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ICON Gauges for E-TEC

Modern Electronic Engine Instrumentation

by James W. Hebert

This article describes a modern electronic engine instrumentation system as implemented by the Bombardier Recreational Products newly announced Evinrude ICON gauges. ICON is not an acronym, but rather a brand identifier for this line of engine electronic products.

ICON Gauges

BRP have revamped their line of accessory gauges for their outboard engines and are announcing the new Evinrude ICON gauges, available in two-inch diameter to five-inch diameter instruments and featuring both dial-pointer and digital read-out. ICON gauges connect to and get most of their data from a boat's NMEA-2000 network, where they read parameters from the E-TEC engine and other NMEA-2000 sources. The new ICON gauges are designed for easy installation and wiring, and all interconnection between gauges is by pre-assembled connector-ized wiring components.

There are two major divisions in the new ICON gauge product line: ICON Pro and ICON Basic. The ICON Pro series gauges are digital gauges which include an analog dial pointer and an LCD window for display of additional data. ICON Pro series gauges are available in 5-inch and 3.5-inch diameter sizes.

The ICON Basic gauges are also electronic digital gauges, but use one to three dial pointers to display values. They do not have an LCD display. ICON Basic gauges are available in 5-inch and 3.5-inch diameter instruments. The ICON Basic RPM gauge also includes System Check warning indicators.

There are also ICON Accessory gauges, all 2-inch, which can be used with either ICON Pro or ICON Basic gauges. These are dial pointer gauges with one function.

All ICON gauges are available in two styles: white dial background or black dial background.

ICON Gauge Product Line

With either ICON Pro or ICON Basic, the primary gauge is the tachometer or RPM gauge. An ICON gauge installations must have at least a tachometer gauge, as the other ICON gauges will all be connected to the tachometer to get their data. The ICON gauges can be used in conunction with the Evinrude ICON electronic remote throttle and shift controls, but both the ICON controls and the ICON gauges can be used independently without each other.

There are so many new gauges in the ICON series that a complete review of them all is beyond the scope of this article. Consult the Evinrude literature for more information on ICON gauge options. Here I will concentrate on describing the ICON gauges I recently installed on my E-TEC-equipped boat. The new ICON gauges replaced a combination of I-Command and conventional analog gauges. I installed two ICON Pro gauges, an RPM gauge or tachometer and a SPEED gauge or speedeometer. I also installed five ICON Accessory gauges.

Networking ICON Gauges

ICON gauges connect to a NMEA-2000 network, but the only ICON gauge that connects directly to a NMEA-2000 network is the ICON tachometer gauge. The tachometer is thus the first ICON gauge that can be used and is mandatory in all ICON installations. The tachometer receives all the data which will be displayed on any gauge from the NMEA-2000 network, and it passes on the data to other ICON gauges which are connected to the tachometer using a different network and wiring protocol, the ICON GAUGE network. On my boat, I also have installed ICON throttle and shift controls. These controls operate on their own network, the ESM (for Electronic Servo Module) network. The ESM network communicates between the engine and the helm remote controls. On E-TEC engines with ICON controls, the NMEA-2000 data port on the engine is connected to the ESM network under the cowling of the engine. This permits engine data, such as engine speed, to be sent to the remote controls so that they can operate with awareness of engine parameters. The ICON controls need information on the engine in order to apply their intelligent control algorithms. (See my article on ICON controls for more details.) The ESM network is kept private and isolated from other boat devices to prevent their network traffic from interfering with network traffic for the engine controls.

