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Old 06-01-2020, 20:51   #1
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Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

I have been using the Navico Go Free Wifi One or whatever it's called for many years with satisfaction. I use it to control my Zeus plotters from a tablet, particularly useful when keeping watch from under the spray hood in bad weather. I have also used it at various times for getting network data into a compute running OpenCPN, for an IPlod with INaxX, and other purposes. It is nice to have the boat's network data available over wifi.



But now it's dead. This device has the advantage of having the yellow Navico Ethernet connectors built into it. But I suppose it wouldn't be that hard to chop the ends off a couple of Navico cables and crimp on RJ-45's.



Is anyone using a standard wifi router for this purpose, and does anyone have any views on this vs. the proprietary Navico one?
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Old 06-01-2020, 21:49   #2
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Note by the way that for this to work with GoFree, so I can operate the radar and control the MFD's, this can't be an NMEA2000 to wifi gateway -- it needs to be a router which takes data from the Ethernet hub in the plotters.



The Navico plotters have a really excellent feature where they take the entire network datastream and convert it to 0183 and stream it over Ethernet. So the Wifi1/Gofree router can be used to feed this data to OpenCPN or other apps. But you need the two-way network connection over Ethernet to use GoFree so an ordinary converter/gateway won't work.
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Old 06-01-2020, 22:01   #3
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Any router/wifi will do. The yellow cables are 4 wire 100mbps ethernet and you can split the existing cable into two and crimp RJ-45's onto the ends to connect to standard ethernet gear. I use a USB powered 5 port switch and USB cellular router to create a LAN with Internet access. I still have the WIFI-1 in circuit, but never use it. You will need to configure DHCP on the new router to match your existing configuration.
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Old 06-01-2020, 22:22   #4
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Any router/wifi will do. The yellow cables are 4 wire 100mbps ethernet and you can split the existing cable into two and crimp RJ-45's onto the ends to connect to standard ethernet gear. I use a USB powered 5 port switch and USB cellular router to create a LAN with Internet access. I still have the WIFI-1 in circuit, but never use it. You will need to configure DHCP on the new router to match your existing configuration.

Thanks; that's helpful. Are you using this with the GoFree app? I seem to remember that there is some configuration issue, filtering the radar data or something, which not all routers/switches are able to handle?
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Old 06-01-2020, 22:57   #5
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

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Thanks; that's helpful. Are you using this with the GoFree app? I seem to remember that there is some configuration issue, filtering the radar data or something, which not all routers/switches are able to handle?

Yes, The goFree app works fine. It doesn't need anything special. If you have the original Touch (like I do), the newer "Link" software doesn't work with the MFD itself properly.



(IIRC), You need to enable multicast mode on the wifi router for radar over wifi.



I've attached some info I have on file that might be of some help


Edit, just had a quick read of that network/radar doc and I think newer A/P's are fine. I think my unit is 300mbps and I while I don't run the radar on tablets that often with it, when I do it seems to have worked fine. I mainly use it on the wired connection to either the MFD or a PC with OpenCpn and it works flawlessly. If you're interested let me know and I'll test again over wifi on a PC and report back.
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Old 06-01-2020, 23:15   #6
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Yes, The goFree app works fine. It doesn't need anything special. If you have the original Touch (like I do), the newer "Link" software doesn't work with the MFD itself properly.

(IIRC), You need to enable multicast mode on the wifi router for radar over wifi.

I've attached some info I have on file that might be of some help

Edit, just had a quick read of that network/radar doc and I think newer A/P's are fine. I think my unit is 300mbps and I while I don't run the radar on tablets that often with it, when I do it seems to have worked fine. I mainly use it on the wired connection to either the MFD or a PC with OpenCpn and it works flawlessly. If you're interested let me know and I'll test again over wifi on a PC and report back.

Thank you very much; most helpful!


I have suffered from the Link software issue with my original v1 Zeus Touch, and managed to find somewhere from some kind soul on here (was it you?) the old GoFree app which Navico no longer publishes . Outrageous that they prompt you to update the software, which then kills the app with the v1 MFD's.



I do operate my radar from OpenCPN -- I find it very useful. But I have my nav computer hard wired with Ethernet so I don't really care about having radar data over wifi. What I need to do with wifi is the GoFree app to control the Zeus. Sounds like this will work perfectly
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Old 07-01-2020, 00:11   #7
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Thank you very much; most helpful!


I have suffered from the Link software issue with my original v1 Zeus Touch, and managed to find somewhere from some kind soul on here (was it you?) the old GoFree app which Navico no longer publishes . Outrageous that they prompt you to update the software, which then kills the app with the v1 MFD's.



I do operate my radar from OpenCPN -- I find it very useful. But I have my nav computer hard wired with Ethernet so I don't really care about having radar data over wifi. What I need to do with wifi is the GoFree app to control the Zeus. Sounds like this will work perfectly

No worries. I used to hate the WIFI-1 because it's slow and we'd have to keep changing wifi settings on devices to get Internet access, but now everything just needs to be set to the one AP for access to the Internet and boat's data. It's certainly very 21st century to be able to watch Netflix over the boat network!
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Old 11-01-2020, 05:03   #8
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Hi Dockhead, there’s a small chance to get the GoFree wifi unit free from Navico. There’s an error at the Zeus2 update version 18.3 which hides the Gofree from the plotter. Below is what I wrote to Navico and after some discussions got a new one last spring.


