Simrad NSS evo2, multi-touch 7-inch to 16-inch and beyond

Simrad_NSS9_evo2_new_11-13.jpgAt METS this morning,  Simrad announced an evo2 update to the NSS Series and quite an update it is. The new multi-touch wide screen models will come in 7-, 9-, 12- and 16-inch sizes, and since they are close family in every way to the recently discussed NSO evo2, a boater will be able to mix and match bright, glass-bridge-style displays from 7 to 24-inches. And while NSS evo2 can network with Simrad’s radars, sonars, SonicHub audio, WiFi 1 etc., all four sizes come with “embedded CHIRP enabled Broadband sounder and StructureScan” (which can probably network out to the whole family)…

Simrad_NSS_evo2_Home_screen.jpgAll six new NSS evo2 models are now online and you’ll see that the two extras are 7- and 9-inch “m” versions without the built-in sonar. Other new features across the line are embedded 10Hz GPS/GLONASS receivers, a “best in class” faster processor and HDMI video output. And, yes, the NSS will now do 4G dual range radar like the NSE can. In fact, it seems like the larger NSS models replace NSE, though I gather that the NSE line won’t be discontinued largely because it’s popular on the commercial scene.
   NSS (and NSO) evo2 also include a redesigned interface that looks intriguing, I think.  Note, for instance, how nicely autopilot and SonicHub are presented on (and probably accessible from) the data sidebar in the top photo. Plus, there’s the Home screen above that seems to offer quick, easy access to data/settings, main functions, and favorite combo screens. I don’t yet know what multi-touch gestures are supported, but hopefully, Kees Verruijt will get fingers on an evo2 when he visits the show on Thursday.  

Simrad_NSS_evo2_go-to_interface.jpgI also like the look of this evo2 go-to screen (even if that’s clearly demo data), but hat’s off to Garmin for coming up with the big corner number design (I think) and to Humminbird for the clever 3D horizon compass. I mean no criticism as I think borrowing good ideas is often a good idea. (Incidentally, I also think that the new Humminbird ION saltwater MFD system — which I got on the water in Lauderdale and will detail soon — includes a number of multi-touch and other features that will turn heads.)

B_G_Zeus2_new_11-13.jpgAlso, introduced today was B&G’s version of the new NSS hardware, Zeus 2 or Zeus (squared). Of course, it includes sailing features like SailTime and SailSteer, but perhaps even more interesting is how those useful data graphics are moving up into B&G’s new H5000 instrument and autopilot system. H5000 seems to be a massive redesign that integrates lots of new and existing B&G gear with Zeus and NMEA 2000, but I’ll leave it at that as Kees has taken a serious interest.

At METS Simrad is also highlighting two advanced GoFree developers, TripCon (PC Log) and Pocket Mariner (SeaNav 2.0). Fortunately, I’ve been testing both — wind, depth, AIS, and more on my Pebble watch (holy cow!) — and will report. Oh, and Navico announced that it is acquiring Consilium’s professional radar business including products, R&D facility, engineering team – the works.

All this news, plus Garmin’s huge product launch and much more METS not covered yet, confirms my feeling that marine electronics is growing faster and better than ever. And is even more fun, which is my excuse for closing with the NSS8 screen photograph I took last spring in the ICW. Helping me find my way is 4G radar, which is going to work even better with evo2, and that’s StructureScan letting me know that I’m over smooth bottom, but, wow, those white images I scrolled back to are dolphin that played in Gizmo’s bow wave.


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.

48 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    They’re small but there are some interesting evo2 screenshots at Hudson Marine:
    Also some added dope on Simrad’s FB page:
    Plus this from a Navicat who shall remain unknown:
    “Happy to give credit where it’s due but the Navman 6600 had the “Compass” with “birds-eye view” on C-Map before Humminbird could spell COG.”

  2. Hendrik says:

    Go for it tomorrow Kees!
    I hope they wiped my fingerprints;-)

  3. Kim says:

    Oh, how great! This is exactly the news I’ve been waiting for! The Scandinavian autumn just got brighter…

  4. Xavier Itzmann says:

    The fascia measurements are similar but not exactly the same.
    Can someone clarify if these can be drop-in replacements or not?

