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Smartcraft, Vesselview, DTS, NMEA 2000...

Old 06-22-2018, 07:15 PM
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Default Smartcraft, Vesselview, DTS, NMEA 2000...

I'm trying to understand what exactly all of these are and how they play together.

NMEA 2000:
  • Easy, an "open" CAN design to allow messages between devices from multiple vendors
DTS aka Digital Throttle and Shift:
  • How is this connected between the throttle and engines? Is there a computer of some sort hidden somewhere or is it just a link between the throttle and ECU?
  • Does this use the same network as Smartcraft?
  • Are the connectors standardized?
Smartcraft:
  • Mercury CAN bus? Why are there a thousand different connectors?!
  • Can I add devices to this system (such as gauges)?
  • Where can I get the documentation on this without paying Mercury or an Ebay seller for what may or may not be the correct book?
Vesselview:
  • Digital information center, but is it more than information?
  • Is this a two way design where things can be controlled by the Vesselview or is it only for viewing data?
  • What is the difference between the Vesselview Link and the Mercury NMEA 2000 gateway? (84-8m0105243)
  • Is there anything that wouldn't be available if I used a Vesselview Link with a MFD like my SIMRAD NSS12-EVO3 or should I leave my old Vesselview in place (Old version that isn't NMEA 2000 compatible)?
  • If I decide to keep the Vesselview I think I would like to upgrade to a VV 403, are there any compatibility problems I can expect?
?????:
  • I currently have the original Mercury Joystick controls, can I upgrade it to the new much better looking joystick? The connectors are different on the two
  • How is "track way points" handled? Is that a function of the Vesselview, Smartcraft or DTS?
  • I would like to connect my genset (Kohler 7.3ECD) to my Smartcraft or NMEA 2000 system, but from what I have read you can't do it when you have DTS? Is this true?
  • What even IS Axius?!
  • And finally, is there any good source of updated information on all this? I wasn't able to find really anything... Of course Mercury just says "we'll help you find a dealer!"
  • What are these "Ethernet" ports on the back of SIMRAD MFDs for? Are they really 1mbps? That's not even part of the Ethernet standard! And why have two of them?!
Most of these questions are generic and I'm posting this to hopefully help others as well as myself (maybe it could become an FAQ) but here is the info on my boat in case some of these are dependent on the age/setup of the boat.

2008 Formula 350 Sunsport w/
DTS
Axius
Seacore
Smartcraft
Vesselview (first generation I believe)
Joystick control (wait, is THIS Axius?)
496 HO engines
Bravo 3 outdrives

Thanks and sorry again if some of this has been asked before, I think it would help a lot if all the answers were together in one place! If you can answer any of the questions then I will update the post with the answers.

Last edited by DracoDan; 06-22-2018 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:19 PM
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Also, if anyone has any questions they would like answered about these systems please feel free to ask and I'll add them to the top post.
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Old 07-24-2018, 10:06 PM
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I will try to answer a few of your questions,

firstly Axius, smartcraft and vesselview are all mercruiser products.

Axius is the joystick. well the system that controls the legs and engines via the joystick. It is an optional extra on the 496 from around 2008. As far as upgrading i assume it is possible for a cost.

Smartcraft is as you discribe the CAN for the engines/ tabs/ legs, this is required for both vessel view and Axius.

Vesselview i understand is only one way, similar to plugging into your cars OBD2 port. Vessel view is a product that comes in a few systems, one now being mobile. You will need a mercrusier BT dongle. ( i guess you could reverse engineer this if you wanted) its a simple plug and play. Mercruiser also sells vessel view screens, which are virtual dials, with fuel burn etc displayed. Simrad also allows you do display this info,( i believe some other can as well) there are alot of smart craft compatible stand alone dials if you dont want to splash out on vessel view.

As far as reseting alert codes etc you will need code reader/laptop. (some alerts will come up on vessel view but i dont know a way to reset via vessel view) there is a few available but i understand mercruiser is closing down access to this. its about a 9k a year licence fee for the latest software on your lap top.

Dont know about the ethernet port,

NMEA is a way to network,. mostly used for gps etc.

DTS, is digital throttles, a componet of axius. ( can not have axius with analogue throttles). The way i ve seen them work is they normally have a cat 5 looking cable plug into a remote actuators from the ditigital shifters. there will be at least 2 for each engine, one for gearbox one for throttle. Generally thought of as a improvement over the old style.

hope that answers some of your questions
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:34 AM
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The way I understand it is that smartcraft and vessel view speak CAN. NMEA 2K is a different protocol. That is why if you want to display mercury data on your MFD, (Garmin, Lowrance, etc.) you need to add the merc gateway. The gateway converts the CAN data to NMEA 2000.
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:44 AM
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Here are the instructions from Mercury for when I installed a NMEA 2000 network this past winter. Smartcraft signals from engines go to the J box then to Vesselview box. Vesselview box converts signals and connects to NMEA 2000 Network. Any NMEA 2000 compliant product, once "t'ed" into the network, can be 100% utilized. So a compliant stereo can be seen by the Simrads, as well as the stereo can see the simrads and show speed, direction, etc. The 2 Simrads I installed can display many things seperate or simultaneously. My wife can view the chartplotter with engine functions running on the side while I view gps and so on. Clear as mud at 1st

Here is the system before install. J box was already wired to Smartcraft engines under the dash, we had the 2007 Systemview set-up.

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Old 07-25-2018, 06:58 AM
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So it looks like the vessel view box does the same thing as the merc Gateway?
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Old 07-25-2018, 08:02 AM
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I can't confirm that because I was focused on our particular set-up. I talked in depth with Walter Ross Senior Product Manager Mercury Marine and he gave me all the info and exactly what I needed to order for the conversion. Simrad makes the Mercury Vesselview units, only difference is the logo at start up and price, thats why a Simrad plugs in without any start up issues.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dave m View Post
so it looks like the vessel view box does the same thing as the merc gateway?
the vessel view link will give you the mercury vessel view software/interface on compatible units(simrad,lowerance etc) the gateway will convert smart craft data onto the nmea network so you have all your engine/trim date etc but will use the mfd's generic gauge interface
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Old 02-24-2020, 03:53 PM
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NMEA 2000 is a communication protocol that is developed and maintained by an international committee. The spec defines the messages that are shared between devices and allows devices from various manufactures to share data as long as they conform to the spec.

CAN Bus is the physical network that NMEA and many other automotive and industrial systems utilize to communicate. Basically CAN Bus is the phone line and NMEA is the language.

SmartCraft is a proprietary Mercury language that operates on a CAN Bus. The main reason they have their own language is because the NMEA spec doesn't support all the engine and vessel data they want to include in their displays and diagnostics.

Aside from being a display, VesselView contains a Mercury gateway so that you can network via NMEA 2000 with chartplotters, auto pilots, MFDs and any other device that is NMEA 2000 compliant.

Hope this helps,
GF?
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:56 AM
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The gateway will give you generic data but the vessel view will give you more detailed data like engine faults and checking engine sensors and such. My simrad would not display vessel view because its older but will do the gateway. So I got the vessel view mobile and it works great.

The nema network is nice. I was able to install a fusion black box stereo unit. It sits behind the counsel and can be controlled by the simrad ,bluetooth to phone or controlled by the little round panel on the dash. I love this unit since getting it. Once you get into the wiring its pretty easy.


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