Actisense EMU-1, analog engine gauges to NMEA 2000 happiness

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

75 Responses

  1. Rolando says:

    I am waiting now for installation of a new analog engine gauge to NMEA2000 from Alba (Albatross). Don’t know if yet available in the US but unit quite capable and has a good price. You can find more details in their website:
    Have been looking at doing this for quite some time and finally will be doing it on my boat.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Rolando! I didn’t know about the new Alba Combi and it looks very powerful indeed.
    Readers should note that the Combi has 12 sensor channels that can apparently do all the engine stuff discussed above plus tanks, battery shunts, and much more. It also has an Ethernet port and built-in Web server with config software that has standard sensor profiles, custom calibration, and more control of NMEA 2000 PGN output than I’ve seen in any of the analog-to-N2K converters. Plus the server can supply realtime monitoring to PC’s, tablets, etc.
    In fact, the Alba Combi reminds me that I forgot to include the Chetco Digital product family, which together can convert analog engine and data to N2K and also to IP and even to cloud storage and monitoring. Chetco was a big player at IBEX and NMEA, entry coming.
    Rolando, please let us know how your Alba Combi works out.

  3. Hi Ben,
    I have had quite bad experience with older version of Noland RS-11, two of them were replaced in a short period of time, and replacements eventually stopped reading RPM impulses at all… I was impatient to test Actisense EMU-1 and first setup was on Honda BF90 outboard (nice engine but no N2K). Clean, fast, simple and efficient configuration, and it works steady (for now :)… Anyhow, still without subtitles, here is demonstration video:

  4. Evan says:

    Ben – I had installed a Noland RS-11 on my last boat. Worked great for engine rpm once I found the number of teeth on the flywheel. But getting it to work for engine temp and oil pressure was a challenge. The Noland used the voltage wire from the back of the gauge. But the problem I had was that overall boat 12v actual voltage is highly variable. It’ll drop under 12v when I’m at the dock and the engine heaters cycle on. Up on plane it’ll be close to 13v. This voltage delta would manifest itself in the readings on the Noland.
    Seems that my Faria gauges actually work on some voltage delta between the boat’s main 12v feed and the return from the sender so are tolerant of changes in the boat’s 12v supply. Since the Noland used only the sender voltage, it wasn’t really reliable.
    Does the Actisense or the above-mentioned Alba Combi have the ability to distinguish between voltage change due to the sender vs voltage change due to shift in the boat’s 12v supply?

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Evan, Afraid I don’t have similar circumstances and don’t know the answer to your question. I do know that the EMU-1 has opto isolation between the N2K power and the device power (Alba too), and the recommended way to supply the latter is from the engine ignition (which I did). Once started, my engine battery voltage doesn’t vary much at all, regardless of RPM and load.
    Hopefully someone from Actisense can address your question.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Petar, you have a future in film! For instance, hurling the Actisense box off screen is a cool move we don’t normally see in videos like this. But English subtitles or overdub please.

  7. James says:

    I have had similar problems related to the fluctuating voltage when trying to get reliable and consistent data from the Noland RS-11. I tried installing it a few years ago. Noland support was trying to be helpful but we had to give up on it. I too am interested to see if the Actisense handles the voltage fluctuation better.
    And it would be great if the multi-function display manufacturers improved there software by not only showing pretty gauges but by adding function by enabling alarms as backup to the standard gauges. I know Maretron has this, but it would be much better if it was just part of the Major manufactures displays.

  8. Actisense Tech Support says:

    Hey guys.
    I can confirm the EMU-1 is tolerant of battery voltage fluctuations. You will see accurate gauge readings regardless of any changes in battery voltage. So you won’t have the same problems you are getting with the RS-11.
    Vlad, Actisense Tech Support

  9. Subtitles are on their way, will post an update here 🙂
    James, you should address noland to supply you voltage stabilizers for your unit (did that for mine once), it should resolve issue in installation without gauges…
    As far as I could tell (from Actisense user manual) EMU-1 has similar circuts installed, and should work with or without gauges installed properly…

  10. Matt says:

    Thanks for the great post as usual. This is an area of great interest to me. While I have analog gauges for my engines, it would be nice to have gauges for the genny too. Being able to display this data on an ipad while sitting on a mooring would be really nice.
    I am very interested in the Chetco device. I really look forward to a post on that unit.
    Have you checked to see if the PGNs from the engine data are all being routed through your WatchMate Vision to an iPad, etc.?
    Thanks again,

  11. Adam Surjan says:

    Hello Ben,
    I have a 1997 Searay 330 Express Cruiser powered by Merc 7.4 Bluewater MPIs. Will an analog to NMEA 2000 converter work with this system? I am planning an upgrade to gauges and automation for the winter layup and would like to know where to start. I do automation in homes and offices and would like to add the same functionality to my boat. I would like to go to an all glass display, but want more than plugging into an off the shelf MFD. Are you aware of a product that can integrate engine and fuel monitoring, cameras, internet, sound, security, lighting control, chartplotting, HVAC control, and remote access to all? I do it all the time in homes, but do not know where to start for boats.
    Please let me know if you have a recommendation.
    Thank you,

