Forum: WHALER
  ContinuousWave
  Whaler
  Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
  Lowrance Fuel Management Problems

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

Author Topic:   Lowrance Fuel Management Problems
jimh posted 06-23-2014 10:19 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
After boating season last fall, I applied an updater patch to my Lowrance EP-85R Data Storage Device. I just got the boat on the water for the first time this season, and I have found that the FUEL MANAGEMENT functions with the EP-85R are fouled up beyond all recognition (FUBAR).

I have been running the boat for six days. Every day the EP-85R becomes re-set to show

FUEL REMAIN = [100-percent of tank capacity or FULL]

FUEL USED = 0

TRIP FUEL USED = 0

FUEL USED SINCE LAST FILL-UP = 0

In other words, the outcome is worthless for managing fuel.

On a couple of days, I found I had an indication of "INVALID" in the NETWORK menu listing of data sources for fuel management. To make that go away I had to select AUTO CONFIGURATION. This reset everything to either zero or FULL. One day my HDS-8 crashed three times in an hour, so I decided to perform a SOFT RESET to the entire unit. I thought that this had wiped out everything, too. But I am not sure, because this morning, after thinking I had worked through all the problems, I turned the HDS on to find that, once again, my fuel management data was all gone, and the fuel tank level was set to 100-PERCENT-FULL and fuel used (all categories) was ZERO.

I have no faith at all in the FUEL MANAGEMENT of the HDS and EP-85R after this. I never had any trouble with this before applying the updater patch. The patch I applied was

StorageDevice230_MR234R.luf

I cannot recommend this patch. It seems to have ruined the operation of the FUEL MANAGEMENT functions of the HDS and EP-85R.

I have contacted Lowrance support and asked if they have a remedy for this, but have not received a reply yet.

IMPORTANT--I am interested to know if anyone else has installed this updater and had similar problems. If you have this patch on the EP-85R, please comment on how it has worked for you.

ASIDE: Fortunately the fuel management on my ICON gauges is not at all affected by this problem, and I have been able to track my fuel usage with the ICON gauges without any problem. And, as a fall back, I still have a mechanical gauge on the fuel tank that indicates tank level, too.

DVollrath posted 06-23-2014 04:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for DVollrath  Send Email to DVollrath     
Jim--I have not experienced the exact same symptoms as you, nor have I applied any firmware patch. Symptoms I have experienced are a corruption of the data stored in the EP-85R that result in some incorrect fuel remaining value. I have seen an incremental decrease from full, zero, and a negative value once. Some bits appear to be getting flipped.

I have not definitively found the root cause, but after a couple of experiences I believe it is due to low voltage during starting or battery discharge. I was using older batteries (one at a time) that came with various boats, all of which were of unknown age and maintenance history. As these batteries aged further, discharged due to starting, bilge pump and rain, the EP-85R problem seemed to occur more frequently. When I made a habit of turning off the breaker protecting my electronics prior to starting the motor, the EP-85R behaved just fine. I did still experience a data loss once when the bilge pump operation discharged the battery completely (not the pump's fault, the battery was just too old and wouldn't subsequently take a charge).

I turned a page on my skinflint ways this spring, and bought a new battery. I have not lost data since, even without cycling the breaker.

I speculate that the non-volatile ram used in the device is sensitive to fluctuations around some supply value, and a slow decaying ramp causes a change in stored values. The NMEA2000 network powers and writes to the device, so it is possible it might be voltage fluctuation noise being interpreted as an input sentence as well.

Could be a load of hooey on my part, but (fingers crossed), the problem has not occurred recently.

Dennis

jimh posted 06-23-2014 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dennis--Thank you for your comments. I have the NMEA-2000 network power running from an isolated battery that is not connected to the engine during starting and cranking.

Lowrance support replied today. They said to completely reconfigure the set up. I will try that next--but it will take a week or more before I am back aboard the boat.

Hoosier posted 06-24-2014 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Interesting that you brought this up. I have a chronic problem with my 23 Walkaround in that there is a parasitic drain on the house circuit that the neither main breaker nor the battery cut-off switch will eliminate. I finally had to keep the starboard battery on a full time trickle charger to keep it from going stone cold dead, so dead that modern computerized chargers wouldn't even try to charge it. So, what's this got to do with the EP-85R? It's powered off this circuit, so when it goes dead the EP-85 loses its mind. Last week when I look the boat out for the start of the season shake down the EP-85 had forgotten the size of the fuel tank, but still counting down from where it left off last year, -68 gallons. I had to go through a full set up of number of engines, number of tanks, tanks size, and then I had to guess of how much fuel I had. I guessed about 25 gallons too high, but it's working now. It's nice having an old fashioned analog gauge as a backup.
jimh posted 06-25-2014 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The EP-85R should store its data even when there is no power available on the network. However, if you allow the EP-85R to be powered on when the rest of the devices on the network are not operating, you may be inducing a new problem.

I have not proven this to my complete satisfaction, but based on what I have seen so far, it appears to me that an EP-85R, which is supplied with power while at the same time the engine data source that it has been configured to work with is not powered up, may enter into some sort of confused state and no longer properly store data.

I have solicited help with this from Lowrance support, but so far the only reply I have received is somewhat vague

I asked Lowrance:

quote:
I recently updated the firmware in my EP-85R Data Storage device using the update file StorageDevice230_MR234R.luf Now the data in the device is lost with each power reset. Is there a better updater patch available? My fuel management function is useless with this version of firmware. (I got the update patch from my dealer.)

Lowrance replied:

quote:
You will need to perform the configuration setup of the fuel flow/engine sensors or whatever you are using to obtain Fuel info. We think that depending on what software you originally had the new software may have changed the way the EP-85 holds data.

Last week I did invoke the AUTO-CONFIG option on my HDS device several times. See:

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/HDS_Menu.html#Autoconfigure

I also checked the VESSEL SETUP menu in the FUEL menu:

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/HDS_Menu.html#Vesselsetup... Menu

Perhaps I need to change some values to force a new configuration to be written onto the EP-85R. I will try to remember to do that next trip.

DVollrath posted 06-25-2014 04:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for DVollrath  Send Email to DVollrath     
Jim,'s problem and mine may be different, if Jim's hypothesis is correct. The sequence of greatest reliability for my setup is when the EP-85R is powered up first. My engine configuration data source is my HDS-7, which is off when I supply power to the NMEA2000 network via the breaker. This is not to say the EP-85R MUST be powered up first, just that when it is as part of a particular sequence, things work fine.

I am not impressed by the quality of the EP-85R design.

Dennis

Hoosier posted 06-26-2014 07:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
The plot thickens. It is starting to look like the culprit is the NMEA-2000 power source, which in my case is not an independent power supply; my network is powered by the Lowrance LWX-28c HD that came with the boat. So I don't have a start-up sequence issue, the network comes up when I turn on the chartplotter. Why the EP-85R would remember the fuel used but forget the system configuration is a mystery to me, both should be stored in nonvolatile memory, right?
jharrell posted 06-27-2014 11:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
I purchased an EP-85R not too long ago to use with a LMF-200 on my Montauk with F70. The first one I received did not retain consumption data between power cycles. It worked fine while the boat was running.

I ran through the setup multiple times, performed a reset on it through the LMF-200, nothing helped. I finally returned it and purchased another from a different vendor which has since worked fine.

My guess is these devices use flash memory to persist consumption data while the power is off. While on they update constantly values in volatile ram from engine data (which are normally banks of capacitors) and write these values to flash on regular intervals to prevent too much wear on the flash.

If the flash memory did not work properly either from a manufacturing defect or perhaps from years of use you might see consumption work properly while powered up and then reset when power is cycled. I believe mine had a manufacturing defect in its flash memory.

