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Xmas Gadget List 2010…

Santa It seems that my Xmas gadget gift list is getting more and more popular each year.

You might want to check out the Xmas Gadget List 2009 and
Xmas Gadget List 2008  too – there may still be something that takes your fancy there…

So here is my 2010 list of stuff, some practical, some bizarre and some bizarrely practical 🙂

Why not send this link to your kids and your better half …. 🙂

Solight2 If you’re looking for a small, portable solar powered light that you can stick just about anywhere, now there’s an answer, the solar powered Lightship
apple-iphone-4 Smartphone1 – best seller is the iPhone of course.

I have one and the marine apps are great – including the excellent Navionics chart plotter app.

So much so that using it on board has become a normal if not essential part of my cruising life.

Get the chartplotter app from Navionics

motorola-droid Smartphone2 – what is the best phone to run the Android OS ? – well it depends where you live and how good the local 3G network suppliers are – but definitely get a smartphone running Android 2.2 (at the present time of writing Sep 2010)

The apps are also extensive and there is a Navionics version for Android too.

Get the chartplotter app from Navionics

To choose which phone try the  Droidthing Database

BikeInnerTubeShelf This innovative design from SystemDesignStudio for shelving got me thinking.

It uses bicycle inner tubes to create a shelving system that would of course be able to absorb shocks and keep the book – and other stuff in one place…

What about about other uses for bicycle inner tubes on a boat…what a great idea !

chobi-waterproof_cam The new Waterproof Chobi Camera, ultra compact(the size of a web cam) , multifunctional and pocket sized is one of the most compact digital cameras ever!

This new waterproof version allows you to take 1280 x 960 pix pictures and record video at 680 x 480 pix 30fps, and to endure up to 20m under sea!

Good for peeking under the boat?…

Thanko1 Thanko2 This is a tiny webcam from “Thanko “ – but it uses Wlan (2.4 GHz) to communicate wirelessly with a USB receiver that plugs into your laptop. The manufacturers claim a 10 m range and it has basic video of 320 × 240 pixels (QVGA) with speed at 15 fps.

It comes with a a rechargeable battery – lasts 5 hours – and can be charged using the USB connection on your laptop.


Now this really is cool….

Taiwan company Aiptek announced the PocketCinema Z20 that combines a pico projector and HD camcorder into a palm-size device. The Z20 is capable of recording 1280x720p HD video and 5 Megapixel still images. It has 2GB internal memory but it will support up to 32GB microSD cards.

The PocketCinema Z20 utilizes RGB LED technology and is able to projector images up to 65-inch in 2 meter distance. The pocket device has touch-sensitive backlight buttons and built-in Li-ion battery. It offers HDMI output and accepts composite video input. A remote control is included.

Now just imagine connecting this up to your chartplotter – if it has a composite video output – or to your iPhone using the special cable – and then projecting the output on to your sails…. what do you mean “why?”…. because you can!

Mili Projector On the same theme – The MiLi evolution features an LCoS image processor producing a 640 x 480 VGA image at up to 70 inches. The LED bulb used to project the image will last up to 20000 hours, so no longer will you need to change a bulb again.

The whole package incorporates an Apple adapter dock for your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Classic, which will even charge your “i” product whilst it is being used.

HandPresso I know its not an electronic gadget but….the Handpresso Wild Outdoor Picnic Set comes in a leatherette case complete with 1 Handpresso Wild, 1 Thermo Flask, 2 napkins and 4 unbreakable outdoor espresso cups.

The flask uses E.S.E. (Easy Serve Espresso) pods, which come in a variety of types of coffee. “Handpresso produces a ‘vintage’ coffee with a delicious aroma and a perfect crema.” All you need is hot water. Simply pump the machine to the required pressure (about 30-40 pumps), add hot water, then put in the E.S.E. pod.

Push the button, and “Bobs your Uncle”! You have a rich-tasting espresso with a delightful aroma and a perfect crema

GridIt As a fellow geek I am sure you are taking more and more “stuff” on and off the boat and trying to hold it down somehow while you are are sailing. T

his Grid-It system from Cocoon Innovation is just the job.


If you have wished you could mount boating accessories and electronics wherever you want them without drilling yet another hole. Then have a look at the SeaSucker site.

These are not just standard suckers. The vacuum pump system creates such a powerful seal, the 6? mount is able to hold up to 210 lbs. (the standard 4.5? cup holds up to 120 lbs). Sea Sucker also has a built-in safety feature: if the vacuum seal happens to weaken, a red line will appear in the valve. If you see red, just give it a few pumps and the vacuum returns to full strength – without ever having to remove or reset the mount.

Mount rod holders, dive tanks, marine electronics, drink holders, grab rails, cutting tables, coolers – pretty much anything, and without leaving a mark when you remove it…


Ever had your cell phone take an unexpected swim in the marina?…

The Bheestie Bag  is designed to dry out a wet cell phone, digital camera, iPod, headphone set, or any small electronic device — even if it’s been fully submerged.

Invented by two frustrated moms/sisters (after watching a sad little boy pull his Gameboy from a pond), the innovative silver pouch contains an interior bead packet that pulls moisture from the device. Simply drop the device in the bag, zip the top and let it absorb the moitsure. You can use the bag regularly to dry out everyday moisture caused by rain, sea spray, humidity, sweat, even tears….


Amazon Dioder…These are low cost lighting options if you want to use LED lighting in your boat. The LED has 30 times longer life than an incandescent bulb, consumes less energy and never has to be replaced. It can be used in small spaces, like inside a cabinet or along a row of cabinets above a counter top and you can switch it to show red light too for night time. They can be connected together (up to 4 pieces) in a straight line or L-shape. There is similar product from IKEA here – but I have shown the Amazon version in the picture because it seems to be a more comprehensive kit, and it comes with a remote control !

