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Welcome to next generation navigation from Digital Yacht

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This site is a daily news feed – packed with useful hints and tips on marine electronics in general, useful installation guides, white papers and links to other sites too. Feel free to subscribe by joining our list. Follow us also on Twitter and Facebook.

Corrupted NMEA Data

Corrupted Data

Today we had an interesting telephone call from a customer with one of our AIT3000 units that was not providing wireless data to his iPad. The unit had been working perfectly when installed earlier in the year, but on conducting some last minute system checks, prior to leaving for the Baltic, the customer found that the AIS data to his iPad appeared to be corrupted (see image above).

On seeing this screen shot, we immediately confirmed that the NMEA data was indeed corrupted as the majority of the characters were not your normal alpha-numeric ASCII dataset. Our first thought was that the unit had an internal fault but on further investigation we found that instead of trimming off and isolating the unused wires in the Power/Data cable, the wires had been tied back and taped up. Unfortunately the wires had now started to touch together with NMEA output wires touching NMEA Input wires resulting in the data corruption we had seen.

We asked the customer to isolate and trim back all of the wires and “voilà” the wireless data went back to normal and the iPad App could display the AIS and GPS data again. The customer was very relieved that his system was working again and we were reminded again how simple installation errors can cause the most unusual of fault symptoms.

Installation Tip – always trim back and isolate any unused wires.

RJ45 Ethernet Connections


RJ45 Connector

With more and more marine electronics using Ethernet networking onboard boats, being able to assemble RJ45 Connectors is a useful skill to have. This week we were aboard a 50ft yacht on the Hamble that was having problems accessing our WL510 long range Wi-Fi adaptor. The WL510 was connected to our iNavConnect wireless router and by looking at the iNavConnect web interface, on a browser, we were able to confirm that it was not getting an IP address from the WL510 on its WAN socket.

First step was to connect a PC directly to the WL510, using a spare network cable and on doing this the PC immediately got an IP address (in the 192.168.10.xxx range) from the WL510.

On further investigation, we found that the installer had run a long network cable between the iNavConnect and the WL510 and it was this cable that was causing the problem. Careful inspection of the RJ45 connectors showed that the connections between the wires and the RJ45 IDC connector (insulation displacement connection) had not been made correctly. Talking to the installer, it was clear that despite using the right crimping tool and new RJ45 connectors from popular UK reseller Maplins, the correct assembly procedure had not been followed.

The image above shows the type of popular RJ45 connector used and it features a small wire guide through which you insert the eight wires of the Cat5 or CAT6 network cable. It is important to wire the connector as per the international EIA/TIA-568B specification as shown in the image below.


The first step is to poke the cable through the plastic connector cover (if you are using one). It is probably the most common mistake that people make and it is so frustrating if you finish making the cable and find that you forgot this step, as you cannot fit a cover to an assembled connector unless it is already on the cable.

Carefully remove the outer insulation of the network cable and the foil shield if you are using a shielded cable (recommended for extra mechanical strength rather than electrical properties). Be very careful not to cut/damage the individual wires. Once the outer insulation (and shield) are removed, untwist the pairs of wire, spreading them out and arranging them in the order shown above. Now insert each wire in to the wire guide in the correct order, noting the bevel on the guide which needs to point upwards towards the connectors.

Wires in guide

A good tip is to mark the top edge of the bevel on the wire guide with a black marker pen, so that you can see it when you insert it in to the main connector. Push the wires in to the wire guide as far as you can, so that the wire guide is as close to the outer cable insulation as possible.

Now trim the wires as close to the wire guide as you can using side cutters.

Wires Cutting

Now insert the wire guide in to the main connector, ensuring that the bevel you have marked with the black pen, is facing upwards towards the gold connectors. Push the wire guide in to the connector as far as possible and it should end up right underneath the connectors with the black bevel visible just behind the gold connectors.

Cable Inserted

Once you are sure that the cable and wire guide are pushed in as far as you can go, use a proper RJ45 crimp tool to compress the IDC connectors, forcing them down so that they cut through the insulation on each wire and make good electrical connections.

