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Can digitizing electronics really improve safety at sea?

Saving time and money when installing electronics on your boat is important, and you’ll be aware of the many different devices that we have created to make your journeys easier and safer, whilst also providing better access to more data on-board.

And whilst our range of solutions allows you to interface the old with the new, convert analogue to digital, and have wireless access to your boat data, we don’t often touch on the benefits to safety when out on the water that we can bring you when digitizing and updating your instruments. Let’s look at 2 simple ways to do just that.

Engine Monitoring with our EMU-1

The EMU-1 allows you to easily digitise your analogue engine data, making monitoring of engine parameters simple via an NMEA 2000 MFD. A typical installation may consist of the engine + senders and a set of analogue gauges connected which display oil pressure, engine temp, tachometer, etc…

For years this has been the standard set-up, but analogue gauges can suffer from issues over time, which may result in poor reading accuracy. They can also suffer from ‘optical error’, where the gauge needle looks like it presents a different value depending on the angle at which the gauge is read from. Digital systems overcome these issues, whilst also potentially saving space compared to the original analogue install.

A great benefit of the EMU-1, especially for smaller craft with limited installation space, is that the device can operate directly from Sender alone, and doesn’t require gauges to be present at all, saving you space, or freeing it up for another electronic device. If you’d rather keep the gauges in circuit but want to save space, they can always be relocated to a cupboard, after all, they don’t need to be visible once you have the EMU-1 outputting your digitised engine data to the MFD!

Monitoring analogue gauges is easy enough, however, it does require the vessel operator to be in the same location as the gauges at all times and ensure that they are continually being checked. If the oil pressure suddenly skyrocketed and there was no alarm panel attached to the gauges, you wouldn’t know this happened until either the gauge was checked, or the engine failed. With the EMU-1, alarms can be configured for various parameters, enabling the EMU-1 to trigger an alarm state message, which would be picked up by the MFD (once configured for it), and provide both a visual and audible warning for the alarm state.

One of the main benefits of this is the ability to have multiple displays of the same data around the vessel. As NMEA 2000 utilises CAN, all devices connected to the same network will see the same data, meaning you can have a display at the helm, and another in the bar, and they will both display the same engine data at the same time, improving safety and visibility of data for all crew members at all times.

The EMU-1 also has a configurable engine hours count, which makes keeping track of the servicing times for your engines much easier.

Transducer digitisation with our DST-2

Similar to the EMU-1, the DST-2 is also designed to convert analogue to digital, but this time it’s for depth, speed, and temperature data rather than Engine. Transducers are an excellent way of easily monitoring the speed of the boat, the temp of the water, and the depth of the water you currently occupy. However, unless you own a smart transducer, then you are limited with what data you can get.

One of the most common scenarios, when sailing in unknown waters, is grounding the vessel out. This could be a little embarrassing but funny and nothing more if you ground out on the sand, however, if you do it on rocks then the scenario is less amusing and much more dangerous (and expensive) for both you and your vessel.

The DST-2 is designed to take these analogue values and output them as digital 0183 sentences, allowing you to easily connect it to other NMEA 0183 equipment, or get the data onto an NMEA 2000 network using our NGW-1 conversion gateway.

With the ability to get your depth data into an NMEA 2000 network for an MFD to use, it enables the use of shallow water alarms on the MFD.* These can be invaluable when out on the water, potentially saving you thousands of pounds in repairs and also makes it much safer for all those on-board. Grounding out at speed can cause people to be thrown over-board, which is a scenario that a boat owner never wants to be in.

*Please note, not all MFDs have this capability, and it is essential that you check with the manufacturer first!

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