Boaters scanning the aisles at the Miami International Boat
Show (MIBS) for innovative new electronics got their money’s worth.
Included in the lineup of new wizardry were equipment that offer 3D underwater
views which combine side and bottom sonar images and a VHF equipped with Class
B AIS as well as DSC/GPS. As most boaters know, AIS is short for Automatic
Information System, which provides information about vessels in their area, and
DSC is Digital Selective Calling, which allows boats to automatically send a
digital message to the Coast Guard about an emergency onboard situation.
The new electronics at the show also caught the eye of the
judges tasked with selecting the winners of the annul MIBS Innovation Awards.
Raymarine’s just-introduced Axiom series of MFDs (multi-function displays) and
Standard Horizon’s GX6500 fixed-mount VHF shared top-dog honors in the Consumer
Electronics, Mobile Applications and Software category.
Side-to-side 3D bottom view
In an on-water demo, we fired up the 12.1
inch Axiom touchscreen display (flanked by the 7 and 9 inch models) and played with the device's features---like
panning, tilting and zooming the 3D image of the bottom below and to the sides.
The images were very intuitive. See something interesting that you want to
return to like fish targets or bottom structure? Just tap the screen and a
waypoint appears on the chart. Assigning different colors to the bottom can
help distinguish structure from fish. Boaters and fishermen will find the
underwater images very easy to understand and interpolate.
Raymarine calls this function RealVision 3D and pulls it off
by combining CHIRP down and side vision and high-frequency CHIRP in the transducer.
It also compensates for boat movement via gyro-stabilized technology. Raymarine
fans will appreciate that Axiom sports a faster quad-core processor and a new
LightHouse3 operating system.
Marking risky targets at night
For buyers with a few bucks left over after buying an Axiom
($650 to $3350), they can add another very useful piece of equipment, FLIR's most compact 360 degree pan-and-tilt thermal imager that has a high-performance thermal core which produces a high-quality image and artificial intelligence features. Called the M100 and M200, the cameras automatically bracket objects
that could be problems---other boats, obstacles, buoys, etc. Both models have 320x240 thermal resolution, video over IP and digital zoom. FLIR, which owns
Raymarine, calls this function ClearCruise.
The M100 retails for $2,495, the M200 for $3,495. Both Axiom and the thermal imagers
will be available in late March.
Adjustable 3D sonar for TZtouch
Not to be outdone, Furuno introduced the DFF-3D black box
that turns your NavNet TZtouch (or TZtouch2) nav system into an adjustable
multi-beam sounder. It has three modes of operation:
Cross Section shows a continuous 120-degree-wide,
side-to-side image of the sea bottom out to 650 feet or so, depending on
conditions and installation. Maximum depth is close to 1,000 feet, again
depending on conditions.
3D Sounder History shows a 3D image of seafloor and fish.
Triple/single beam sounder shows either one image of
conditions directly under the boat or three separate slices---left, middle,
right. Furuno says the triple mode helps fishermen understand the depth of fish
targets and seabed condition in each direction and also which way the fish are
heading. Beam angles and widths are adjustable.
Side scan displays structure to port and starboard.
The through-hull transducer that comes with the DFF-3D has a built-in
motion sensor that stabilizes the display in rough water. A transom mount is available for smaller boats. The DFF-3D will be on the market in another month or so.
VHF sports AIS transceiver
What’s very cool about the Standard Horizon GX6500
fixed-mount VHF (co-winner of the MIBS Innovation Award) is that it includes both a Class B AIS transceiver and GPS/DSC
functionality along with a bunch of other features---like being able to add
five remote mics. To make everything
work, you’ll need two antennas, one for AIS and the other for VHF. Standard
Horizon offers another model, the GX6000, which is AIS receive only.
Hybrid touchscreen MFDs
Si-Tex took the opportunity at the show to roll out its first MFDs with hybrid touchscreen
operation, which gives you the choice of touchscreen or traditional
controls. It’s called the NavStar series and includes either 10 or 12 inch
displays. Both have built-in Bluetooth and wireless functionality and screen
displays that can be split four ways.
A dual-frequency 50/200 kHz sonar supplies seabed and fish
location details, while a 4 kW dual-range radar lets you monitor close and
distant targets at the same time. The built-in chartplotter provides
radar/chart overlay capabilities using C-MAP charts. NavStar is also set up for
optional Skymate satellite communications for weather, sea surface temps and
the ability to send texts, emails and faxes.
Iris high-res thermal imager
Another new product that drew attention was the Iris
NightRunner 390 Solo+ thermal imaging camera. Standing just over 6 inches high,
the unit can pan over 360 degrees or tilt 210 degrees and displays high-def images
on most MFDs. It has a vanadium oxide 640x480 pixel thermal core. Iris says boaters using the device in total darkness can
detect a vessel at nearly 1.8 miles, and have full recognition at less than
half a mile. In a man overboard situation, it can detect a human at .9 miles. The
pan/tilt/zoom NightRunner tags in at just under $6,000.
McMurdo showed off a new family of EPIRBs that will
accelerate the search and rescue process by combining multiple emergency
frequencies in a single EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon). The
McMurdo SmartFind and Kannad SafePro EPIRBs are the first distress beacons that
can support each of the four frequencies used in the search and rescue process:
406MHz and 121.5MHz for beacon transmission; GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)
for location positioning; and AIS for localized connectivity. The result should
be faster rescues thanks to better accuracy and signal reliability.
The additional AIS channels on the new EPIRBs will send
position signal information to standard AIS electronic equipment on nearby
vessels for local tracking and rescue. The EPIRBs have a multiple GNSS
satellite constellation receiver that supports Europe’s Galileo, America’s GPS
and Russia’s GLONASS from a single beacon.
The EPIRBs are designed to be fully compatible with MEOSAR,
the next generation of the Cospas-Sarsat international search and rescue
satellite. MEOSAR will increase the
speed and accuracy of beacon signal detection and location.
MOB beacon transmits to AIS receivers
ACR Electronics introduced the AISLink, their first
Automatic Identification System (AIS) Man Overboard Beacon (MOB). It has a case
that is waterproof to 32 feet and a powerful LED strobe.
Whether it’s manually or automatically activated, AISLink
begins transmitting distress signals within 15 seconds of activation and can
continue to transmit for over 24 hours. Once the AIS MOB is activated, it
transmits MOB emergency messages along with GPS coordinates to vessels with AIS
receivers and/or plotters within a five-mile range. The MOB is also capable of
signaling the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) alarm on a vessel’s VHF radio.
It is important to note that while the AISLink MOB will only
emit local distress alerts via AIS and DSC to AIS-equipped vessels within a
range of 4.3 nautical miles, a 406 MHz beacon will emit signals from anywhere
in the world to search and rescue forces via the international Cospas-Sarsat