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Velocitek Releases Laser Legal Compass!

Prism_Etchells_Hero_widescreen.jpg

The International Laser Class Association changed class rule 22 to allow the use of electronic digital compasses which are not GPS enabled. To celebrate this news Velocitek is excited to announce the release of the PRISM, a stripped down racing compass. The Prism provides unprecedented accuracy, coupled with a massive display, in a compact package. At a mere 137 g (4.8 oz) it is the world's lightest racing compass.

The Prism was developed with input from members of the US Olympic Team and has already been used to win the Etchells World Championship.

"The Prism is an indispensable tool on our Etchells. From the helm, the digits are large and easy to read. The compass heading is accurate and precise, which allows us to capitalize on each and every shift." Steve Benjamin - Olympic Silver Medalist, Multiple World Champion, US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year

"The Prism's digits are large enough for everyone on the Etchells team to read easily and it’s so light that it was also an obvious choice for the 470. The Prism is easy to read, at a glance, from the wire on the 470 and that is a huge competitive advantage at the international level where every detail counts." Dave Hughes - Olympian (US Mens 470 Crew), Multiple World Champion, US Sailing Team Member

How It Works

The Prism uses a high precision 3-axis solid state magnetometer designed for aerospace applications to provide better accuracy than any other small boat compass on the market. The Prism uses only magnetic input as its heading reference, has no memory, no user inputs, and performs no arithmetic functions. It's legal in all classes that allow electronic compasses.

Full Features

The Prism's 29.8mm (1.1 in.) tall compass digits can be read from over 40 feet away. The Prism is solar powered with a backup battery. The backup battery will power the Prism for over 24 hours of sailing without solar power.

The Prism uses NO GPS TECHNOLOGY and complies with the rules of any class that allows electronic compasses.

The Prism is now available for pre-order at major marine outfitters and online  right here. at  It will begin shipping to customers on April 16.

Whaddaya think?

Photo credit: Leslie Richter / Rockskipper Photography.

 

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Nice looking unit with big digits. Is the battery replaceable?

lars, have you looked at the cost of the Tactick Micro Compass lately? Same price. Competition is good for the market (might drive prices down eventually) and its nice to see a newer device with bigger screens and more modern electronics make an appearance. Am I personally going to rush out and buy one to replace my Tacktick? Probably not but I will take a close look at one in person and if the visibility is that much better, as they claim, I will give it serious thought.

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So 10 gramms lighter than the micro...but no tactical information - I.e no memory no calculations...my class is not forbidding this so I will not buy....here I have to remember the numbers...does not work ;-)

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I was hoping for a Velocitek Pro update, but this unit is nice for Dinghy's and based on past experience you are paying for quality and aftermarket support. I assume the battery can be replaced by unscrewing a cover like on the Shift.

Ps - I have a new Shift which is surplus to my needs.

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3 hours ago, samc99us said:

Nice looking unit with big digits. Is the battery replaceable?

Yes. The battery can be replaced by the user and will be available to order on our website a spare part.

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3 hours ago, ateam said:

So 10 gramms lighter than the micro...but no tactical information - I.e no memory no calculations...my class is not forbidding this so I will not buy....here I have to remember the numbers...does not work ;-)

Check out this product for very easy to use memory and calculations: velocitek.com/shift . It is available now.

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And "YES!" to big digits and improved visibility. This sketch isn't to 1:1 ratio but it is to scale and should make it pretty clear how much of an improvement the Prism is:

Prism_digit_comparison.jpg.935b9af55a41d722d04840d435447a50.jpg

But don't take our word for it. Here's some of the feedback we received from high performance dinghy sailors who appreciate the improved visibility the Prism offers:

The Prism was really awesome to have onboard. In breezy conditions it can be hard to read a compass you’re low on the wire, but it wasn't hard to read the Prism. In some really tough conditions the compass kept up with our changes in angles and always gave us a reading we could rely on.

Stephanie Roble - 49erFX skipper, US Sailing Team Member, 2 x US Women’s Match Racing Champion, US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year

I’ve been really impressed by this compass for two main reasons: One, the accuracy; when we turn it reflects it right away.  Two, it's a really large display that's easy to see from the trapeze and everywhere else on the boat. It has the information where I want it, when I want it.

