Real action-cam for sailing Contour HD

13/08/2009
Contour HD waterproof helmet cam

Contour HD waterproof helmet cam

I wrote about small-budget wide-angle waterproof camera lately. But there is newcomer – Contour HD. Real helmet-mountable action-cam. Tough and waterproof. It has HD 720 capability to shoot really hi-res material to SD card. No moving parts in the camera, no wires, copes well rough handling. But also no LCD display. I don’t think, its a flaw, camera has 135 degree wide-angle lens.

Most of us don’t have helmets like Alinghi 5 multi-hull test-sailors. But I believe, that windy weathehr can provide nice footage from the action on the sea. Most Contour HD samples right now are from skiing slopes and mountain-bike trails. Why not from the sea?

Pro’s

  • HD image quality
  • tough, waterproof
  • small
  • Mac and Windows PC compatible

Con’s

  • No LCD
  • Microphone is too sensitive to wind

More info: Contour HD Helmet Cam


iPhone – one of the best sailing gadgets ever

10/08/2009

iPhone and Apple divide world into two separate groups, ones who love and others who don’t. I’m personally in the second group. But still, have to admit, that iPhone is one of the best sailing gadgets ever. That’s Why:

iNavX

iNavX

1. iNavX navigation program, created by the same people who wrote GPSNavX. Compatible with NOAA RNC raster charts, CHS Canada Charts, Navionics Gold Charts, Discovery Charts, HotMaps, NV. Verlag Charts, TRAK Canada lakes fishing maps and Solteknik Sweden waters charts, purchased separately.

AyeTides

AyeTides

2. AyeTides displays tides and currents for locations around the world. Based upon Mr. Tides, AyeTides is tuned for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It is a stand-alone application and does not require internet access to function. Have tides and currents at your fingertips at all times! AyeTides is available from the iTunes App Store !

3. SailSim sailing simulation program

One video is better than 10 000 words…

4. iPhone WindMeter

5. YourSail Logbook. With JourSail you can document your cruises easily and fast. Whether you’re sailing with a little yacht or are enjoying yourself abord the Queen Mary II: with JourSail you’ll have all your notes and memories in a perfect format quickly at hand. With JourSail you can make entries every hour, every day or every 15 minutes – however you like it. Follow the rhythm you prefer and change it whenever you want – just the way you like it.

SailMaster

SailMaster

6. SailMaster digital display. At a fraction of the cost of stand-alone tactical systems, the SailMaster application for the Apple iPhone provides all the information needed to optimize sailing and racing performance.  SailMaster displays key data in a clear and easy to read format and can help sailors of all abilities understand how to maximize speed and efficiency. Originally designed as an economical tool for experienced sailors to optimise racing performance, SailMaster is a simple low solution that will benefit sailors of all abilities.


Please find out more in iPhone and Mac on Sailing Discussion board and iPhone AppStore

With JourSail you can document your cruises easily and fast.
Whether you’re sailing with a little yacht or are enjoying yourself abord the Queen Mary II: with JourSail you’ll have all your notes and memories in a perfect format quickly at hand.
Easy, mobile and a lot of fun
With JourSail you can make entries every hour, every day or every 15 minutes – however you like it. Follow the rhythm you prefer and change it whenever you want – just the way you like it.



Camera to take to the sea

07/08/2009

When it’s sunny, it doesn’t matter what camera You got. But in most yachting conditions something splash-proof is needed. We know that all known brand’s flagship cameras are weather sealed, like Nikon D3, Canon EOS-1D, Olympus E-3, Panasonic K7. But what is the alternative, not talking with the bank manager? Something <400 U$ point and shoot, instead of U$ 2000 + pro stuff.

All main brands got now so-called tough models in their range. Some examples to grab from the store to next yachting event:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1S

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1S

I personally love Lumix. Its designed in cooperation with Leica, top quality camera maker. Some Lumix cameras actually are branded as Leica. Lumix uses leica lenses and the quality is just better than others. Now Lumix has drop-proof and water-proof compact cam.

It has a nice design, 12.2 mega pixels and face detection recognition, and optical image stabilization. It also features an intelligent auto mode that automatically detects scenarios and loads presets so that you don’t have to browse through its collection of 27 modes.  The winner is the 4.6x optical zoom lens with a useful 28-128mm-equivalent range.  The very good image quality, ruggedness and all the other features make this camera a great choice for the sea.

