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Best marine gateways for 2019

Admittedly gateways are a bit nerdy. It’s doubtful that many casual boaters stop by their local marine equipment store and ask to buy one. But the simple fact is that gateways are an important component on most modern boats. Here’s how writer Ron Ballanti described them in an article that ran in Marine Electronics Journal a couple of years ago:

"The variety of products that fall into this category is extensive, and seemingly growing everyday with the need to capture, share and make use of all the digital information flying around today’s boats.  It’s not just about effectively networking MFDs (multifunction displays), autopilots, sonar, DSC VHF and other marine electronics to optimize performance, but bringing in NMEA 2000 data from weather sensors, satellite compasses, engines, transmissions, electronic throttles, gen sets, trim indicators, fuel tanks, holding tanks and much more, so this information can be shared, viewed and controlled from different systems connected via the boat’s NMEA 2000 digital backbone. With so much information available and so many ways it could be used by a person operating a complex machine like today’s modern boat, gateway products were developed to help link it all together, and manage and make use of the flow of available information.”

In somewhat more detailed terms, here’s a description in the same MEJ article from gateway manufacturer Richard Gauer of Maretron:
"The term gateway is generally used in the NMEA 2000 community to distinguish a product that translates or ‘gateways’ one protocol to another. For example, we offer a USB/NMEA 2000 gateway—the USB100—that translates NMEA 2000 messages to NMEA 0183 sentences to ‘gateway’ an NMEA 2000 network to a PC running navigation software and expecting NMEA 0183 sentences. Another example is our SMS100 module, which ‘gateways’ the NMEA 2000 network to the cellular phone network, so text messages relative to the NMEA 2000 network can be sent to mobile phones.” 

Below are several gateways that come with high marks. The roundup is part of an exercise MEJ does every year in our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters. The Best & Brightest list includes 16 categories of electronics, from autopilots and fishfinders to radar and satellite TV.

Last week we told you about small-boat satellite communications and entertainment systems. This week’s installment marks the end of the Best & Brightest rollout of equipment for 2019. If you’re considering purchasing some type of marine electronics, it’s a good bet the equipment we’ve described over the past weeks will help.

The NGT-1 allows precise transfer of NMEA 2000 data to a PC.  When combined with the free NMEA Reader software from Actisense, it becomes a powerful NMEA 2000 diagnostics tool.  Combining compatible third-party software with the NGT-1 NMEA 2000 to PC interface gives the user a wealth of essential information for vessel monitoring and route planning.  Remote configuration and updating of a select range of Actisense products are also possible using the NGT-1.  The most popular option is the USB variant, providing simple plug & play connectivity between a PC and the NMEA 2000 network.  A serial option is also available for more advanced applications or users who prefer serial PC connections.  

Upgrading to NMEA 2000 from NMEA 0183 can become costly if all electronics need to be replaced at the same time.  A boat owner can save thousands of dollars by only upgrading what they need and using an Actisense NGW-1 to integrate old with new.  This cost-effective solution supports conversion of NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 and vice versa, which means that multiple devices can be integrated with a single unit.  With all conversions enabled, and a version for use with AIS devices, the NGW-1 is ready to go, straight out of the box. 

Monitor and control your vessel from anywhere in the world without the need for a black box or direct connect display. The IPG100 allows you to connect your PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone to an NMEA 2000 network in order to monitor and control your vessel using Maretron’s N2KView software or mobile app. Maretron’s IPG100 has an NMEA 2000 and an Ethernet data port for exchanging information between the onboard NMEA 2000 network and Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled devices using conventional technology such as routers, switches and wireless modems. Once enabled, the IPG100 will automatically connect to Maretron’s Real Time Cloud Service, which allows you to remotely connect to your vessel via the Internet. 

ShipModul’s MiniPlex-3 Series of NMEA 0183 multiplexers combines data from multiple navigation instruments. Through an advanced filtering and routing system, this data can be sent to other navigation instruments and to computers, tablets and smartphones. A bi-directional SeaTalk1 interface enables conversion between SeaTalk1 data and NMEA 0183 sentences. This conversion works both ways, allowing the MiniPlex-3 to replace Raymarine's SeaTalk-NMEA bridge. MiniPlex-3 models with an NMEA 2000 interface (N2K suffix) connect directly to an NMEA 2000 backbone and convert between NMEA 2000 PGNs, NMEA 0183 sentences and SeaTalk1 datagrams in all directions. Bi-directional computer interfaces offer connectivity via USB, Ethernet or WiFi, all at the NMEA 0183 level. Two special NMEA 0183 sentences offer translation to and from raw NMEA 2000 or SeaTalk data.

The Rose Point Nemo Gateway is an ideal device to bridge the gap between a ship’s sensors and computer-based navigation systems. With support for multiple protocols the Nemo Gateway facilitates integration of NMEA 0183 devices and NMEA 2000 systems. The gateway acts as a bridge between all onboard sensors and an Ethernet network, allowing for numerous computers, tablets, and phones to access the data simultaneously. The Nemo Gateway comes with support for navigational sensor data such as position, heading, depth, AIS, and weather. Combine this gateway with Coastal Explorer or Rose Point ECS to gain access to engine instrumentation data such as engine RPM, oil temperature and tank levels, battery voltages and more. The Nemo Gateway is a one-stop solution to getting the data you need where you want it.

The TMT78N2K from Canadian Automotive Instruments translates engine and transmission data from J1708/J1587 to NMEA 2000, making it easy to add modern engine monitoring to vessels with older electronic diesel engines. Upgrade your analog gauges in favor of reading real-time engine, transmission, voltage, and fluid level information on your MFDs. The TMT78N2K also translates engine fault codes, so you can be notified at the first sign of engine trouble. Plug and play—no programming or knowledge of J1708/J1587 are required.

iKonvert is Digital Yacht’s NMEA 2000 to NMEA 0183 bi-directional gateway to integrate older NMEA 0183-based systems with NMEA 2000 and vice-versa.  It’s self powered from the NMEA 2000 network and fits in seconds.

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