Actisense NMEA 2000 cables & connectors, plus network design tips

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.

15 Responses

  1. Chris L-S says:

    I expect I’ll be ripping out most of my 0183 gear this year and replacing it with N2K. This article was great to see some of the choices out there. Do you have any recommendations on primer articles/blog entries to help me make initial decisions on things like power, location, backbones vs. spurs, etc.?

  2. peter says:

    Actisense W2K was just announced on FB to be released this month!

  3. Grant Jenkins says:

    Ben – good article, but I find your suggestion that mixing different brands of N2K components represents “poor practice” – isn’t that the whole point of a “standard”? Resistance is resistance – a scientific measurement, irrespective of brand. If a particular component doesn’t function correctly, it’s because it didn’t meet the value specified in the standard, NOT because it was of a different brand than the one it was connected to.
    Maintaining a single brand throughout DOES have other advantages, specifically when mounting multi-drop Tee’s or other components flat against a panel. The orientation key on some manufacturers Tee’s is different than others – something that apparently was not part of the spec. But functionally, they should all work.
    I’ve combined Maretron, Navico, and Garmin components before, sometimes simply due to local supplier availability, and never had a problem.

    • Grant, my feeling is that maintaining one brand across the system is mostly good for reducing finger-pointing when something goes wrong 🙂 . I would agree that a manufacturer who claims a system failure is because of “the other guy” needs to be required to explain exactly why – but that isn’t always easy, and if you’re not in a place to do detailed troubleshooting, it can be a real PITA to deal with.

      • Grant Jenkins says:

        Good point Hartley, and yes, all things being equal, staying with a single brand makes sense for the reason you pointed out, and perhaps others. I just think that deviating from that does not equal “poor practice” – and I would hope others would not view it that way either. Leaving the impression that NMEA2000-certified products are not necessarily compatible among brands runs counter to the whole principle of the standard – IMHO.

        • And I agree with you 110%, Grant! If it says “NMEA2000 Certified” on it, it should work – without hassles and quibbling. Unfortunately, the N2K standard DOES allow for some proprietary stuff, but as long as it doesn’t cause a problem for the normal usage, that doesn’t bother me too much – as long as the manufacturer clearly discloses it. I’ve only added one non-RayMarine N2K device to our network (an Icom VHF) – and it works fine 🙂
          I know Ben E has had some rants in the past about how different brands of MFD respond differently to some N2K info – DSC Distress calls and AIS MOB data, for example – and some don’t seem to respond at all, which is disappointing. I have also heard of some discontinuities in how AtoN AIS data is presented – you would think these would be old news by now, but apparently not.

          • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

            Hartley, I know of any proprietary N2K messages causing trouble and a lot of good things would not have happened without them. But NMEA 2000 certification does not include any rules about which standard PGNs a device has to read or transmit (besides the network protocol ones), let alone how they are displayed. And I’m persuaded that it would be a regulatory nightmare to impose such rules.

            So, alas, as of last fall, Garmin MFDs still could not decipher and display AIS AtoNs. Meanwhile, a whole lot of data on Gizmo’s N2K networks is working fine across brands, but not all. The Raymarine displays, for instance, often but not always show a different Heading than the Garmin and Furuno MFDs from the same Heading sensor ;-(

        • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

          Well, I don’t think I said anything about mixing N2K devices, which I do a lot although Hartley’s point is valid.

          But I also mix N2K network components like tees, cables and terminators although I do think it’s slightly better practise to stay with one or two high-quality types, especially for large N2K networks.

          Grant is correct that one certified NMEA 2000 terminator or length of cable should act just like another, but I do recall the long ago time when Garmin apparently had to replace its cables to get the resistance right. Stuff happens and on N2K networks it tends to show up in odd, intermittent ways.

  4. Dan Corcoran Dan Corcoran says:

    Are you sure about that, 3rd diagram “Legal N2K network with 8 female ports and a 4-tee backbone”. Terminating resistors seem to be missing.

  5. Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

    I hadn’t realized the difference in Field connectors. I’ve used Maretrons before. The color coding on the Maretrons has helped verifying and troubleshooting in the past. I was about to buy some LTW not realizing the difference. Thanks for pointing that out. That’s one of the reasons I love the forum!
    BTW, those Carling Octoplex switches in your mockup are really nice & modern looking.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool! Actisense now offers an 8 Way Self-contained N2K network:

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