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  I-Command and ICON Gauges Compared

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Author Topic:   I-Command and ICON Gauges Compared
jimh posted 05-23-2015 12:32 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I-COMMAND and ICON PRO Compared

Evinrude offers two types of electronic gauges for the E-TEC:

--the I-Command gauges, which are very similar to the Lowrance LMF-series gauges, and

--the ICON gauges, a newer series of gauges

Let us look at the two gauges and compare them for features and details.

The I-Command gauges are NMEA-2000 gauges. Each gauge must be connected to the NMEA-2000 network by its drop cable and network-T connector. The ICON Pro RPM gauge is a NMEA-2000 gauge. It must be connected to the NMEA-2000 network by its drop cable and a network-T connector. But the remaining ICON gauges (if any) are connected to the ICON Pro RPM gauge on the ICON bus, its own digital network. The gauges daisy-chain together using short pre-made jumper cables and connectors.

The I-Command gauges are powered by the NMEA-2000 network. The ICON Pro RPM gauge must be powered separately with its own dedicated power wiring, and it will then power the remaining gauges on the ICON network.

The I-Command gauges have liquid crystal displays. The information the gauge provides is presented on the liquid crystal display, either as text and numbers or in a graphical representation of a traditional gauge dial pointer and scale. The ICON Pro RPM gauge has a large dial scale and dial pointer for engine speed and a small liquid crystal display. The liquid crystal display can show a number of other parameters in the form of text and numbers or in a grow bar representation.

The I-Command gauges have no inputs for any analog senders to attach. The ICON Pro RPM gauge has inputs for up to five analog senders to be attached. These inputs can be used to read resistance from conventional senders, and they can be configured to work with a variety of standard marine senders for tank level and engine trim. If an ICON Pro Speedometer gauge is used, it also has provision for more analog inputs for resistive senders.

The I-Command gauges have computational functions for accumulating values for fuel used and distance travelled, and for computing the fuel tank level using the indirect method of calculation. However, the stored data values for these computations must be kept in an accessory device, the Lowrance EP-85R data storage module. The ICON Pro RPM gauge has computational functions for accumulating values for fuel used and distance travelled, and can compute the fuel tank level using either the indirect method or the direct method. The stored data is contained in the ICON Pro RPM gauge and no other accessories are needed.

When displaying engine TRIM data, the I-Command gauges cannot calibrate the trim signal. This has to be done with the EV-Diagnostic software. The ICON Pro RPM gauge can calibrate itself to the incoming TRIM data and rework that data into a 0 to 100 scale display.

Both the I-Command and ICON Pro RPM Gauge can:

--initiate winterization of E-TEC engines (if the engine has that feature)

--show diagnostic or alert messages from an E-TEC engine

--show a wide range of data from an E-TEC engine. I have not made a precise comparison of what data from the E-TEC engine each can display, but I believe they are very similar in this regard.

In addition to the ICON Pro RPM gauges, there are also individual dial pointer gauges available for the ICON system that will show with extreme accuracy the digital data received from the engine using a conventional dial pointer and scale presentation on a 2-inch diameter dial face. All the dial pointer mechanisms in the ICON gauge system are actually controlled by small stepper motors. The dial readings are very precise and can typically be read with very good accuracy and resolution. On the smaller gauges the dial scale is expanded from the tradition electrical gauge that uses a d'Arsonval or Weston meter movement that only has a 90-degree arc into a much bigger 270-degree arc. This permits much more resolution in the scale. For example, on the dial pointer gauge for temperature, it is possible to read the temperature from the dial pointer scale with a resolution of about 2-degrees. These individual dial pointer gauges are available for the following engine functions and fuel functions:

--TRIM

--TEMP

--OIL TANK RESERVOIR LEVEL

--WATER PRESSURE 0 to 30-PSI

--WATER PRESSURE 0 to 60-PSI

--BATTERY 1 VOLTS

--BATTERY 2 VOLTS

--BATTERY 3 VOLTS

--FUEL TANK 1 LEVEL

--FUEL TANK 2 LEVEL

--FUEL TANK 3 LEVEL

MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

For more information about ICON Pro gauges, please see a separate article on ICON Pro gauges at

ICON Gauges for E-TEC
http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/ICONgauges.html

The (above) article includes a great deal of additional information, has large digital images of the ICON gauges, and shows the process of installing ICON gauges in detail.