  12. Adam,
    you should be able to do proper conversion from SmartCraft to NMEA2000 with Mercury NMEA2000 Gateway:
    I have installed one of those this year to Mercury 5.7 MPI on Sundancer 2006 an it works just fine, sending not only engine RPM, but also Fuel flow rate and other engine informations…

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Matt, Sorry if I confused you about the Vesper WatchMate Vision. I don’t think it actually passes any PGN’s over WiFi. That’s because there is no standardized way to package the PGNs on Ethernet that the apps developers have adopted.
    So what the Vision (and Navico GoFree and others) does is to translate certain PGN’s back into NMEA 0183, for which there is apparently an informal standard. So far I think Vision only does AIS and Heading, but they plan to add standard data like Depth and Wind. GoFree does lots more:
    Chetco SeaSmart is different. Chetco started with a focus on converting analog engine data to digital and now they’re to the point where their systems can push the resulting IP data into the cloud (whenever a connection is available) where it can be reviewed and analyzed. Check out some demos:
    I think Chetco is using real PGN’s but that means that few third party apps can deal with it. Then again this will all get straightened out when NMEA finishes the OneNet Standard in about two years. Chetco, Actisense, and many others are involved in that effort so I am hopeful that stuff they are doing now is going to transition to OneNet without too much pain.

  14. Andy Campbell says:

    Yes Ben, NMEA OneNet cannot come soon enough to help resolve all of the current issues with sharing NMEA 2000 data over Ethernet in a standardised way.
    We have been on the working group for 3 years now – progress can appear to be slow but it’s a very large undertaking that has to be done right first time and getting the whole of the industry to embrace it is no simple task.
    Adam: Please look at our EMU Config Tool for a complete list of the currently supported gauges/senders. If your gauges are already on the list then the EMU-1 will work immediately, if not we can add your measurements to our gauge/sender database.

  15. Matt says:

    Thanks again, Ben.
    Hmmm… this stuff is a lot more complicated than I thought.
    So, if I have a WatchMate Vision (which I use to provide AIS data via WiFi to an iPad for display on iNavx at my second helm (and it works fabulously)), how can I also display engine data on that same iPad without switching between two WiFi networks on the same boat? Would I need to get a separate router, wirelessly connect the Vision to that router, and connect an engine gateway to the router? From your Vision entry, it looks like maybe it could do this.
    Perhaps I could do this with a hotspot to provide Internet access too?
    While underway a few weeks ago, I realized what a pain it is to switch Wifi connections on the iPad between the Vision and my hotspot when I needed to download new charts to iNavx.
    Sorry for all of the questions.
    And a sincere thank you for vastly increasing my knowledge on marine electronics,

  16. noland_mike says:

    Hi Ben,
    Thank you for alerting us of the responses on the Panbo Forum.
    The negative comments about the RS11 were legitimate and apply to the earlier versions, primarily due to non-isolated CANbus/Engine power. Those problems have been eliminated in the” v4″ design released early this year (2013).
    Best regards,

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Adam, I think that what you may be looking for is Maretron N2KView, which should play fine with the output of the EMU-1 (or another analog-to-N2K engine translator). N2KView does not include charting, radar, etc. but you could run a PC program like Nobeltec Trident or Coastal Explorer on the same PC(s) and monitors. Expect it all to be more complicated and expensive than a home system, though.

  18. Hendrik says:

    Used to have the same issues on my rs11-s
    Support from Noland was great, but some issuses remained.
    Moved over to emu-1 this spring.
    Unit is working great and support is god also

  19. Ben,
    Not to go off-topic, but the 3M Scotchlok connectors you referred to may not be a good solution – a phone call to 3M today confirmed they are designed for solid wire only, not stranded.
    Its always tempting to use these type of “quickie” products, especially given the amount of tinkering you do! But I think a permanent installation is still best done with traditional crimped, heat-shrunk eye terminals in the marine environment, tedious as that can be in cramped spaces. Maybe your upcoming entry will convince me otherwise… Great article on the EMU-1 nonetheless, looking forward to installing it on a vessel soon.

  20. Andy Campbell says:

    Thank you for the great feedback – it’s heartening to hear that our product support is being received so well. Comprehensive support of all our products is very important to us.
    That level of support and product design has helped us win “Product of the Year 2013” for the EMU-1 from the BMEA (British Marine Electronics Association).

  21. The SmartCraft gateway is only for SmartCraft engines. I think the first SmartCraft engines was 2002? So older engines need analogue to digital converters.
    But I might get my dad the Emu-1 for Christmas 🙂 but it is a pain in the… that you need a $200-$300 USB gateway to configure them. That is one of the stupid issues with NMEA 2000 – that still has not been “fixed”

  22. Peter says:

    Unfortunately you are right. The EMU needs the Actisense USB dongle, to configure a Maretron compass you need one of their displays (more expensive than the compass) or one of their gateways. The software update for the B&G Triton display asks for a B&G MFD or some dealer tools, and .. so .. on.
    But I think our complaint misses the point. N2K is an effort for the manufacturers to collectivize the part of the development where they cannot differentiate themselves. Where there is potential for differentiation, N2K is degraded to a physical cable. Interoperability is more a collateral benefit, and openness a collateral damage. And for the dealers, for the bigger ones it makes sense to have all this toolls and amortize them over time, also coming with some nice revenue.
    NMEA is the association of dealers and manufacturers, not clients, so nothing else to expect, and rightly so.

