Sunday, February 23, 2014

SEAiq 3.5 Update and AIS Sharing - Bazinga!

Application: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for Phone 5.
Function: Marine navigation, Charting, NMEA data, AIS, Weather
Rating: *****
Cost: $24.99

I have written several blog posts about SEAiq US over the years.  The app was introduced back in 2012 and allowed viewing of NOAA vector charts. The author Mark Hayden has worked continuously to add features and make improvements to the app.  He continues to do so with the addition of AIS to his SEAiq suite of apps.  Mark is not only a talented programmer but he is also a serious sailor and world cruiser.  His extensive cruising and sailing experience gives him a unique perspective on how a marine navigation app should look and feel and what features are important.

His latest version of SEAiq has added full iOS 7.0 functionality and an AIS feature. This is not your basic AIS function.  He describes it as AIS Sharing. 

This feature can be turned on in the Settings/NMEA page. Turn on AIS Sharing to start viewing AIS targets.

What sets SEAiq AIS apart from others is that it will not only display AIS targets from your onboard AIS receiver over WiFi but it will also display Internet based AIS data.

If you have an Internet connection over WiFi or a cell connection the Internet based AIS data will be displayed. The Internet based AIS data includes some 20,000 AIS targets from AIS Hub. AIS Hub collects AIS data from land based receiving stations and sea going ship from around the world.  AIS Hub requires that if you want access to the data you have to share your own ships AIS data with the site.

If you have an onboard AIS receiver that data will be preferred over the Internet AIS Hub data. 

In the zoomed out view of the charts you can see what areas of the world that have Internet based AIS monitoring systems. Many of the coastal region of the world are covered.

The SEAiq AIS Sharing function
will also send data from your onboard AIS hardware back to the Internet base AIS Hub network. You will need an internet connection for this to take place. There are no other apps or chart plotters on the market that have this feature.  Mark has truly created something unique with the AIS Sharing function.

As you zoom in on the chart the AIS targets start to appear. Targets are shown as triangles with flags. If you single tap an AIS target, additional data will be displayed in a pop up box on the screen. The instrument display on the right of the screen will also show the AIS target data including name, COG, SOG, bearing and distance.

Double tap the target pop up box to get additional information about the AIS target. Complete information about the target can be accessed by selecting Full Information from the bottom of the pop up or through the AIS menu selection at the bottom of the screen. This provides a complete status and listing of the vessels data along with diagnostics.

SEAiq has hit the ball out of the park with the addition of this AIS Sharing feature. The app provides the most comprehensive AIS solution of any iOS or Android charting app on the market. It provides both AIS data over NMEA WiFi and over the Internet if available.
If you are considering a full featured marine charting app with AIS for your iPad or iPhone, SEAiq has to be near the top of your list.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vaavud iPhone Anemometer

Application: Phone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, iPad 2 and above,  Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and HTC One
Function: Wind anemometer speed indication
Rating: *****
Cost: App is free, cup anemometer $49.99

As a sailor and sailboat racer it is always important to know the wind speed.  There are many different options out there to help determine accurate wind speed. You could spend thousands of dollars and install a dedicated wind speed and direction system on your masthead. On the other end of the spectrum are the hand held wind instruments costing $20-$100 that I have written about in the past. The Vaavud pricing comes in on the lower end at $49.99.

The ingenious folks at Vaavud have developed an anemometer attachment for your mobile device to magically transform it into a very accurate wind meter. This was originally a Kickstarter project that received funding to develop the device.

The Vaavud attachment is easy, economical and handy. A complete list of compatible devices can be found on their website.

The companion Vaavud app is available in AppStore and the Google Play store. It uses the phones magnetic field sensor to detect the spinning magnets in the anemometer and convert that to wind speed. The design contains no electronics which could cause a failure. The simple and elegant design insures years of trouble free use. It comes in three great colors of white, red and green.

The app has been developed for both the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.  It supports the following units of measure including mph, kt, m/s and km/h. Simply tap the units display to change between the unit settings.


• Current, average, and maximum wind speed
• Graph with current and average wind speed
• Ability to scroll and zoom on the graph
• Ability to choose unit (m/s, knots, mph, km/h, bft)
• Wind range: 2- 25 m/s
• Resolution: 0.1 m/s
• Accuracy: +/- 4% or +/- 0.25 m/s
• Live map of wind measurements

If you rely on knowing what the wind speed is for your outdoor activities this app and device might be for you. I like it because I do not have to carry around another device to determine the wind speed.  Some of the hand held wind meters are a little cheaper but are not as handy.

