NMEA 2000

Nobeltec Releases Admiral and VNS 11.1 Service Pack

Nobeltec said today it has released a free service pack update for users of the new (January 2011) version of Admiral and VNS.  The service pack offers integration with Furuno’s popular Digital Fish Finder (DFF1) Sounder, as well as a number of NMEA 2000 integration improvements.  While I don’t often simply reprint a press release, Nobeltec is a pretty straightforward company and it makes more sense to just quote it here.  I am also planning a full review of the Nobeltec TimeZero Trident software, to which I believe most boaters will eventually want to move.

Herewith the Nobeltec News:

“Nobeltec announces new hardware integration and software functionality with the service pack release of Admiral 11.1 and VNS 11.1. VNS and Admiral are optimized for safe and accurate navigation on recreational boats, commercial vessels, and mega yachts. This newest service pack adds value to Nobeltec navigation systems. One of the most significant updates to the marine navigational software is the ability to integrate with the Furuno Digital Fish Finder (DFF1) Sounder.

“Integration with the Furuno DFF1 sounder is a natural addition to our Nobeltec software suite,” Nobeltec General Manager Bill Washburn said. “We’re glad boaters can take advantage of the integration of two great products: the Furuno DFF1 Sounder and Nobeltec VNS and Admiral software.”

Improvements to NMEA 2000 integration also enhance functionality in the Admiral and VNS software. The new release supports NMEA 2000 AIS Device Priority, and the real time weather functionality has been upgraded to include Pressure, Air Temperature and Humidity inputs from NMEA 2000 sensors.

Admiral and VNS 11.1 showcase improved AIS target filtering. In the Admiral software, the service pack adds the ability to filter AIS targets based on class and both VNS and Admiral offer the option to display a target’s class (A or B).

The latest version will also, for the first time, include NV. Charts digital chart integration and support. These raster charts cover Europe, Bahamas, Cuba, and other areas in the Caribbean. The integration of NV. Charts digital charts is in addition to many other types of raster charts as well as C-MAP® MAX Pro™ vector charts already supported by VNS and Admiral.

This is the first service pack for the software since the successful release of Admiral 11 and VNS 11 in January 2011. The new release is available as a free download to customers currently running the latest version of Admiral or VNS. Customers can visit the Nobeltec website (www.nobeltec.com) to access the new service pack.”

Copyright ©2011 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology

Fugawi Offers Avia Instrument Display Software

Fugawi's Avia Motor Pro Instrument Software

Fugawi's Avia Motor Pro Instrument Software

Fugawi announced today the availability of its new Avia Motor and Avia Sail instrument software.  If you have NMEA 0183 or 2000 data streams, you can use this software to set up a nice monitor configuration that suits your preference.  The software will read 0183 data via a standard serial port input, or using an Actisense USG-1 Serial Gateway that will emulate a serial port in a USB plug.  For NMEA 2000 data, an Actisense NGT-1 NMEA 2000 t0 PC gateway is required. 

One of the neatest things about this is how Fugawi illustrated the software in action — on an HP Tablet PC.  Tablets may have a ways to go before we can all use them in bright sunlight on the flybridge, but in the pilothouse they’re going to be a real boon, soon.  See our piece by Christine Kling on the iPad’s utility aboard a boat for some examples.  Although the Avia software is only available in a Windows version now, I would be surprised if Fugawi doesn’t offer a Mac version somewhere down the road.  Fugawi already offers its iMap Topo Software for iPhones and iPads, compatible even with the latest iOS4 operating system.  And X-Traverse is also iPad compatible.

The Avia software comes in both Lite and Pro versions, for both “Motor” and “Sail” applications.  The Pro versions include more instrument templates and accommodate dual engines and some overlay capabilities.  Interestingly, even though I’m a powerboater, I might choose the “Sail” version because of its integration of wind data.  The Pro version will let you create and save 4 custom displays of instruments you choose, in digital or analog formats.

The software has native compatibility with both flavors of NMEA data streams, but the fact that you need hardware translation to use that data on even a remotely new laptop is just plain dumb.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Fugawi’s fault, and they’ve handled it nicely by identifying the sweet (if somewhat expensive) Actisense connector/translators.  It’s just another example where the standards in marine electronics (NMEA) are still WAY behind even basic shore-side consumer electronics expectations.  A serial port?  Really??  I haven’t had a computer with a serial port for 10 years.

