Best vessel gateways for 2020
11/30/2020

For the geeks among us, gateways need no introduction. For the rest us, they are simply devices that bridge between networks that are governed by different protocols in order to permit communication between them. For example, a gateway may link a personal computer to the NMEA network and, if needed, convert NMEA 2000 data to NMEA 0183 format so it can operate with PC-based navigation software. A gateway can also convert 2000 and 0183 data in both directions, permitting newer NMEA 2000 devices and sensors to be integrated into older systems. Other gateways perform a variety of useful functions as well.

Below are six gateways that do the job in spades. The lineup is part of an exercise we do every year in Marine Electronics Journal called the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics. We ask manufacturers to tell us which model in 19 categories of electronics they consider to be their best--not necessarily the most advanced or latest but the one than delivers the highest marks overall. That could be their most popular model or the one that has passed the test of time. Categories range from autopilots and radars to fishfinders and communications electronics. Click here to see last week’s rollout of vessel safety monitoring devices.

Maretron USB100

As a gateway for bridging computers to a NMEA network, Maretron’s USB100 allows the use of PC-based navigation software like Maretron’s N2KView vessel monitoring and control software. The USB100 connects the network and the PC, eliminating conventional multiplexers and the maze of wires usually associated with interfacing equipment to PCs. For PC-based navigation software that requires receiving NMEA 0183 data, the USB100 automatically converts information from the NMEA 2000 network to NMEA 0183 sentences, allowing you to continue using navigational and charting software that you already own while enjoying the many benefits of networked NMEA 2000 instruments. Pair a USB100 with Maretron’s N2KAnalyzer software and use a PC for configuring, updating, and troubleshooting products connected to an NMEA 2000 network.

Actisense NGT-1 (NMEA 2000 to PC)

The NGT-1 is an intelligent NMEA 2000 gateway able to precisely transfer messages between the NMEA 2000 network and a computer, while acting as a firewall, enforcing the rules to keep the network safe. It is compatible with a wide range of chartplotter, display and configuration applications available for both Windows and Mac PCs. NMEA Reader, the Actisense diagnostic tool, allows full decoding of NMEA 2000 messages and configuration of NMEA 2000 products from Actisense plus other manufacturers as well. Available in two variants that offer full OPTO-isolation to suit all installation types: The USB version keeps a computer safe from dangerous ground loops, while offering easy connection, and the ISO version protects while safely interfacing to an RS232- or RS422-capable device.

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