Sharing NMEA 0183 Data with a PC
Connecting NMEA 0183 devices directly to a PC without isolation is not recommended as this can cause ground loops which will damage your PC and your NMEA 0183 devices. The Actisense USG-2 is a great device to overcome the issue of isolation with PC connections. The USG-2 has isolation on the input and output, keeping your devices safe from ground loops. The USG-2 also has a USB lead, making connections to a PC quick and simple.
A slightly lower cost alternative that we recommend as an absolute minimum means of electrical protection when interfacing NMEA 0183 devices to a PC is the Actisense OPTO-4. This will provide isolation to the PC’s input but not the output. If your PC does not have a serial port you will also require a USB to serial adapter.
Alternatively, the USBKIT-REG / USBKIT-PRO can be used to connect an Actisense device to the PC using the serial connection on the device. This method can be easier as it removes the requirement for a serial cable, and a serial<–>USB converter. However it does not provide the same level of protection as that of the Opto-4 method.
Details of connecting our devices to PC Gateways, serial cables etc are found within the respective manual for the product, which can be found on the product downloads page:
Once the device has been connected to the PC via any of the above methods, the data can then be shared with a number of programs. Two of the most common applications for NMEA 0183 data are OpenCPN, and our own Actisense NMEA Reader. OpenCPN is a simple, easy to understand navigation / chartplotter style application, and NMEA Reader is a more in depth data display program that breaks down and decodes the data into each field in real time.
OpenCPN can be downloaded from here: https://opencpn.org/
NMEA Reader can be dowloaded from here: https://actisense.com/downloads/?type=&product=.pro-1881
For a comprehensive guide to NMEA 0183, download our free e-book from here: https://actisense.com/everything-to-know-about-nmea-0183-guide/