Panbo

Actisense EMU-1, analog engine gauges to NMEA 2000 happiness

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 13, 2013

Actisense_EMU-1_install_cPanbo.jpgIt's great to test an unusual device that promises to do something new and desirable for the good vessel Gizmo and find out that it installs fairly easily and works quite well. That Actisense EMU-1 is now converting the analog gauge data from the boat's 14-year-old Volvo Penta diesel into NMEA 2000 messages that can be displayed in multiple ways on most any MFD or instrument screen on board and can also be custom alarmed and logged. I'm going to be better informed about my engine's health, which is very important, while also gaining some scarce helm panel real estate for better uses than dumb analog gauges...

Volvo_Penta_engine_gauges_on_Gizmo_cPanbo_.jpgI'm too conservative to totally remove Gizmo's old gauges (like the set above at the lower helm), but I'm already confident enough of the EMU-1 data that I plan to move them to an obscure location when I do a "glass bridge" makeover this winter. Incidentally, one neat nuance of the EMU-1 is that each of its 6 gauge channels can automatically sense the presence of an analog sibling, adjusting its calibration curve to suit and also sending power to the sender if needed. If the old coolant temperature gauge (upper left) fails, for instance, the EMU will still deliver the temp information if the sender is working, at least theoretically...and if the EMU or N2K network fail, the gauge will still work. This is a semi-redundancy I like!  (The three trouble lights and their associated audio alarms are a different deal, which I'll explain further down.)

Actisense_EMU_Config_Tool_cPanbo.jpgThe most tedious part of the install was attaching all those skinny alarm, gauge, and tach signal wires seen on the EMU-1 terminals (top photo) to the appropriate wires on the back of the old gauge panel. Removing the panel made the job easier, and I also used 3M Scotchlok IDC tap connectors that will eventually get their own Panbo entry. Then came the exciting moment when I fired up both the Volvo Penta (whose ignition now also activates the EMU-1) and the EMU Config Tool software above. (It's necessary to have an Actisense NGT-1 Gateway between the boat's N2K network and whatever PC you use, but there are numerous other good uses for the gateway, like feeding boat info to a compatible charting or instrument program.) 

The Tool is pretty straightforward; drop-down menus let you specify which signal is attached to which terminal and then select possible gauge calibration profiles. There's not much custom calibration possible until Actisense adds it (planned) but in most cases the digital signals seem to match my analog gauge readings pretty well. The exception is coolant temperature, which is reading about 15° high (I have a Maretron temp sensor on the block, which confirms the analog gauge). I look forward to getting the temp numbers right as the Config Tool evolves, but in truth, the number I'm getting is quite usable because it's consistent. I also had to fiddle with RPM ratio until it matched (what I've always considered) tachometer reality, and that was it...   

Actisense_EMU-1_output_in_NMEA_Reader_cPanbo.jpgOn Gizmo there are umteen ways to display N2K info, but for the real nitty-gritty there's nothing like Actisense's NMEA Reader (or Maretron's N2KAnalyzer). All the PGN's (messages) from SRC (source) 13 on the screen above are coming from the EMU-1 and the right-hand window is a breakdown of the "Engine Parameters, Dynamic" PGN 127489. Engine RPM, Boost Pressure, and Tilt/Trim are in the "Engine, Rapid Update" PGN going out every 0.1 seconds and naturally Gizmo's Transmission Oil Pressure is in the "Transmission, Dynamic" message. This is a great way to see what a device like the EMU-1 is doing, and what else it could do (if I had the appropriate sensors).

Garmin_7212_engine_gauges_cPanbo.jpgNow here's how fancy some of that same data can be displayed, in this case on a Garmin GPSMap 7212, which even asked me if I'd like to set the engine's maximum RPM when it first saw the EMU-1 tachometer message. Newer Garmin displays like the GPSMap 741 and the GMI 20 Instrument (Panbo look here) will automatically select gauge types based on the PGNs received, though none would put up a Transmission Oil Pressure dial (even though the numeric data can be shown no problem). Garmin also lets you set limits on each digital gauge and is probably the best at deciphering and showing the "trouble lights," which are associated with those alarm switch terminals on the EMU-1. (If Gizmo's ignition is on without the engine running, the low oil pressure warning above "lights" up, and I was able to confirm the over temperature alarm by temporarily setting it to "low" with the Config Tool.) 

