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Sailtimer Wind Instrument

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Imagine a world where you had wind, depth/speed, compass and gps sensors running off Bluetooth, Processed by iphone/android, and repeated by some nice daylight readable Bluetooth screens. Ooh, it's a simplicity nirvana!

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Imagine a world where you had wind, depth/speed, compass and gps sensors running off Bluetooth, Processed by iphone/android, and repeated by some nice daylight readable Bluetooth screens. Ooh, it's a simplicity nirvana!

until the battery runs out on the masthead device, or your "processor"

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Masthead is solar, read the link. And heard of mobile phone battery banks?

 

To be honest if maintaining the batteries is the biggest issue, then it's a go-er!

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bluetooth is a far more power hungry protocol than straight wireless. good luck with that.

 

I was wondering that. Not from the point of view of actually knowing anything but wondering why the Sailtimer uses bluetooth instead of wifi. And without knowing anything I said to myself "maybe bluetooth uses way less power". So you're saying it uses a lot more?

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bluetooth is a far more power hungry protocol than straight wireless. good luck with that.

 

I was wondering that. Not from the point of view of actually knowing anything but wondering why the Sailtimer uses bluetooth instead of wifi. And without knowing anything I said to myself "maybe bluetooth uses way less power". So you're saying it uses a lot more?

 

in my experience with bluetooth, any time the radio is on it just saps power, even at "low power requirements". then there is the spontaneous disconnections and lack of retrain and autoreconnect on a lot of devices. i've had bluetooth on the car stereo just stop, requiring a complete power down of both the phone and stereo. bluetooth's range is limited too. even with full power bluetooth you only have about 40' of reliable range. i've had full power bluetooth drop out walking 15' away from a speaker. what if your stick is 60' or more? if carbon in a jib can interfere with the signal from a nexus wireless wind instrument think of what will happen with bluetooth. you lose it all at any given time.

 

i'll pass on so many levels.

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I have tested bluetooth to 100 yards. But I agree that if you put a bunch of walls, bulkheads and such, you get limited range. But with a clear view, you can get 100 yards. I have a bluetooth GPS receiver with a small cell phone battery and they advertise 40 hour battery life. And that includes the GPS.

 

Power Consumption: Details

Rahul Balani of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, has run extensive tests to measure the power consumption of Bluetooth versus Wi-Fi. His results indicate that in some cases, Bluetooth uses less than 3 percent of the power required by Wi-Fi for the same tasks.

 

 

 

And from the Bluetooth website

 

Power

The most commonly used radio is Class 2 and uses 2.5 mW of power. Bluetooth technology is designed to have very low power consumption. This is reinforced in the specification by allowing radios to be powered down when inactive.

The Generic Alternate MAC/PHY in Version 3.0 HS enables the discovery of remote AMPs for high speed devices and turns on the radio only when needed for data transfer giving a power optimization benefit as well as aiding in the security of the radios.

Bluetooth low energy technology, optimized for devices requiring maximum battery life instead of a high data transfer rate, consumes between 1/2 and 1/100 the power of classic Bluetooth technology.

 

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They say that Bluetooth LE has 100m range. The Qstarzx-1000TX I tested at 100 meters was not commercial. I don't know what class it is but the battery lasts a long time.

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Ignoring bluetooth I wonder about the vertical orientation to puts it in the upwash from the headsail instead of ahead of the mast like most anenometers.

 

The demonstration video showing that it stays responsive even when heeled is interesting, and the design of the wind cups does seem novel:

 

Jump to 48 seconds.

They used a digital compass with accelerometer for the wind heading direction, it is too bad that this wasn't also used to correct for mast motion when the boat is pitching around.

 

Getting good apparent wind direction is going to mean having a well calibrated compass in your system along with the one in the instrument.

The box to output NMEA 0183 is crazy expensive for how simple it is (just a bluetooth receiver with serial output).

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I've got transducers on my bike registering cadence and speed, and heart rate, feeding my iphone, which in turn feeds a remote screen on my handlebars, all operating through BLE

 

The whole thing is open source, I can choose from a selection of at least a dozen apps that process the transducers, add in the iphone's gps, and feed out to the display.

 

The transducers and display all run for at least a year on button batteries. The iphone will run for about 6 hours on a single charge.

 

Obviously all units sit within a close proximity, and I understand that the developers have had to put a fair amount of work into getting the signal reliably from the various transducers/repeaters to the phone in my back pocket, with my body often in the way.

 

Unfortunately I know enough about this stuff to know I'm not the man to build the marine version of this!