For details of the rather complex menu structure used to configure ICON gauges, see

Evinrude ICON Pro RPM Gauge User Interface
http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/ICON_Menu.html

For the Evinrude Owner's Guide for ICON Pro Gauges, see
http://www.operatorsguides.brp.com/OperatorsGuidesAttachments/ OwnersManuals_EJ/attach/Accessories/766075%20EN.pdf

LOWRANCE AND I-COMMAND

The Lowrance LMF series of gauges are more or less identical to the I-Command gauges, but there are several functions of the I-Command gauges that are not available on the LMF gauges. I have not made a precise study of the differences, but I believe that the LMF gauges may not show all the diagnostic or warning messages from an E-TEC. The LMF gauges may not be able to initiate the winterization process for an E-TEC. Other than these function, I believe the LMF and I-Command gauges are quite similar.


NMEA-2000 NETWORK

ICON gauges, like I-Command gauges, receive the data from an E-TEC via NMEA-2000. If you have an E-TEC engine with an NMEA-2000 interface, you can use an ICON gauge.

The definition of which E-TEC engines have NMEA-2000 is as follows:

In model year 2005 and newer, E-TEC engines of 115 to 300-HP have NMEA-2000. In model year 2008 and newer, E-TEC engines of 40 to 300-HP have NMEA-2000.

Cf.: http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/NMEA2000.html

As far as the E-TEC engine is concerned, it has really no idea what type of devices also will be connected to the NMEA-2000 network. The E-TEC just sends its engine data to the network. Any device on the network can display the data. For example, you can have on the same network as your E-TEC:

--I-Command gauges
--ICON gauges
--a multifunction display device from a particular manufacturer
--more multifunction display devices from other manufacturers
--many other NMEA-2000 devices

The E-TEC is still going to send its data to the network. You can also have analogue gauges connected to the E-TEC simultaneously, in most instances.

FUEL MANAGEMENT

Fuel management functions are an advantage of the ICON gauges. The ICON gauges do not need the installation of an external data storage module to hold the calculated values for fuel used and trip miles. You only need to add the data storage module for use with the I-Command gauges.

The lack of a need for an external data storage module is an advantage of the ICON gauges over the I-Command gauges. It saves money and simplifies the network installation. The ICON gauges also seem to work more reliably with fuel management than the I-Command gauges or Lowrance LMF gauges, particularly with regard to compatibility of the EP-85R with other devices that can show fuel data and their software revisions.

DISPLAY RESOLUTION

The ICON individual dial pointer gauges can be read with very excellent resolution. For example, you can read the engine temperature with a resolution of about two-degrees. While you can use an I-Command gauge to create an LCD version of a dial pointer gauge, you could never read any value from that crude graphic dial to any sort of precision. With ICON dial pointer gauges you get the benefit of being able to easily see the data value from the position of the dial pointer, and very high precision of the data, allowing the dial to be read with very fine resolution. This is due to the use of a stepper motor for the dial pointers.


ICON PRO GAUGE SIZES

The ICON Pro RPM gauge is available in two sizes. The larger size, called a 5-inch gauge, has a dial pointer and a two-line LCD display. The smaller size, called either a 3.5-inch or a 4-inch gauge, has a dial pointer and a single line LCD display. With the 5-inch gauge the LCD display can show two different parameters simultaneously.

ICON PRO LCD DISPLAY

The LCD display can be configured to show many parameters. The LCD display can also be configured to cycle through or rotate or provide a carousal or auto-scroll of the parameters. Also, the LCD can be configured to have automatic or pop-up values. For example, if the TRIM setting changes, the display can be configured to automatically show the TRIM parameter for a short interval, and then return to displaying something else. In this way, the LCD display of the ICON Pro RPM gauge is really a versatile display.

In my installation I have an ICON Pro RPM gauge and an ICON Pro Speedometer. I have the LCD display on the speedometer gauge set to not auto-scroll. When not in auto-scroll mode, the displayed data is selected by using the UP-DN buttons. I typically set the speedometer LCD display to show fuel economy in MPG.

On my ICON Pro RPM gauge I have the LCD display set to auto-scroll through a list of about six parameters. You can set the times for the auto-scroll to your liking. The TRIM pop-up is also enabled. In this way, I am able to see plenty of data from the ICON gauges without ever having to manually scroll through any pages.

POWER FOR ICON GAUGES AND NMEA-2000 NETWORK

For powering the ICON Pro RPM gauge via its own power connection, you should use the same power source, that is, the same 12-Volt battery, as used for the Network power. Usually the ignition key switch ACCY circuit is used for both. Without the ICON Gateway Module, you will need to power the network with a power tap cable and connector. I prefer that method, by the way.

ICON PRO GAUGES WITH THEIR OWN NMEA-2000 CABLE

The ICON Pro RPM gauge has its own NMEA-2000 short drop cable. You should be able to plug that cable into the DEVICE port on a Network-T connector without needing to extend the cable, assuming your Network backbone is near the helm.

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