Raymarine_e7_engine_gauges_cPanbo.jpgBut while you can't change which gauges are shown on Garmin engine windows, you do all sorts of modifications to the Raymarine e7 screen seen above. Except that the only gauge for which you can customize the limits is RPM. Sometimes this is not important, but when, say, the fixed engine voltage dial goes from 0 to 60v, that's not very useful for monitoring a 12v alternator. The good news is that every N2K display developer is doing a better job with engine info than they used to and that trend may even speed up as devices like the EMU-1 (and Ray's new ECI-100) proliferate.

Furuno_TZT14_engine_gauges_cPanbo.jpgI haven't yet fooled with the gauge capabilities of the Furuno NavNet TZT14, but I do like how it can display the engine's "nickname" and also the look of the customized tachometer. And while I'm not sure why the TZT wasn't showing oil pressure at the time of the screenshot, it does show fine on the Furuno RD33 screen (Panbo hands-on here). Neither will show Transmission Oil Pressure, but again, that's probably something Furuno will add in good time (or I missed somehow).

Simrad NSE engine gauges cPanbo.jpgWhile the Simrad NSS and NSE engine screen dials may be fixed, you can put any N2K data field available into a gauge and configure both its low and high limits and warnings. Nice! (After the screenshot I was able to program the left and right bar graphs to show Gizmo's port and starboard fuel tank levels, and also to find valid data for those blank fields.)

Actisense_EMU-1_output_Maretron_cPanbo.jpgI don't think that any company offers as much gauge customization as Maretron, but frankly all this experimentation left me wondering how much screen real estate users will want to give up in order to duplicate old style analog dials? Personally, I'd always like to have a good tach in view, but I wonder what happened to space-efficient gauge ideas like what the Simrad CX sported in 2006? I've also come to realize that well-defined alarms that really get my attention are way better than numbers or needles that I'm supposed to monitor. Maretron is ahead in this department, too, and I'll explain the niceties of the righthand screen above in a future entry. But I believe that sophisticated and flexible alarming will come to many N2K devices eventually. In fact, I think it's quite possible that Actisense will eventually add custom N2K warnings and alerts right into the EMU-1 box. There's so much possible when a PC programmable box can put simple analog data into meaningful NMEA 2000 messages.

That's not to say that the Actisense EMU-1 couldn't be very useful on many boats right now. Gizmo has had two major engine coolant failures during my four years of ownership, and either one could have cost me a great deal of money had the engine overtemp alarm not warned me at the last moment or if I'd been in a less friendly spot to shut down and cool off. With the EMU-1 and a custom N2K alert system (like Maretron's) I can get an early warning of engine temperature just above normal. Ditto for engine and transmission oil pressures, which I can also now monitor on the flying bridge (instead of this). And note that I think the EMU-1 can even support added sensors, like perhaps a redundant temp probe on block, and will be able to do even more once the two auxilary inputs are enabled.
   As for competition, I haven't heard anything recently about the Albatross Control Systems adapters I tried in 2009 and apparently Rose Point Navigation has decided not to release the analog engine adapter for which I saw neat calibration and gauging back in 2011. On the other hand, the NoLand RS11 CANbus Engine Data Converter that Panbot Adam Block once wrote about is now NMEA 2000 certified and sounding pretty powerful. It has, for instance, a way to reset the engine hour field it sends out after install, a feature I hope Actisense will add.
   I suspect that the $455 EMU-1 is easier to install than the $280 RS11 (and it has more inputs), but then again, I probably spent nearly a day getting the one on Gizmo working right. In fact, this type of device seems like a good opportunity for professional installers who could probably get the job done quickly and well, once they understood all the steps (Gemeco, which also stocks all this gear, can help). There are a lot of analog marine engines out there that could use better attention in their waning years, and a lot are on boats that already have displays that could at least do some of the monitoring job now and will likely get better at it in the future. 

NoLand RS11 analog engine to NMEA 2000.jpg

Comments

Ben,

I am waiting now for installation of a new analog engine gauge to NMEA2000 from Alba (Albatross). Don't know if yet available in the US but unit quite capable and has a good price. You can find more details in their website: http://www.albacombi.com/.