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One thing about signal strength that you get from the following the development of this product is that they are introducing a V2 of the product designed for taller masts and sort of re-branding the original version for smaller boats. So this tells you the V1 probably had some issues with the signal not being robust enough.

 

I agree that the NMEA interface price at $400 is a hindrance. If the masthead unit was $500 and didn't require another box to interface with NMEA it might be a lot easier to give it a try, especially for people who have aging masthead instruments are and looking to update / replace. But at $900 for both it's less attractive.

 

According to the specs on the website the power usage should not be an issue, there is a solar charger and large battery.

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Wind Wand Requirements:

  1. High Accuracy
  2. High Reliability
  3. Low Maintenance
  4. Low Weight
  5. Low Cost

Batteries, solar cells and a radio accomplish the following:

  1. Accuracy - No real effect, although digital data at the sensor does present some problems in very high end applications
  2. Reliability - Decreased
  3. Maintenance - Increased
  4. Weight - Savings are negligible if mast wiring is done with ultra light weight cabling - but the CG of the overall solution goes right to the top of the mast - so the net weight effective is also negative.
  5. Cost - Increased

Bottom line - wireless wind is a gimmick that moves the bar in the wrong direction in every dimension.

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I have TackTick wind and it saved me the cost of installing wires in my wood mast. Estimate for that was $10,000. But if you can run wires, I agree that is the way to go. The errors on the TackTick wind are huge. I measured 15 degree error on one of the units I tested. The best one was not that much less. I correct them with my RaceBox but that is another story. The point is, wireless has its place and I would not say accuracy is the same. It depends on the system. If I could go with B&G wind I would.

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Has anyone actually used one of these yet? I currently only have a wind indicator ontop of the mast. The sailtimer seems like a great way to get good data for very cheap... if it actually works.

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Has anyone actually used one of these yet? I currently only have a wind indicator ontop of the mast. The sailtimer seems like a great way to get good data for very cheap... if it actually works.

 

I am also looking for an answer to this question. Seems like someone would have taken the chance already.

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Still waiting for my set up.

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I attached Weathermeter to the headboard of our Viper 640. I could read the windspeed in iPhone via Bluetooth. Worked pretty well but WM only records average speeds over measured interval. It does not true record second by second data (or iPhone app has no way to see raw data if it is recorded) so I could not use WM to build a polar diagram. Also the Bluetooth connection was intermittent and once it failed, the unit sent no data until the main was dropped and Ghe unit was reset.

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Reviving this thread to see if anybody has received a Sailtimer yet.

 

I ordered a SailTimer in November of 2014. Eventually they recommended I wait for the 2016 version (my mast is 42 feet), but we're basically at the end of the 2016 season and I haven't heard anything. I understand the product is in development, but has anyone except sailing magazine reviewers actually seen one of these in the wild? If not, I'm a bit skeptical about the viability of the company.

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I took a hard look at SailTimer. Unfortunately, the guys doing the development seemed fairly uninterested in making the app work for measuring wind in detail. They were very focused on the "timer" of how long it would take to sail upwind somewhere. They were convinced that their VMG calculations in the app is their point of differentiation in the market. Lots of us would love a cheap and reasonably accurate wind instrument for RC use. Add in some graphs and averaging in an app and you have a winner. The price point isn't terrible, but they were only interested in telling me how long it would take for a boat to get to the windward mark. Bluntly, I didn't care. I want good wind data that I can use to set a racecourse better. Right now, I think the best I can do with GPS correction is about $2k for a wind sensor, basic chartplotter, and the associated toys to make the data "true."

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I ordered mine in December or beginning of January. It still has yet to ship. Twice this summer there was hope they'd have factory seconds with blemishes that they would ship out but other people gobbled those up before I could positively respond. I have little hope they'll send mine before we haul out in late October, but it's possible. I knew this project was new, proprietary, a small operation, and experimental, but I did not get the sense that it would take them this long. I will be very happy to get it when I do and I would like to figure out the cheapest way to get it on a basic display and send its data to our autotiller.

