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Old 02-03-2010, 10:20   #1
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Integrating Laptop into Raymarine Pathfinder System

Hey guys:

My recently acquired boat has got an obsolescent but well running navigation suite which I've decided to keep for a while. It consists of:

RL80CRC Plus at the nav table
RL70RC Plus at the helm
Pathfinder radar
heading sensor, etc., etc.
wind, depth, speed all on the network

The network architecture is somewhat confusing. Various protocols are used: NMEA, Seatalk, and HSB2.

I've just ordered the Raytech 5.0 software for my laptop and I want to get the computer on to the network to deal with some of the functions which the main system doesn't do.

Here is my question:

If I want to see my radar on the laptop, I have to have an HSB2 interface box, right? Same thing for reading the charts installed in the RL80CRC Plus?

On the other hand, if I only want wind, depth, speed, and GPS data, the simplest NMEA/Seatalk interface box would be enough, right? Like this one: Raymarine SeaTalk to PC Interface Box - Raymarine Accessories ?

But only this jobbie: Raymarine Marine Electronics - USB2.0 to hsb2 Network Interface Kit

will get radar and charts onto my computer, correct? If so, then I should have thought about it before buying the Raytech software. That box is $$$$ to be spending on an obsolete protocol, not supported by current generation plotters and radars. Anybody have any insights?
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:31   #2
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Some good information on Raymarine network protocols:

Raymarine

Raymarine uses several different networking technologies. Some are variants on industry standards, while others are unique.

SeaTalk

SeaTalk is the oldest, and is a daisy-chained, electrically unbalanced signal. This appears to have no compatibility with any industry standard, and, indeed, SeaTalk instruments of different vintages use different plugs.

SeaTalk 2

In contrast to SeaTalk, SeaTalk 2 is based on the NMEA standard, but uses a different connector and is not completely compatible at the level of messages exchanged. SeaTalk 2 can be interfaced to, or made compatible with, SeaTalk, NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000 and USB 2.0.

SeaTalk HS

Again, Raymarine defines a network as a variant of a standard protocol, Ethernet, at the physical level. SeaTalk HS connectors do have an advantage over standard Ethernet cables, in that the plug has additional sealing for water resistance. The "HS" is for "high speed", making it fast enough to transmit rapidly changing graphic information such as radar displays. Sea Talk and Sea Talk 2 do not support such graphics.

HSB and HSB2

HSB is Raymarine's technology for interconnecting high-performance graphic displays such as radar screens and chartplotters. Not all Raymarine devices can be interconnected. If two devices are "Plus" products, they use HSB2 and will interoperate. If neither one is Plus, they will interoperate as HSB. Plus and non-Plus units, however, do not appear to be interoperable with Raymarine technology. Raymarine does have an an interface to bring HSB2 displays into a PC. If the PC runs a compatible chartplotter, which emulates the Raymarine E-series, you get a radar overlay on a PC, which can be running more open applications.

Raymarine has not given any public description of the interface between the radar antenna and display. This interface is closed and proprietary for most vendors.

SeaTalk NG

SeaTalk NG (Next Generation) is NMEA 2000 compatible system, although it is not itself NMEA 2000 certified. Raymarine offers adapters for NMEA-2000 conformant networks, as well as SeaTalk and SeaTalk 2. NG networks, like NMEA 2000 but not Ethernet, is architected around a backbone cable with drops to specific devices. While low-current devices will be able to be powered from SeaTalk NG, it is unclear if multi-ampere feeds will be available.

00E-Proprietary networks
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:05   #3
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Dock, I can't help you but sure hope someone does as I have similar issues.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:57   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Hey guys:

My recently acquired boat has got an obsolescent but well running navigation suite which I've decided to keep for a while. It consists of:

RL80CRC Plus at the nav table
RL70RC Plus at the helm
Pathfinder radar
heading sensor, etc., etc.
wind, depth, speed all on the network

The network architecture is somewhat confusing. Various protocols are used: NMEA, Seatalk, and HSB2.

I've just ordered the Raytech 5.0 software for my laptop and I want to get the computer on to the network to deal with some of the functions which the main system doesn't do.

Here is my question:

If I want to see my radar on the laptop, I have to have an HSB2 interface box, right? Same thing for reading the charts installed in the RL80CRC Plus?

On the other hand, if I only want wind, depth, speed, and GPS data, the simplest NMEA/Seatalk interface box would be enough, right? Like this one: Raymarine SeaTalk to PC Interface Box - Raymarine Accessories ?

