Blink Marine’s DigiPack system is a basic DSS aimed primarily at
boat builders. When connected to various functional utilities, such as
lights, electric motors, pumps, or the solenoid actuator of a hydraulic
arm, the KeyBox component allows you to activate/deactivate them by
way of a keypad. The KeyBox reacts to signals from the keypad according to how it has been configured—toggle, dimmer, momentary, etc. It
executes the command and sends a return signal to the keypad turning
off the LEDs present on each button. A rotary index pushbutton knob
makes it possible to manage complex scroll functions and interface with
onboard systems via various CAN bus protocols.
Managing Director Riccardo Arienti says, “The system uses proprietary RS-485 connections between controllers and keypads, can be
used with other controllers and has the ability to communicate over
NMEA 2000.” He says the Europe-based company is planning to open
an office in the US.
More whistles and buzzers
Raymarine’s DSS is much more than an electronic way of turning
onboard systems on and off. It’s a fully networked solution for automation on any onboard system. It can be accessed from anywhere on the
boat or remotely by sending a signal to your smartphone if a problem
occurs. The system has been installed on boats ranging from 130 foot
motor yachts to trailered boats.
The system uses solid-state digital CCMs, each customized to meet
the requirements of the equipment being monitored and controlled and
each supports multiple circuits. Each CCM is connected to a NMEA
2000 backbone, enabling it to communicate with other CCMs and with
MFDs on the boat. This allows the CCMs to be located close to their
devices, significantly reducing the amount of high-gauge wire needed.
Based on its ability to interpret input signals, the CCM may output con-figurable thresholds for alarms and graphical functions, dimming, soft
start/stop, etc. Raymarine’s system uses EnOcean wireless energy-har-vesting switches and sensors. The company offers a CCM designed for
vessels equipped with a CAN bus.
A Master Control Unit (MCU) is the central processing unit that
drives the system, providing computing power, intelligence and deci-sion-making. There are also various interface connections to external
devices and a remote control unit. The MCU is a NMEA 2000 device
that talks to other system components via the NMEA 2000 network.
The MCU stores and executes configuration files for holding installation
data for each DC module in the system. A dedicated SIM card slot
allows the MCU-200 to connect to a mobile GSM network and communicate with smartphones via text messaging. A dedicated CAN bus
link connects to third-party systems such as air conditioning and battery management. System control is through a graphical interface on
Raymarine MFDs or through Raymarine’s control/remote apps for users
of tablets and smartphones.
Installing the sophisticated system is usually a cooperative effort by
Raymarine’s technical experts, the owner and his representative or a
marine electronics dealer and the yard doing the work. The team figures out which inboard systems are suitable for DSS control, and
where these items should be controlled from. A detailed list of equipment and individual power requirements is developed and used to
design the overall system. Raymarine’s experts then match that list of
requirements with the best combination of CCMs and accessories.
series with the short “drop” to the backbone. It is solid-state and capable of serving four to 16 different circuits, depending on the particular
Third, a keypad control and display module, which may be a separate handheld device or incorporated into the boat’s MFD, offers soft
switches marked with telltale icons indicating their function.
As you might expect, digital switching systems vary widely in their
sophistication, depending on the target market. Some are fairly basic,
performing only the essential on/off, protection, duration, etc. functions,
while others have greater capabilities.
CZone’s signal interface box links the CZone digital switching system to the boat’s external sensors, alarms and switching devices, providing intelligent, automated operation of circuits. The
interface accepts inputs from traditional switches used to control outputs.
Courtesy of Ocean Aire Marine Electronics
Raymarine has partnered with Sweden’s Trigentic AB to bring their EmpirBus NXT digital
switching systems to the US market. The drawing shows equipment, devices and functions
controllable by EmpirBus.