  23. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Peter, I think maybe you left out the part about an “association of dealers and manufacturers” that is trying to sell gear to consumers, and also the fact that NMEA includes parties like the USCG and RTCM whose primary interest is safety at sea.
    Kaspar, check out the AlbaCombi discussed in the first comments. It’s an analog-to-N2K converter with a built-in Ethernet/Web interface for set up, firmware updates, and monitoring. No gateway needed:
    I spent some time learning more about the Combi this morning, the YouTube videos included, and it seems like a very advanced design, though I don’t yet know its cost or whether it will be sold and supported in the USA. (Might be an opportunity there for some company?)

  24. Peter C. says:

    The 3m connectors have been around for years(30?) in the telecom industry and work well on solid telephone wire 18 to 26 ga.Anything else,not so much.
    Raymarine used to include these with GPS I think.I had too many bad connections.
    The first thing I would do is throw out all the 3M connectors!

  25. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Kasper,
    You are correct that to interface a PC to NMEA 2000 you need an NMEA 2000 PC interface (NGT-1), however when you look at the number of uses the NGT-1 can be put to, you might see it’s true value goes way beyond just configuring and upgrading the EMU-1:
    1. Diagnostics – the NGT-1 helps you find issues with -any- NMEA 2000 device using our freely available NMEA Reader PC software. The log recordings captured by NMEA Reader are used by a number of manufacturer support technicians to help diagnose issues remotely – which can be a massive advantage.
    2. PC Chart-plotter software – all of the big chart-plotting software suites (Coastal Explorer, Expedition, Nobeltec’s various suites, Maxsea Timezero, Fugawi, Polarview, MacENC etc.) use the NGT-1 to read NMEA 2000 data and display it on their GUIs. Some also send NMEA 2000 messages back to the bus to make the NMEA 2000 data even richer.
    3. PC software – compatibility with the NGT-1 goes far beyond chart-plotting software as can be seen by the compatibility list. There are even more developers and hobbyists using the NGT-1 that are not yet on the list.
    4. Configuration – all Actisense NMEA 2000 devices are configurable (or will be) via the NGT-1. In addition, other manufacturer’s (such as Victron Energy and Airmar) use the NGT-1 to configure and interface to their own devices as well.
    5. Flash upgrade – the EMU-1 can be upgraded via the NMEA 2000 bus using the NGT-1. The NGT-1 and NGW-1 will also be remotely upgradable in the same way next year. Victron Energy also use the NGT-1 to upgrade their products over the NMEA 2000 bus.
    We are constantly striving to get more NMEA 2000 manufacturer’s and PC software developers to use our NGT-1 in the hope that it will become the only NMEA 2000 tool you will need to use. We are also trying to reduce the manufacturing costs (without impacting on quality) to make it a simpler purchase decision.

  26. Peter Daum says:

    This is very good news. The more N2K enables to mix and match the best equipment of various manufacturers, the better.

  27. Michael Jabara says:

    Hi Andy. I have an NGT-1 and considering purchasing a EGU-1 for my Yanmar JH-3. I also use the NGT-1 with my PB-200 Airmar WeatherStation and it works great, as well as with other chartplotter programs mentioned.
    Question: I also have a TLM-100 Tank Level Monitor from Maretron and have the problem Peter mentions above, namely, it takes a Maretron DSM-250 ($800) or N2KView ($450) to configure a simple $150 sensor. Ouch!
    Is it not possible for Actisense to upgrade your NGT-1 software to handle these tasks, or is such configuration capability proprietary and not accessible to you?
    If it is, then this really makes it impossible to “mix and match” NMEA 2000 devices without investing a fortune in configuration “tools” that are used only once!

  28. Andy Campbell says:

    You pose a good question: does NMEA 2000 include generic ways of configuring (and firmware updating) NMEA 2000 devices?
    The answer is in part yes: there are a number of parameters that can be configured directly using standard NMEA 2000 PGNs, however it is no where near complete which is why the NMEA 2000 working group has been endeavouring to create a few ‘Config Specific’ PGNs that can be used by all manufacturers in the future. This is a complicated subject as each manufacturer and each device has disparate requirements of such a generic interface so it will take time.
    Without a standard, each manufacturer has naturally had to implement their own method for configuration and firmware updating. However, we are working hard to get as many manufacturer’s and software developers as possible to use our NGT-1 so the number of configuration “tools” is kept to a minimum. The NGT-1 SDK is freely available to any such company and is fully supported.
    To give you an example of how things are (slowly improving), one such company is Victron Energy that uses our NGT-1 for firmware updating and configuration. We have both been working with the NMEA over the past 3-4 months to finalise a generic method for allowing PGN ‘instances’ to be configurable using standard NMEA 2000 PGNs. This work will allow NMEA Reader to change PGN ‘instances’ in any device that supports this new generic method.
    I understand the frustration that progress is not faster, we wish it was faster too and will continue to push such changes through.
    Could I ask you to record the NMEA 2000 PGN messages using NMEA Reader when you are configuring your TLM-100? That plus a screenshot of the ‘Network View’ tab to show details of each device on the bus and the precise configuration change each of your requests is performing.