ICON Gauges with ICON Controls

With ICON controls and ICON gauges, there are three layers of electronic digital communication networks on the boat:

A typical three-network installation is shown below:

Aft HUB----------(ESM Network)------Helm HUB
  |                                 |      |
  |                                 |      |
  |                                 |      |
E-TEC Engine(s)                 [GATEWAY]  [ICON Controls]
                                 |
                                 |
                                 | (Note: Gateway powers network)
                                 |
 TERM---------T--(NMEA-2000------T-----T---T---T------TERM
              |   network)             |   |   |
              |                        |   |   |
              |                        |   |   |
        ICON TACHOMETER            (other NMEA-2000 devices)
              |                   
              |
              |--(ICON GAUGE Network)----GAUGE----GAUGE----GAUGE----GAUGE

With ICON controls, the primary network is the ESM Network which connects the ICON remote controls to the E-TEC engine. Evinrude calls this the PRIVATE network. It has isolated this network for safety in operation of the engine controls. On the ESM or PRIVATE Network is the gateway module. The gateway module connects to both the ESM Network and the NMEA-2000 Network, and transports data between the two. In this way, the engine data from the E-TEC is made available to the NMEA-2000 network. The gateway module also acts as a power node for the NMEA-2000 network. Evinrude refers to the NMEA-2000 network as a public network, because many other devices can connect to it.

ICON Gauges Without ICON Controls

ICON gauges can be used without the corresponding ICON controls, and this is probably the most common application. In an installation without ICON controls, the gateway module is not necessary, and the tachometer is connected directly to the vessel NMEA-2000 network backbone. Without ICON controls and the private ESM network, there are two layers of electronic networks on the boat, the NMEA-2000 network and the ICON GAUGE network. A schematic looks like this:

                                 
 TERM---------T--(NMEA-2000------T---T----------T------TERM
              |   network)       |   |          |
              |                  |   |          |
              |            Other NMEA-2000      |     
       ICON TACHOMETER      device and       E-TEC engine
              |             power node
              |
              |--(ICON GAUGE Network)----GAUGE----GAUGE----GAUGE----GAUGE

Other Devices On a NMEA-2000 Network

The NMEA-2000 network on a boat will typically consist of various devices such as a GPS receiver, a chart plotter and display, other display devices, a SONAR, and perhaps a VHF Marine Band radio. The ICON tachometer connects to the NMEA-2000 network where it collects all the engine data and data from other devices like a GPS receiver.

ICON Gauge Connections

The ICON tachometer is the master device on the ICON GAUGE network. It connects to the NMEA-2000 network, obtains information from that network, and makes the data available on the ICON network. The ICON tachometer gauge comes with a matching cable assembly that connects to a multi-pin connector on the rear of the gauge housing. A number of cables and separate conductors are attached to the multi-pin connector. The several cables and conductors include:

ICON Pro RPM Gauge to NMEA-2000 Network

For connecting to the NMEA-2000 bus the tachometer gauge provides a NMEA DeviceNET Micro connector on a three-foot cable. This connects to a standard network-T on the NMEA-2000 backbone.

ICON Pro RPM Gauge to other ICON Gauges

For connection between the ICON Pro RPM gauges and other ICON gauges, a four-pin proprietary connector is used. The ICON Pro RPM gauge has a two-foot cable with the appropriate connector for connecting to the next ICON gauge. The ICON GAUGE network uses a simple daisy-chain wiring topology, with all gauges connected in series, beginning from the ICON Pro RPM gauge. A short jumper is used to connect each gauge to the preceding gauge in the string. The smaller two-inch diameter gauges have two connectors, one for input and one for output of the ICON network connection. Pre-made jumper cables connect between gauges. Each individual ICON gauge includes a jumper cable to connect it in the chain.

ICON Pro RPM Gauge Power Connection

The individual conductors for power from the ICON Pro RPM gauge are wired to the boat's power distribution panel via a circuit with a switch, or they can be operated by the engine ASSY circuit on the key ignition switch, which is usually available from the ignition key via a VIOLET conductor. Again, the ICON Pro RPM gauge must be supplied with its own power. It will also supply power to all the other ICON gauges in the string.

ICON Pro RPM Gauge to Tank Level Sensors or Other Sensors

There are several individual conductors for tank level sensors. These individual conductors are terminated in butt-join insulated crimp fittings. Conductors from remote tank level sensors are attached there.