Have been looking at doing this for quite some time and finally will be doing it on my boat.

Rolando

Posted by: Rolando at October 13, 2013 10:24 PM | Reply

Thanks, Rolando! I didn't know about the new Alba Combi and it looks very powerful indeed.

Readers should note that the Combi has 12 sensor channels that can apparently do all the engine stuff discussed above plus tanks, battery shunts, and much more. It also has an Ethernet port and built-in Web server with config software that has standard sensor profiles, custom calibration, and more control of NMEA 2000 PGN output than I've seen in any of the analog-to-N2K converters. Plus the server can supply realtime monitoring to PC's, tablets, etc.

In fact, the Alba Combi reminds me that I forgot to include the Chetco Digital product family, which together can convert analog engine and data to N2K and also to IP and even to cloud storage and monitoring. Chetco was a big player at IBEX and NMEA, entry coming.

http://www.chetcodigital.com/

Rolando, please let us know how your Alba Combi works out.

Posted by: Ben at October 14, 2013 8:05 AM | Reply

Hi Ben,

I have had quite bad experience with older version of Noland RS-11, two of them were replaced in a short period of time, and replacements eventually stopped reading RPM impulses at all... I was impatient to test Actisense EMU-1 and first setup was on Honda BF90 outboard (nice engine but no N2K). Clean, fast, simple and efficient configuration, and it works steady (for now :)... Anyhow, still without subtitles, here is demonstration video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM4AGIqkX98

Posted by: Petar Maksimovic at October 14, 2013 9:32 AM | Reply

Ben - I had installed a Noland RS-11 on my last boat. Worked great for engine rpm once I found the number of teeth on the flywheel. But getting it to work for engine temp and oil pressure was a challenge. The Noland used the voltage wire from the back of the gauge. But the problem I had was that overall boat 12v actual voltage is highly variable. It'll drop under 12v when I'm at the dock and the engine heaters cycle on. Up on plane it'll be close to 13v. This voltage delta would manifest itself in the readings on the Noland.

Seems that my Faria gauges actually work on some voltage delta between the boat's main 12v feed and the return from the sender so are tolerant of changes in the boat's 12v supply. Since the Noland used only the sender voltage, it wasn't really reliable.

Does the Actisense or the above-mentioned Alba Combi have the ability to distinguish between voltage change due to the sender vs voltage change due to shift in the boat's 12v supply?

Posted by: Evan at October 14, 2013 9:38 AM | Reply

Hi Evan, Afraid I don't have similar circumstances and don't know the answer to your question. I do know that the EMU-1 has opto isolation between the N2K power and the device power (Alba too), and the recommended way to supply the latter is from the engine ignition (which I did). Once started, my engine battery voltage doesn't vary much at all, regardless of RPM and load.

Hopefully someone from Actisense can address your question.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Evan at October 14, 2013 10:57 AM | Reply

Petar, you have a future in film! For instance, hurling the Actisense box off screen is a cool move we don't normally see in videos like this. But English subtitles or overdub please.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Petar Maksimovic at October 14, 2013 11:34 AM | Reply

I have had similar problems related to the fluctuating voltage when trying to get reliable and consistent data from the Noland RS-11. I tried installing it a few years ago. Noland support was trying to be helpful but we had to give up on it. I too am interested to see if the Actisense handles the voltage fluctuation better.
And it would be great if the multi-function display manufacturers improved there software by not only showing pretty gauges but by adding function by enabling alarms as backup to the standard gauges. I know Maretron has this, but it would be much better if it was just part of the Major manufactures displays.

Posted by: James in reply to Evan at October 14, 2013 11:42 AM | Reply

Hey guys.
I can confirm the EMU-1 is tolerant of battery voltage fluctuations. You will see accurate gauge readings regardless of any changes in battery voltage. So you won't have the same problems you are getting with the RS-11.

Vlad, Actisense Tech Support

Posted by: Actisense Tech Support at October 14, 2013 12:32 PM | Reply

Subtitles are on their way, will post an update here :)

James, you should address noland to supply you voltage stabilizers for your unit (did that for mine once), it should resolve issue in installation without gauges...

As far as I could tell (from Actisense user manual) EMU-1 has similar circuts installed, and should work with or without gauges installed properly...

