Maretron’s $699 Weather Station is as ambitious as Airmar’s but itself only senses wind—again ultrasonically, which means both accurately and without moving parts—plus temperature, pressure, and humidity. That’s because it uses the NMEA 2000 protocol, which is far better than 0183 at combining and distributing data. Hence a 2000-compliant display like an E-120 or Maretron’s own DSM200 (right) can easily receive GPS and heading from other sensors on the 2000 backbone and thus, like the Airmar, calculate useful information like true wind. In fact, these sensors can be best of breed, whether built by Maretron or others, and can be installed in their ideal locations onboard, neither of which is true for Airmar’s all-in-one. Incidentally, NMEA 2000 data can be routed to a PC via a Maretron gateway, which is useful for computer navigation and weather analysis, of course, but is also necessary if the sensor’s internal software ever needs upgrading. Same for the Airmar, and the new technology inside both Weather Stations will likely evolve for some time.
This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.