Gear and Reviews

New Gear - October 2007

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Edited by David Schmidt
Written by Ben Ellison

Connected Color
Raymarine’s innovative ST70s instrument displays use bright 3.5-inch high-resolution color screens to display traditional instrument information (really well), plus engine, weather, and other data that’s available on the multi-manufacturer NMEA 2000 data standard. They also mark the introduction of SeaTalkNG (new generation), which is both a rugged-yet-slim plug-and-play cabling system and an extension of N2K that permits these displays—and a matching autopilot pilot head—to easily integrate with existing SeaTalk instruments and sensors. $830 for the display; cables and sensors sold separately. Raymarine, 800-539-5539, www.raymarine.com

Anti-anxiety machine
Do you worry about your boat when you’re not aboard? Boatsense Solutions’s KISS-principle monitoring system is an easily programmable GSM cellular modem that’s potted in epoxy. Drawing only 130 milliamps, it stands perpetual watch, ready to send text messages wherever GPRS data service is available (which is along much of the world’s coastlines). It automatically monitors battery levels, plus has inputs for a bilge-level alarm and three other sensors of your choice. $499 for the unit; $180 per year for up to 20 messages a month. Boatsense Solutions, 800-639-2715, www.boatsensesolutions.com

NMEA Knife
Originally Franson GpsGate simply enabled GPS NMEA 0183 data flowing into a PC or PDA serial port to feed multiple programs simultaneously, but now it’s something of a software Swiss Army knife. The latest 2.5 version works with all sorts of I/Os like Bluetooth and the Internet, supports multiplexing and data logging, and lets groups share their location data over the Web. Any member can see where his/her buddies are at GpsGate.com, and copacetic programs like Tiki Navigator can plot them right on your charts. $30. Franson, 011-46-8-612-50-70, www.franson.com

b seen
Class B AIS still awaits FCC approval, but ACR’s Nauticast B will be a complete and well-made solution. It comes with both GPS and VHF antennas along with cabling capable of sending position and target information to both a plotter and a PC simultaneously. Included software simplifies setup and lets a user easily enable silent mode or send a Mayday. Testing done outside U.S. waters suggests that most AIS-equipped ships will start plotting your target at 6 to 10 miles, and you’ll see their more powerful Class A signals at over 20 miles. $1,180. ACR Electronics, 800-432-0227, www.acrelectronics.com

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