Saturday, April 11, 2015

Calypso Instruments Anemotracker Wind App

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Optimized for iPhone 5 and 6
Function: Bluetooth Wind Instrument display for iOS and Android
Cost: Calypso Cup Anemometer $575. App is Free

I have been searching for a cost effective wind instrument for my small 22 foot sailboat. I really don't want to spend $1000 or $1500 for a full blown Raymarine or Garmin wind instrument system that needs NMEA 2000 cables run all over my boat. I looked at the Raymarine i40 with the Rotovecta sensor but have heard many comments about issues with the accuracy of the sensor. Raymarine bought out Tacktic a few years ago but there systems are $1000 buck also.

I have an iPad and an iPhone 6 and was thinking that there has to be some way to get wind data to those devices. As you know I hate drilling holes in my boat and having an excessive number of wires running everywhere. I was looking for a wireless solution that would work with my mobile devices.  

Many apps have the capability to get your onboard yachts data displayed on them through TCP/UDP over WiFi.  This requires that you already have a wind sensor and a NMEA WiFi device on board. You can even get radar to your mobile device over WiFi these days, why not wind.

After an extensive search of the web I found Calypso Instruments. They are a Spanish company and a spin-off of Prodero Ingenieria, an engineering team dedicated to industrial design.

They have developed an elegant solution to my wind instrument problem. The Calypso Cups 4.0 wind anemometer is self powered with solar technology and it will communicate through Bluetooth with almost any wireless device.  It can be easily mounted to any boat or yacht with one of their quick mount devices.

The Anemotracker app is free and available in both iOS and Android versions. This allows the display of all the pertinent wind data from the device to your phone or tablet.

  • Wireless
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 50 Meter range
  • Solar charged power supply
  • No need for communication or power cables
  • Displays real and apparent wind
  • Boat course and speed
  • VMG velocity made good
  • Boat course compared to wind
  • Data logger
  • Track sail from home
  • Polar Curve for performance
  • Satellite map tracking view
  • Live Track mode
  • Quick mounting options
The Anemotracker app is free from both the GooglePlay store and the AppStore. It is very intuitive to start using with your Calypso Cups device right out of the box. 

The main Basic screen has both analog and digital wind direction and speed indications. Additional screens can be accessed on the bottom of the display with three other soft keys for Settings, Map and TriData displays.

To pair the app with your Calypso Cups device you will need to go to settings on your mobile device and turn on Bluetooth. The first time  you will need to pair it with the device. Go to the setting page and at the top select Scan for BLE sensors. Once the sensor is displayed select it.

Other screens can now be selected and wind speed and direction should be displaying on your app.

Select the Map button at the bottom to access the very high resolution satellite display. I assume this will only work if you have cell or WiFi service.  The screen allows multi-touch gestures so you can pan a zoom around the map.

The analog and digital wind instrument readings are displayed at the top of the page.

The last screen is the TriData display. Digital readings for Apparent and True wind speed and angle are displayed.

The iRegatta app is another app that now supports Bluetooth connectivity with the Calypso Cups wind device. On the entry screen when you start the app you will see two red icons in the lower right of the screen. The top one is for labeled BT LE, select this to connect via Bluetooth to the Calypso Cups wind device. 

The developers have recently decided to make the software open source so other app developers will be able to connet the anemometer with their app. iRegatta was the first to become compatible and I am sure others will follow.