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t know for sure, Xavier, but I doubt that any of the new NSS evo2 models will simply drop into the whole previously occuppied by an NSS Sport.
    These new models are focused on a high screen-to-bezel ratio and the screens are also wider aspect. So the new NSS9 is about the same width as the old NSS8 but more an inch less high. Dimensions for the new evo2 12-inch are not up but I bet it’s even less high in comparison to the existing 12.
    Maybe, though, Simrad will offer adapter bezel plates like Raymarine did when it went to a wider screen, narrower bezel design. Or you could probably make one.

  6. Peter C. says:

    If I add a Sonic hub and Wi-Fi 1 to a NSS system do I still need the iphone dock or can I stream all my tunes from my iphone over Wi-FI to the Sonic Hub?

  7. demxav says:

    Hi i am a French new user
    And to fit my boat for fishing with a cabin and a fly ,why don’t use :
    2 NSS EVO 2 + 1 IPAD and go free instead
    1 processor NSO evo 2 + 2 monitor + 1 op40+ 1 ipad and go free

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Peter, the SonicHub does not receive or output audio over Ethernet (WiFi), but I don’t think that you actually need the dock to plug your iThing or Android media player into the SonicHub’s USB port and stream music from it.
    Fusion also has Bluetooth streaming accessories now but I don’t know if either will work with the SonicHub. Anyone?

  9. Anonymous says:

    BT100 module works when connected to Sonic Hub AUX in.

  10. Peter C. says:

    Thanks for the updates.
    I realize now I might not be happy with bluetooth audio quality .
    What I really want is a remote for the stereo.
    Guess I am going to have to think about this.

  11. Francis says:

    Just updated my equipment to PC-based system:
    Simrad, Raymarine and other brands just keep on changing models, do not support recent but older models, so i just gave up now. PC-based is much simpler …

  12. Anonymous says:

    When are we going to hear from Kees on the new B&G stuff?

  13. Kees says:

    Sorry, I am up to my ears in my paying job and was suffering from a nasty cold.
    Mostly better now so I hope to finish the entry this week.

  14. Jack Simpson says:

    Hi, I’m new to this forum and I do not know if I’m posting this too late for this particular article. I have a new boat, or a “new” 1987 DeFever 47 POC that I am outfitting. The hull is basically good but it certainly needs new electronics.
    Whatever I get I’m worried about breakdowns and the maintenance. I’ve heard bad things about everybody except for Furuno. The other issue with Furuno seems to be that it never breaks down so you never get to use their maintenance. Though it costs more that was what I decided to get for this boat.
    I do not intend to go very far offshore at all. I will mainly be on the rivers and canals of the Great Loop. The advantages of this 4G broadband radar now appear to be sufficient to make me go with Simrad for my entire electronics suite. I have heard maintenance horror stories from about the time Simrad was bought by Navico. Is that all in the past now? Can I buy Simrad and expect that if something goes wrong I can get help? Maybe even hope that nothing will go wrong? I have looked but I can find no evidence that Furuno is getting broadband radar anytime in the near future.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi, Jack. Furuno’s reputation for top notch service is virtually indisputable, as even the competition acknowledges it. But I do think that Simrad (Navico) has vastly improved their service program (and reliability level) in the last few years, and I know they’re ambition is to be as good as Furuno.
    Furuno, on the other hand, is challenged to offer the value and the wide array of peripheral devices that Simrad has these days. But then again, as good as 4G radar is, you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed with a Furuno DRS radar instead. In other words, you have a tough decision, but you can’t go too far wrong.

  16. Bo Collier says:

    I’m very much in the same position as Jack regarding Simrad and Furuno. I was completely convienced to put a new Simrad AP-70 pilot with their joystick remote on during this complete electronics upgrade. Although I’ve put a lot of Furuno equipment on board already, Simrad’s legacy for pilots is well known. Then, a commercial boat electronics installer friend relayed horror stories post the Navico takeover. Then, my obsession with keeping everything N2K. Then, at the last Lauderdale boat show I hear a rumor that Furuno is releasing a new pilot this year (maybe April). Maybe I’m the only one who’s chasing their tail over these matters.