Helena Scutt - Olympian (49erFX Crew), Nacra 17 Crew, US Sailing Team Member
 

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With most classes slowly allowing more and more GPS info, seems like they're late to the game?
Replaceable battery is enough to stomp tactic alone...

How is the screen with polarized lenses?

 

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@Roller Skates

Yes, more classes are allowing GPS devices but there still isn't an Olympic dinghy class which permits GPS.

The Prism's screens are a-OK with polarized lenses.

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6 hours ago, Editor said:

Steve Benjamin - Olympic Silver Medalist, Multiple World Champion, US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year

Karakoa helm also :ph34r:

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1 hour ago, Looper said:

You can get the nautilytics one for $335....  

Here's what you get for the extra $64 with the Velocitek Prism:

  1. Improved accuracy.
  2. Half the weight.
  3. Double the viewing angle.
  4. Twice the warranty from a company that:
    • Has been in business for 12 years. 
    • Supplies instruments to the America's Cup World Series.
    • Is an official supplier to the US Sailing Team.
    • Has been a member of 1% For The Planet since 2007, donating 1% of gross sales to environmental non-profits like Sailors for the Sea and Rozalia Project.
  • Like 1

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With the Laser class very recently allowing digitizal compasses, I think you’re going to see a lot of Laser sailors with Prisms on their boat.

Granted, I’m biased since we sell their stuff... but Velocitek is a proven supplier, with excellent support and warranty policy.
They stand behind their stuff, and that is a huge thing with electronics on salty boats.

There are a couple other compasses on the market, and many products are good for customers.  But, Velocitek is great to work with, and I think the Prism is going to be the class leader in the market, very quickly.

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Summary and some commentary suggest this is viable for Lasers.  How would it mount?  Probably not to the rotating mast.  Probably not to the front wall of the cockpit.  To a bracket between the mast and cleats like some oil-filled compasses?  To the bow, somehow?

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Can you add an offset to the compass reading... if it's not mounted perfectly for instance? 

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Have been thinking about replacing my Tacktick Micro on my Flying 15, not many options available though due to the rules but this has added another.

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As I get back into the Laser, I've had several thoughts as I have a looot of gear from my campaign. I still have tons of good old spec sails including practice.  But $400 for a digital compass? That doesn't show shifts? I think I'll just stick to my analog that doesn't take batteries and go for the carbon top section and a new sail. Damn.. 

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So it's basically on price parity with a Micro and blows them out of the water in terms of visibility? Can't tell you how often I need to lean in to wipe spray off that tiny freaking screen just to see it or brush an errant leech cord out of the way because it's enough to block a whole digit.

Seems like a slick solution to a problem I thought I was just stuck with. 

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5 hours ago, Looper said:

You can get the nautilytics one for $335....  That's the direction i'm steering right now.

 

http://www.apsltd.com/nautalytics-alloy-digital-compass.html

You totally could, but I'm not sure if I'd feel overcharged or just sore from craning to see it while out hiking. On a per-screen basis the Prisim seems to be a bargain! 

03_600x600.jpg?v=1514401750

nautalytics+alloy+compass

 

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2 hours ago, Ross said:

As I get back into the Laser, I've had several thoughts as I have a looot of gear from my campaign. I still have tons of good old spec sails including practice.  But $400 for a digital compass? That doesn't show shifts? I think I'll just stick to my analog that doesn't take batteries and go for the carbon top section and a new sail. Damn.. 

I would make the same call myself, given you probably need the top section + sail to make you competitive.

That being said I wouldn't buy a Tacktick today. I've never used the tactical mode, maybe it's helpful but it's pretty easy to know if you are headed or lifted based directly on the compass numbers.

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4 hours ago, ChiGuy said:

Can you add an offset to the compass reading... if it's not mounted perfectly for instance? 

Nope. Here's the full user manual:

  1. Press the button to turn it on.
  2. Go sailing.
  3. Press and hold the button to turn it off. 

If you forget step 2, it will turn off automatically after sitting still on dry land for 1 minute.

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16 minutes ago, velocitek said:

Nope. Here's the full user manual:

  1. Press the button to turn it on.
  2. Go sailing.
  3. Press and hold the button to turn it off. 

If you forget step 2, it will turn off automatically after sitting still on dry land for 1 minute.

