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Author Topic:   SmartCraft Gauge Alarm: CHECK PITOT
crawl posted 09-26-2005 09:30 PM ET (US)   Profile for crawl   Send Email to crawl  
While out trolling for salmon today I had an alarm pop up on my SmartCraft guage "CHECK PITOT." What was this about?
bluewaterpirate posted 09-26-2005 09:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
There are two small holes on the front side of your lower unit thru which water flows. They are about the size of two very small peas. You might have picked up some debris in the water that momentarily restricked the flow of water into them. There you go. Tom
crawl posted 09-26-2005 09:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for crawl  Send Email to crawl     
So if I still had good water circulation, engine stayed cool, confidence stream doing its job off the powerhead, everything sounding good, this thing flaked me out of another hour hours fishing because I didn't want to blow anything up--though it doesn't realy do much of anything. :)
Chuck Tribolet posted 09-26-2005 10:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The pitot tube is the speedometer for the engine management
computer. It works by measuring the water pressure against the
hole(s). The EMC uses the speed reading to optimize
performance. The EMC probably noticed it had been putting
out lots of power, but not getting any speed. You probably
wrapped a piece of kelp or a plastic bag around it.

Keep the Owner's manual in the boat. When something like
this happens, do what it says. It probably says something
like: "Check the pitot tube for debris. If the alarm goes
away, all is OK again. If it doesn't go away, see your
dealer and bring your credit card.: ;-)


tombro posted 09-27-2005 08:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for tombro  Send Email to tombro     
I get this every time out, thanks to the profusion of eelgrass in Barnegat Bay.
bkloss posted 09-27-2005 10:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for bkloss  Send Email to bkloss     
On my OptiMax 135 the only way the alarm goes away is to shut the motor down and this clears the display - providing that you don't have any detectable blockage. Once you start up again the alarm should be fine. If I get within 100 yards of any kelp; it seems as though it likes to warn me on it's own.......


jimh posted 09-27-2005 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Please see the previous discussion on this exact topic:

2004 OptiMax: SmartCraft Gauge Warning: CHECK PITOT

A search on the arguments CHECK PITOT SMARTCRAFT would have located this for you.

jimh posted 09-27-2005 11:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This is the second time an owner of a Mercury motor has had to come to CONTINUOUSWAVE to get an explanation about a warning message that appeared on his SMARTCRAFT display.

Is the documentation for the SmartCraft instrumentation system really this bad? Or are these owners negligent of having read the information provided to them in their owner's manuals?

Which is it?

bluewaterpirate posted 09-27-2005 01:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
The documentation is adeuqate not great but where I have real issues are with the dealers. Most of them have no clue when it comes to Smartcraft functionality & user questions.

You can also email Mercury questions about Smartcraft functionality/warning msgs u might have and they will respond in most cases the same day. New owners really need to read their owners manual, especially, the warning messages area. It can be quit intimidating on the water if ur not expecting it. There are NO DUMB questions!


jimh posted 09-28-2005 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Does the owner's manual explain what this alarm means?
kline posted 09-28-2005 08:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for kline  Send Email to kline     
I was under the impression that more detailed information from experienced whaler owners was one of the purposes of this forum. The manual, in my opinion does not give a good explaination of the message.
sideshow posted 09-28-2005 09:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for sideshow  Send Email to sideshow     
At least you guys got engine manuals supplied with your boats. My 305 is now 8 weeks old and I'm still awaiting all Smartcraft and Verado manuals! I had that error code last week and had no idea what it mean't.
bluewaterpirate posted 09-28-2005 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
E-mail Mercury they can get that info to you in a New York minute. The dealer's are really dropping the ball on this. That should be part of your acceptance ride Smartcraft familiziation. It just doesn't seem to be happening.


jimp posted 09-28-2005 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
I tend to agree with klein. The Forum is a fast place to get answers for something we don't understand or don't have the time to understand. Manuals sometimes leave you wondering. Even though a lot of Forum members are very smart people, they sometimes need help. Two short stories:

1. My Dad's neighbor is wealthy & smart (works Wall Street, OK, maybe he's not smart). He bought all his kids brand new foreign cars for high school graduation. One day, he & his son had the hood up on the new graduate's car and were scratching their heads and looking in the owner's manual. The front left blinker did not work when the parking lights or head lights were on. So I said, "take a look, take the lens cover off." They said it would void the warranty and that it had to go back to the dealer for warranty work. I told them to "chance it, they'll never know if you remove the lens cover". We took the lens cover off & found a single filament bulb jammed into the socket. They then said they had to go to the dealer to get the correct bulb as it was a foreign car. I said that I had what they needed in the back of my truck. Five minutes later, after I had put in a NAPA dual filament bulb, the blinker worked fine. They asked "how did you know what to do?"