  17. Don Joyce says:

    Lots of us have been through the Navico horrors. I had a great Robertson autopilot…still the basis of the Simrad AP series, and a great Northstar multi-head chartplotter along with a Lowrance chartplotter for the dinghy. All needed support for some reason or another ….. and no one was home. I swore I would never again buy anything from Navico and went your route ala Furuno etc.
    Well times have changed. I’m thinking hard about the new B&G autopilot (see “B&G H5000 tempts my racing heart” in Panbo)and I’ve already bought a Lowrance chartplotter for the dinghy to free myself of total dependence on Navionic charts,which while great, typically aren’t the best for areas I need them most. Finally I’m thinking hard about a SIMRAD glass bridge display vs Furuno…..
    So perhaps Altsheimers is setting in, or better, NAVICO is truly recovered.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Don. Comments from folks like you, who are living it daily, is a big help.

  19. Michael Kane says:

    In your article on this page you note the NSS evo2 models will support dual range on the 4G. When I bought the NSS12, NSS8 and 4G I was told that would happen with the NSS as soon as the software update was available — is that now possible on the NSS series?
    More important, since I am now replacing electronics on another boat is the dual range supported across all sizes of the NSS evo2 series. I have heard that is only true for the 12 and 16 size. Can you confirm that it works on the 9?

  20. Anonymous says:

    NSS original is not capable of doing the dual radar range split screen presentation… the processor is not powerful enough to do the 2 PPI’s. NSS evo2 on the other hand will do dual range 4G on all sizes from 7 – 16:.

  21. Steve Garlick says:

    I’m fitting a plotter to our 12m sailing yacht. The only NMEA 2000 item already installed is a Simrad AP24 autopilot. I’m trying to choose between the NSS 7 evo2, the older NSS 8 or the B&G Zeus 7 or 8.
    Does the increased screen size make a big difference to legibility? Is the included sonar worth having? We are not fanatic fisher people, but throw a line over and troll for fish while we are sailing between ports. We are full time live-aboards in the Med.
    I’ll be installing the plotter at the helm in a fibreglass pod. Any recommendations for a pod?
    Thanks for any help,

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Steve, I’ve put a lot of miles on an NSS9 and then a NSS7 evo2, and I’d chose the latter even if the 9 cost as little. Screen size is important but so is speed, and evo2 is so FAST it makes up for display size.
    Plus there seems to be enough hardware (or marketing) difference between the original NSS (and Zeus) series and the evo2 (Zeus2) series that only the latter is getting many of the feature updates, and the interface on the current models is already superior.
    The really hard choice for me would be between NSS7 evo2 and Zeus2 7 on a sailboat. The hardware and interface are very similar, and good, and so is the price. But the NSS7 offers inexpensive regular sonar plus inexpensive ForwardScan while the Zues2 7-inch has all the Zeus sailing features but not the sonar processing.
    I think that both forms of sonar are valuable even if you never fish and you can still get them on the Zeus2 but it requires a fairly expensive SonarHub plus the transducers. I’d be tempted to get the NSS evo2 for the sonar and try to make up the sailing features with iPad apps using WiFi1, but then again B&G may very well up the sailing features with a Zeus2 update. That’s your conundrum, I think, but you can’t go too far wrong any way you go.

  23. Henning says:

    Steve: I have had quite a long and sad experience with the original Zeus which, if you care to, you can read up here:
    My problem was fixed in the end but only as our sailing sabbatical came to a close.
    I suspect that the B&G Zeus product line is developed independent from the Simrad product line, at least with the original Zeus, which would be bad software development practice and generally a significant loss for customers. It seems that with Zeus more than with Simrad, fancy features are valued higher than important bug fixes or thorough testing. But it is because of the bugs that my Zeus 7 (not Zeus2) has seen no more than maybe 20 hours of use, 90% of which were testing related to my problem.
    The fancy B&G features I have so far only seen in a brochure.
    Also remember that the Sail Steer and other advanced functions of Zeus and Zeus2 will only work when you have set up and are following a route with it. This means that you will need cartography for it and would not make sense if you were (also) using PC charting software.
    So like Ben I would lean towards the Simrad, though for other reasons.

