Maretron DSM250, N2K ups & downs


There’s a lot to say about this screen and how the values got there, or didn’t, but what I like the most is how Maretron’s DSM250 is displaying the outputs of two NMEA 2000 depth transducers at once, and that I was even able to name their data windows in an informative way.  I think the screen will be useful in some tight gunkholing situations, and would be even more so on a larger vessel or a multihull.  Unfortunately this level of N2K data management is not yet available elsewhere, unless I’ve missed something…

Most of N2K displays I’m testing let a user choose the source of a particular data type if there is more than one on the backbone, but they don’t let you show two of the same type, except for items that are commonly multiple like engines and tanks.  Some Lowrance MFDs are an exception, but I’m not sure that feature migrated to the HDS series (I’ll check), and I recall that it did not apply to depth for some reason.  So you can often get double depth read-outs by setting different displays to different sources, but maybe only Maretron supports the screen above.  The trick was to change the “Instance” of one transducer from the default “0” so I could then select different instances of Depth when setting up the screen.  Not every manufacturer gives you the ability to change Instance, though Maretron is great about it, and you almost invariably need a same manufacturer display or software to make the change.  Instances is one of those areas of N2K that most users will never need to know about, and I find confusing, but it seems to have powerful possibilities.
   “Labels” is another one of those areas.  Frankly I don’t even know if they are a mostly-unused N2K option, or only a Maretron feature.  But they’re definitely cool when they work.  As you can see on this N2KAnalyzer screen, many Maretron sensors accept Labels.  You can type them right into Analyzer for storage in the sensor and then when you’re building a screen on the DSM250 or in N2KView you can simply use the custom label as a data description.  Unfortunately, the oldish Maretron DST100 I’m using doesn’t support this feature and I had to resort to the DSM250’s custom name feature (below), which is nice to have but painful to use.  Do not tap away at those four keys to painstakingly write a long description and then just Back out without going to “Save & Exit”!  Maretron also doesn’t seem to recognize the DST2000 I mounted near Gizmo’s bow as something it can configure, which seems odd as Airmar built the DST100 as well.  (That transducer, incidentally, works better than many predicted, holding 300 feet of bottom at up to 14 knots in testing so far.)  A Garmin MFD can set a keel offset on the DST2000 (also called the DST800, I think), but I found that both it and Maretron got confused about such configurations if both transducers were online at the same time.  So it goes.
   Now about the Simrad AP 11 heading and rudder data seen and not seen in the top screen.  At first I thought I could use a Maretron RAA100 adapter to get the latter, but it turns out that Simrad used frequency instead of resistance for its pre-N2K rudder sensor, and the RAA100 can’t translate.  So instead I wired a Simrad AT10 to the AP11’s NMEA 0183 port.  The latter is supposed to output rudder data and the former is supposed to translate it, but, as you can see, the DSM250 isn’t showing it.  But it is now getting heading info from the AP.  So it goes.


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.

25 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Ben, I have been able to use Maretron’s N2KAnalyzer to configure N2K device instances on a Garmin GMI 10 and I think some other equipment. Instance setting seems fairly reliable across manufacturers.
    N2KAnalyzer is a useful program, better than Actisense’se NMEA Reader in my opinion, especially as the latter orders everything by node instance rather than device name, which makes it very difficult to figure out what is sending the data you are looking at. Downside of N2KAnalyzer is that you need a Maretron USB100 to use it (AFAIK).
    As for AP output, when I connected the Simnet->N2K cable to my Simrad AP 25, which is not a current-generation unit, I was very pleased to see the heading and rudder angle come right up on the N2K net.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good to hear, Adam. I am curious, though, why you’d change instances of a GMI 10? How does that help you?
    I know for sure that I’m behind on all the enhancements Maretron has added to their devices and software, but I hope to catch up.

  3. Adam says:

    Ben, since the GMI 10 is only a listener, it probably doesn’t help me at all! But since I have six of them on board it just sort of seemed like a good idea to give them different instances.
    I was also able to change the instance on my Garmin GPS 17x, which was more useful — I could then tell N2KView which GPS to use for its coordinate display.