What are you using for wind instruments?

~~~ Sail On ~~~~ /)


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Marine Apps on the Apple Watch "Pocket Mariner Takes the Lead"

Application: Boat Beacon and Boat Watch for Apple Watch
Function: Marine Internet AIS Tracking, CPA, Collision Avoidance
Rating: *****

The Apple Watch is set to go on sale starting April 24th. Are you going to be in line to buy one? I find it funny that they call it the Watch instead of the iWatch. I guess they have warn out the iThing. The anticipation and hype has been building for months since it was introduced in Apple's keynote.

I think it is safe to say that this device will be a game changer and will impact our lives much in the way the iPod, iPhone and iPad have. The watch acts like an extension of the iPhone in many ways allowing the user to do many of the functions available on the iPhone.

The watch comes with many built in apps much like the other Apple devices. Since this blog is about marine apps, I wanted to share with you some marine apps that are being modified to run on the Apple Watch. Pocket Mariner, the developer of Boat Beacon, Boat Watch and SeaNav are in the forefront and have modified their apps to run on the Apple Watch. I am sure their SeaNav ChartPlotting app is not far behind from being converted for use on the Apple Watch.

Built in Watch Apps:
Messaging - The app will give alert you when you have a message. Simply raise your wrist to read
Phone - Check to see who is calling without pulling out your phone. Use the built in speaker and mic to take your call or transfer it to you iPhone.
Mail - Quickly read your emails and mark them as read, unread or trashed.
Calendar - Access your calendar and see what event are coming up.
Activities - The three rings monitor your activity during the day.
Workout - Monitor calories, time, distance, pace and speed.
Maps - Get turn by turn directions right on your watch.
Passbook - Access boarding passes, loyalty and credit cards.
Siri - Activate apps with a "Hey Siri". Get directions, send an email, play music or make a phone call.
Music - Control Music on your iPhone even if you leave your phone at home. Listen with Bluetooth headphones
Camera Remote - Preview your camera's view and take a picture using the watch or timer
Remote - Control all features of your Apple Remote.
Weather - Check weather for any location in the world.
Stocks - Keep track of all stocks and market indices.
Photos - View all your photos on the Watch. Zoom and swipe.
Alarm - Manage and set multiple alarms.
Stop Watch - Stop watch feature in digital, analog or hybrid.
Timer - Easily time any event.
World Clock - View time zones for any location in the world set from the iPhone
Settings - Set Airplane mode, Bluetooth, mute or ping your iPhone to find it.

Boat Beacon

I reviewed the Boat Beacon app for the iPhone and iPad back in 2013 and it has some impressive GPS and Internet based AIS features.

Boat Beacon is an app for boat owners that allows them to monitor other boat positions along with other vessels in the area. Alerts for potential collisions can be received and your vessels position can be shared via Internet AIS. All of this requires that you have a cell or internet connection.

Boat Beacon for Apple Watch provides a handy wrist view of the user’s boat position and collision alerts. Having apps on the Apple Watch is so convenient. Now you can leave your phone down below in a safe dry place.  The water resistant Apple Watch now becomes your tool for accessing navigational information.

Boat Beacon on Apple Watch has five main screens.  Navigate to the other screens by swiping left or right.

A Map screen will launch when you start the app. It shows your own boat's highlighted position along with those of nearby boats. 

Scroll through a list of boats and tap them to find out more information about their name, speed, heading and MMSI.

Swipe to the left to view a picture of the boat also.

Information for boats that are on a collision course with yours is provided. The closest point of approach information along with speed and time will help with collision avoidance. This is key when transiting busy harbors and shipping channel.

The Navigation screen displays speed and course along with the latitude and longitude position information.  Scroll down to display a convenient “Man Over Board” button. This can be selected in emergencies.

This MOB sends an alarm to the iPhone or iPad that the Watch is paired with and an email alert along with MOB latitude and longitude. 

The MOB position is then automatically tracked on the Watch and the iPhone or iPad.

The Race Timer screen allows the user to control a timer to make sure you get across the start line on time. If you do any racing at all you know a good start is key to winning a race.

Options for count down and count up are displayed.

Speed and course are also displayed on the bottom of the timer to give you an instant view of your performance.

Pocket Mariner has thought of every feature needed and provided it to you on the latest technology.  This should give you a leg up on your competition.

The Compass Screen displays a digital electronic and analog compass to guide you on your travels. Speed over ground and course over ground are displayed too. The selector switch at the top allow switching between course or heading. 

The final screen operates as a useful mini flashlight including day and night modes. The screen illuminates totally white to provide a handy watch light for those time when you don't have a flashlight near by.