RJ45 Crimping Tool

Finally if you are going to be assembling a lot of these RJ45 connectors, it is definitely worth investing in a network cable tester, which will allow you to check long cable runs after you have installed them through the boat. The unit shown below is a typical example and has a detachable “Loop Back” module that you plug in to one end of the cable and then plug the other end in to the main tester and LEDs illuminate to tell you if the cable is OK. This same tester will also check USB and coax cables.

RJ45 Cable tester


Digital Yacht Sonar Server plus Navionic’s App Allows Real Time Bathymetry

Want better charts, then go boating – that’s the new slogan from Navionics for their new Sonar Chart Live functionality which is built into the latest version of their popular iOS and Android Boating app.  And this exciting new innovation really is a game changer in marine navigation.


Sonar Server is a new wireless interface from Digital Yacht designed to send real time depth data from any NMEA compatible depth system, fish-finder or sounder to the popular Navionic’s charting app available iPhone, iPad and Android.

Sonar Server NMEA

SonarCharts Live is the latest advance in SonarCharts technology allowing users to view sonar recordings in an exciting real-time display on the Navionic’s app. The newly generated personal HD chart is then saved for private use on the device, while recorded depth data is anonymously shared with Navionics to improve SonarCharts for all boaters. All data is cross-checked with other community contributions to ensure accurate daily enhancements.  SonarChart Live is truly fascinating to watch – as you move, you’ll see the map expose the underwater surface and the contour details revealed.

sonar server screen shot

Sonar Server from Digital Yacht acts as a wireless gateway from on board electronics to the mobile device – sharing boat depth data with the app. In addition to depth information being transmitted, GPS data can also be sent allowing, for the first time, the Navionics app to utilise boat data for positioning on the chart as well as depth recording. This allows devices without a GPS, such as a “Wi-Fi Only” iPad or even an iPod Touch to utilise the charting app for real time navigation.

Sonar Server connects to the boat’s NMEA 0183 system using a simple 2 wire connection. It creates a wireless network on board that can typically footprint a boat up to about 25m in length. No internet connection is required on board. Sonar Server costs US$119.95/£99.95 and is available from www.sonarserver.com or through an in app purchase.

For NMEA 2000 systems, Digital Yacht’s existing NavLink wireless NMEA server can be used.

More details at http://www.sonarserver.com

Raymarine a, c and e Series Plotters with AIS over NMEA2000

Raymarine MFD Family

This week we have been helping one of our dealers; Marine Electronic Installations (MEI) in Portsmouth, to find a solution to an interesting NMEA2000 problem with the latest range of Raymarine a, c and e Series Multi-Function Displays.

Most of these MFDs feature an internal GPS, a SeaTalkNG (NMEA2000) interface and an NMEA0183 interface. Under normal circumstances, if you connect one of our AIT2000 or AIT3000 transponders to a Raymarine MFD via SeaTalkNG (NMEA2000) the MFD will use its own internal GPS as the position source and receive the AIS target information from the transponder.

What MEI discovered, was that when a Raymarine SeaTalk 1 to SeaTalkNG converter (E22158) is fitted to the network, that the MFD stops using its internal GPS and tries to use a GPS source on the SeaTalkNG network. As our transponders are outputting the Rapid Update GPS PGNs on the NMEA2000 network, the Raymarine sees this as a GPS source and tries to use it but then reports an “AIS Position lost” alarm because the GNSS PGN that provides GPS status information is not being received.

This seems to be a unique problem to Raymarine and not one, so far, reported on other systems. For instance the latest Garmin plotters always default to using their own GPS and ignore the GPS data from the AIS transponder. Also it only occurs when this SeaTalk 1 to SeaTalkNG converter is in the system, although this is quite a popular accessory and used when boats have older ST50/ST50+/ST60/ST60+ instruments or autopilots with a SeatTalk 1 interface.

