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Old 12-06-2015, 11:29   #1
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NMEA 2000 network instances question

I have been reading the 'Alternatives to Certain Maretron Gear' thread with great interest as I have just completed the installation of many of the items discussed. One of the issues that came up is the need to indicate instances on a NMEA2000 network. My new electronics and N2K network installation includes:

WSO100 wind sensor
Airmar ST800 speed/temp transducer
Airmar DT800 depth/temp transducer
Airmar H2183 heading sensor
Maretron USB100 gateway
Maretron DSM150 display
Maretron DCM100 DC electrical sensor
B&G Zeus2 12" MFD
B&G Zeus2 7" MFD
(3) B&G Triton displays
B&G 4G radar
Simrad AC42 Autopilot computer driving a Simrad DD-15 drive
Simrad RF25N rudder sensor
Simrad TP32 tillerpilot ( #2 autopilot driving Cape Horn windvane as a spare )
ICOM M506 VHF
Vesper Vision AIS transceiver
B&G ZG100 GPS sensor
Garmin 19X GPS sensor

The network components are primarily Maretron with a few Simrad drop cables at various locations. I used the N2K builder and the system is balanced and everything is working and recognized on the MFD network/sources page as operational.

I do have repetitive "rudder response failure" and "rudder sensor failure" messages come up on the Zeus and the autopilot then drops off. This occurred during periods of well balanced sails with the boat sailing itself, so the loads on the autopilot were minimal.

My question is about instances. I have read many comments in various threads about instances, and their importance in configuring the system to work without bugs. Would someone be able to explain this? I was under the impression one used instance numbers to define the usage priority of like components on the network. Otherwise, instance numbers were not necessary.

In my case, I have two Zeus2 mfds, three Tritons and two GPS sensors on the network. There are two sources for water temperature from the two Airmar transducers as well. Everything else is an individual component.

I'm unclear as to how to properly select the actual instances ( I do, of course know how to enter the instance numbers into the Zeus ) and have not done so. Do I have to have separate instance numbers for each item on the network? Or is it just for the items that produce duplicate data ( such as GPS coordinates)?

Thanks,
Bill
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Old 12-06-2015, 13:54   #2
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Can't help you much Bill as I haven't installed my new gear yet, but I'm setting up a very similar system. Looking forward to seeing your experience.

Bob
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Old 12-06-2015, 17:00   #3
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

First, have you updated the Triton and Zeus firmware to the most current version? Those errors you have were known and corrected with a firmware update. If you do have the most current firmware, then let's move on.

Next, everything SHOULD work without bothering with instances. However, people have had issues that seemed to solve themselves after setting up unique instances. So just use your DSM150 or Zeus or Tritons to set unique instances for everything on your network. I like to arrange the instance numbers from the most "important" devices to the least. I put any duplicate, non-primary devices and functionality (temp, GPS, etc) at the bottom of the list.

Typically, you should only need instances for duplicate devices, but why not just give everything a unique instance and be done with it? If you add anything later, give it the next number on the list.

You should then go into the network diagnostic page on either the Zeus, Triton, or DSM and look to see if you are getting any errors on the data bus. If you are, then unplug devices one at a time and see which one(s) are causing the errors.

Your rudder indicator could be acting up.

Mark
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Old 13-06-2015, 07:45   #4
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
First, have you updated the Triton and Zeus firmware to the most current version? Those errors you have were known and corrected with a firmware update. If you do have the most current firmware, then let's move on.

Next, everything SHOULD work without bothering with instances. However, people have had issues that seemed to solve themselves after setting up unique instances. So just use your DSM150 or Zeus or Tritons to set unique instances for everything on your network. I like to arrange the instance numbers from the most "important" devices to the least. I put any duplicate, non-primary devices and functionality (temp, GPS, etc) at the bottom of the list.

Typically, you should only need instances for duplicate devices, but why not just give everything a unique instance and be done with it? If you add anything later, give it the next number on the list.