Olympus µ TOUGH-8000

Olympus µ TOUGH-8000

Olympus is one of the first camera brands, who started to think about active lifestyle. Olympus µ TOUGH-8000 is waterproof to a depth of even 10 metres (thats more than nearest competitors), shockproof to a height of 2 metres and includes a high precision 3.6x wide optical zoom. This makes it the ideal partner for yachting. With the convenient TAP Control you can operate the camera by tapping the body. The μ TOUGH-8000 offers you Dual Image Stabilisation for perfectly sharp pictures when using maximum zoom or shooting in lower light.

Pentax Optio W80 Azure Blue

Pentax Optio W80 Azure Blue

Pentax has Optio models W60 (available also in Ocean Blue ) and even tougher W80 (pictured here in Azure Blue). This camera is able to record  HD video in 720p mode. Lens starts from 28mm, whit ch is good on the boat to capture all action in wider perspective.

So, don’t afraid to take camera on-board anymore when water is in the air;) These cameras don’t mind dropping, hitting, splashing or even freezing. And its easy to flush them clean from salt under the fresh water tap later. Cameras full of life.

Canon Powershot D10

Canon Powershot D10

For those with a taste for water-related leisure, there’s a camera — Canon PowerShot D10. Waterproof, freezeproof and shockproof; it’s tough enough to take what you dish out. Plus it’s got all the high performance features you expect from a Canon digital camera. You’ve got 12.1 megapixels of resolution plus all of Canon’s powerful, state-of-the-art imaging technologies so you can capture your experiences in breathtaking color and awesome detail.


Omnidirectional 9 dBi WiFi solution

06/08/2009

Friend of mine uses for offhore Internet setup like that:

Interline INT-HOR-0924-V omnidirectional antenna

Interline INT-HOR-0924-V omnidirectional antenna

9 dBi omnidirectional 54 cm long Interline in the masttop. Good solution for yacht, cause it’s lightning protection shorted for DC. Same antenna is available also in 12 dBi version, but for yachtowners I recommend 9 dBi model because of wider vertical reception pattern.

Ubiquiti Bullet

Ubiquiti Bullet

…. connected to Ubiquiti Bullet

Bullet turns onmidirectional antenna into Ethernet (RJ-45). Easy and simple. No drivers needed, pure IP internet directly to laptops 10/100/100 base-T connector.

Pro’s:

  • omnidirectional, install and forget
  • POE, needs only Cat5 cable, power is feeded over same cable

Con’s:

  • 9 dBi amplification

Products mentioned

Interline INT-HOR-09/24-V

Ubiquiti The Bullet


USB Internet dongle

05/08/2009

USB internet broadband dongle

USB internet broadband dongle

Close to harbour it’s possible to hook up to local WiFi network, either with WiFi ready laptop, USB WiFi extender of WiFi extender-router. In all those cases, distance to the nearest base station shouldn’t be more than mile or two. We know, that hi-budget ocean-racing teams use all kind od satellite connections. But are there other broadband solutions for less budget. Answer is: mostly.

So-called USB Internet Dongle (broadband dongle) is provided by all bigger mobile networks and they rely on mobile network technologies. So, almost every time, when You have mobile coverage, You are able to use Internet.

USB Internet dongle is connect to computer via USB port. Noew dongles are USB 2.0, but they are backward compatible with older USB 1,0 standard. It needs additional driver and client software. Luckily this all is on the same USB stick and You don’t need to carry along additional CD.

Depending of signal quality and mobile network service providers infrastructure, the speed can vary great deal. In best case You may able to get 3,5G HDSPA speeds at 7,2 Mbps. When signal strength is lower or mobile infrastructure is not supporting higher speeds, USB dongle speed falls back to next available level. Usually it’s shown also in the application window.

Fallback list (download speeds):

  • 7,2 Mbps 3,5 G (HDSPA)
  • 2,0 Mbps 3 G (HSUPA)
  • 0,5 Mbps 2,75 G (EDGE)
  • 0,1 Mbps 2,5 G (GPRS)
Broadband speeds

Broadband speeds

Mbps figures are indicative, depends of sub-standards
and specific hardware in use

GPRS and EDGE speeds may seem quite out-dated. I found it still usable, looking weather website, downloading e-mails and uploading blog posts. Indeed, rich content like multimedia files, large images, video streaming etc is no-no.

