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Author Topic:   New ICOM Navigation System
jimh posted 04-08-2012 10:17 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
ICOM America has announced a new line of marine electronic navigation devices which they call MarineCommander. Previously ICOM has been known principally for marine radio devices. The new MarineCommander products are a rather giant leap into the marketplace of marine electronic for navigation and vessel multi-function display, along with new devices for SONAR and RADAR.

The central element of the new system is a $3,000 MPX-5000 main processor unit or MPU. An MPU can support two multi-function displays (MFD), called MXD-5000. The $1,700 MXD-5000 is described as a 12-inch display, but the resolution is noted as only 800 x 600 pixels, which seems a bit coarse for such a large display area. The display is noted as being sunlight-viewable and IPX7 submersible. The MPU seems to be a black-box chart plotter and contains the principal operating system software for the MarineCommander system.

The chart plotter function is compatible with C-MAP charts. It is my observation that C-MAP-chart-compatible chart plotters often seem to be private-label branded devices made by other electronic manufacturers. In any case, I believe that this device would be ICOM's first chart plotter.

The MarineCommander system MPU also connects to a remote GPS receiver, called an MXG-5000 via a dedicated circuit.

The MarineCommander system is designed to integrate with a black-box SONAR or fish finder, called the MXF-5000. Again, I believe that this would be ICOM's first foray into a SONAR device.

The MarineCommander system can also utilize an attached RADAR, the MXR-5000T or MXR-5000R. Once again, RADAR is a new field for ICOM.

The black box SONAR and RADAR devices connect to the MPU via a data cable, probably an ethernet arrangement. The MPU also has a NMEA-2000 port and can be connected to a vessel NMEA-2000 network backbone. The multi-function display can show NMEA-2000 engine data using preset engine display pages.

Getting back to more familiar ground, the ICOM AIS receiver MXA-5000 can also be attached to the MarineCommander system, as can the ICOM AIS transponder MA-500TR. And ICOM's VHF Marine Band radios can also be attached. The integration of the AIS and communication radios is accomplished with NMEA-0183 serial data connections to each device and the MPU. As might be expected, when the ICOM radios are integrated with this new ICOM multi-function display system, there are some enhancements for digital selective calling features provided. Received DSC messages will be shown on the display, and DSC calls can be initiated from the multi-function display.

For more information see marinecommander/default.aspx

There is a comprehensive brochure in PDF format available from the ICOM website and a video presentation.

jimh posted 04-08-2012 10:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
At first glance it looks like a minimum configuration is one MXP-5000 MPU and one MXD-5000 MFD, with a cost of $4,700. There apparently is no chart cartography included, so add another $500 for some C-MAP chart data. You also must buy a GPS module. I suspect that will be about $250. This puts a base system of an ICOM MarineCommander at $5,450. You will have an 800x600 color display with a chart plotter, but no SONAR. The MarineCommander seems a bit pricey.
jimh posted 04-08-2012 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is a good wiring diagram that show the entire MarineCommander system with all possible ICOM modules attached:

Wiring diagram

[Click to enlarge]

Jessielove posted 04-09-2012 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jessielove  Send Email to Jessielove     
I wonder if an autopilot is planned for future inclusion in the product line?
jimh posted 04-09-2012 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for reminding me about the auto-pilot function. That is another area of marine electronics in which ICOM will be breaking new ground for the engineers. An auto-pilot system is a very interesting application. It is a control system in which the system needs to have some sophistication. I think the better auto-pilot systems have some fuzzy logic or some intelligence built into them so they are aware of, or they can learn, or they compensate for the behavior of the boat in terms of its response to its rudder. It seems like the better auto-pilots are engineered and designed from application experience.

Can ICOM go from being a designer and manufacturer of simple FM radios to a system integrator of all sorts of marine electronics in one product evolution? I guess the market will give us the answer.

Jefecinco posted 04-10-2012 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Hiring people with specific engineering talent and experience away from firms which enjoy much success in the autopilot business would seem like doing it the American Way.


jimh posted 04-11-2012 08:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The main processor unit in the ICOM MarineCommander system appears to have a large number of NMEA-0183 serial ports. The diagram (above) shows four other devices connected via NMEA-0183. That is a lot of point-to-point serial data connection. The connected devices are mostly radio devices.

I was hoping that perhaps ICOM would engineer NMEA-2000 connectivity into their VHF Marine Band radios. That would be a nice feature, and the marketplace needs more options for a VHF Marine Band radio with NMEA-2000.

6992WHALER posted 04-16-2012 10:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
My boat had an ICOM GP-270ML GPS mounted when I purchased it. I believe the internal battery died the first season so I never had a chance to see if it was any good. It was not WAAS compatible so I did not send it in for repair.

For its time it looked pretty sophisticated.

jimh posted 04-16-2012 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The ICOM GP-270ML appears to be just a GNSS receiver. It is not a chart plotter, from what I can tell.
6992WHALER posted 04-16-2012 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
The ICOM GP-270ML High Resolution Graphic Receiver had a primitive world base map that looks similar to my Garmin chart plotter's maps when I have not unlocked the chart. It showed coast lines and water. It did have thousands of navigational aids that displayed on the base map. I never used it on the coast so I never really had a chance to see what it could do.

Looking at the owners manual 2001, two things jumped out at me. 1: the ability to have the unit take and record fixes at set times. That would be nice for a long dead reckoning cruise. 2: The ability to set it to navigate to or create way-points in LORAN C

It had the ability to communicate with the Simrad auto pilot installed on the boat.

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