This definitely did not give me confidence in EP-85R, also the setup procedure is very odd and not clear on when the gauge is actually updating the EP-85R configuration. I understand why they went with a stand alone memory unit independent of the gauges and MFD, but, if you do that, it needs to be rock solid and the setup needs to be 100-percent clear. For instance I added another LMF-200 later and the new gauge made me go through fuel setup to use the EP-85R on that gauge. Shouldn't the new gauge read the existing parameters from the already setup EP-85R? Very confusing, and it also reset fuel consumption just because I added a new gauge. Looking on the internet for help on the issue reveals much confusion about the EP-85R and how it is configured, so there is something that could be improved in my opinion.

jimh posted 06-27-2014 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I had not given any thought to the possibility that the failure of the EP-85R to work properly might be due to just a hardware failure, and the onset of the problem following the firmware upgrade could be just coincidence, but that is certainly a possibility. If I get the opportunity, I will try to test with a different EP-85R. I might be able to borrow one for a brief test.
jcush87 posted 07-03-2014 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jcush87  Send Email to jcush87     
I have an EP85R data storage device, and since day one I have never saved my fuel tank configuration. Two different GPS units have been used: LMS 330C and LXC 38C. I have another EP-85R. Maybe I will swap them and see how it goes.
fishinchips posted 07-11-2014 06:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishinchips  Send Email to fishinchips     
Have you tried the Lowrance EP-60R? I have read (on thehulltruth.com) that the Lowrance EP-85R is giving some problems,--Ken
jimh posted 07-12-2014 02:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Ken--I have not tried using an EP-60. I don't have any interest in completely changing my fuel management away from the very precise engine data to a rather less-than-precise spin turbine. The flow rate of an E-TEC at idle speed is too low for inexpensive spin turbine flow measurement with a device like an EP-60R.

If there is something on another website about the EP-85R becoming a problem following the updater patch (StorageDevice230_MR234R.luf) please give the URL to that.

jimh posted 07-13-2014 08:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re using an EP-60: the EP-60 contains the data storage functions of the EP-85. I would not expect the data storage functions of the EP-60 to work any better than the data storage functions of the EP-85. On that basis, I don't think the EP-60 can provide a remedy. The EP-60 also incorporates a fuel flow turbine measurement device. This is not needed in many instances of outboard engines of modern design. Modern outboard engines report their fuel flow rate via NMEA-2000 parameters on engine data. There is substantial evidence that the fuel flow data from the engines themselves is accurate, and more accurate than can be measured by a flow turbine device like an EP-60. On that basis, I am not inclined to expect a solution to the problem I am reporting of fuel management with an EP-85 could be cured by changing to an EP-60.
jimh posted 07-26-2014 05:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I made many more attempts to restore the FUEL MANAGER to operation in my Lowrance system:

--re-applied the updater patch to the EP-85R

--did a hard re-set of the HDS-8, which erased all my user settings and restored the unit to factory default

--removed the EP-85R from the network, did an Auto-configuration without it attached, shut off power, attached EP-85R, re-did Auto-configuration

None of this changed anything; the FUEL MANAGER function is completely useless. I have written Lowrance via email about this several times, but all the replies I have received are perfunctory, scripted replies, other than one, which told me to do a re-configure. Well, ten re-configures later, nothing has changed.

I will try to escalate the Lowrance involvement by calling them on the telephone. The scripted email replies are not much help.

Hoosier posted 07-26-2014 07:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
My EP-85R loses its mind every time it has the power turned off. Here's an interesting behavior, I have twin engines and the last time out I would cruise on one since we were sightseeing. The EP-85R had to be told the tank size each time it was powered up but it "remembered" a different fuel load depending on which engine was running. That goes back to my season start-up when I put in the wrong numbers, one engine had the "bad" fuel amount, and one had an updated amount that I put in after a fill. There must be some sort of handshake between the EP-85R and the ECM of the engine. With twins the startup sequence must be important.
jimh posted 07-26-2014 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have also observed rather odd behavior with the EP-85R related to the engine that it is to be associated with not being present on the network when the EP-85R is powered-on.

I was trying to find a way to read the stored data in the EP-85R without having to leave the ignition key switch for the engine in the RUN position. I created a dual power set-up for my NMEA-2000 network. There is network power when either the ignition key switch in in RUN or when I throw a toggle switch to ON. In this way, I thought I could access the data in the EP-85R--like the TRIP miles or the FUEL REMAINING--without having to leave the engine ignition key in RUN.

It eventually happened that one afternoon I hit the the network power switch, leaving the network powered all afternoon, all evening, and all night. But the engine power was off, so the engine was not on the network. The result was the EP-85R became completely confused and stopped recording any fuel use. At the end of the next day, when I checked the fuel data, I discovered that according to the EP-85R no fuel was consumed. After that experience I learned not to leave the EP-85R powered on all the time. It just does not like that state.

The size of the fuel tank is not stored in the EP-85R, from what I can tell. You can set a fuel tank size in the Lowrance FUEL MANAGER even if there is no EP-85R on the network, and, if you look at the data stored in the EP-85R, you won't find the fuel tank size.

I believe that the EP-85R stores a decimal number that represents what fraction of the fuel tank remains. Then the fuel manager multiplies this by the tank capacity to get the gallons remaining. I am not sure about that, but it seems like that is how it works.

At this point, the value of the EP-85R to my fuel management is zero, or maybe negative. I have spent much too much time trying to get it to work correctly, it doesn't work, and I have wasted a lot of time with it.

jimh posted 07-28-2014 08:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Below are several screen captures of information from my HDS-8 about my EP-85R:

Screen capture: EP-85R version data
The original information about the EP-85R software, before updater was applied

Screen capture: EP-85R version data
The information about the EP-85R software, after the updater was applied

Screen capture: EP-85R Alarm Configuration
The ALARM CONFIGURATION page, following updater. Note how all options are grayed-out and the progress message "Updating..." is shown.

Screen capture: Stored data
Some stored data on the EP-85R, when it was working properly, before the updater. After the updater these values return to zero at power-up.

jimh posted 08-12-2014 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I was able to obtain an updater patch for V.2.2.0, a down grade from the V.2.3.0 that I installed last fall which caused the onset of all the problems I have been discussing in this thread with the EP-85R. Revising the EP-85R to this level of firmware solved all my problems.

The remedy of the V.2.2.0 updater patch was supplied by unofficial channels. I got nothing from Lowrance even though I explicitly asked them to give me a patch to an earlier version to test. Lowrance sent me nothing, gave me only banal and simplistic advice (i.e., telling me to re-configure the fuel manager, which I had told them I had already done dozens of times).

Fortunately, a good samaritan on the internet read of my problems and supplied the V.2.2.0 patch which provided a remedy to my problem.

At this moment I am cruising with two other boaters who have non-functional EP-85R Data Storage Devices that show similar symptoms as mine did.

After six weeks of fruitless and agonizingly slow exchanges of email with Lowrance support, they provided nothing helpful, and, in a rather insane manner, when I mentioned that the ALARM configuration page did not work, they said that the use of ALARMS was not supported on HDS Gen-1 devices, even though that option is clearly offered in the NAVICO operating system. I cannot imagine how a user would know that ALARMS were not supported when the operating system provides a configuration page to set and configure ALARMS in the HDS Gen-1.

It is nice to have the EP-85R working again, but I am very disappointed with the support provided by Lowrance for this product. I was fortunate to be able to resolve the problem myself with the help of my anonymous firmware supplier. The last advice from Lowrance on resolving this problem suggested I trade-in my HDS for a newer unit and pay $650. This was their remedy.

Hoosier posted 09-11-2014 09:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Have you had any more contact with Lowrance about this problem now that you're back from the North Channel? I did and, after much digging on their part, ended up with the same solution, I had to go to an earlier SW version that was not on their website. This begs the question of how to maintain version compatibility when your boat is populated with equipment from different generations.
jimh posted 09-11-2014 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Hoosier--I have given up on getting any useful advice from Lowrance about this problem. I resolved the problem myself without any help from them. Since I was able to restore my system to working, I haven't seen any need to continue the conversation with Lowrance support via email--at least not with the representatives I was corresponding with.

By the way, many thanks to Hoosier (David) for pointing out that the EP-85R is described in its support documentation, published in 2007, with specific instructions given for setting up an NMEA ALARM to monitor fuel remaining levels. This function is demonstrated on an ancient Lowrance chart plotter, the LMS-525cDF, a device that is much older than any HDS-series device. Yet Lowrance support insisted that use of NMEA ALARM settings with an EP-85R and their much more recent HDS-8 (original or Gen-1) devices is not supported, and only the most very recent HDS Gen-2 devices can perform this function. The only explanations for this paradox can be:

--Lowrance software engineers forgot to include the NMEA ALARM function in the HDS-8 (first generation) and only now realized their mistake, adding it back with the HDS second generation devices; or,

--Lowrance support is completely ignorant of their own literature and device capabilities, which clearly indicate that since 2007 there has been support for NMEA ALARM settings involving the fuel remaining data from EP-85R Data Storage Devices and Lowrance chart plotters.

jimh posted 09-16-2014 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Recently I have had some email correspondence with a manager in technical support at Lowrance. This fellow is extremely knowledgeable about the minutia of using the EP-85R Data Storage Device and its various levels of firmware. He enlightened me about the problem I observed earlier regarding setting a NMEA ALARM for the fuel tank levels monitored by the EP-85R.