ICON Pro Tachometer or RPM Gauge

The ICON Pro RPM gauge is a very powerful gauge; it can calculate and display all sorts of information. The engine speed is always shown on a dial pointer on a scale of 0 to 7,000-RPM, and an LCD digital readout provides additional data display. A complete list of parameters is given below:

Notes
  1. requires GPS sensor
  2. requires accessory sensor
  3. requires accessory transducer or triducer
  4. requires ICON electronic throttle and shift

The ICON Pro RPM gauge also passes on engine data to other ICON gauges connected to it via the ICON GAUGE network bus. You must have a ICON Pro RPM gauge to be able to add other ICON gauges to the ICON network. The ICON Pro RPM gauge, in addition to requiring power for its own operation, also acts as the power source for all the other ICON gauges downstream of it on the ICON gauge network. As a result, the ICON Pro RPM gauge cannot be powered via the usual NMEA-2000 network power. The ICON Pro RPM gauge requires its own dedicated power, which is typically supplied by the engine's accessory power circuit. In conventional Evinrude rigging and controls, the engine accessory power can be taken directly from the ignition key switch (via the VIOLET conductor). In Evinrude ICON control rigging an accessory relay kit is typically used to provide engine accesory power. The relay is activated whenever the E-TEC engine ignition key is switched on.

ICON Pro Speedometer Gauge

A second large dial-pointer gauge with LCD readout is the speedometer. The speedometer shows boat speed with its dial point indicator. There are two variations available, 0 to 50-MPH and 0 to 80-MPH. The speedometer gauge can also show other parameters in its LCD read out, which shows a subset of the parameters available on the ICON Pro RPM gauge. A list is given below:

Notes
  1. requires GPS sensor
  2. requires accessory sensor
  3. requires accessory paddlewheel or pitot sensor

Individual Function ICON Accessory Gauges

Dedicated individual function gauges are available in 2-inch diameter dial-pointer gauges with a 270-degree arc in the following functions:

Trim Calibration

The sensing of the E-TEC engine trim position is accomplished by the familiar variable voltage sensor or potentiometer that is mechanically linked to the engine tilt mount. The variable voltage output is used in the E-TEC to generate a digital signal on the NMEA-2000 bus for engine trim position, which is then sent out on the NMEA-2000 network and can be displayed by various devices. In the past it was possible to perform a calibration of the trim position readings so that a digital range of 0 to 100 could be optimized or calibrated for just the range of engine motion associated with a particular installation. (The maximum trim-in position is often mechanically limited in the mounting bracket by the position of a stop bar to prevent the engine from hitting the transom. This varies from boat to boat.) The raw voltage outputs were re-calibrated to the 0 to 100 range by the EMM through a software procedure. The calibration turned the raw voltage output conversion into an individual boat calibrated output. To accomplish this the EMM was re-programmed using the Evinrude diagnostic software and its trim calibration procedure. The diagnostic software was typically only available to dealers, so trim calibration was limited to a dealer function.

With the new ICON gauges, a calibration procedure is provided in the ICON Pro RPM gauge. The engine trim position can be calibrated by the user, without needing the dealer or the diagnostic software. This allows the boat owner to perform the calibration process himself, using the ICON gauge features. The ICON trim gauge will then be calibrated to the precise range of trim used on a particular boat.

I found that the trim readings on the ICON gauge and trim readings on NMEA-200 network devices could be made to match if I performed both the ICON calibration and the EMM calibration simultaneously.

Mechanical Details

ICON gauges are housed in plastic assemblies. The dial faces are covered with a domed lens. The retaining brackets are also plastic. Nylon wing nuts are used to to tighten the the brackets against the instrument panel, making installation very fast. The gauges do not have integral cables. All cables attach to the gauges via multi-pin connections. The two-inch diameter gauges have pairs of four-pin connectors. The larger gauges have 6-pin and 12-pin connectors.