2. Last month the pitot speedometer of my Dad's 28' Pursuit Denali wasn't working. Dad said it had been out for the last year and a half and he didn't use it anyway (used GPS speed) and wasn't going to get it fixed as the marina where they work on the boat charges $100 an hour and might have to haul the boat to check it out (another fee). I hate "dead" instruments in the dash, so I looked under the console, followed the pitot tube hose to the starboard outdrive, grabbed a mask and a pin, held my breath, jumped over the side (the water was 79F), found the pitot hole, struck the pin in, found resistance, pushed, it cleared and I climbed aboard. Fired up the engines, got underway and the pitot speedometer worked. Dad is 78 and I hadn't expected him to jump overboard himself to find the problem.

Sometimes we just need somebody else to give us a hint.


jimh posted 09-28-2005 08:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The purpose of the website is to collect and organize information, and it really is not intended to act as an adjunct to Mercury technical writers who did not bother to explain the meaning of warnings presented by their premium instrumentation package.

I keep asking this question but none of the SmartCraft owners seem to step up and answer it:

Does the owner's manual for your engine with SmartCraft instruments explain what the alarm message CHECK PITOT means and how to remedy the problem?

Why is everyone dancing around this question? It seems simple enough.

Shrdlu posted 09-28-2005 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Shrdlu  Send Email to Shrdlu     
There is an online version of the Smartcraft manual on the Mercury website. While it describes several alarm screens and the action to take ("water in fuel," etc.) the text does not mention a Pitot tube alarm.

jimp posted 09-28-2005 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
JimH -

For my 2003 225 Merc Optimax:
I just went thru my Mercury SmartCraft Operation Manual (2001, Mercury Marine). I have the monitor with Version 2.00 software. The manual mentions the pitot tube, BUT SAYS NOTHING TO "explain what the alarm message CHECK PITOT means and how to remedy the problem".

My engine is not hooked up to the pitot. I looked thru every page of the SmartCraft Operation Manual - everything about the speedometer and nothing is said about the alarm. I didn't find anything in engine's Operation, Maintenance & Warranty Manual either. Just skimmed the several hundred age Service Manual and found noting on the warning. I found stuff on alarms and warnings, but nothing on the CHECK PITOT alarm.

Maybe something in the newer models?


rtk posted 09-29-2005 12:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
The reply on this message board indicates a change in a setting of the Smartcraft guage set up fixes it.


bkloss posted 09-29-2005 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for bkloss  Send Email to bkloss     
2004 optimax 135 manual also provides very little info and nothing on how to clear it.

As many times as I get the warning; nothing is blocking the hole(s). I for one hate the warning and would appreciate any info to find the problem and solution.

FYI Since the Mercury motor was purchased with my Boston Whaler; I come here looking for answers from others who may experience the same problems and subsequently offer solutions to both the boat and motor related items. In my opinion that's what makes this forum so much better than any that I have come across.


jimh posted 09-30-2005 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for the information on what is in the Mercury owner's manual, and also on the frequency that this alarm message occurs. No wonder this topic keeps coming up. It sounds like Mercury ought to revise their documentation.

Even better, maybe they should revise the algorithm in the firmware of either the gauge or the engine so that it no longer gives this alarm when there really is not a problem.

A fundamental premise--sort of Technical Writing 101--is that if your device provides a warning message, then the meaning of the warning message is fully explained and some recommendation of what do to next to remedy the situation is offered.

It is also poor design to have a system issue alerts when there really is not an alert condition. Due to human nature, an operator will tend to ignore the warning system in the future if his past experience is that it gives out false alarms.

Is there a contact at Mercury to whom these concerns could be sent?

elaelap posted 10-02-2005 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
So where's Larry? Dang, that guy never seems to be around when there are problems with Mercury outboards...
crawl posted 10-02-2005 05:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for crawl  Send Email to crawl     
This smartcraft sure "seemed" to be a great idea I cant get any concrete answeres out of merc either has anyone looked into just bypassing this thing and pretending it isnt there?
JoJo posted 10-03-2005 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for JoJo  Send Email to JoJo     
I have been getting this alarm intermittently on a 2005 Mercury 150 Saltwater series OptiMax all summer....cleaned the input hole every time to no avail...I just bypass by hitting the left guage mode middle button...alarm goes away...Jimh is right: an erroneous alarm is worse than no alarm at all....the integrity of the whole system is called into question.
kline posted 10-04-2005 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for kline  Send Email to kline     
I went out yesterday afternoon for a ride with my wife. I thought I had cleaned out the "pitot", guess what? I got the warning again. I am going to have it checked when I get it winterized but striper season is near and I am just going to bypass the warning for the rest of the year. The opti (135) is running great!
JoJo posted 10-04-2005 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for JoJo  Send Email to JoJo     

Catch some striper for all of us....go is maddening to me that Mercury has not addressed a single post on this site nor my telephone calls to their customer service(????) center....again, go figure?!?

