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Welcome to next generation navigation from Digital Yacht

Please remember our main website is at http://www.digitalyachtamerica.com so please visit there  for further product information.

This site is a daily news feed – packed with useful hints and tips on marine electronics in general, useful installation guides, white papers and links to other sites too.

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WL510 wins Best on Test in this months PBO review

Leading UK magazine PBO carried out a test on wifi access systems in this months issue.  It’s a comprehensive test and our WL510 was awarded “Best on Test” as it outperformed all other systems.

pbo front page

Our WL510 is a two part hi power wifi access system comprising high gain external antenna and below deck modem and amplifier.

It allows boat owners to connect to wifi hot spots so that their on board PC’s or equipment can connect to the internet. With internet connectivity on board you can download the latest weather or chart updates, watch movies, listen to music as well as having a mobile office on board. Most harbours and ports have either free or subscription based services available.  With the range offered by the WL510, you’re not limited to local access points either and many users take advantage of free wifi from cafes, bars and other sites even when a few miles offshore.

wl510 and antenna

The system has a compact, DC powered below deck mounted 600mW booster/modem and external, hi-gain (12dBm/15dBi) antenna with 10m (33ft) low loss LMR400 coax interconnect cable. The antenna measures 0.9m (2.95ft) and is supplied with a deck mount base.  There is also an option 1″ adaptor fitting to suit industry standard 1″ mounts

The WL510 modem connects to an on board PC through a regular RJ45 CAT5 network cable for simple driver free installation. Connect the WL510 to a router such as our iNavConnect or iNavHub and everyone on board can share the long range wireless internet connection. Compatible with all popular operating systems – Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.3 (and higher) and LINUX, the WL510 supports 802.11b/g protocols as well as WEP/WPA/WPA2 encryption.

Wi-Fi range depends on many local factors, but Digital Yacht has seen ranges of up to 4-6 miles with this low cost system. In general, using an internal Wi-Fi adaptor typically found on a notebook, you’ll be lucky to find the signal at the end of the dock, so if you plan to access the internet whilst on board, the WL510 could be the solution for you.

FEATURES

  • Ideal solution for permanent installation and new builds
  • Network Interface for connection to one PC or to a Router for shared long range connection
  • Easy to setup and control from any browser through web based interface
  • Adjustable (up to 600mW) Wi-Fi modem and high gain (12dBm/15dBi) omni-directional antenna gives ERP up to 4W
  • Supplied with threaded deck mount for antenna and 10m of low loss LMR400 coax cable
  • Supplied with 1m network cable – can be extended with any CAT5 network cable (up to 50m)
  • Requires connection to boats 12v DC supply
  • No drivers – works with all popular operating systems as connects via network interface and set up is done through the web browser

 

Getting maximum Wi-Fi range on our PilotLink

PilotLink on Car Mount

Our PilotLink wireless NMEA server for connecting a Class A transponder to an iPad or other wireless device is proving very popular with commercial pilots and ship owners. PilotLink is the only wireless product in our range to feature an internal Wi-Fi antenna but its small ceramic chip antenna is very good and should have a range of 50m or more depending upon environmental conditions.

However, recently one of the Pilots who helped us in the original product testing reported that on some larger vessels, he was only seeing a 20m range. He also reported that if he held the PilotLink vertically and stuck it to the front window of the ship’s bridge that the range would suddenly increase and he could get reception from one side of the bridge to the other.

On checking the antenna data-sheet we confirmed that the antenna gave maximum gain when the Pilot Link was held vertically and also that if the PilotLink was laid flat on a metal surface, which is common when using it on a ship’s bridge, that the Wi-Fi range would be further reduced.

 

Pilot Link Signal Pattern

The drawing above attempts to illustrate how the Wi-Fi signals emanate from the center of the PilotLink – imagine a large doughnut approximately 100m in diameter with the PilotLink in the middle !

So after reviewing the Pilot’s feedback, backed up by the antenna datasheets, we recommend that anyone needing maximum Wi-Fi range from our PilotLink unit, should mount the PilotLink vertically, as far away from any large metallic objects as possible.

Whilst considering this issue, it occurred to us that a very good solution would be to use one of the many designs of mobile phone holders for cars. Although PilotLink is slightly thicker than your average mobile phone, most of these holders cope with a variety of different sizes and, as you can see from the photo at the start of this article, our PilotLink is held very securely by the spare holder we found in the office.

Mounting of the phone holder is easy, with the suction cup temporarily fixing to the front window of the bridge and, once adjusted for the PilotLink, it is held firmly in place. With these phone holders available from many online resellers and prices starting at just a few pounds, it is even worth considering one for smaller vessels, as a neat way to secure your PilotLink in rough conditions.

Digital Yacht introduce NavLink US Navigation Package for MacBooks

A new, $29.95 MAC application called NavLink US from Digital Yacht will turn your MacBook into a full featured, electronic charting system with detailed US charting and real time GPS and AIS support for easy, yet advanced navigation.

Navlink_air_02

NavLink MAC is an Apple MAC based electronic charting and navigation package which turns a MacBook into a full function chart plotter.  The application comes complete with highly detailed US NOAA vector charts and allows real time positioning, tracking and routing.  Simply create a route with a click of the mouse to quickly and easily get bearing, distance and ETA information to your destination. AIS targets can also be overlaid onto the electronic charting.  Charts can be zoomed and panned using intuitive finger gestures on the MAC track pad.

