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Old 26-06-2011, 16:33   #16
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

Hi Chris, we will have a stand at the Annapolis shows this October. You can contact Steven at GTS Consulting, our distributor, for more details.

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Old 26-06-2011, 21:26   #17
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

We have a Watchmate and are very happy with it.Soon after it was installed we did a trip to Sydney and intended to stay in Newcastle overnight.Its a busy coal shipping port & the Newcastle Port Authority called us up to ascertain our intentions then slotted us into a entry between two ships.
We used to AIS to identify the ship we were to follow and checked its speed going into the harbour.
We did have to turn off 105 ships at anchor off the entrance that would have otherwise been buzzing our alarm.
We think the AIS greatly assists safety when travelling in coastal waters.
I wonder whether the anchor watch feature can be fitted to older models.

Spokes
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Old 26-06-2011, 21:43   #18
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

Spokes the WatchMate 750 and 670 can be upgraded with the Anchor Watch feature. Unfortunately the older modle (WatcMate 670) cant be upgraded. You can check what model you have by looking at the lable on the back of the device.

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Old 26-06-2011, 22:13   #19
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

Very recently installed WM850 at helm w/o external GPS antenna & connected it to MFD. THE FOLLOWING ARE INITIAL OBSERVATIONS AND VERY WELL MAY (NO, PROBABLY) SHOW MY IGNORANCE. Notes include: Install was fairly simple, but am still troubleshooting error msg saying "problem w/ VHF antenna so xmt mode is off" - the VHF works fine & the WM850 is picking up targets, so it must be using the antenna. ??? The instructions say xmt mode won't work unless MMSI etc are programmed - all are. WM850's display "contrast" is too faint - have to stare to read, quick glance is fruitless day or night. Found WM850 less useful in daylight & very helpful at night. Targets on WM850 sent/displayed on chartplotter - were clear & consistent. Learned most commercial vessels down here don't AIS-broadcast their vessel name but rather their MMSI - I couldn't easily hail them by voice on VHF w/ only their MMSI so DSC is the obvious choice. Am not yet comfortable w/ non-emergency DSC msgs - & that interface w/ WM850 is not automatic. Took a little while to get used to the WM850 filters - we could see vessels far away but within range that didn't show on WM850 - we soon realized that it was filtered out. Apparently only those vessels that meet filter criteria are displayed and only displayed vessels set off the alarm for acknowledgement. Also, acknowledging the alarm turns off the alarm for that vessel until the WM850 is reset - so the WM850 target list (not WM850 chart display) is the *key* page since, apparently, an acknowledged vessel that changes course to nearer CPA/TCP is not alarmed again - it only rises on the priority list. IT IS LIKELY THAT SOME OR ALL OF MY OBSERVATIONS ARE THE RESULT OF OPERATOR ERROR. Haven't used the anchor alarm yet. Will advise.
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Old 26-06-2011, 22:29   #20
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike10 View Post
Spokes the WatchMate 750 and 670 can be upgraded with the Anchor Watch feature. Unfortunately the older modle (WatcMate 670) cant be upgraded. You can check what model you have by looking at the lable on the back of the device.

Mike
Ops that should have read "Unfortunately the older model (WatcMate 650) cant be upgraded"

Sorry for any confusion.

Mike
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Old 26-06-2011, 22:37   #21
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

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. Haven't used the anchor alarm yet. Will advise.
Well, you will advise from a really nice boat. The PSC 37 is one of my old favourites.
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Old 26-06-2011, 22:47   #22
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

We made a design decision with the WatchMate which differs from VHF radios and other AIS transponders. With those products they usually just silently degrade when faced with a poor antenna load. However, we felt that with a 2W transmitter it doesn't make sense to quietly let you believe you are radiating that power when you might be radiating a small fraction of it (if any). So we put a feature into the WatchMate-850 and SP160 splitter that alerts you if something is wrong with your antenna system. Unfortunately, your VHF radio and whether it transmits or receives isn't a very good debugging aid since it just quietly degrades its performance. If you are getting this error then it almost certainly means you have an antenna problem. Perhaps your antenna isn't well matched at AIS frequencies at the high end of the VHF band. Or maybe there is a loose connector somewhere?

