Adventures in NMEA 2000 Wiring, Part II

27 Responses

  1. John Levelle says:

    I like the field installable connectors too, but I haven’t been able to use them on a drop cable for the Garmin GMI 10s and the Garmin N2K GPS sensor. They work fine along the backbone, but as soon as I use one in a drop, the device doesn’t show up. I’ve tried using Garmin’s and Maretron’s tees. Anyone else run into this problem?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    That’s odd, John; I can’t picture why the field attachable connector wouldn’t work with any kind of N2K cable. But then again I don’t think I’ve ever cut a Garmin cable; does it have the same wire color coding? Did you try the same run with a non Garmin drop cable?
    Note that NMEA recently issued a notice about how early Garmin N2K cables were not NMEA 2000 certified (pdf here: http://www.nmea.org/Assets/technical%20product%20update%20200901.pdf), and rumor has it that even Garmin’s certified cables are not great in terms of impedance and shielding. I hear that there’s also a lot of N2K cabling being sold that isn’t certified at all. I’d be careful on this score, particularly with large 2000 networks.

  3. Jeff Shukis says:

    I used Maretron field-attached connectors for my entire “mid” backbone – they are that solid. One tip I learned: cover the (otherwise bare) ground wire with a length of shrink tubing. Why? Looking at your photo above, an aggressive twist on the cable could bring the exposed silver ground wire into contact with the exposed screw of the center wire. Of course one “shouldn’t” be running around giving cables a nasty twist, but it could happen. Why take the chance?
    Jeff

  4. Bill Lentz says:

    Ben; I have a fairly large suite of Garmin plotters, Navionins Class B AIS N2K, and most Garmin N2K deivice sold on my network. I have not had a single problem using the Garmin field installation connectors and the pre-made connectors. The list is the following a 4212, 4210, Navionics NAIS300L, GPS17X, 3 – GFS-10’s, GWS-10, GXM51, 2 Garmin VHF200’s and GMI-10. I have split the network but everything works as it should. I have had no glitches, my AIS self alarm is fixed and I can view AIS A & B vessels. The static data on Class B is missing the ships name only. I also have a 3205. GSD22 & GMR-18HD on the Garmin network so are the 4212 & 4210. I have a KVH1000 position sensor on NEMA0183 that all 3 plotters see also a Furuno NX300 Navtex receiver on NEMA0183 and my Mercruiser System View 5000 displays on the 0183 network. I am running software version 5.3. All is running very good here. I am very happy. With the exception of the Navionics AIS B unit all T’s drops and terminations are Garmin. On the video I jave a FLIR Mariner II and 2 200 series plotter. I love my Garmin stuff!
    Bill Lentz

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bill, What do you mean “split the network”? The NMEA 2000 network? Why?

  6. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I like the idea of using heat shrink tubing on the bare ground lead Jeff. Although I may not be going back to enhance the existing two connectors (I feel comfortable enough that the strain relief is going to prevent the internals from twisting) this would appear to be a very good practice to extend the life of the backbone.
    I will update the instructions above to add your idea Jeff! Any other improvements to the field attachable connector instructions anybody ?

  7. Steve Mason says:

    Have used the field connectors as well in the initial installation of a Maretron speed/depth transducer and a Furuno FI-50 display at the helm.
    These were the first connections into a new “mid” backbone I installed after a rewire this winter. I was concerned about cutting into the backbone and making the connect, but with cutters in hand I jumped in.
    To my joy I powered up the system and have been running flawless NK2 all summer. Looking forward to building onto the network now that the option to add other devices is mostly a field connection away. Thanks for the great post.
    Steve

  8. AaronH says:

    I too really like these Maretron connectors, and keep a bulk spool of Maretron cable on hand rather than pre-made cables. The installs are cleaner without the excess cable coiled up.
    Question: What are the lists thoughts on tinning (soldering) the ends of the cable before inserting it into the connector?

