Albatross, N2K in a suitcase
Rats! I took some interesting photos of an Albatross demo case similar to this in the lab yesterday, and but somehow they failed to make the trip to NYC with me last night. The company shots will do for now. Albatross Control Systems is a Spanish firm dedicated to all things NMEA 2000. It’s developed a PC server/client monitoring system that’s at least somewhat similar to Maretron’s N2KView, and it distributes all sorts of N2K hardware, much of it relabeled, but also some of its own design. In the latter category—and of much interest to installers and boaters trying to get traditional sensor info onto a 2000 network—are those blue Engine, Battery, and Tank Interface boxes seen above. Albatross makes many such interfaces, as seen in their catalog, and no other company is so ambitious about turning every sort of analog boat signal into an N2K message. But that’s challenging…
Check out the manual for the Alba-Engine Interface, available as a PDF on this tech page, and you’ll learn that it can purportedly understand RPM, oil pressure/temp, cooling water temp, alternator output, and boost pressure whether it’s coming from European (10-180 ohm) or American (30-240 ohm) resistive sensors, or VDO-style voltage sensors. While standard analog gauges can exist in parallel to the Interface, and are probably very useful for calibrating the NMEA 2000 data, the whole calibration process looks non trivial. I haven’t tried Albatross’s InstallTool yet, but that’s a screen shot from the manual below, with some results showing on three Raymarine ST70’s.
I can tell you that the twirling the various rheostats in the demo case causes the various values they represent to change smoothly and quickly on the included ST70. I also know that Alden Cole had success with his Alba-Engine/Cummins install, and I once spoke with a Florida boatyard owner who says he’s used the same Interface with several different engine models. I’d like to experiment with an Albatross install and also see how well the data plays on the lab’s network, but in fact may be here in New York for a while. It involves my ailing mom again, but this time I lucked into the use of a quiet apartment just a stone’s throw from the Brooklyn Promenade. Wonderful to watch New York Harbor in action, even in the rain.