The contrast is adjustable in the setup (MENU/SETUP/DISPLAY/CONTRAST). Like all LCD's it is highly dependant on viewing angle. The factory default is looking directly into it, but if you are looking from above or below you'll likely want to adjust it. The LCD is designed to have a wide viewing angle once you make the necessary adjustment. It will also be affected by temperature changes.

Regarding seeing just MMSI numbers and not names... AIS is broadcast in multiple messages. Position reports occur frequently (2-10 seconds for ships and 30 seconds for WatchMate's and other class B's). But static information (vessel name, type, etc.) are only broadcast every 6 minutes. Until that information arrives, the WatchMate only has the MMSI. However, it will automatically update the display as the names arrive.

The idea with filters is to reduce the clutter and false alarms by adjusting your filter settings (for example, filter out vessels that are moving away from me or are going to pass at a safe distance). You can save different settings in "profiles". However, if a vessel is in an alarm state it will never be filtered.

Once you disable the alarm for a given vessel it stays disabled for that particular vessel. But if you want to re-enable the alarm for a given vessel you don't have to reset the unit (there's another good reason not to do this). Instead, select the vessel and press the MENU button. You'll see and "Enable alarms" options. This turns the alarm back on for that vessel.

The good reasons not to reset the unit.... whenever you switch it on, it takes 60 seconds before it can send its first AIS transmission. This is required so the unit can determine the background signal levels which are needed to make it work. Once you get your antenna problem resolved and the unit is transmitting, you'll probably not want to shut it off under these circumstances for this reason. Another reason not to shut it off is it will "forget" the static information about each vessel (eg. name, etc.) so it will take up to 6 minutes more to reaquire that info. In contrast, if you leave it on, it will keep that info even if the vessel goes away and then comes back later. That way the next time you see the vessel it will already know its name and you don't have to wait.

Hope this info helps.
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Old 27-06-2011, 03:45   #23
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

I've been using the Watchmate 670 for 18 months. It is a great piece of gear--very intuitive. Now that we have the real experts on board, I have a question for Jeff:

I have a West Marine AIS transponder, and it doesn't filter its GPS output. Therefore, its transmitted SOG and COG jump around quite a bit on my small boat, making it harder for other vessels to determine my CPA. When I asked SRT about this, their response was

"The built in GPS is configured for 'sea' mode as recommended by it's manufacturer for marine operation. We don't add any additional filtering to the GPS speed or course output. Currently we have no plans to update the software in this area as it could impact type approval of the unit."

"AIS position reports are made once every 30 seconds with the data available at that time. We are not permitted to filter or average the data transmitted, however the fact that it is only sent every 30 seconds means that short term variations will not be seen by other vessels. The data broadcast by AIS is heavily regulated by international standards, so there is little we can change in this area I'm afraid. Rest assured that all AIS devices work this way."

So my question is "Does the Watchmate 850 filter the GPS data to smooth out the SOG and COG it transmits?? If it does, then your transponder is superior, as it will give more consistent and accurate collision avoidance information.
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Old 27-06-2011, 05:40   #24
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

I've had similar observations with various GPS units, so when we were developing the 850 we did a lot of sea trials testing for this very issue. We ended up selecting a modern and highly regarded GPS chipset and specific algorithms which have as good a balance as we could get between responsive behavior and smoothness. As a result, I have observed that the COG/SOG are pretty stable. But I'd be curious as to what others have found with it. Any owners have an opinion?

This type of smoothing is the default. However, there is a setting which allows you to turn it off and we use that mode automatically when in the anchor watch.
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Old 10-07-2011, 17:38   #25
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Quote:
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Hi Chris, we will have a stand at the Annapolis shows this October. You can contact Steven at GTS Consulting, our distributor, for more details.

Mike
Great. I'll be there (at the Electrosense booth) too, so I'll check the 850 out in person. I just might bring my checkbook!

Chris
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Old 10-07-2011, 19:09   #26
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

I have AIS - and I wouldnt be without out. Whilst I dont have the Watchmate system, a friend who is doing a lap of Australia on his cat single handed does have it and has found it excellent, both generally and the Anchor Alarm system.