As I showed above in screen captures and as described in the c.2007 literature for the EP-85R, the device configuration pages (part of the NETWORK menu and its DEVICE LIST sub-menu) presented an option to set an alarm on the fuel tank level, but when I accessed this page on my HDS-8 (with the latest software revision) the menu options and settings were grayed-out and not accessible. The apparent cause of this situation is the software in the HDS-8. The location of the NMEA ALARM setting configuration has been moved to a new location in the HDS menu options in a recent update of the HDS software, but apparently (and mistakenly) the old location was not removed in the software. As a result, attempting to configure the ALARM settings for the fuel tank level on the EP-85R device configuration page does not work.

The new location for configuration of the fuel tank level alarm is from the ALARM sub-menu of the SYSTEM menu.First choose the SETTINGS tab. In the long list of possible NMEA alarms that can be set, scroll down the list to find the FUEL TANKS sub-menu. Expand the sub-menu. You should see two alarm options, FUEL LOW and FUEL HIGH.

Screen capture from HDS of ALARM configuration.
ALARM Menu, SETTINGS Tab, FUEL TANK sub-menu.

Here you should be able to set the NMEA ALARM for the fuel tank level, which is being monitored and measured by the EP-85R. I have not actually accomplished this myself on my installation. I plan to try it soon and will update with the outcome of my test.

acseatsri posted 09-17-2014 05:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Re calibrating the [EP-85R] device: I haven't been able to calibrate the fuel usage and accordingly, the fuel usage reads around 20% less than the actual amount used (dangerous when running offshore). This data is coming from the Honda engine fuel flow data. To accomplish this, does the EP-85R work with the flow meter from the engine, or do you have to use the Lowrance fuel flow transducer in order to do a calibration?
jimh posted 09-17-2014 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't believe there is any way for the EP-85R to calibrate itself to or adjust in any way to modify the data being reported by the outboard engine via NMEA-2000 and the usual PGN that contains the fuel flow rate--but I could be wrong. However, as I recall, if you try to run the calibration procedure and have the data source set to ENGINE via NMEA-2000, you get a notice that CALIBRATION does not work.

I suspect the calibration for fuel flow is intended only for use with the corresponding Lowrance in-line fuel flow turbine sensor. (I think that is the EP-60.)

When the fuel flow source is set to the engine via NMEA-2000, the EP-85R seems to perform an integration function, and it accumulates the fuel volume over time. I have a second instrument performing this same function. It is part of my Evinrude ICON Pro RPM gauge. I have noticed that the fuel volume used as computed by the two devices is not exactly the same. It is very close, usually not more than a tenth of a gallon or so difference in a volume of 25-gallons.

I attribute the difference in computed fuel volume used to be due to slight difference in the methods. The most likely difference is probably the period of time over which the flow readings are taken or averaged.

If the fuel volume used that is computed by an EP-85R from NMEA-2000 flow rate data from the engine is different by a gallon or two than what is observed by refilling the fuel tank, I expect there might be some error in the method of measuring the fuel volume by the tank refill method. It is hard to precisely refill a tank to the exact same level, and unless you use a very well calibrated fuel flow sensor on the gasoline dispensing pump, it could be in error, too, although I expect not by very much.

If the computed fuel volume used by the EP-85R is way off from the volume measured by refilling, say a difference that is preposterous like 10-gallons, there is probably something wrong with the network or the EP-85R. I have seen the EP-85R forget to count the fuel used in certain circumstances involving the timing of application of power to the EP-85R and power to the engine that it is monitoring.

acseatsri posted 09-18-2014 08:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Jim--the difference was preposterous. 80 gallons when it showed using 68 gallons. The Northstar 210 I had was always within a gallon or 2 on a 60+ gallon fillup.
K Albus posted 09-18-2014 08:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
acseatsri - I have the same problem with my EP-85R. I have a 4.2 liter Yamaha F250, along with Yamaha's Command Link Plus gauge system. The Command Link Plus system keeps track of fuel usage, and has been very accurate over time. However, with regard to the "Fuel Remaining" function, the Command Link Plus system does not provide for a partial fill of the fuel tank. If you partially fill the tank you only have two options: 1. leave the tank fill level where it's at, or 2. hit "Reset" which resets the tank level to full. If I used the first option, I would then have to do some math (in my head or on paper) to keep track of the actual fuel level.

I bought the EP-85R in order to be able to keep track of the "Fuel Remaining" while using partial tank fills. The EP-85R allows me to add a specified number of gallons to the current tank fill level. You would think this would solve the problem of keeping track of the actual fuel level, but it didn't. It turns out that my EP-85R under-reports my actual fuel usage by approximately 10%. If I want to use the EP-85R to track the actual tank level, I now have keep track of this 10% difference, either in my head or on paper. As a result, I have pretty much abandoned use the of the EP-85R.

jimh posted 09-18-2014 09:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Above are two reports of the calculated volume of fuel used made by the EP-85R to be less than actual fuel used. I would attribute this report of under-consumption of fuel used to be due to the EP-85R missing some period of fuel use. I think the EP-85R can become confused under certain circumstances and it just stops accumulating fuel usage during those periods. It might miss several hours of engine operation.

If the EP-85R were just not very good about tracking fuel use, it would seem reasonable that it could just as well report an over-consumption of fuel. But since it seems like it tends to report an under-consumption, a reasonable explanation might be that the EP-85R just skips some periods of engine operation and misses counting up the fuel used.

I have noticed this behavior myself. I often make daily notes about fuel consumption when cruising for a week. On one cruise, I noticed that the EP-85 fuel consumption for a particular day was reported as zero, that is, the fuel remaining calculated value was the same at the end of the day as it was the previous day. Upon checking the network status, I found that the EP-85R device was listed as having a status of INVALID.

I think the cause of the EP-85R status going to INVALID is related to the device not hearing from (via NMEA-2000) the engine it is supposed to be monitoring. This situation can occur if the EP-85R is powered on but the engine it is supposed to monitor is not powered on.

Kevin and acseatsri: does the NMEA-2000 network power wiring in your boat have the ability to be switched on while the engine is not switched on?

K Albus posted 09-18-2014 11:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
My NMEA-2000 network can be powered-on without having the engine powered-on.
jimh posted 09-18-2014 01:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Kevin--The network power arrangement you have could be causing the EP-85R to become confused and give up on accumulating fuel flow. I think this happens when the EP-85R is initialized on a network. It looks for its engine from which it is supposed to get fuel data. If some period of time goes by and the EP-85R never finds its paired engine, it seems to decide its configuration is invalid. For example, if you left the EP-85R powered on all evening and night, then switched on the engine the next morning, the EP-85R might not restore its connection to the engine automatically. It will restore if you switch the EP-85R off and turn it back on with the engine on the network, but it seems to just ignore the engine coming back to the network without being restarted itself. This behavior could explain why the EP-85R misses some fuel consumed by the engine and results in its totalized fuel consumption being too low.

Actually, in a few minutes, I am going to work on my boat and re-configure the network power so that the EP-85R will only be powered on when the engine is on. I have split the network on my boat into two segments for power. I will move the EP-85R to the segment that is powered from the engine itself, and in this way the EP-85R will only be powered on when the engine is powered on, too.

acseatsri posted 09-18-2014 06:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
My boat's NMEA network is powered when the engine keyswitch is ON. If the keyswitch is ON, the network has power. Since I'm using the internal [GPS receiver] in the HDS-12 Touch, the GPS receiver is still working with the network power OFF. I also have an old LCX-110C mounted next to the HDS which is not connected to the network. I did it this way because the old unit uses an LC2000 antenna which is powered when the GPS and SONAR units are switched on.
jimh posted 09-18-2014 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the EP-85 on acseatsri's boat is only powered-on when the boat engine is also on, then there shouldn't be any instance of the EP-85R being confused by not seeing its paired engine on the network.