The MAC will require a GPS connection for location and optional connection to AIS if an AIS overlay of targets is required.  Digital Yacht’s range of GPS sensors or their low cost USB-NMEA adaptor can be utilised to connect the MAC to the boat’s GPS/AIS system.  Alternatively, for a wire free solution, NavLink supports a connection via wifi to any of Digital Yacht’s NMEA to wireless devices such as iAIS and the WLN10.

navlink mac tides

The seamless charts feature incredible detail as they are derived from official NOAA data and show buoys, navaids, depth contours, wrecks, spot depths, restrictions etc.  NavLink also supports “drill down” data so an object such as a buoy can be queried for its characteristics.  Weather buoys are also supported for local weather conditions (an internet connection is required for this live data) and a tidal atlas is included.  NavLink MAC users can also share routes with the NavLink iPad app.

nav

NavLink has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the MACs simplicity of operation and clarity of the high resolution displays on Apple’s latest products.  Priced at just $29.95, it’s available for download from the MAC app store right now

GV30 Combo GPS-VHF Antenna – The Perfect Class B AIS Transponder Antenna Solution

Many users are put off installing a Class B AIS transponder because of the requirement for additional antennas on their space strapped pushpit rail or radar arch.

A Class B AIS transponder must have its own internal (built in)  dedicated GPS receiver so this requires a dedicated antenna.  It also needs a dedicated VHF antenna (ideally tuned to 162MHz) or connection to a specialist VHF-AIS antenna splitter if you want to share the main VHF antenna with the AIS and VHF.  Our SPL2000 splitter is a great choice here but this technology is relatively expensive.

Digital Yacht now have a great new solution – the compact GV30 combination GPS and VHF antenna, tuned specifically for 162MHz AIS frequencies.  Physically its around 75mm in diameter and has a compact helical stub antenna fitted to the top.  Two (10m) cables exit the unit (for GPS and AIS) with low profile connectors to make running the cable through the boat easy.  Adaptors are supplied for connection direct to our AIT2000 transponder.  Despite the compact stub antenna, performance is actually very good and it makes for a rapid installation.  Of course, range is slightly limited (typically 5-8 NM)  but range isn’t everything – actually too much range can cause too many targets to be received and overcrowd the plotter display!

GV30

Note that the GV30 is shown here fitted to a 1″ standard deck base (stainless steel) which isn’t supplied.  The GV30 has the industry standard 1″ female thread to fit a wide variety of 3rd party rail, deck and pole adaptors.

It will of course work with other AIS transponders but there’s some good reasons here to choose our brilliant AIT2000 Class B transponder

 

Digital Update July 2014 Now Out

Welcome to Digital Update 2014.  Our latest monthly newsletter is now out and you can download from here Digital Update July 2014.  In this edition we take a look at our latest Android app – AISView which offers real time AIS target viewing and tracking via a wifi or USB interface to your boat’s systems.  Turn your android phone or tablet into a full function AIS display with TCPA and CPA alarms!

Newsletter_July_Front Page

Adding a waypoint list to NavLink iPad app

Most navigators use a plotter by visually touching the screen where they want to create a waypoint or mark but there may be times where a list of waypoints needs to be imported – for instance club racing marks or a list of fishing hotspots that’s been passed down through generations.  Here’s a neat way to share a waypoint list on NavLink – our iOS charting and navigation app.

Step 1.

Create a spreadsheet with the Latitudes and Longitudes either in Degrees, Minutes, Seconds or Decimal degrees with a header line including latitude and longitude like so:-

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 16.38.37

One caveat – If your co-ordinates are West of the meridian like mine are you will need to enter them as negative values before dropping on the kml converter! Ditto south of the equator.

Step 2.

Next use this excellent free online converter tool at http://www.mapsdata.co.uk/online-file-converter/

If you have entered the co-ordinates in decimal degrees then you can just drag and drop the xls/cvs  file you have just created and downloaded onto the kml converter tool:-

But if like me, you are stuck in the DD MM SS  world then you need to use their  “Convert DMS to decimal” tool first. Drag your xls/csv file onto it , edit the resulting csv file to change the existing DMS latitude and longitude fields to a different name, e.g. dmslatitude etc. and then drop the resulting file onto the KML Converter box above.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 16.36.49

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 16.17.13

Step 3.

Convert the kml to a kmz file. Simply compress/zip the resulting kml file and rename the extension from .zip to .kmz.

e.g. ClubMarks.kml -zip-> ClubMarks.kml.zip  -re-name-> ClubMarks.kmz and then email the kmz to yourself so you can pick it up in email on your iPhone/iPad

Open it in the iPhone email client.

Here are screenshots of the final step of the import process:-

  • Open the email and tap the kmz icon.

IMG_2904

  • Press the button at the top right to import the file.

IMG_2905

  • Select your navigation app (NavLink UK or NavLink US) from the list of options to open the file with and hey presto, here are the three waypoints imported

IMG_2909

It sounds complicated but its actually really easy and saves alot of typing

PilotLINK with NavLink UK app – Nice Solution

PilotLINK is our portable wireless gateway for Class A AIS systems.  It connects direct to any Class A pilot plug connector and allows AIS and GPS data to be streamed over a wifi link to iPads, iPhones or other tablets.  Just find the PilotLINK hotspot and connect.  There’s an internal 9V battery or you can power via a standard USB format adaptor.  Designed for maritime pilots, its also finding applications with delivery skippers, captains and crew.

ipadair_navlink

NavLink UK is our full featured iOS charting and navigation app using Hydrographic Office vector charts.  It supports real time GPS tracking, waypoints and routing plus an AIS target layer and works beautifully with PilotLINK.  There are now chart options for France, Holland and Germany (available as low cost in app purchases) and a separate version (NavLink  US) for the US market.

 

If you’re an Android user then our new AISView app for Android is now available on the Google Play Store.  You can get details here.  This provides a really nice north up or course up view of local AIS targets with drill down target information.  Here’s a busy Rotterdam port this week

nexus 7