NMEA rants aside, I like the idea of this Avia instrument software, and I’d like to try it out on my laptop with the Fugawi Marine ENC.  If any of you already have, let me know in the comments and we’ll talk.  Meanwhile, look forward to seeing this at your next boat show.  I’ll look for it at Miami next month.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, seamanship, Technology
Northern Lights Shrinks Genny, Adds WaveNet NMEA 2000 Monitoring

Northern Lights Shrinks Genny, Adds WaveNet NMEA 2000 Monitoring

Northern Lights is basking in the southern sunshine this weekend at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) with a new skinny genny and a NMEA 2000-certified digital monitoring system called WaveNet.

Northern Lights M773LW3 Diesel Generator with WaveNet Digital Monitoring System

Northern Lights M773LW3 Diesel Generator with WaveNet Digital Monitoring System

The newly shrunk generator, the M773LW3, is a 9kW model and is almost 30% smaller than its predecessor.  “The overall size of smaller diesel generators and integration with vessel monitoring systems are two increasingly important issues with builders and boaters today,” said NLI sales and marketing manager, Colin Puckett. “We are looking forward to carrying this design philosophy throughout our power generation lineup. The smaller enclosure design and digital monitoring options further exemplify our commitment to keeping NLI at the forefront as a single-source supplier of marine systems.” 

According to NLI, the WaveNet system gives the user a digital window into the operation and output of the generator, including important parameters such as the generator output current, frequency and voltage that is being used at any given time. It also provides comprehensive data logging of generator-related events. WaveNet is NMEA 2000-certified allowing output to any number of NMEA 2000-compatible displays and can be retrofitted into existing NLI applications, the company said.

If you’re going to FLIBS this weekend, you can check out both new systems at the NLI booth, 1421.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Construction & Technical, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Engines, Powerboats, Sailboats, Technology

Garmin Outfits the new Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition

Garmin Proposed Helm for New Kadey-Krogen 55 Expedition -- Courtesy of Garmin
Garmin Proposed Helm for New Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition — Courtesy of Garmin

Garmin has proposed a sleek, modern marine electronics suite for the new Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition that offers extensive capability and nearly unlimited flexibility and redundancy due to its extremely high level of NMEA 2000 networking integration.  NMEA 2000 has been a long time in coming and the electronics suite proposed by Garmin fully embraces it.  New Krogen 55′ Expedition owners will find redundancy and nearly unlimited configuration capability in this system.  Garmin’s proposal was developed by its in-house team of systems designers and transmitted by Greg DeVries, Director, Marine and Recreational Sales.

DeVries and his colleagues responded specifically to our hypothetical buyers’ Request For Proposal, which outlined how they plan to use the boat and the general capabilities they would like to have from their marine electronics aboard.  Kadey-Krogen does not have an exclusive arrangement with any marine electronics supplier, so its owners can examine the offerings from all suppliers. Our fictional couple intends to cruise extensively in coastal regions but may also consider a transatlantic voyage at some time in the not-too-distant future.  You can take a look at the complete Garmin package — the Response to the RFP, as well as a portable document file that includes an extremely detailed schematic of the electronics suite.  Here’s an overview.


Garmin says:

“The Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition Yacht is a world-class passagemaker that will require advanced marine electronics and ship systems capable of permitting long distance cruising in a safe, easy and comfortable manner for all on board. As a leading electronics manufacturer, Garmin has a strong global support presence and a service network of dealers and product support teams that are able to provide new sales, replacement units, field service and support to any location the boat may travel, should the boat encounter a problem or need to add more equipment.”

Garmin marine electronics may not yet be as ubiquitous as Raymarine and Furuno, but Garmin GPS units — of all kinds — are not only everywhere on the planet but they come from the same company as the marine electronics.  So if you can find an authorized Garmin dealer in whatever corner of the planet you find yourself, you can probably get a Garmin replacement part as easily as a handheld GPS.