Posted by: Petar Maksimovic in reply to Ben at October 14, 2013 2:22 PM | Reply

Ben,

Thanks for the great post as usual. This is an area of great interest to me. While I have analog gauges for my engines, it would be nice to have gauges for the genny too. Being able to display this data on an ipad while sitting on a mooring would be really nice.

I am very interested in the Chetco device. I really look forward to a post on that unit.

Have you checked to see if the PGNs from the engine data are all being routed through your WatchMate Vision to an iPad, etc.?

Thanks again,
Matt

Posted by: Matt in reply to Ben at October 14, 2013 4:17 PM | Reply

Hello Ben,
I have a 1997 Searay 330 Express Cruiser powered by Merc 7.4 Bluewater MPIs. Will an analog to NMEA 2000 converter work with this system? I am planning an upgrade to gauges and automation for the winter layup and would like to know where to start. I do automation in homes and offices and would like to add the same functionality to my boat. I would like to go to an all glass display, but want more than plugging into an off the shelf MFD. Are you aware of a product that can integrate engine and fuel monitoring, cameras, internet, sound, security, lighting control, chartplotting, HVAC control, and remote access to all? I do it all the time in homes, but do not know where to start for boats.
Please let me know if you have a recommendation.
Thank you,
Adam

Posted by: Adam Surjan at October 14, 2013 7:57 PM | Reply

Adam,
you should be able to do proper conversion from SmartCraft to NMEA2000 with Mercury NMEA2000 Gateway: http://www.brunswick-marine.com/media/486726/gateway%20sell%20sheet.pdf

I have installed one of those this year to Mercury 5.7 MPI on Sundancer 2006 an it works just fine, sending not only engine RPM, but also Fuel flow rate and other engine informations...

Posted by: Petar Maksimovic at October 15, 2013 7:15 AM | Reply

Matt, Sorry if I confused you about the Vesper WatchMate Vision. I don't think it actually passes any PGN's over WiFi. That's because there is no standardized way to package the PGNs on Ethernet that the apps developers have adopted.

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2013/08/hands_on_vesper_vision_class_b_ais_superstar_.html

So what the Vision (and Navico GoFree and others) does is to translate certain PGN's back into NMEA 0183, for which there is apparently an informal standard. So far I think Vision only does AIS and Heading, but they plan to add standard data like Depth and Wind. GoFree does lots more:

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2013/08/wifi_mfds_navico_gofree_promises_more_than_met.html

Chetco SeaSmart is different. Chetco started with a focus on converting analog engine data to digital and now they're to the point where their systems can push the resulting IP data into the cloud (whenever a connection is available) where it can be reviewed and analyzed. Check out some demos:

http://www.seasmart.net/marine-wireless-networking-WebSites.html

I think Chetco is using real PGN's but that means that few third party apps can deal with it. Then again this will all get straightened out when NMEA finishes the OneNet Standard in about two years. Chetco, Actisense, and many others are involved in that effort so I am hopeful that stuff they are doing now is going to transition to OneNet without too much pain.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Matt at October 15, 2013 10:09 AM | Reply

Yes Ben, NMEA OneNet cannot come soon enough to help resolve all of the current issues with sharing NMEA 2000 data over Ethernet in a standardised way.

We have been on the working group for 3 years now - progress can appear to be slow but it's a very large undertaking that has to be done right first time and getting the whole of the industry to embrace it is no simple task.

Adam: Please look at our EMU Config Tool for a complete list of the currently supported gauges/senders. If your gauges are already on the list then the EMU-1 will work immediately, if not we can add your measurements to our gauge/sender database.

Posted by: Andy Campbell at October 16, 2013 5:41 AM | Reply

Thanks again, Ben.
Hmmm... this stuff is a lot more complicated than I thought.
So, if I have a WatchMate Vision (which I use to provide AIS data via WiFi to an iPad for display on iNavx at my second helm (and it works fabulously)), how can I also display engine data on that same iPad without switching between two WiFi networks on the same boat? Would I need to get a separate router, wirelessly connect the Vision to that router, and connect an engine gateway to the router? From your Vision entry, it looks like maybe it could do this.
Perhaps I could do this with a hotspot to provide Internet access too?
While underway a few weeks ago, I realized what a pain it is to switch Wifi connections on the iPad between the Vision and my hotspot when I needed to download new charts to iNavx.
Sorry for all of the questions.
And a sincere thank you for vastly increasing my knowledge on marine electronics,
Matt

Posted by: Matt in reply to Ben at October 16, 2013 7:24 AM | Reply

Hi Ben,

Thank you for alerting us of the responses on the Panbo Forum.