  29. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Michael, I checked the TML-100 manual and it looks like you can also do complete configuration using a Maretron USB100 (about $250 street price) and free N2KAnalyzer software. I agree it’s not the ideal situation where you already have an N2K Gateway, but I’m glad to hear from Andy that things are progressing.

  30. Rolando says:

    Hi Ben,
    Just to update on the AlbaCombi installation on my boat. Upon discussions with installer I found that the Alba today cannot handle the PGN’s needed for engine transmissions. We contacted Alba and they will be adding these to the unit. When they complete the programming I will install and let you know how its working. After seeing many others I still feel its a very competitive unit especially given the easy configuration via the ethernet port without the requirements of anything else such as a Maretron USB100.

  31. Batteryman says:

    Interesting Rolanda,
    I also have a AlbaCombi unit on the bench here to test.

  32. Greg says:

    For those of you with either the ActiSense, AlbaCombi or SeaSmart, how are you liking them?
    Sorry for hijacking the thread, but I’m looking for the following and can’t figure out which way to go:
    – NMEA 2000 logging of existing data (I have fuel flow, trim tab sensors and GPS and would like to be able to analyze fuel consumption at different speeds and trim tab use)
    – Love to be able to sync logged data to the cloud to access at home later
    – Add engine monitoring to NMEA 2000
    – Wifi/ethernet for access to Fusion radio, Garmin 8000 Chartplotter, and link to Marina wi-fi.
    Is there 1 device that does all this, or do I need multiple devices?

  33. Batteryman says:

    I have now finished some extensive testing of the Albacombi unit, and I am very impressed.
    In my test I had the unit connected to the rear of the lower helm dash on my Sealine F33 flybridge. The calibration process is very simple, and I was able to get very close matching data to the analogue dials in just an hour or so. The web interface allows for easy custom tweaking of the settings and data curves in real time.
    The output then feeds two Raymarine e7 screens, one on each helm position, and I am much happier with the accurate readings I get now, compared with the previous RS11 v4 setup.

  34. Retro says:

    Thanks for the update Batteryman. I have a few questions on the Alba Combi which hopefully Panbo readers can help with. I am thinking of replacing the analogue gauges at the lower helm station on a 44ft Flybridge Sportsfisher with a MFD/NMEA 2000 (probably Raymarine) display but leaving the analogue gauges at the upper helm. Would the Alba cope with removing the lower helm set of VDO 12v gauges from the system? Second question. Are their standard profiles for VDO 12v rpm, oil pressure and water temperature gauges? Engines are 2003 Cat 3126 300hp versions. Cheers Dave

  35. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Dave,
    A good Engine Monitoring Unit has to be ‘invisible’ to the gauges in order to work correctly so it cannot change or influence how the senders and gauges work – it monitors them without them ever knowing. That means if you are swapping from a dual gauge setup to a single gauge setup you will need to change the senders on your engine from dual-gauge senders to single-gauge senders.
    I cannot speak for Alba (hopefully Ben can) but our EMU-1 has a full set of VDO 12v gauge settings that can be used for all of those senders/gauges.

  36. Batteryman says:

    I answer to your questions.
    The unit has a number of standard profiles for VDO and other guage/sensor types. It is however very easy to generate a custom graph of your own, and with many data points on the line, you can generate nice accurate matching curves.
    The unit also has the ability to cope with voltage fluctuations.

  37. Fred says:

    I can build one of these for about $5-10 in parts and post the PCB board schematics, microcontroller hex code and give instructions.
    1) NMEA2000 is CANBus with some custom messages. CanBUS is used in automotive, many MCU’s now have CANBus built in and the TX RX ICs for CAN are a dollar or so.
    2) ADC – Analog to Digital Converters with selectable 12/24 volt configurations, pots (adjustable with screwdriver) for ranges, many more inputs with predefined ports for 1-2-3 engines.
    3) RS232 serial interface for creating and assigning NMEA message labels to each custom IO port. Also use this port for in system updates.
    4) Optional RJ45 ethernet port with embedded web server for tablets to access gauges right from their browser. WiFi can be addded but drives cost up.
    It’s easy. ADC + CANBus MCU + Time = Every sensor available on your MFD’s

  38. Anonymous says:

    Do you happen to have a home page or some other way of contacting you in case one of us is interested in following up on your alternative engine monitoring system.

  39. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    VeeThree has an interesting new engine-to-N2K device called the Engine Gateway Monitor, details at bottom of this page:
    The $699 EGM can gateway analog or J1939 engine date to NMEA 2000 while also displaying engine and/or other data. Plus the setup is done on the display so a PC and N2K-to-USB gateway isn’t needed. I’m going to get a look in Miami next week, and also try one eventually.