  9. Andy says:

    I normally tin all my cable ends just is a practice i have always done.
    i prefer the Omron connectors (i source directly from Omron)
    they are the connectors furuno use on their SC-30 and are slightly smaller than the Maretron field connector (same wiring)

  10. JonM says:

    Andy – Could you supply part numbers for the Omron connectors?
    Thanks,
    Jon

  11. Jeff Shukis says:

    My take on “tinning” the wire ends: Yes!
    I tin just the end of each wire, working very hard to ensure that I don’t stiffen a significant length of wire. Don’t worry – I do make sure that I get good solder flow – no “cold” solder connections. This bit of solder keeps the wires neatly together when making the connections, something that I very much like, especially when doing wiring in the limited access/limited visibility world of boat wiring.
    One more tip: Apply a little Corrosion-X (or your favorite equivalent) to the wire ends with a Q-tip before assembling. I did this to reduce the liklihood of seeing increased resistance over time as corrosion builds up on the copper wires, especially in the (strangely) untinned Maretron power wires.
    To summarize: Cut wire lengths exactly, cover the ground with shrink tubing, tin the ends, dab with Corrosion-X, assemble carefully to ensure strain relief, test thoroughly. If this sounds like overkill to you, you’re probably new to mixing salt water and electronics!

  12. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Thank you for your suggestions ! Any more before I update the entry ?
    Also, I tried tinning some wires on my latest connection this weekend. What’s the trick to get the solder flowing before melting the insulation ?

  13. Jeff Shukis says:

    Dan,
    Check to make sure that you have the right kind of solder – thin, flexible, flux cored, and made for soldering electronics. With the right setup, it should be trivial to solder without melting the insulation.
    I heating the tip of the wire for about 7 seconds (soldering iron dependent) and then apply solder to the wire (not the iron) and watch it flow into the strands.

  14. Paul says:

    Re: soldering — also make sure that the wire is clean and corrosion-free. Dirty or oxidized wire will not take solder.
    Having a little solder on the iron will help transfer the heat to the wire, but as Jeff says, once the wire is hot apply more solder to the wire.

  15. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I see. I was putting the iron 1/4 of the way up from the tip of the wire expecting the tip to heat and draw the solder up before the insulation melted.

  16. Paul says:

    One more soldering hint: If the wire is heavy-gauge a too-small iron won’t deliver enough heat. Within reason, a bigger iron is better, since it can heat up the copper wire quickly, allowing the solder to flow before the insulation has a chance to get too hot.
    If we’re talking about the small wires that go into one of these NMEA-2000 connectors, just about any soldering iron should do the job well.

  17. jeux xbox says:

    I can’t picture why the field attachable connector wouldn’t work with any kind of N2K cable. But then again I don’t think I’ve ever cut a Garmin cable; does it have the same wire color coding?

  18. Jon TC says:

    One other thing I have found while making up perhaps 10 field-attachable connectors…depending on the diameter of your cable, the rubber collar inside the strain-relief plastic “cage” may not be able to be compressed much, and if you try to compress it further it will not compress uniformly and the cable will be pushed off to the side. If you look at the jacket of your cable you will see the little indentations left by the prongs of that cage, and even without the rubber collar, the cage will hold the cable securely and provide strain relief. I also use cable ties, screwed to something solid, and fastened around the cable on one side of the connector and the tee or whatever it connects to on the other side.

  19. JonM says:

    I cut a Garmin cable in half and wired it to a DB-9 connector for my hacking project. This Garmin cable had the standard color code.
    The connector threads seemed to be prone to cross threading, so I now have the Garmin cable attached to a short Airmar cable so that it can be connected more easily.
    Jon

  20. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Jon TC, are you talking about field connectors in general or the Maretron connectors ?
    I know I was very impressed with the mechanical aspects of the strain relief (twist the screw and it seems to apply pressure uniformally around the cable) and that it seem to handle a wide range of sizes including the very thin Raymarine cabling. Did I miss something ?

  21. Jerry says:

    If there is nothing real special about n2k cable can I use my existing cable for my wind sensor. I’m replacing a Navman Wind with a Garmin system and I could just install the field connectors on the existing 5 wire cable and not run new cable down the mast.
    It would make the job a lot easier, but if I would loose anything I’ll just run new cable.

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    There are some special characteristics to N2K cable — mainly to do with impedance and EMI protection. I suppose you could try it with existing cable but you may have change if see problems. Suggest you read Garmin’s booklet on N2K network design; you prolbably need to terminate one end at masthead.