The negative comments about the RS11 were legitimate and apply to the earlier versions, primarily due to non-isolated CANbus/Engine power. Those problems have been eliminated in the" v4" design released early this year (2013).

Best regards,

Mike

Posted by: noland_mike at October 16, 2013 12:06 PM | Reply

Adam, I think that what you may be looking for is Maretron N2KView, which should play fine with the output of the EMU-1 (or another analog-to-N2K engine translator). N2KView does not include charting, radar, etc. but you could run a PC program like Nobeltec Trident or Coastal Explorer on the same PC(s) and monitors. Expect it all to be more complicated and expensive than a home system, though.

http://www.maretron.com/products/N2KView.php

Posted by: Ben in reply to Adam Surjan at October 16, 2013 5:51 PM | Reply

Used to have the same issues on my rs11-s
Support from Noland was great, but some issuses remained.

Moved over to emu-1 this spring.
Unit is working great and support is god also

Posted by: Hendrik in reply to noland_mike at October 17, 2013 1:00 PM | Reply

Ben,

Not to go off-topic, but the 3M Scotchlok connectors you referred to may not be a good solution - a phone call to 3M today confirmed they are designed for solid wire only, not stranded.
Its always tempting to use these type of "quickie" products, especially given the amount of tinkering you do! But I think a permanent installation is still best done with traditional crimped, heat-shrunk eye terminals in the marine environment, tedious as that can be in cramped spaces. Maybe your upcoming entry will convince me otherwise... Great article on the EMU-1 nonetheless, looking forward to installing it on a vessel soon.

Posted by: Grant at October 17, 2013 1:19 PM | Reply

Thank you for the great feedback - it's heartening to hear that our product support is being received so well. Comprehensive support of all our products is very important to us.

That level of support and product design has helped us win "Product of the Year 2013" for the EMU-1 from the BMEA (British Marine Electronics Association).

Posted by: Andy Campbell at October 18, 2013 5:38 AM | Reply

The SmartCraft gateway is only for SmartCraft engines. I think the first SmartCraft engines was 2002? So older engines need analogue to digital converters.

But I might get my dad the Emu-1 for Christmas :) but it is a pain in the... that you need a $200-$300 USB gateway to configure them. That is one of the stupid issues with NMEA 2000 - that still has not been "fixed"

Posted by: Kasper Larsen in reply to Petar Maksimovic at October 19, 2013 1:54 AM | Reply

Unfortunately you are right. The EMU needs the Actisense USB dongle, to configure a Maretron compass you need one of their displays (more expensive than the compass) or one of their gateways. The software update for the B&G Triton display asks for a B&G MFD or some dealer tools, and .. so .. on.

But I think our complaint misses the point. N2K is an effort for the manufacturers to collectivize the part of the development where they cannot differentiate themselves. Where there is potential for differentiation, N2K is degraded to a physical cable. Interoperability is more a collateral benefit, and openness a collateral damage. And for the dealers, for the bigger ones it makes sense to have all this toolls and amortize them over time, also coming with some nice revenue.

NMEA is the association of dealers and manufacturers, not clients, so nothing else to expect, and rightly so.

Posted by: Peter in reply to Kasper Larsen at October 19, 2013 11:05 AM | Reply

Peter, I think maybe you left out the part about an "association of dealers and manufacturers" that is trying to sell gear to consumers, and also the fact that NMEA includes parties like the USCG and RTCM whose primary interest is safety at sea.

Kaspar, check out the AlbaCombi discussed in the first comments. It's an analog-to-N2K converter with a built-in Ethernet/Web interface for set up, firmware updates, and monitoring. No gateway needed:

http://www.albacombi.com/

I spent some time learning more about the Combi this morning, the YouTube videos included, and it seems like a very advanced design, though I don't yet know its cost or whether it will be sold and supported in the USA. (Might be an opportunity there for some company?)