Amplified USB cable

Amplified USB cable

It’s wise to use 3 Meter (10 ft) long passive USB cable or even longer (even up to 15 meter or 45 ft) amplified USB cable to place dongle as high as possible, to receive quality signal. I experienced situations, when down in the galley I didn’t have any signal, but standing on the deck with my notebook/USB dongle, I was able to use 3,5G speedy connection.

Some tips using internet dongle:

  • Disable automatic windows update
  • Disable virus database/program updates
  • Disable other automatic updaters (iTunes, Adobe, …)
  • Disable P2P programs like uTorrent clients
  • Configure confirmation requirement before automatic internet connection for e-mail programs, etc
  • Use long USB cable to place dongle to highest point possible
  • Disconnect after use

In near future G4 technology will allow 100 Mbps speeds, but it requires updating all network infrastructure by service providers and in real life it takes some time to get these speeds.


Solar GPS

04/08/2009
F-tech solar-powered bluetooth GPS

F-tech solar-powered bluetooth GPS

Many people use Laptops and cheap GPS mouse (connected to USB), equipped with PC navigation software and electronic charts instead of dedicated chartplotter. It’s a quite good solution for route planning at home. Laptop display is also bigger and it’s considerable faster and more usable than cheap chartplotter.

But there is a problem with GPS. Using U$ 50 – 100 USB GPS mouse is easiest and cheapest way, but the USB wire is always on the way and GPS is not on ideal position. Luckily GPS makers like F-Tech heard that issue and developed solar-power wireless GPS. It doesn’t need batteries, wires, switching on/off. Its just sitting somewhere on the deck and sending positions via bluetooth. Sun is almost limitless power source on the sea, why not to use it? And it can still function in total darkness 20 hours, off the battery, fully charged.

F-Tech Solar GPS tech data:

Protocol:

NMEA 0183 v3.01 (Default:GGA,GSA,GSV,RMC,VTG,CHN)
MTK NMEA Command

Baud Rate:

9600,N,8,1(Default)

Max. Update Rate:

1 Hz

Datum:

WGS84

Channel:

32 channel all-in-view tracking

Frequency:

L1, 1575.42MHz

Hot Start:

1 sec. Average

Warm Start:

36 sec. Average

Cold Start:

37 sec. Average

Reacquisition Time:

Less than 1 sec (Typical)

Position Accuracy:

< 3m CEP (50%) without SA (horizontal)

Sensitivity

Tracking:-158 dBm

Power Supply:

DC 5V

Power Consumption

45mA(avg.)

Battery Life

20HRs with Li-Ion Battery,30HRs with solar power

Antenna Type:

Built in low noise patch antenna

External Antenna Interface:

MMCX

Bluetooth

Class 2, distance up to 10 meters

Dimension:

55(W)x103(L)x22(H) mm

LED Indicator:

Red LED:GPS is fixed or not fixed / Power On
Blue LED:BT is connected or not connected

Operating Temperature:

-10°C to + 70°C

Storage Temperature:

-40°C to + 85°C

Operation Humidity:

5%~95%, Non-Condensing

Products mentioned

F-Tech


Working solution for long-distance WiFi – Ubiquity NanoStation 2

03/08/2009
Ubiquity NanoStation 2 WiFi extender

Ubiquity NanoStation 2 WiFi extender +10 dB

I posted earlier a story about simple USB-based WiFi amplifier. Many yachtsmen use instead Ubiquity NanoStation and it has been proven working quite well.

Basically, it’s WiFi-to-Ethernet router. It receives WiFi signal via 4 internal antennas, amplifies signal, converts it to copper and passes to Your computer via ethernet cable. All electronics is inside the 26 cm long antenna, so there are no signal losses and noises compared with products using long antenna cables. NanoStation uses power over Ethernet method to provide required power to the circuitry, only single CAT5 RJ-45 cable is needed for connection. Additional RJ-45 POE hub is included.

NanoStation works in b/g range, so don’t expect too swift data transfers, but still much more reliable connections, than std WiFi. NanoStation 2 is directional, so You have to align it towards to base station. Expect to pay for NanoStation abpout U$ 80. Highly affordable product!

There are real-life reports about reliable WiFi at more than 2 miles distance.

Products Mentioned

Ubiquity NanoStation 2