Then there is Airmar’s new H2183 Solid State Heading Sensor ($750), which is designed for situations where highly accurate heading data is needed for autopilots, chartplotters, or radar systems. The H2183 compass can simultaneously output NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 data, a feature that makes it easy to wire the compass to an existing NMEA network on board. The heading sensor consists of a 3-axis solid-state compass, a 3-axis accelerometer, and a 3-axis rate gyro.
The combination allows the compass to maintain 2 degrees of heading accuracy even if the boat is pitching and rolling in heavy seas. The unit’s innovative bracket can be fixed to any vertical bulkhead and the compass’s circular shape allows it to be spun around and aimed at the bow. When alignment is complete two thumbscrews lock the compass in place: simple and effective.
Furuno’s new FA-50 Class B AIS transponder ($1,800) is compatible with the NavNet 3D system, vx2 series, and MaxSea AIS viewer via Furuno’s proprietary Ethernet interface. The FA–50 can also be connected to other AIS-compatible displays via high-speed NMEA 0183 connections. Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), a new type of safety equipment, helps minimize the risk of collisions at sea by allowing vessels within range to exchange data automatically.
CrossRate’s new eLGPS 1110 position sensor received honorable mention in the NMMA’s Innovation Awards at the 2009 Miami Boat Show. The eLGPS 1110 is interesting because it combines both GPS and eLoran signals to provide highly accurate and reliable position data via NMEA 0183. (An NMEA 2000 version is in the works). The system incorporates an advanced Kalman filter that improves both position accuracy and the integrity of the system. This filter works by comparing fresh data with stored older data so that the accuracy of the eLGPS 1110 increases the longer it is left running. If the GPS signal is lost, the receiver still maintain GPS–like accuracy by using previously received GPS data to correct incoming eLoran signals. Another good feature is that the unit can provide a heading even when a boat is stationary.
McMurdo’s new Fast Find 210 PLB ($299) (Personal Location Beacon) features a powerful built–in 50-channel GPS and SOS strobe LED. Just over 4 inches long and weighing 5.3 oz, the unit will fit in your pocket. When activated it transmits two signals simultaneously, one to the global 406 MHz satellite system, and the other (on 121.5MHz) helps speed up local recovery response. Once activated, the personal location beacon will continue to transmit for at least 24 hours. The Fast Find 210 also includes an SOS flashing LED, which can be manually activated to assist recovery at night.
Iridium’s model 9555 ($1,695) is the smallest and most powerful satellite phone they’ve built and it has, for about $1.09 per minute, voice, text, and Internet-data services that you can enjoy anywhere on earth. The 9555 weighs only 9.4 oz and, with its retractable antenna, is about 30-percent smaller than the older 9505A model. You can’t use it to play MP3s or take pictures, but it does have an integrated speakerphone, weather-resistant keypad, text messaging, email capability, and a Mini-USB data port. At 2400 bps Internet access is slow but compression software such as Sky-File can improve the speed. The 9555 comes with a universal AC adapter and you can expect to get about 4 hours talk time, or 30 hours on standby, out of a fully charged battery.
Airmar Technology, 603-673-9570
B&G Marine Electronics, 800-324-1356
Furuno USA, 360-834-9300
Garmin Ltd., 913-397-8200
Iridium Satellite LLC., 866-947-4348
Lowrance Electronics, 800-324-1356