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Author Topic:   Adding Devices to Existing NMEA-2000 Networks
jimh posted 05-10-2010 09:11 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
This topic has been separated from another discussion.
Menemsha69 posted 05-09-2010 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Menemsha69  Send Email to Menemsha69     
Jimh- I have a 2008 salwater series 90 horsepower E-TEC with the I-Command guages. What "parts" do I need to interface with my Lowrance 527c? Degree of difficulty installing these parts? Are we talking plug and play? Most importantly, a ballpark estimate of cost? Please dumb it down for me! -k
jimh posted 05-09-2010 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Verify your 90-HP E-TEC is ready for NMEA-2000. Not all are. Your owner's manual should make it clear.

Check the installation instructions in the Lowrance manual. It will show you how to install a NMEA-2000 network. Once you have the network, you just plug the E-TEC into the backbone using a special drop cable, sold by Lowrance. Check the Lowrance manual to see if that model supports engine display.

jimh posted 05-09-2010 11:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Oh-Oh--I see that you already have I-Command Gauges. This means you already have a NMEA-2000 network and your E-TEC is connected to it. To add a device to a NMEA-2000 network you just add a T-adaptor and a new drop cable. Usually a LOWRANCE device that is ready for NMEA-2000 will be shipped with a drop cable and T-adaptor, so there is no added cost at all.

crabby posted 05-10-2010 09:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
Your 527c unit probably uses BLUE connectors while the Etec I-command system uses the newer RED connectors. You will need to purchase an adapter (as well as the tee). The adapter you need has MALE pins on both the red and blue connectors and is Lowrance part number 127-04 NAC-MRD2MBL and can be found here: ProdNum=127-04

This adapter is a little tricky to find on the Lowrance site; most references for Red to Blue adapters mention part number 127-05 which has female plugs and will not work for your application (I know because I have one sitting here on my desk still in the package while the 127-04 is installed on the boat).


jimh posted 05-10-2010 09:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As the implementation of NMEA-2000 networking for small boats evolved, there was (and still is) some variation among devices in the connectors used for connection to the drop cable and for connections to the network backbone. The current standard connector which has become reasonably widely adopted in the DeviceNET connector. In Lowrance products the RED network connectors are compatible with DeviceNET connectors. In Evinrude products there have been three generations of connectors. The earliest devices used a Deutsch connector. Next, a Lowrance BLUE connector was used. Then a Lowrance RED connector was used. I believe now the Evinrude devices use a DeviceNET connector.

NMEA-2000 certified devices can be connected to a NMEA-2000 network, even if there are problems with the connectors being incompatible. Almost all cable used conforms to the same color code of conductors, so it is possible to make your own custom drop cable.

If you have an existing NMEA-2000 network where the backbone wiring does not use DeviceNET connectors, you can adapt to the newer DeviceNET connectors by buying (or making) an adaptor cable to convert a segment of the network backbone to DeviceNET wiring. It is preferable to convert the backbone wiring of the network to DeviceNET becauase most newer devices for NMEA-2000 will be supplied with a drop cable that expects to connect to a DeviceNET backbone.

jimh posted 05-10-2010 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Paul--Thanks for the details on the adaptor. Great information.
jimh posted 05-11-2010 09:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you want to have a mix of connectors on a NMEA-2000 network, there are two ways to approach a solution. The network backbone wiring can either be made consistent or made a mixture. We look at each technique below.

If the network backbone wiring uses consistent connectors, that is, all the T-connectors, extension cables, and terminations use the same style of connector, you can add devices to the network which have a non-conforming connector by using a special drop cable to adapt them. The drop cable has the standard connector at one end and attaches to the standard backbone T-adaptor. On the other end of the drop cable a connector is used to accommodate whatever the device requires. Using this approach, you need a special drop cable to connect each device which uses a connector that is different than the standard connector used in the backbone wiring.

Some devices have their own integral drop cable and have only a connector for direct attachment to the network T. For those devices it is probably better to use the segmented backbone approach described below.

An alternative approach is to have backbone wiring segmented in which parts of the backbone use one standard connector and other parts use a different standard connector. The simplest way to accomplish this is to divide the network backbone into two segments, each using its own style connector, and then join the two segments with one special adaptor cable that connects them together. The devices in each segment of the network use the drop cable wiring that is standard for the type of connector used in that segment. This approach is useful if you have several legacy devices that use an older style of wiring, and you are expanding your network to include newer devices that use a more modern connector wiring.

In the case of the Lowrance RED and BLUE connectors, you can segregate all of the older BLUE devices to one segment of the network, then use a backbone adaptor cable to connect this segment to a RED connector backbone extension. Most new devices will likely be compatible with the Lowrance RED connector (or DeviceNET) wiring. As your network expands, you expand the DeviceNET segment, as this is likely to be found on more new devices.

The use of several different and incompatible connectors for the network wiring is one aspect of NMEA-2000 which has to be overcome when mixing devices from different manufacturers and different eras of the standard. Going forward, it seems like the DeviceNET connectors are becoming more of a standard--at least for the moment, and at least among Lowrance and Evinrude devices.

Other manufacturers of NMEA-2000 devices appear to be using a slightly different connector standard. Raymarine, for example, has their own style of connector which they call SeaTalk. You can typically accommodate a Raymarine device on a DeviceNET backbone by using a special drop cable. I described the process of connecting a SeaTalk device to a DeviceNET backbone in a previous article.

Garmin sells a line of wiring components, too. I think they are compatible with DeviceNET standard, but I can't say for sure. I have not seen them or actually connected them to DeviceNET connectors.

Menemsha69 posted 06-02-2010 05:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Menemsha69  Send Email to Menemsha69     
I was able to pick up a connector and T adapter 2 weeks ago, and fished it through the hole in my Menemsha "dash" (no easy feat!). The cable itself has a small red male connector which connected to the back of my Lowrance 527C unit. After hooking it up, it only took about two weeks for me to figure out how to display the information on my Lowrance! It's nice to be able to see RPM's, MPH, and Fuel Flow at a glance. Thanks for the help! -k
an86carrera posted 06-04-2010 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
One of the most useful features I find on the network is to set up a fuel gauge, it is the most accurate one available as it is constantly subtracting fuel used from a known amount, a full tank. You can add fuel to it also in one gallon increments.

It is a little tricky to set up but great when you have it working.

I have done it on the I-Command and Lowrance 520c on my Montauk.


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