”Zeus2 and Wifi Gofree
Hello, I installed at March 2019 the software update 18.3. to both of my Zeus2 chartplotter (9” and 12”). After that update the Gofree wifi was not shown at the list of devices anymore and it did not react in anyway. A hard reset did not help.

I noticed that You’ve released a patch to that update but it did not help. The gofree is dead.

I have a full set of B&G equipments in my Swan 431 which I have been very happy to use. ”
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Old 15-01-2020, 00:55   #9
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Any router/wifi will do. The yellow cables are 4 wire 100mbps ethernet and you can split the existing cable into two and crimp RJ-45's onto the ends to connect to standard ethernet gear. I use a USB powered 5 port switch and USB cellular router to create a LAN with Internet access. I still have the WIFI-1 in circuit, but never use it. You will need to configure DHCP on the new router to match your existing configuration.
Will the Zeus get their ip address from the router by DHCP or do they use
some kind of default static ip addresses ? If they use DHCP will they also
use the router as gateway for access to the internet ? (predict-wind, updates,
etc.). Could you describe your IP-setup a little bit ?

Thanks
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Old 15-01-2020, 01:19   #10
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patg View Post
Will the Zeus get their ip address from the router by DHCP or do they use
some kind of default static ip addresses ? If they use DHCP will they also
use the router as gateway for access to the internet ? (predict-wind, updates,
etc.). Could you describe your IP-setup a little bit ?

Thanks

The Zeus generates its own IP address, which you will need in order to make any kind of connection. It is unfortunately not static but tends to change once in a while, which means you have to change the address in OpenCPN or whatever other program you are using. You get the IP address from the plotter -- dig into the menu structure and it's there, oddly enough, under something counterintuitive -- I think "NMEA 0183".


I would be somewhat uneasy about putting the boat network in communion with the Internet, and I do not do this, personally. I'm sure there isn't any kind of firewall or any kind of protection against intrusion, and there are a lot of bots out there making a lot of mischief with IOT devices.
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Old 15-01-2020, 03:06   #11
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

I'm pretty sure the Touch can have a static IP assigned, but if it can't it's easy enough to configure DHCP to assign the same ip to the device (using MAC address reservations)
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Old 15-01-2020, 08:33   #12
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

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I'm pretty sure the Touch can have a static IP assigned, but if it can't it's easy enough to configure DHCP to assign the same ip to the device (using MAC address reservations)

Do tell me more. That sounds very good. Would stop a lot of fiddling.
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Old 16-01-2020, 14:48   #13
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

If you're thinking of running radar over wifi, I wrote this 5 years ago but I think it's still relevant:
Water and Electrickery: RADAR over wifi: Not always a pretty picture

Things to remember are:
* Radar which used multicast is designed to run over a wired connection. See the link above about why a fancy 300Mbps wifi router might struggle with radar data at <8Mbps
* I believe the Furuno and Raymarine radar which are designed to be used over wireless uses a tcp connection rather than multicast, thereby avoiding multicast-over-wifi issues
* Navico didn't (5 years ago when I asked) support their radar being used over wireless
* This doesn't mean that some people don't have it working. ideally you want a router which supports multicast-to-unicast translation but that didn't used to be common on domestic kit. Your best bet is probably a router which allows you to set the multicast rate to something higher than the standard default.
* The wifi-1 supported "IGMP Snooping" which means multicast data is only sent out on ports which ask for it. A cheap home router won't necessarily do this meaning that if you have wired and wireless networks connected via one router and you switch the radar on, even if the radar and its only consumers are on the wired network, your wifi network will still grind to a halt.

Bottom line, you don't need the wifi-1 but there are a few caveats to consider when buying a replacement if multicast radar is in the picture.

In other news...I'll let Reefmagnet respond to the static IP question. Going with those suggestions is probably less hassle but if anyone is interested, kplex understands the gofree protocol which allows it to discover gofree data sources without knowing the address. Anyone who has a raspberry pi or similar boat data server and is sourcing NMEA data from a gofree zeus by looking for the IP address each time the plotter boots...Don't do that! I wrote this so you don't have to:
Kplex Configuration
Mac and linux users could also run this on their laptops then feed the data out to OCPN or whatever via a tcp server over the loopback interface, but for the average user, Reefmagnet's suggestion is far more practical.
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Old 11-05-2020, 16:56   #14
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

My GoFree WiFi 1 has decided it will only be found if I do a hard reset or boot it after the Zeus2 has booted. Worked for a while after 18.3. (improved version) Then this.
I am about to install a Halo 20+ which doesn't require a radar interface box but now need a hub (expansion) NEP or some-such as the halo won't play with the GoFree ethernet port. Apparently it will but not reliably. Where have I heard that before.
I don't want either (NEP or WiFi1) if poss, so looks like I have to go with Zeus3 (or Vulcan) to get rid of the peripheral crapolla I.F. boxes. Seems the obvious way to enable integrated communication. I would like to have 0183 over WiFi for OPcn.
NEP here is $600 & GF Wifi1 is unreliable.
Just wondered if anyone has dealt with this.

I'll consult the local expert.
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Old 11-05-2020, 17:50   #15
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Re: Wifi Gateways: Alternatives to Go Free?

The Simrad/GoFree network is just a bog standard 10/100 mbps 4 wire ethernet with different connectors. I don't know for sure, but I would think the not playing nicely part is maybe because new gear is using the 8 wire 1000 mbps ethernet?


If that's the case, chomping off the custom connectors and adding standard RJ45 would let you use a usb powered 1000 mbps switch for a fraction of the cost.
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