Riding the Wireless Technology Wave

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A number of the electronic devices that we tested are wireless products that interface with smart phones and tablet computers. Many of these products will also connect with the ships existing marine networks (NMEA) and hardware, and we encourage using these more robust connections for long-term cruising.

WiriePro

 

Vesper XB-8000 Class B AIS

Automatic Identification Systems have revolutionized offshore sailing by greatly reducing the chance of collision, making distant ships visible to sailboats and vice-versa. Last year, we sea-trialed the new Vesper XB-8000 Class B AIS transponder.

The XB-8000 is a black box (no display) that combines an AIS transponder, an NMEA 2000 gateway, and a WiFi router. It can send and receive AIS data, interface with the ships NMEA 2000 instruments and displays, and then wirelessly share GPS position, AIS target data, and other key instrument data like depth and speed with up to five different Android and iOS devices. It also can connect with NMEA 0183 devices via the NMEA 0183 output, the USB port, and WiFi. Price is $800.

Calypso Cups 4.0

Wireless wind sensors offer many advantages for the sailor. In recent years, weve tested Raymarines Tacktick, the Nexus Gwind, and the Sailtimer (See PS March 2014, Wind Sensor Testing). A relatively new entry into this field is the Calypso Cups 4.0, which combines a Davis Instruments wind sensor with a user-friendly smartphone app. The basic Calypso system uses either an Android or iOS mobile device as its display, although an optional NMEA 0183 interface to link to your existing NMEA display(s) is available, expanding your connection options.

The Calypso system we tested came with a sturdy and versatile mounting system adaptable to the most common situations. It can be mounted on the side or at the top of the mast using a supplied bracket, or on the rail as we did for our test (see Calypso Wind Reader, PS September 2016.) The base of the wind sensor contains a small, embedded solar panel that charges an internal battery capable of 2,000 charge/discharge cycles and is specified at 260 milliamps. Power consumption is tiny: 10 microamps on standby and 100 microamps when operating. Price is $570.

WiriePro (No longer available.)

The WiriePro is no longer available, but since it is a legacy item still found on many used boats, we include it here. As far as we know, it is no longer supported by the manufacturer. The wirie Pro allows users to connect to the internet using either a shore-based Wi-Fi network or cellular service (2G/3G/4G/LTE). For its WiFi link, the WiriePro uses Ubiquitis Bullet M2HP Titanium WiFi adapter, which is housed in an aluminum weatherproof casing. The WiriePro mounts the Bullet and a 2-dBi wide-band antenna for cellular service (xG/LTE) onto a hard-shell, waterproof box. Inside the box is a commercial-grade 2G/3G/4G/LTE router, with access to the slot for installing a cellular service providers SIM card. The all-in-one design minimizes wire runs and simplifies installation, and extends range by putting the unit above deck. When using cellular systems, The WiriePro will work with Global System for Mobiles (GSM) carriers worldwide using 3G/4G networks with speeds up to 21 Mbps. In areas with LTE support, speeds of up to 100 Mbps are possible. Connection range will depend on the source; our test allowed us to connect to WiFi hotspots more than two miles away. An optional antenna extends range significantly (see WiriePro Combines Wi-Fi and Cellular, PS October 2016). Price is $700.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Dear editor, sorry to inform you that “the WiriePro” has gone out of budsiness2 years ago and their product Didn’t work as advertised. It un friendly user interface and I met several people that were not happy with the product. We all agreed that their support was lousy at best. I’m very disappointed in your publication for even mentioning this product and not knowing their not in business any longer. It makes me question your statement and claim of having researched and being credible.
    Thank
    Hans Gaiser

  2. I have been a subscriber for 30+ years so I suppose I am guilty of being an old curmudgeon as I note with some dismay the spam-like barrage of daily e-mails from PS touting sometimes dated reviews or test results but the lead citation of the Wirie Pro really takes the cake. First of all, a 3+ year old review of a technology product seems like an eternity ago even to this old analog brain, but more important a quick web search confirms that the manufacturer – Island Consulting – has ceased all operations and support for existing units. C’mon PS – you can do better than this.

  3. Old tech! I have “tolerated” a lot of your reviews being “dated” as most sailing hardware evolves slowly, but citing sailing tech reviews from 2014 and 2016 is old news, and not helpful.

  4. The problem with exiting broadband hot spots is that most of them are using only US bands/frequencies. For cruising Caribbean it is not good, because most Caribbean islands, except USVI are using other bands/frequencies. So there is not exact out-of-the-box solutions for this. Most exiting devices such as Wirie or so, are expensive ($700+). Also any connection to LTE/4G/3G is quite limited and dropped significantly, when you are about 6-10 miles off-shore and direct line of sight to the cell tower might be lost. So all solutions are require cellular booster, which adds another $500-$600.

    However solution could be implemented definitely much cheaper than $700 price tag, and based on already existing iPhone/Android (preferably better than iPhone8 or any modern Android Phones), small Wifi router, small Ethernet switch and any WiFi access point such as Mikrotik or Ubiquitis Bullet M2HP.

    WiFi router (like GL.iNet GL-AR150 ($26.50) on amazon) tethered to the existing iPhone/Android, which runs hot spot. Small Ethernet switch connected to the router, and other devices connect to the switch.Therefore iPhone/Android provides broadband access to the WiFi router and WiFi access point – marina WiFi.

    Indirect benefit to use iPhone/Android, that in Caribbean you may change Sim card and use local providers. For iPhone Xs/11 and some Android phones you may also take advantage of eSim and GigSky. Another interesting technology for iPhone/Android is to use Google Fi which gains popularity an start working in a lot of countries.

    Any solution requires Cellular booster unless you are close to the shore and not in very remote locations. In order for cellular booster work in other countries, you may use T-Mobile global, which operates on the same bands/frequencies as in US, but the number of locations could be limited though.

    For real bullet-proof Mofi/WiFi router you may use PepLink instead of GL.iNet GL-AR150/iPhone combinations, which are more robust but cost about $500+. It also has dual Sim slots, but not eSim. Not sure that Google Fi can be used with PepLink.

  5. Im sure tis barrage has left some PS staff a bit shaken and perhaps the occasional wake up is necessary, however, I’d still like to tip my hat to all the people at PS who over the years have prepared many many super articles based on sound research, well done gals and guys!!

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