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Is TackTick® a good tactic?

We have been admiring the wireless TackTick instruments since their ads first appeared in the press. We like cool ideas, and this was surely one of them. Not only do they communicate wirelessly, but the TackTick instruments and displays are also solar powered. You can mount them above decks and below decks. If you choose the latter, you will, of course have to provide them with a 12V power supply.

When you set up your “Micronet” TackTick network, which is extraordinarily easy, the components learn to speak to each other and nobody else. You designate a core display component and following some simple instructions let it capture all the others. You can always go back and add more later on, which keeps it quite simple. Tackick offers individual components, or a whole system. They even have a wireless, solar powered handheld remote display you can carry around with you.

Another neat thing and something they have missed in their marketing and advertising is that you can integrate the TackTick with other NMEA devices using their NMEA connector. This is discussed obscurely in the literature, but pray do not ask the retail sales people at a boat-show as we did on a couple of occasions. They will run scurrying to their repertoire of sales phrases and techno mumbo-jumbo, and leave you more befuddled than before.

The TackTick NMEA connector will not only send an NMEA (183) data stream out to your existing devices, including your onboard computer, but will also accept data from them and send it on to your new wireless displays. The thought of course, being that as your old displays perish and their wires corrode and fail you will migrate more and more functionality to this wireless technology. In fact, you can also take standard NMEA wired speed, depth or compass units and connect them to your TackTick equipment via an interface unit.

Though connecting the instruments with the display is sheer child’s play, we did have some initial problems, as this is still a new product. The first masthead mounted anemometer failed, the signal of the second was too weak for our mast height of 67 feet, the third was proclaimed DOA, and now thanks to California based Ocean Equipment, who are the dealers for the US market and have been very responsive to ‘issues’, we are in business. Wiring the TackTick to your legacy components is also not totally simple. Manufacturers tend not like their competitors, so you do need to be patient, though the folks at Ocean Equipment will help where they can.

Perhaps the hardest part of the whole installation was installing the masthead unit, as this involves climbing up the stick. I am terrified of heights and even a step ladder can cause severe anxiety, so I needed to avoid schlepping my power drill and the rest of my workshop to the top. Instead I manufactured a simple adapter that fits the holes we already had up there. The first step was to climb up and do a pencil rubbing of the holes at the mast top. I then took a flat piece of PVC to use as an adaptor. I drilled and countersunk the 4 screw holes I had to work with at the mast top based on my rubbing. I then took the new anemometer and drilled the three appropriate holes counter sinking them from the other side. I attached this adapter to the unit before climbing up again. Miracles do occur and my pencil rubbed template was correct and the attaching the anemometer to the masthead was a piece of cake. Now if only there was a way to wirelessly transport me to the top of the mast…

Going Wireless

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