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SiMON System Monitoring, KVH TracNet, Raymarine L1250 Fishfinder

These three electronic add-ons may solve problems on your boat.

October 4, 2007
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The acronym SiMon stands for Ships Information Monitoring System, a name that only scratches the surface of the new nView system’s capabilities. Combined with an nView color monitor and Nobeltec’s software and Passport data, SiMon gives you a completely integrated bridge of one to nine displays.

This system continuously collects data from any number of analog or digital sources-the engine, generator, navigational devices, electrical system and anything else you’ve set it up to monitor-and formats the information for display on a computer or a variety of monitors interfaced with a “black box CPU. SiMon also displays a visual alarm if it finds a system abnormality; one microbyte of prevention is worth a gigabyte of cure.

SiMon can monitor as many as 1,500 sensors from an equal number of ship’s systems. “That’s a practical limit, said Jerry Stubblefield, president and CEO of nView, though SiMon theoretically could field data from an almost limitless number of sensors.

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The system provides real-time data and will do trending analyses. It continuously stores the data to keep a permanent history of everything the sensors pick up, even when the individual monitors are not running.

Based on Ethernet technology, SiMon supports several computers and monitors throughout the boat, plus wireless connections to a laptop or portable computer terminal. Our demonstration included a portable touch-screen mini-terminal with a range of 800 feet. The more power the remote has, the more likely it will be able to cut through electronic interference common at a big yacht’s helm. nView Corp.

KVH’s TracNet Mobile Internet Server permits wireless access to high-speed Internet data through the same KVH TracVision antenna used to receive satellite TV, provided you have the high-power version of DirecPC satellite service.

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TracNet consists of a server, a Hughes Network Systems DirecPC modem and a cellular/satellite return path antenna. KVH says any of its digital-video-broadcast antennas will receive the DirecPC downloads and relay them to the server.

Aboard the boat, almost any number of users working from a PC or laptop will have two-way access to the Internet through TracNet’s wireless network. This is possible because requests for additional data go to DirecPC through TracNet’s return path.

The system also has a land line connection for use at dockside, and a wireless satellite/cellular connection.

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Speed is the key to TracNet, approaching 400 kilobits per second. Downloads via DirecPC are six times faster than the ones you get using the Inmarsat B HSD, and they are seven times faster than your dial-up connection at home (56 kbps).

TracNet also brings mobile Internet connection within the realm of a bargain. Downloading a 1 megabyte file costs about 26 cents. Other alternatives can range from $3.70 to $42.

The company has placed initial versions with the Canadian Coast Guard and plans to introduce a system designed for use aboard recreational boats, RVs, trucks and cars. As KVH continues its development of ultra-low-profile satellite antennas, we may look forward to smaller units for sport utility vehicles, minivans and small cars. Prices for recreational models haven’t been established. KVH Industries, (401) 847-3327; fax (401) 849-0045; http://www.kvh.com.

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Raymarine’s new L1250 Fishfinder and L1250RC Fishfinder/Chartplotter create a flexible, integrated radar/GPS chart plotter/fishfinder system when you interface them with any model of the company’s 7- or 10-inch high-speed bus Pathfinder radar or chart plotter.

The 1250s feature a 10.4-inch TFT (thin film transistors arranged in a matrix on a glass substrate) color VGA (resolution of 640-by-480 pixels) liquid crystal display. Raymarine says this is the highest resolution of any 10-inch LCD on the market. Our research reinforces the claim, but we’d limit it to standalone units, as monitors used in PC-based black-box systems also have 10-inch VGA screens.

The units offer excellent visibility in all conditions from direct sunlight to total darkness, thanks to cold cathode fluorescent backlighting combined with sophisticated light guides and aerospace optic technology.

These powerful, versatile fishfinders operate with 600 or 1,000 watts of RMS power (automatically selected based on which transducer you’ve selected), plus 200 and 50 kHz frequencies.

Raymarine’s goal was to create a high-performance fishfinder that’s easy to use, installed as a standalone or interfaced with other Raymarine HSB products. Our onboard exposure to this unit confirmed the company’s success.

Soft keys and a context-sensitive cursor make the 1250s simple to use. In addition to offering a full or split screen showing various combinations of fishfinder, GPS, chart plotter and radar, the L1250 and L1250RC offer a selection of on-screen windows, such as a water temperature graph, bottom lock, a white line to separate fish from the bottom, and a fish-depth indicator. A 3-D steering window is available with bearing, XTE and distance-to-waypoint indicator.

The dual-frequency display identifies whether fish are in the 50 kHz or 200 kHz beam. In addition, Raymarine’s patented bottom coverage feature, with its A-scope display, guarantees an instant graphic image of any fish within the transducer’s beam. You also get a digital readout of how much of the bottom area is covered.

The L1250 and L1250RC have been tested for waterproofness to U.S. Coast Guard standards. Prices: $4,635 to $5,885. Raymarine Inc., (603) 881-5200, (800) 539-5539; .

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