Garmin feels that a critical design philosophy for the Krogen 55′ Expedition outfitting is redundancy.  Here is DeVries and his team on that topic:

Long range cruising and transatlantic voyages for which the Kadey-Krogen 55′ is intended, add an important and required additional level of equipment for redundancy, safety and comfort. Based on the vessels planned use, we have added duplicate pieces of critical navigational and communication equipment to its overall suite of marine electronics. This includes installing a second radar, autopilot, and full function wired VHF fist microphones. This added equipment is to meet the long range and transatlantic requirements, and does not have any direct relationship to the equipments service lifecycle, duty or reliability.


The Garmin proposal is centered around its one year-old 4000 and 5000 series Multifunction Display chartplotters.  They are similar in capability, but the 5000 series features a fast touch-screen interface.  Garmin suggests the 5000 series, which is fully networkable, for the new Krogen 55′.  It’s available in screen sizes from 8 to 15 inches and Garmin proposes two of the 15-inch displays for the new helm.  Cruisers on a tighter budget could go with the less-expensive 4000 series, which sport a more traditional pushbutton interface.

Garmin Recommended Equipment List for Kadey-Krogen 55 Expedition -- Courtesy of Garmin

Garmin Recommended Equipment List for Kadey-Krogen 55 Expedition -- Courtesy of Garmin

The Garmin 5000 series MFDs have three Garmin marine network Ethernet-type ports and one NMEA 2000 5-pin micro-sized port on the back.  The inclusion of the NMEA 2000 port means the system can not only talk with other units from Garmin but also easily connect to a NMEA 2000 backbone, on which there can be an almost unlimited number of addition devices and sensors.  The fact that both Garmin network and NMEA 2000 can be connected at the same time represents the height of convenience and flexibility.  Each of the MFDs comes with its own dedicated GPS antenna as part of the purchase price.  Garmin says the GPS 17X NMEA 2000 WAAS-enabled, high-sensitivity antennas can be installed “above or to the underside of decks and fly bridges.”

So the two big 15-inch MFDs are side-by-side on the main dash panel, as you can see in the photo above, which is an actual photograph of the helm of the Krogen 55′ that Garmin staff have re-touched to include fully scaled images of their products.  Seeing a proposal illustrated in this fashion is a major help to the buyer.  Also visible in the Garmin illustration is the smaller 5208 8-inch MFD installed on the left, angled panel of the helm station.  This unit serves as a fully independent backup navigation unit, with its own dedicated GPS antenna.  It will also display anything on either of the two networks — the Garmin Ethernet and the NMEA 2000.  It also has its own dedicated radar antenna.  Most ocean-going yachts these days will not leave port without two functional radar systems, although one is typically larger and more powerful and serves as the primary unit.

In this case, Garmin is proposing its top-of-the-line GMR 406 Open Array/Pedestal radar for the primary system.  It isn’t as big as some of the larger units available from other manufacturers but includes several features that make it an attractive alternative.  It uses a 1.1 degree horizontal beam width, significantly narrower than most units of its size and even some larger antennas.  Narrow beam width translates into higher definition views, since the radar beam is narrow enough to distinguish between small, relatively closely spaced objects.  At 4 kW of radiated power, it’s not the strongest signal out there, but frankly, unless you are a sport fisherman looking to spot flocks of birds at the horizon, it’s absolutely sufficient and will handle collision-avoidance requirements in rain and other, less-than optimal conditions.  It also comes with full MARPA (auto target tracking), as well as some interesting features, such as selectable “look-ahead” and non-transmit zones and alarm zones.  These last features are extremely handy when using the radar in crowded locations or while anchored.

The secondary radar is the GMR 24HD, a closed array radar that also has 4kW of power.  It has similar processing capabilities and MARPA and looks like the perfect backup solution.  It’s also less than half the price of the primary system, so you get a lot for your money.

Garmin proposal for Krogen 55 Expedition helm - close up -- Courtesy of Garmin

Garmin proposal for Krogen 55' Expedition helm - close up -- Courtesy of Garmin

You can also see on the left-hand panel of the mocked-up display in the photo that Garmin is proposing the use of three additional, similar sized instruments.  These include, on the left,  the 4.25 square-inch color display of the GMI10 marine data instrument, which can display almost any flavor of NMEA 2000 or older NMEAA 0183 data.  Garmin suggests using one on the bridge, one in the main salon and one in the master stateroom.  Since they can display almost anything, they can be used as systems monitors anywhere they’re needed.  Next to the GMI 10 are the two displays of the redundant GHP 10 autopilots.  This is one of Garmin’s newest marine accessories and it features a patented “shadow drive” technology that lets the helmsman take control at any time by simply turning the helm manually.  Once reestablished on course, the autopilot with automatically re-engage if desired.  It has a wireless RF handheld control and is programmed with a number of unique capabilities, including the ability to follow a waypoint course without a specific limitation on the degree of turn.  Many older autopilots would disengage, or like mine, simply lose its mind when asked to turn more than a relatively limited number of degrees in order to follow a programmed course.

