Walked over to Sim Lim Tower and the next-door Sim Lim Square to grab a few electrical things and research some electronics. I think if Lee saw these places he’d feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Came away with just a small haul, but a useful one:
Between the two buildings, Sim Lim Tower is the more low-level, DIY one. I randomly wandered into Davjones at #B1-47 and went down my little list of electrical stuff. He didn’t have any RS232->USB converters or cigarette lighter USB chargers, but pointed me to a shop that did. He did have some cigarette lighter outlet parts, and he ran off somewhere to find me some US plugs, and was nice enough to solder some wire to the lighter outlets for me since his iron was set up and ready. Seems like a good place to go back to in the future for random electrical parts. So with that, I’ve pretty much followed Doug’s good suggestion and built a couple of US plug to cigarette lighter adapters for use in my DC plugs. Less than S$10 each, not bad. (The US plugs are pretty expensive here, ~S$6.) If I find myself using these a lot (for laptop, cellphone, iPod, etc charging), then maybe I’ll go ahead and replace an existing US plug outlet with a built in cigarette lighter outlet, or just install separate cigarette lighter outlets.
Wandered over to Saige Electronics at #B1-27 who, as promised, had RS232->USB converters and also had a cigarette lighter USB charger. RS232->USB converters aren’t very cheap (these were ~S$34 each) but I grabbed a couple since they’re pretty useful: almost all marine electronics speak NMEA0183 over serial. Proprietor knew what he was talking about, will go back.
Then went a few doors down to Tecomart at #B1-22, a marine electronics shop. The only small craft grade AIS transponder they sell is the Simrad NAIS 300, which I didn’t know much about, at S$2654 (~US$1900), which after some research seems really expensive. You can get it from various online shops in the US/EU for ~US$1200-1500. I also can’t say I really like the looks of it that much; it’s as expensive as some of the other units from Raymarine or Garmin that have built in VHF splitters, NMEA multiplexers, etc. Also while at Tecomart got a look at some handheld GPS units (for backup to my Garmin 120XL). Saw the Garmin GPS 60CSx and found it was a lot larger than I’d expected, not such a good option for hiking and other non-boat uses. I think maybe I’ll go with an eTrex model instead, e.g. the Venture or Summit. In general I am finding that electronics in Singapore are quite a bit more expensive than in the US. Usually someone like Amazon won’t ship them here either, which is really unfortunate. Noted that Tecomart and some other shops in Sim Lim Tower have various other stuff of (future) interest, e.g., DSC VHF radios, handheld VHF, radars, EPIRBs, and so on.
Headed over to Sim Lim Square which is more of a huge consumer electronics place. It’s where we buy all of our office computers and things of that sort. Found Unicell at #02-41, which had some cigarette lighter DC/DC adapters. A 12V DC to 18-20V DC 90W stepup adapter is suitable for my Lenovo X61 laptop (my existing AC adapter is 65W @ 20V). Unicell had various adapter plugs but for some reason I didn’t think to bring along my AC adapter for comparison, so I’ll have to go back.
Wanted to go to Oceantalk but they weren’t open until later so I’ll either go back, or just give them a call to see what they’ve got for AIS.