As wireless electronic connectivity has come to dominate our smartphone- and tablet-driven world, I’ve had great hopes that the technology could help eliminate some of the long cable runs and vulnerable connections in conventional onboard systems. The first marine-specific applications I saw were in data transmission for wirelessly connected solar-powered instruments on racing sailboats.
Since then, onboard wireless applications have increased as tablets and smartphones become common interfaces for numerous onboard systems, including essential navigation and autopilot controls. Two years ago I was impressed by the versatile ROKK-brand mounting systems specifically for smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices, from marine electronics installation company Scanstrut. When I used my cellphone as a GPS plotter, I no longer had to attempt to jam it precariously between the windscreen and the throttle housing as I drove at speed across the bay. With the secure mount and improved usability I discovered the new Achilles heel of employing devices as essential onboard components: short battery life. The solution was a weatherproof USB port to wire my phone-cum-plotter to onboard power, even on a small center-console.
Convenient induction charging
But on larger boats the need for charging has become almost universal, as multiple devices are connected to onboard systems and nearly every guest on board has a phone that needs power. Wireless induction charging is a great way to meet these needs without a tangle of cords and dubious connections. To that end, Scanstrut now offers a waterproof 12V/24V wireless charger for Qi-equipped devices. The ROKK charger base station, wired to the boat’s electrical system, has a 2.5″ (63.5mm) nonslip surface that can be installed on a raised bezel, nearly flush with a counter or console surface, or out of sight under a routed section of horizontal cabinetry. To charge a phone or tablet that’s set up for Qi induction charging, one simply sets it on the base to commence electromagnetic charging at a capacity up to 5 watts. Once the device is fully charged, the base automatically returns to stand-by mode with a 0.03-watt draw.
While I still like the security of the clamped bracket and USB cord for essential navigation devices, especially on a bouncy small boat, the induction charger is a convenient way to charge every other gizmo that we seem to need on board for other applications.
Scanstrut USA, 7 Pequot Park Rd., Westbrook, CT 06498 USA, tel. 1–860–308–1416, website scanstrut.com.