Plug and play for boat networks

Although it has a slow uptake, the NMEA 2000 standard is gaining ground (subscription required). However, it will not be the only networking technology used on yachts, since especially entertainment functionality will require a different performance.
“The NMEA standards committee did look at basing the successor to the 0183 standard on Ethernet, which can easily transmit data in the 10-megabit-per-second range compared to CANbus’ relatively sedate 250 kilobits per second. But the committee decided against it since Ethernet-based systems have higher electrical power needs than a CANbus system. ‘CAN is a type of Ethernet, but it doesn’t have the power requirements,’ Anderson said. ‘We have a strong eye to cost (when choosing a system). And we didn’t want to drive up the cost, especially for small boats.’ Because of its limited bandwidth, an NMEA 2000 network can’t be used to move around video, radar or electronic chart images. However, that is where proprietary high-speed systems like Furuno’s Ethernet-based NavNet and Raymarine’s HSB network can be used in conjunction with NMEA 2000 to handle data-heavy applications.”
“One company that has embraced NMEA 2000 is Teleflex Morse, which offers a fully compatible NMEA network called MagicBus, along with a variety of instruments and controls. “We started five or six years ago and looked at where the next-generation boat would go,” said Teleflex�s Kern. “We were struck by the idea of an open architecture standard. As we progressed, we became more and more convinced it was the right solution. We feel this architecture has the best chance of being around down the road.”

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