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Author Topic:   MercMonitor and Gateway Costs
jimh posted 06-16-2010 09:04 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I was somewhat shocked to discover that the cost of the Mercury Smartcraft to NMEA-2000 Gateway device, which is part of the MercMonitor instrument, is about $600. Spending an extra $600 to permit a Mercury engine to be able to be connected to a NMEA-2000 network seems like a rather significant amount of money. Inasmuch as Mercury is the lone wolf in making engines which are not NMEA-2000 certified, you'd think they would be producing a NMEA-2000 gateway for their engines at a substantially lower price than $600.

Compare at:

With Mercury having sold off their NAVMAN electronic company, there is no longer any multi-function display available that can connect to a SmartCraft engine network. To use the many NMEA-2000 display devices with a Mercury engine, you are forced into buying this $600 device. In contrast, almost all other outboard engine makers--Evinrude, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki--produce engines which are certified for direction connection to a vessel's NMEA-2000 network, which allows the data from these engines to be displayed on multi-function NMEA-2000 display devices.

SC Joe posted 06-17-2010 11:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
Unless Northstar has inexplicably removed that feature from several of their chartplotters (Explorer 660,657,650,M84,M121 etc), they are still able to read and display Mercury smartcraft derived engine data through their SmartCraft gateways. The most recent catalog on their website from 2009 still advertises that as a "feature".

That said, I can't disagree with you regarding Mercury's price for their NMEA2000 gateway. Ridiculous. But doesn't that come with a digital multifunction gauge?

themclos posted 06-18-2010 08:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for themclos  Send Email to themclos     
SC Joe is right about certain Northstar products being able to interface with and display multi-function information.

Northstar's Smartcraft gateway costs approximately $180 retail, but can be found for less.

For this reason I am considering a Northstar chartplotter, as the total cost to provide this functionality would be considerably less than utilizing Mercury's Smartcraft to NMEA-2000 Gateway device.

Granted, the trade-off is a proprietary system, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.


jimh posted 06-18-2010 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
When Brunswick owned NAVMAN and NORTHSTAR, there was a product called a "SmartCraft gateway dongle", that permitted certain NAVMAN or NORTHSTAR plotters to be connected to a SmartCraft network and have the ability to display engine parameter data. Brunswick later sold off NAVMAN and NORTHSTAR. The new owners moved some of the NAVMAN product line into the NORTHSTAR brand. The older gateway or dongle devices that are mention in the $200 price range are probably those older devices. Are these $200 dongles still being sold?

A price of $200 is certainly more reasonable than $600. I understand that with the $600 device you also get a nice display as part of the package. The purpose of the gateway is to permit the data to be displayed on other devices, so it seems somewhat redundant that you have to purchase a display device to permit other display devices to work.

I can understand Mercury being somewhat reluctant to provide a low-cost gateway for Smartcraft to NMEA-2000. Such a product would erode sales of Mercury's own display device, the VesselView product. The Mercury VesselView product sells in the range of $1,200 to $1,300. For example, with a NMEA-2000 gateway one could use a GARMIN GMI-10 color display (about $400) as an alternative to the Mercury Vessel View product.

The instrument that is bundled with the new gateway product, the MercMonitor display, is a new product. Perhaps by bundling the MercMonitor with the gateway Mercury can stimulate sales of both.

In terms of modern digital instrumentation for the engine, Mercury again stands alone and separate from all the other brands using NMEA-2000. It seems to me that providing an easier and lower cost method of connecting a Mercury outboard motor to an NMEA-2000 network would help sales of Mercury outboard motors, even if it eroded slightly the sales of some Mercury electronic accessories.

themclos posted 06-18-2010 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for themclos  Send Email to themclos     

Below you will find a couple of links to the Northstar Smartcraft Gateway. I suspect this is what they called the dongle, and as you can see, it is readily available for about $100.

I suspect the pricepoint is dropping due to the limited number of Northstar devices to which this can be connected.

