Thanks for all the suggestions.. I really appreciate it.
I was able to do some more research by reading through several of the product manuals as well as reference documents, (like the SeaTalk Reference paper), at the Raymarine website, so I think I have a better understanding of how to select the appropriate components. Now it's just a matter of deciding how much I want to dive into new electronics for this coming season.
I can recommend this blog if you like to read more on what is going in in the market Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub
One of the most exciting features in the new Raymarine MFDs, is the ability to access them via WiFi/BT, with IOS and Android devices. I'd be curious to what extent other vendors are doing similar things, if anyone would care to add that to the discussion. Hopefully this can lead to some company building a "boat server" architecture, (with all the speed, storage, and processing power for performing the various electronics tasks housed within a black box device somewhere inside the boat), being able to be accessed wirelessly via different client devices, like a touchscreen at the pedestal, nav station, etc.
I think you will find that all the major brands are doing the same.
Furuno Furuno USA
Navico (B&G, Simrad and Lowrance) Navico - Leader in Marine Electronics
Raymarine Raymarine Marine Electronics for Boats and Maritime Applications
Finally, as a computer network guy it's interesting to see the various Raymarine SeaTalk, (and NMEA2000), network architectures both old and new. It reminds me very much of computer networking circa the early 1980s. Especially the parallels between the trunk/spur cabling, and the original "thicknet" ethernet.
It's also interesting to see the migration of these network architectures towards an ethernet implementation with SeaTalk hs, and finally NMEA OneNet. Hopefully the same kind of plug and play that we experience in work and home ethernet networks can soon be translated to the boat environment. (NMEA 2000 seems like a big first step..)
NMEA 2000 aka N2K have is already established as a standard for marine electronics. The way I see it there are two limitations with N2K
- Limited bandwidth, N2K can not be used for images (camera & radar), This is the reason most vendors already have proprietary protocols on top of Ethernet.
- N2K defines a standard for exchanging data between products from different manufacturers, but calibration and configuration is not a part of the standard.
It will be interesting to see how open NMEA OneNet will be..
There are some Open CNP projects going on where they "tap in" to the data from radar sensors...
I'm thinking that the vendors still would like to have some "lock in"
As a side note, we have a heterogeneous system on our boat.
We have equipment from
- Furuno (MFD (NN3D), Radar, GPS, Heading sensor)
- Raymarine (Wind, speed, depth sensors, Converter to Seatalkng (N2K) (ITC-5), instrument display i70)
- Em-trak (AIS transponder)
- Coursemaster (Autopilot)
- Actisense (NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 converter - both ways)
Ethernet is used between the radar and the MFD, but Furuno can also integrate with their PC software MaxSea. By using wireshark we found out that the MFD convert all N2K data to NMEA 0183 and broadcast it as UDP packets..
This is a mix of N2K (NMEA 2000, Seatalkng) and NMEA 0183, the reason is that the oldest components where bought when N2K was still in limited availability.