Boat Watch

Boat Watch is a must have app to provide vessel tracking information using AIS.  It is kind of a stripped down version of the Boat Beacon app. The user can save favorites and track the movement of vessels anywhere in the world.  The system works off of an Internet based tracking system with land based AIS receivers. 

The tracking feature is useful for people who want to keep tabs on the position of family and friends while they are on the water. The Boat Watch app has been optimized to work on the Apple Watch to display the vessels movements in real time.

The list of boats shows up on the main screen. Simply tap the boat listing to view speed, course and position information about the vessel.  Users can build a list of favorites to monitor.  These favorites can then be tracked and alerts can be received when these vessels arrive or depart a port.

It is great to see that Pocket Mariner is leading the way with development on the Apple Watch.  I have also been informed that development is underway to port their SeaNav app to the Watch also.

I am sure the other big names including Garmin, Navionics, iNavX and SEAiq are busy converting their apps to work on the Watch too. Stop back soon to hear more about marine apps on the Apple Watch.

Are you in the market for an Apple Watch? Is the Watch going to be useful or just a fad? What do you think?

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

WaveTrax Version 1.0.6 Awesome New Features

Application: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iOS 6.0 or later
Function: Automated GPS based logging app
Rating: *****
Cost: $12.99

I reviewed WaveTrax back in July of 2014 and was impressed at how easy it was to make logs of my adventures. The latest version has added some unique and useful features.

WaveTrax is one of the many logbook apps in the iTunes Store.  I have reviewed most of them over the years including
Salid , Boating Suite and NavPlay.  The unique thing about this logbook app is that it synchronizes your travels with the WaveTrax online website where you can edit, save, print and share your travel logs. You can also manually create a trip log if desired.

Although the app is mainly geared for marine use anyone can use to it make records of their trips no matter where you are.  So if you bike, hike, boat or kayak it has never been easier to start recording your travels. Your device will need to have a GPS on board to provide the position location information.

The recent update to version 1.0.6 has some added features worth talking about.

  • Live Dashboard overview
  • Selections to record sailing, motor sailing and motoring time
  • Offline use
  • Combined log miles and time
  • Sync logs to WaveTrax website
  • Automated Logbook
  • Live GPS tracking
  • Poor GPS signal alert
  • Crew list
  • Certificates list 
  • Multiple ship details
  • Nautical charts
  • Trip details
  • Record all your adventures
  • Print logs in pdf format and share them online
  • Facebook, Twitter and email options
  • Compatible with iPhone or iPad’s GPS models
  • Records track logs in the background
  • Enhance your logs with maps, photos, notes & annotations
  • Access and edit your journeys on the Web
  • WaveTrax logs can’t get lost, damaged or filled up like a paper logbook.
  • Lifetime use of the App
  • Upgrades and customer support plus 1 year’s access to
  • Web access is renewable with an optional in-app purchase

The newest feature is the Dashboard.  This is a real time GPS display of all your navigation and trip data of your adventures.

The Dashboard also has easily available options to switch from sailing mode to motor sailing or motoring modes.  The different modes are displayed on the track in different colors to visually give you indication of how much you sailed and motored during you trip.

The time spent in the different modes is also recorded for each trip log.

You no longer have to leave the real time tracking display to make log entries or add crew and trip information.

At the end of your trip WaveTrax provides a personal log of all you logged data. Data includes Trip Type, Start and Stop times, to and from locations and times in the different sailing or motoring modes.

All of the logs are kept in the History tab and are automatically synced to the WaveTrax website and your account. A selection can be made in Settings to only sync when connected to WiFi if desired.

The History tab also shows a combined Distance, time and night hours traveled. This is handy to be able to keep track of the total logged hours on the water for all your recorded logged trips.

Cumulative history can be kept for several different yacht so if you crew or captain on other vessels you can keep track of them all separately.

GPS alert is another new feature implemented with this release.  The major cause of poor tracking or missing track data is a poor GPS signal. WaveTrax now will alert you if is senses a poor signal. You can then take actions to make sure your device and the app are properly recording your track data. GPS signal strength is shown in the upper middle of the Dashboard.
WaveTrax has made some much needed improvement to an already great app. The functionality and features have been improved to give the user a richer and more immersive trip logging experience.

Logging your travels has never been easier. Whether your boating, driving or hiking be sure to capture them all on this easy to use app. 

Once you have captured them make sure to share your travels with friends on Facebook, Twitter or by email.