I have been using the Micro Compass on my laser since Jan.  I find the tactical function to be most useable.  I like the  adjustable resolution in tactical mode and adjustable tacking angle gives an easily memorised picture of what is going on wrt wind direction. Have you considered including these features?(as well as a start timer function) Admittedly I have not used the compass heading only  function other than to check start line. All of my comments are referenced against previous use of a magnetic tactical compass.

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15 minutes ago, frant said:

I have been using the Micro Compass on my laser since Jan.  I find the tactical function to be most useable.  I like the  adjustable resolution in tactical mode and adjustable tacking angle gives an easily memorised picture of what is going on wrt wind direction. Have you considered including these features?(as well as a start timer function) Admittedly I have not used the compass heading only  function other than to check start line. All of my comments are referenced against previous use of a magnetic tactical compass.

The pros and Olympians we interviewed in the early stages of developing the Prism were unanimous in asking for an accurate, tilt compensated, heading readout between 0 and 359 degrees, so that's the direction we went with this product. We found that making decisions based on observations of this single three digit number is a specific skill (almost like muscle memory) that elite dinghy sailors develop through years of practice. They are generally not keen to learn a new system. 

Keeping the feature list as short as possible is also something that we have done with all our products. Our goal is to make the instrument an island sanctuary of simplicity in the sea of chaos that is sailboat racing; we want it to be one thing you can always count on being able to understand and control.

That's not to say that there isn't good value in other approaches. Different strokes for different folks.

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4 minutes ago, velocitek said:

The pros and Olympians we interviewed in the early stages of developing the Prism were unanimous in asking for an accurate, tilt compensated, heading readout between 0 and 359 degrees, so that's the direction we went with this product.

Does the Prism do the 9-axis based heading like the Shift does?

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27 minutes ago, vox said:

Does the Prism do the 9-axis based heading like the Shift does?

It calculates heading in a different way than the Shift (which uses a standard 9-axis sensor fusion algorithm). We're looking into applying for a patent on how the Prism calculates heading, so it's not something I can discuss at the moment but the end result is a tilt-compensated heading in degrees magnetic that gets updated every 250 milliseconds.

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Pity it doesn't have a timer like the tacktick, which is very helpful on crewed dinghys as everyone knows the time to start.

Can you comment on the resolution and directional damping compared to the tacktick? I find the tacktick heading hard to rely on for changes below about 10 degrees.

I generally dismiss heading changes five degrees or less as noise.  In fact because of this uncertainty I still rely mostly on intuition regarding wind changes.

Whether because of heel, boat bouncing around, or other small oscillations I wouldn't know. 

Tacktick is still handy to pick up new changes at the beginning of a beat or gybe.

 

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Resolution is 1 degree. Default damping is less than the Tacktick Micro but this can be adjusted if you need something different. The finished product will be a little bit better than this:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x6jja1etl7eili9/VID_20171212_225704.mp4?dl=0

We left the timer off, to simplify the device and because having a separate timer like the Ronstan Clearstart (which you can still mast mount) allows you to see your heading during the start sequence.

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So, essentially, it is the same as the tacktick, PLUS bigger digits (which for me never where a problem with the tacktick) MINUS the "tactic" mode and MINUS the timer. And the answer to the missing timer is "Go buy a seperate timer"? For me, that makes ... plus 1 minus 2 minus "stupid answer" ... I think I will keep the TackTick!

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12 minutes ago, pidry said:

So, essentially, it is the same as the tacktick, PLUS bigger digits (which for me never where a problem with the tacktick) MINUS the "tactic" mode and MINUS the timer. And the answer to the missing timer is "Go buy a seperate timer"? For me, that makes ... plus 1 minus 2 minus "stupid answer" ... I think I will keep the TackTick!

I've never used the timer on my TackTick, too fiddly and rather to have it on my wrist, plus my watch vibrates :wub:

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48 minutes ago, pidry said:

So, essentially, it is the same as the tacktick, PLUS bigger digits (which for me never where a problem with the tacktick) MINUS the "tactic" mode and MINUS the timer. And the answer to the missing timer is "Go buy a seperate timer"? For me, that makes ... plus 1 minus 2 minus "stupid answer" ... I think I will keep the TackTick!

You forgot the battery.  I have taken apart upwards of 10 tackticks (micros and racemasters) and gotten a total of 2 to come back from the dead.  The fact the Prism has a user replaceable battery is like plus 17 to me.  So make that 18 plus 2 minus.  Enjoy buying a new tacktick in 2 years when the battery dies!

