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Marine Electronics Journal Blog

Inside the workboat electronics & equipment tent

One of the great things about publishing a marine electronics magazine is that you get to tour boat shows of all sorts---from in-water recreational events in the US to sprawling equipment shows in Amsterdam. And then there’s the other side of the industry—the commercial, coastal patrol and law enforcement sector--where stuff is often a lot larger and less familiar.

While The Mic’s standard fare is recreational electronics, we thought you might like a peek at what happens in that commercial/law enforcement tent, ranging from nav and communications electronics to engines, deck gear and many flavors of mechanical equipment. Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to the WorkBoat Show in New Orleans. It’s a terrific event where 1,000 or so exhibitors show what they’ve got. If you’re outfitting an oil service boat for carrying pipe, drilling mud, crew or just about anything else you need on an oil platform or exploration rig—the WorkBoat Show is the place to be. It’s also the right address if your slice of the market is towboats, fireboats or patrol boats bristling with machine guns. Here's a taste.

Photo IDs:

From top left to right: Hallway at the Ernest Morial Convention Center leading to the show floor; traditional New Orleans cakewalk band opens the show on day one; no-nonsense patrol boat; huge wheelhouse display; 16-cylinder MTU diesel (4656 cubic inch displacement); steerable prop nozzle; check out that large open array radar antenna above the Simrad console; deck crane; a wrench on steroids; harbor fireboat; searchlights; oil service vessel material delivery hoses; jet drive; JRC/Alphatron console; generator module; oil boat tank pump; propulsion brake; side thruster; and integrated switching panel.

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Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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