SmartCraft NMEA 2000 gateway, looking good

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 29, 2009

Never mind that Mercury promised a NMEA 2000 gateway to its SmartCraft engine monitoring system back in 2001, the one it's poised to actually ship in 2010 looks quite powerful and useful.  If you check out the Gateway PDF above linked to this MercMonitor gauge page, you'll see that it can deliver a whole lot of engine messages to your N2K displays.  Plus it turns out that a gent named Glen Ersly has installed a prototype system and written about it in some depth...

Glen runs a great Web resource called the Verado Owners Group, as well as Electronics Unlimited's site, and he seems to be having a good time experimenting with gadgets on his twin 250 center console Reel Estate.  A couple of months ago he detailed the install of a MercMonitor and Gateway on the Verado site, and also on the Hull Truth, and he's been answering questions in both places since.  Plus he recently installed Garmin's new Bennett Trim Tab analog-to-N2K adaptor and a GMI 10, and chucked his old trim indicator.
   SmartCraft has always seemed a powerful system, as did its proprietary gateway to MFDs of the Navico brands that parent company Brunswick once owned, but it was still annoying that it wouldn't integrate with NMEA 2000 when both are CANbus-based networks. Apparently those days are almost over, and I dare guess that the possibilities will be stimulating.  Thousands of boaters will get new options for how they mind their engines, and what data they get to see.  For instance, not only can SmartCraft fuel flow info be calculated into MPG, range, etc. by many MFDs, but the gateway also means that N2K GPS data flows back to the SmartCraft displays like Vessel View so MPG, etc. can be calculated there too (lots more on that subject here).
   Plus the gateway will mean that boat builders who use any of Mercury's many propulsion packages, which notably include both Axius and Zeus drive technologies, will have a lot more flexibility about how they design their helm electronics.  Which may stimulate other engine manufacturers to play better with NMEA 2000, and stimulate the electronics guys to improve the engine data display abilities in their MFDs and all-in-one instruments.  It's all good.

Reel_Estate_dash_courtesy_Verado_Owners.JPG PS  Glen used N2KBuilder to sketch out the system above...



By the way, I understand that the Gateway will start at about $400 for a single engine. Also, a big thanks to AaronH for first letting us know about this development on an entry about the new Garmin 6- and 7000 series:

Posted by: Ben at December 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Reply

Nice, Ben (and Glen). I saw this and also mounted the Bennett adapter. I think it's now up to the MFD mfrs to give us more flexibility in what PGN we want to show on the engine screen or better yet, the corner data boxes now avail for other items.

Posted by: gene at December 28, 2009 12:54 PM | Reply

So, will this be backwards compatable with smartcraft from older boats/engines or just on future production models? I have a 2007 Sea Ray with smartcraft system view and two Raymarine E 120 mfd's and would very much like to use the Raymarine units for displaying engine info and other stuff that the system view currently displays.

Posted by: Mark at December 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Reply

The Gateway is compatible with all SmartCraft engines, I think. This PDF lists the data points various Mercury engines can send to the MercMonitor:

Posted by: Ben at December 28, 2009 1:22 PM | Reply

I noticed on Glen's board he has also figured out the new gauge will translate analog tabs directly from the backbone...using the Garmin adapter...

Posted by: gene at December 31, 2009 11:10 PM | Reply

From the diagram, it shows hooking up a NMEA compatible outboard. Does anyone know if the MercMonitor must have a Merc or will a NMEA 2000 compatible outboard work with it? I'd like to use the EcoScreen but want to use an E-tec or a Honda outboard.


Posted by: David at April 1, 2010 1:03 AM | Reply

David, the Gateway PDF you can find at the MerMonitor link above indicates that the gateway will receive as well as transmit NMEA 2000 engine messages, including fuel flow, trim, rpm, etc. However, Verado engines are SmartCraft, not NMEA 2000, and getting the SmartCraft info onto the N2K backbone is the main job of this gateway.

In other words, it wasn't really meant to work with an ETec or other N2K motor, but it might. Also, you can get the Eco Screen info from other NMEA 2000 engines in many ways, though maybe not as clearly as the Eco Screen. Once you get fuel flow and speed together to calculate real time MPG, it's fairly easy to see what trim and RPM combinations are the most efficient for a given load and sea state.

Posted by: Ben at April 1, 2010 9:29 AM | Reply

I have smartcraft running through my Northstar M84 and would like to see if anybody would know if there is anything that i could set up so i could have it running through my ipad?

Posted by: Peter at October 29, 2010 6:47 PM | Reply

have a 7.4 (454) mpi from 2000, will it work ??

Posted by: harold at May 17, 2012 5:13 PM | Reply

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