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Old 10-10-2017, 11:52   #1
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USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

Looking to rent/borrow before I buy a unit for one time use- Does anyone have have a N2k to USB gateway I could borrow for a few days? Either a Peak, Maretron or Actisense.... maybe others. I'll pay insured shipping each way and give you a deposit if you'd like.

I have a Vector Satellite GPS compass that turns off when traffic increases on the network... not safe when it's steering our autopilot. Tech support at Hemisphere said this is a known issue and a software update is needed. Unfortunately, this can only be done with N2k gateway or they'll do it for $250

I have no other use for a N2k converter as the Vesper AIS does most of what I need for USB gateway. I've called a few local electronics installers in this area, and somehow, none have one.

Thank you,

Matt
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Old 10-10-2017, 13:05   #2
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

For not much more than the shipping cost you could buy a cheap gateway on flea-bay. I am referring to the type used with OpenSkipper/OpenPlotter software. The question is whether the update software can interface with it. I am not familiar with Peak, but Actisense and Maretron use different (proprietary) software drivers. I am prepared to be impressed if the firmware update software is compatible with all three - it is possible, just a lot more work for the developer. If so, maybe the cheap generic as well?

If all else fails I could lend you my Actisense, but the shipping between opposite corners of the country could be steep.

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Old 10-10-2017, 13:21   #3
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

Thanks Greg. I've looked at the Can-USB adapters, but not being real knowledgeable about this stuff, wasn't sure if I could get those to work with the Vector update software. The compass maker, Hemisphere, recommends the Peak PCAN-USB adapter, but since the update seems to be in N2k PGN messages, figured the lower cost and more common Actisense would work as well.... maybe it still won't allow the Vectors PC software access.

Actisense says on their site that most equipment manufacturers hardware can be configured and controlled with their device. Not sure if that means update firmware as well.

The Vesper AIS can see the Vector via the USB port, but when the PC software tries to access the GPS compass, it gets a cancel message and aborts. The PGN are limited on the Vesper.

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Old 10-10-2017, 14:14   #4
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

If Hemisphere recommends the Peak adapter then my guess is that it is the only one that is supported. If you want to try one of the others you will need to ask them if they support them first - not likely, but possible.

While N2K is a standard (mostly) it is not open source. These adapter makers have paid to join the group, sign NDAs, and get their solutions approved (expensive to them). AFAIK there is no standard for accessing the PGNs on a PC - each vendor has its own set of subroutines that access their own hardware with their own handshake and format. They make these routines available to application developers, after they in turn have joined the group, signed NDAs, and paid the money. So for the firmware updater to work with 3 different adapters they would have had to incorporate the 3 different set of software - not likely as I said earlier. Of course there are reverse-engineered solutions which can access some of these adapters - Signal K comes to mind - but again you would have to ask if the updater can interface with Signal K.

Yes, this is a mess. One created by the manufacturers in order to not be standard so as to lock in customers. The Actisense adapters appear to be the most commonly supported. But not universally. AFAIK Maretron will only update their N2K equipment through their hardware, and in fact discontinued the more generic NMEA 0183 support for their compass in favor of an exclusive N2K requirement (after I bought it). The whole thing is very annoying.

For you it is simple: contact Hemisphere and ask which adapters they support. If they don't specifically support others, then the Peak is your only choice. Peak doesn't seem to be very common so you will probably have to buy or pay the service price. Please let me know what they say. Good luck.

Greg
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Old 10-10-2017, 18:59   #5
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

Greg,

Thanks again. I emailed Hemisphere, and while they weren't able to say which gateways will work, he told me what they use in their office. I just purchased a Grid Connect USB-CAN adapter.

Matt
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:20   #6
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

Hemisphere acknowledges that this is a known issue, and has a firmware update for it, yet wants to charge you $250 for the privilege of them fixing their bug?

Crappy customer support, makes me want to avoid any of their products.
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:07   #7
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

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Hemisphere acknowledges that this is a known issue, and has a firmware update for it, yet wants to charge you $250 for the privilege of them fixing their bug?

Crappy customer support, makes me want to avoid any of their products.
And, it's a safety issue too Based on my experience with electronics companies (B&G/Navico ) this is par for the course.


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Old 11-10-2017, 10:15   #8
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

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And, it's a safety issue too Based on my experience with electronics companies (B&G/Navico ) this is par for the course.

Matt
You need to challenge them on this, it's almost extortion to charge you to fix their own bug. If we let companies get away this with type of behavior, then we only have ourselves to blame. Don't they know how much word-of-mouth says about their products? To say nothing of the liability they could face if there is an incident linked to their unit shutting down.

-David
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:24   #9
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

To be fair, they do have the update on their site along with the needed PC software. It's my limitation in not having a PCAN-USB adapter that is the issue. Typically, they deal with professional surveyors and not amateur mariners.... people that would have this type of equipment.

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Old 11-10-2017, 10:38   #10
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

The USB to NMEA2k Gateway I believe is not an intelligent gateway, it is merely a bus interface converter allowing the PC to communicate on the bus. The software should be the only thing doing the interpreting to and from the hardware. As long as the interface is designed to TX & RX there should be no issue.

The only snafu is as was pointed out above, is if the software/utility has a proprietary driver requirement for the USB side (some silly licensing a manufacturer may have embedded rather than using an off the self interface chip driver).
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:49   #11
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

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Originally Posted by Thuid View Post
The only snafu is as was pointed out above, is if the software/utility has a proprietary driver requirement for the USB side (some silly licensing a manufacturer may have embedded rather than using an off the self interface chip driver).

I don't think they used anything proprietary as Hemisphere has told me of three PCAN-USB adapters from different companies that can do they updates.

Matt
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Old 11-10-2017, 13:10   #12
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

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Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
To be fair, they do have the update on their site along with the needed PC software. It's my limitation in not having a PCAN-USB adapter that is the issue. Typically, they deal with professional surveyors and not amateur mariners.... people that would have this type of equipment.

Matt
Then they should offer a free service, send your unit in, they reprogram it, and send it right back. $250 is daylight robbery. Just my opinion of course...

-David
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Old 11-10-2017, 13:21   #13
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

Annoying, this proprietry dedication of an interface.
I have an acticense NGT-1 and a Navico ST10 which do the same job but won't work on certain devices. exit $350.
My Zeus also does the same job as the ST10.
Oh well, redundancy.
An the actisense has reader.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:23   #14
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

I did some reading around last night and the "Yacht Devices" USB to N2K gateway seem to be not a bad little device either. I can do some conversion as well as a direct N2K bus mode.
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Old 21-12-2017, 15:36   #15
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Re: USB to NMEA 2k Gateway

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Originally Posted by Thuid View Post
I did some reading around last night and the "Yacht Devices" USB to N2K gateway seem to be not a bad little device either. I can do some conversion as well as a direct N2K bus mode.
If you're US based and looking for any of the Yacht Devices products I've started distributing them in the US at http://www.yachtdevicesus.com. Previously they all shipped out of Russia or eastern Europe and this lead to long lead times to receive them. For many cruisers (myself included) this presents problems with being able to get them.

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