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I do have quite a bit of experience with this unit. I thought that it would really be a nifty answer to working with my Ipad and the various navigational and performance apps I use. After roughly a year of trying, two units, many emails back and forth to the company, and many trips up and down the mast I have given up on trying to make it work. The first unit was the older unit that was lower and wider. It failed to keep a charge and would not link with my Ipad. I was told that this was because it we allowed to discharge and I did not care properly for the battery when I stored it in my garage for a time prior to installing it. After more exchanges they sent me the newer, more vertical unit. Quite excited, I unpacked it, tested it and found it working, and installed it at the masthead. I keep the boat on a trailer in San Diego so access to sunlight was hardly a problem. There I left if for a few months (in the sun at the top of the mast). When I had time to revisit the boat I found the unit was not longer functional, it would not connect with my Ipad or Iphone app. I contacted the manufacturer again and they told me that once again I had neglected the battery, that I had let it discharge (at the masthead in the San Diego sun???), and that they would not warranty it. I asked if I was expected to check it weekly and go up the mast, remove it , put on the off-cover (a plastic sleeve with a magnet that deactivates the unit), charge it, and reinstall it if I found it discharged but they did not reply to that question. They did tell me to put the off-cover on it and leave it in the sun. So I removed the unit ( after going up the mast for the sixth time) and put on the off-cover, After a few days in the back yard it did charge and connect with the Ipad when the off-cover was removed. That lasted a few days, at which point it died again. I still have it mounted to a board in the back yard in the sun. After months in the San Diego sun it still will not hold a charge without the off-cover mounted, hardly a workable proposition when the unit is at the masthead. The company maintains that I was at fault for leaving it at the masthead for a few months, which they say allowed it to discharge and damaged the battery. I am still at loss to understand how taking a working solar powered unit, installing it in its proper position at the masthead in an area of high sunlight , and then leaving it there unattended for a few months constitutes irresponsibility on my part. But that is what the company maintains and they refused a refund stating that the unit was not defective and that the failure was mine. So I have to eat the purchase price and still have a useless unit.

 

Another aspect of the unit to consider is the noise. The anemometer cups rotate on a pin and jewel movement which is fine, But the lower part of the assembly is hollow cylinder that revolves around a solid inner one. so the skirt of the hollow outer rubs on the solid inner and makes a really annoying noise and, in my boat, a vibration that carried down the mast and was transmitted to the hull. When I had the boat in the water for a few days there were a couple of boats near the slip I was in that commented on the noise.

 

So that in short was my experience. The company states that my situation was really unusual, I have no way of knowing if it was or not. I do know that I had two units which ended up not working, that I took a working unit and installed properly only to have the company blame me for its failure soon after. Take my experience for what it is worth.

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I do have quite a bit of experience with this unit. I thought that it would really be a nifty answer to working with my Ipad and the various navigational and performance apps I use. After roughly a year of trying, two units, many emails back and forth to the company, and many trips up and down the mast I have given up on trying to make it work. The first unit was the older unit that was lower and wider. It failed to keep a charge and would not link with my Ipad. I was told that this was because it we allowed to discharge and I did not care properly for the battery when I stored it in my garage for a time prior to installing it. After more exchanges they sent me the newer, more vertical unit. Quite excited, I unpacked it, tested it and found it working, and installed it at the masthead. I keep the boat on a trailer in San Diego so access to sunlight was hardly a problem. There I left if for a few months (in the sun at the top of the mast). When I had time to revisit the boat I found the unit was not longer functional, it would not connect with my Ipad or Iphone app. I contacted the manufacturer again and they told me that once again I had neglected the battery, that I had let it discharge (at the masthead in the San Diego sun???), and that they would not warranty it. I asked if I was expected to check it weekly and go up the mast, remove it , put on the off-cover (a plastic sleeve with a magnet that deactivates the unit), charge it, and reinstall it if I found it discharged but they did not reply to that question. They did tell me to put the off-cover on it and leave it in the sun. So I removed the unit ( after going up the mast for the sixth time) and put on the off-cover, After a few days in the back yard it did charge and connect with the Ipad when the off-cover was removed. That lasted a few days, at which point it died again. I still have it mounted to a board in the back yard in the sun. After months in the San Diego sun it still will not hold a charge without the off-cover mounted, hardly a workable proposition when the unit is at the masthead. The company maintains that I was at fault for leaving it at the masthead for a few months, which they say allowed it to discharge and damaged the battery. I am still at loss to understand how taking a working solar powered unit, installing it in its proper position at the masthead in an area of high sunlight , and then leaving it there unattended for a few months constitutes irresponsibility on my part. But that is what the company maintains and they refused a refund stating that the unit was not defective and that the failure was mine. So I have to eat the purchase price and still have a useless unit.

 

Another aspect of the unit to consider is the noise. The anemometer cups rotate on a pin and jewel movement which is fine, But the lower part of the assembly is hollow cylinder that revolves around a solid inner one. so the skirt of the hollow outer rubs on the solid inner and makes a really annoying noise and, in my boat, a vibration that carried down the mast and was transmitted to the hull. When I had the boat in the water for a few days there were a couple of boats near the slip I was in that commented on the noise.

 

So that in short was my experience. The company states that my situation was really unusual, I have no way of knowing if it was or not. I do know that I had two units which ended up not working, that I took a working unit and installed properly only to have the company blame me for its failure soon after. Take my experience for what it is worth.