  40. Mike O'Dell says:

    The engine interface boxes seem to come in two broad flavors: one variety that seems to be designed for smaller boats with gas-fueled I/Os and another that seems to be designed for larger Diesel engines on larger boats.
    In particular, boxes that support EGT pyros seem pretty rare. My Yanmar 6CX engines have two pyros per engine – one for each bank of 3 cylinders. The Chetco interface box seems to have the most flexibility and supports EGTs, but configuring the thing has more magic spells than the graduation exam at Hogwarts.
    The comment made about add-on digital engine monitoring needing to be *invisible* to the existing installation is spot-on! It’s a big enough undertaking to re-plumb the electronics without having to sort out changing engine senders. The cost of something Really Bad® going wrong (like an oil-pressure sender lying) is astronomical.
    In planning a major refit, the advice I got from a respected marine electronics shop was pretty disheartening: they said that hooking up N2K devices, the multi-drop cable is indeed easier than 0183 point-to-point and muxes, but that the interoperability between brands of equipment doesn’t seem to be a lot better than the 0183 versions. Yes, certain basic functionality lights up pretty easily, but a lot of devices don’t supply all the data in the PNGs or implement all the expected PNGs, and a lot of the really useful advanced functions are available only in MFG-private PNGs usable only by their displays. So when something else tries to use the information from that source, it isn’t interoperable. And they were also annoyed that the N2K devices usually need configuration and that requires a special bit of kit, or special software on a PC, or both, to do that. And if you are trying to get two devices to interoperate nicely, you need BOTH sets of tools.
    It’s not like this wasn’t predicted by some of us who have lived through all this nonsense before. The only thing that debugs interoperability is trying to interoperate. Just like it has been with 0183.
    With a level of irony appreciated only by a very few, the Internet Engineering Task Force has decided to *abandon* binary data formats for SNMP – the Simple Network Monitoring Protocol which is how the Global Internet has been monitored and operated since shortly after the Big Bang. I was the IETF Area Director who midwifed SNMPv3 – the 3rd major revision of SNMP which used ISO ASN.1 binary encoding for all the payloads. It has become impossible to evolve the binary data definitions fast enough to cope with the evolution
    of the technology. The IESG, Internet Engineering Steering Group, just accepted the recommendation that ALL SNMP-based development in the IETF be terminated and it immediately transitioned to a HUMAN READABLE DATA FORMAT, specifically a unified hybrid of YAML which has been extended to be a superset of JASON. (Those are the two human-readable data encodings that make most of the World Wide Web protocols function.) Interoperability is much easier when the data formats are trivial to understand, but more importantly, *debug* when two components are not making nice.
    Note that SNMP was the ONLY Internet protocol which has used binary payload encoding. We knew before SNMPv2 was created that using ASN.1 was not as good an idea as it first looked, but hey, “it’s already done.” And now it’s finally been undone. “It feels so good when it stops!”
    The sad fact is that the interoperability and capabilities I have right now based on 0183, a couple of Shipmodul muxes, a USB hub, a small Ethernet switch, a Mac Mini driving a Furuno monitor, a pair of now-orphaned Northstar 6100s+radar+sounder, a Maretron flux-gate (0183 mode), Furuno RD-30 displays for the Airmar weather head & ultrasonic speed log, and an Interphase phased-array sonar is impossible to replicate with current issue hardware for less than 3 times what the current system cost 7 years ago. I seem to remember most electronics getting *massively* cheaper in the same time period.
    It’s taken over a decade, it has successfully prevented the erosion of system prices, and the achieved, as opposed to advertised, interoperability is only a modest improvement. As an exercise in oligopolistic market control, N2K is a rousing success. As a genuine technical advance, ehhhh – not so much.

  41. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Mike. A few comments:
    1) It’s silly to say that most of the analog-to-NMEA 2000 gateways are for gas engines because they don’t handle Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT); there are damn few analog diesels that have EGT sensors. I do understand that EGT is a valuable data point to monitor and I’d add it to my 450hp Volvo Penta Turbo except that it doesn’t even have a port to accept an add-on sensor. If it did I would quickly stick a Maretron sensor in there and wire it to my versatile TMP100:
    2) EGT is a good example of how NMEA 2000 can be frustrating. For instance, it is not one of the many possible Sources like “Bait Well” or “Freezer” that can be chosen within the 130312 Temperature PGN, but then again you can set up virtually unlimited “custom” temp PGNs. Maretron displays will easily show EGT even with a custom label like “Starboard Forward EGT” but that label won’t carry to other displays because the “labeling” facility within N2K is so far little supported (though they’re working on it). So while many instruments and MFDs will show any temperature PGN they see on the network, the label may be pretty funky.
    3) NMEA 2000 is not perfect but it’s certainly not as you describe. But haven’t you been extremely negative on the standard and the process that created it for over a decade? And am I wrong to get the impression that you actually have little working experience with it?
    4) I definitely can’t see how what you have on your boat now would cost three times more today. How is that possible? I think the same money would buy you a much better system.
    But, hey, I did enjoy your comment on Chetco. It’s very ambitious gear and could be a great value in some hands, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

  42. SteveD says:

    There is someone in Madrid selling the Alba-Combi on Ebay for less than 400 dollars delivered to the U.S. It must be priced in converted Euros. I am grabbing one.

  43. Eric says:

    Will an of the analog to NMEA 2000 devices work on Yamaha 4 stroke outboard that do not have native n2k?

  44. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Eric,
    Regarding the Actisense EMU-1, it is not the engine manufacturer or model that is important but rather the gauge/sensor manufacturer and model.
    If you can tell me the make and model of your gauges/senders I can see if they are on the EMU-1 compatibility list:
    I hope that helps.