  24. Steve Garlick says:

    Thanks, Ben and Henning
    (btw, is that Henning from Baracuda… we met you in Samos)
    Hard decision, between the Zeus 2 and the Simard evo2.
    Is the hardware identical between the two? So any reported problems with the Zeus would be software related?
    Would a GoFree let me get over the small screen size by viewing it on my iPad.
    We’re cruisers, so don’t really need fancy racing software. What use is the sonar and structure scan for sailors?
    Thanks for the help,
    S/V Pavlov

  25. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Steve,
    Zeus2 7 and Simrad evo2 7 do seem to be the exact same hardware except that the sonar and ForwardScan/StructureScan ports are blanked off on the Zeus. Much of the software is also the same.
    GoFree WiFi will give you a repeater screen with controls on a tablet with either Simrad or B&G GoFree apps. Plus many 3rd party apps can use data streaming over GoFree.
    Lots of cruisers use regular sonar for situational awareness and ForwardScan is primarily useful for cruising, especially gunk holing.
    Zeus Laylines, SailSteer, and SailTime are not racing specific and look to me like they’d be useful for most any sort of sailing.
    Operating and install manuals for both MFDs are available for download from Simrad and B&G, and there’s lots about the various features here on Panbo and elsewhere around the Web.

  26. Henning says:

    Steve: no it’s not Henning from Baracuda. I haven’t been to Samos or anywhere else in the Mediterranean.
    The GoFree app will show on a tablet the scaled-up screen of the MFD – the low resolution of the small size MFD is not increased so you don’t get more detail.
    In software development there is a huge difference between “the same” and “99.9% the same”. The latter just means “not the same”. The experience related to my bug indicates strongly that for the original Zeus, the source code from Simrad NSS was copied and then changed (called “forking”). From that point on, the B&G developers were likely continuously fighting to keep up with the changes made by the Simrad team. Each change must be done twice by different teams at different times with different sets of test data. This is like fighting the tide.
    What should have been done instead is first to take time to cleanly separate all identical parts from all different parts and then using the identical parts in both developments.
    I guess “taking time” isn’t in favor these days, at least not in software development, so humanity in general and B&G customers in particular are suffering the results.
    I have no indication if a common software base has been established with the NSS evo2 and Zeus2 generation. I sure hope so but wouldn’t bet much on it.
    I agree that Sail Steer, for example, gives a lot of benefit to cruising sailors as well but it requires well calibrated sensors which are not exactly common on cruising boats.

  27. Kees says:

    That’s a lot of speculation on your part on how the various Navico software development groups work together. Heck, now I am doing the same — it could be a single team as well. We just don’t know.
    Forking by itself isn’t so bad as long as you have the means to merge changes from different branches or repositories. With each generation of tools this has become easier. Personally I’ve seen great productivity gains in my own software career which went RCS -> CVS -> Subversion -> Git.

  28. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    As a possibly relevant aside, I understand that Navico does not guarantee interoperability between the three brands. In other words, a B&G 4G radar will not necessarily work with a Simrad MFD. In practice I think many components will work together but apparently the development teams don’t have to worry about that.

