LowranceNET NMEA2000, bad news, good news
Oy, I’m a tired puppy after 5 days of NMEA conference and yet more plane rides. Yesterday’s featured a puking infant during a bumpy landing in Boston followed by a final leg into Rockland on a little plane purposely run with some empty seats (they also rearranged us “for balance”, causing a wee bit more nervousness). But I am fully loaded with interesting info about NMEA 2000, AIS, new products and more, and I should be able to post more frequently, at least this week.
For starters, check out the NMEA 2000 “consistent” wiring system above introduced by Lowrance (more detail in a pop-up at Lowrance.com). It looks a lot like the standard NMEA 2000 cabling and connectors I’ve been testing but in fact it’s not certified and its plugs are purportedly not compatible! This is certainly not what the standard was supposed to be about—plug and play interoperability between different brands of gear—and I’m told it caused quite a hubbub in the NMEA 2000 committee meetings. (And I hope those folks who think NMEA is a “club” dedicated to keeping small developers out will note how fractious it really is). In fact there have been issues with the 2000 cable standard all along. Many think it’s too expensive and/or too bulky. That’s why Simrad, Raymarine, and Lowrance each use their own proprietary 2000 cable to interconnect their own 2000 equipment (which is legal under the standard). That’s why Simrad and Raymarine had to supply patch cables to tee into my test system (though I could have made them fairly easily).
So it would seem even messier if Lowrance sells an alternate, uncertified backbone cable/tee system—even if it leads to some of the first 2000 production boats, as announced by Ranger last week—but I’m told that there is going to be a happy ending to this story. Two reliable sources tell me that there will be a major breakthrough in the cable situation announced within a month. I’m guessing they mean that Lowrance will end up truly compliant and that the industry will agree on a second, less costly (though possibly more limited) cable and connector standard.