 

Damn. That is some shitty news!

I sure would like to get a refund at this point, but I understand there are no refunds being offered?

That's fucked up!

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Sailing Solo… Dude, did you store the earlier 2015 model in your garage? It had no off-switch, and would just go flat with no solar charging. But it was nice of the company to replace that one for free for you.

I have the newer 2016 version, which is working great. Lots of cool features (such as sharing wind conditions on live wind maps). The documentation says the unit can operate when it arrives, but does not have a full charge. Did you charge it to full before mounting it, like the instruction sheet recommends?
It sounds like you also damaged your second battery leaving it flat too long, if it won’t hold a charge.
On their FAQ page at SailTimerWind.com, there are some recommended maintenance procedures for lubricating, if the bearings start to make any sound. Also, the company has recently released their new AirGap axle. It is in their next generation anemometer, but is also available as a low-cost upgrade on their accessories page. It says there that the AirGap axle reduces drag and sound with the wind cups, and requires less maintenance and lubrication.

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F Pajot - I must admit that when I read your post it certainly sounds like you should be a Sailtimer company spokesman (or are you already?). The 'dude' was a nice touch tough, makes it sound casual prior to spouting the company line.

 

The 2015 model was stored in my garage for just over a week after I received it because I was out of town, it was then charged as per instructions. As to the second unit, it was charged and working fine when I mounted it, and it failed soon after. In both cases the company (your company?) blamed the failure on my actions.

 

Let me repeat, I took a charged, working unit, mounted it at the masthead in the San Diego sun and the battery went flat. Dead, while in the San DIego sunlight, at the masthead. The company has said that as I left the boat unattended for two months and did not check its charge (and remedy the low charge situation by going up the mast twice to install and remove the off- cover) that I am responsible for the battery failure. Got news for you, like most owners, I cannot be at the boats all the time (though I may want to be).

 

It seems that there is an attitude within the company that the sailor is there to serve the company (and its products), not the other way around. You say that the noise problem (which you acknowledge exists as you provide possible mitigations) can be addressed by the use of lubricants, but remember, the unit is at the masthead. That means an owner must periodically go up the mast, lubrication in hand, and work on the unit. Or you can "buy a low cost upgrade" and go up the mast to install it thereby improving a problem that the company built into the unit to begin with. But note that it only "requires less maintenance and lubrication" not no lubrication and maintenance, so I hope you like the view from the top of the mast because you will need to go there every so often to keep it acceptably quiet. You state that if the unit becomes discharged it should be recharged fully, by putting the cover on it, and then removing the cover when it becomes fully charged.This means two trips to the masthead. That is just not realistic. I sailed (and will sail again) a 25 ft. boat in the Singlehanded Transpac and trust me, I do not want to go up the top of a 30 ft. lever in mid-ocean when my weight is just under 10% of the boats displacement. I need a unit that gets mounted and works properly without trips up the mast to maintain it. Other units accomplish that, my experience is that yours does not.

 

F Pajot _ I hope your unit works perfectly for all time and you never have to maintain it. I would hope that would be the experience for anyone who has or will purchase the unit. I also wish that had been my experience, but it was not.

 

I'm out.

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About a month ago, I was told I should be getting my kit by the end of Sept...

Anxiously waiting...

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About a month ago, I was told I should be getting my kit by the end of Sept...

Anxiously waiting...

October 1............

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I have had the newer version of the sailtimer since January of 2016 and it worked well 90% of the time. There were scattered issues of dropping the connection between the wind vane and my ipad, but could reconnect fairly quickly. As to the noise level, I only heard the noise coming down the mast on quiet days, standing next to the mast in the cabin. My issue with the unit is that over the course of the last week it managed to unscrew itself from the mounting rod (with locking nut to secure it to the rod) and fall overboard. Either that or somebody climbed my mast and took it off the mounting rod. Overall it worked as described and became a valued tool on my boat.

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Hi everyone, I'm new here but couldn't resist putting my two cents in about the SailTimer. I have had mine since September 2016. I couldn't put mine up the mast, mostly too lazy to do that cause it was end of season. So I installed it on back of my boat within arms length - Worked flawlessly until November 2016 when I put my boat away. I looked at the charge and it was 100% and so I put the blue clip on and brought it home for the winter. By December 1st, I decided to move my SailTimer to my back yard for the winter so that it would get some sunlight.

