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.
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.