Part 2: “Multitalker, Multilistener”
By Tim Clark — March 2002
NMEA 2000 was a long time in coming. Before its unveiling in August 2001, the standard interface protocol used by electronics manufacturers to allow interaction between their products dated from 1983. If you liken NMEA 2000 to an expressway, NMEA 0183 was a cluster of interwoven backroads. While marine electronics became ever faster and more sophisticated, 0183 remained the same, so in effect, today’s high-performance electronics, tricked out with all sorts of options, were stuck in second gear while taking the long way ‘round on country byways.
While NMEA 0183 is "single-talker, multilistener," to use the industry jargon, 2000 is "multitalker, multilistener." It’s also much, much faster and enhanced with complex algorithms that strictly organize the interchange of information sharing space on the bus, therefore defining clear priorities among the different components within the system.
All this has allowed Teleflex to devise a network of electronics systems, the TIS, that is unusually streamlined and comprehensive. The gauges in its i2000 series resemble traditional analogs but are in fact digital. In comparison to analog gauges, they can justifiably be described as plug and play. Instead of each having to be connected to a specific sensor, resulting in the familiar tangle of wires and tubes, they all connect to the bus, where thanks to the NMEA 2000 protocol each is able to lift its specific display information from the data stream.
The displays Teleflex has developed for the TIS take full advantage of the MagicBus. The i5100 Smart Switch replaces an old-fashioned toggle switchboard with an LCD controlled by five softkeys. Digital switches for cabin lights, bilge pumps, and other on/off systems plugged into the bus are accessed by scrolling through the display. Gone is the large panel taking up space at the helm, and gone, too, is the spaghetti of wiring normally seething beneath the dash.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.