~~~ Sail On ~~~~ /)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

British Virgin Islands Sailing January 2015

I have to apologize for the lack of posts lately.  January was a busy month with travel for work and vacations.  I was able to get a week of sailing in the British Virgin Islands.  The BVI are one of the best cruising grounds for charter sailing in the world.  The more than 30 islands offer an array of on the water and on shore attractions and entertainment.

I did take some of my technology along with me to use while sailing. During the trip I utilized my Delorme InReach to record our track and the Delorme Earthmate app to send emails back home via satellite. I used the Boatwatch app to locate and identify yachts in the area. I used the Garmin and Navionics apps for navigation.

The Lagoon 38 we were on had a 12 inch Raymarine Chartplotter on board too so it was easy to navigate.

I utilized my GoPro4 camera and app extensively during the trip and was able to get some great under water shots while snorkeling and hiking around the BVI. See the YouTube Videos below.

I was invited by chance to go on the trip by some of friends who just happen to have an extra spot on their boat.  My wife was not able to go because of work commitments so my daughter volunteered to do.

Lauren is a accomplished sailor herself and has crewed on many a sailboat race with me in our local regattas.

The Woody Lake Poinsett 1973
The friends who invited us sailing are actually old family friends that I met some 40 years ago.

My father, Lloyd, worked with a guy name Earl Holm.  Earl and his wife just happen to have a cabin on Lake Poinsett. We ended up spending quite a few summer days up at Poinsett water skiing behind our lovingly restored 1952 Century inboard. We all became very proficient at water skiing and tubing, back when it was an actual tractor inner tube.

Jody Nancy Earl 1974
My dad even built a surf board and we boarded behind our “Woody” before anyone knew it was cool.
Earl Holm was a tall good looking guy who was always sporting his Ray-Bans while at the lake.  His wife Jody was a bubbly little gal who was always the life of the party.
Earl mentioned that he had a sailboat and insisted that we all learn to sail.  This was in about 1973. I was about 14 at the time and was game for anything.  We all piled on the Johnson C scow sailboat and set out across Lake Poinsett. I am not sure we even had life jackets on board. 
Rick Brad Todd Mark and Dee 1973
Earl began to regale us with how the rigging and sails all worked together. He explained the names of the many cables and lines attached to the boat. I was intrigued and instantly wanted to learn how to make it go faster.  Earl sheeted in the big main sail and we took off.  I was hooked and have been sailing ever since. 
Later that day Earl’s son, Rick showed up with some friends from USD. I remember he was a big “college guy”. 

Rick brought a few other friends including a couple cute girls. They all hopped on board and my older brother Brad went out with them.  They sailed off into the setting sun, playing guitars and singing.  All I could think of was, how cool is that! I have to get a sailboat now, they are “chick magnets”!

We spent the next few summers sailing with the Holms on Lake Poinsett. If it was not for Earl, Jody and Rick I never would have learned to sail and developed such a passion for boating and the water.
Well, it was not long after that that my brother and I bought our first sailboat. He was in college at Concordia and found an old D scow. He called me up and said he found a real deal for “us”. The problem was that it had a hole in the side of it.  It was an old wooden boat (notice the pattern here) but he thought he could get it for about $500 hundred bucks. The other problem was he did not have any money.  So I became a sailboat boat owner at age 16.  We later sold the D Scow, Sundance to Earl Holm and moved onto a bigger boats which we kept in Yankton. My older brother Brad and I have since owned boats, chartered and sailed together throughout the Caribbean all the way from the Florida to Grenada.
Parker and Lauren
I went to college and graduated from SDSU ”GO Jacks” in 1983 and took an engineering job with the Department of Energy in Watertown, SD. I bought a little cabin on a local lake and we have been fortunate enough to live there for the last 32 years.  My kids were raised on the lake and are now only realizing how good they had it.  I can’t tell you the number of kids we taught to knee board, ski, wake board and sail.  The endless summers of entertaining and pulling the kids and their friends around the lake has been priceless.

