Web Hosting

Free Ads

----------------------------

SmileTrain

----------------------------

Our World 2.0

----------------------------

Avaaz.org

----------------------------

ProjectBriatin

----------------------------

CruisingWiki

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 !

 

Share

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

NMEA announces 2014 Product Award winners

Marine electronics experts nationwide named 11 products in nine categories as winners of the 2014 NMEA Product Awards.

Once again, Furuno USA was named Manufacturer of the Year for Support.

The winners were announced at the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) International Marine Electronics Conference & Expo. Nearly 400 leading marine electronics manufacturers, dealers, and distributors, as well as media and others from the United States and abroad, attended the event.

Category winners are chosen by regional panels of NMEA members from around the country. These experts are hand picked by the NMEA Awards Committee for their extensive knowledge of marine electronics to create a level playing field for all product and manufacturer support nominations.

Here are the 2014 NMEA Product Award winners:

Note that MaxSea TZ software is the force behind  the various TimeZero products. MaxSea has had my vote since my review on this site . When you embed great software into great hardware you get an even better product that is much faster and more reliable than PC based software ever could be. See the Furuno Navnet TZ range here.

Using similar technolgy, the Nobeltec The Nobeltec TimeZero Catch system is aimed at commercial fishermen and incorporates the Personal Bathymetry Generator (PBG). This allows you to augment chart contours from real-time depth recordings. Locate prime fishing locations with sea surface temperature, chlorophyll and altimetry information from Nobeltec’s Weather and Ocean data service.

Once again a disappointment for Raymarine in terms of equipment manufacture, design, innovation and support – only one showing in the autopilot category.

Share

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

Share

Optimising fuel consumption..Garmin’s take

cf-mdHaving written already on the subject of fuel consumption and even carrying a picture of a friend’s power boat on this blog..I thought I would continue this worrying trend by writing about Garmin’s nice little flow meter – the GFS 10

This not only displays the current fuel level (based on initial reading less flow) but comes up with a single “Economy” reading (in nm/gal) that will have power boat skippers skipping with delight. This help a skipper see his nm/gal consumption automatically therefore taking into account current sea conditions, power applied, and speed over the ground. You can then have a good stab at optimising throttle position to give the best fuel economy. You can also connect up one sensor per engine.cf-sm

So if you have the GMI 10 marine instrument display then you can connect up the GFS 10 fuel sensor using NMEA2000 – other GPSMAP 4xx and 5xx series units require Garmin’s own CANet™ connection.

Specs for the fuel sensor:
Maximum flow rate: up to 50 GPH per engine
Minimum flow rate: 2 GPH
Maximum back pressure: 0.5 PSI at 20 GPH/1.0 PSI at 40 GPH

Share

GPS Terminology – nanu nanu :-)

After the last post I had a few emails asking me what PRN 32 means so I thought I would list a few terms that you may come across if you start looking into the GPS system..

SV – Space Vehicle
PRN – Pseudo Random Noise
NANU – Notice Advisory to Navstar Users – there is a free mail list service run by the US Coast Guard to send GPS watchers an automatic status report.

For the latest nanus see the US Coast guard site here.

BTW its called Navstar because that is the correct title of the US military GPS system

Share