The only theory that might explain the outcome acseatsri is getting may be from voltage transients with the network power source. That's just a guess.

By the way, I got my boat network reconfigured so the EP-85R and the engine are always powered on by the same source. It might be too late in my boating season to collect much data this year.

jimh posted 09-19-2014 12:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave (HOOSIER) is also trying to resolve problems with an EP-85R, twin Yamaha outboard engines, and a mix of old and new Lowrance chart plotters. Apparently the firmware revision level needed in the EP-85R is highly correlated with the model and age of the chart plotter. With both older and newer chart plotters on a NMEA-2000 network, it may not be possible for an EP-85R to be able to work with both at once.
Hoosier posted 09-19-2014 10:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I have had correspondence with Lowrance Tech Support and they recommend that I use one chart plotter as my primary interface with the EP-85R. I have an old, but very nice, LCX 28cHD that came with the boat that also provides the power to the NMEA-2000 network. This eliminates the power UP sequence problem, if the chart plotter is ON, so is the network and the EP-85R. The problem that I have to resolve after I retrograde to a very early SW version of EP-85R firmware is "does it still lose its mind when powered OFF?". I spent the whole recent North Channel cruise with my "Fuel Remaining" showing ~-9300 gallons. Every day when I powered UP I had to tell it my configuration, tank size, number of engines, etc., but it never tracked fuel remaining correctly. After I got back to the US and got Lowrance on the phone I manually went in and added fuel in 999 gallon increments till it showed a positive number. Interestingly though, as soon as the Fuel Remaining became positive it wouldn't let me add any more fuel. What I'd like to do is get the Fuel Remaining to closely match what's in the tank based on what I know I put in it and what the analog gauge says. To further muddy the waters, in digging down in the parameters that get tracked in the Fuel Management software I came across the individual engine fuel burn numbers, they were close to reality for of one engines but not for the other. It's like the EP-85R has trouble tracking more than one engine.
jimh posted 09-19-2014 10:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
David--The power sequence problem I have described is not at all related to the sequence in which the power is applied to the chart plotter and the EP-85R. The problem is related to the sequence in which the power is applied to the outboard engine and the EP-85R.

I have seen some evidence that if the EP-85R is powered on but the engine to which is configured is not, the EP-85R will, after some period of time, give up on that configuration and declare itself INVALID.

I have not experimented to see if there is any influence in the operation of the EP-85R that is related to the sequence of its power and the chart plotter's power. There might be something in that relationship, but I have not seen any evidence of it.

At the moment, I am actually glad I got the EP-85R working again. It only worked for one or two days during this entire boating season. I am not prone to experiment very much with it in the future. The amount of time I spent this summer fiddling with it was much too much. I am going to leave it as it is now, and hope it works for a while. My HDS-8 (first generation, most recent firmware), my E-TEC outboard, and my EP-85R (version 2.2 firmware) all seems to (finally) be working, and I don't want to break anything with experimentation.

Hoosier posted 09-19-2014 11:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Yeah, if it ain't broke, don't fix it......
acseatsri posted 09-19-2014 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
How about another scenario? If the network is powered up and the EP85R is connected to the network without the Chartplotter being turned on, does the EP85R continue to record fuel usage from the Honda fuel flow or whatever unit is measuring fuel flow? I've never done this before, but I am exploring different outcomes for different scenarios.
jimh posted 09-20-2014 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Yes, that is an excellent question. It suggests the question: which device is actually performing the integration of fuel flow over time, the instrument (like the HDS display) or the "Data Storage Device" (the EP-85R)? I really don't know the answer.

I suppose one could experiment with this by powering-up the network with the EP-85R and the engine operating, but leaving the chart plotter or the LMF gauges shut off.

My guess--it is really just a guess--it the EP-85R is performing the integration and storing the result. The display just displays the data.

The whole concept of the fuel manager function being split between or a coordination between the EP-85R and the display seems unnecessarily complicated. Other fuel manager system don't have this division of work. For example, the Evinrude ICON Pro RPM gauge works beautifully as a fuel manager without needing any extra components on the network. I believe Garmin chart plotters work that way, too. It seems only the Lowrance chart plotter and gauges need this rather awkward EP-85R module to perform fuel management.

acseatsri posted 09-21-2014 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
As a heads up, I posted a link to this thread on the BBC website, which I believe someone from Lowrance monitors. Hopefully it will get their attention.
jimh posted 09-21-2014 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
David and I have both been in contact with a manager in Lowrance Technical Support regarding these problems, and we have made him aware of all the details of our particular installations and their problems.
DVollrath posted 09-21-2014 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for DVollrath  Send Email to DVollrath     
I just tried an experiment this morning on my way back from pulling pots. About 3 miles from home I turned off the HDS-7, after noting the fuel used since last fill value. Back at the marina, I enabled my chartplotter and saw that the fuel used had indeed accumulated a reasonable amount in the interim.

By the way, when filling up my twin 12 gallon tanks, the fuel required to fill to the neck is within a tenth or two of the "fuel used since last fill" value indicated by the EP-85R. I'm now content to not mess with it.

Dennis

acseatsri posted 09-21-2014 06:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Is the fuel flow data coming from your engine computer or a Lowrance fuel flow sensor?
DVollrath posted 09-21-2014 06:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for DVollrath  Send Email to DVollrath     
From my engine, a Yamaha F70.

jimh posted 09-21-2014 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dennis--many thanks for the report of your experiment in operating the EP-85R and your engine while the associated chart plotter was NOT powered on. It seems to confirm that the accumulation of flow rate data and integration of it over time into a fuel volume consumed is being done by the EP-85R alone, and the display is just that, a display of the data.

Re the repeatability of refilling on-deck tanks, I agree with you. You can likely fill them to a consistent level, assuming the surface they're on is consistently level itself.

jimh posted 09-22-2014 01:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: The method of applying an updater patch to a device like the EP-85R which has no user interface and no access other than its NMEA-2000 connection is described below. For "EP-85R" you can substitute other NAVICO devices which have no means of connection except their NMEA-2000 interface, such as LMF-400 gauges.

To apply an updater patch to an EP-85R there are several components required:

--the EP-85R to be updated must be on a NMEA-2000 network with power; it should be the only EP-85R on the network;

--a Lowrance HDS chart plotter with a memory card slot must also be on the NMEA-2000 network;

--the appropriate updater executable file must be obtained and copied to a memory card; the memory card must be placed in the Lowrance HDS memory card slot

Once all the components are assembled, the update process is initiated on the HDS chart plotter. Navigate to the UTILITIES page. Select the option FILES. Navigate to the memory card that has been inserted; the designator for the card will depend on which slot it has been loaded into. The rightmost slot is usually designated MEMORY CARD - 1 in the NAVICO operating system.

Cf:. http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/HDS_Menu.html#FILES

Expand the directory listing of the memory card containing the updater file. Select the updater file. A soft key or MENU option should appear that says UPGRADE. Select this option. The updater patch will execute, find the EP-85R on the network, and install the new firmware payload.

The most difficult step in this process is obtaining the executable updater file. These are not publicly available from either Lowrance or Evinrude. Lowrance technical support will email the updater file to customers if they think it will solve a problem, but your success in getting them to do this may vary. Owners of EP-85R devices have established their own email distribution system for passing around updater patches in order to work around the obstacle of neither manufacturer providing them for download on a publicly accessible site.

pmills posted 10-03-2014 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
K Albus said his EP-85R was under reporting full used. I have a 2014 Mercury 250 ProXS, an HDS-12 Gen2 Touch, and a Mercury Gateway connected to an NMEA-2000 network for engine data. [The HDS-12 in combination with the EP-85R] is over reporting fuel used. I installed a MercMonitor SC1000. When the SC1000 shows 1-gallon used, the EP-85R shows 6-gallons. When the SC1000 shows 10 gallons used, the EP-85R shows 88 gal used. Any thoughts [about the cause]? Thanks.
jimh posted 10-03-2014 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
With the use of a Mercury engine, there is no direct reporting of data about fuel flow to the NMEA-2000 network. The Mercury engine sends its fuel flow data to its own proprietary network, the Smartcraft network, and a network gateway and translator device residing on the Smartcraft network has to convert the fuel flow data from the Smartcraft network and its protocol to the NMEA-2000 network and NMEA-2000 protocol.