  45. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Ben,
    I have just seen your comments about Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT). As of January 2013, the NMEA added a new PGN 130316 (Temperature, Extended Range) that replaces all older Temperature and Environmental PGNs.
    It can be used for Exhaust Gas Temperature and simplifies all temperature measurements to a single PGN.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Vesper did a software update about a year ago where it sends out via wifi more data. Wind, wind direction and such. As a sailor not sure of rpm. Think not.

  47. Michaelf says:

    Greetings from Australia. I recently purchased a Alba Combi unit to feed analogue signals from a 2002 Honda 225 into Lowrance LMF 400 gauges and my Raymarine A78 chart plotter. Unfortunately I cannot get the Alba to talk to my lap top. I’ve tried 3 different lap tops and Ethernet cables. I’ve also tried setting a fixed IP address on my lap top as recommended in the FAQ page on Alba’s web site but still no joy. I’ve sent web enquirers to Alba but had no response. I would appreciate any thoughts on solutions that you may have.

  48. Michaelf says:

    Hi guys. I resolved my Alba Combi connectivity issue. I didn’t configure my IP address correctly. I followed the steps on their set up video on YouTube and it worked out fine.

  49. Steve Hillyard says:

    Hi Michael, Glad you got that connection fixed. I’ve been setting up the Alba Combi and using a new Furuno MFD to monitor the NMEA 2000 data. I have RPM, Oil Pressure, transmission oil pressure, battery voltage working great. But, I cannot get the water temperate to read out. It seems fine when looking at the “full display” and when reading the “measured” and “calibrated” data on the appropriate “channel.” But, the MFD reading is pegged way to high. Did you have any problems with this reading?

  50. Anonymous says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve only played with the tachometer output at this stage. While I can output to my laptop from the Alba I can’t get it to talk with my Lowrance LMF 400 gauges. I’ve ordered a cable to connect my Raymarine A78 to my NMEA backbone to see if it can see the output from the Alba. I’ve emailed Alba a number of times and got no response which is very disappointing. I’ll keep you posted.

  51. Greg Ireland says:

    Hi all, I am undertaking an update of my vessel’s helm and I am keen to interface my analogue Diesel engines into my Maretron N2K system that I have on board. This will not be my first attempt at this exercise, I have already attempted it with a NoLand MD33 which would not read my tacho’s correctly no matter how hard I tried. Eventually, after Maretron upgraded to V2 of NMEA2K I could not see the MD33 on the network and still can’t.
    My engines use standard VDO gauges and from what I have read the Actisense may be the best unit to give a go next despite the need to purchase the gateway device, that said I do like the sound of the web server in the Alba Combi unit.
    I was hoping someone out there has some real world experience with getting this data reliably and accurately onto my N2K software without too much grief. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Greg, Darwin, Australia.

  52. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Greg, you might consider the impressive VeeThree EGM:
    It’s not exactly a retail product but I’m glad to see that it’s now available from Gemeco, which means that at least a U.S. dealer/installer can purchase one:
    I’m a little leery about the Alba Combi. I tried testing one last fall and while I got the config software running OK it seemed to be buggy. It’s a powerful concept but may need lots of work and I’m not sure Alba is doing that (as Michael seemed to find above).

  53. Why did Maretron discontinue the EMS100?
    Was there some problem with it? They could have improved the information about it, but I never heard any complaints, or much at all, positive or negative.

  54. Evan says:

    Greg – my experience with the Noland is several years ols and documented in the comments above. But I never had any issues with it when it came to converting rpm’s into a N2K signal. That worked as long as I knew the # of teeth in the flywheel of my engine.
    That said, I opted for an Actisense unit on my next boat. Again, it monitors RPM’s just fine and I can get the readings on my Maretron screen. I also wired up the Actisense to my engine temp senders but the readings there are not accurate. But to be fair, I have not done much investigation into that issue since installation.

  55. Andy Campbell says:

    Three years after this thread started, it is very interesting (at least to me) that it is still active.
    Ben: Perhaps that suggests a refresh to this article (to update to the latest information) could be a good idea?
    Greg: I just wanted to mention that in our experience, the primary reason to purchase the Actisense NGT-1 “gateway device” is to allow monitoring and diagnosing of your NMEA 2000 network, which can be vital to understanding and maintaining a stable NMEA 2000 network.
    The secondary reason (that you mentioned) is to interface to other NMEA 2000 devices, such as the Actisense EMU-1. For changing Device instance (and System instance) this can apply to any manufacturer’s device, and if you have a Victron Energy device, you can use the NGT-1 to both update their firmware and configure their device.
    A third reason is to interface NMEA 2000 to the vast majority of software chart-plotters (Maxsea, Nobeltec, Coastal Explorer, Expedition etc.).

