Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPad On Board

Panbo was excited about Apple tablet product before he knew what it was. Now that it's been shown as iPad, sailors have a lot to be excited about. My iPhone is so useful onboard as a phone, browser, charterplotter, image feeder, and so on. One drawback is that it has a small screen when at times a larger one gives more perspective or a larger view. The iPad settles that and the applications will only get better.

What I want is for the iPad to be the multi-display for Speakeasy's network which can be viewed at the nav station, helm, and bunk. Not just viewed, but used to interact with network systems. That requires an onboard network that casts NMEA over WiFi (Bluetooth, Wireless USB, etc.).

As Brian puts it "The plan is to support NMEA-2000 over TCP/IP via MacENC to iNavX just as now is done with NMEA-0183. The Actisense Gateway will be interfaced to the Mac and MacENC will broadcast the NMEA info. And of course iNavX will support the larger iPad touch screen."

I have some network updates to make before I can test my iPhone or the iPad when it ships.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Speakeasy: Cold, Snow, Ice

I hate to see the boats on the hard in the winter. It's been especially icy on top of a couple feet of snow that has come and gone. I was worried that Speakeasy's cover would not like being propped up by a 2X4 instead of the mast, which is basking in the warmth of the heated yard shed.

Not much was wrong when Beth and I checked Speakeasy at the Canal Street Yacht Yard. There was some ice damming on the starboard quarter, but it was easily removed. The batteries looked good. Some ice had built-up in the lowest part of the bilge, which I must drain when it warms.

The 2010 season gets started tonight at the Columbia Yacht Club Chili Cook Off. Next week is Strictly Sail. I'm starting to get excited about a new season.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Boost WiFi signal strength

From Small Dog Electronics

Boost Wireless Network Strength and Speed: Quicky Jr. II By Matt Klein

Many of us live and work in areas with many available wireless networks, or cannot get a full strength signal from our networks for whatever reason. While AirPort reception on modern desktop and portable Macs is excellent, and getting better with each generation, sometimes we just need better reception.

There are solutions that include disassembling your computer and stringing an antenna through the Express Card slot or performing other modifications, but my favorite tool for this job is the QuickerTek Quicky Jr. II.

This little antenna simply plugs into any available USB port and gives you up to three times the range than you?d get with the built-in wireless hardware. A stronger signal means faster transfer speeds, lower latency, and a more satisfying user experience?particularly if you use Time Machine to back up wirelessly, or stream uncompressed audio to an AirPort Express (like I do every day).

The AirPort signal strength menu bar item has five ?bars,? and indicates signal strength logarithmically. So, if all the bars are black, you have a signal ten times more powerful than when only four bars are black. You can imagine then just how much signal strength matters for speed. Our customers report also that using the Quicky Jr II in areas congested with wireless networks helps your speeds regardless of signal strength.

Quicky comes with easy to install software, and is compatible with Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard. It supports 802.11 b, g, and n, and all encryption types except WPA Enterprise."

Also, Radio Labs has a product that claims a few miles of signal strength. One plugs a whip antenna into the USB slot of a computer. The antenna can be up to 30 feet from the Windows, OS X, or Linux computer.