The most likely cause of the EP-85R device on the NMEA-2000 to incorrectly accumulate the volume of fuel that has been used is due to some problem in the translation of the information to NMEA-2000 data from Smartcraft data by the Mercury Smartcraft gateway and translator.

To PMILLS: Which data value seems to be the most accurate? For example, when you say the SC1000 shows an accumulation of fuel volume used to be 10-gallons, and the EP-85R shows an accumulation of fuel volume used to be 88-gallons, which data is the most accurate?

pmills posted 10-04-2014 12:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
The data coming from the SC1000 10 gal used. The fuel flow (GPH) displayed on SC1000 and HDS-12 are exactly the same to the tenth of a gallon.
jimh posted 10-04-2014 08:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The observation that the fuel flow rate (in GPH) is seen as the same on both instrumentation systems is quite an interesting fact. It suggests that the translation of the fuel flow rate to NMEA from Smartcraft is probably not the cause of the problem, on the basis that the fuel flow rate data on the NMEA-2000 network appears to be accurate--or at least the same as the flow rate on the Smartcraft.

May I ask if the resetting of the fuel volume used accumulations have been done diligently on both systems? An operator error could account for a different total of fuel used being shown, if one of the accumulators was not reset at the same point as the other.

The described variation between accumulated fuel used totals in this instance is on the order of about nine-to-one. Such an absurdly gross error in measurement seems hard to assign to the instrumentation itself. We know there are reports of problems with measurement of accumulated fuel volume used with the EP-85R, but to have it be in error by a factor of nine-times is so excessive it seems hard to grasp.

jimh posted 10-04-2014 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A review of the general basis for the EP-85R to operate may be useful.

The Evinrude I-Command or Lowrance LMF gauges or NAVICO chart plotters alone cannot perform the function of tracking fuel usage. Accumulation of fuel used is done by the Lowrance EP-85R Data Storage Device. Lowrance says:

"The EP-85R stores [Tank] Fuel Used, Trip Fuel Used and Seasonal Fuel Used data for up to three NMEA 2000 compatible engines that output standard NMEA 2000 Fuel Rate Data."

Source: http://www.lowrance.com/Root/Lowrance-Documents/ EP85StorageDevice_0154-522_082707.pdf

If you add an EP-85R Data Storage Device (or the equivalent Evinrude branded component) to your NMEA-2000 network, you will be able to configure an LMF series or I-Command gauge or NAVICO chart plotter to show the data contained in the EP-85R Data Storage Module.

The set-up is a bit odd. The LMF or I-Command gauge or a NAVICO display is used to set up, configure, manage, and display the data, but the actual data is stored in the EP-85R Data Storage Module, and, without that component, there is no data. And without the appropriate gauge or display, the EP-85R does nothing. You need both elements to make a system for accumulating and storing fuel usage information. For example, if you lay-up the boat for winter in October and shut off all power, the data in the Lowrance EP-85R Data Storage Device will still be intact the next June when you put the boat back in service.

Please also see and read: http://www.lowrance.com/en-US/Products/NMEA-2000/ EP-85R-Storage-Device-en-us.aspx

If you have an EP-85R, its stored data for TANK FUEL USED can then be used to compute the FUEL TANK LEVEL using the indirect measurement method. (See http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/fuelTankLevel.html for more about the method.) This will then provide you with a computed value for the present fuel tank level.

The LMF-series or I-Command gauges or other compatible display will provide a function called FUEL MANAGER. The FUEL MANAGER function allows the operator to set or re-set:

--fuel TANK CAPACITY

--a fuel tank fill to FULL tank level

--a fuel tank fill to a partially-full level

--the data source to be used for fuel economy calculation, from WATER SPEED (from a boat speed paddle wheel), GROUND SPEED (from a GNSS receiver), or PITOT (from a pressure sensor)

--the data source for FUEL REMAINING, from a tank sensor (direct method) or from engine fuel flow data (indirect method)

--the accumulated value TRIP FUEL

--the accumulated value SEASONAL FUEL

The FUEL MANAGER will then be able to show the accumulated fuel used data for TRIP FUEL and SEASONAL FUEL, the present FUEL TANK LEVEL (deduced from the TANK FUEL USED and TANK CAPACITY), and also the boat's range at present rate of fuel consumption and present FUEL REMAINING (but only if the FUEL REMAINING source is via the indirect method).

At first observation, this separation of the data storage from the display device might seem a bit odd. I inquired with Lowrance why they designed their system in this manner. The reply was that compliance with the NMEA-2000 protocol necessitated it. Not being sufficiently familiar with the protocol myself, I take Lowrance's word on this.

Also, by having the data stored in a dedicated device, instead of in one display device, the data can be used by several devices. For example, the data can be displayed on an I-Command gauge and also on a Lowrance chart plotter. One can also imagine a person who owns more than one boat, but might move an expensive chart plotter from boat to boat. By having the fuel data reside in a dedicated data storage device, the fuel data stays with the boat and is not carried around in the display device that shows it. The data stored in the EP-85R Data Storage Device remains stored after power is removed from the device.

Hoosier posted 10-04-2014 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Thanks for this tutorial. What about the situation like mine, where I have two MFDs on my N2K network, both capable of doing the Fuel Manager function? Can both be active or only one? I still have an unresolved question with Lowrance about firmware version levels, which apparently is the hidden Gotcha when dealing with an equipment suite that spans several technological generations.
jimh posted 10-04-2014 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I must preface what I am about to describe with the introductory qualifying phrase, "I believe."

I believe that once an EP-85R had been configured by an appropriate NAVICO gauge or display, the EP-85R functions autonomously. It gets its data on fuel flow rate from a fuel flow rate data source, either a PGN from the engine or a PGN from a flow sensor in a fuel line. It goes not get data from the display devices when operating; it only gets commands from the display device for configuration and set up.

I believe the EP-85R performs its calculation of volume of fuel used, tracks that volume in several ways (by day, by trip, by season), and provides that data to other NAVICO displays using a proprietary PGN. The EP-85R must send its proprietary PGNs about fuel volumes to the network. Display devices that are aware of this proprietary PGN can then obtain that data and display it.

I believe that if the EP-85R is configured to provide fuel tank level (using the indirect method) it sends a PGN for PERCENT TANK LEVEL. See one of my screen captures above that shows this data in storage in an EP-85R.

I believe that a display device that wants to compute the FUEL REMAINGING IN TANK data, will take the PERCENT TANK LEVEL data from the EP-85R, and multiply that fraction by the TANK CAPACITY that was entered into the display device during configuration of its FUEL MANAGER.

I believe, for example using the data seen in my screen capture above, that an computation of FUEL REMAINING would be conducted as follows: the PERCENT TANK LEVEL value, 27.1-percent or 0.271, would be multiplied by the value entered for TANK CAPACITY, in my case 70-gallons. The product of this calculation is then 18.97-gallons, and this value would be shown on the gauge or display as the FUEL REMAINING value. I came to make this assumption because I did not see any data stored on the EP-85R that was called FUEL REMAINING.

jimh posted 10-04-2014 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: one of the oddities I noticed when I applied an update patch to my EP-85R was in the values shown for its data. WIth the application of update to revision v2.20, it seems that there is no longer any display of a data value for FUEL LEVEL (percent). I don't know if this reflects some change in the manner in which the EP-85R tracks fuel tank level, or if it is just an omission in the displayed data due to some quirk in the software.
pmills posted 10-04-2014 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
On several outings on the water. I would fill my tank at same station, at the same pump, to keep fill level as close as possible. Also, I can see fuel in my tank. I would reset fuel manager on Lowrance to 0-gallons used, reset SC1000 to 0 gallons used, and reset Trip Calculator. After running the boat I would re-fill fuel tank and the amount to re-fill tank was within a gallon of fuel used on the SC1000 MercMonitor. Also miles traveled compared to fuel used, compared to fuel eco gauge on the Lowrance display were accurate. Also, all the engine data, water temp, RPM, water PSI, speed, volts, fuel flow, are the same on both the Lowrance and the SC1000. Would make a person start to question the EP 85R.

I have also done the auto configure several times. I have also spent a lot of my time on the phone with Lowrance support--no help---and they say it is a Mercury problem, even after I told them the fuel flows were the same on their display compared to Mercury's display.

jimh posted 10-05-2014 08:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
PMILLS: Re whose device is causing the malfunction in your set up, I bet if you call Mercury, they'll tell you it is Lowrance's problem.

