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 Review: Simrad BoatConnect

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
bjoye Posted - 07/20/2022 : 12:41:00
I thought it was about time I did a review of my Simrad BoatConnect installation. It is basically a cell phone with a limited number of sensors input: Battery Voltage, Temperature, Bilge water level, Entry alert, along with GPS location and local weather. It will also log trip GPS data. The hub is ~$100, sensors ~$50 each, Subscription $19.99 per month, no contract, no activation fee. Uses AT&T 4G. I have one entry sensor on the cabin door and one water sensor in the bilge.

The unit needs to be mounted horizontal in a dry location with minimal obstructions to the outside. I have mine mounted in the quarter berth up against the cockpit coaming ceiling. It is the little black box at the top of the following picture:

It is wired directly (with fuse) to the battery and draws 41mA. Has backup internal battery, and when disconnect from main battery, will power it for days.

The IOS or Google app is simple and easy to use and very stable. First screen gives you map location and second screen overlays sensor and weather info.

Will notify you (via notifications) when a sensor is tripped (low battery, door opened, or water detected in the bilge). I have found the notification to be very fast (within 10 secs)

Can't tell how many times I've checked to make sure the boat is where it should be when the weather turns bad. Once my mooring ball got hung up on an underwater obstruction, and I notice that the boat was about 20 feet from where it should be, way too close to the next boat. I changed moorings really quick.

Funny story: This past winter, I started getting low battery warnings every day at sun down and all clear every morning. Drove me crazy until I realized that I had left the battery disconnected last time I was in the boat yard, and the solar panels where still a active, it saw a happy battery until the sun went down.

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Voyager Posted - 08/15/2022 : 19:41:01
I’m not sure what kind of end-to-end system you can purchase, but you might be able to jury-rig a combination of smart products available today. Apple makes a tracking “button” which is a small blue-tooth enabled device that can provide a GPS location provided it’s near a cellular connected device. You would have to supply a cheapie cell phone with a cut-rate cell service with Bluetooth.
You could also purchase a Simplisafe camera and controller that has proximity sensors (usually used to detect door or window openings). The sensors are magnets + reed switches that report an event when they are separated. Opening the companionway, removing an outboard or other gear, or moving the tiller could trigger the sensor.
Simplisafe uses WiFi which many marinas offer, and while if someone steals your boat for a joyride they’ll move out of WiFi range, you will still be alerted of the event. They also offer a cellular plan for $20-25/month as a backup. Unfortunately there is no GPS information with this approach, but you could access the camera for a view of the route and surroundings of the final destination.
Mostly a kluge but workable.
bigelowp Posted - 08/14/2022 : 18:44:58
HMM . . . so what are the RELIABLE alernatives???
Voyager Posted - 08/02/2022 : 19:19:21
Bill, this is so-o-o-o effed up. Does the unit have a separate IP or data port (even a USB) where you can connect your own crappy Android phone with a SIM card? Like a prepaid W*M phone.
Stinkpotter Posted - 08/02/2022 : 09:09:30
All kinds of issues that could have led to that decision.
bjoye Posted - 08/01/2022 : 08:41:35
FOLLOWUP: I've just received notice that SIMRAD will be discontinuing BOAT CONNECT subscription service in Dec 2022. They are offering refunds on all hardware purchased up to 2 years ago. Bummer. Good service, much cheaper than competitors. I'll be looking for a replacement.
Voyager Posted - 07/20/2022 : 21:47:17
Thanks for the review. It seems very effective using G4 cell service. Kinda pricey, however, not as costly as a fully monitored home security system.
I’ve thought about equipping the boat with a Simplisafe alarm that has proximity sensors plus a video camera, however, the marina’s WiFi service is literally non-existent so it would not work. Don’t get me started - we pay collectively for WiFi, however, the service is like a 2000s “AOL dial-up”. Pish-poor.
Can you switch the service on and off so you only need to pay for the summer months?
Stinkpotter Posted - 07/20/2022 : 13:57:24
Cool stuff! Is there a way to detect an outboard being removed from the bracket (maybe getting out of range of the hub)? I hope none of the sensors are bothered by takeoffs from Logan...

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