LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Electronics and electrical equipment continue to generate new and innovative products in the marine industry. Just look at the electronics category in this year’s IBEX Innovation Awards and its 25 entries.
Many of the fast-paced tech advancements in the marine industry revolve around “connectivity” — technology that not only integrates marine electronics, but also links them to the cloud and mobile devices and computers.
The idea of sharing data to make boating better and more enjoyable has started to come to fruition. IBEX’s Connected Boat Display illustrated that technology; at least a dozen electronics, engine and instrument manufacturers participated with their products — an impressive demonstration of multiple brand devices sharing data across multiple networks.
Simrad, Mastervolt, Honda, Faria and Antisense Marine Accessories were just some of the brands involved here.
Joe Burke, of Chetco Digital Instruments, for the second consecutive year designed the Connected Boat network. The big news, according to Burke, is the ability to interface between a vessel’s NMEA 2000 network and most cellular data services.
“It takes data from the vessel to the cloud and then to devices off the boat, including mobile devices,” said Burke, whose business now offers Smart GPRS, which contains a cellular data modem and a removable SIM card to allow use on most mobile networks, including AT&T’s new M2X data service, which offers a 10X reduction in monthly access charges.
M2X (machine to cloud) is designed for interfacing sensors directly to cloud services, such as Chetco’s HelmSmart.net data analytics website, with a monthly access fee as low as $2 a device.
Jury-rigging gets easier
Ancor Marine, part of Power Products LLC, came out with a self-cutting cable tie.
“It makes wiring installations easier, faster and more efficient — and requires no tools,” Matt Elsner, group product manager of Power Products, said of the new cable ties as he showed them to me. “Of all our new products, this one really resonates because it solves a problem. Let’s face it, cutting cable ties is a hassle.”
As a jury-rigger, I say “mmm-hmm,” and I’m sure many marine electricians will find these nylon ties (which have a 50-pound tensile strength) useful. A stainless steel razor inside the tie’s receiving end plays the key role. After the tie has been pulled to its desired length or tightness, you simply twist the tail and the razor leaves a clean, flush cut without sharp edges. With no tool required, the risk of damaging whatever you’re bundling is eliminated, Elsner added. The ties come in 8-, 11- and 14-inch sizes.
Power Products held a press luncheon to highlight new products across its seven brands — ParkPower, Ancor, Mastervolt, BEP, Marinco, ProMariner and Blue Sea Systems. David Johnson, the company’s senior vice president of marine and mobile of the Americas, listed some new electrical devices from Blue Sea Systems, and his colleague, Danny Ascencio Hall, later demonstrated them as installed at the show (see video).
The Mini Add-A-Battery Plus is sold with a BatteryLink Charger and is capable of juicing two batteries at or away from the dock. The Mini Add-A-Battery simplifies switching between the two batteries. Bottom line: The product virtually “eliminates the risk of getting stranded with a dead battery,” Johnson said.
Two dual USB chargers — one that fits a 12V charging receptacle — deliver 4.8 amps of charging power and feature “intelligent device recognition” (optimizes charging for Apple and non-Apple devices). It can be used with 12V or 24V systems.
The Mini OLED (organic light-emitting diode) DC Voltmeter monitors 12V and 24V systems with a bright waterproof daylight-readable screen.
FLIR Systems launched its AX8 thermal monitoring camera for monitoring engines, exhaust manifolds and shaft bearings.
“Cameras in engine rooms are not new, of course,” said Jim Hands, director of marketing for FLIR and Raymarine. “We have simply augmented the capability of the engine room camera with thermal imaging.”
Combining thermal and visible cameras in a small package, the AX8 integrates with Raymarine multifunction displays and sends audible and visual alerts when the temperature of machine parts rises above pre-set thresholds, said Hands.
“It gives a boater that added confidence in the safety and working order of the engine and its systems,” he added. The product has been used in commercial applications (mainly for monitoring industrial electrical panels) for about a year. Its recreational version retails for $1,199.
Keeping it cool
Dometic is always eager to show Trade Only new product. This year was no exception. Ned Trigg, senior vice president of global system sales, was my tour guide around the Dometic display. We started with the CRX-50 built-in refrigerator with a slide-out freezer section.
It can quickly transform itself to a refrigerator only, or a freezer only. The electronic control panel, which has LED lighting, fits flush in the side wall for easy reach, and I found that its soft-touch buttons for power and temperature are easier to use than knobs.
Versatility also stands out as a strong point for the company’s new reverse-osmosis water purification machinery — the XTC-ZTC Double Pass System. It purifies feed water from any source — salt water, brackish water, fresh water or dockside water. The first pass makes potable water and the second purifies it further — so clean it leaves no spots after it’s used to wash yachts, said Trigg.
“Yacht crews might request their owners get this product for this very reason,” he said.
Designing cooling products for the marine world is a challenge because it relies on the use of corrosive seawater. The Dometic Titan Low-Profile 60 is the first marine chiller to use titanium in the condenser instead of cupronickel, said Trigg. Titanium fends off the punishment of salt water and invasive marine life, he said.