  29. abbor says:

    Ben, the 4G radar is not a good example when it comes to challenges with Navico interoperability. The 3G and 4G radars are identical both when it comes to HW and SW. The only difference is the logo, cable lenght and lack of radar interface box for US Lowrance 3G. It’s when it comes to MFD’s interoperability is not guaranteed. It should work since they use the same software repository but since it’s not systematically tested it’s not guaranteed to work. For peripherals like radar and sounder modules one group is responsible for all brands.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Can someone enlighten me about SailSteer and SailTime? I’ve seen the layline stuff on a B&G presentation. I think for cruising purposes, you can figure lay lines in your head pretty easily (add a chunk of ‘fat’ for leeway, its not as if we’re racing the clock)

  31. Henning says:

    Yes that is also relevant for anyone trying to decide between Simrad and B&G units based on the same hardware.
    In late 2013 I made such a decision and chose a B&G to add to an otherwise Simrad installation for the nice sailing functions.
    Because the software is “almost the same”, I naively thought:
    – that such a configuration would be supported by Navico in case of problems (it isn’t)
    – that a radar connectivity problem that I had with NSS up to version 2.0 would surely not appear in Zeus since it had been fixed (for Simrad) 1.5 years prior and that fix would obviously be included in Zeus as well (it wasn’t and wouldn’t be until nearly the end of our trip)
    – that Sail Steer is just a page that you can call up anytime you want (it requires an active waypoint and it requires log and wind sensors better calibrated than you would normally find on an average boat to be of much use).
    The last point is kind of obvious, really, but still didn’t occur to me at the time. Others might also not be aware of it.
    The second point was a disappointment. Apparently the problem had to be fixed twice at Navico, whether in the same or different teams, and the first fix was bad (completely broke radar connectivity). The second fix worked but took about 2 1/2 years longer than for Simrad.
    The first point is an important fact about Navico that I hadn’t known at the time and would never have guessed.
    If you have one brand of Navico and want to add to your electronics but, for some reason, choose not to buy the same brand you already have, then you are free to buy from any manufacturer because, from a support perspective, there is no difference.

  32. Kees says:

    The Navico 4G radar manual is not only the same, but carries all three brand labels on the first page, and has instructions for all three brands:
    14 Lowrance: HDS USA (no MARPA)
    15 Lowrance: HDS outside USA or with MARPA / chart overlay
    15 Simrad: NSS
    16 B&G: Zeus
    16 Simrad: NSO, NSE and NSS

  33. Henning says:

    To clarify: the support policy we are discussing, AFAIK, applies to “Ethernet” issues only, not N2K. My interpretation of this would be that:
    – interoperability of MFDs of different brands is not supported (this could theoretically include sharing charts, though I hope not)
    – negative effects of the presence of an MFD of one brand on the MFD of another brand is not supported (like the presence of a Simrad NSS would break the radar connectivity of a Zeus – this was claimed in my case but turned out untrue)
    An interesting question then is:
    Considering the known fact that the 4G radar and RI10 interface is identical in hardware and software but still carries a different sticker and a different part number, is the combination of a Simrad radar + RI10 and a B&G MFD supported?
    Regarding NMEA2000, there can also be a distinction between interoperability and negative impact on pure presence.
    Interoperability would, for example, be the ability to control a Simrad autopilot from a Zeus MFD (works in my case but is it supported? probably not)
    Negative impact would be misbehavior on the N2K bus affecting all devices from all manufacturers and should be supported.
    I have emails from Brian Gifford, Navico, from April 2014 more or less answering these questions but my question if I could post this here as a official statement was declined (at that time).
    So Ben: could you get an official statement?
    I may be a good example of a customer strongly affected by such a statement. I have a significant investment in Simrad gear, much of which is working well and still fully serviceable. Among this is my AC12 + AP24 – HLD2000 autopilot which I hold dear to my heart as it has taken my family and me across an ocean for days and days and days unfailingly. I will not part with it for anything.
    On the other hand I have a sailboat and am very interested in B&G gear such as the Hydra instrument system.
    If the official statement WERE maximally negative like “we will not support any kind of cross-brand installation, not even for the 4G radar which is known to be identical, and instead will step by step remove any cross-brand functionality if it exists” (this is NOT the case at the moment, just a very negative scenario), then the B&G avenue would be blocked for me for the foreseeable future.

