Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Maretron monitoring

I've had a couple of inquiries wanting to know more about the Maretron monitoring that I have set up, so here goes.

First of all, it's still a work in progress.  Phase one was focued on getting the basics and/or easy things monitored, and phase 2 (and maybe 3, 4.....) will be addition of more sensors, better alarming, and general tuning and adjusting based on experience as I actually use it more.

You can read all about their product line at Maretron, so I'll just do a brief overview.  They have a full line of sensors and display products for the marine industry, all using NMEA 2000 (aka N2K) as the interconnect.  Once you have an N2K bus running through your boat, it becomes real easy to add sensors for all sorts of things.  Their display products range from 4" square panel displays to very flexible software that can run on a Mac or Windows.  The stuff isn't cheap, but by marine standards it's not real expensive either.  I'd say the bang for the buck is quite high.

I had a few sensors on my Grand Banks along with two of their smallish displays (about 4"x7"), one at each helm.  That's how I became familiar with the product line.

On the Nordhavn, I've added a number of additional sensors, and do all the monitoring using their software product (N2KView) running on a Mac 24x7x365.

N2KView is really very nice, and costs about the same as one of Maretron's mid-sized dedicated display.  It comes out of the box with about 6 different screens geared towards typical use.  I borrowed from a few of them, but have ended up creating my own screens.  It takes time, but the results are worth it.

One thing I don't like is having to flip through different screens looking for info.  I much prefer to have all the pertinent info visible at the same time so anything can be checked with a glance.  Being able to set up my own screens allows for that which I really like.

Since it's not possible to get absolutely everything on one screen at a time and still be able to read it, I instead created a few screens geared towards a particular activity.  In this case, they are:

1) Underway
2) Anchored
3) Tankage

Then I have another one called Instruments (not the best name, but that's what I called it) mostly for test purposes.

The idea is that there are different sets of info that need to be monitored when underway vs at anchor.  By creating a screen for each, I can fit all the important stuff and get rid of extraneous, distracting info.  Note that the Tankage screen doesn't really fit this model.  It's one of the first screens that I made before becoming clearer on how I want to organize things.  It might become "Docked", or it might go away completely with elements merged into other screens.  I just don't know at this point.  What I do know is that it's the only reason we need to change screens while underway or at anchor.

At this stage, here's the list of sensors, etc that we have in use:
  • Monitoring via N2KView running on a Mac
  • Mac interface to N2K through ethernet via an IPG100
  • TMP100 temp monitor with probes for:
    •  Main engine exhaust temp.  This is a good way to watch for engine overloading
    •  Wing engine exhaust temp.
    •  Forward equipment space temp
    •  ER temp
    •  Lazarette temp
  • 2 TLM200s for black and gray water tanks.  These tanks come with level sensors, but they are very course, basically telling you that it's empty, it's somewhere less than half full, it's somewhere more than half full, and OMG don't flush the toiler.  I want a little more warning before the OMG event.
  • 5 TLA100s for fuel tanks and water tank.
  • J2K100 to bring main engine data onto N2K bus.  With this, anything that's on the engine gauges can also be on the Mac screen
  • RIM100 run indicator.  This detects when various circuits are active, and is currently connected to:
    •   Bilge pump
    •   High water bilge pump
    •   Fresh water pump
    •   Ships 240VAC power present
    •   Ships 120VAC power present
    •   24VDC low voltage
  • WSO100 solid state weather station

That’s the monitoring stuff, but I can also display any of the following other N2K device data:
  • Position, SOG, COG from Sat compass
  • Heading from Sat compass
  • Position, SOG, COG from secondary GPS
  • Heading from secondary rate compass
  • Pitch
  • Roll- Depth/temp from sounder
  • Depth/temp from fish finder
  • Rudder position from either of two rudder indicators

Stuff I still plan to add is:
  • Pressure sensors
    •   Hydraulic pressure
    •   Heating system pressure
    •   Steering system pressure
    •   Hydraulic fluid level
    •   House water pressure
    •   Main fuel filter vacuum
    •   Fuel transfer filter vacuum
    •   Generator fuel filter vacuum
    •   Fuel supply tank level
    •   Wing fuel tank supply level

I might also add some more run indicator sense points, and I need to add a second J2K100 to get main gear data on N2K.  For an obscure reason, it doesn't come over with the engine data and requires a separate converter.

N2KView is pretty good, and starting about a year ago they significantly improved their licensing so it’s more affordable.  I’m still running V4.x and they are up to 5.x now.  I tried 5.x, but it broke a hand full of things so I backed it out.  The trouble with 4.x is that alarming pretty much doesn’t work.  Or more accurately, sending email when alerts are raised/lowered doesn’t work.  I’ll recheck it once I get to V5, then work the issues from there.  Since I'm running an old version, I haven't even asked.

Here are the various screens:

"Underway" screen

"Tankage" screen

"Instruments" screen
I don't have a picture of the Anchored screen, but it shows the boat's location inside the allowed swing circle, plus all the same weather info that's on the Underway screen.

Again, all this is a work in progress and highly subject to change.

Hope this helps answer some of the questions.


  1. I read all the nordhavn blogs and I enjoy yours the most.

  2. This is a wonderful blog. I found it this morning and the whole day has slipped by while I was reading it. I have learned more about modern boatbuilding from this than everything else I have read put together. Our boat is a tiddler, and old, and simple. We are thinking of upgrading. If we go ahead we can't say we weren't warned!


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