Lowrance N2K FM/VHF, and more


If you check the bigger image, you’ll see the FM band button, a welcome first for a fixed VHF radio. But maybe better yet, I think, is the Lowrance style NMEA 2000 plug on the back.

The press release says the unit “integrates NMEA 2000 with DSC-101 for distress and buddy-tracking features when connected to a compatible Lowrance GPS chartplotter. An exclusive ‘Track Your Buddy’ feature connects DSC position polling to Lowrance LCX, LMS and GlobalMap units via the NMEA 2000 network for GPS location display of up to three boating friends.” The LVR-880 also has a regular 0183 interface, but I’m hoping that it uses standard 2000 messages, so in fact will share GPS and DSC position info with other N2K plotter/GPS’s, but my optimism is tempered by that ‘exclusive’ word and other details we know (like how the new Garmin’s won’t send it GPS yet). Let’s just say that using the 2000 protocol could make this radio really easy to set up with two way data comms, even to multiple other-brand devices. (Maybe they’ll let me experiment.)
  And there’s lots more of note on Lowrance’s press release page. Like the fact that most all new Lowrance plotters can now display Navionics Platinum charts and lake maps, especially impressive as the units already work with a variety of formats. The company is also introducing a black box Broadband Sounder that’s said to produce “digitally purified”, “you won’t believe your eyes” echo clarity. It talks Ethernet and can plug directly into many existing Lowrance displays, or multiple displays via a new Navico Expansion Port. (I’d guess that the latter’s name means it will be sold across several Navico brands; why not?)

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.

14 Responses

  1. jimh says:

    Giving a VHF Marine Band radio a NMEA-2000 interface is a very smart decision. I hope other manufacturers take this same path.
    A constant topic in most boat electronic discussions is how to connect a radio to a GPS and chart plotter. Lowrance has just eliminated that problem.

  2. Here are some additional videos and pictures I’ve done on the Garmin 545 CP. They include navigation functions (g2 & g2 Vision), SST info over g2 vision offshore bathy charts and a number of XM Weather/Garmin 545 screen videos. The last is a picture of the 545 install on my Whaler.
    Please feel free to post these to the Panbo Site. I really enjoy the articles and information.

  3. Jim Hebert Jim Hebert says:

    I noticed recently that on the Lowrance website the LVR-880 radio has been upgraded to a Class-D DSC radio where formerly it was just mentioned as SC-101 rated. See:
    I think this is great news. Finally a modern DSC Class-D radio that can be simply plugged into a NMEA-2000 network. I think this is a first.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t think so, Jim, unfortunately. I too find the text confusing:
    “Full Class-D or SC-101 automatic distress operation with high-res position polling and group calling via NMEA 0183/NMEA 2000® output to chartplotters…”
    But I’d guess it means Class-D type DSC features, not Class-D type dual receivers.

  5. Peter says:

    The lvr 880 is currently in the process of being homologated for use in Europe. To my knowledge this will only succeed with full class-d specs.

  6. norse says:

    The Lowrance LVR-880 webpages still say “Full Class-D or SC-101” DSC, which is rather vague. But they have the manual available for download, and in Appendix A, it says:
    Digital Selectivity Calling (DSC):
    SC101 for LVR-880US
    Class D (EN301-025) for LVR-880EU

    It’s odd they would bother with two versions. I wonder if US customers can get the EU version?

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Norse, I think it’s quite common for manufacturers to have separate radios for the U.S. and European markets, and I think it’s mostly because the lower cost SC101 sets can’t be sold in Europe but VHF sets in this country are often purchased on price.

  8. norse says:

    I tried to figure out from the internet prices around the world how much more they charge for full Class D over SC101. The recent market changes make that hard, but I don’t think it’s very much as far as the official price goes. (For the actual price, the US has better deals.) I would think anyone paying this much for a VHF would see the value in a spending a few more dollars for the full DSC.

  9. Olsonist says:

    The LVR-880 Operation Instructions manual gives this information:
    • DSC (Digital Select Calling) capability that meets USCG SC101 standards. LVR-880US only
    • DSC (Digital Select Calling) capability that meets EC Class D standards. LVR-880EU only
    • ATIS facility for inland waterways. LVR-880EU only
    Priority channel (LVR-880EU only)
    16/9 Priority channel LVR-880US only.
    SCAN (TRI WATCH Mode) LVR-880US only.
    WX Weather channel. LVR-880US only.
    WX ALT LVR-880US only.
    So it seems that you have to trade WX for full Class D.

  10. jimh says:

    It’s too bad that this LVR-880 won’t be a Class-D rated DSC radio in the U.S.
    I guess we will have to wait for GARMIN to bring out their new Class-D DSC radio with NMEA-2000 networking. Their VHF-200 model should provide those features, but at considerably higher cost.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The thing about the WX channels is odd. After all, they are regular channels and the wx buttons are just a convenience. I called Lowrance and they said in Canada you do get Class-D and you do get the weather channels. I don’t know how to confirm this short of buying one. VHF in Canada always have a US/International switch.

  12. Olsonist says:

    I’ll buy the LVR-880EU if I can verify that it receives the NOAA weather channels. So far I haven’t been able to.
    The US version has the UIC mode (section 4-1) which allows you to choose from US, International or Canadian channel banks. This is US only and the implication is that the EU version is set to receive only the International channel bank: no NOAA.
    I’ve called Lowrance twice but I gave up after 25 minutes on hold. But I’ll figure this out before I buy.

  13. norse says:

    I went through the manual and it’s pretty clear that the EU version does not have the 10 wx channels (the 7 NOAA weather radio channels, which are the same in US and Canada, plus two more Canadian weather channels 21B and 83B, and one more 163.275 which is said to be no longer in active use). The EU version has other channels specific to various European countries. This is presumably just a firmware difference.
    It’s also stated in the manual that DSC is Class D in EU and SC101 in US versions. There is some small hope that they are both Class D, either because of a recent upgrade not mentioned in the manual or because a Class D meets the SC101 standard (and more). That may be wishful thinking.

  14. Olsonist says:

    I tracked down a senior marketing guy at Lowrance.
    All of Lowrance radios can be cloned for different areas for global sales. Our EU version keypad has mechanically different key ICONS. It only has CH16 key. USA model has 16/9 to select the 2nd Coast Guard calling channel. In addition, the EU radio has no Weather (Wx) key, since NOAA weather in not functional in EU. We customized the EU radio for easier customer usage with no “useless keys”. Our LVR-880E fits the European market better in our opinion.
    The reason a DSC Class D separate Channel 70 receiver was not added to the USA model is simply a matter of cost. Lowrance is a high volume brand where tradeoffs have to be made to meet price requirements, yet offer high performance. The difference in a Class D dedicated receiver and a scanned receiver is in the probability of missed calls. Frankly, missed call performance is not that much different. For example, the urgent distress message is repeated multiple times for assurances in critical times. No safety is compromised. Class D receivers are not full duplex – i.e. they cannot receive during transmit time. We decided to leave it out.
    We feel the addition of a full stereo FM receiver, SAME weather, and Great Circle Navigation to WPTS (as a backup navigator) has more customer value benefits than a Class D receiver in USA. We do hope you agree.
    I do agree. You always want more. You always want what’s next. But at $160 the LVR-880US represents simply an awesome value proposition.

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