PAS-Thru Box, a NMEA 0183 necessity?


I first heard about it at NavaGear, immediately contacted developer Paul Shirley about a sample, and now am an extremely pleased PAS-Thru Box user. You may already have read my whining about NMEA 0183 wiring difficulties. Many boats these days are spider-webbed with fine gauge wires carrying important data; they’re painful to install and often end up way too vulnerable to damage, not to mention poorly documented and hard to modify. Well, I don’t know how the Box could do more to remedy these problems. Those orange spring tabs above (bigger photo here) are powerful and purportedly gas tight.

The little red jumpers make it easy to feed an 0183 output to 2 or 3 inputs. And the spaciousness of the Box (this is the smaller model), plus its rubber-lined shrink-fit glands (I got the two black ones from a local marine supply house) make it easy to protect all those fine wires from abuse. Finally, Capt. Shirley has not only created an informative PAS-Thru Web site, but also  Excel templates for planning a data network and recording the results. That’s a useful download even if you don’t buy a Box, which may seem a little dear even at West Marine prices. However, I think a PAS-Thru can earn its keep just in installation ease for many set ups, and the value of later hassles avoided could be huge. (Of course, the NMEA 2000 plug’n’play multi talker/listener system is another way to avoid all these hassles.)


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

12 Responses

  1. Eliboat says:

    That is a NEMA 4X enclosure, which is standard and easily obtained from electrical supply outfits like Allied. They are great for any energized connection near the bilge.

  2. Eliboat says:

    I take that back…that is a NEMA 4X enclosure, but the innards are unique…and slick I might add.

  3. Aaron Lynch says:

    I love the pass thru box, and really would like one. It’s great to hear that they’ve even lowered the price. HOWEVER, I think it’s crazy overpriced.
    If this thing were $50 or even $70 I’d have bought one in a heartbeat. But at $200? (I guess now 150) that’s some spaghetti-wirin-figurin motivation right there.

  4. Brad says:

    These Pas-Thru boxes *are* pricey, but very useful.
    I used one to install a Garmin 4208 with sounder module, and made DSC connections. The box, along with the planning template were a huge help. I also needed and extra wire gland. A previous similar Garmin 2206 install w/o the box was messy and much more difficult.
    Although the price is at the upper end of what I’d pay for it, I would definitely buy one again.

  5. Dale says:

    West Marine is closing these 16 connection units out this weekend for $84.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Phil Koken notes that West Marine is discounting the large Pas-Thru box drastically:

  7. Russell says:

    I just picked up the 16 connector box at west marine in puerto rico for $79! I had looked at these before and wished for one, but $300+ I could not justify. I came upon the drastically discounted box by chance when shopping for something else today. What a steal, anyone with a lot of electronics should jump on these things before they are gone.

  8. Russell says:

    Actually, now that I opened the box I have a correction, it was the 42 connection unit I got for $79!

  9. Seajet says:

    That was a timely post. I picked-up the large box for $99 on eBay just now. West has none left and I did not find anybody else offering these boxes somewhere else. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Patrick W says:

    I have a couple of spare boxes – one large one small – bought for a customers boat but no longer needed.
    If anyone is still looking for one let me know. They are pretty easy to ship.

  11. Philipp says:

    Hi Patrick,
    what are you asking for the boxes? Would you be willing to ship to Germany?

  12. Patrick W says:

    Hi Philipp,
    No problem shipping to Germany. I’m looking for $79 for the small one and $99 for the large.
    If you email me at patricksantispamaccount (at) I’ll reply to you from my regular email.

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