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Old 17-08-2022, 03:44   #1
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Intercom apps?

My crew and I have become proficiant at using hand signals. There are still times I wish we had intercom though, especially when there are less experienced crew aboard.

The way I see it, a mobile phone, some earbuds and a good app could be a great solution - and in some ways, better than purpose built intercom systems that cost more than a penny.

There are now a ton of apps out there - too many for me to check out, so I'm hoping you can help me find a great one. Some apps require PTT, some have full duplex, some can have many simultaneous users while others can only have two, some don't require internet (use wi-fi or Bluetooth on internal network) while others require internet or celk network, some can be used across both iPhone and Android while others cover only one platform, some can even share cameras.

Is there an app that covers all the bases? Which is the best app?

I think the minimum requirement is:
  • Full duplex
  • Shared camera
  • Over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (no internet or network access needed)

Walkietooth for android covers my minimum requirement.

If the app is limited to two users, then multiple people at opposite ends of the boat would have to share a single set through activating speaker mode on the hand set - which would be adequate 99% of the time (no handsfree and wind noice could pose additional limitations though).

If the app only covers one platform... Many of us have drawers full of old phones anyways, so we could probably have a dedicated set - which in some ways could be even better (and in other ways not).

Now, if you have mobile network access and a sound data package, or a wifi router or hotspot onboard - then just use your favorite video conference app. But internet access is a rare commodity for us sailors some times. .

----

Benefits of intercom with camera

Being able to share a camera can be particularly useful at times.

This summer I was on a boat with a faulty anchor roller that was extremely vulnerable to getting the chain jammed at any slight chain angle but straight down. In one instance, under very poor conditions (strong wind, crossing tide, pitch black and anchor slipping) - it took more than an hour to get the anchor up. A camera at the bough would have made the collaboration with the helm much easier.

In some very tight marinas with wind or current, a camera can make the communication under docking easier at times - especially at times with less experienced crew.

Sending someone below to look for an item or inspect something for you... Or hoisting someone up in the rig to inspect something...Helping someone out with technical issues in the dinghy...

I see many uses for an intercom with camera.
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Old 17-08-2022, 04:37   #2
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Re: Intercom apps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gard View Post
My crew and I have become proficiant at using hand signals. There are still times I wish we had intercom though, especially when there are less experienced crew aboard.

The way I see it, a mobile phone, some earbuds and a good app could be a great solution - and in some ways, better than purpose built intercom systems that cost more than a penny.

If you haven't already, see also threads on Eartec and SENA headsets. Not inexpensive, and they don't speak to the camera idea... but they work pretty well for most users.

-Chris
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Old 17-08-2022, 06:38   #3
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Re: Intercom apps?

Thanks - I will check out that thread. Sena is a decent piece of kit with the option of four simultaneous users, long range, many hours of talk tine, etc.

I still have a lock on on finding a great app - hence a dedicated thread.

One thing I forgot to mention as an added benefit of apps is that a phone is often kept on/near person most of the time - wheras a lumpy Sena will not. An exaggeration, but sometimes I feel that my kids couldn't even endure a total of three feet of separation for more than three minutes before having a melt down (only speculation, we dare not test were the limit is).
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