We have found two ways to fix this problem;

1)  Connect the AIS Transponder to the Raymarine MFD via NMEA0183, which is fine for units that have an NMEA0183 input (all units except a6X and a7X )

2)  Send a special configuration command to the AIT2000/AIT3000 transponder via the proAIS2 software that turns off the NMEA2000 GPS data

For more information on this configuration command please email support@digitalyacht.co.uk

No GPS on Transponder due to loose FME connector

FME Connector Apart

Our AIT2000 and AIT3000 Class B transponders are supplied with a GPS antenna that has a 10m cable terminated in an FME connector (right hand connector in the above image).

These connectors are very slim, not much larger than the coax cable and are much easier to route through the boat. We also supply an FME to TNC adaptor for connecting the cable to the transponder (left hand connector in the above image).

Today we were reminded of the importance of ensuring this adaptor is firmly screwed on to the cable, when a US customer reported that their AIT2000 had stopped getting a GPS fix. After using the proAIS2 software to confirm that the GPS signals were very low, we asked the customer to check the GPS antenna connections to the AIT2000 and sure enough found that the FME connector had become loose and was no longer making a good connection.

A quick tighten of the FME connector in to the adaptor and the AIT2000 started to get a GPS fix again and the customer could continue their cruise.

The nut on the FME connector is 8mm (AF) and the TNC adaptor has two flat indents that are 9.5mm (AF). You can tighten the two connectors quite tightly but avoid using too much force which could damage the connector and cause a different set of problems. The image below shows the FME fully tightened in to the adaptor and there should be about a 1.5mm gap between the FME nut and the collar of the adaptor when properly tightened.

FME Connector Joined

Our GV30 combo GPS and VHF antenna also uses FME connectors and is supplied with a TNC and BNC adaptor, which should also be tightened in the same way.

Display Solution For Digital Yacht PCs On Board

Here’s a great 3rd party accessory for Digital Yacht on board PCs – AG Neovo displays and monitors.  The X SERIES is available in 15-24″ and makes a perfect chart table or below deck monitor for a fraction of the cost of  a dedicated marine display.  Most importantly, these displays are suitable for direct DC operation although they do require a clean and stable 12V supply so we recommend utilising a 12V-12V regulator like those available from Alfatronix and Victron.  All these monitors have a tough chassis and hard glass front.  They are not waterproof but we have seen installations operating for 100,000’s hours over many years without issue in some harsh environments.


The 15, 17 and 19″ formats feature a 4:3 aspect ratio.  The larger 22″ and 24″ utilise a 16:9 wide screen format – all are compatible with the advanced graphics on the Aqua Adapt PCs.  All have a HDMI video input as well as VGA and analogue video for TV and CCTV applications (plus thermal cameras too…)  The wide screen displays (which are stunning) have an HDMI input too.

neovo x19

Fitting at the chart table or saloon is simple – they can be flush fitted or attached to a standard VESA bracket for swivel or wall mounting.  Swivel appeals as you can multi-task the monitor at the chart table or rotate as a saloon TV monitor.  The foot mount can also be removed easily with just two hex screws.

So perfect package…  Aqua Adapt PC system plus

SmarterTrack Navigation Software

AIT3000 Class B AIS transponder



and AG Neovo display

As a manufacturer, Digital Yacht don’t resell 3rd party products.  You should be able to purchase these direct through the AG Neovo network.  However, if you don’t have easy access in your market give our sales team a call and we’ll be happy to help + 44 1779 55 44 74 (US 978 277 1234)

Bonjour www.digitalyacht.fr

Our new French website is now up and running at http://www.digitalyacht.fr.  Digital Yacht France is headed up by Nicolas Guerin and provides sales and service support for all our customers in France.  You can reach them online or by phone at + 33 1 70 70 92 50.  Bienvenue Digital Yacht France!

Digital Yacht a maintenant ouvert un site internet pour le marché français, découvrez ce nouveau site internet avec tous nos articles sur l’électronique marine : http://digitalyacht.fr

digital yacht france web site