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Some helpful information to installing your first or the next Maretron N2KNetwork.

This article provides a summary of steps and methods you should use to ensure your installation of a Maretron system goes smoothly. The process of installing an NMEA 2000 network, big or small, can be overwhelming. Following are methods that are currently in use by installers who regularly deploy Maretron N2K networks for all types of solutions.  These integrators have contributed information that is compiled within the following article to help others new to Maretron N2K systems, or for the seasoned veteran looking for a better way. Many users have stated implementing a system using the following methods can save you money and valuable man hours usually spent troubleshooting systems.

What's in your N2K technician's bag? The picture below (MO@Maretron's Bag) shows several tools used for installing and troubleshooting of Maretron N2K networks.

All the components shown in the picture are readily available for purchase online or available at your local electronics store.

 

 

 

 

Lets get started:

 

Meter it!

 

Maretron recommends connecting the N2KMeter after all cables have been installed and you are powering the network for the first time. The Network should be free of any device connections this time.

N2KMeter: If no errors are found: connect the first stage of devices -- start with 2 to 3 devices -- then proceed with testing the connections on multi-ports and large groups segments of mini or micro tees.

When adding devices to the network for the first time use these three steps:

  1. Connect N2KMeter to drop tee. If there are no errors, then proceed to step 2
  2. Connect the drop cable to the tee. Connect the N2KMeter to the end of the drop cable, if there are no errors, then proceed to step 3
  3. Connect the device to the drop cable, and then connect the N2KMeter to the next drop tee. If there are no errors, then start the process for the a new device addition. If there are errors detected, then repeat your last steps by first disconnecting the device, testing the connection, and connecting the device to another drop you know is good. If the error persists, check the device in a test network on your bench.

Finally, once the entire network is connected and you see devices showing up on your N2KAnalyzer, perform an inventory check and compare your N2KAnalyzer active device list to your N2KBuilder design. Once the network is fully operational and all devices are installed, connect the N2KMeter to the N2K network and keep the meter running.  

 During the device configuration process (if system configurations are to be performed on-site) keep the N2KMeter close by. As you begin to communicate with various devices on your network, the N2KMeter will alarm if there is an issue.

Occasionally, check the N2KMeter for errors. If any errors, are found go back several steps and attempt to reproduce the error. This process is helpful when configuring a large system as issues tend to surface when users send configuration data to devices. 

If you notice the N2KMeter is showing errors, trace your steps. Attempt to isolate any errors showing on the N2KMeter to a particular network segment or device. Plan to designate test points on the bus in the system to help you isolate and eliminate issues within clusters of devices connected to the N2K network.

 Tricks for troubleshooting N2K systems:

  •  Using the extra terminator method



    Part Number: IT-CM-CF
    Have an extra terminator handy during system tests:
    • An extra terminator will allow technicians to modify the N2K network trunk to manageable size for diagnostics purposes. This trick can be extremely helpful when zeroing in on the actual N2K network issue or perceived problem. By eliminating segments of the bus as you work your way towards the powertap your N2KMeter will change status once the segment that had an issue has been eliminated.
    • After isolating the issue proceed to correct the problem either cabling issue or device was misbehaving.  Remember to remove the extra terminator when restoring the system back to the original N2K network design.
    • When finished the network should only have two terminators on the bus.
    • The N2KMeter is reporting no issues you are clear to proceed with the next step.
  • Using a the Triage network method:
    •  This trick is very helpful when localizing your issues, performing firmware updates to devices, and troubleshooting a section of the bus.

Once your N2K network is powered, error free, and your N2KMeter is happy, start configuring your system with N2KAnalyzer.

Configure the system.

  • With your laptop, open Maretron programs N2KBuilder and N2KAnalyzer to begin the configuration and wrap up the documentation stage of your installation.
  • After you have designed the N2K network using N2Builder, now is a good time to print out the Network Configuration Table.
  • Perform device Configurations, labeling, and calibrations using the N2KAnalyzer tool. Use your preferred method:configure devices on site or test bench (test bench preferred for large networks).
  • Take additional notes on N2KBuilder as your N2KNetwork may change.  Keep in mind every device on N2KBuilder has a properties menu with available entries.
  • now that you have configured the system, provided devices with functions, and calibrated sensors, use N2KBuilder to assign instancing.
  • Based on the N2KBuilder design, you can proceed with the setup of all Maretron display products using available demos found online. Use the N2KBuilder network configuration table as a guide for your visual system mapping.  
  • Lastly, implement the visual configuration to a Maretron displays or software program on-site or at your test bench (test bench recommended for large networks).
  • If you notice wrong data values on your screens, use the N2KAnalyzer Instancing Analysis tool to help define the potential data conflicts.

  

End Of Day.....The N2K technician's finishing touches!

  • Refer to the N2KMeter user's manual if errors are detected are shown.
  • Save the N2KAnalyzer-captured boat file.
  • Save the device configuration files separately if you are unable to perform a global boat file backup.
  • Save all DSM250 backup files using the virtual DSM250 backup routine.
  • Save all the N2KView configurations.
  • Compile the documentation and create a vessel N2K binder for the customer. Combine the N2KBuilder output files into a PDF binder to provide the user with all the details of his NMEA 2000 network.

 

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