  34. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Henning, I found that April 2014 email thread and Brian Gifford’s statement seems pretty clear (and he was also OK about posting it on Panbo at a future date like now):
    “…we don’t (and are not planning to) cross validate system compatibility between our labels. If at some time in the future as a for instance, a rev of NSS software comes out and having it on the network with the Zeus Touch causes the Zeus touch to become stability challenged or even totally unusable (or vice versa), there isn’t going to be any rush for the software engineers to create code for the Zeus Touch to address it, and quite probably even in a future rev of Zeus Touch software it might not be addressed unless that ‘fix’ somehow positively impacts an all B&G system as well. When new software comes out for a NSS we validate it with systems running the current NSE and NSO revs only. Likewise when new Zeus Touch software comes out we only validate it in systems with the current rev of push button Zeus units. We make no claims real or implied that that SimRad, B&G, and/or Lowrance MFD’s will ‘play nice’ with one another over Ethernet in a mixed brand installation.
    So abbor is correct that I did not state the interoperability caveat well; the core issue is networking different brand MFDs over Ethernet. I boldfaced that last sentence, but I don’t think it should be a surprise to anyone. I can’t think of any MFD brands that “play nice with one another” over Ethernet.
    In fact, Ethernet compatibility is sometimes a problem within a brand. Raymarine’s Lighthouse software for a-, c-, e- and g-Series MFDs had limited networking with earlier MFDs and Ethernet modules, and lost more as it evolved. Garmin seems to be in the process of switching code bases and it’s led to “limited” networking in some mixes.
    MFDs are obviously much more tolerant about living on a mixed brand NMEA 2000 network, but folks should be careful with presumptions in this area too. For instance, Mastervolt CZone monitoring and control gear integrates deeply with Simrad MFDs over N2K, and I believe a similar software module is in B&G MFDs, but you’ll be disappointed if you expect the same integration with a Lowrance MFD.

  35. Henning says:

    Well, I had hoped Navico might take a step back from these harsh statements – in fact I still hope they do.
    So does that mean that chart sharing can go away at any time? And that a support call about MFD-to-4G radar connectivity problems would be rejected on the grounds that the radar carries the wrong sticker even so the hard- and software is identical?
    And what about NMEA2000 compatibility (like autopilot control)?
    I don’t think Raymarine would reject a support call for an MFD on the grounds that a Flir camera had been connected to the network.
    I can’t see how it would make business sense to attempt to vendor-lock-in customers even between the Navico brands rather than utilizing the significant cross-selling potential.
    Dear Navico, I can assure you that I have always been far more interested in new B&G products than, for example, in NKE, because of the product family and the underlying expectation of interoperability. Am I an idiot?
    If Brian Gifford’s statements are the official policy, then I will cross a Hydra system (which has an Ethernet port) off my list because I would have to expect that my Simrad MFDs will crash with a blue screen (or the Linux equivalent) the instant I connect the Hydra unit to the network.
    Come on – isn’t network service discovery and handling of address claims a prime example of code that should be reused? If this and a few other parts are reused, then there won’t be many cross-brand interoperability issues.

  36. Henning says:

    another question: years ago I looked at the market for cockpit instruments with LCD screen and had focused on Furuno RD-33. Then the B&G Tritons appeared and I happily went for them, mostly because of the product-family-compatibility-assumption. This was later confirmed when I was able to update the software in the Tritons from my Simrad NSS.
    That capability was probably there by default. Question: would you deliberately remove it in a future NSS software, making it so that it will only update Simrad displays? I hope not. If not, then would you maybe invest a small amount of testing time to check if it still works with B&G displays in a future version? I hope so.
    Since I have the Tritons, I have only half-heartedly read about new display offerings from Garmin, Raymarine et al. here on panbo. if I find that I can’t update them anymore, I will read with renewed interest. That’s your cross-selling potential right there.

  37. steve garlick says:

    I hear your pain Henning, but how representative is your experience? Is there widespread reporting of incompatibility issues with B&G equipment?
    Another question: if I interface a NAIS 400 with the NSS 7 evo2, does the the AIS require its own dedicated GPS antennae, or can it receive the GPS NMEA pan’s from the NSS? A Simrad dealer has told me I need another GPS antennae?
    The sensors for the structure scan sonar seemed pretty expensive. What sensor would give me the best depth and bottom information, but at a reasonable cost? Are all the units thru-hull?

