Miami International Boat Show offers lots to like


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.


Multiple-frequency EPIRBs

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 system.



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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 2 ( 6 comments)

hugo:(1/30/2016 2:00:32 AM) "Why is no integrated ais transceiver available? Only recivers.


Each AIS system consists of one VHF transmitter, two VHF TDMA receivers, one VHF DSC receiver, and standard marine electronic communications links (IEC 61162/NMEA 0183) to shipboard display and sensor systems (AIS Schematic). Position and timing information is normally derived from an integral or external global navigation satellite system (e.g. GPS) receiver, including a medium frequency differential GNSS receiver for precise position in coastal and inland waters. Other information broadcast by the AIS, if available, is electronically obtained from shipboard equipment through standard marine data connections. Heading information and course and speed over ground would normally be provided by all AIS-equipped ships. Other information, such as rate of turn, angle of heel, pitch and roll, and destination and ETA could also be provided. Check out:"
Islander Sailboat Info:(12/4/2015 9:49:32 AM) "Great post!! This is the missing introduction I've been looking for. Thank you for taking a complicated subject and making it very easy to understand." 11:16:16 PM) "Excellent posting! thanks a lot for sharing this information.
Lee:(7/27/2015 10:54:13 PM) "Just a note about the Sailor 6222 - it has no facility to output DSC messages, for example to a chart plotter. This was confirmed with the local Thrane rep."
Jack S/V Azure Te`:(5/5/2015 10:16:45 PM) "Thanks, helpful stuff. I'm reviewing the wiring on my sailboat. I found the power cord on the R/M RL80CRC+ has a drain(shield)wire , (+) and (-). The drain was connected to the same return as the (-), RayMarine states ,"if the vessel does not have a RF system connect the drain wire to the batts negative terminal" w/o further explanation, but I do have a RF grounding 2" copper strip attached to the SSB, Antenna tuner and external plate, so I believe the drain for the plotter should be connected to the copper strip - no ?"
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