Chandlery October 2007 Issue

Speed Reader - Velocitek Marine Electronics

Velocitek makes sure data is always close at hand.

Handheld marine electronics can provide an essential backup to permanently mounted gear. That aspect is certainly part of the appeal for a product called Velocitek S10 , a portable, waterproof—but not entirely economical ($250)—speed gauge that can measure a vessel’s speed over the ground or its velocity made good toward a waypoint using an internal Trimble GPS receiver and processors. And

Velocitek Marine Electronics
the S10’s more expensive sibling, the SC-1 ($399), purports to deliver a vessel’s speed, heading, and velocity made good with the information updated every half-second. We say "purports" as we haven’t tested the SC-1.

We evaluated the S10 aboard a variety of sailboats and even on a powerboat. As long as the device’s batteries are powered up (it uses two AAA cells, which the manufacturer claims will last up to 10 hours) and the unit has a clear view of the sky, it lives up to the marketing claims.

The S10 claims accuracy within 0.2 knots; our experience can’t refute that.

The Velocitek S10 is housed in a sturdy, hinged polycarbonate case that is slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes and weighs less than a half-pound. The data is presented on a 1.5 x 2.5-inch, touch-sensitive display that we found easy to read from up to 20 feet away. The device can be mounted on nearly any smooth surface via mated plastic velcro panels with adhesive backing. It also has a 1-foot lanyard. The one potential drawback is that you have to open the case to turn the unit off and on, and doing so exposes the guts to the elements, albeit briefly.

Also of note is a recall Velocitek issued on S10s sold before Jan. 20, 2007. A defective component in the products sold pre-recall could catch fire if both batteries are installed backwards. To date, no customers have returned their S10s; the flaw was discovered by Velocitek’s own testing and the problem has been fixed, the maker said.

Though not every sailor will want this device, performance-minded sailors will value the fact that it can record over 10 hours of GPS data and that you can download the data to a PC. The S10 also offers maximum speed figures and the fastest 10-second average. Superstitious navigators and gear-oriented racers, take note.


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