Posted by: Ben in reply to Peter at October 19, 2013 2:03 PM | Reply

The 3m connectors have been around for years(30?) in the telecom industry and work well on solid telephone wire 18 to 26 ga.Anything else,not so much.
Raymarine used to include these with GPS I think.I had too many bad connections.
The first thing I would do is throw out all the 3M connectors!

Posted by: Peter C. at October 20, 2013 11:09 AM | Reply

Hi Kasper,

You are correct that to interface a PC to NMEA 2000 you need an NMEA 2000 PC interface (NGT-1), however when you look at the number of uses the NGT-1 can be put to, you might see it's true value goes way beyond just configuring and upgrading the EMU-1:

1. Diagnostics - the NGT-1 helps you find issues with -any- NMEA 2000 device using our freely available NMEA Reader PC software. The log recordings captured by NMEA Reader are used by a number of manufacturer support technicians to help diagnose issues remotely - which can be a massive advantage.

2. PC Chart-plotter software - all of the big chart-plotting software suites (Coastal Explorer, Expedition, Nobeltec's various suites, Maxsea Timezero, Fugawi, Polarview, MacENC etc.) use the NGT-1 to read NMEA 2000 data and display it on their GUIs. Some also send NMEA 2000 messages back to the bus to make the NMEA 2000 data even richer.

3. PC software - compatibility with the NGT-1 goes far beyond chart-plotting software as can be seen by the compatibility list. There are even more developers and hobbyists using the NGT-1 that are not yet on the list.

4. Configuration - all Actisense NMEA 2000 devices are configurable (or will be) via the NGT-1. In addition, other manufacturer's (such as Victron Energy and Airmar) use the NGT-1 to configure and interface to their own devices as well.

5. Flash upgrade - the EMU-1 can be upgraded via the NMEA 2000 bus using the NGT-1. The NGT-1 and NGW-1 will also be remotely upgradable in the same way next year. Victron Energy also use the NGT-1 to upgrade their products over the NMEA 2000 bus.

We are constantly striving to get more NMEA 2000 manufacturer's and PC software developers to use our NGT-1 in the hope that it will become the only NMEA 2000 tool you will need to use. We are also trying to reduce the manufacturing costs (without impacting on quality) to make it a simpler purchase decision.

Posted by: Andy Campbell at October 21, 2013 5:42 AM | Reply

This is very good news. The more N2K enables to mix and match the best equipment of various manufacturers, the better.

Posted by: Peter Daum in reply to Andy Campbell at October 21, 2013 10:12 AM | Reply

Hi Andy. I have an NGT-1 and considering purchasing a EGU-1 for my Yanmar JH-3. I also use the NGT-1 with my PB-200 Airmar WeatherStation and it works great, as well as with other chartplotter programs mentioned.

Question: I also have a TLM-100 Tank Level Monitor from Maretron and have the problem Peter mentions above, namely, it takes a Maretron DSM-250 ($800) or N2KView ($450) to configure a simple $150 sensor. Ouch!

Is it not possible for Actisense to upgrade your NGT-1 software to handle these tasks, or is such configuration capability proprietary and not accessible to you?

If it is, then this really makes it impossible to "mix and match" NMEA 2000 devices without investing a fortune in configuration "tools" that are used only once!

Posted by: Michael Jabara in reply to Andy Campbell at November 7, 2013 11:12 AM | Reply

You pose a good question: does NMEA 2000 include generic ways of configuring (and firmware updating) NMEA 2000 devices?

The answer is in part yes: there are a number of parameters that can be configured directly using standard NMEA 2000 PGNs, however it is no where near complete which is why the NMEA 2000 working group has been endeavouring to create a few 'Config Specific' PGNs that can be used by all manufacturers in the future. This is a complicated subject as each manufacturer and each device has disparate requirements of such a generic interface so it will take time.

Without a standard, each manufacturer has naturally had to implement their own method for configuration and firmware updating. However, we are working hard to get as many manufacturer's and software developers as possible to use our NGT-1 so the number of configuration "tools" is kept to a minimum. The NGT-1 SDK is freely available to any such company and is fully supported.

To give you an example of how things are (slowly improving), one such company is Victron Energy that uses our NGT-1 for firmware updating and configuration. We have both been working with the NMEA over the past 3-4 months to finalise a generic method for allowing PGN 'instances' to be configurable using standard NMEA 2000 PGNs. This work will allow NMEA Reader to change PGN 'instances' in any device that supports this new generic method.