The EP-85R has worked fine with my engine, which, by the way, passes its data through a gateway to the NMEA-2000 network. The engine is not directly connected to the NMEA-2000 network with my present configuration.

You seem to have been very diligent in the data entry with both systems, so operator error does not seem a likely cause. The degree of error is so enormous, inaccurate by an order of magnitude, it suggests there must be some completely incompatible process occurring. Others report errors of a few percent with an EP-85R accumulator, but an error of 880-percent is simply too large to be due to some minor problem in the EP-85R's calculation. There must be some very fundamental error occurring.

The question that comes to mind: is anyone reporting any sort of accurate measurement of fuel consumption with Mercury Smartcraft instrumentation, Mercury Gateway, and an EP-85R?

pmills posted 10-05-2014 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
I have spoken with Mercury support several times. They suggested comparing data from both the Smartcraft monitor and HDS-12. I have been told by both Mercury and Lowrance they have no past records of this problem. I have not found any one that has this set-up to validate its operation. I did look at the firmware version of my EP-85R; it is the 2.3.0 MR234R version. This might be the problem . I would think fuel flow displayed on my Lowrance being the same as fuel flow reported on Smartcraft, and all other engine data being exactly the same, that [the error] would be in the device doing the calculations. Maybe I can get Lowrance to send me new EP-85R. Do you still have the older soft ware version?
jimh posted 10-05-2014 10:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I recommend avoiding firmware version 2.30 for the EP-85R; as I reported in the initial article in the thread, v2.30 does not work at all, even with other Lowrance devices.
pmills posted 10-05-2014 11:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
Jim how do I get the firmware version you are using, 2.2.0?
Hoosier posted 10-06-2014 08:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
One thing that keeps coming up is the compatibility of firmware versions. What Lowrance told me is that I have to match the firmware in both the MFD and the EP85R to make sure they play nice together. What that means in my multi-display case is my EP-85R can only work with one display because it can't be made to be compatible with both MFDs since they are of different generations. So, check the firmware version in your HDS 12 and check with Lowrance to make sure the version, 2.2.0, for the EP85R is a match.
jimh posted 10-06-2014 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
David--Please post the chart or data you have from Lowrance that explains which versions of firmware in which devices are compatible with which version of firmware in the EP-85R. To have this information clearly presented, and to have public access to the appropriate versions of firmware for the EP-85R would be very helpful, but I don't see either the information or the firmware updaters available from Lowrance, except via private email exchanges. I don't understand the reluctance of Lowrance to provide the information or updaters. If you possess the information, please share it.
jimh posted 10-06-2014 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
PMILLS asks:

quote:
...how do I get the soft ware version... 2.2.0

Lowrance will email it to you, if you are able to reach the proper person in support. I spent six weeks in contact with support, and I specifically asked for alternative firmware, but Lowrance never sent me any. Then, one day, an anonymous benefactor emailed it to me. This unusual method of support is very awkward.

Hoosier posted 10-07-2014 11:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I don't have a matrix; the information about compatibility was just in emails.
kitebuz posted 10-07-2014 10:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for kitebuz  Send Email to kitebuz     
I'm dealing with a similar [problem], but think [the problem] is related to powering my network independently of the engines. An incompatibility error message pops up on both I-Command gauges when I power the network up before the engines.

Pmills--check this link to 2.2 software.

jimh posted 10-08-2014 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Kitebuz--Thanks for joining the discussion of problems with the Lowrance EP-85R fuel management. You report a problem with the EP-85R if the NMEA-2000 network is powered-on before the NMEA-2000 engines are powered. I see the same problem. See my comments in my article dated 07-26-2014.

I am convinced that the best approach for network power when an EP-85R is to be used will be:

--always power the entire NMEA-2000 network from a source that is controlled by the engine ignition key, such as the ignition key ACCY circuit, or

--split the network into two segments for power, have one segment configured to only get power when the engine has power, and put the EP-85R on that segment along with the engine interfaces.

I recently reconfigured the network power on my NMEA-2000 network so the E-TEC engine and EP-85 are both on a segment of the network that is powered from the ignition key switch ACCY circuit. In this way, the EP-85R can only get power if the E-TEC engine has power. I anticipate this will eliminate the problem of the EP-85R declaring a INVALID configuration and not recording fuel usage when the engine comes on line later.

Unfortunately, it has taken almost the entire boating season to get to this resolution of the problem. I anticipate that verifying this method as successful will have to wait until next season. (I am winterizing my boat for storage today!)

acseatsri posted 10-08-2014 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Jim,
I always read that the network should only have 1 power source. Is it possible to have 2? I have an old LCX-110C that isn't connected to the network due to the LC-2000 GPS receiver needing to be powered from the network, so I had to keep it isolated from the HDS-12T, which has its own internal GPS receiver. This way I can use both units simultaneously when drifting with the engine powered down without the EP-85R power on.
jimh posted 10-08-2014 05:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is possible to construct the network backbone wiring so that segments of the network are isolated for power and receive their power from different sources.
jimh posted 10-08-2014 06:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is a diagram showing how my NMEA-2000 network is presently configured:

TERM-<-T-<<-T-<<-T-(power block)-<<-T-<<--T--<-TERM
| | | | |
| | | | |
| | ICON Gauges HDS-8 Power
| | from
| EP85R Relay
|
ICON Gateway
from E-TEC
Engine

The network power from relay is powered from the HOUSE battery. The relay coil is powered from both the ignition key switch ACCY circuit and from a dedicated switch, through steering diodes. The E-TEC Engine (via the Gateway), the ICON gauges, and the EP-85R obtain their network power from the Gateway Module, which provides network power whenever the engine in powered on, that is, when the ignition key is in the RUN position. The isolated part of the network, which at the moment is only the HDS-8, gets its network power via the network power node. The network power node supplies HOUSE battery power to the network via a relay. The coil of the relay is operated from either the ignition key ACCY circuit or from a dedicated switch, via steering diodes.

The original plan was to have the whole network powered from the relay, but when this proved to create problems for the EP-85R functions, I reconfigured the network to isolated the power into two branches. Right now it is a bit of excess, as the only device on the isolated segment is the HDS-8. In the future there might be more devices on that segment, such as a new GNSS receiver or a second display device.

I changed to this isolated power to prevent the EP-85R from becoming confused. If I had known of this problem before I started, I probably would have just left the network powered from the Gateway Module. Its power follows engine power. My goal was to avoid having to turn the engine key to RUN to get the network powered up.

jimh posted 10-09-2014 08:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To explain further, I wanted to be able to power the network when the engine was OFF, and then be able to get the fuel data from the EP-85R. That goal was unattainable, for two reasons. First, if the EP-85R is powered on and does not find the engine it has been configured to monitor, it won't give you any data. Second, if you have the EP-85R and the engine on the network with power at the same time, and then you shut off the engine but leave power to the EP-85R, you can get the data from it, but if you leave the EP-85R in that state for a while--several hours--it seems to finally notice that the engine is not on the network, declares an invalid condition, and then won't monitor fuel flow when the engine finally does come back on the network. In short, it was an operational mess.

I was hopeful that perhaps a firmware upgrade might have fixed this problem, and that is why I applied the v.2.30 updater patch last Fall. That upgrade in firmware stopped everything from working. Finally, after weeks and weeks of trying to get the EP-85R to work, I got the v.2.20 updater. I can't really say for certain how the EP-85R will behave now, as I have only been running it with this firmware level for a few days.

jimh posted 10-09-2014 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My NMEA-2000 network wiring is shown in the image below.

NMEA-2000 network backbone.

The power block occurs in a modified standard network T-connector. (Details given below.) The upper part of the network is powered by the power-node T-connector. The lower part of the network is powered from the Gateway Module, which includes network power in its NMEA-2000 interface. (Having a device power the network is not the usual method, but several vendors have provided this in their devices. I think Evinrude did this in their Gateway Module to simplify the network wiring for their customers.)

The images also shows my Universal NMEA-0183 interface wiring. The right side of the interface normally has my VHF Marine Band radio data cable connected, but I had already removed the radio (for winter storage indoors) when I took this image.

