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Is it the year of the Watch?

During his Fall COMDEX 2002 keynote address, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates briefly unveiled the company’s Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) initiative, in which everyday devices such as alarm clocks, wristwatches, key chains, and even refrigerator magnets are made more intelligent through a new hardware and software platform that is small enough to scale down to the sizes required by such devices…it never caught on… and SPOT bit the dust in 2010. Since 2002, we have seen the records in small smart devices set by Apple – first with iPods then iPhones then iPads….but whatever happened to the humble wristwatch?

Recently WIMM Labs launched WIMM Wearable Platform – again aimed at very small devices – but they too seem to have gone quiet – their web site says “During the summer of 2012, WIMM Labs entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology and ceased sales of the Developer Preview Kit….”.

I though the smart wristwatch device would be made redundant by better and better smartphones – how many young people today even wear a watch?

Garmin_WatchNow along comes Garmin with the quatixtm.

It looks like Garmin are using their ANT technology to connect up this watch with other Garmin nav equipment – this is low power RF technology. The ANT protocol is designed and marketed by Dynastream Innovations Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of  Garmin.

The quatixtm is a high-sensitivity GPS navigator marine watch.

It’s the only GPS-enabled device that provides an incredible range of marine navigation features including automatic MOB detection, remote control of Garmin equipment, and streaming NMEA 2000® data to a navigating marine watch.

A highly accurate watch, it also includes sailing features never before combined into 1 watch, such as race countdown timer, virtual starting line, tack assist and tidal information.

It’s also equipped with an automatically calibrating altimeter and barometer, a 3-axis compass, temperature sensor and tide information.

Plus, it shares data wirelessly with other compatible Garmin apps.

  • Stream NMEA 2000 Data to Your WristWhen paired with a Garmin GNT™ 10 NMEA Transceiver (sold separately), you can wirelessly stream and view NMEA 2000 data, such as wind speed and direction, water depth, and more right on your wrist.
  • Specialized Sailing Features – The quatixtm combines advanced sail racing tools for unparalleled awareness and a competitive edge during a racing competition. quatixtm can easily set up a virtual starting line between 2 GPS waypoints. It then combines the starting line with the built-in countdown timer to calculate both distance to the line as well as desired speed and burn time available, which enables the vessel to cross the line at maximum speed at the exact starting time. Once the race has begun, the watch then switches to Tack Assist mode and indicates whether the vessel is getting headed or lifted based on the optimal tack angle provided and makes for a more efficient and controlled sailing experience.
  • Autopilot Remote Control Functions – This amazing watch also features built-in remote capabilities. It allows you to control a Garmin autopilot so you can move around on the boat while having information and control on your wrist.
  • Automatic Wireless MOB Activation – Should a crewmember wearing a quatixtm fall overboard, quatixtm will automatically send an MOB alert to the chart plotter (requires GNT™ 10 NMEA Transceiver sold separately).

Watch this space Smile

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$10 app puts Navtex on your Android Phone!

Now and again you see a really good bit of programming.

Check out DroidNavtex.

DroidNavtexThis brilliant little app can decode NAVTEX messages from any SSB, amateur radio, or shortwave receiver.

So you need two things – an Android smartphone and an SSB receiver.

Smartphone – At the moment there is only an Android version of the app so good news if you have an Android smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy SII, or an Android tablet like the Asus Transformer TF101

SSB receiver – I have a Tecsun PL660 on board – but judging by user feedback, people have also used the Sony ICF-SW100 and the Sony ICF-SW7600 successfully.

NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) is an international automated medium frequency direct-printing service for delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts, as well as urgent marine safety information to ships. It was developed to provide a low-cost, simple, and automated means of receiving this information aboard ships at sea within approximately 370 km (200 nautical miles) off shore.

NAVTEX broadcasts are primarily made on the Medium frequencies of 518 kHz and 490 kHz. The international NAVTEX frequency is 518 kHz, and these broadcasts should always be in English. Regional transmission of NAVTEX uses 490 kHz specifically for broadcasts in local languages. In the USA NAVTEX is broadcast by the U.S. Coast Guard District Broadcast Notices to Mariners affecting ships outside the line of demarcation, and inside the line of demarcation in areas where deep draft vessels operate.

DroidNavtex is able to decode NAVTEX messages from your receiver through the phones/tablets microphone or through a connected interface. Special audio filters even decode very weak signals through the microphone and make DroidNavtex a very affordable alternative to high priced decoders.

Even if you already have a dedicated Navtex receiver on board, you can use this app with your smartphone or tablet while in the marina cafe, or at home when you are planning – brilliant.