  23. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Hooked up another sensor yesterday, I love how this N2K always works every time I add a device or modify the wiring, even when as I did this time, got down and dirty and used a maretron field attachable connector to shorten up the devices wire (takes 10 minutes and some precision to cut and strip wires)
    The downside, this is not furthering my electronics hobby one bit. No N2K troubleshooting skills are being developed, no war stories to share, anyone with basic skills can do this, especially if they go with the included connectors.
    Way to go N2K.

  24. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Me too! Installed an Actisense EMU-1 analog engine data converter over the last few days and now have Gizmo’s gauges also sending PGNs to the boat’s NMEA 2000 network. Not a trivial install, and not perfect results yet, but I’m now convinced that I’ll be able to put the old guages in less desirable real estate while getting better looking live data, more flexible alarming, plus engine data logging. Cool stuff.

  25. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Questions for anyone who combines Raymarine products with a Maretron NMEA2000 backbone
    I have built my NMEA-2000 backbone, written about in Panbo above, and diagrammed here in Part I of this series:
    https://panbo.com/assets_c/2009/07/BreezePleezeTwoN2K-711.html
    … with expectation any devices I add would be done with a spur cable either off the backbone or from a Maretron Multiport (pictured above) placed in some strategic places like my helm.
    I am getting tripped up that some of the Raymarine components are designed to be placed in the middle of the backbone, having the backbone enter a blue connector on one side, and exit the blue connector on the other, such as the itc-5 and the Seatalk 1 to Seatalk ng converter.
    As I didn’t run the backbone up to my helm, choosing instead to had 5 port Maretron Multiport, but my seatalk wiring is exactly in that spot, I am challanged to install either an seatalk 1 to seatalk ng converter like this one
    https://panbo.com/assets_c/2010/08/Raymarine_SeaTalk-STNG_Converter-2701.html
    The helpful folks over at Raymarine wrote to me “Dan,The iTC-5 is not designed to be installed as a spur. As such, it may be installed at one end of the backbone or within the middle. To do so, a SeaTalkng Backbone Cable will need to be spliced to the Maretron backbone cable … simply match the colors of the wires within the respective backbone cables.”
    Some questions for the Panbo forum
    1. Each of these devices has two back bone (blue) connectors and a spur (white) connector. Is Raymarine advice above correct, (i) must I insert them in the middle of my backbone, or can I connect these devices using the spur connector and not use the backbone ports? (ii) if I can use just the spur connector, should I put terminators in the two blue connectors or leave them empty?
    2. Is it ok to to have a backbone that alternates between Maretron cabling and Raymarine Cabling, back to Maretron cabling? (other than the obvious, voltage drop considerations of the thinner cable, is there any impedance issues ?)
    3. Unrelated, my new Raymarine evolution autopilot, with the abysmally short custom spur connector does not reach my backbone either. Normally I would modify a raymarine cable to do this, by adding a field installable maretron connector, but evolution has this strange connector the autopilot end that is not available in longer lengths. What is an acceptable way to extend a spur cable, can I just screw in a maretron micro cable into my field installable maretron cable, to make the autopilot cable longer?
    Thanks, Dan

  26. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Dan, I think that Ray has simply built a CanBus Tee into the ITC-5 as a convenience. I’m pretty sure that you can put a field attachable male N2K connector on either an STng blue or white cable and it will make the ITC a working device on a spur/drop cable. Do not add extra terminators to your network but do seal up the unused ports in some way (I’ve used Rescue Tape).
    I also think that you can extend the AP’s STng cable with a field attachable and a regular N2K cable, as long as you don’t violate the 6m drop maximum.
    But then again, I haven’t done either of these things, so good luck and please report back 😉
    (I have mixed STng and DeviceNet backbone cable without any issues. STng actually has power wires gauged like Maretron MID, I think.)

  27. Ted Arisaka says:

    I recently had my 1st opportunity to use this Field Attachable connector and referred back to the great tips here, thanks to all.
    Anyone use ferrules instead of tinning like this:
    https://goo.gl/photos/HK8Yua6EsxCrqWHV9

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