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Author Topic:   SmartCraft and NMEA
Frank O posted 01-02-2012 07:20 PM ET (US)   Profile for Frank O   Send Email to Frank O  
A few days ago I got my 1995 Outrage 21 back with a new OptiMax 250 engine. I went with a set of SmartCraft instruments -- tachometer and speedometer, plus smaller link gauges for fuel, voltage, trim, oil temperature and water pressure.

The fellow who rigged the boat said the system will accept NMEA input from a GPS unit. My Lowrance LCX-25C has a NMEA-0183 output which currently feeds lat-lon to my marine radio. The rigger said the Lowrance should be able to pass data both to the radio and to the SmartCraft system. Is this correct? If so, are the SmartCraft and radio NMEA-0183 inputs simply connected in parallel, or are there any tricks to making it work?

tmann45 posted 01-02-2012 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for tmann45  Send Email to tmann45     
Hope to get some performance numbers from you to compare to my recent 21 repower with Yamaha F250XCA.

If you have NMEA 0183 output you can connect both. It is only two wires, yes connect them in parallel with the radio. If at first it does not work, reverse the SmartCraft wires, no harm if you got them wrong the first time.

Frank O posted 01-02-2012 08:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks, Tom -- I'll be posting more information on and pictures of the repower after I get the boat out a little more.

Is there any documentation around on where exactly the NMEA-0183 wires connect to the SmartCraft system? For the ~2-foot run from the GPS to the SmartCraft instrument cluster, is plain wire okay for the NMEA-0183 signal, or would it benefit from being shielded in some way?

jimh posted 01-02-2012 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You should call Mercury to get the literature about their product or perhaps a pointer to where you can download the literature about their product. As I recall the Mercury SmartCraft has an NMEA-0183 serial data input port. I don't know anything about it or have details to share with you. The only documentation for it I have ever seen was a very simple block diagram in an adversing brochure.

You want to learn if the input is a differential input or a single-ended input. This will make a huge difference in how you interface it to other devices. Call Mercury and ask them about this.

jimh posted 01-02-2012 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Also, you need to discover from Mercury exactly what NMEA-0183 sentences the SmartCraft system is willing to accept from an external source. There are some reports that the Smartcraft system is a bit fussy about what NMEA-0183 sentences it will listen for. Ask about that, too.

Once you get the details of the wiring and port configuration, you will be able to interface the other device. Once you get the details of the NMEA sentences that will be accepted, you can configure the other device to send them.

Frank O posted 01-02-2012 11:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks, Jim. I'll indeed ask Mercury about it. In the meantime, I googled "SmartCraft" and "NMEA-0183" and came up with a page that described the NMEA-0183 wires on the back of the speedometer. I do see such wires in photos I took today of the wiring inside the console. So it should be fairly straightforward.

jimh posted 01-03-2012 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Frank--if you do get some information, please follow-up here and post it. Most of the information I have seen on this topic is of the sort of "I hooked the blue wire to the green wire and it worked" type information, which may satisfy the curiosity of bass fisherman but leaves me in the dark.

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