But only this jobbie: Raymarine Marine Electronics - USB2.0 to hsb2 Network Interface Kit

will get radar and charts onto my computer, correct? If so, then I should have thought about it before buying the Raytech software. That box is $$$$ to be spending on an obsolete protocol, not supported by current generation plotters and radars. Anybody have any insights?
I have a similar setup, but with B&G instruments for depth etc. I have maps on PC that I use as a backup (the B&G instruments proved the GPS input and display windspeed etc on the PC). I do not use the PC much. The bright daylight screen of the RL70 and 80 gives me maps with radar overlay at the helm and chart table.
If the display (radar chart or both) is important most of the time I want it at the helm where the PC would not physically survive.
The best use of the PC is I can watch a movie on the laptop in the lounge or even in bed with a sidebox showing boat position wind speed, depth etc. Cool.
Radar overlay on the PC would be a nice extra, but would not achieve much.
Maybe money spent on achieving a radar overlay on the PC would be better spent on more maps for the chart plotter?

Anyway thatís my insight, but good luck and I am interested if anyone has answers
.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:02   #5
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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
I have a similar setup, but with B&G instruments for depth etc. I have maps on PC that I use as a backup (the B&G instruments proved the GPS input and display windspeed etc on the PC). I do not use the PC much. The bright daylight screen of the RL70 and 80 gives me maps with radar overlay at the helm and chart table.
If the display (radar chart or both) is important most of the time I want it at the helm where the PC would not physically survive.
The best use of the PC is I can watch a movie on the laptop in the lounge or even in bed with a sidebox showing boat position wind speed, depth etc
Radar overlay on the PC would be a nice extra, but would not achieve much.
Maybe money spent on achieving a radar overlay on the PC would be better spent on more maps for the chart plotter?

Anyway thatís my insight, but good luck and I am interested if anyone has answers
.
Well, yes. You are probably right. The radar overlay is not the most important thing (I've got that on the fairly nice RL80 display just next to the computer). Getting the chart off the RL80 is also not the most important thing, since I can put all kinds of other charts on the PC (which is a big part of the point of the whole exercise), including free charts, photo maps, Google Earth, etc., etc.

Well, I understand all of that but I would STILL like to know if there is some other way, before I give up completely. Also kicking myself for shelling out for the Raytech software before I had everything figured out.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:10   #6
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By the way, another question for the computer geniuses of this board, inspired by the question about seeing boat position, wind speed, etc. "in bed" --

To do it in bed, I will have to have some kind of remote connection to the PC which is, after all, tied down with all the Seatalk and NMEA wires, and so has to stay at the nav table.

Can I use Microsoft Remote Desktop to control the PC from a PDA (Pocket PC) or tablet PC? Over the boat's WiFi network?

That would be incredibly cool -- that would mean no need to put in a third chart plotter in the master cabin (another thread on this concerning anchor alarms). Monitor any boat systems using a PDA anywhere on the boat; have anchor alarm at your bedside complete with an image of the chart plotter -- WOW!

Can it be done?
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Old 02-03-2010, 13:25   #7
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Technically, yes, the tablet pc would make more sense but terminal services on Pocket PC will connect to another PC and give you the desktop. I doubt the experience would be very satisying but then I haven't done it. I have remoted highly graphically applications and I haven't found it very satisfying even on fast networks and high speed machinery. If you set up to feed just what you need (as in skip the chart plotter) it should be alright.
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Old 02-03-2010, 14:14   #8
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Technically, yes, the tablet pc would make more sense but terminal services on Pocket PC will connect to another PC and give you the desktop. I doubt the experience would be very satisying but then I haven't done it. I have remoted highly graphically applications and I haven't found it very satisfying even on fast networks and high speed machinery. If you set up to feed just what you need (as in skip the chart plotter) it should be alright.
Thanks for that. I was hoping someone had concrete experience with PC-based navigation software they could relate? I definitely want to see enough of the chart plotter image, to be able to see how I'm swinging around my anchor, from my bunk. I would have thought that that would work on a PDA, if I set the resolution down to the right level. If not, of course, I can get a tablet PC instead. Experience?
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Old 02-03-2010, 14:42   #9
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Have you looked at the "Getting Started" guide for the software? It does a pretty fair job of describing how to interface the various instruments with the computer.

Raymarine Marine Electronics - Retired RayTech Manuals

The NMEA 0183 or Seatalk interface should be fairly easy to configure. Before springing for one of their boxes (very likely to be expensive), I'd see if you can figure out the schematic for converting to a standard PC 9-pin, RS232 plug. I'm just guessing that the box is nothing more than routing from one set of pins to another.

That should get you your basic instruments routed. The hsb2 would be the pricier option (if you could even find their PCMCIA card still around), but that would get you radar and be able to pull chart data from the plotter.

Although you didn't ask, I'll supply an additional editorial opinion: I haven't found the Raytech software to be much good. The interface is clumsy, it is pretty buggy, and they simply don't support it worth a darn. I consider my version 6 to have been basically a waste. There are lots of other nav packages out there (including the OpenCPN here on CF, OpenCPN - Cruisers & Sailing Forums ) that would be more capable and probably a lot less hassle, over the long term.

Good Luck!

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Old 02-03-2010, 16:20   #10
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Alternatively, running the navigation software on the PDA or tablet, and somehow streaming the Seatalk/NMEA data over WiFi. Anybody know anything?!
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