  56. James Tingle says:

    Hi Andy,
    I see on your website that the ability to use custom calibration curves with the EMU-1 is “coming soon”.
    This would be a very useful feature for many reasons. one that jumps to mind for me is the ability to connect my resistive fuel sender and calibrate it to display volume rather than depth since I have a V shaped tank.
    Do you have any further updates about when the feature is due?
    Many thanks

  57. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi James,
    Very true, and to that end we have employed 3 new engineers over the past 18 months to allow us to do more. We have started on the EMU-1 advancement project and first out of the block, due for release this week, is the brand new Actisense Toolkit that can update the EMU-1 firmware and modify its configuration. It is a significant step up and will allow us to add more features, such as the user defined gauges/senders you mention.
    Now that first step is complete, we are adding a bunch of new gauges/senders to our configuration options for the second step. The details of some of those were kindly supplied to us by our customers. That update will hopefully be released in the next 4 weeks, testing and QA willing. Once we have a release date for step 2, we can share more about step three.

  58. There is no another company that offers as much gauge customization as Maretron, but frankly all this experimentation left me wondering how much screen real estate users will want to give up in order to duplicate old style analog dials. i really like this article Thanks so much! I am keeping your advice to follow step by step This was just excellent!.

  59. Moppie says:

    I have a 15 year old sport fish that’s having temp gauge (multifunctional temp,boost, oil, volts) problems and I’m assuming that other gauges could also fail.Egg Harbor no longer maintains a replacement gauge inventory and the manufacturer (Faria) actually sent the failed gauge back refusing to repair it. I’m looking at either replacement of gauges or implementing a N2K analog to digital gauge arrangement whilst upgrading my 15 year old electronics. Is it too early to rely on this not-so-new technology as primary or should I just replace the gauges? I have a space problem should I replace with single purpose gauges. Having browsed through this chain I’m wondering these systems are time tested and reliable to stand on their own. I’ve had conversations with electronics installers at boat shows who have basically told me they were not familiar with any reliable work around. Would someone please opine on this dilemma that I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s faced with.

  60. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Moppie, This is my third year using the EMU-1 and various N2K displays as my primary gauges. I still like having the old gauges in a cabinet, just in case, but the EMU-1 has never failed.
    I am glad to recently hear from Actisense’s Andy Campbell that they are going to improve calibration for the EMU-1, as my electronic temp and oil pressure gauges still do not quite match the analogs. But the electronic gauges are just as consistent and that’s what really counts.
    I also wish that display manufacturers beside Maretron would enable what’s really great about N2K engine info: Allow users to set up custom alerts on any value. They are not the same as regular engine alarms, as explained here:

  61. Cristian says:

    Good day ,
    Thank you for the explanation above .
    It would really really help me 1 picture of how the wires are connected to the Volvo gauges ( the back of the panel ) .
    Thank you in advance .

  62. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Cristian,
    I wrote an entry about the 3M Scotchlok connectors I used to install the Actisense EMU-1 and at the bottom is a photo showing the wiring behind the Volvo Penta panel.
    Some readers were skeptical about the Scotchloks but they’ve held up fine for over three years now.

  63. Gary says:

    Hi Ben – Just wanted to let you know I just installed an Alba Combi paired with a Maretron DSM410 display and Maretron NMEA2000 components to monitor engine, EGT, and transmission oil pressure on my Yanmar 6LY2A-STP 440 Hp diesel and found the updated Combi very easy to install and program with the ethernet cable connection to my laptop. The hardest task was obtaining the Yanmar and other manufacturer sensor data, but once in hand programming the Combi was very simple. Some sensor inputs took multiple attempts before the Combi would accept the data for the nonstandard sensors, but a little persistence was rewarded. Plus, we love the new Maretron DSM410 color display. It also was quite easy to program and to set up the various screens.
    At around $400 from, the Alba Combi appears to be a great value with its numerous inputs. By the way – the folks at Navstore were quite helpful in helping get the initial ethernet connection to the Combi up and running for those of us who are not computer specialists. Navstore also has the Combi programming videos on their website. While rather long and sometimes tedious, they were valuable in understanding how to set up the unit.

    • Mark says:

      I have the same engines and want to do the same install as you. Would you be willing to share any info about your project so I may have a reference before I begin my adventure?

  64. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Here’s a very belated thank you, Gary. I did try an early version of the Alba Combi but got frustrated with bugs. I’m glad to hear that you’ve had success with the updated software (and what sounds like some patient research work with Yanmar) as I liked how the Combi offers direct configuration and lots of sensor calibration and PGN configuration options.
    I was also pleased to realize that the Navstore offers numerous engine interface options:
    Might I presume that the sales people there know a lot about the details?
    PS Gemeco wholesales most of the engine interfaces that the Navstore retails, plus some, and their wonderfully technical catalog is offered for download to boat owners:

  65. Bo Collier says:

    Hey Ben, thought I would rattle this post a bit and see if other’s have any comments or suggestions that may help with my recent Actisense install.
    My issue is with the VDO water temperature sender I recently installed on my Detroit 4/53’s. Each sender takes about two hours to replace due to location, but that aside, I found when running the engines that my temperature is way out of range with my gauges. Idle temp was sitting at 198-deg F while my gauge read 148-deg F.
    Turns out the Actisense toolkit dropdown and list of appropriate senders lacks a critical component of the resistive range. Others can see this in your drop down list of senders in the toolkit image above. However, the resistive range is listed in the user’s manual but I read right past it (my bad) and did not relate this info to the sender supplier, who believes this standard Detroit water temp sender should be compatible… So, while I installed a VDO 100-250-deg F sender, mine has a resistive ranage of 10-180 which is only specified by Actisense for oil pressure.
    The folks at Gemco have been outstanding with supporting me throughout my install and are taking this issue to Actisense to see if a firmware change can be made to accept this sender. I also mentioned to Gemco your comment back in 2013 (I think) that Actisense would be releasing a version that would allow adjustments to be made in the software to dial senders into the exact range. Apparently the folks at Gemco and Actisense shared a booth at IBEX recently and discussed that this issue has moved from talk to action and a release of this upgrade can be expected in the near term.
    I did try all of the other senders specified in the Actisense toolkit and only one Faria dropped the temperature any appreciable amount – but still out of actual range.