Here is a snapshot of one of his busier nights at anchor.

and his comments:

Quote:
The wind a steady 25 knots slowly increased in strength until by 11:00pm it wound itself up into a tizzy and let a gust at 39 knots go. The rain pelted down at about 45 degrees fortunately no hail and then as Murphy's law dictates (the worst possible thing will happen at the worst possible time) the AIS anchor alarm sounded. Too dark to see the beach or any other worthwhile reference I watched the graph pattern on the AIS to determine the scale of the drift. I had the alarm range ring set at 50m and the storm managed to stretch the anchor rode components to max and that combined with my reckoning that the GPS position accuracy may have been diluted due to the storm activity and the rolling surge I reset the range ring to 55m and heard no more from the alarm.
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Old 08-12-2012, 20:38   #27
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

We have been sailing for two seasons with the 850. It is my first-on and last-off instrument. We rely on it for awareness and anchor watch. It is intuitive in all commands and I have never had to pull out the manual to figure anything out. I like being able to directly contact a ship's radio operator and arrange proper passing. I know that if I see them, they see me. We have situational awareness of commercial vessels out to 60 miles. Our antenna is 80 feet aloft. It met all of my manditory requirements; impressively low power use, ease of operation; filters; stand alone. On the stand alone issue, I network nothing. I won't have my boat wired like a 1950's Christmas tree. Two years later, I would buy this unit again. I think there are still no units that beat the 850 on these issues.

Mike - some suggestions - meant to be constructive:
1. The alarm is impossible for older men with the standard hearing losses to hear. The frequency is exactly in the squeeky women's and children's voice range or mosquito whine. I can't hear it but it drives my wife crazy. I will be adding some sort of claxon below to the anchor alarm and possibly an LED flasher on the binacle. Perhaps you could add an LED flasher to the panel face and change the alarm tone.
2. The internal GPS antenna is inadequate. It takes a very long time to acquire a satellite. Sometimes the connection is lost under way. My Garmin hand-held has NO problem getting and staying connected in well less than a minute. I have GPS antennas in the Simrad, Garmin, Cell phones, and lap top. My BU353 on the desk top computer in my home or at work (metal building) sees the satellites instantly. All connect nearly instantly. Also, I understand you want to sell antennas But your offering is massive, expensive and has a mile of cable attached. My Watchmate is on deck under a canvas bimini. An external antenna needs less than a meter of wire. The standard pile of plastic tower parts will be tossed. Gilson sells marine GPS waterproof antennas for 10 to 20 bucks. These are smaller and come with short cables. I have asked for an appropriate cross-reference but you only offer to sell me yours with a short cable for an additional 30 bucks.
3. The panel as noted above is a bit tough to see in certain lighing and needs to be changed day to night. Consider adding a quick day-night toggle where one could lock in day & night settings ahead of time. We will probably add a shade on the sides and top if it helps.
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Old 08-12-2012, 21:37   #28
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

I should have followed up on this thread . . .I bought a 850 in May.

I LOVE IT.
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Old 08-12-2012, 22:47   #29
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

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I should have followed up on this thread . . .I bought a 850 in May.

I LOVE IT.
I love mine too. Did you buy the external GPS? I am looking for a compact unit to add on. I just sent an E-Mail to Gilson with the specs. Milspec marine has one listed for less than Vesper but it is physically large and comes with 10 meter cable. I am trying to put it inside the FRP panel over my companionway. 5-inch cable works. If a 20 dollar Gilson works I will buy spares as well as a stand-alone for my Standard Horizon 2100
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Old 08-12-2012, 23:51   #30
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Re: Anyone with the Vesper Watchmate ?

I had posted on another thread about how happy I am with my 850. FWIW, I find by far it's best use is as an anchor alarm. It is incredibably accurate and easy to set.

It took some time to dial in all the settings for coastal, harbor, and anchor. I kept lowering the distances, speeds, etc as we would go into alarms almost constantly in many areas.

I bought a buzzer and potentiometer from Radio Shack and wired them up on the external alarm. It works perfect. The internal alarm is useless, IMO.
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