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Old 01-11-2013, 06:48   #1
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Best way to organize NMEA cables

I am wondering what you found best for managing all the small wiring of the Instruments, such as AIS, VHF, GPS, etc.
Do you use a terminal block (with the screws)?
What do you use to extend the short cables that usually extend from the device itself? Solder? Butt splice?
Also, what do you use to split a GPS NMEA output (assuming it is only 2-3 devices), another terminal block? Just overlay connections? Other?
Trying to rewire my instruments neatly and get rid of the clutter.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:38   #2
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patcheloupe View Post
I am wondering what you found best for managing all the small wiring of the Instruments, such as AIS, VHF, GPS, etc.
Do you use a terminal block (with the screws)?
What do you use to extend the short cables that usually extend from the device itself? Solder? Butt splice?
Also, what do you use to split a GPS NMEA output (assuming it is only 2-3 devices), another terminal block? Just overlay connections? Other?
Trying to rewire my instruments neatly and get rid of the clutter.
NMEA2000

Actually you are asking a good question to a widely known issue. NMEA0183/RS422 is obnoxious at best, both physical wiring and electrically. Add to that the problem that the standard(s) are loose enough that every manufacturer varies their implementation such that incompatibilities are rampant.

As a generality, a single NMEA0183 talker can support 2-3 listeners bridged onto the circuit, but there is no guarantee. If that fails, the only option is to add a multiplexer/repeater.

I personally like terminal blocks, they provide a better environment for follow-on testing/maintenance.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:44   #3
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Long terminal blocks with screws and jumpers (both available from Blue Sea); just sort, fan out, terminate, and label (yes, label!). we use small slide on numbers and letters to identify the wires and then hang a laminated code (r1, s1, r2, s2, g, etc) = Receive Data 1, Send Data 1, etc)
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Old 01-11-2013, 20:58   #4
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Another vote for terminal strips and crimp-on ring terminals. There are other perfectly fine solutions, but this is what I use. If there's any question about strain or vibration, I also use cable clamps right next to the terminal strips.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:02   #5
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Another option, especially if you anticipate removing equipment for winter, security or maintenance, is to use multi-pin connector sets. Deutsch is a maker of very high-quality, relatively expensive waterproof connectors but there are other options, both waterproof and not Most requires special tooling to crimp. but they can also be soldered. I confess I have sometimes used trailer light connectors on our boat cos they're waterproof, cheap and available about anywhere.

I also like terminal strips, including the "Euro" style that don't require lugs.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:10   #6
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patcheloupe View Post
Do you use a terminal block (with the screws)?
What do you use to extend the short cables that usually extend from the device itself? Solder? Butt splice?
Also, what do you use to split a GPS NMEA output (assuming it is only 2-3 devices), another terminal block? Just overlay connections? Other?
To join thin signal wires I use gel filled connectors (like 3M scotchlok): Stick an unstripped wire into each of 2 holes and crimp with ordinary pliers.

Behind the instrument panel I have a long chocblock tihngy, pins crimped onto the ends of wires (which are labelled) and screwed into that. Not as good as the ring arrangement which others have advocated, especially when it comes to connection fan-out, and when I get round to re-wiring that is what I intend replacing my current set-up with.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:33   #7
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Does anyone use the field attachable N2K connectors & terminators?

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: Adventures in NMEA 2000 Wiring, Part II

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: Adventures in NMEA 2000 Wiring - Part I

Proper NMEA 2000 Installationhttp://www.nmea.org/Assets/2012%20ib...stallation.pdf
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:39   #8
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Yes, we have them on-board and they are used in certain places in our system. Work just fine. Their only drawback over pre-made molded-on connectors is that they are larger.

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Old 02-11-2013, 10:48   #9
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It's important to realise that all this fancy NMEA 2k splitters , taps , etc. are not necessary. You can quite happily make up a network for suitable commonly available cable ( Beldin) ordinary connector strips. The only semi proprietary stuff is the connectors on the equipment itself.

Can was never designed to need all that cable infrastructure


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Old 02-11-2013, 12:52   #10
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Dave,

Yes and no; check the warranty for the use of non N2K wiring… I know many manufacturers require the use of N2K approved wiring and fittings.
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Old 02-11-2013, 13:08   #11
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Dave,

Yes and no; check the warranty for the use of non N2K wiring… I know many manufacturers require the use of N2K approved wiring and fittings.
I'm talking about using correct cabling , ie Beldin etc. but the taps and splitters etc are nothing to do with can.

( as to how a manufacturer can verify your warranty re cabling ..... Lol )

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Old 02-11-2013, 14:01   #12
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

But they are convenient. This accounts for something - particularly since they don't cost much more than a bus bar. They are also waterproof.

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Old 02-11-2013, 23:53   #13
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

Regarding field attachable connectors, I used them extensively during my recent complete NMEA2000 network installation. Even though it takes some effort to properly attach them, running and securing bulk backbone, and drop cabling, is much easier when there are no connectors attached. There is also the need to keep drop cable lengths at a minimum. Hard to do when using pre-fab cabling.
I used Maretron components throughout, and also their excellent network design software. It allowed me to design a balanced system that actually worked perfectly upon first power up.
I'm not sure what is meant by "field attachable terminators". The one that I used was attached to the last "T" fitting in the backbone. It is a standard, off the shelf, Maretron item. The other end of the backbone's termination requirement was taken care of by a terminator already built into the N2K wind sensor (B&G 508), installed at the masthead.
The attached photo shows a segment of my network with both field attachable straight (gray drop cables), and 90 degree (blue backbone cable) connectors and the terminator attached at the end (right side of segment).
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Old 03-11-2013, 21:00   #14
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Re: Best way to organize NMEA cables

I've used the field-attachable N2K connectors. They're not that hard to put on if you have basic soldering skills.

I do agree with Dave that a NMEA2000 network can be completed without using the official connectors and splitters, but the wire has to be appropriate and the workmanship needs to be good. But the official premade cables, tees, splits terminators make the system go together like Tinkertoys, and make it easier to test and expand the network. So in that sense they provide value.

And yeah the Maretron software is great.
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Old 03-11-2013, 21:07   #15
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It's worth pointing out that can bus was designed to run over quite ordinary twisted pair wiring in car body looms. Furthermore the system is quite tolerant of non protocol wiring or topologies , to a point much further then NMEA will accept. I've done a lot of can bus work and its surprising how crappy wiring works, yes error rates go up , but marine networks are carry comparatively little traffic compared to auto systems , so you never see the effect.

Yes there are a number of hard design limits , overall propagation time being one of them , but Bosch designed the system to be uber robust and it is.

I go to these NMEA connect fests from time to time , always surprised to see the error rates

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