Electronics – 2021

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Part 1 – Exchange data between Sea Talk NG, NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000 and Garmin Net

Chart Potters

The Garmin chart plotters provide the gateway between Garmin Net and NMEA 2000. The two new helm plotters are our primary instruments while we’re underway. They can be turned around so we can see them while we’re in the lounge area of the cockpit.

Retire Ray Marine MFD–this was the original chart plotter at the Nav station on the boat. We were able to sell it at a consignment shop. We moved the original helm chart plotter, which is a touch screen, to the Nav station.

Quark Electronics – QK-A034

This device is the heart of being able to pass data between 3 of the 4 data networks on the boat – Sea Talk (Legacy Raymarine), NMEA-0183 and finally NMEA 2000. The AIS NMEA-0183 data is integrated here also.

MARS – CX5003

This device is supposed to be able to ingest the analog signals of sensors from 2 engines as well as 3 sets of tanks (Black, Fresh, Fuel) and output those readings as NMEA 2000 messages. The tanks (2xFresh Water & 2x Diesel) are working fine but the Engine sensor signals are not being interpreted correctly. Since this device offers minimal configuration options, we are looked for an alternative to support the main engine. This is a NMEA 2000 device.

ICOM Black Box VHF for Helm

The original Cockpit radio (which included our AIS transponder) had been out in the elements long enough that the electronics had corroded to the point of being unusable. We chose to replace it with an ICOM black box which put the radio below out of the elements with a multifunction mic head in the cockpit. The antenna for this is mounted on the Solar Array arch. This is a 2way NMEA 0183 device.

Class A AIS – EM-TRAK A100

We decided to use a Class A AIS as a separate box. This is a Transceiver that will show up on all commercial vessels as well as on internet based tracking services like Marine Traffic. Being seen by commercial vessels and being able to pull their information while underway provides visibility and eases communication because we can call each other on the radio by vessel name. The device also includes a proximity alarm to bring your attention to the fact that there is a vessel which may intersect your course. You can find us by looking for a US Flagged Vessel called “Unladen Swallow”.

Ship’s PC & Plex Media Server

Living on a cruising boat means that you are not always going to be connected. Since Brownie and I both like to have music playing in the background and have been known to like to watch classic TV and movies, we have built ourselves a PLEX server with an extensive media collection (10+ TB of music, TV and Movies).

The PC is a Dell solidstate box that will also support tracking of boat parameters and help with network and systems configuration and monitoring.

MicroHard – Bullet Cat12 – Cellular Modem & High Gain Antenna

We have paired a MicroHard BulletCat 12 cellular modem with a Proxicast high gain MIMO cellular antenna mounted on the mast to provide the primary Internet gateway for the boat. So far we have been about to pickup streaming quality data as much as 10 miles off shore.

WiFi Bridge – Ubiquiti – Bullet

The bullet is our WiFi bridge. Should we find ourselves where we want to piggyback on someone else’s WiFi but do not want to rehome the devices on the boat, we can use this in place of the Cellular Modem to provide our internet. This device is POE.

Smart TV

OK so we like watching video based entertainment. We repurposed one of the smart TV’s from the house when we downsized everything and it’s now hanging on the large bulkhead in the salon. It’s one of the few electronics items that still requires AC power. Because it’s smart (it’s a ROKU) based device, it supports all the streaming apps natively to include accessing the PLEX media server.

Part 2

Forward Looking SONAR

The forward looking SONAR allows us to see the depth in front of the boat. It helps us at slow speeds in shallow water to stop before we run out of water and ground the boat. This device operates on Garmin Net.

AirMar DST-810

This transducer replaced 2 old transducers to make room for the Sonar. This device provides us with Depth, Speed through the water as well as water temperature. It is a NMEA 2000 device.

This is the 2021 logical view of the Electronics on the boat minus Internet based devices

When this was wrapped up we had moved most of our control and reporting to the Garmin Chart Plotters. The fresh water and fuel tank levels were now visible via the chart plotter (the previous owner had never put a tank level sensor on the aux fuel tank). Also most of the Sea Talk based data was now visible on the Chart plotters. This meant that we no longer needed to look at the wind instrument control heads which were not mounted in a convenient place. We also had depth, temp and water speed on the chart plotters.

The only thing that was not working well was neither the AIS nor the Ray Marine course computer connected GPS were being shared across to the Garmin chart plotters. Fortunately, the chart plotters had built in GPS antennas.

This would be our configuration throughout the Bahamas and back up the East Coast.

For Part 2 of this story, see the 2022 Electronics page.