People try to do it without a gateway and sometimes it works, sometimes it causes strange
problems. You don’t want to introduce engine data that can cause problems, like synchronizing
rpm’s or something more serious. Electronic engine control networks should be isolated for safety.
MEJ: You mentioned that products that aren’t certified is a problem. What happens if a
customer wants a device that isn’t certified?
Spyros: It’s difficult. You don’t want to throw too many obstacles at him because you want
the business. We try to consult and educate the customer on the difference between certified and
not certified NMEA 2000® products. This way we ensure the expectations match the results.
MEJ: What other problems do you see?
Spyros: A lack of planning and people who aren’t trained, who haven’t taken the NMEA
2000® class—that’s very important. Some guys say it doesn’t look that hard and go ahead and try
it. They may get away with stuff that looks like it’s working okay at first, but eventually some
problems will be exposed.
MEJ: What about durability and redundancy of the NMEA 2000® network?
Spyros: What do you do if your batteries go dead? Redundancy is a concern but at some
point it gets ridiculous. With all of the backbones we’ve installed, no one has said they’ve lost
power to it. If that happened, it would probably be due to a breaker or switch that wasn’t labeled
properly or someone turned it off. It’s like anything else, if someone drills through your radar
cable, you’re going to lose your radar. In theory, you could have a short circuit in a device and
take out a fuse, but we haven’t seen this.
In some cases, don’t make the backbone the only source of data. Redundancy is important
for position and depth and things like that. We’re adding 0183 sensors to equipment as well as
the NMEA 2000® backbone. That way if there’s a loss of power to the backbone, you can still
navigate to where you’re going and get it fixed.
MEJ:What advice do you have for techs regarding NMEA 2000® installations?
Spyros: Sign up for the class and get trained. There is some good information from manu-
facturers that make certified products. It’s free and has excellent information about designing a
network. Most important is planning the network first.
MEJ: Describe Deltaville’s experience with NMEA 2000® installations.
Holloway: Over the past 18 months, we’ve done three large (55 feet and larger), full
Maretron backbone projects and four smaller ones with three or four components. All of the
installations were retrofits. We installed the systems so that the owners can grow them if they
want to add additional components later. With an NMEA 2000® system you don’t have to install
everything right now—only what you want and can afford.
All of our techs are in house. We make sure all are properly trained. We have 13 techs who
are ABYC certified. For electronics installations, they are both NMEA 2000® and ABYC certified.
MEJ: How does the boatyard deal with customers regarding equipment that gets
Holloway: That’s where the rubber meets the road. Our goal is to install an electronics
package the customer needs. We meet with the customer on the boat and look at the technical
aspects such as where the equipment will be placed and where wire runs will be—and impor-
tantly what the customer wants to achieve, whether he wants to add other electronics later.
We have a lot of baby boomers who are buying used boats instead of expensive new ones.
When they come in they may know they want a chartplotter and a sounder and a few other key
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