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

MaxSea TZ Trials on Biscay 2012

TimeZero_Explorer_PDI thought I would just post a final word on my experiences using the MaxSea TZ software this year.

My wife and I sailed over 1300nm as a couple from the UK to Portugal and then on the return trip I was accompanied by 2 family members and one professional crew. All in all 2600nm and 13 ports of entry and departure to plan for during a summer that was at best “changeable”.

I used MaxSea TZ software in “Home Planning” mode rather than “Navigation” mode since I relied on my brand new Raymarine e125 hybrid touch for real time navigation. My experience with the Raymarine e125 hybrid touch will be subject of future posts. Just so readers get my comments in context, please note that my critique contained in the previous posts – is simply that – it is not a condemnation of MaxSea TZ – far from it. I first reviewed the weather routing module of MaxSea TZ over 2 years ago, and I was interested to see if they have come on in their design and functionality.

On board I had a number of chart plotting devices – probably far more than most cruising sailors.

Navigation/routing aids:

1 – Dedicated Plotter : A brand new Raymarine e125 Hybrid Touch plotter with Navionics Platinum charts

2 – Dedicated Plotter : The old Raymarine RL80C Plus with CMap NT charts

3 – Laptop (Windows7) software: MaxSea TZ v1.9.7 with MM3D charts

4 – Laptop (Windows7) software: Neptune v5.0.5 with CMap NT charts

So I have quite a number of opportunities to compare what these systems have to offer.

Weather services being used:

1 – MaxSea TZ – built in weather download (by internet download or by email)

2 – UGrib

3 – zyGrib

4 – Magic Seaweed (using WifI or 3G on my Apple iPhone)

It has been very interesting to see how software helps or frustrates the task of routing. But because the weather was so frustrating and caused us to really plan carefully for both Biscay crossings I had to re-route and re-plan over and over again.

I can honestly say that there is very little software I have used in the past few years – for any purpose – that is as slick and well designed as MaxSea TZ.

Now that I have a good laptop running this type of software is a breeze. But I would advise that lesser laptops may well struggle to keep up with what the software is trying to do.

  • Acer Aspire 5750
  • CPU Intel i5 3.1Ghz
  • RAM 4Gb
  • HDD 500Gb

 

Once you have a good laptop, and the MaxSea TZ software you enter a whole new world of navigation software that makes dedicated plotters like Raymarine or old PC software like Neptune look very sad indeed.

Being able to zoom in and out through the various vector layers of chart being able to turn windows of information on and off at will having the weather download and isochrone based routing module built in – not to mention satellite photography and Active Captain integration. This is still the best PC/laptop based chart plotting software on the market.

Having to enter and leave 13 ports in 8 weeks meant that many nights I was downloading Grib files and trying to plan routes and re-plan routes to see if I could avoid bad weather. We had two 4 plus days voyages and two 3 day voyages so weather routing was important. It is at these times when clumsy user interfaces and unreliable software would really kill the spirit as well as increase the danger to a cruising sailor. But if you don't feel the effort of re-planning a route is that great – then you tend to do it again , and again until you are happy and it feels right. This makes life easier and safer.

Getting the routes generated by MaxSea TZ into the Raymarine plotter is not one click, but is easily achieved. I don't know how many times I had to do this over the two months of sailing but I guarantee that it does work.

My advice is buy a good laptop and buy MaxSea TZ. I will continue to do all my planning using this software.

Share

Raymarine a global British Brand - shame about the Directors!

Another sad day for the British marine industry May 14, 2010.

….”Raymarine plc (the “Company”), a global leader in the supply of electronic products to the leisure marine market, has today reached agreement to sell its shares in Raymarine Holdings Limited to a subsidiary of FLIR Systems, Inc. (“FLIR”) a world leader in thermal imaging products. The sale represents the entire business operations of Raymarine and its subsidiaries. On 29 April 2010, following an extensive M&A process, the Company’s directors announced to shareholders that they were in advanced discussions with a third party regarding the sale of Raymarine Holdings Limited. It was envisaged that this transaction, once completed and following repayment of the group’s bank borrowings and other creditors, would result in approximately 17.5 pence per share for the Company’s shareholders.”….

What can I say …

From FLIR’s web site …“The acquisition furthers FLIR’s strategy in the marine market by dramatically increasing its maritime distribution network with the addition of Raymarine’s 1,000 dealer outlets and 400+ marine OEMs, nearly all of which are additive to FLIR’s existing distribution. FLIR plans to expand Raymarine’s product line breadth by integrating thermal imaging cameras with Raymarine’s display, radar and autopilot product lines to create the broadest, most effective, and easiest to use suite of products in the marine electronics industry”….

Good luck FLIR – lets see if your Directors have the brains to take a global brand and – er – keep it a global brand !

Share

“I want my VMG” why are we in Dire Straits?

In a previous post I complained about the inability of expensive chart plotter devices to calculate proper routes by assessing the correct Course to Steer (CTS) using tidal streams and wind data. If you are a sailing vessel then trying to steer along the “projected track” line that these plotters are fond of displaying is the least efficient Course to Steer – even if you are sailing dead down wind. To add to this issue your expensive chart plotter from Raymarine or Garmin or Foruno will be displaying a VMG that will mislead you into steering a poor course – and if you tack the chart plotter will not be able to tell you what your ETA is either.

“I want my VMG” why are we in Dire Straits? → Click here to continue reading →

Share