You should then go into the network diagnostic page on either the Zeus, Triton, or DSM and look to see if you are getting any errors on the data bus. If you are, then unplug devices one at a time and see which one(s) are causing the errors.

Your rudder indicator could be acting up.

Mark
Thank you, Mark.

I have installed the latest software update available from B&G for the Zeus' and Tritons. I assumed that included any firmware update. Is that correct?

And, I have spoken with Navico tech support regarding software/firmware updates for the AC42 and was told that I had to send the actual computer to them for any update. I will do that shortly.

Your suggestion about assigning instances to everything makes sense and I will do that this weekend. Thanks.

I do have a question about the two Zeus2 MFDs, though. Will assigning one #1 and the other #2 affect anything operationally? They are, of course connected together via the N2K network and via the ethernet network, but are on separate circuit breakers (no slave/master connection). I guess the same question applies to the Tritons. I ask about this due to the fact that the autopilot can be controlled through each of these devices, along with the Triton Pilot, which I had forgotten to include in my equipment list.

I hope there is no issue with the RF25N rudder sensor. It is a new unit, though I know that doesn't ensure functionality. It's a pain to remove this unit, in my particular case. I'll take a look at the network diagnostics and verify there are no errors. I had done this early on, but not since the problems surfaced.

By the way, I ordered the new WR10 wireless remote control for the autopilot, but don't expect to receive it until late June. I am primarily a single hander, so I am looking forward to this capability. I hope it works!

Thanks again for your helpful suggestions.

Bill
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Old 13-06-2015, 08:47   #5
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Yes, software/firmware is interchangeable in this context.

The most current AC42 software is from June 2012, so you probably are OK with yours.

The AC42 software can most certainly be updated in the field in the exact same way the Tritons can. I have updated ours without sending the thing back to Navico.

I don't have much experience with the Zeus. Perhaps Dockhead will chime in because he has multiple units of those.

The Tritons will have no problem having separate instance numbers - that is the way I have our three setup.

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Old 13-06-2015, 09:37   #6
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Yes, software/firmware is interchangeable in this context.

The most current AC42 software is from June 2012, so you probably are OK with yours.

The AC42 software can most certainly be updated in the field in the exact same way the Tritons can. I have updated ours without sending the thing back to Navico.

I don't have much experience with the Zeus. Perhaps Dockhead will chime in because he has multiple units of those.

The Tritons will have no problem having separate instance numbers - that is the way I have our three setup.

Mark
Interesting about the AC42. Mine has the June 2012 software noted when I display it's information on the Zeus. Thanks for that information. It will save me some work and time.

Perhaps when I indicate all of the instances as discussed, my issues will be resolved. Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Dockhead, it was his comments as to the value of an additional smaller Zeus MFD, particularly about the SailSteer feature, that led me to reconfigure my cockpit displays. Originally I was going to have three Tritons mounted over the companionway hatch ( mine is a tiller steered Crealock 37 ), but changed it to two Tritons and a 7" Zeus2.

Over the last few years, your's, and his, contributions to this forum have been quite helpful to me, not only with this boat, but with my previous Pacific Seacraft Dana ( more B&G stuff ), as well.

Thanks again, and to you, too, Dockhead.

Bill
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Old 13-06-2015, 10:44   #7
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

I just updated the firmware on my Zeus2. It involves putting the update file on a MicroSD (must be formated FAT32) card and inserting it into the Zeus2, then powering it on. Here is the link
B&G Zeus˛ Software Update

After doing that, you can use the Zeus2 to update the Tritons. You just put the Triton update on the MicroSD, then use the file function on the Zeus2. Click on the file and it will give you the option to update the Tritons.
http://www.bandg.com/en-GB/Products/...ftware-Update/
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Old 13-06-2015, 21:04   #8
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Wow! I'm 71 and I wonder if I'll last long enough to understand what you the heck your talking about!!
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Old 13-06-2015, 23:54   #9
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

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Wow! I'm 71 and I wonder if I'll last long enough to understand what you the heck your talking about!!
Hang in there Stan! It wasn't that long ago that I was clueless about all of this s#@t. It comes with time and exposure...
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Old 14-06-2015, 09:57   #10
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

A quick primer for folks who might be new to this stuff:

1. Firmware is basically the software that the devices use to function. The reason it's called firmware rather than software is because it used to be stored on a microchip that was permanent once it was stored there and thus "firm" and it could not be updated without replacing the chip (normally not an option). Nowadays it's more like a computer with solid state drives, and it's many, many more times more complex than the old fashioned PROM (programmable read only memory) chip, but they still call it firmware.

