mobile applications and to connect boats and ships to the Internet of Things Afloat.

Interestingly, at this year’s NMEA Conference, the Signal K presentations were the most attended of any and all the leading manufacturers have woken up to the potential.

Digital Yacht have designed a gateway called iKommunicate that links NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 based systems to the new Signal K format allowing existing marine electronics to integrate with the new standard. But like any emerging technology, a catalyst is needed to seed change so they’ve embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to gather early adopters and bring the product to market.

"Kickstarter isn’t just about the funding element of a new product but also about the valuable direct relationship we can establish with early adopters who can provide so much information for applications. We see the co-existence of NMEA and Signal K being the perfect technology match and iKommunicate acts as an easy to install gateway" commented Nick Heyes, CEO of Digital Yacht.

The project is live now and will run until mid December. 

You can find out more at:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1689846268/ikommunicate-gateway-enabling-the-internet-of-thin

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SAFER THAN FLARES….SAFE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.


 

imageThe SOS Distress Light is the first and only acceptable LED Visual Distress Signal Device to completely replace dangerous and environmentally harmful pyrotechnic flares for "Night time Visual Distress Signal for Boats."

In the US the Coast Guard-Compliant Orange Distress Flag fulfils the legal requirement for "Day Visual Distress Signal for Boats" (46 CFR 160.072).

The optical design of the Sirius SOS Distress Light provides an Omni- directional light display for surface rescue craft and a vertical beam visible to aircraft flying overhead.

The light is visible up to 10+ nautical miles, and the SOS C-1001’s beam lasts for hours compared to the minutes-long lifespan of traditional pyrotechnic distress.

No more expired flares to dispose of, no more hazardous flares to store.

No more fear of getting burned or setting your boat on fire if you have to use your flares.

 

 

 

FEATURES AND BENEFITS

  • Complies with all U.S. Coast Guard requirements for “Night Visual Distress Signals” 46 CFR 161.013
  • When combined with the included daytime distress signal flag, meets all USCG Federal Requirements for carriage of DAY and NIGHT VDS.
  • Designed, engineered, patented, and produced in the USA.
  • ONE TIME PURCHASE — no expiry date so no disposal is needed
  • Family SAFE
  • SIMPLE on/off switch
  • Visible up to 10+ nautical miles
  • Environmentally safe

When will the UK see the light !

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Jump start your engine or genset with Lithium-ion ?…

 

WEEGO have produced a jump start battery that fits in your pocket !.. Weego, an innovator in portable battery solutions, announced the launch of its Weego Jump Starter Battery+ for the marine market. A compact and portable jump starter, the Jump Starter Battery+ eliminates the worry and fear of a dead battery, for as little as $99.00.

“Dead batteries at best ruin your day and at worst put you in a tight spot,” said Gerry Toscani, CEO, Weego. “Our small, high-powered Weego Jump Starters are perfect for boaters. Lithium-ion batteries only lose about 2% of their power per month, so you can throw it in a safety kit or locker and forget about it until it is needed.”

Weego is pocket sized and capable of starting boats, cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and more, as well as charging phones, tablets, speakers and other USB devices. Incredibly easy to use, each Weego model includes jumper cables that can be attached to the terminals of a dead battery. Easy to follow instructions are printed on the back for quick reference.

To start, boaters simply connect the clamps to the battery terminals, connect the cable to the Jump Starter Battery+, turn the power on and start the engine. A built-in LED flashlight assists in low-light situations and a strobe with SOS function draws on-the-water or roadside attention if needed. A 3-in-1 USB charging cord, 8 popular-brand laptop connectors, wall and car chargers, and a carrying case are included.

Weego Jump Starters are offered in three sizes.

  • JS6 Standard is capable of starting petrol engines up to 4.6L and diesel engines up to 2.4L;
  • JS12 Heavy Duty can easily start petrol engines up to 6.4L, diesel engines up to 3.2L;
  • JS18 Professional can start petrol engines greater than 6.4L and up to 4.8L diesels.

