Simrad, B&G, and Lowrance Link app working well with off-the-shelf WiFi router

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

11 Responses

  1. Grant Jenkins says:

    Ben,
    I’m impressed you got that to work – I spent I don’t know ow many hours trying the same thing 2 summers ago and got nowhere. Did you happen to come across this link?

    https://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-electronics-forum/500211-simrad-gofree-using-generic-wireless-router.html

    It’s an old post with more recent updates – seems like some have success, others not so much. I made up a cable according to the post – seems to have connectivity, but the issue appears to be the network getting flooded with sounder and/or radar data that obliterates normal data transfer. Simrad even had a 2-page guide online for awhile, which described workarounds for using off the shelf routers – but of course I can’t put my hands on it now.
    The whole idea was to avoid adding another Wi-Fi module to the system, when I already had a perfectly good Netgear router (similar to yours) in the system. I even had Steve from Sailbits troubleshoot the setup with some advanced diagnostic tools on his laptop, and he got nowhere either.
    Perhaps its the custom cable, or the specific model of Netgear router, but my results were the exact opposite of yours – very frustrating!

    • Sorry to hear that, Grant, but maybe the real cause of our opposite results is the two-year time difference. Any chance you could try it again with the current version of NOS (Navico Operating System)?

      I’m guessing that the networking abilities of NOS have been improved and expanded as part of Information Display development. After all, ID is designed to work with many other systems much like that Victron app now pops on my NSS evo2 displays when they and the Victron Venus are on same the Ethernet network. I’m only guessing, and I too am surprised it’s working so well.

      Come to think of it, I’m seeing some really modern system integration running on fairly old MFDs and so far unadvertised by Simrad or Victron.

      https://www.panbo.com/innovative-electronics-like-navico-id-hardly-mentioned-a-new-paradigm/

  2. Grant Jenkins says:

    Thanks Ben- I’m on the way to the boat today and will try it again! By the way, the Simrad document I referenced has apparently been taken down, but you can still download a copy of the PDF here:

    https://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-electronics-forum/667493-gofree-cheap-2.html#post9075004

    … under a post from “fixer01”.

    Did you have any issues with sounder/radar interference, as described in this bulletin?

    Maybe the new NOS automatically solves this, I’m optimistic given your results!

    • Thanks, and good luck on the boat!

      I did try Halo24 radar without any noticeable effect, but the coast of Maine is still suffering from a horrid run of cold, wet weather I haven’t yet given the full NSS/boat router system a thorough workout.

  3. Leftbrain Stuff says:

    Thanks for another timely update. My biggest concerns remain around security and stability. Having had an AIS update from B&G brick an AIS device in 2017 I dug deeper into B&G’s software stack.

    As someone working in cloud tech I am constantly shocked at how fragile and insecure so many vendor products are. B&G use an old Linux kernel (NOSLinux from memory) and CANBus networking was never built with security in mind.

    Automatic software updates are also very risky for mission and safety critical systems due to latent defects and the little regression testing from the manufacturers. We do not connect our NMEA2000 system to the internet and updates are only applied when we have at least 4 – 6 weeks.

    I reached out to B&G to get some idea on what bug fixes and changes their latest updates apply. There was nothing on their update page. This is considered very bad practice in the tech sector.

    Perhaps you could have someone from the vendors (B&G, Raymarine, Furuno, etc) talk about this topic in more detail…

    • I guess I’m pretty blase about boat network security, but then again the test boat has several independent Ethernet systems and two NMEA 2000 networks. Also, I’m not aware of anyone intruding into any of those systems over the last decade.

      • Leftbrain Stuff says:

        While security by obscurity is a common defence the game is changing on a daily basis. I see unauthorized access attempts on any internet exposed service within 10 minutes. This is universal and automated at massive scale. At the moment most intrusion attempts are interested in finding compute resources for crypto mining.

        But as soon as you are subject to a targeted attack then it is trivial to disrupt any of these internet connected canbus systems. I see the pain on a daily basis. My concern with our marine networked systems is as follows:
        1) vendor updates are poorly documented and they publish little to no information for me to decide what and when to update. For mission critical and safety critical systems this is unacceptable for their customers and the marine community.
        2) I’m sure the vendors are aware and working to address these issues. For us consumers all we hear is deathly silence. Let’s hear from the vendors. What technology updates are coming and what is their advice? We need to stay informed and plan our upgrades with long lead times.
        3) If the vendors wont change and engage then their business will ultimately be disrupted. I see our next tech refresh cycle as eliminating all proprietary and poor quality hardware and software. I’ve worked with open source tech for more than 15 years. Every time we’ve disrupted an industry with open source, shared solutions and commodity hardware we’ve brought down the old guard. The marine sector is on our radar.
        4) Nation states are ramping up their disruption of GPS. We are currently wholly reliant on this great technology. It would be great to hear from the charting companies how they are planning to address this emerging threat.

  4. Hmm. My NSS8 on the old 2014 firmware has always worked right out of the box with every router I’ve tried it with. The Link app, which I’m sure used to be called something else, never had a problem finding the MFD.

    It’s a shame Raymarine systems don’t work this way, as the Simrad devices can automatically send NMEA0183 over the network when they are connected up.

  5. Hi Ben,

    What happens if you start up the Simrad equipment before you power on the router? Does the app work then? My guess is that it will not and even worse if your router does not disable dhcp the you might end up with two dhcp servers on the same network handing out ip addresses on different subsets. This will really screw things up. This is what happened when I tried this same setup a few years ago. It may be that they have fixed things so that this now a none issue but it would be good to know if it is.

  6. Martin TMartin T says:

    Great news and information Ben!

    This is a key feature and something that I think all modern devices should do. I will definitly favor buying and recomending B&G/Navico products over competion just beacuse of this feature.

    • Thanks, Martin, and I agree that this is a great feature on boats like mine (and probably yours) that have an independent Ethernet/WiFi network used for general connectivity and other boat systems.

      But be aware that Navico does not advertise this feature anywhere I can find, so I think it’s possible that it does not work in some circumstances, and very possible that Navico tech support will not help with trouble shooting.

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