  66. Fire Storm says:

    Hi Ben: First and foremost I’d like to thank you for hosting this blog, it is a great resource to the boating community.
    I have been looking at the Actisense EMU-1 to get analog data from my 1999 Westerbeke 42 B Four diesel. My current engine control panel only has a tach and 3 warning lights, i.e., no gauges. The price of a new control panel with gauges from Westerbeke is astronomical. I’m thinking about purchasing an EMU-1, Actisense NMEA 2000 gateway, and a Maretron DMS410 Multifunction Display. While not cheap, it is less expensive than a new Westerbeke engine control panel, plus I gain the ability to convert and display my existing NMEA 0183 data. (I have recently installed a NMEA 2000 backbone for my Fusion stereo and remote.) The unknown question is will the EMU-1 be able to interface my 18 year old diesel? Is there anyway to determine this prior to purchase?
    My second question pertains to class B AIS transceivers. I have also decided to proceed to purchase either the Vesper Vison or the EM-TRAK B400 AIS transceiver. I really like the Vesper Vision, however I’m not sure if it is class B or not. I sent an email to Vesper asking this and other questions more than a month ago but have not as yet received a reply from them. The B400 is class B with the added functionality of displaying CMAP navigation charts. Since my 16 year old chart plotter cannot display AIS targets, I am leaning towards the B400. I know that you have used both of these units and wonder if you can contrast the pros and cons of each these two AIS transceivers, and maybe recommend one over the other?
    Thanks, Ben.

  67. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Fire Storm, I think that your engine plan is a good one, but realize that you may also need to find and fit engine sensors like oil pressure and coolant temp. I believe the ports are there if Westerbeke also offer such gauges.
    Another big advantage you’re going to get is the ability to set custom alerts and alarms that may well be below the thresholds that fire off the factory lights. I’m now in the process of adding more Maretron TMP-100 temp sensors to items like the engine’s raw water pump and the shaft seal, similarly hoping to be warned early when things start to go wrong.
    As for AIS, the Vision is a regular Class B transponder and the B400 is a new SOTDMA Class B that’s especially good for fast boats. But I think you should consider a black box Class B along with either a new chart plotter or a tablet.
    There are some excellent values in 7-inch MFDs which not only include charts and AIS plotting, but will interface nicely with your Fusion, your new engine monitoring, and a lot of other stuff you may want to get into eventually.
    Also check out the Vesper WatchMate XB8000 if using an Android or iOS tablet is of any interest. Their “smartAIS” (which I just wrote about) is quite something.

  68. Michael Frankcombe says:

    So i’ve finally have the Alba Combi working as it should. Calibrated the tachometer today. Kind of bizarre zooming around Lake Macquarie with a laptop plugged into the Alba measuring and calibrating. Next challenge will be trim and temperature. Safe boating!

  69. Just finished my own install of the Actisense EMU-1 and did an in-depth post at

    I have dual Volvo Penta engines, and am still tweaking things, but am pretty happy with it so far. I had it on my Yanmar driven sailboat for a year and it worked great there too.

  70. Ron says:

    Do you think this will work with a 1989 Volvo Penta 41a? 200hp. I have a Raymarine a67 and n2k onboard already.

    • I have 1988 Volvo Penta TAMD 61a’s which are very similar and am using it (see my link above) with mine just fine. It has really helped in having accurate gauges on my displays throughout the boat!

  71. Anonymous says:

    For Yanmar. A drop in replacement that fits the harness and you keep your control panel if you want.

  72. marty baker marty baker says:

    hi there
    First comment ever,
    I did the EMU1 install and have the same issue with anologue coolant gauge temp reading high 15 plus deg. Did anyone find a solution its unnerving to see 100 plus on gauge

  73. JP Henderson says:

    I am currently in the process of outfitting our boat with an N2K system (2004 Selene 53 w/ single Cummins 6CTA8.3M3 engine). Part of the installation involves the EMU1 integration into the system. Thus far, tachometer reading is dead on, other readings, not so much. I have dual VDO gauges (upper and lower helm) and started by selecting the indicated oil press/water temp scale from the drop down in the toolkit. Readings are WAY off. I then attempted to use the toolkit to create my own gauges using the on-engine mechanical gauge readings and voltage readings on the EMU at various pressures and temps. Thought that I had it dialed in but soon discovered that when alternator voltage changes, so do the reading. I will be back to the boat at the end of July and plan on disconnecting the gauges from the senders and seeing if this will produce accurate readings on the EMU. I would really like to get this operational and accurate, if anyone has suggestions. Thanks

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