Glad the Opti is performing up to your expectations. Best regards. JoJo

rtk posted 10-04-2005 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Has anyone addressed this problem with their dealer?

I would think if they hooked up their diagnostic computer, they would be able to isolate the specific cause for the fault code.

As I understood the pitot function, it is to provide boat speed data to the Smartcraft system. A sensor converts the pressure reading to boat speed.

The pitot reading does not need to be used, a paddlewheel can supply the speed data. The Smartcraft system needs to be configured to accept the data from the pitot or the paddlewheel, so I don't think it cares where the data comes from. The speed reading from pitot pressure can even be adjusted to match a GPS unit speed reading for consistent speed information. Speed input is required to use the Range, Troll Control and obviously boat speed Smartcraft functions.

I would look closely at the calibration instructions in the PDF or Smartcraft manual, and check how the Smartcraft system is calibrated. If you do not have a Smartcraft speedometer, calibrate the system for no pitot input- pitot data is useless if it cannot be displayed.

I finally have some time this weekend to play with the boat. I do have an SC1000 Smartcraft monitor, it does not display speed. But the NAVMAN 6000 GPS/Fishfinder is integrated with the Smartcraft system. It will display engine and system faults, and I have noticed that engine/sensor faults do show on occasion, but no alarm or fault will show on my SC1000 monitor. I wonder if it is a pitot sensor fault. I always assumed it was oil level and fuel level, for there are no senders connected to the Smartcraft system.

Just some thoughts. I honestly have not spent a great deal of time reviewing all of the available features of the Smartcraft system. The dealer set mine up when my engine was installed, I have not changed the settings at all.


JO3 posted 05-07-2006 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for JO3  Send Email to JO3     
I just took delivery of a brand new (leftover) 2005 Ventura 180 with an Optimax 135. About 2 hours after the break-in was complete I pushed it up wide open throttle, made a fairly sharp turn to the port side and lo and behold got the pitot warning discussed in this set of messages. The lake was crystal clear, nothing in pitot opening. I shut it down, started it up and didn't get the message for the rest of the day (2 hrs). Could a water pressure change from a sharp turn set this off???

PS: I went through all my manuals and found the dealer didn't include anything on smartcraft. He is calling Merc tomorrow to see what he can get.

So far... love the boat and the motor will serve my purposes well... I just hope I don't have many issues with false messages.

Thanks for the interesting comments.


glen e posted 05-07-2006 10:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
from my veraoclub "owner's tips":

Hooking up your Smartcraft speedo/systemview to use GPS instead of the unreliable pitot tube:

A lot of new owners don’t realize the speedo is digital and can take a NEMA in from your chartplotter/GPS to read speed and GPS info. Coming out of the back of your GPS are two wires called the "NEMA out" . They are labeled (+) and (-). Take the + wire form your GPS wiring harness and connect it to the white/blue stripe wire coming out of the back of the Smartcraft speedo. Take the blue wire/wite stripe coming out of the speedo and connect that to the ground that you used to ground the GPS unit ( black wire for gps).

Now go to the "CAL2" setup of the speedo (see smartcraft PDF file above) and you will be able to choose GPS for speed and turn off the pitot tube. Now get accurate speed, GPS info like dist to waypoint and most importantly, accurate MPG info.

I must get this 5 times a week - get rid of it!

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-08-2006 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Glen, that information about the GPS isn't correct.

NMEA is implemented in two manners:

A. Unbalanced uses one wire for each NMEA connection, and the
normal electrical ground (- side of the battery). This is how
a normal PC serial port works, and the parts to do it are
dirt cheap.

B. Balanced, aka push-pull, uses two wires(+ and -) for each
NMEA connection. This is how the NMEA standard is actually
written. The parts are more expensive but it's more

The good news is that the two can talk to each other. You
just tie the balanced side + signal to the one wire for the
unblanced side, and the balanced side to ground.

And NMEA is directional, a connection is either IN or OUT.
You connect the OUT connection on the side that's sending
information to the IN connection on the side that wants to
hear the information.

It looks like the SmartCraft use balanced, where white/blue
is NMEA IN +, and blue/white is NMEA IN -.

Most GPSs are single-ended, and don't have + and -.

So your directions should read:

If your GPS has wires labeled NMEA OUT + and NMEA OUT -,
connect SmartCraft NMEA IN + (white/blue) to GPS NMEA OUT +,
and connect SmartCraft NMEA IN - (blue/white) to GPS NMEA OUT -.

If your GPS has only has a wire labled NMEA OUT (no + and -),
Cconnect SmartCraft NMEA IN + (white/blue) to GPS NMEA OUT,
and connect SmartCraft NMEA IN - (blue/white) to ground.