From the Northstar website, this is available on the following Northstar Models: 6000i, 6100i, M-Series, 660, 657, 650, 567, 557, 550, 538, 467, 457, 438, 443df, AP380.

The gateway plugs into the Smartcraft junction box and then to the back of the Northstar unit.

It could not be any easier.

Personally, I would like to see Mercury offer their NMEA gateway without the Smartcraft Monitor gauge, as I already have 2 Smartcraft gauges, and I am looking only to direct the information on a larger display.


glen e posted 06-18-2010 06:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
All well and good but Northstar is effectively out of business and being absorbed by Simrad. Verify with navico if you wish. There are no plans to make new Northstar product.

No "jihad", just the facts....

themclos posted 06-18-2010 09:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for themclos  Send Email to themclos     

I know, and that is why there are reasonable deals right now on Northstar equipment.

So, my boat budget being essentially shot for now, I am seeing if I can find a deal on a chartplotter, and getting my Optimax information displayed is a bonus. That makes the Northstar gateway compelling.

I can always upgrade my electronics later.


SC Joe posted 06-19-2010 01:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
When Boaters World was clsoing up..I cleaned up on a few Northstar units. Ended up selling a few on Ebay for a profit. :-)

Still have an Explorer 660, that seems to be working Ok with the Smartcraft displays.

jimh posted 06-19-2010 10:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Moving forward in 2010, I don't think that for connecting a Mercury outboard motor to a chart plotter a general solution can be found in buying up obsolete NAVMAN devices at close-out sales, or finding eBay bargains on the NAVMAN Smartcraft gateway dongle. Owners of Mercury outboards are going to be forced into spending about $600 to acquire the gateway that is bundled with the MercMonitor display device. Also, they may have to spend more, as the gateway is sold in tiers, and there may be higher pricing for models that contain higher levels of the gateway.

Considering that you can buy a complete color display, GPS receiver, chart plotter software, digital cartography, a modern digital SONAR, and perhaps even a transducer as part of a combination instrument for $600, it seems a bit much to pay that same amount for a single gauge and a bit of silicon and firmware to translate a dozen engine parameter datagrams from one protocol to another.

glen e posted 06-19-2010 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
The monitor was built for OEM builders - the gateway box will come along sometime in the future. Also, it is more than just a gateway plus gauge, as it has economy software in it also for obtaining optimum gph performance.
glen e posted 06-19-2010 10:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
And the basic gauge is 383, not 600. A member here, Andy at SIM, sells the single engine gauge at 383.00 - which is about the cost of a SC1000 std gauge

jimh posted 06-20-2010 07:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Getting the gateway for $383 is more tolerable than $600, but it appears the lower priced gateway is limited to just a few parameters and does not have the fuel flow data. According to the listing mentioned above by Glen, the $383 gateway and gauge shows:

--Oil Pressure
--Coolant Temperature
--Tank Level Fuel
--Trim Position
--Water Pressure
--Check Engine Alarm

and only for a single engine. It does not show GPH fuel flow.

The gauge itself is a quality gauge--no argument there. It is just the bundling and expense of the gateway that seems over priced.

jimh posted 06-20-2010 07:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For more information on the four tiers of gateway available see my listing in a prior article which details the engine parameters which are available in each tier:

The second tier gateway package is listed at $525 on the Verado Club parts website. Apparently if you have twin engines you need two of these, or you can get the tier three multi-engine package (which apparently can handle four engines) for $938.

Doing a bit of price comparison, the MSRP of the Evinrude I-Command 3.5-inch display is $244. A typical retail price might be $220. This would be a representative price for a manufacturer's OEM digital gauge. Comparing with the $383 price for the MercMonitor and Gateway bundle, we see the gateway is roughy 383 - 200 = $182 of the cost.

SC Joe posted 06-22-2010 08:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
Depending on the brand boat, Yamaha square command link gauges and hubs will add $400-800 to the cost.

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