I would like to see the addition of wind direction if that was possible.  I am a sailor so wind speed and direction would be a bonus.  If other apps on my device could use the data from the Vaavud app I would have a complete wind solution at a bargain price.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

nke Marine Display

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Function: Display NMEA 0183 Marine data over WiFi
Rating:  *****
Cost: Free

NMEA data to WiFi is a hot topic these days. Every time I turn around I am hearing of a new WiFi multiplexer or a new data app display for NMEA 0183 or 2000 marine instrument data. Everyone wants marine data on their phones and tablets.

I ran across another data display app that I had not seen before. nke Marine Display is brought to you by a French company called nke Marine Electronics.  These guys have been around for almost 30 years in the marine electronics and instrument business. They too have understood that smart phones and tablets have changed the way sailors want to access data on their yachts.  Boaters now want the convenience to be able to use their hand held devices to view, monitor and control their onboard yacht systems.

This app is available in both iOS and Android versions. So you Android folks can feel the love too.

  • Application offers 8 pages of data.
  • In Navigation: speed, AWA, TWS, depth and HEADING.
  • Navigation page 1: position, SOG and COG.
  • Tactic: AWA, SPEED, HEADING and tendency of the wind.
  • Reference has to be choosen by pressing REFERENCE-TENDENCY in the window.
  • WEATHER FORECAST: AWA, AWS, Air T°, Water T° and atmospheric pressure.
  • Navigation page 2: Bearing and Distance to the WPT, CMG and benefit in CMG, COG and SOG.
  • Performance: Speed, Targets Speed, TWA, optimal Angle, % Speed surface /Target speed.
  • Wind Chart Graphic: TWD and TWS
  • Weather Chart Graphic: Air T°, Water T° and Atmospheric Pressure
  • A double click anywhere on any of the screens to display the settings page
  • Source: 4 pre-recorded: nke-WLN10-iMux and Seamate. It's possible to use the simulator which plays a file selected in Log menus.
  • Units: Depth (m, ft, FM), Speed (kts, mph, km / h, m/s) Temperature (°C and °F), Distance (NM, mile, km, m).
  • Ambiance: Day and Night.
  • Logs: Allows to start logging and to send it by email, to choose a log for the replay.
  • Graphs:  Choice ladder for Weather forecast and wind graph.
  • Alarms:  Choice of the data time-out.
This app is packed with data on eight different data displays. Simply swipe your finger from right to left to move between the displays.

It can display all your yachts data including location, speed over ground, course over ground, wind speed, wind angle, depth, heading, air and water temp, barometric pressure, bearing to waypoint, distance to waypoint.

The display is of a nice size so it is easily readable from a distance.

The Settings menu can be accessed by tapping twice on any of the displays. Settings include Sources, Units, Themes, Logs, Graphics and Alarms

The display colors can be changed under the Themes setting.
Select NKE, daytime or night time viewing. The NKE theme is the vibrant yellow display. Day has the gray background color and Night has the red night vision display.

NKE has options to connect to several Marine WiFi router through TCP/IP or UDP protocols. You will need to purchase a WiFi multiplexer and connect it to your yachts marine instrument network.   The settings to connect to the WiFi router are accessed under the Sources selection in the settings menu.  There are several preset WiFi sources including the WLN10k, NKE, iMUX a Simulator and the SeaMate WiFI routers. Simply select one of these and define the IP address of the server, port and protocol and you should be receiving NMEA data from your WiFi device.

If you have your marine instruments connected to an onboard PC you should be able to set up an ad hoc connection from your PC to your phone or tablet running the NKE app. Create a source in the NKE app settings with the IP address, port and protocol from ad hoc PC connection.

One nice added feature would be to be able to select the locational services of the iPad or the iPhone as a source for basic display of data for location, SOG and COG.

Select Units to change setting of the English or Metric setting for the displays. Units can be set for Range, Depth, Speed and Temperature.

The Log settings allow the start and stop of logging and the ability to email the log if desired. Graphiques(Graphics) has settings to adjust the time scale of how much data is shown on the graph displays. Alarms has one setting for a time out alarm.

The app has a lot of nice displays and features and it appears to be compatible with quite a few WiFi multiplexers on the market. The free price makes it an easy choice so I will definitely be adding it to my display apps folder on both my iPhone an iPad.  Other apps like NMEA Remote and MID+WiFI(Marine Information Display) offer additional features but are both priced at $18.99.  If your looking for a basic display that is more economical, nke Marine Display is for you!

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)