And a final point: one NMEA OUT can be connected to a few
NMEA IN (typ. four), so you can connect the GPS to both
an DSC VHF radio and the SmartCraft.


glen e posted 05-09-2006 12:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
works for me on my boat my way, and several others I have done so I don't see much use in getting more detailed - everyone can just get rid of the pitot looking at the smartcraft install instructions and figure it out for themselves I guess. But the point is there is no need to use the oiptp when you have smartcfat.but to each his own....

jimh posted 05-09-2006 12:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am still amazed that the documentation provided with SmartCraft does not provide information to the user when an error like CHECK PITOT is displayed.

Advice on how to interconnect NMEA-0183 signals probably deserves a separate discussion, as there are a myriad of possibilities. I am also skeptical that there is a "one-size fits all" solution possible to the precise interconnection.

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-09-2006 02:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Glen: What GPS do you have?


glen e posted 05-09-2006 12:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
I have hooked up 4 garmin 2000-3000's this way and 2 ray c-80's....further, this has been on my website for over a year and no one has ever written back that it did not work....(and many wrote and said it did....)

but yes, the merc docs are atrocious for explanation and I have taken them to task at every focus group I have been in with the smartcraft people. It is noted and I understand chages are coming in the next gen units - doe snot help us now though....check pitot was not too cryptic to me as I knw what a pitot the ones like "Vent SW hi" that get me....

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-09-2006 05:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Then your instructions are wrong.

The Garmin 2006/2010/3006/3010/3206/3210 are all single-ended
(I can't remember a Garmin that wasn't) and label their
NMEA connections IN and OUT, not + and -.


glen e posted 05-09-2006 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
ok chuck you win... I'm wrong and you seem to like that..I look at the garmin out as a + ok?
bkloss posted 05-12-2006 04:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for bkloss  Send Email to bkloss     
Either way, I'm going to try and hook mine up and I will let all know the results. I'm headed out tomorrow morning to the land of kelp and can almost guarantee that way before I get there I am going to get that lovely alarm which means very little, under the circumstances.


MonkeysRun posted 05-21-2006 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for MonkeysRun  Send Email to MonkeysRun     
I was out fishing today and had the check pitot warning came on my 2003 225 opti / smartcraft. While in the water i attempted to find the warning in the owners manual. There were some warnings, but nothing specific to this warning. So when I got home tonight I decided to do a search, first on Merc's site, then on the forums I signed up to. Not sure why there are some people that have issues with fellow whaler owners / and boaters coming to the board to ask for assistance. I am greatful for this site and a few others that I have found that have been and I am sure will continue to be very helpful.
jimh posted 05-22-2006 01:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is no "issue" about asking questions in this discussion about Post-Classic Boston Whaler boats, but I do find it something close to totally amazing that an engine would give out an ALARM signal and then completely fail to explain to the user in any of the documentation what the alarm signal means. This has come up so many times it leads me to believe that getting the CHECK PITOT alarm from a Mercury outboard with SmartCraft is a fairly common experience. And, see, it just happened again. You found this discussion because you couldn't figure out what the alarm was trying to tell you. Let's move this out of the realm of boating for a moment:

If your BMW had a display that sounded an alarm and warned that you should


and the only way you could discover what this meant was to get on the internet, search using GOOGLE, and find a website that did not really directly focus on supporting BMW vehicles, would you think that this was a situation that represented good engineering, design, and support by the manufacturer? I don't think you would. That is my point.

The real irony here is the SmartCraft system is supposed to be "smart", isn't it? It has a nice alphanumeric display. If the guys who designed it were sharp they could probably figure out how to scroll text across it so that the message was not limited to ten letters or so. And the SmartCraft could be really smart and tell the operator to check the lower unit for debris blocking the Pitot tube intake port. But even giving the engineers the benefit of the doubt--hey maybe they wanted to put this feature in there and the bean counters said it would cut the profit margin--at least the marketing guy or the engineering support guy should have included a sentence in the owner's manual about this alarm. How much extra would that have cost?

If I pay $900 extra to get the SmartCraft option, it ought to have some smart feature. It should not give me warning messages that I cannot interpret. It ought to have a listing in the owner's manual that shows all the messages and explains them. I've been asking people about this for a long time, and no one has ever said, "Oh, yeah, finally found the explanation in the owner's manual." So I don't think it exists.

Now in the meantime, I have been keeping this page available and very well indexed on GOOGLE.COM so you could find it. And only God knows how many owners of Mercury SmartCraft have come here to find out what the CHECK PITOT alarm means.

The way I see it all of those owners ought to say (to me), "Hey, thanks for providing this information." And they ought to write to Mercury and tell them how silly it is to hand out messages on the SmartCraft alarm system without making them clear or providing some documentation.

But they shouldn't get on here and complain about my take on how crazy it is for a premium gauge system with a name like SmartCraft to be so dumb.

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