 

That's when I discovered it was dead. I tried everything to get it going but the sun wasn't shining much. So I contacted the company and asked what I could do. They basically said it was my fault for not caring for the battery. They said I 'obviously' left the cap off or that it was not on properly and after 3 weeks of it constantly blinking, it died. I assured them that I properly installed the blue clip when putting it away - after all, there's only one way to install the blue clip - slide it on until it stops or reaches it's max slide point - which I did no problem.

 

They still said it was my fault for leaving it in the basement for 3 weeks and that the cap had to be off.

 

So, I've been having it in the sun, chasing the sun wherever it is. After a few days of sun, nothing, no blinking blue light, no connection.

 

I'm at a point where I have no idea how to get this going except possibly breaking the seal and charging the battery manually.

 

It's very frustrating since I waited 8 months to get mine just to have the battery die.

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This totally sucks to hear this shit. I paid over $700 in February, and still waiting.

And because it is a "preorder", there are no refunds available. Seems like BS to me.

I was excited about this...for awhile. Not anymore.

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I'm still sitting on the fence with mine but can say that I'm experiencing the same issues as everyone else.... very long lead times on deliivery and now the battery issue.

 

I'm not giving up on it just yet but it is very frustrating for a device that is meant to be autonomous fails to do so. We have plenty of sun here in Oz yet mine too has lost charge after being up the mast for 3 weeks.with very limited use.

 

 

Will see what a couple of days horizontal in the sun do but concerned that the LiPo battery management and charging circuitry may be inadequate. Allowing a LiPo battery to drain to zero is just port electronic design IMHO and having some form of MPPT solar charging regulation would be very helpful in a situation where the panels are never optimally orientated to the sun.

 

These features may be in the current design but sounds like they are not.

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As it turns out my issue is not a dead battery ... but rather a fault in the BT comms which shuts down when the battery level gets too low and in my case is not resetting. Apparently, there is circuitry to protect the battery from over or under charge as well so my assumption was wrong.

 

 

ST inc are going to sort this out for me under warranty so despite me getting frustrated with the long delivery lead times and impersonal STinc correspondence style I have to give them full marks when it comes to backing their gear.

 

I figured its best to post this as its easy to forget to correct false assumptions and let only negative comments remain which is a bit unfair.

 

 

BTW I am not affiliated with ST nor a sockpuppet before I get accused of that.. I have had extensive correspondance with ST and the developers of SailRacer and OpenCPN apps over the past year in regard to getting their API integrated and doing some Beta testing.

 

I still have some reservations about the accuracy of getting TWS and TWA via GPS COG but this is not a ST issue.

 

The long and the short of it is as a device for getting raw wind data on a rotating mast of a trailerable boat it still is the best fit for my needs and is by far the cheapest option on the market to date that I know of.

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Ok re the Sailtimer, here's my two bits worth.

Any new product is likely to have some teething problems.   Some of these have been recognised and have been attended to.   This is not ideal BUT .............

In the long run, the costs vs value from an instrument of this nature will absolutely be good for sailing.   I have bought and used the instrument and the magnetic compass went haywire.   Sailtimer have the instrument and I am looking forward to their comment / repair.   I have no regrets as I look at this as a sort of crowd funding thing.   Those of us that have the abilities should support this initiative, if only from the perspective of data available vs cost.   How else does one get to polars and polar performance on a dinghy?

I have little doubt that the instrument will change significantly in the next few years.   The electronics will be minaturised and the mass reduced.  Cups will improve etc.   In the meantime, the concept is fantastic and we should applaud the initiative.   Again, it can only be good for our sport and the development of truly competitive sailing, less affected by the deep pocket approach to winning.

Personally, I am happy to have supported this initiative, and continue to do so in my own small way.  Well done to Sailtimer for having taken the risk and having done the development.  Perhaps we should just hope that we keep them afloat long enough to fine tune the instrument and find the 100% reliability that is so necessary.      

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Any updated comments on this product?  I saw it at the SF boat show this weekend and it was very interesting. I want to acquire apparent wind data without lots of $$ and wiring a boat.

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3 hours ago, sailhmb said:

Any updated comments on this product?  I saw it at the SF boat show this weekend and it was very interesting. I want to acquire apparent wind data without lots of $$ and wiring a boat.

I just looked at their website.  They claim it has been developed over a decade.  It looks like something thrown together with a shovel by a blind man.  It is not going to last long getting a UV beating

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I can't see how anyone reading this thread would think that buying one is a good idea.  Clearly the company is not testing their product and doesn't stand behind it when it fails.

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Mine was charged to 100 percent before fixing to mast. Drained to unusable over 6 weeks at the top of the mast. Have the noise issue and stuck wind cups.  Will not recharge after 2 weeks in full sun perpendicular to sun.  

Basically useless. 

Company will not cover battery under warranty. Stay away!! 

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