  38. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Henning, I think that you’re jumping to lots of negative conclusions without justification. There’s no indication whatsoever that Navico is building incompatibility into their brands. They’re just not validating compatibility between the MFD brands as they revise software, which seems understandable to me. Yours is the only boat I know of with mixed Simrad and B&G MFDs. I never even thought to try mixing Lowrance and Simrad MFDs over Ethernet on my test boat, though both worked fine on the same N2K backbone.
    I have never seen Simrad or B&G claim Ethernet level MFD compatibility, so I don’t get your point about Flir camera support, a compatibility which each brand does claim, I think.
    I’d also advise people not to make presumptions about deep autopilot compatibility over NMEA 2000. It’s a perilous area and each major manufacturer only offers advanced features between their own MFDs and APs. B&G Zeus MFDs may offer advanced features with a Simrad AP, and/or vice versa, but I wouldn’t count on it without a written say-so. If they are not compatible, or may not be through future updates, I doubt it’s a devious plan but rather an effort to streamline development.

  39. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Steve, all Class B AIS transponders are required to have their own GPS because it’s used for critical message timing as well as position. Unfortunately, because the original transponder output to MFDs and PCs is relatively narrowband 38.4K-baud NMEA 0183-HS (though HS stands for High Speed), most transponders output little or no GPS info along with the AIS target data. Most MFDs will not recognize the Class B output as valid GPS input (though some PC charting programs will).
    This situation could have changed when transponders got additional NMEA 2000 outputs but for the most part it hasn’t. To my knowledge only the Vesper Marine Vision Class B transponders output full GPS data over N2K. So most boats with AIS have two GPS systems (at least) and neither will back up the other.

  40. Henning says:

    Let’s say that I am presenting a case to Navico that a decent level of cross-platform compatibility can easily be of benefit to customers and therefore pay dividends in added sales.
    Also: I find it quite natural that there is one network per house or boat for the same reason that there is only one internet. It wouldn’t occur to me to set up a “Simrad network” and a separate “B&G network”.
    My feeling is that it wouldn’t be very hard to achieve, no not to achieve but to maintain, a good level of cross-brand compatibility. That’s what I have right now, actually. The Zeus and the NSS share the same Simrad radar, the Zeus controls the AC12 autopilot and I can update the Tritons using the NSS. All good. Please keep it that way so that I can buy a Hydra system in the future.
    And I can think of many circumstances that can lead to a mixed installation because many larger installs grow over time and many are not replaced all at once. A proposal with significantly reduced vendor lock-in adds a lot of value IMO and Navico is in a position to provide this at only a small extra development and testing cost.
    So if Navico wants to streamline development, I hope they do it through code reuse and not by light-heartedly dropping cross-brand support.

  41. abbor says:

    The B&G Trition pilot is using AC12N or AC42N autopilot computers and RC42N compass (The N is telling it’s micro-C instead of SimNet connectors). B&G Trition is running identical software to the Simrad versions so autopilot control compatibility between B&G and Simrad MFD’s is currently given. The B&G Trition controller is available as IS40 and OP10 from Simrad so the probability for this part to work fine together is also large.
    I’ve been running mixed Lowrance and Simrad systems since NSS came out in 2011. I have two boats with mixed systems, one with two Simrad MFD’s and one Lowrance, the other boat has two Lowrance and one NSS. The system with two Simrad MFD’s and one HDS Touch is relatively large with radar, two CHIRP sounders, StructureScan, autopilot+++. The only issue I’ve noticed is lack of back lighting synchronization between the brands. But this is NMEA 2000 and it’s different due to historical reasons. Simrad should synchronize with older IS, AP24 and AP28 autopilot displays, HDS with older Lowrance MFD’s.
    I have actually experienced more integration issues within the brands than cross brand. But I’m fully aware cross brand integration is not guaranteed so if I experience any problems the first thing I do is to switch off the unit which is a different brand, but multi brand setups has never been the reason for the problems I’ve experienced.
    The software releases between the brands are not synchronized. To guarantee cross brand compatibility the releases probably have to be synchronized. All the additional testing required would take substantial time and also add a cost which probably would be put on the customers. I’m not willing to wait longer for software updates or pay more for the equipment to guarantee cross brand comparability. I’m sure this is the situation for most Lowrance and Simrad customers.

