Sunday, August 31, 2014

Transas iSailor 1.7 Update

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, iOs 6.1 or later
Function: Marine Navigation, GPS, Charting, AIS, NMEA data
Rating: *****
Cost: App is Free, in app purchases for charts, AIS, NMEA data and weather.

Transas iSailor is a real contender if your looking for a iPhone or iPad marine navigation app.  I have reviewed the iSailor app several times over the years. The developers have continued to add functionality and features that all of us boater want and need.

The lastest 1.7 release in the App Store this month adds a slew of new features and options to an already great app.

New Features:
• Multi-language support: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Korean, Chinese.
• Internet AIS Service: real time map view of ships via global AIS Internet Service. This is a 1-year subscription option (Requires iOS 7.x.x and internet availability)
• Theyr Weather: Global coverage real time Weather Forecast. Wind Speed & Direction, Pressure, Wave Height, Precipitations. 1-year or monthly subscription option
• New types of AIS targets include Aids-To-Navigation (AtoN) and Base Stations
• New symbols include Cardinal buoys, Service symbols
• Cursor ‘Call Up’ window (ERBL, AIS Target data)
• Improvements for the graphical Route Editing mode (no linkage in ‘Ahead’ plotting mode)
• Boat Dimensions settings additions
• New colors for Ownship contour, Motion Vectors and Route
• iPhone interface update 

One of the most anticipated updates is the multi language support for the app. The app now supports not only English but German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Korean and Chinese versions. This will allow many more people around the world can use this great app.

The language can be changed in the Settings Menu. Select the Gears icon and go to Units & Language and then Language to view optional languages.

 Make your selection and view the app in any of the 8 provided translations.

The language support option is free of charge.

Internet AIS

Internet based AIS systems have been around for several years.  Land based AIS receivers pick up
the AIS data of ships on the coastal regions of the world and re-broadcasts this data over the Internet from various sites. 

iSailor can now pick up and display these internet based AIS targets on the iSailor app. Class A and B transponders, AtonNs(Aids to Navigation) and base stations are now supported. 

Ship information can be displayed along with the closest point of approach, bearing and speed information of the vessel.

This option can be unlocked in the Settings menu under Sensors.  A one year subscription for the Internet AIS option is enabled with an in app purchase for $15.99.

An Internet or cell connection is needed for this option to work so it will not work if you are offshore and out of cell service range.

iSailor also offers the NMEA AIS option for displaying AIS transponder data via TCP and UDP in the form of VDM sentences. If you have an oboard AIS transponder this data can be displayed by the app over WiFi. This option will cost you another $9.99.

Weather Overlays

The Theyr weather service data can now be displayed in the iSailor app.  This is the same weather data service that is used by the iNavX app. World wide coverage is available for the display of weather forecasts, wind speed, direction, atmospheric pressure, wave height and precipitation.

The Theyr Weather service can be unlocked in the Settings Menu under Subscription Options. One month can be purchased for $6.99 or a yearly subscription will cost you $19.99. iOS 7 is required for you iPad along with an Internet connection to receive the data.

New iPhone Menu Interface

iSailor has changed their User Interface several times over the years to improve the functionality of the app.  The 1.7 version of the iPhone interface is noticeable different from the iPad interface.

Menu and settings options for the iPhone display can be accessed by tapping the Tools bar at the bottom of the iSailor display. The Route, Waypoints, Tracks and settings can then be selected from the on screen menu.

The Navigation display can be accessed by tapping the NAV bar at the top of the display. COG and SOG information are then displayed. Page to the right to see four additional pages of navigation data including bearing to waypoint, distance to waypoint, cross track error, time to waypoint and ETA.

Display options for the iSailor charts include North Up, Head Up, COG Up and Route Up. The last page show the GPS source, accuracy and GPS position.

Transas continues to improve their iSailor app and make the needed changes and product enhancements to keep it fresh and up to date.  Many of these features require in app purchases which is kind of annoying but on the other hand it allows you to pick and choose which options are important to you.  The initial app is free so that is a plus. In app purchases for charts, AIS, NMEA data and weather options however, do add up.

