Teleflex’s MagicBus is the first NMEA 2000 application to leave the station.
By Tim Clark — March 2002
Think of a bus, and a drab image will likely come to mind: a dimly lit depot somewhere in the Midwest, stop-and-go traffic on a potholed city street, or unruly school kids crammed onto grimy green vinyl seats. Buses are way down on our lists of preferred conveyances, below the subways that run below them, below even streetcars, one of which was at least named Desire. But even so, you can’t argue with the engineers who adopted the word to describe the circuits that move electronic information around. It’s a clipped form of a term we borrowed from the French: voiture omnibus, which means "vehicle for all." Teleflex’s MagicBus, by connecting a wide array of control and display electronics on a single cable, fully embodies the definition.
Aboard the MagicBus you never know whom you’ll meet. Engine-monitoring data travels along with the GPS boat position; course and speed ride side by side with info from fuel-tank and water-temperature sensors; instructions from electronic engine controls share space with switch inputs for bilge pumps, stateroom lights, and the saloon stereo.
What makes this possible? NMEA 2000–the National Marine Electronics Association’s years-in-the-making digital interface protocol designed to quicken, intensify, and streamline communications between onboard electronics.
MagicBus, along with the array of components that make up the Teleflex Intelligent System (TIS), is the first such system on the market based on the NMEA 2000 open-architecture protocol. Other onboard networks exist–most notably Raymarine’s High Speed Bus 2, Furuno’s NavNet, and Mercury’s SmartCraft–but so far only MagicBus has NMEA 2000 at its core. Its performance is impressive, and its potential benefits for boat owners, boatbuilders, and even other manufacturers of marine electronics are considerable.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.