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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


GPS – New Satellite SOG Errors?

There has been some discussion recently about the new satellite PRN32 or at least an old satellite that has been recommissioned and brought into the GPS system.

It appears that some people are claiming that their GPS receivers software has been coded to count the number of satellites it can detect as 31 whereas there are now 32 satellites – I think this is a misunderstanding …I may be wrong!

It is common practice for programmers to count from 0 to 31 (ie.32) or from 1 to 32 (ie 32) when setting registers or creating arrays to handle data. I am pretty sure that however old your GPS is it can “see” 32 satellites.

There may be an unrelated error on some units eg. the Northstar 941X which started reporting SOG readings of 800 knots – not good! If you are getting strange SOG or COG readings check your supplier for a firmware upgrade – Northstar are offering a fix for their units at http://www.northstarnav.com/en/Downloads/Software-Updates/


AIS Update – does yours have an “anti-pirate” Button?

I thought I would give a quick update on some of the more popular brands of AIS receiver and transponder, including some of the salient comparative features. Prices are approximate of course, when you look at your favourite online store I am sure you could better them – but it was interesting to note the price variations and also the way that features are not always a guide to price.


Maker Watts Dual Ch Notes Price
NASA AIS2 0.5 104.95
NASA AIS Radar 0.5 209.95
Easy AIS2 0.9 211.44
Raymarine AIS250 2.4 647.43
Comar AIS2 0.4 Yes 211.57
SR162 AIS 1.5 Yes 292.67
Comar SLR200G 0.4 Yes 3 459.83
AIS RX 1.5 Yes 3 511.97
Digital Yacht AIT250 4.0 Yes 1,2,3 449.00
AIS-CTRX 4.0 Yes 2,3 605.98
Comar CSB200 4.0 Yes 648.72
Simrad A150 12 Yes 2,3 789.00


Note 1 : The unit has an Safety Related Message (SRM) button that allows the user to transmit a distress alert quickly and easily to all vessels and base stations within range. Often this button is programmed to engage “Silent Mode” when this “S” button is pressed. This means that it will only receive and not transmit – useful if you are worried about piracy!. The SRM feature is in addition to the international AIS specification and may not be monitored by all reception equipment. This feature does not replace use of normal VHF emergency procedures.

Note 2 : Comes with antenae

Note 3 : Comes with built in GPS – may be useful as a back up GPS to your normal one.


B&G®, Eagle®, Lowrance, MX Marine, Navman, Northstar and Simrad® Are they all the same?

NavicoBlogs like mine can get quite excited by the comparison of competing brands of electronic device in the market place. But the recent news of Garmin’s bid to buy Raymarine prompted me to do some digging. It appears that over the past 4 years there has been a real consolidation of some very famous and popular brands into the hands of relatively few companies.

So what do B&G®, Eagle®, Lowrance, MX Marine, Navman, Northstar and Simrad® all have in common? Well I’ll tell you – its Navico – who? – that well known privately held Norwegian company…

About Navico (www.navico.com) Navico has 2,500 employees and has revenues of approx. $ 300M. Navico is headquartered in Lysaker, near Oslo in Norway. The company has development and manufacturing facilities in Tulsa USA, Ensenada Mexico, Egersund Norway, Støvring Denmark and Romsey UK.

Just take the Navman story for example…Navman started in the 1980s in a garage in Auckland, New Zealand, as a marine electronics provider. Then the US based marine company Brunswick purchased it in 2004.

In April 2006 Brunswick decided to sell its entire Brunswick New Technologies business in parts. Brunswick New Technologies, headquartered in Lake Forest, IL, is a leader in manufacturing and marketing recreational marine vehicle and navigation products, including Navman, Northstar, IDS, and MX Marine. Brunswick sells more than 1 million Navman-branded GPS products per year, taking a leading position in Europe.

The GPS busines was sold to MiTAC in 2007. Based in Taiwan, MiTAC sells GPS devices under the brand of Mio as well as making such products for other companies, including Brunswick. MiTAC has manufacturing operations in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, as well as assembly centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, and Japan. Last year, MiTAC shipped 4.5 million GPS devices. Navico agrees to buy Brunswick New Technologies’ marine electronics business

In 2007 Navico International Ltd. agrees to acquire the rest of the Brunswick New Technologies’ marine electronics business ..

Well if pursuing economies of scale reduces choice, competition and innovation I wonder if that is really good for the consumer – even if it means lower price..


Portable wind power v solar power ?

HyminiThis personal wind turbine called the HyMini can be hooked up to various devices to charge your phones, cameras, and other small electronics when you are on the road or on the sea..

Just like the PowerMonkey the manufacturers say it too could be used on trains, cabs, or airports – so long as you plug in the bundled mini solar panel. It can be charged from its own mini solar panel or from a normal electrical outlet when there is just no wind. The mini solar panels can also be connected in series to upHymini solar the charging capacity…

The manufacturer is MiniWiz – a company set up by a Harvard Prof. to develop green energy products