The NMEA 2000 standard has simplified the process of integrating marine electronics and instruments onboard. Enabling devices to exchange data seamlessly on vessels, NMEA 2000 has become the preferred protocol for many marine electronics manufacturers. Many of us know how robust and reliable the NMEA 2000 protocol is, but some are working with legacy NMEA 0183 equipment and may be considering ‘upgrading’ their vessel to NMEA 2000. If you’re thinking of making the transition or are in the process of doing so, this article outlines the key benefits of upgrading from NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 and some useful products that will help make the transition smoother.
Migrating from legacy NMEA 0183 equipment
A key benefit of the process of transitioning to NMEA 2000 is that not everything has to be upgraded at once. For example, if you’ve got a variety of NMEA 0183 instruments which are working perfectly fine, and you’ve now purchased an NMEA 2000 MFD, there’s no need to throw away all of your 0183 equipment.
The cost of replacing all of these pieces of equipment with their NMEA 2000 equivalents would be eye-watering. Instead, we can use a conversion gateway such as the NGW-1, which will convert the data from your NMEA 0183 instruments, into NMEA 2000, to then be put onto your N2K Network.
If there are multiple pieces of equipment in fairly close proximity, we can also utilise multiplexers such as the PRO-NDC-1E to combine multiple NMEA 0183 instrument outputs together, into one collated output to then be converted via an NGW-1.
By using conversion gateways, we can keep existing equipment installed, and only look to change it out once the equipment has failed, or we need extra features.
Why would I migrate to NMEA 2000?
NMEA 2000 has a number of benefits over NMEA 0183, and can also overcome some of the challenges faced when using NMEA 0183 systems.
Installation of NMEA 2000 networks in comparison to NMEA 0183 systems is easier as it requires less cabling/wiring, usually less time, and it is plug and play using the NMEA 2000 Standard M12 connectors, reducing the chance of an incorrect installation. As NMEA 2000 is simple to install and most people can install it themselves. Of course, always consult a certified installer if you aren’t sure. We have an NMEA 2000 guide that covers all of the basics to install an NMEA 2000 network.
NMEA 2000 also has a larger database of supported messages, meaning that some instrument data that we can’t display on NMEA 0183 is supported in N2K. Combine this with a much faster data transfer when compared to 0183 with greater bandwidth, and we have an easy-to-connect, fast network which gives you access to much more data.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of boaters who want their NMEA 2000 network data on their PC or phone. The most common application for PC/laptop use is TimeZero, and the NGT-1 NMEA 2000 to PC Gateway is the interface of choice. The device supports every single PGN available, meaning no data is lost between your network and your PC application.
For those who want wireless connectivity to phones and tablets, the W2K-1 Wireless Gateway enables you to transfer data wirelessly from your NMEA 2000 network in a variety of formats. This includes NMEA 0183 as the device has an internal conversion library taken from the NGW-1.
If you need more support or guidance with your NMEA 2000 network, our Knowledge Base is full of helpful Q&A’s.