Burnside Telecom: Fixed Cellular Phones and Terminals



Burnside Technology in Sailing Yachts

Many owners of smaller yachts enjoy coastal sailing, and when not at sea, moor their yachts in continental marinas, often for prolonged periods. Using a handheld mobile at sea is problematic, not least because of the risk of losing the phone overboard. Obtaining a good signal from the GSM network is a challenge, because the antenna in a typical handheld is not sensitive enough, and if it is being used as a GSM modem with a computer to receive nautical information and e-mail, the connection is variable and slow.

A Burnside T940 Fixed Cellular Terminal (FCT) overcomes many of the problems encountered by yacht owners, by providing telephony, SMS text messaging, access to e-mail, internet and PC-based fax, using the GSM/GPRS network. In addition, the unit includes features to support remote monitoring and control of equipment, and raising alarms in the event of equipment failure or theft from the yacht. This technology is an ideal supplement to the conventional VHF radio systems used on this type of craft.

Powered by 8-32VDC and drawing just 40mA, the Burnside FCT will work from any marine electrics. The remote antenna can be placed anywhere for maximum signal strength, using the terminal's built-in signal strength meter to aid positioning. An ordinary DTMF touch-tone telephone and a mobile SIM card complete the installation. Using the telephone keypad in conjunction with the FCT's LCD display, all installation, usage and messaging functions can be undertaken without having to consult a manual. The telephone can also be used by anyone on board to make calls for urgent assistance, in the event of a failure of VHF radio communication.

The Burnside FCT can be secured to a wall or shelf, and connected to a laptop computer and other equipment. To use the terminal's SMS text messaging features to provide remote monitoring, control and tracking, a 3.5mm stereo jack socket on the back of the unit allows connection to two electrical circuits. One circuit can be used as an input to monitor or control a connected device - for example, a reed switch on the hatch cover. This enables the owner to receive a pre-programmed text message on his handheld mobile when away from the yacht, informing him if the hatch has been opened.

The second circuit can be attached to an analogue transducer, for example, a fuel tank sensor. Perhaps a more helpful use of this circuit is to connect it to a switched sensor in the bilge, so that a warning can be sent by text message whenever the bilge starts to fill with water.

By sending a text message to the terminal, it is possible to check the status, not only of connected circuits, but also to obtain a report on other operating parameters, including battery voltage and operating temperature.



Sailing yacht


Typical marine installation

Typical marine installation