NMEA 2000, why the big fees?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 7, 2005

If you go to the NMEA Web site and click on “NMEA 2000 Info”, the very first thing you’ll learn is how expensive it is to use the standard. These fees piss off small developers no end. (And isn’t it poor marketing on the part of NMEA? Why not have some good dope there about how the standard works and what it can do?) But the fees are there to finance the infrastructure needed to truly support a complex plug’n’play standard. For instance, I recently heard that updating the software certification tool that assures compatability will cost something like $200,000.

Meanwhile, I was out on Sunday checking out the benefits of that compatability again, and looking foolish. (Is there a geekier 14’ outboard afloat?) Now I have the laptop mounted, also sharing data fine, though currently the Maretron gateway translates 2000 into 0183 because no PC program reads NMEA 2000 directly. That’s going to change, and I’m told that eventually thousands of independent programmers will be using 2000 data to build boat applications we haven’t imagined yet.

NMEA2000 Gizmo



Correct, small developers such as myself cannot afford large fees. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Garmin moving away from NMEA with their own network? I know their cheaper GPS do not support the current NMEA standard.

Posted by: GPSNavX at June 7, 2005 9:47 PM | Reply

That is the geekiest 14 footer out there for sure. Now all you need is some of that Maine fog to put that laptop into a coma. I can only imagine the looks you're getting as you cruise along

Posted by: Eli at June 8, 2005 1:41 AM | Reply

I'd say Garmin MarineNet is a lot like Furuno NavNet--good support for NMEA 0183, but no NMEA 2000 so far. Garmin says they'll support 2000 if there's customer demand, and I'd guess they might start feeling that pretty soon.

I doubt Garmin or Furuno is going to freely open their Ethernet code to a software developer like you; it would be some sort of fee or partnership arrangement. But aren't you excited that as 2000 really gets out there, you are going to get the ability to read anything on the bus regardless of manufacturer...no multiplexing, no friggin around?

Posted by: Ben at June 8, 2005 2:16 AM | Reply

Thanks, Eli. I recently acquired a nice all cotton, black propeller beanie that has yet to see the light of day, but might complete the look quite nicely. (PS. I carry nitro tablets for the laptop, just in case).

Posted by: Ben at June 8, 2005 2:21 AM | Reply

Ben Wrote, "That�s going to change, and I�m told that eventually thousands of independent programmers will be using 2000 data to build boat applications we haven�t imagined yet."

Ben, who is telling you this and how do they justify the statement. I am an independent programmer and engineer and certainly won't spend the money to get me stuff on the NMEA-2000 bus.

Thanks for the great website!

Pete Dubler

Posted by: Pete Dubler at January 26, 2006 7:19 PM | Reply

Pete, My understanding is that PC software developers do not have to go through the expense of NMEA 2000 certification. That's because the certified interface box (so far the only one available is made by Maretron) takes care of vetting the messages and protecting the network. I guess you may have to pay for documentation of the message structures, which I understand is irritating (it seems like NMEA should freely publish the PGMs), but then you can build whatever NMEA 2000 aware app you want.

Posted by: Ben at January 26, 2006 8:02 PM | Reply

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