  4. Russ says:

    Ben – You mention the Garmin MFD and Maretron DSM250 being confused if you had an offset set in both devices? This gets a little convoluted, so let me just ask the question.
    Is the picture at the top of your post adjusted for offset, or is it raw data?
    The point you raise has been a sore point for me for a couple of years. My Furuno MFD will not recognize two depth units. I was able to achieve what I needed for awhile by using a 183 depth sounder aft and connecting it directly to the Furuno autopilot controller. Then I had forward depth on the FI50’s and aft depth on the autopilot.
    However, I removed the Furuno autopilot and replaced it with a Raymarine ST6000+ (a SeaTalk/183 device), but the ST6000+ will not display depth data (who knows why Raymarine decided to filter the 183 sentences). So now I have no way to display the aft depth, the wires are disconnected at the moment.
    It’s very useful data, especially when maneuvering a sailboat in tight quarters where the rudder is 40′ aft of the depth transducer and frequently in a much different depth. This is especially important when mooring stern first (aka Med mooring). We’ve no choice but to use the “braille” method which is pretty unappealing when it’s the rudder that will touch first.
    As Maretron has shown, this can be done. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the vendors supported two depth sensors?

  5. JJN says:

    I used the DSM250 over the last 4 months on my catamaran with a N2K network.
    This display is great, very versatile, easy to use, to setup, and screens can be configured in many ways.
    With the ALM100 it is very easy to setup alarms and get them audible (100db) on the boat!
    The best feature is the internet instant software upgrade of the DSM250 when a new version is available from Maretron. Very easy to update to the latest software version.
    The only drawbacks is the support of Maretron. The team either do not answer or do not understand the encounterered problem!
    The DSM250 software has many bugs. I reported them to Maretron but never got feedbacks on available corrections.
    An example among many when 2 months ago I upgraded my DSM250 I lost all my setups, all my displays gone. I had to reprogramed all my DSM250 displays. Very annoying. I sent an email but got no answer from Maretron!
    BUT the DSM250 is great product. I enjoy programming it! So many possibilities!

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    “Ben – You mention the Garmin MFD and Maretron DSM250 being confused if you had an offset set in both devices?” Sorry, Russ, I did not write that well. All displays can see depth data raw or with offsets, no problem. But I couldn’t get anything to configure an offset in one transducer unless I took the other one off the backbone. It’s not a big deal, really, once you understand the problem. (And I can’t recall if I tried it again after changing the Instance of one transducer, which may have solved it anyway.)
    JJN, I’m surprised you’ve been disappointed with Maretron customer support. I’ve often heard positives about it, and have had very good experience myself (even anonymously). On the other hand, I’m also surprised that you enjoy programming the DSM250, which I find quite tedious (Russ may chime in here ;-). But it seems like Maretron is slowly but surely moving a lot of the work to their various PC programs, where makes it a lot easier.

  7. As a counterpoint to the above, I’ve found Maretron tech support to be very responsive and helpful. Mark spent lots of time over several phone calls assisting me in calibration and data display issues with a WSO100 and the DSM250 emulator using N2KViewer. He was very patient and knowledgable.

  8. Michael S says:

    This winter I installed a N2K network and used a lot of Maretron gear, their cabling is bombproof and they have all the right interfaces which for the most part work as stated. I did not install the DMS250 but had been considering it as an addition this winter, instead relying on the N2K view software which in version 2.6? performed well. However just after the start of the season V3.0 was released and I upgraded. I did not pay too much attention as I had other non N2K issues to resolve.
    However I then became aware that COG was not on N2K view, it was everywhere else, Garmin GMI 10 and weathercaster. AND into Nobeltec through a USB100 on a PC! My GPS data comes onto the N2K backbone from an Actisense NGW.
    Now reverting to version 2.6? voila the COG is there on N2K view!
    Mark at Maretron does not seem to have an answer, and I wondered if any heavy N2K users can shed some light… or do I just junk v3.0 for the moment?

  9. Michael S says:

    Adam, I noticed another good bit of info, you say that your AP25 connected to the back bone OK, do you think the AP20 would do the same?? and secondly the Simrad RS82 vhf which also has a simnet port?

  10. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Adam,
    We agree with you that we need to add more features to the Actisense NMEA Reader tool, and that is what we’re doing. A new release is due in the next week or two that will move us closer, and there are many more updates planned after that.
    We want NMEA Reader to be the best NMEA 0183 & NMEA 2000 utility, but alas we are only a small company so we cannot do it all at once.
    If you have any particular improvements then please detail them in an e-mail to andy at actisense.