Photo: Rear view of Evinrude ICON gauges showing 6-pin and 12-pin connectors on larger gagues and 4-pin connector on smaller gauges
The 3.5-inch TACHOMETER gauges has 12-pin and 6-pin connectors. The smaller 2-inch gauge (right) has paired 4-pin connectors.

Photo: Evinrude ICON gauges mounted on boat instrument panel
Evinrude ICON gauges in a mix of 2-inch and 3.5-inch gauges fill the instrument panel. Note the 270-degree arc of the dial pointer of the individual ICON basic gauges. The larger 3.5-inch ICON Pro gauges have a three-line LCD readout in addition to their dial pointer. In this single-engine installation the ICON gauges provide six full-time functions monitored with the dial pointers and two additional functions displayed in the LCD readouts, giving the operating a very comprehensive presentation of engine data. A seventh gauge, a Voltmeter, is mounted on a DC power subpanel.

The dial pointer indicators are not the usual electrical milliammeters of older gauges. The dial pointers are driven by stepper motors. The dial pointers in the two-inch gauges sweep a very long arc, about 270-degrees, giving the gauge readout very high resolution. For example, on the engine temperature gauge the dial reading ranges from 100 to 250 degrees. It is possible to interpret the dial pointer position to read the temperature from the gauge to a resolution of two or three degrees. This is much more precise presentation of engine temperature than the type analog gauge of the past. Older analog dial pointer temperature gauges typically had only a 90-degree range of movement, and may have been calibrated simply with COLD and HOT legends.

The dial pointer in the 3.5-inch ICON PRO gauges sweeps a 180-degree arc; the bottom half of the dial face is occupied by the LCD display. Below the LCD display are three pushbuttons for user input.

The LCD display can present both text and graphics. The display can show up to three lines of text of varying sizes. The normal presentation is dark text on a green background, but this can be inverted to white text on a dark background if desired.

Photo: Rear view of instrument panel shows modular wiring between gauges
All wiring between gauges is done with pre-made cable assemblies.

On-gauge Controls

The tachometer and speedometer gauges of the ICON PRO series are multi-function displays due to their LCD screens, and they are designed to accept user input via front panel push buttons for operation and configuration. There is a three-button user interface with small buttons marked with MODE, an up-arrowhead, and a down-arrowhead. The buttons are located at the bottom of the gauge and are arched to fit into the outer circumference of the gauge. The up-arrowhead and down-arrowhead buttons are used for navigating to options in menu presentations in the LCD display and for incrementing or decrementing values (such as gallons of fuel) in set-up or in operational data entry. The MODE button is a dual function button. If the MODE button is pushed and held down, it conveys a selection decision. If the MODE button is pushed momentarily, it performs an escape function, exiting the current layer when in the configuration mode, or when in the presentation mode jumping to the next event in a sequence.

Photo: MODE buttons on ICON gauge
Data entry and gauge navigation is accomplished with a three-button input panel.

The three-button input panel has replaced a five-button panel on the previous I-Command series. Initially I was somewhat wary that user input and configuration would be made more difficult due to fewer input buttons, but the three-button interface works well, once the user becomes accustomed to the dual-function of the MODE button and presses it long or short as needed. User interaction with the three-buttons in gauge configuration and operation becomes second-nature after a few minutes of use.

The ICON Pro RPM gauge can be used to input data to the E-TEC engine to initiate the WINTERIZATION process. (Initialization of the WINTERIZATION process can only occur on E-TEC engines which were designed for that function, typically only V4 or V6 engines of model-year 2008 or newer.) Information about fuel added to the fuel tank can also be input using the ICON Pro RPM gauge.

Gauge Installation

The new ICON gauges that I used are nominally the same size as the older gauges they replaced. The gauges all fit into the existing holes in my instrument panel. The older gauges had a rather wide flange at their mounting point, so if the hole size were a bit too large the gauge would tend to hide it. The new ICON gauges do not have a flange as wide as the older gauges. I found that I could help the new ICON gauges better fit into my existing holes if I added a rubber O-ring. The rubber O-ring helped to center the gauge in the mounting holes, which were a bit oversize, and also provided some sealing to keep water out. I found appropriate O-rings at my local hardware store in the plumbing department. The O-rings were described as a 2-1/8-inch diameter O-ring.

