Implementation of SeaTalkNG

Writing on this page – so stay tuned

When I bought the boat, the idea was just to use it for a season and then buy a newer and slightly bigger boat to live on.
But after some time of use – I realise that I like this boat and even if a little small – big enough to live on board.
So then the work started to upgrade and where the instrumentation and batteries++ were high on the list.
Firstly replaced batteries and switched to Lithium, although this also required major changes in charging via alternator and via shore power. ( I will write about this later on )
And, of course, completely new ways of monitoring batteries and charging.

Once this was in place, work began on planning the replacement of instruments, autopilot and plotters, as well as installing radar and and and.
Have a look at the page “Upgraded or Added so far” to see all the new units on the instrument bus.

screenshot 2023 09 22 at 13.05.30 1
The old instruments used SeaTalk and all the new instruments use SeaTalkNG so then it was to change all the cables between all the different sensors and modules as well. This required some planning – on where the different instruments and modules should be mounted.
I also had to calculate the power consumption of all the gadgets that were to run on the new bus and which draw power from the same cable. I found that it would be fine and that the possibility of adding the driver module for the autopilot would be able to deliver this power to the grid in a safe way.
I have installed an extra power cable on SeaTalkNG at the plotter table that can be easily connected in case of an emergency. Another thing to consider is that the feed point for the power to SeaTalkNG should be approximately at the centre of the entire network.
The SeaTalkNG bus is built so that there is a main cable ( Backbone ) img 2018 05 08 11 44 14 4a6b22adbc6cc76901f5914e1e6c27d3 that winds around the entire boat and is terminated at both ends.
There is only ONE such main cable, but this main cable can consist of many short cables that are connected in series using either T-pieces image 2015 05 11 1 or distribution boxes. img 2017 02 01 09 16 13 3ab7de9cb1591cefe747ff8a0ca8578b And from these T-pieces or distribution boxes there are separate instrument cables ( Spurcable ) image 2015 08 10 1 to each instrument or module.
So after several days of working on paper to calculate where I had to have distribution boxes and or T pieces – I could also calculate cables and cable lengths.

Things to keep in mind is that a main cable ( Backbone ) should be terminated at both ends, and there should be 2 and only 2 such terminations on your network

A “Backbone” cable is normally blue in colour and has blue connectors.
An instrument cable “Spur cable” is normally white in colour and has white connectors.
But don’t be fooled here – I have found that this colour scheme is not always correct – and when ordering cables online – don’t be fooled by the pictures. They mix all types of cables and the text and image do not always match (I have experience of this).
And these cables are not identical and cannot be used interchangeably

Also be aware that the maximum length of a Spur Cable cannot exceed 5 metres – so if you need a connector at the top of the mast or in the bow – you will need to run a blue Backbone cable loop or end/terminate there.

Another challenge was also that some of what I wanted to mount did not use the SeaTalkNG bus but the NMEA2000 bus. These two buses are identical in use and the way data flows around the system, but the cables and connectors are NOT the same. So it also required some planning in finding transitions (Don’t forget the difference between male and female) on the NMEA2000 bus – I managed to make several mistakes there in the beginning!

I also wanted to get my ICOM AIS and VHF radio connected to the bus so that AIS data would flow to the plotter etc. And that DCS messages from the VHF radio would be readable from the plotter. Not least that I could just click on an AIS icon to automatically make a call to that boat.
But here, too, one had to consider that the AIS and VHF radio use yet another bus type ( NMEA 0183 ) that is NOT possible to simply connect together, but needs a converter from one bus type to another.
Speaking of converters – I also installed a converter from the old SeaTalk to the SeaTalkNG bus – so that the old instruments I still wanted to keep in operation (as back up) could use the same new signalling devices (wind, speed, depth etc)

Yes, one more thing I should mention.
I also installed a RayMarine doppler radar – and since I also have 2 RayMarine plotters – there is another bus that needs to be implemented.
Radar and sharing of info between plotters is done over LAN and NOT over SeaTalkNG – so these must communicate over RayNet which is actually a 10/100Mbit LAN, but over their own cables and switches.

So then I actually have 5 different networks in operation on the boat.
SeaTalk, SeaTalkNG, NMEA0183, NMEA2000 and RayNet

In conclusion, I’d like to say that installing RayMarine products and SeaTalkNG is really quite straightforward.
There are, as described, some things to watch out for, but after taking this into account – perfectly fine.
The biggest job was pulling new cables – not always easy to find a suitable route – behind and under all the strange places. And be careful not to bend the cables too much – they need 10cm in diameter bend in the different places.

I want to show a complete drawing of everything later, but have not found a suitable drawing program for Mac – so for now everything is just hand-drawn and not suitable for display

Here is a link to Raymarine SeaTalkNG Reference Manual