  11. Jeremy Anwyl says:

    I also wanted to chime in regarding Maretron tech support. In my experience they are one of the best. I have a huge N2K network, with bridges to NMEA 0183 and Seatalk. They have spent hours with me even helping trouble shoot non-Maretron equipment. One recent update to the DSM included a feature I had suggested not long ago, so they do listen. (The ability to change the scale on a graph display.)
    One trick with configuring the DSM: When configured, it is easy to copy the configuration over to another DSM. The N2K analyzer software has a DSM emulator. Copying the configuration to this makes for a great backup…

  12. Andy Campbell says:

    Hi Ben,
    If the AT-10 is not giving you any joy, a flash updated NGW-1 should be perfect – can you try that on the AP-11’s NMEA 0183 output?
    RSA (Rudder Angle) is in the current NGW-1’s conversion list, in both directions, so it should take your NMEA 0183 RSA sentences and convert them in to PGN 127245 so the Maretron display can show it.

  13. Russ says:

    Ben – Agreed, the DSM250 is a fabulously flexible display for which Maretron does an excellent job of constantly evolving the firmware to make it more useful every few months.
    If they took that approach with a standard industry form factor and lower power consumption, they could really take a chunk out of Raymarine/Garmin/Furuno’s/B&G instrument business. Other instruments tend to be pretty much static after you buy them with very little evolution.
    If Maretron had a PC utility for doing the configuration (the simulator in the N2K analyzer just simulates the same tediuous interface), that would be icing on the cake!

  14. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I am confused, on these two points I found:
    power consumption: when I cycle it on/off my link20 shows 0.4 amps @ 12.5v. That is at full brightness. That is very reasonable.
    standard industry form factor: It seems to me that this display has near identical mounting options and hardware as other marine displays, even the option for flush mount.
    How much better could you ask for ?

  15. Kees says:

    I agree with Russ.
    I don’t want to run 4 or 5 displays at 0.4 amps, no matter how versatile they are. Personally I’d use the B&W version.
    The form factor that is suggested is the 4.5″ square outer size that all other instrument series have adopted.

  16. Bob Wilkins says:

    Has anyone used the DSM250 with their Maretron’s DCM100 DC Monitor that uses an included state-of-the-art Hall effect current sensor which simply slips over the wire – you don’t have to break connections or install connectors as you do with inline shunts used by other solutions.
    Just wondered the success and accuracy of the information.

  17. Russ says:

    Dan – I have seven Furuno Fi-50’s. Seven DSM250s would nominally draw (7*.2*24) 33ahrs / day @ 12v; quite a load just for instrument displays.
    As Kees points out, the industry “standard” form factor for instruments is about 4.5″ (115mm) square.

  18. Jeremy Anwyl says:

    Bob – I have two DCMs running. One for my 24 V bank and one for the 12 V bank. (Plus several ACMs for various AC sources.)
    Very happy with the data they output.

  19. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Russ, got it, I understand your point now about the form factor (115mm) square.

  20. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Compared to a Xantrex Link 20, I experienced near identical readings in a variety of situations.

  21. HenryD says:

    Hello Ben,
    I installed a DCM100 today…well, it is connected to my NMEA2000 network. I do not see it with N2KAnalyzer nor DSM250.
    My experience with Maretron support has been closer to what JJN has experienced unfortunately.

  22. DR. X says:

    I have the DC monitoring unit. I am having problems calibrating it. You are supposed to ‘zero’ it by resetting it with no current flowing through the sensor which is not trivial when it is installed on the house batteries (if the instruments are on, then there is current flowing through!).
    So, I haven’t been able to reset it properly and all my draw or charge numbers are way off.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The DCM100 is one of the few Maretron products that doesn’t power up from the NMEA 2000 connection. In fact, the DCM100 gets it’s power from the battery connection so when the NMEA 2000 network is turned off, the processor can stay running to monitor charging and discharging current. Once you apply the battery connection, the DCM100 will show up on the DSM250 or the N2KAnalyzer.

  24. HenryD says:

    Mark from Maretron replied to my technical support question very quickly and was patient with my multiple emails as I determined that pins 5 and 8 could be jumpered to 7 and 6. The DCM100 is now appearing on the network and working.
    Thank you to Mark and to all who replied.
    Now on to my TLM100 that does not want to work right!

  25. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’ve also had good experiences with Mark Oslund. I think he’s almost a one-man tech support dept. at Maretron, and that’s not a bad thing. I also think he’s earned the right to wear an RTFM sweatshirt, or variant:

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