Monday, December 19, 2011

DMK Yacht Instruments

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine data and instrument display
Rating: ****
Cost: App is free, black box is $399.00 or with GPS 499.00

There are many communication protocols out there when it comes to marine instruments.  Many of us have the older NMEA 0183, while others may have upgraded to NMEA 2000.  If you have Raymarine on board you are dealing with SeaTalk. Some may have all three onboard.  The problem has always been how do we tie all of these together to make them available to our laptops, iPhones and iPads.  DMK has built a system to address this very problem.

DMK Yacht Instruments has put together a versatile data display app for your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.  The app uses the UDP protocol over WiFi to retreive the data from the DMK proprietary black box that must be purchased separately.

iPhone view
App features include:
  • iOS 4.2+
  • iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
  • Apparent Wind Speed
  • Apparent Wind Angle
  • Boat Speed
  • Depth Below Transducer
Black Box features include:
  • Accepts any combination of Raymarine SeaTalk®, NMEA 0183, and NMEA 2000 inputs
  • Uses WiFi to send the sentences for each protocol as UDP packet payload
  • Two NMEA 0183 connections
    Separately configurable baud rates: 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600, 114200
Main Instrument View

  • One Raymarine SeaTalk® connection
  • One NMEA 2000 connection
Includes an RP-SMA Wi-Fi rubber duck antenna
  • FCC-approved Wi-Fi transmitter
  • Requires external power DC: 5-12v
Model 11A-GPS Only
  • Built-in 14-channel GPS
  • Includes an external passive GPS antenna which connects via threaded SMA socket
  • 0183 GPS Out; use this to provide location data to e.g. a Standard Horizon AIS radio


There are options to display the instrument by itself and change the options of the display. You can select digital or analog mode, fathoms, feet for meters for depth and options for Celsius of Fahrenheit for temperature.

These two screens allow you to manage logging and settings for the wireless network within the app.

I like that is has the flexibility to accept NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000 and SeaTalk protocols simultaneously.  This give you options if you have a mixture of different instrument types on your boat.  NMEA 2000 is the newest technology but there are still many of NMEA 0183 systems out there. If your a Raymarine fan SeaTalk is the protocol they use.

I don't like that the app only displays four instrument types.  Their webpage says that this is only a demonstration app. I assume DMK provides additional NMEA sentence support for other instruments.  DMK is selling the WiFi hardware for $399, or $499 if you want the GPS option.  iNavX is another app that can accept and display the data from the DMK box.  DMK uses port 1703 and UDP protocol. See the iNavX setup instructions here.  I assume other apps could be designed to access the data wirelessly through DMK's black box. Some apps allow the user to also use the iPhone or iPad's internal GPS for speed and location data. DMK's apps does not allow this.

There are cheaper options out there to connect your varied NMEA protocols to your iPad. Using the Actisense products to connect your NMEA 2000 or 0183 instruments to your laptop would be less expensive.  The laptop could then relay data via TCP/IP to an iPad app like iNavX or Mid +WiFi.

The Brookhouse iMux will connect your iPad or iPhone through WiFi to your NMEA 0183 and SeaTalk instruments.  There are lots of options our there. DMK has built a device to handle all the possible protocol options. Research which one fits your situation best and go with that. Hope this was helpful. What is everyone else using as a display app? Appreciate any feedback.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 1 Recap

Telefonica wins first leg! Three of the six boats in this years Volvo Ocean Race have finished leg 1 in Cape Town, South Africa after 7480 miles of racing.  The other three boats suffered equipment failures and had to drop out of the first leg.  Sanya had problems with their hull separating and Puma and Abu Dhabi both lost their masts while racing.

Sanya and Abu Dhabi were shipped to Cape Town where repairs are underway. All boats plan to take part in the next leg of the race. Puma motored to the small island of Tristan da Cunha and has since been picked up by a freighter and is en route to Cape Town also.

In case you missed all the action you can see a great video highlighting the first leg of the race. See it here.

Next on the schedule is an in port race on Saturday December 10th. Leg 2 of the race from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi is 6249 miles and will starts December 11th.

Follow all the action on the Volvo Ocean Race website.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tidal Chronoscope

Application: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Function: Solar, Lunar and Tidal Info
Rating: ***
Cost: $2.99

Growing up in South Dakota and sailing on inland lakes I did not have to worry much about tides.  Tides as we all know are the daily rise and fall of the worlds oceans which are influenced by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon.  Many locations usually experience two high tides and two low tides each day.  Some places experience only one high and one low tide each day. Tides can range as high as 55 feet in the Bay of Fundy to a few inches in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. These extreme high tides occurs around the time of the full or new moon when the gravitational forces of both the Sun and Moon are in phase reinforcing each other.

Since I have been sailing on the oceans and coastal areas I have learned to pay attention to the daily tides. Coastal cruising in Florida has been especially interesting at times.  I was contacted by ChronGlobal and asked if I would take a look at their app and give my impressions about their Tidal Chronoscope app.

The Chronoscope comes is both an iOS and Android version so we all can enjoy this app. The app attempts to provide data in three different areas that are easily selected with the soft keys at the bottom of the app. Tidal, Solar and Lunar data are depicted on a watch or chronograph face. The whole idea of the watch faces seems confusing at first but after working with it for a while it grows on you. Some users have commented that it is hard to use and figure out. We all use a watch to tell time why not use it to show astronomical data.

Tidal Features:
  • Dedicated watch face for graphic and relative depiction of current state of the tides at current or any give time up to 7 days.
  • GPS location based for instant and current tide information for local or optional locations
  • Choice of over 9400 tide stations world wide
  • Tide watch shows how many hours to high and low tide
  • Information screen for detailed tide event
  • Tidal indicator depicts current moon phase for predicting neap and spring tides
  • Option setting of watch for up to 7 day predictions for hourly/minute future tide predication simply by setting the watch to desired date and time.
  • Option predicting future current tide time by the hour
  • Choose between meters and feet for tidal depth
  • Option for updating time and distance interval
  • A turn of the watch crown for minute and hour increments provides future tidal data.
  • A tap on the date provides a date and hour wheel for future time setting or manual adjustment
  • Save your favorite port.
  • Option to follow the tides of another location using your current time zone.
Lunar Features:
  • Dedicated watch face for a graphic depiction of current moon phase and relative position of the moon in the sky.
  • GPS location based
  • Indicates position of the moon in the visible sky
  • Striped moon indicates where moon is in non visible sky
  • Depicts moon phase and all progressive phases
  • Depicts moon rise and moon set
  • Depicts the moon as it transits the visible and non visible sky
  • Predict moon position and phase up to 7 days by the hour or day by simply setting the watch to desired date and time
  • ‘Moon over’ and ‘Moon under’ depiction
  • A turn of the watch crown for minute and hour increments provides future moon data
  • A tap on the date provides a date and hour wheel for future time setting or manual adjustment
Solar Features:
  • Dedicated watch face for a graphic depiction of the current and relative position of the sun in the visible and non visible sky
  • GPS location based
  • Indicates relative position of the Sun in your location
  • Yellow sun indicates in visible sky
  • Blanked out sun indicates moon in non visible sky
  • Sunrise and sunset depiction
  • 7 day prediction up to 7 days by the hour or day by simply resetting the watch
  • A turn of the watch crown for minute and hour increments provides future sun data
  • A tap on the date provides a date and hour wheel for future time setting or manual adjustment
The app is very versatile and allows you to customize the look of your chronograph with several different styles and colors. If your looking for a unique and fun way of looking at Tide, Solar an Lunar data, check out ChronGlobal's Chronoscope app.