Lloyd and  Earl racing 1974
So back to the BVI trip. Some 40 years later, Rick Holm, who's father taught me to sail asks me to go sailing with a group of his friends to the Caribbean. How cool it that.

One of the Cosmic Laws of the Universe is that, the people you meet every day are there for a reason.  The fun part is finding out how each of them will enrich your life.  All I can say is, thank God for the Holm family and Lake Poinsett because they both changed my life forever.
Mark and Rick 2015
It is only fitting that 40 years later Rick and I should get back together and do some sailing.  I think our Dads would be proud!
~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)



Thursday, January 1, 2015

GoPro Hero 4 Silver plus GoPro App

Application: iPhone, iPad and Android
Function: HD Video and Photo POV Camera
Cost: Camera $129 to $499, GoPro app and software free!

Guess what Santa brought me for Christmas?  Yes, a GoPro Silver! I have been looking at these cameras with envy for the last couple of years.  I am a confessed YouTube junky and have enjoyed watching all the great videos that are posted. Now it is my turn to get in on the POV action scene. Look forward to some cool videos in the future. My YouTube site is:

I want to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2014 was a great year and I look forward to 2015 with anticipation. I always say "Life is Short, attempt to have an interesting one"

 GoPro is the leading maker of Point of View/POV cameras in the world.  It all started by some surfer dude name Nicolas Woodman who wanted to take rad shot of he and his bros riding some gnarly waves. He got some investment money from his Mom and Dad and GoPro was born. His early models were 35MM cameras and in 2006 he released the digital GoPro.

Just when you thought all the great ideas were already thought of, a tiny POV digital camera was made, the company goes public and another American success story is born.

These cameras have started a video revolution never before seen in history. YouTube and every other video site are flooded with GoPro action video.  We are seeing the world from a perspective never before seen in history with these tiny mobile cameras.

Their small size and HD+ quality has allowed all these crazy adrenaline junkies to record themselves boating, sailing, snowboarding, skydiving, mountain climbing, wake boarding, snow skiing, scuba diving, surfing, driving, biking and flying. Its small size and mounting options make it easy to take anywhere the action is.
The Cameras

What is so unique about the GoPro cameras is that they were the first compact very high quality HD cameras. A lot of  less capable copy cats have shown up in the past few years. The GoPro cameras HD+ resolution makes them equal to any professional broadcast quality production camera. Their latest model, the Hero 4 now shoots 4K, 2.7K, 1080, 960p, 720p resolution color video and 12 megapixel pictures.

The present generation of GoPro Cameras include the Hero4 Black for $499, the Hero4 Silver for $399, the Hero3 Silver for $2.99, Hero3 White for $199 and the Hero for $129

