My Laptop Is 6 Years Old Should I Replace It Discovering NMEA 2000

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Discovering NMEA 2000

I just returned to my trusty laptop to start writing articles again. So I told myself what should I start with. There are thousands of topics I want to cover. Then I had my ah-ha moment (yes, you can still get them at 66). Why not write about your recent experience finding a NMEA 2000 installation.

Simply put, I am a tourist at heart. I have been away from my yacht for the past 2 years working to build my cruising/retirement kit and this winter spent a few trips to my Gulfstar 44 to make sure she was right to enough and miss me. I also decided it was time to start putting in the new instruments I bought over the past 2 years while traveling for my “little extra on break” (OBR).

Two years ago, my wife and I took a week off to sail her up to St. Augustine from Miami to put her on the hard for the time I was going to travel for work. During that trip I noticed very quickly that there were some systems that desperately needed attention. I really mean to replace but attention made it easier to swallow. Every boater hates the idea of ​​having to break out multiple boat units (if you don’t know… a boat unit is $1,000.00) to install new equipment , even if they do the work themselves.

In addition to being against the word boat units, there is a fear that electronic devices will be installed on their own. Most tourists are out of necessity jacks-of-all-trades. But installing electronics is for most people the most daunting task. I consider myself pretty good at plugging most anything into my boat but putting multiple instruments together and trying to get them to talk to each other is a daunting task . When I bought our Gulfstar, it came with electronics that worked just fine. It had a 4″ black and white and gray Garmin GPS, Simrad/Robertson Autopilot, Furuno Radar (my head banging over the dinner table…what was someone thinking here?) and Datamarine depth and wind instruments Corinthian without the anemometer that was blown off during hurricane Wilma.

Shortly after my purchase, I bought a Garmin GPSMap 4208 Chartplotter to replace the small screen I had. When I read the documentation and installation instructions for the 4208, (along with a couple of calls to Garmin Tech Support), I discovered that through the NMEA 0183 cable, I could get it to talk to my Simrad autopilot. Wow, I could plot courses to different places and my GPS would tell the autopilot where and when to turn. Okay, I said. I have to do that.

So, with installation instructions in one hand and tools in the other I proceeded to start removing wires from the main cable from the GPS, pulled them to the Autopilot computer and put a second manual to the mixture. “Connect the blue/white from the autopilot cable to the brown wire on the NMEA 0183 GPS cable” and on and on until I had this connector. With the blood from fear running down my forehead, it wasn’t looking good until I fired up the GPS and Autopilot and played what if. Holy crap… it worked. I cleared the ball of links and was a very happy sailor. I felt like I had to put a coin on my chest.

Let’s go ahead to the present day. The Autopilot stopped working properly during our trip to St. Augustine, the wind instrument did not work because the anemometer I bought on eBay was not compatible with the instrument head, my depth was incorrect because I installed an in-hull transducer instead of a shell through to the Garmin Sonar New GSD 22, plus I had to deal with the headrest hanging above the dinner table for radar when needed, (difficult task from a center cockpit sailboat cockpit). Years before, I installed a Raymarine GPS and Radar that overlapped the chartplotter and I knew this was still possible. So I upgrade or replace my electronics.

As the owner of an online electronics and boat parts store, I had been hearing about this new fangled NMEA 2000 stuff for a few years and decided to check it out. I typed Garmin NMEA 2000 into the search bar of my trusty laptop and found a guide for a basic Garmin NMEA 2000 system. I read this guide a few times and decided that NMEA 2000 was the way to go for me. I also checked the compatibility of my Garmin 4208. Surprise, surprise…it was NMEA 2000 compatible.

So I started buying the instruments I was going to replace and started planning my NMEA 2000 backbone. I sketched my backbone probably 4 times until I had happy with my plan. I picked up a piece of starboard and started screwing those NMEA 2000 Tees together as I planned. I ran the drop cables from each device I bought and attached them to the backbone tees. We added the tee for power and installed the male and female terminal of the electrical protection tee exactly as in the instructions. No bundles of clumsy attachments! Simple plug and play. The most difficult thing to do was to pull the wires from the new Garmin GMR18HD Radar and windlass in the hull down to the stern. We connected the few wires to the autopilot computer and installed the new head and hull wind transmission. Other than that and actually replacing existing instruments, it was a breeze with a little pre-planning. I even decided to add a Garmin GXM 51 antenna so I could add Sirius XM weather while listening to the 60’s on 6 when we start cruising this coming July.

The only thing I could think of that would be simpler is for all devices to be wireless! And you can do that with a few tools today. I can’t wait for that update. I said all this to tell you that upgrading electronics on your boat should not give you rash or hives or make you run in the opposite direction. NMEA 2000 has placed new electronic devices comfortably in the hands of willing beginners. If you can connect your DVD player to your TV at home, you can install NMEA 2000 electronics. So don’t put off the upgrades or new systems you’ve been thinking about installing in your boat. Start shopping for the equipment you’re thinking of getting, whether it’s in pieces of a complete package. Go to your local brick and mortar marine store and take a look, play and ask questions. After you decide what you want, start getting some quotes and start the process of looking at all the online marine electronics stores and have fun installing your new electronics . Happy sailing, fair winds and calm seas.

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