The T-connectors are only retained by two screws, and they are not held tight against the panel. I believe it is better to let the plastic connectors be able to lay at their own position. Pressing them tightly against the panel could cause some deformation in the connectors; they're just plastic.

jimh posted 10-09-2014 10:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are several ways to create a power block in the NMEA-2000 network backbone:

--modify a standard T-connector;

--use a GARMIN NMEA-2000 power isolator; or,

--use a special power node T-connector with split power wiring.

Modifying a standard T-connector may be the cheapest and easiest. The sockets for the contacts for power on the female network backbone connector are removed by using a small drill. That blocks the power at that point, but maintains the power to the drop cable connector. Be sure to check all the pins for continuity and no shorts after modifying one. I consider this a somewhat dangerous modification.

The Garmin NMEA-2000 power isolator is $20. This is the best option and not very expensive. For more information see:

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/shop-by-accessories/connectors/ nmea-2000-power-isolator/prod74432.html

For a discussion about the quirk of this device's connector orientation, which can be a drawback if trying to mix Garmin T-connectors with other brands, see

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum6/HTML/003421.html

The dual power feed option is a good solution, but is the most expensive. The special dual power feed T-connectors are quite expensive. One choice is the MARETON CF-SPWR05-CF Micro Power Cable, about $43:

http://www.google.com/shopping/product/13975142842609254929?q=maretron+ micro/mid+power+tap&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=ivns&sa=X& ei=2pw2VN-ZPIiBygSp8oK4Ag&ved=0CCQQ8wIwAQ

Also, if you get this MARETRON power T-connector, it will have the male (pins) connector on both sides, and you will have to change one of the network terminators to a female (socket) terminator (if you have been using a conventional T-connector for power).

pmills posted 06-02-2015 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
[I] was on the phone today with Earl, a senior tech with Lowrance. [He reports] Lowrance are in the process of developing a new model to replace the defective EP-85R storage device. They will ship me one when they have them in stock. This will be my third device since June 2014. Let us hope they get this one right.
jimh posted 06-02-2015 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks to PMILLS for the report of his recent contact with Lowrance re the EP-85R Data Storage Device.

I will be getting my boat out of storage and into use for the 2015 season, and I hope my EP-85R woes are all behind me. I'll report when I have collected more data.

acseatsri posted 06-02-2015 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
It sounds like someone at Lowrance has been reading the [Bass Boat Central forum] about all the warranty complaints and is finally looking into the problems. Hooray that someone there FINALLY acknowledged there is a problem rather than the Prostaff idiot over there who berated those of us who complained about this problem.
Hoosier posted 06-03-2015 08:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I've talked to Earl on numerous occasions and he his probably their best customer service rep. Did he say anything about a replacement policy, or do all of us who have a defective EP-85R have to buy a new one--at about $100.
acseatsri posted 06-10-2015 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
I was on the phone with Lowrance tech support yesterday and asked about how the fuel flow data is calibrated. She informed me that the calibration only works with the Lowrance fuel flow sensor. Contrary to the above post, she informed me that they had no problems with the EP85 storage device and denied that a new device that actually works is being developed.

I wish I had remembered to ask if the Point-1 AP can be used for radar overlay, but believe I would have gotten a guess or the runaround.

jimh posted 06-12-2015 07:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ACSEATSRI--thanks for the report that completely contradicts the report from PMILLS regarding the plans for Lowrance to offer a new product to replace the EP-85R.

As I described earlier in this long discussion, the information provided to customers from the customer service representatives at Lowrance can be quite variable in its accuracy and reliability with regard to the EP-85R Data Storage Device, and, on that basis, I am not too alarmed that within days of each other, PMILLS and ACSEATSRI appear to have been given contradictory information.

jimh posted 06-12-2015 07:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re making any sort of adjustment or re-calibration of the fuel flow data from an NMEA-2000 engine: it is also my understanding that there is no mechanism available in the Lowrance fuel management system that permits the operator to make an adjustment to the fuel flow rate data that is being supplied from a NMEA-2000 outboard engine.

My understanding of the method of calculating a volume of fuel used is as follows:

The fuel management function in the instrument monitors for data on the fuel flow rate. The fuel flow rate data is integrated over time to produce volume of fuel flow. The exact method of this integration is not described in the literature for the instrument. One assumes that periodically the instrument obtains the fuel flow rate. For example, let us assume the instrument takes a measurement of the fuel flow rate every 30-seconds. The instrument then multiplies the flow rate by the time interval. For example, if the flow rate were 15-GPH or 0.25-Gallon per minute (GPM), an interval of 30-seconds would be 0.5-minutes, and the volume would be

0.25-gallon/1-minute x 0.5-minute = 0.125-gallon

The instrument then adds 0.125-gallon to the total fuel used counter.

In comparing two instruments that perform a function like this, I have noticed, over a period of several hours of engine operation, the total fuel used data these two instruments calculate will be slightly different, but typically the variance is only very small, not more than one percent difference. I assume a variance of such small magnitude is likely due just to slight differences in the interval used for integration of the flow rate into a volume, or to little math errors in all the calculations that perhaps are rounded off.

Reports from users of the Lowrance EP-85R have included very large discrepancies in the amount of fuel calculated to have been used compared to the actual amount used. To explain these large errors which are differences of 20-percent or more, the most reasonable explanation I can find is the instrument failed to measure the fuel consumption during some portion of the period being considered, that is, the EP-85R was not functioning for some portion of the engine operating time while fuel was being consumed.

I have seen exactly that behavior from the EP-85R when the EP-85R was on a NMEA-2000 network with power available, but the engine it was supposed to be monitoring was not operating. The EP-85R seems to eventually go into a fault condition under those circumstances and then ignores all fuel flow data until it is reset. In this manner, it seems the EP-85R could easily miss a lot of fuel flow data and calculate an incorrect amount of fuel. If this is the correct explanation, then the outcome would tend to always be for the EP-85R calculated fuel used to be LESS THAN actual fuel used.

If an EP-85R is habitually calculating the fuel used to be MORE THAN actual fuel used, my explanation would not hold up.

jimh posted 06-28-2015 10:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As I noted in the initial article in this thread, when I applied an updater patch to my Lowrance EP-85R Data Storage Device, the outcome of this software change produced a level for my fuel tank as FULL. This was quite an annoyance for me, as the actual level in the fuel tank was not full.

The situation at that point on my boat was as follows:

--the actual level of fuel in the tank was about HALF-FULL. Since my tank has a capacity of 70-gallons, let us say the actual volume of fuel in the tank was 35-gallons;

--the Lowrance fuel management system, after the application of the updater patch, was now indicating my fuel tank level was FULL and the FUEL REMAINING volume was thus 70-gallons.

The effect of this was to immediately make the Lowrance fuel management system contain an error, and there was no method available in the system for the operator to correct this error. In addition, this error is in the particularly dangerous direction of telling the operator that there is more fuel in the tank than there actually is, which could easily lead to a situation where the boat runs out of fuel, if the Lowrance fuel management system is being relied upon to provide data about fuel remaining.

I really do not know what Lowrance was thinking when they decided that the fuel tank level ought to be set to be FULL by the application of the updater patch. Perhaps they intended that the boat operator would be forced to immediately fill the tank to full capacity when the patch was applied. In any case, when I applied the patch the tank's actual level was less than full capacity, and the system was now very far out of calibration.

There appeared to be only two methods possible to correct for this error:

--immediately go to the fuel dock and add fuel to the tank to reach full capacity--but not tell the Lowrance fuel manager about this addtion; or

--begin to keep track of the discrepancy between actual tank level and Lowrance fuel manager tank level, and apply this offset to any data from the Lowrance fuel manager.

I chose the second option, tracking the discrepancy or offset. As I added fuel to the fuel tank later, I did not inform the Lowrance fuel manager of the addition of new fuel. This had the effect of slowly decreasing the amount of error or offset between the actual fuel tank level and the Lowrance fuel manager computed level. As I mentioned, the initial error was 35-gallons. When I later added a total of 35-gallons of fuel to the tank, without adding any volume to the Lowrance fuel manager, I was able to eliminate the offset and get the Lowrance fuel manager back to an accurate computation of fuel remaining.

My ability to track the offset was aided by my second fuel management system (on my boat's ICON Pro gauge system), which was in good calibration with the actual fuel levels in the fuel tank, and it provided a reference for me for the actual fuel tank levels. This kept me from having to keep written notes about the magnitude of the error in the Lowrance system as I was working off the offset.