  • An “Auto mode” finds the frequency and the sideband of the Navtex signal automatically. With “Auto mode” turned off the frequency and sideband can be adjusted manually
  • Special audio filters decode very weak signals
  • A built-in database stores the received messages which can then be filtered, sorted and shared. Messages can be deleted individually, in groups or by age
  • To save battery power 7 timers can be set to start DroidNavtex at a given time to decode messages. All timers can be set in local time or UTC

I hope they bring out an Apple OS version they really deserve to sell a million! Smile

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Seaiq Open–FREE iPad & iPhone charting app

 

IMG_0047The SEAiq apps are a collection of simple but powerful marine charting apps for iPads and iPhones. They provide common chart plotter features such as chart display, GPS, tracks, waypoints, and routes.

SEAiq Open is the only vector marine chartplotter app that allows you to use your own charts on your iPhone or iPad. It supports S-57, Inland ENC, and CM93 formats.  You can also purchase S-63/S-57 charts for anywhere in the world from the ChartWorld online store.

You install charts by downloading them directly to your iPad/iPhone or transferring them from other apps, such as email or DropBox.  For large numbers of charts, you can connect your iPad/iPhone to your laptop and transfer charts using iTunes following simple instructions we provide.

SEAiq Open is a free app.  Some features, such as display of charts with scale less than or equal to 1:50,000 scale (harbour), require an in-app purchase (a single purchase will upgrade all your iPads and iPhones).  You can load your charts into the app and confirm they work before making the purchase.

 

In addition Active Captain can be accessed in the upgraded version, SEAiq USA, and SEAiq Open.

If you have a WiFi enabled chartplotter then you will also be able to access your NMEA and AIS data in your iPad or iPhone at the same time.

Click here to see the full feature list.

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Sail Training and Tall Ships

If sail training and Tall Ships Races float your boat, the International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference is a once in a year conference not to be missed.

Tall ShipsWhy Tall Ships?….Dramatic improvements in personal confidence and a sense of self-worth were key benefits for the young trainees participating in a sail training voyage during The Tall Ships Races 2012, this summer – according to pioneering, collaborative research by The University of Edinburgh and Sail Training International (STI).

The voyages also led to a significant improvement in participants’ understanding of differences between young people from other cultures and backgrounds. 

These were the main findings of the first phase of a study conducted by two post-graduate students of The University of Edinburgh, among a sample of 41 young trainees from seven countries, aged between 15 – 25 years.  A second phase of the study in six month’s time will test whether these changes in attitude, awareness and behaviour are sustained.

International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference will host over fifteen seminars and workshops, over two days, will provide tailored programmes to meet the needs and interests of vessel operators, sail training programme providers, ports hosting sail training events and anyonewith an interest in sail training and Tall Ships races and regattas.

The conference is being held at the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, located in the heart of Riga, the historic capital of Latvia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Friday 16 – Saturday 17 November.

Peter Cardy, Chief Executive of Sail Training International, conference organiser, said, “This is the only global conference for sail training and the perfect opportunity for sail training fans from around the world to gather,network and share ideas. We’ve packed this year’s conference full of practical advice and support – from how to recruit and motivate trainees and volunteers; event planning and economic impact studies, to sponsorship ideas and a chance to talk to experts.

  • For vessel operators there are major sessions on exploring the dynamics of extreme weather, looking at Tall Ship stability and exploring approaches to vessel safety and incidents.
  • We’ll be offering help on brand and marketing; exploring the importance of partnership working for our media relations and looking at some cutting edge ideas for developing social marketing.
  • There will also be feedback from this year’s Tall Ships Races and events and lots of opportunities to share knowledge and ask questions.

An event highlight is the official launch of two exciting new races in the Tall Ship calendar:

  • The Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta, 21 September – 7 October 2013 (Barcelona, Spain – Toulon, France – La Spezia, Italy)
  • The Black Sea Tall Ships Regatta, 30 April – 28 May 2014 (Varna, Bulgaria – Novorossiysk, Russia -Sochi, Russia – Constanta, Russia)

Check out the fantastic photos of these lovely vessels here…

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Watching UK TV abroad

Apart from sailing, we go to Turkey quite a lot and nothing is more frustrating than having to watch local TV. From past experience I think the same goes for France, Germany, Spain, Portugal in fact all of Europe!.

Most people would agree that UK TV is the best in the world. The only exception I would say is that the US has perfected the Crime Drama/Thriller genre – and these get imported to the UK anyway.

On my recent trip down to Portugal I collected a few tips from other sailors and live-aboards about what services they use to get UK TV and this is what they came up with:

 

FilmonTV

I like Filmon TV . It not only has the web streaming capability for UK TV it also has music channels, and a host of other categories ranging from “Local Channels” to “Mind Body & Spirit Channels”. They also sell a variety of software or hardware products. You can enable your iPad to become a TV device connected to your cable TV you can even record and pause live TV using these techniques and products…well worth investigation.

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