Constructed with durable, high-quality components, Weego features built-in circuitry protection, an auto-off feature, and jumper cables with both a fuse and diode to ensure user safety, as well as protection for the unit. Weego jump starters offer up to 1,000 charging cycles (a full charge plus full discharge), have an operating temperature from -4 to 140-degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 60-degrees Celsius), are independent lab tested, and are backed by an 18-month warranty.

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Where in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle….

Apologies to Lewis Carroll for the mis-quote above, but we are so accustomed to knowing exactly where we are – or at least having smartphones and chart plotters telling us.

I have noticed that some power boat skippers and even sailors (hrmphh) plot routes perilously close to hazards or marker buoys. As if the GPS is so accurate that it can help you miss a hazard by metres; that the hazard marker hasn’t drifted since the chart in the plotter was last updated; or that the hazard itself hasn't moved – a sandbank for example.

Chart plotter and smartphone manufacturers like to re-enforce the myth by claiming accuracy “less than 2m” for example…hmmm.

Lets just remember that GPS isn't a collective noun it is only one system. So where is all this data coming from? There are two live systems and several planned ones to consider:

1. United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS). 24 satellites operational.

2. Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) operated by the Russian Space Forces. 31 satellites operational.

3. The Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is a regional system being expanded into the global Compass navigation system by 2020. 15 satellites operational, 20 additional satellites planned

4. Galileo positioning system of the European Union planned to go live by 2020. 4 satellites operational, 22 additional satellites planned

5. Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by Indian Space Research Organisation. 4 satellites operational, 3 additional satellites planned

6. Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), is a proposed three-satellite regional time transfer system and enhancement for GPS covering Japan. 1 satellite operational.

7. The Doris system designed by Cnes, the French Space Agency.

To all intents and purposes its only the GPS and the GLONASS that we need to worry about at the moment. You may have spotted that the forces at play behind these networks are on opposite sides of a significant political divide  but lets not worry about that…for now…

In order to get a fix on your location, your chart plotter or smart device needs an unobstructed view to at least four satellites.  Four out of the GPS system’s 24 sounds like a lot, but the satellites are spread around the world and can’t always be accessed where you are. Access to a larger blanket of satellites supplies your devices with more accurate location data. If your chart plotter or smart device can access the additional 24 satellites of GLONASS (not all 31 are operational at all times), then it will acquire satellites up to 20% faster than devices that rely on GPS alone and allow your location to be pinpointed to as close as 2 meters. Not so with GPS alone.

GLONASS compatible devices include many Garmin devices (see here), all iPhones since the iPhone 4S, and the Digital Yacht GPS150 external antenna.

When it comes to Raymarine the situation is more complicated – what did you expect! The ‘a’ series units (a95, a97, a98, a125, a127 & a128) have the GPS/GLONASS acquisition built in. On top of that you can enhance this with an external GA150 antenna. If you stupidly bought the other hybrid chart plotter, the e series (I bought the e125), then they have GPS only….even if you add the recommended Raymarine RS130 external antenna…..go figure.

Search & Rescue

One last word in support of Galileo. Galileo is planned to provide a unique global search and rescue (SAR) function. Satellites will be equipped with a transponder which will relay distress signals from the user's transmitter to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which will then initiate a rescue operation. At the same time, the system is projected to provide a signal to the users, informing them that their situation has been detected and help is on the way. This latter feature is new and is considered a major upgrade compared to the existing GPS and GLONASS navigation systems, which do not provide feedback to the user. Tests in February 2014 found that for Galileo's search and rescue function, operating as part of the existing International Cospas-Sarsat Programme, 77% of simulated distress locations can be pinpointed within 2 km, and 95% within 5 km.

So check out the spec for your chart plotter; iPad or other smart device – and give those hazzards and marker buoys a wide berth !

 

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