Photo: Evinrude ICON gauge side view showing mounting flange and added O-ring
The mounting flange on the ICON series gauges is smaller than most conventional gauges. I added an O-ring to better fit the gauge into the existing holes in the dashboard panel, which were a little over-size.

A gauge-to-gauge pre-made jumper cable assembly with about a 12-inch length is supplied with each of the 2-inch gauges. Longer jumpers in 18-inch and 24-inch length are available for connecting ICON gauges which are spaced farther apart. The last gauge in the string will have its empty connector sealed with a rubber plug.

Photo: ICON 2-inch gauge with only one cable connection.
The last ICON gauge in the gauge-to-gauge wiring string has its unused connector sealed with a rubber plug.

Photo: ICON gateway module
The gateway module interfaces the NMEA-2000 network to the private ESM network used with ICON remote electronic controls. At the lower right is the accessory power relay. Its power is distributed using the terminal strip to the left.

Photo: The ICON 6-port hub on the ESM network
A six-port hub for the ICON ESM network accommodates all devices on the network at the helm.

Display Options

The ICON gauges with LCD readout have many display options and users can configure the LCD readout to both select the data to be display and the manner in which it is shown. The are countless options. Even a 140-page operating instruction manual cannot encompass all the possible variations. For example, the TRIM position can be shown either as a segmented grow bar or as a numerical value. Here is the procedure to make that change:

TRIM Display Shown as Percentage

To set the ICON Pro RPM gauge so the TRIM is in percentage view, follow these steps:

  1. Press the MODE button; EDIT MENU Should be highlighted.
  2. Hold the MODE button down for about two seconds; FUEL SETUP should be highlighted.
  3. Press the <down> button two times; DISPLAY should be highlighted
  4. Hold the MODE button down for about two seconds; LIGHTING should be highlighted.
  5. Press the <down> button three times; PAGE SETUP should be highlighted.
  6. Hold the MODE button down for about two seconds; "1" should be highlighted.
  7. Press the <up> button until "5" is highlighted.
  8. Hold the MODE button down for about two seconds; The screen should show the TRIM screen with the bar.
  9. Press the <down> button once; the screen should show the TRIM screen with percentage.
  10. Hold the MODE button down for about two seconds; the screen will show SETTING SAVED!
  11. Press the MODE button four times; when the TRIM screen comes up, it will now be in percentage.

Adding New Screens or Editing Existing Screens

The default setting of the ICON Pro RPM Gauge includes only a limited number of screens, typically seven screens, as follows (and with these page numbers, I believe):

  1. Trim
  2. GPS Speed
  3. Engine Temp
  4. Water Press
  5. RPM
  6. Fuel Flow
  7. Volt

Some users may desire to display additional screens, for example to include a display of engine hours as one of the default data pages. In order to display engine hours on the ICON Pro RPM gauge, the user must modify the settings of the gauge.

(Here I will assume the user understands how to operate the ICON Pro RPM gauge, how to navigate its menus, and how to select and enter data. If the user is not familiar with those operations, see the first page of the ICON Pro Series Gauge User's Guide for more information.)

To modify the settings of the ICON Pro RPM gauge, use the EDIT MENU option.

The new page with its new data should now be available on the ICON Pro Series RPM gauge.

Guide to the Configuration Menu Structure

A guide to the configuration menu structure is presented in a separate article and may be a handy reference when working on configuration of ICON gauges.

Further Discussion

If this article has raised any questions or if you have a comment, feel free to post it to a discussion thread reserved for that purpose.

An additional article on advanced E-TEC rigging gives more details on ICON Pro gauge installation.


DISCLAIMER: This information is believed to be accurate but there is no guarantee. We do our best!

Copyright © 2011 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!

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