Anyone using the iSailor app out there? Like it? Love?  What are your thoughts?

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Attack of the Drones

The latest rage on the Internet besides the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" is drone photography and video.  If you have not seen or are not familiar with drones, go to YouTube and start searching. You will see some amazing photos and video that have never been possible before. The small size of the drones lets them capture a unique perspective never seen before.  Drones get shots that can't even be done with most helicopter.

Drone are now being used in all sorts of industry and security applications.  The military uses them for both domestic border surveillance and reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. Other industries use them for law enforcement, advertising, tourism, farming, tower and pipeline inspections and more. Amazon even wants to use them to deliver packages to customers. By 2025 drones are expected to be a 80 billion dollar industry employing hundreds of thousands of people. Just when you thought all the million dollar ideas were thought of, we now have drones.

Drones capable of carrying an HD camera come in a wide range of prices ranging from as little as $500 to $2000 and up. Some come with cameras but many models allow the mounting of a GoPro camera onboard.

I follow several sailing blogs and YouTube channels that use drones to capture footage for their sites. Drake Roberts is a long distance sailor and cruiser who is now in Scotland and has used a drone to take amazing video of his time in Greenland and Iceland. He just started a new YouTube channel called ParagonSkies where he will display all of his amazing drone footage.

Mick Bergsma is a GoPro enthusiast who shows tips on how to use all features and accessories of the GoPro cameras.  He also uses drones to take some awesome video. His latest video of Costa Rica is excellent.

Rick Moore is a Canadian who has found a way to make a living while working off his 50 foot yacht, Sophisticated Lady in the Caribbean. His Ambient Real Life Videos give you a glimpse of the cruising lifestyle.  He recently purchased a waterproof Mariner Drone that he uses to make advertising videos for the many island villas in the islands.

I have been following Brian Trautman and the crew of Delos the past few years as they work their way around the world. Brian and his crew recently purchased a drone to capture some awesome shots of their boat while cruising in Thailand and the Philippines.

DroneFly is the site of DJI, a distributor of one of the most popular model of drones. They have a great site with many breath taking videos taken using their products.

If you are using a GoPro with your drone they have their own GoPro App that you can use to control the camera only.

The app is compatible with the Hero 3+, Hero3 and HD Hero 2 with WiFi backpack. Software upgrades will need to be done for the last to options.

    • See what your camera sees with live preview for easy shot-framing
    • View photos and play back videos*
    • Copy photos and videos* to your device, then share via email, text, Instagram, Facebook or other app
    • Browse and delete files on the camera’s microSD card
    • Watch the GoPro Channel and get your fix of the latest GoPro videos from across the globe
    • Wirelessly update your HERO3+ camera software
    • Wirelessly update your camera Wi-Fi network name and password

There are of course mobile apps which can be used to control and fly your drone. The DJI Vision app is used exclusively with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone.

The DJI Vision App is used with the Phantom 2 VVision. It allows full remote camera control through a mobile device. This App is only for the operation of the Phantom 2 Vision.
The app allows first person view while flying. It has a long WiFi range and with the WiFi Range Extender up to 300 meters.  It displays real time flight parameters onscreen.  The location of your device is also locked on radar.

The onboard camera takes 14MP Still Photos and 1080p30/60i Full HD Video.  Other controls include camera tilt, pitch and yaw axis controls through your mobile device.

The DJI40 app is used with the DJI Phantom 1 drone. This app enables you to remotely control the FC40 camera installed on DJI PHANTOM 1, including photo capturing, video recording, album management, etc.

After watching all these great videos it is inspiring me to by a drone and get started. As many of your sail and cruise around the world a drone might be a great way for you to document your trip with photos and video. 

There has been a lot of concern lately over regulation of drones by the FAA and other organizations so make sure you check out what is allowed in your specific country as far as avaiation rules governing the flying of drones.

~~~ Fly On ~~~~ /)