Hero4 Silver Features:
  • Touch screen display
  • Waterproof case to 131ft
  • Touch screen backdoor waterproof to 10ft
  • Field of View, Ultra Wide Medium and narrow
  • Ultra sharp all glass lens
  • Low light performance
  • Video, 4K 15 and 12.5fps,
  • 2.7K 30,25,24 fps, 2.7K 4:3,
  • 1440P, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
  • 1080P, 60,50,48,30,25,24fps, superview
  • 960P, 100,60,50fps Ultra Wide FOV
  • 720, 120, 60,50,30,25fps Ultra wide, medium and narrow FOV
  • WVGA 240fps ultra wide FOV
  • Camera - 12 megapixels,
  • Burst rates 30/1, 30/2, 30/3, 10/1 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, 3/1 frames per second
  • Time Lapse .5,1,2,5,10,30 60 seconds
  • Built in WiFi+Bluetooth
  • Protune (photo and video)
  • Superview
  • Nightview
  • Highlight tag
  • Quick Capture - one button auto on
  • Simultaneous Video and photo
  • Looping Video
  • Bit Rate(H.264) up to 45 b/s
  • Audio - Mono 48KHZ 2x dynamic range, 3.5mm stereo microphone
  • Re-chargeable battery 1160 mAh lithium ion
  • Micro SD card class 10 up to 64GB
  • USB mini, composite AV, stereo mic
  • Free GoPro Editing Software
GoPro offers so many options it is hard to decide which model to purchase.  I looked at the Hero4 Black option. It cost another $100 dollars more than the Silver but it does not have the touch screen display that the Hero4 Silver model has.  The advantage of the Hero 4 Black is that it has a few more options in the 4K and 2.7 K video modes.  I don't plan on shooting much in these resolutions so these added features did not seem worth the money. I was more interested in the LCD touch screen display on the back of the Hero4 Silver.  It comes with a special touch screen back door which allows you to view and control your GoPro with a swipe of your finger.

The GoPro App:

The GoPro app allows control of the camera over WiFi from an iPhone using the iOS compatible app from iTunes or from the Android app from the Google Play store.

The app connects via WiFi plus Bluetooth. The Bluetooth connection only seems to be used to detect incoming connections so it can keep the WiFi off and save power. This feature is currently only supported in the iOS version.

The new WiFi transfer speeds are 50% faster than previous models. There is still a slight lag in viewing the video or image on the iPhone over WiFi.

To connect to your camera to your mobile device, select the gear icon in the top right corner of the app and follow the instructions to start WiFi and pair the camera with Bluetooth.

The app allows you to watch the GoPro Channel and view all the coolest GoPro videos and photos from around the globe. 

Once connected to your camera the app provides full remote control of all camera functions and settings.

You can play back the videos and photos that are on your camera on your mobile device. This is a handy feature to preview your videos and photos on the larger iPhone or iPad screen.

The app allows copying photos and videos to your mobile device. These files can then be shared via email, text, on Facebook or Twitter or other apps.

Functionality is also provided to browse and delete files on the camera’s microSD card if needed. Updating your cameras software can also be done wirelessly with the app.

Select the red button at the bottom of the display to take a photo or start and stop recording of video.  The image will be show in real time so you can use the mobile device to frame your shot.

All settings including Video, Photo, Multi-shot, Setup, Camera name and passwords can be modified from your mobile device with the app.

The app displays the resolution and frame rate in the upper left. WiFi status and battery state are shown in the upper right.

Options for movie, picture and burst picture mode can be selected easily on the screen of the iPhone app.

Video, Video+Photo and Looping modes can be selected by tapping the Video camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Video+ Photo lets you take a photo while taking video. The looping mode will take continuous video filling up the microSD card and copying over the oldest footage.

Settings can be accessed by selecting the wrench icon in the lower right. All camera settings can be set with the app.

All of the saved movies and photos can be seen by selecting the checkerboard in the lower left of the display.

The camera can be shut off using the power button in the top right of the screen.

GoPro has produced a wide range of accessories to accent their line of camera.  The battery BacPac allows the addition of battery capacity and is easily snapped on the back of the camera.

The camera and batteries are all charged using a standard USB cable connection. It retails for $49.99

The WiFi remote can be used to control your GoPro camera much like the app. Use it to start and stop the video or take pictures remotely. Settings can also be changed from the remote.

The remote can be programmed to control up to 50 different cameras. It has a range up to 600 feet. The WiFi remote retails for $79.99

The LCD BacPac can be easily snapped on the back of the GoPro to provide a view of the action.  Use it to easily frame your shots and follow the action. The LCD BacPac retails for $79.99

There are other small POV cameras out there.  I have even bought a few of them myself.  I prefer the GoPro because of its cutting edge technology and the hundreds of different mounts that are made to support the product. A whole new industry is developing around support of these cameras.

I know there are a lot of boaters and sailors out there that use GoPro camera. What are you using yours for?

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)