Volvo Penta (Garmin) Glass Cockpit, just the beginning?

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.

16 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    A less pleasant surprise about the Garmin 8212 is that it does NOT have WiFi built in as I had presumed. So the only way to get the nifty BlueChart Mobile integration I’ve been experiencing with the 741 ( ) is to get a Garmin WiFi Adapter ( ), which doesn’t seem nearly up to 8000 build quality, especially since I learned that it only comes rigged for 110ac power. I’ll bet another box of donuts that a real 12v waterproof Garmin WiFi network device is in the oven!

  2. says:

    Let us know if you hear about a 12V wifi version. The 110V version is utterly ridiculous.

  3. Rick R says:

    I don’t think a 120V version is ridiculous since most boats have inverters.
    Ben: What is the intended use of the video out port? A video monitor in the Captains cabin perhaps.

  4. Paul says:

    IMO 120v is ridiculous

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Rick, Many of the yachts that will have a large Garmin Glass Helm system will also have an elaborate A/V system so that DVI video out can provide a “navigation channel” on TV screens in the main salon, captain’s quarters, etc.
    Hi def video output is a common feature on these higher end MFDs and black boxes (the Raymarine gS uses HDMI) but note that the Garmin 8515 also has a DVI-I PC video input, which means that you can have PC navigation or just regular PC programs on a high bright helm display. Garmin offered something similar on the 7215 and I believe it’s still a unique MFD capability.
    And, yes, these same larger yachts will likely have an always-on inverter or may even run a generator most of the time…though they don’t generally have any AC equipment in their navigation networks. But I wish I hadn’t mentioned the WiFi adapter here and let’s please take that conversation back the original entry:
    What I hope to see discussed here is the Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit and the general prospect of putting navigation and engine everything into one integrated system.

  6. Pat McQueen says:

    I love the idea of the VP integration. This is a truly glass helm …
    For redundancy I would want two 8215s just like I would want two engines. Would I connect both 8215s to the “Engine CAN”?
    How does a failure scenario work? When I had analog gauges one failure was only one gauge ..
    One feature that is very interesting when you have two 8215s connected you can have the displays synchronized. E.g. Crusing, Fishing, etc.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Interesting subject, Pat. I don’t see any system manuals on the VP site (though I did notice how they’ve also made the GMI 20 into an engine gauge:
    While the Garmin 8215 manuals are available online, I don’t see anything about possible network designs. But my guess is that the recommendation is to put all MFDs on the same Ethernet and N2K networks and that the engine network also goes to each MFD. Frankly, I’d be comfortable with that once it had been sea trailed a fair bit. I’d also want a good schematic of all the data and power cables for troubleshooting (possibly underway).
    In a system like this there should be nothing as fragile as an electro-mechanical gauge. The data is everywhere so a single screen failure shouldn’t be an issue (unless, say, a radar is plugged into that particular screen, which is why you want the schematic). Then again, an ECU failure will probably bring down all gauges and the engine.
    Whether to have a second engine (with lots of additional complexity) or just a BoatU.S. Gold Card (like I have) is a matter of endless debate.

  8. Ben, I agree with Pat – the glass bridge concept is certainly sexy, but even glass cockpit Boeings all come with three mechanical instruments – airspeed, altimeter, and attitude, all powered (and lighted) from an emergency bus. Much like a standby compass, I think I would want at least RPM, oil pressure, and temp (perhaps combined in one standby instrument) in case all the screens go dark. Call me a pessimist…

  9. Bob Wilkins says:

    Most engine MFG’s have their own digital readout panel coming directly from the engine. I know on my John Deer they have a digital readout of all information coming from the JD engine bus, available on both the pilothouse and the fly-bridge navigation areas.
    So, that would be the back up with a full Glass Helm that is also reading the engine information via N2K.

  10. Patrick says:

    IMO built-in wifi is a waste. WiFi is best done separately via the network ports, which allows a lot more flexibility with a lower MFD cost. It does make sense to offer a 12v AP to customers, but a boat with a Garmin glass cockpit is likely to have more extensive needs than the built-in wifi offers. My 1980s 29′ does even. 🙂

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bob, in that top photo each of those three Volvo Penta Glass Helm displays is the equivalent of your John Deer engine display. Any two of them can fail, and you’ll still have engine gauges. But each engine only has one ECU and data cable, so if either of those fail, it doesn’t matter how many screens are attached.
    Grant, I’m not against redundancy, not a bit. It’s just that in this case I think I’d go with the total integration concept and look for backup elsewhere. If it’s possible to get a few critical analog data points off the engine, that would be great, though I think I’d hide the gauges.
    Comparisons to aviation are always a little off, however. One thing I especially like about boats is that almost every system can break and they still float.

  12. Rick R says:

    The Volvo Glass is sure impressive. Comparison with aviation is applicable. Aircraft moved to glass cockpits many years ago. Boating is playing catch-up. Garmin is a big player there too, and their equipment has proven to be reliable.
    Nothing is completely failure proof, but I don’t think redundancy is an issue to be concerned about. In the unlikely event of a catastrophic failure, e.g. all screens go blank, boaters should be able to safely continue to their destination.
    As discussed here many times, an iPad with nav software (and its own battery) makes an excellent backup.
    As a substitute for engine instrumentation, most engines already have a low oil pressure/over temp alarm, and it should be easy to guess at RPM using the sound of the engine and boat speed (from the iPad).
    That leaves autopilot (manual steering), radar (only essential in reduced visibility) and depth sounder (which relates to the charts on the iPad).
    I for one are hopeful for a “trickle down”, perhaps to smaller screens, and presumably a lower price, and compatibility with other brands of engine. Ben, do you know if Cummins is jumping on this bandwagon too?

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Rick. There’s something interesting happening regarding Navico and the Mercury VesselView electronic gauge system, and note that Mercury now includes the Zeus drive system and many of the diesel inboards that used to be marketed as Cummins MerCruiser.
    Essentially, the new VesselView 7 seems to be a modified Simrad NSS7 which has both engine and nav screens. It’s not quite “glass bridge” but may be headed in that direction from the small side. I hope that more info about what it can do is revealed soon, but here’s an interesting discussion:
    Maybe one day we’ll see complete Zeus drive and Merc diesel visuals on a new Simrad glass bridge system?

  14. Nick says:

    Hi Ben
    I have heard that the Garmin 8000 series do not feature bonded LCD’s? can you check with Garmin?
    If that is the case this would seem either a cost saving exercise or major shortcoming, as without a bonded screen the contrast will be poor in sunlight and the screen will likely fog up.
    All the other manufactures have been using bonded LCD’s for a few years now

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nick, I suspect it’s just a matter of incomplete specs from Garmin — which seems oddly common — but it’s certainly a reasonable question. I forwarded it to my contact there but he may be out this week.

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    From Garmin:
    “It’s definitely a good question and, yes, the 8000 series is glass bonded.
    All of our marine products with displays are glass bonded except for the low-cost echo series.”

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