Firmware needs to be updated just like computer software does. The code is so complex nowadays that the mfr can't possibly find all the bugs before shipping the product, so as they find bugs, mfrs issue updates to the firmware. They can also add new features to the hardware via firmware updates. Woot!

2. Updates to firmware can be accomplished a number of ways. Some might require a computer attached with a data cable. More recently, mfrs are making it easier by using a memory card slot in the MFD (Multi-Function Display). These memory cards are identical to the cards used in cameras and can contain charts or software updates. An SD memory card is the one that is about the same size as a thumbnail. A Micro-SD memory card is about the size of a pinky finger nail.
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Old 14-06-2015, 13:08   #11
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Hi Bill,

is it possible that you also have a 'Simrad' or 'B&G' VHF radio with AIS connected to the network?
I kind of remember reading on another thread about a guy having a B&G system with similar error notices and duplication of sources was the reason for his problem. In his case it was two AIS sources that were causing the error messages.

Ron
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Old 14-06-2015, 13:26   #12
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Similar to what Ron posted, the B&G/Simrad VHF radios have had a lot of problems with their N2K communications. A friend has just sent his back after we discovered that it was throwing so many errors on the bus that it was taking things down.

His initial complaint was that he was getting a lot of autopilot errors. With the radio off the network, these went away.

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Old 14-06-2015, 14:30   #13
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

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Similar to what Ron posted, the B&G/Simrad VHF radios have had a lot of problems with their N2K communications. A friend has just sent his back after we discovered that it was throwing so many errors on the bus that it was taking things down.

His initial complaint was that he was getting a lot of autopilot errors. With the radio off the network, these went away.

Mark

Been there, done that. In our case replacing the radio with one with the latest firmware mostly fixed the issues. There is a diagnostic screen that you should be able to see on your Tritons. That will show you the bus errors so you can try to see if they are correlated with any specific piece of equipment being up.


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Old 14-06-2015, 22:17   #14
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

its an address and generally only needed when you have multiple of the exact same product. (ie 2x gps19x) if everything is different they will default all be 0. if you have 2 indentical things. like 2 fuel tank level sensors. they need to have different instances. generally they will be automatcly assigned when you plug them in. IE 0 and 1. then you'd have to figure out which one is which (is port or stb 1/2) then you'd have to assign on the chart plotter which one is which so it displays correctly.


in your setup you shouldn't have to worry about it. the are probably all 0.


if you have the mareton software for the usb100 you'll see the whole list and their instances


on the zues in the sources section is where you choose which source is being used by the simrad system. for gps, depth, etc.


IE for GPS source you'll see the 19x, bng, and zues internal, and one will be checked off.
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Old 14-06-2015, 22:36   #15
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Re: NMEA 2000 network instances question

Not sure if this will help with troubleshooting, but the Simrad autopilot drop-off errors can be caused by the NMEA2K bus being flooded with traffic. For example, turning on the B&G/SIMRAD HS-35 VHF with receive-only AIS can flood the bus with so much traffic that the autopilot can't get sensor information through and it will error out exactly as you've described.

Because AIS was the problem on my boat, and can occur suddenly in busy harbors, you might try shutting off the AIS transceiver, sailing on autopilot, and then turning it on to see if it corresponds with autopilot drop-out.

You may find you've some other blind senders overwhelming the bus at times causing these drop-offs. Not sure how to determine that with certainty except to use a bus analyzer.
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