MS

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2 hours ago, FromTheRail said:

I've never used the timer on my TackTick, too fiddly and rather to have it on my wrist, plus my watch vibrates :wub:

That's pretty much spot on with the input we received from the pros and Olympians we interviewed in developing the Prism.

  1. They wear watches or mount one on the mast or boom
  2. Having to switch from timer to compass and back to timer in prestart to take a wind shot is really inconvenient on a boat with 1-3 crew
  • Like 1

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Based on your video it seems like the Prism settles in on a new heading number much quicker than the Tacktick ever manages to. Coming out of a tack it feels like the Micro takes a couple seconds to get reoriented to the new world. 

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Why are these things so spendy?

 

$10 for the compass, 

https://www.adafruit.com/product/1746

 

$4 for the display

https://www.mouser.com/Optoelectronics/Displays/LCD-Displays/LCD-Numeric-Display-Modules/_/N-6j739/

 

$15 for the solar panel

 

https://www.amazon.com/Aoshike-Sunpower-Polycrystalline-Photovoltaic-Battery/dp/B01N2UXKI1

 

$4 for the battery

https://www.amazon.com/Rechargeable-Underwater-Crosstour-DROGRACE-ODRVM/dp/B0719DB8Z6/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&qid=1517322985&sr=8-20&keywords=5v+lithium+ion+battery

 

$4 for the brains

https://www.amazon.com/4-pack-Atmega328p-pu-Socket-Arduino-Bootloader/dp/B01263IMU8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1517323075&sr=8-4&keywords=arduino+chip

 

It's less than $40 for the major components at retail  pricing taking 2 minutes to find.     Even if allowing for a $13 case, that's still 1/8 the asking price.   I don't see why these things aren't $100.     You can get a gps watch with a fancy color display, or a phone with a magnetometer and all sorts of radios for $100, and this isn't close to the complexity of those. 

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If it’s so cheap and easy then you should build one! You’ll find it’s more challenging to bring a finished product to market than you think. 

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1 hour ago, gsasquatch said:

Why are these things so spendy?

 

$10 for the compass, 

https://www.adafruit.com/product/1746

 

$4 for the display

https://www.mouser.com/Optoelectronics/Displays/LCD-Displays/LCD-Numeric-Display-Modules/_/N-6j739/

 

$15 for the solar panel

 

https://www.amazon.com/Aoshike-Sunpower-Polycrystalline-Photovoltaic-Battery/dp/B01N2UXKI1

 

$4 for the battery

https://www.amazon.com/Rechargeable-Underwater-Crosstour-DROGRACE-ODRVM/dp/B0719DB8Z6/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&qid=1517322985&sr=8-20&keywords=5v+lithium+ion+battery

 

$4 for the brains

https://www.amazon.com/4-pack-Atmega328p-pu-Socket-Arduino-Bootloader/dp/B01263IMU8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1517323075&sr=8-4&keywords=arduino+chip

 

It's less than $40 for the major components at retail  pricing taking 2 minutes to find.     Even if allowing for a $13 case, that's still 1/8 the asking price.   I don't see why these things aren't $100.     You can get a gps watch with a fancy color display, or a phone with a magnetometer and all sorts of radios for $100, and this isn't close to the complexity of those. 

Hey! I'm shopping for a new car, could I pay you $8,000 to build me a new F-150 with parts off of Amazon? I feel like those Ford Motor Company bandits in Detroit are building the car for 17 cents and some belly button lint and ripping me off. 

Thanks! XOXO

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7 hours ago, pidry said:

So, essentially, it is the same as the tacktick, PLUS bigger digits (which for me never where a problem with the tacktick) MINUS the "tactic" mode and MINUS the timer. And the answer to the missing timer is "Go buy a seperate timer"? For me, that makes ... plus 1 minus 2 minus "stupid answer" ... I think I will keep the TackTick!

Like I said, I'll stick with my analog for that price!

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On ‎30‎.‎01‎.‎2018 at 6:16 AM, velocitek said:

The pros and Olympians we interviewed in the early stages of developing the Prism were unanimous in asking for an accurate, tilt compensated, heading readout between 0 and 359 degrees, so that's the direction we went with this product. We found that making decisions based on observations of this single three digit number is a specific skill (almost like muscle memory) that elite dinghy sailors develop through years of practice. They are generally not keen to learn a new system. 