  42. Jorgen says:

    This is just to give my full moral support to Hennings line of thinking. On my boat I currently run a mixed bag of devices from Navico (Simrad NSS, radar, AP, gofree and VHS together with ZEUS touch).
    It has never crossed my mind – and never crossed my dealers lips – that present and future updates to the software could lead to problems on my ethernet-network and EVEN on the NMEA2000 network.
    Perhaps this is one extra reason why the new RS/HS35 VHS have not integrated very well in my system.
    Those of us who has been surprised may have been naive, but I can only say, that from now on future additions to my system are no longer be confined to the Navico family.

  43. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I think that Henning’s latest comment — which seemed more “carrot” than “stick” — may be the most effective way to pursue your goals. The more users who make noise about wanting this compatibility guarantee, the more likely it will happen. But realize that there may not be many such users and also that it’s unfair to talk about “light-heartedly dropping cross-brand support” when cross-brand support wasn’t ever promised and there’s no evidence that it’s being purposely dropped.
    The RS35 VHF had issues when it came out that had nothing to do with brand compatibility and it still has at least one issue I documented here:

  44. Bob says:

    I currently have a simrad nss7 with 4g radar, a standard cp500, and ray marine fish finder (I think an a series something). I’m looking at the nss12 (packaged with sonar hub and structure scan transducer) vs the nss12 evo2 And it’s about a $1400 difference. From what I’ve read, the evo2 is faster, has a somewhat better interface, and displays the dual range radar, am I missing anything else? For the boating i do, i probably dont need the latest and greatest, but i also dont want to totally short myself and invest is something really outdated. I think I read you can do chirp and ss on a split screen, would I be able to do the with the nss7 and nss12 separately? Thanks for your time, great articles!

  45. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Tough decision, Bob, but I’d say that NSS evo2 is significantly faster than NSS and the interface significantly better. I think you’ll also appreciate full use of the 4G on an NSS12 evo2.
    Perhaps more important, it’s evident that the NSS series can’t or won’t be updated to work with newer Simrad stuff like ForwardScan and the ability to put a WiFi1 online that I just wrote about:
    The possibilities for an online NSS evo2 are truly endless and some of them like easily making and using crowd-sourced charts are going to be free.
    You can do CHIRP sonar and StructureScan with a single NSS evo2, but not at the same time. To get side-by-side sonar/SS you have to switch the sonar to a single frequency (though I heard that the switching will be made automatic in a coming update).
    I’m not positive about how an NSS evo2 will network with your existing NSS7 but suspect that charts, CHIRP, SS, and one 4G channel will all show on it.

  46. Bob says:

    Thanks, I appreciate your insight. Going to be a tough call on my end.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Thanks again – went with the Evo2 – the new rebate helped!

  48. Itzmann says:

    “Yours is the only boat I know of with mixed Simrad and B&G MFDs”.
    Sorry I missed this thread from a while ago.
    I need to point out that our boat is 100% B&G… except where the parts were not even sold by Navico, which cannot be the customer’s fault!
    So, for instance, in our early 2013 install, the B&G V50 did not exist, and so we had a Simrad RS35. We now have a V50, but we still keep both a HS35 and an H50.
    Also, in 2013 we needed a ZC1… but it did not exist, so we installed a Simrad OP40. This we have never taken the time to replace, and the OP40 works well in the B&G environment, except that it does not get the correct icon on the Zeus2.
    In our boat, we run Zeus (original, 2013) and Zeus2 (2015). We used to run Zeus Touch (2013), but we replaced it with Zeus2, even though the cutouts did not quite match.
    I am concerned by some of the comments on this thread that at some point Navico may introduce incompatibilities between what was their B&G 2013 Zeus flagship and latecomers such as Zeus2.

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