Husky Wet Dry This handy little Wet and Dry vacuum has many uses on the boat not just for standard cleaning jobs but for getting that last drop of water out of the bilge – or out of the fridge/cool box – as a backup bilge pump – as a nut and screw retriever when you drop that vital connection under the engine !

It has a 1.75 Peak hp, 4.0 amp motor. Converts into a blower to clear debris. Dent resistant plastic tank. 10 ft. Power cord. 4 ft. Hose with multi purpose nozzle and utility nozzle.

It can be found at HomeDepot and many other places


3D braille map that talks….


Brainovi The Brainovi is a conceptual portable device designed to assist the visually impaired with navigation.

The unit interprets voice commands from the user and relays navigational information via a touch display and bluetooth headset for spoken directions from the handset.

The touch display uses a pin matrix surface to show roads and buildings in the immediate vicinity (surrounding ten meters) and provides the correct orientation with a built in compass.



The Brainovi was developed by Korean designers Seung-Hyun Yoon, Seol-Hee Son and Ji-Youn Kim, I think this concept device has great promise. They are amongst a number of very innovative Korean designers – see Seung-Hyun Yoon’s wood phone and Ji-Youn Kim’s Mybi Touch too….,

Its going to be interesting to see what innovations come from this corner of the world and how they impact navigation for disabled as well as able bodied sailors in the years to come….


Lasers to measure wind 1000m away…


image Optical Air Data Systems (OADS), LLC, a small, award-winning high-technology business in Manassas, Virginia, is a world leader in the high power fiber-optic laser business with additional expertise in Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

The Vindicator® laser wind sensor (LWS) is a forward-looking LIDAR system capable of measuring real-time three-dimensional wind speed and direction data at varying ranges. The sensor design is based on state-of-the-art fiber laser technology developed and patented at Optical Air Data Systems.

Catch the Wind Inc  have licensed the OADS technology and create equipment that enables engineers to optimally align wind turbines in relation to the wind.

Their innovative handheld product – The WindSeeker™ Xtreme LWS can take rapid wind data measurements. The device’s compact design makes it a perfect tool for rapid wind prospecting and initial resource assessment. With its built-in wind profiling mode, it can quickly and simply generate a vertical wind profile at a set distance, giving you a picture of wind conditions at different elevations. You can detect wind sheer and veer conditions in a matter of seconds—wind conditions that could significantly impact the annual performance of a wind farm.

But of interest to sailors is the fact that Catch the Wind Inc have created a handheld version aimed at the luxury sailing market. It was used by BMW Oracle used in the last America’s Cup.

Racer’s Edge® LWS has no moving parts, is water-resistant and functions in a wide range of temperatures.

It also utilizes Bluetooth data transmission to remotely link to an onboard computer and download wind data instantly.

Would it be wonderful if FLIR incorporated this technology in Raymarine equipment at a price we could afford 🙂


There is more to ETA on a sail boat…



The SailTimer GPS was launched in the US recently for around US374 amid a lot of very interesting claims. Having researched the various technologies available for creating your own polar diagram I thought this device was rather innovative in its approach. since it claims to effectively create a polar diagram “on the fly”.

“…This is the first device in the history of sailing that can instantly tell you your optimal tacking angles.  And it can do this by learning the performance (“polar plots”) of your individual boat on different points of sail.  The Sailing GPS uses artificial intelligence to learn your boat’s unique performance with different wind angles, and then recommend the tacking angles that will get you there fastest.  The only SailTimer product that has this learning algorithm is The Sailing GPS…”

Normal GPS units do not account for the fact that sailboats tack to their destination.  If they don’t know how far the distance travelled is, obviously they can’t calculate the ETA properly. The Sailing GPS is the only device in the world that correctly calculates tacking distances, in order to display accurate arrival times and optimal tacking angles (patent pending).

There have been versions of the core SailTimer software used for Google Maps, Windows, Google Earth, iTunes and versions licensed to PC chartplotting programs, such as NavSim SailCruiser and MacENC.

Is this real competition for the top packages listed here that do take into account tacking lay lines and optimal routing? How about combining weather and tidal flow routing with the software algorithm in this device – now that would be clever!


Getting a Polar Diagram for your boat…

Having researched the articles on optimal routing recently, one of the many avenues of related research that presented itself was of course to do with determining what your boat performance characteristics really are. For a sailing yacht this at the very least involves having as reasonably accurate Polar Diagram.

PolarDesgner My previous posting entitled “Boat characteristics and learning to Wally” generated some comments from readers which are worth following up.

I have now discovered that the University of Technology at Delft have developed a mathematical model based on their research into hull design and performance which they call the Delft Systematic Yacht Hull Series (DSYHS)

Their research ranges from traditional sailing yachts to systematic research to research on modern racing machines. Over the last 35 years research has focused on the influence of various parameters (hull parameters or heel and trim of the yacht) on the total resistance and sideforce production of the yacht. A total number of around 60 yachts have been tested and this number is still rising.

The outcome of this research has been used to devise a hydrodynamic model that can be used to calculate the resistance components on a sailing yacht based on hull parameters. These expressions have been used to create a Velocity Prediction Program (or VPP), in which the performance of a generic yacht can be predicted.

Based on the DSYHS research Mikael Razola and Jakob Kuttenkeuler have created Polar Designer. This is a free web based program that you can use to calculate a polar diagram for your own yacht.

Give it a try….very interesting…