I understand the frustration that progress is not faster, we wish it was faster too and will continue to push such changes through.

Could I ask you to record the NMEA 2000 PGN messages using NMEA Reader when you are configuring your TLM-100? That plus a screenshot of the 'Network View' tab to show details of each device on the bus and the precise configuration change each of your requests is performing.

Posted by: Andy Campbell at November 8, 2013 7:41 AM | Reply

Michael, I checked the TML-100 manual and it looks like you can also do complete configuration using a Maretron USB100 (about $250 street price) and free N2KAnalyzer software. I agree it's not the ideal situation where you already have an N2K Gateway, but I'm glad to hear from Andy that things are progressing.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Michael Jabara at November 8, 2013 9:23 AM | Reply

Hi Ben,

Just to update on the AlbaCombi installation on my boat. Upon discussions with installer I found that the Alba today cannot handle the PGN's needed for engine transmissions. We contacted Alba and they will be adding these to the unit. When they complete the programming I will install and let you know how its working. After seeing many others I still feel its a very competitive unit especially given the easy configuration via the ethernet port without the requirements of anything else such as a Maretron USB100.

Posted by: Rolando at November 15, 2013 3:57 AM | Reply


Interesting Rolanda,

I also have a AlbaCombi unit on the bench here to test.

Posted by: Batteryman at November 26, 2013 1:35 PM | Reply

For those of you with either the ActiSense, AlbaCombi or SeaSmart, how are you liking them?

Sorry for hijacking the thread, but I'm looking for the following and can't figure out which way to go:

- NMEA 2000 logging of existing data (I have fuel flow, trim tab sensors and GPS and would like to be able to analyze fuel consumption at different speeds and trim tab use)
- Love to be able to sync logged data to the cloud to access at home later
- Add engine monitoring to NMEA 2000
- Wifi/ethernet for access to Fusion radio, Garmin 8000 Chartplotter, and link to Marina wi-fi.

Is there 1 device that does all this, or do I need multiple devices?

Posted by: Greg at March 3, 2014 4:37 PM | Reply

I have now finished some extensive testing of the Albacombi unit, and I am very impressed.

In my test I had the unit connected to the rear of the lower helm dash on my Sealine F33 flybridge. The calibration process is very simple, and I was able to get very close matching data to the analogue dials in just an hour or so. The web interface allows for easy custom tweaking of the settings and data curves in real time.

The output then feeds two Raymarine e7 screens, one on each helm position, and I am much happier with the accurate readings I get now, compared with the previous RS11 v4 setup.

Posted by: Batteryman in reply to Batteryman at March 5, 2014 3:30 AM | Reply

Thanks for the update Batteryman. I have a few questions on the Alba Combi which hopefully Panbo readers can help with. I am thinking of replacing the analogue gauges at the lower helm station on a 44ft Flybridge Sportsfisher with a MFD/NMEA 2000 (probably Raymarine) display but leaving the analogue gauges at the upper helm. Would the Alba cope with removing the lower helm set of VDO 12v gauges from the system? Second question. Are their standard profiles for VDO 12v rpm, oil pressure and water temperature gauges? Engines are 2003 Cat 3126 300hp versions. Cheers Dave

Posted by: Retro at May 3, 2014 1:42 AM | Reply

Hi Dave,

A good Engine Monitoring Unit has to be 'invisible' to the gauges in order to work correctly so it cannot change or influence how the senders and gauges work - it monitors them without them ever knowing. That means if you are swapping from a dual gauge setup to a single gauge setup you will need to change the senders on your engine from dual-gauge senders to single-gauge senders.

I cannot speak for Alba (hopefully Ben can) but our EMU-1 has a full set of VDO 12v gauge settings that can be used for all of those senders/gauges.

Posted by: Andy Campbell at May 6, 2014 4:52 AM | Reply

Retro,

I answer to your questions.

The unit has a number of standard profiles for VDO and other guage/sensor types. It is however very easy to generate a custom graph of your own, and with many data points on the line, you can generate nice accurate matching curves.
The unit also has the ability to cope with voltage fluctuations.

Posted by: Batteryman in reply to Retro at June 18, 2014 3:32 AM | Reply

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