Garmin was the leader in getting realtime weather information displayed on chartplotters and the proposal for the Krogen 55′ includes Garmin’s GDL 30A  receiver for displaying everything from NEXRAD radar, to wave and sea states, to marine weather forecasts.  Garmin proposes enhancing this with the GWS 10 Wind Sensor, another NMEA 2000-compliant sensor that will also provide barometric pressure and air temperature — two critical measurements, in addition to the normal wind data.

Garmin Schematic of Electronics Proposed for Kadey-Krogen 55 Expedition -- Courtesy and Property of Garmin

Garmin Schematic of Electronics Proposed for Kadey-Krogen 55' Expedition -- Courtesy and Property of Garmin

As another indicator of Garmin’s continued expansion of its marine electronics lines, the company is proposing its VHF 200 radio, with the optional GHS 10 Handset microphone, which you can see hanging on the helm above, to the left of the main MFDs.  Garmin also suggests our couple install a good Single Sideband (SSB) radio for long-distance, over-the-horizon communication at sea.  In this case, Garmin recommends a unit like the Icom M-802 SSB with antenna, tuner and remote speaker.  The Garmin VHF 200 provides full class-D DSC capability via either NMEA 2000 or NMEA 0183.  Garmin doesn’t specifically note, but I’m sure would agree that there should probably be some VHF redundancy as well.  Most cruisers in this class of boat would probably have an additional fixed-mount VHF, as well as one or more handheld VHF units.  The handhelds have come a long way recently and include such features as DSC, multiple-bands and full submersible protection.  Some even float.

For depth sounding, Garmin suggests its GSD 22 2kW black box digital sounder module, coupled with a Garmin Airmar M260 1 kW in-hull transducer.  This unit can provide fish-finding and depth sounding capabilities.  Garmin recommends an additional transducer for temperature and depth sounding redundancy — an Airmar dt-800 depth and temperature, bronze NMEA 2000 thru-hull transducer, coupled to the GMI 10 Marine Instrument.

Garmin agrees that our couple should install an AIS system on the yacht.  All of the Garmin 4000 and 5000 series units allow full receive and display capability of AIS information.  Garmin says a full class A transmit and receive AIS device is “a definite must-have and safety item for any long-range and transatlantic cruising.


Garmin has grown far beyond its roots in the basic GPS market and now offers a full suite of marine electronics.  Their enthusiasm in participating in our experiment with the new Kadey-Krogen is, I think, indicative of how they are approaching the marketplace.  Their product development over the last several years has been highlighted by innovation and real value-added.  The realtime satellite weather many of us now enjoy while offshore was a Garmin innovation and the touch-screen interface is something they think has a real future, as in the 5000 series MFDs. 

I think Garmin has to be commended for its NMEA 2000 integration, as well.  All marine electronics manufacturers still use semi-proprietary Ethernet networks, but with NMEA 2000 ports right alongside, the consumer gets the best of both worlds.  If you want to know more about the details and the many trials and tribulations along the road to full implementation of the NMEA 2000 specification, check in with Ben Ellison’s PANBO blog.  Ben has more NMEA 2000 integration experience than many marine electronics technicians and he was an early, and loud advocate for a speedier implementation of this new standard.

Check out the full text of Garmin’s proposal and its proposed, general network schematic in the links above.  Here at OceanLines, we extend our thanks to Garmin, and in particular to Carly Baltes, Greg DeVries, and the talented systems specialists and artists who contributed to the project.

If you would like to talk to Garmin about their proposal for the Krogen 55′ Expedition or any of their other marine products, you can visit them at the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, at booth # 1648 at the Miami Beach Convention Center site.  If you’re going to the show, stop by and see the actual Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition at the Sea Isle Marina in  Miami at dock 808 a/b/c.

Copyright ©  2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Technology