In some email correspondence between Lowrance and David (HOOSIER) that was shared with me, I made the inference that Lowrance undertook the unusual approach to setting the fuel tank level to be FULL with their new software versions as part of some way of reducing their liability about errors. I suppose they were thinking that they would inform the user that the fuel tank must be full to start using their fuel manager system. It may be true that the simplest and possibly the most accurate method to track fuel tank level is to begin by declaring to the fuel management system that the tank level is FULL, but in the real world it is not always possible to limit use of this product to a situation that starts with a full tank. David's boat is a good example, as his tank has a volume of 180-gallons. He seldom--if ever--completely fills the fuel tank to its full capacity. With the Lowrance fuel manager system now always assuming the starting point of operation must be with a full tank, it was going to be difficult for David to use the fuel manager. David developed another method to work around the new problem.

David's method is to intentionally misinform the Lowrance fuel manager at the initial set-up about the capacity of the fuel tank. Let us say, for example, that David's 180-gallon fuel tank only contained 80-gallons at the time he initialize a Lowrance fuel manager. Instead of setting up the fuel manager for a tank capacity of 180-gallons, David proposed to tell the fuel manager the tank capacity was 80-gallons, that is, the amount of fuel presently in the tank. This would let the fuel manager correctly track the fuel remaining data, but, of course, would make the tank level data completely wrong. This situation would continue until some time in the future when the tank contained a full 180-gallons. At that time, David proposed he would re-initialize the fuel manager, this time correctly telling it the true tank capacity of 180-gallons.

Both methods work around the requirement in the Lowrance fuel manager that the fuel tank level at time of calibration must be at full tank capacity. I don't find either method to be a good approach. The best approach would be for Lowrance to set the fuel tank level to be EMPTY or zero at the initial set up, and to prompt the operator to set the fuel remaining in the tank as part of the initialization process.

jimh posted 06-29-2015 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think the BEST approach to calibration of the fuel tank capacity is as follows:

--start with the fuel tank at a level considered to be EMPTY; there might be some fuel remaining in the tank, but the amount is considered to be negligible or perhaps so low that the pick-up tube cannot get to it;

--fuel is added to the tank from a retail pump; the volume of fuel is determined by the retail pump;

--the amount of fuel in the tank is set into the FUEL MANAGER according to the amount of fuel added as determined by the retail pump.

For example, let us say you have a 100-gallon fuel tank. You run the boat until you are very low on fuel, as indicated by your conventional fuel tank level gauge. Perhaps you have a few gallons in the tank. We ignore that volume.

Next we go to the fuel dock or the highway fuel station, and we add fuel. Let's say we add 50-gallons. We initialize the FUEL MANAGER as follows:

TANK CAPACITY = 100 gallons
FUEL REMAINING = 50 gallons

The FUEL MANAGER is going to show the fuel tank level as HALF-FULL. It will now start counting off fuel used from the 50-gallons remaining. This should be a very good system.

Let us compare to the system proposed by Lowrance that insists we start with a full tank. We'd take the boat to the fuel dock or fuel station and put into the tank as much fuel as we can. We really do not know how many gallons will be in the tank. The capacity might be rated at 100-gallons, but due to orientation of the tank--it might be uneven on the trailer or on the water--due to the location of the vent, due to the location of the filler, it might not be possible to ever get 100-gallons into the tank. The best that could be done is perhaps 90-gallons. But we really cannot know how much fuel is in the tank if we did not start from bone dry. We have a tank that is full, that is, we can't add any more fuel to it, but since we didn't start from an empty tank, we can only guess how much fuel is in the tank.

jimh posted 06-29-2015 12:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The method proposed by David--to intentionally mis-configure the tank volume--seems to me to have two problems:

--the FUEL MANAGER is not going to allow you to add more fuel to the tank than the capacity of the tank, so, as in the example above, you could never add fuel to the tank in a volume that would result in more than 80-gallons; and,

--at some later date you will eventually want to change the configuration to tank volume that is the actual tank volume; when that happens you may have to reinitialize the FUEL MANAGER, and that might cause you to lose any other stored data in the EP-85R, such as season fuel used or trip fuel used. I don't know for certain that will happen, but I suspect it might.

David ran his method by Lowrance technical support, and they seemed to agree it was a reasonable workaround.

The method I propose is really more or less the same approach, but I don't misconfigure the tank size. I just keep track of the error until it is eliminated by adding more fuel to the tank (actual fuel) but not adding it to the FUEL MANAGER. This offset will go away quickly, in a day or two if you burn much fuel, and you won't have to reconfigure or reinitialize the system to a new tank size.

Hoosier posted 07-08-2015 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I tried out my hack this past week while in the UP. It does work. I added $100 worth of gas (33.34 gal) on the road and then reset the tank configuration to what I thought I had on board from my analog gauge: 110 gallons. It's really a simple process, just remember to "Set Configuration" or it won't remember that you changed the tank size. Once this process was completed the system tracked my fuel use and gave me a believable "Fuel Remaining" number. I have an 180 gallon tank and I deliberately underestimated my fuel load to be sure I had a reasonable reserve. As far as I could tell this did not effect any of the other Fuel Manager functions. Just remember that this is a HACK, be sure to err on the conservative side in your fuel estimates.
jimh posted 07-09-2015 02:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
David--What will you do when you find yourself in the position of having added fuel to the tank so that it actually contains more than 110-gallons?
Hoosier posted 07-09-2015 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I'll go into the System Configuration and change the tank size. I my hack is actually the way it should work, the boater should be able to add any amount of fuel. What's wrong about the current design is you must start with a full tank then the EP85R counts down from there. In my case the last full fill I made was to go to Isle Royale. I try to match my fuel load to what I plan to burn, plus a safety margin, so I don't end the season with a lot of fuel in the tank. Last winter the boat had about 100 gallons in it.
acseatsri posted 07-21-2015 06:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
I was on the phone with the infamous Lowrance customer support today about this problem. It seems that the person I talked to came close to acknowledging that there could be a problem with their [erratic] EP-85R, but if you don't have your sales receipt, it's basically [no help]. Since I can't find mine, and even after spending nearly $6,000 on a HDS 7 Touch, HDS 12 Touch, 3G RADAR, SmartSteer autopilot, LINK-8 radio, and the [erratic] EP-85R, they won't provide a little goodwill and look past the lack of sales receipt on a $100 item that has known defects going back over a year.

After reading some of the horror stories on Bass Boat Central about two-year-old $3,000 HDS units that Lowrance can't or won't repair, I wish I had gone with a different manufacturer that values their customers. The issue here isn't really the $100 item but rather how customers are treated. Shame on you, Lowrance.

pmills posted 08-07-2015 02:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmills  Send Email to pmills     
Update on EP85R storage device: I spoke with Earl at customer service to day. He said he was told they are testing some of the new storage devices. No release date as of today. He also told me that lowrance is very much aware of the problems with the current device.
acseatsri posted 08-08-2015 08:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Update: Lowrance replaced my EP-85R device last week. I had sent a not-so-politically correct email with a link to this thread to both technical support AND sales and marketing that said pretty much the same as my above post. The response came from technical support, but they included copy of my email came from sales and marketing. Still no acknowledgement that the devices are defective or that they are working on a replacement, though.

I haven't run enough fuel through the [engine] yet to see if the accuracy [of the replacement EP-85R] is any better, but the software version is the one that Jimh said messed up his readings. The old device had the previous software version. My EP-85R is not exhibiting the same behavior as it did on Jimh's boat where it was resetting every time the power was off.

Re the old device: the last fill-up it was more accurate than ever, only under-reporting my fuel burn by 8-percent, 107-gallons actual use compared to the 98-gallons the EP-85R calculated.

jimh posted 08-08-2015 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for the updated information.

I am sorry to say I cannot offer much new information on the status of my boat's EP-85R and its computation of fuel used. This boating season has been unusual for me; we've only been underway with the boat for about one hour. I haven't had time to observe the behavior of the EP-85R opertion very closely, or to see if its computation of fuel used matches the other data I have (from an independent fuel used calculating instrument). The way things a looking, 2015 may be the season of the lowest hours underway on the boat in several decades.

acseatsri posted 09-03-2015 09:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Another update: after replacing the EP-85R and running 177-gallons of fuel through it, the replacement unit under-reported the fuel used by only 5-gallons. While not perfect, that is much better [more accurate] than the old one [EP-85R].

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.