Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
  Use of WiFi Technology to Link Marine Electronics

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   Use of WiFi Technology to Link Marine Electronics
jimh posted 12-05-2013 03:21 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Please use this thread to discuss the use of WiFi technology to link marine electronic devices. This topic came up in another thread. It is an interesting topic and should have its own thread.

WiFi is a generic term that refers to the use of radios to link electronic devices wirelessly to a common data network. It is extremely common in personal computer devices and especially for portable or hand held computer devices.

Presently from what I know, marine electronic devices tend to not have WiFi interfaces. In marine electronics WiFi is typically provided by a special WiFi router device which is connected to a wired network on which the marine electronics are connected. The wired network is typically NMEA-2000 or Ethernet. The data from the wired network becomes available to personal computing devices that attach to the WiFi device, assuming those devices can read the data in its original form on the wired networks.

An example of a current device on the market for WiFi for marine networks is the Lowrance GoFree WIFI-1 module. See GoFree-WIFI-1-Module-en-us.aspx

phatwhaler posted 12-04-2013 08:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for phatwhaler  Send Email to phatwhaler     
How long until [VHF Marine Band] radios can broadcast NMEA data over WiFi or Bluetooth so we can use an inexpensive [iPad] as a chartplotter?
jimh posted 12-05-2013 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
How long before WiFi in a VHF Marine Band radio? A long time, probably never. I doubt you will find any individual units of boat electronics to have built-in WiFi routers, other than a multi-function display or the display device of a chart plotter. Presently you can construct a bridge to WiFi by employing a specialized device like the Lowrance GoFree WIFI-1. I don't think you will see it from a radio.

As for Bluetooth, I believe some radios already have Bluetooth to allow for wireless headset microphones. I don't think there is any specification for NMEA data over BlueTooth. NMEA are working on a new network protocol that may be useful for more situations.

jimh posted 12-05-2013 03:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is an interesting article from PANBO's archives on this topic: wifi_mfds_navico_gofree_promises_more_than_met.html

jimh posted 12-06-2013 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
About a year ago, in August 2012, NMEA announced it was developing a new standard for transport of NMEA-2000 messages on Ethernet links. The new standard is given the name of NMEA OneNET. Here is the announcement from the National Marine Electronics Association:

NMEA-2000 and NMEA-0183 devices would connect to an appropriate OneNET gateway device.

The NMEA OneNET is a proposed standard for carrying marine data over Ethernet. There is also a standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC-61162-450, that covers this same field:

Maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems – Digital interfaces – Part 450: Multiple talkers and multiple listeners – Ethernet interconnection

The above seems to be often reduced to the acronym LWE, for Light Weight Ethernet. For more about the general organization of the IEC-61162, see the Wikipedia article:

For more about LWE in ship data communication, see

The announcement by NMEA of their proposed NMEA OneNET protocol seems to have confused even those members of the NMEA organization who were already manufacturing products that employed NMEA-2000 and Ethernet. See the comments in this discussion on PANBO from Joe Burke of CHETCO Instruments: onenet_nmea_finally_creates_a_marine_ethernet_standard.html

The PANBO discussion is quite lively and offers opinions from many points of view. I recommend reading it.

I cannot comment on the topic of wireless access to marine data using WiFi with any really informed opinion--I have zero experience with the technology--but I do note that NMEA-2000 was introduced c.2000. Here we are in the last month of 2013 and we still see that NMEA-2000 is not entirely universal in boat electronics. If NEMA OneNET has the same rate of adoption as NMEA-2000, it may take until c.2027 before use of NMEA OneNET appears as a commonplace feature.

For small boat applications, I don't see much need for anything significantly improved from NMEA-2000 for device interconnection. Most small boat networks are small in their physical length, typically perhaps a backbone length of just a few feet, have only a few devices connected, typically a less than ten, and there is not much problem with data congestion on the network.

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-07-2013 06:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
NMEA-0183 is a serial protocol. There's already a standard for serial over bluetooth. No new standard is required.--Chuck
saumon posted 12-07-2013 10:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
I think the latest Garmin GPSMAP 541xs and 741xs have a built-in WiFi receiver that enable the user to share infos (position, track, etc.) with the BlueChart app on a mobile device.
jimh posted 12-08-2013 08:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The owner's manual for the GARMIN 741 says:

Communication with Wireless Devices

The chartplotters can create a wireless network to which you can connect wireless devices. Also, some models can connect to Bluetooth® wireless devices using the AVRCP profile.

Setting Up the Wireless Network

The first time you access the Wireless Network settings, you are prompted to set up the network.
1 Select Settings > Communications > Wireless Devices > Wireless Network > On.

2 Enter a name for this wireless network.

3 Enter a password.

You will need this password to access the wireless network from a wireless device.

This sounds like the GARMIN chart plotter acts like a WiFi hub. In a similar manner the instructions explain making a Bluetooth connection.

This is quite interesting. In the literature about the 741, Garmin just says in the specifications, under the section "Other" and under the subsection "Additional" that the device has "Wireless connectivity: Yes" and "Bluetooth wireless connectivity: Yes"

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.