Keeping the feature list as short as possible is also something that we have done with all our products. Our goal is to make the instrument an island sanctuary of simplicity in the sea of chaos that is sailboat racing; we want it to be one thing you can always count on being able to understand and control.

That's not to say that there isn't good value in other approaches. Different strokes for different folks.

I am looking to replace the microcompass, I am not olympic leve sailorl and for this reason I do enjoy the tactical function of the Tactick. When I used a regular compass it was a tactical compass on a laser, so it unfortunate that the Prism does not offer the option of the tactical function. Pitty real Pitty. 

The Shift is not good either because you need to set up the tacks manually, I cannot immagine doing that on a dinghy. This will require the crew to get off the trapeze come in to set it, far from ideal. Similarly on a single boat you need to stop to do that. I wished you took inspiration from the Tactick Race Master for the Shift.

I do agree with you that the timer is not needed. 

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21 hours ago, Mr. Squirrel said:

You forgot the battery.  I have taken apart upwards of 10 tackticks (micros and racemasters) and gotten a total of 2 to come back from the dead.  The fact the Prism has a user replaceable battery is like plus 17 to me.  So make that 18 plus 2 minus.  Enjoy buying a new tacktick in 2 years when the battery dies!

MS

True enough. Heard that story a lot of times ... altough my TackTick Micro Compass has been running without any problems and is going into its 13th season ... but I have had battery problems on my phone (a lot, but who doesn't), so, yes, a replacable battery is somewhere at +100 ... ;-)

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wish this thing was around when i bought my micro... wish this thing wasn't around now that i should probably be selling my micro... 

 

That said, proper specs. I've never once used any mode on my micro (or the full size tacktick) other than compass. I hate the timer mode, if i need to do a windshot well - fuck it. I hate the lift functions - might get skewed if i go into foot mode. Nah, just give me a compass. Perfect. 

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Ran iRegatta on an iPhone all the way to Bermuda.  Long USB cable, RAM mount and a zip-lock bag.  With a solar charge, I could eliminate the cable.

 

Also, don't see the need for a dual screen on a small boat if the viewing angle is good unless you are on a trapeze.

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On 1/29/2018 at 3:33 PM, velocitek said:

@claykarmel

The Prism is absolutely viable for Lasers! As you suggested the Prism will most likely be mounted to a bracket between the mast and control line cleats. Here are two good mounting options:

  1. https://www.velocitek.com/collections/accessories/products/deck-bracket
  2. http://carbonpartsgermany.de/products/carbonparts-ec-mount/

Pics or it didn't happen.  Seriously, though, I think you need a solution which doesn't put holes in the deck.  Oil compasses managed it.  The first bracket option says, "Holds device vertically for more accurate measurement".  Is this device not 3-axis and compensated for tilt?  I wish my Laser was always flat.  For $399, shouldn't you have magnetometer, gyrometer and accelerometer?

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@claykarmel

The Prism is fully tilt-compensated. It will have the same accuracy whether or not it is mounted vertically.  "Holds device vertically for more accurate measurement" is a misleading statement; we crossed our wires internally in the rush to get the new stuff on our website. We have corrected the error in the bracket description on our website. Sorry for the confusion.

The Deck Bracket comes with 4 adhesive-backed Dual Lock rectangles that can be used to mount it to the deck without drilling holes.

Another option for using the Velocitek Deck Bracket without drilling holes is to use it with the Laser Spider Deck Bracket from West Coast Sailing (see https://www.westcoastsailing.net/default/laser-spider-deck-bracket.html). The hole pattern on the base of the Velocitek Deck Bracket matches the hole pattern on the Spider Bracket.

We'll post photos soon.

 

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My only complaint is that they couldn't have come out sooner, therefore I have a shift.  As a positive note, the shift, when thrown in rage at something, has more mass- making a bigger impression.

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Is this device delayed from the manufacturer? They don't seem to be available anywhere yet?

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@Flags

Yes, it's a manufacturer delay. Unfortunately we're a little behind schedule with Prism production. The good news is that we are in production now and Prisms will begin shipping next week.

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19 hours ago, velocitek said:

@Flags

Yes, it's a manufacturer delay. Unfortunately we're a little behind schedule with Prism production. The good news is that we are in production now and Prisms will begin shipping next week.

Cheers for this.... patiently waiting :-)

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