(0) Item Hello, Guest

Using Coastal Explorer with the Standard Horizon GX2200

Posted by Doug Miller on 4/16/2014 to Configuration Examples

Last year I wrote an article describing how to get two of our most popular products to work together: Rose Point Navigation Coastal Explorer and the Standard Horizon GX2150 VHF radio with a built-in AIS receiver. Now Standard Horizon has released a new radio – the Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 AIS/GPS Receiver VHF Radio. This new radio has everything the GX2150 has with the addition of a built-in GPS receiver. The question we are getting from customers is, how can I connect this new radio to a PC and can I get AIS and GPS data sent to the PC. Fortunately there is a simple solution using our USB Breakout Cable that allows Coastal Explorer or any PC-based navigation program to use the GPS, AIS and DSC NMEA data that is received by this radio. While the wiring is very straight forward, you need to configure a few settings on the radio to make this work.

Before jumping into how to connect these solutions together, it is worth reviewing what each product does.

Rose Point Navigation Systems Coastal Explorer

Coastal Explorer is one of the leading PC navigation packages on the market today. Not only does it support all the latest navigation features, such as AIS integration, weather overlays, free US charts and automatic chart updating, but at $369 list price it is probably the best value solution when compared to other computer-based navigation solutions.

Coastal Explorer can accept NMEA data from vessel electronics using a variety of wireless or wired methods. At the very least, you’ll need to connect a GPS or chartplotter to the computer in order to see your own position in Coastal Explorer. Since the GX2200 has a built-in GPS we will be able to use that GPS data to fix our position in Coastal Explorer.

Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 AIS/GPS Receiver VHF Radio

Standard Horizon has been making marine radios for years but this year it launched a new AIS Matrix radio that has integrated a dual-channel AIS receiver and a GPS receiver in a standard marine VHF radio form factor. With the built-in GPS, not only did you get full DSC functionality, but you also get a mini AIS display showing a radar-like view of nearby vessels. To call an AIS vessel, you simply selected the vessel on the display and hit the CALL button. Another major benefit is that you only need one VHF antenna connection to get both AIS and VHF radio support. No additional antenna splitter is required. The AIS data that is used by the internal display can also be used by external devices that support AIS by hooking up the radio’s AIS output wires to the other device’s input wires. These output wires can also carry GPS and DSC NMEA sentences as well. The most common scenario is hooking the Matrix up to a chartplotter but lots of people use computers for navigation so the question comes up – how can I get that AIS data to my computer?

USB Breakout Cable

The easiest way to connect the radio to a computer so you can use AIS and GPS data with Coastal Explorer is to use our USB Breakout Cable. This cable has a USB connector on one end and bare leads that can be connected to serial-based instruments on the other end. It uses the rock-solid FTDI USB chipset. This cable provides an easy way to not only connect the GX2200 to your computer but any marine instrument that has NMEA 0183 output wires can also be connected. We offer this cable in two versions:

  • An RS232 version uses a common ground-based system, which is used by many chartplotters and radios and;
  • An RS422 NMEA version which uses opto-isolated wire pairs for input and output communication – a system used some manufacturers such as Raymarine.

For this scenario, we are using the RS232 version of the USB Breakout Cable. It is also possible to use the RS422 version with a different wire pair. 

Making These All Work Together

This solution provides two major new capabilities for making these products work with new functionality:

  1. The AIS data coming Matrix GX2200 is used by Rose Point Navigation Coastal Explorer, allowing you to see real-time AIS traffic overlaid on your digital charts. Not only do you see other vessels moving in relation to your vessel – you can also see the other vessels’ speed, course, name, call sign, closest point of approach, time to closest point of approach and more. Plus you also get audible warnings when you are on a collision course. As a bonus the GX2200 also outputs DSC NMEA data so if another vessel sends out a DSC distress call, the position of the vessel will automatically be displayed on your Coastal Explorer chart.
  2. Since the GX2200 also has a built-in GPS, we can configure the radio to also send standard GPS NMEA sentences from the radio to your Coastal Explorer system. This means you no longer need a separate GPS connected to your PC to fix your own position.

There are four steps to making this work correctly:

  1. Wiring: First, we need to connect the output wires on the GX2200 to the input wires on the USB Cable. Only two wires are used. You’ll want to use a terminal block or other approved system for connecting the wires. If you need to extend the wires, you can do so using a two-wire shielded cable but it is generally recommended to not exceed 16 feet of length of wire. The wiring connections are as follows:

    If you decide to use the RS422 version of our USB Cable, then you should connect the WHITE RS422 wire to the GRAY wire on the radio and the YELLOW RS422 wire to the BROWN wire on the radio.
  2. GX2200 Baud Rate Configuration: You will need to ensure that the NMEA port on the GX2200 is set to communicate at 38400 baud. Do to this, with the radio on:
    1. Press and hold the [CALL (MENU)] key on the front panel.
    2. Press the [SELECT] softkey to enter the GENERAL SETTINGS menu.
    3. Use the CHANNEL knob to scroll down and until the NMEA DATA IN/OUT settings menu item is highlighted. Press the [SELECT] softkey.
    4. Use the CHANNEL knob to highlight 38400 BPS. Press the [ENT] softkey.
    5. Press the [QUIT] softkey three times to exit back to the default radio display.
  3. GX2200 GPS Output Configuration: Next you will need to ensure that the GX2200 is outing GPS sentences on the NMEA wires in addition to the AIS and DSC sentences. To do this, do the following:
    1. Press and hold the [CALL (MENU)] key on the front panel.
    2. Press the [SELECT] softkey to enter the GPS SETUP menu.
    3. Use the CHANNEL knob to scroll down and until the NMEA OUTPUT settings menu item is highlighted. Press the [SELECT] softkey.
    4. Use the CHANNEL knob to highlight each of the GPS sentences (GGA, GLL, GSA, GSV and RMC), press the [ENT] softkey, select ON, press the [ENT] softkey then press the [QUIT] softkey. Repeat this for each GPS sentence type you want to send to the PC. As a minimum you should at least turn on RMC sentence output.
    5. Press the [QUIT] softkey three times to exit back to the default radio display.
      See the GX2200 manual for more information if needed.
  4. Computer Configuration: The following steps are required to configure your computer:
    1. Before plugging the USB cable into your Windows-based computer, load the device driver. The device driver can be downloaded from the link here.
    2. Now plug in the USB cable into an available USB port on your computer.
    3. Start Coastal Explorer and go the “Configure Vessel and Electronics” window.
    4. Select “Data Ports” and the “Auto Detect” link. This should automatically find your USB Breakout Cable on its assigned port plus any other devices connected to the computer. You should see results similar to this screen:
    5. Once the devices have been detected, you can confirm your port settings by choosing the “Port Settings” link in the “Configure Vessel and Electronics” window. The USB Breakout Cable will be labeled as “USB Serial Port (COMx)”. The COM port number will be whatever the system chose when the device driver was installed. If you have multiple devices that use the FTDI chipset then you may see more than one entry with “USB Serial Port (COMx)”. The USB Breakout Cable connected to the GX2200 should be already set as a listener using a baud rate of 38400. If necessary, use the data ports Troubleshooter and scroll through each port to see which port is receiving AIS and GPS data. The following screen shows an example of a properly configured port (note that the Talker box should not be checked):

Your computer should now be configured. If you run into problems, check the documentation for Coastal Explorer.

Summary

You should now be fully operational. Check the GX2200 display and ensure you have a GPS position showing on the home screen. You should also see nearby AIS targets on the AIS display screen similar to the following:

You should also see AIS targets on your Coastal Explorer screen similar to the following:

This completes the steps to integrate a Standard Horizon GX2200 radio with Coastal Explorer using our USB Breakout Cable. One note with this setup: in order to have GPS and AIS data sent to Coastal Explorer both systems have to be running and connected together with the USB Breakout Cable. The radio of course will work correctly with or without the PC connection.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Feel free to comment below.

Safe boating.

[blog_tagged_products]

 

Header

17 Comments

Simon Blackwell
Date: 4/19/2014
Easy! 20 minutes and done ... fastest thing I've ever done with NMEA!
Werner Hamp
Date: 6/17/2014
Question: Will using the USB breakout cable with the GX2200 and the supplied driver work with the SeaclearII software? Running Win XP Thanks, Werner
Hugo Landecker
Date: 8/18/2014
Last week I installed a GX 2200 on the boat. I hope to interface with an IPad to show chart plotting with AIS and GPS info coming from the GX2200. Contacted Standard Horizon and all I can get from them is a "good luck". When I read the owners manual, it shows an additional two wires that need to be connected (white and Yellow) for AIS information. I can't argue with your success, Just wanted to clarify that point. The gray and brown wires in your diagram show as GPS out from the GX2200. Right now I am off the Mac Store to see if there is a way that I can use your cable with a USB and adapt that to the IPad. Also, If I can find the adapter then I need a splitter to allow charging from 12VDC. Is this going to work, or have I gone off the deep end? It is okay for you to say I am crazy. I won't get mad!
Hugo Landecker
Date: 8/18/2014
Last week I installed a GX 2200 on the boat. I hope to interface with an IPad to show chart plotting with AIS and GPS info coming from the GX2200. Contacted Standard Horizon and all I can get from them is a "good luck". When I read the owners manual, it shows an additional two wires that need to be connected (white and Yellow) for AIS information. I can't argue with your success, Just wanted to clarify that point. The gray and brown wires in your diagram show as GPS out from the GX2200. Right now I am off the Mac Store to see if there is a way that I can use your cable with a USB and adapt that to the IPad. Also, If I can find the adapter then I need a splitter to allow charging from 12VDC. Is this going to work, or have I gone off the deep end? It is okay for you to say I am crazy. I won't get mad!
Douglas Miller
Date: 8/18/2014
You can definitely get the AIS and GPS data from the GX2200 to an iPad using a NMEA to WiFi adapter. For example, we sell the Comar NMEA-2-WIFI NMEA to WIFI Converter (see http://www.milltechmarine.com/Comar-NMEA-2-WIFI-NMEA-to-WIFI-Converter_p_238.html). You simply connect the GRAY and BROWN wire from the GX2200, with all the NMEA sentences turned on as described in the blog post, to the NMEA 0183 38400 input pair on the Comar device. Then connect your iPad to the Comar device's wireless network and configure your app to use the Comar IP address and IP port. That is the most straight forward way to get this working. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Tim
Date: 8/27/2014
What app would you use on the ipad to display AIS?
Doug Miller
Date: 8/27/2014
The three best iPad apps that support AIS display via a WiFi connection that we have tested are iNavX, iSailor and SeaIQ.
Tim
Date: 3/6/2015
Did the GX2200 connection work with the iPad?
Doug Miller
Date: 3/6/2015
As far as I know, you are not going to be able to use a USB connection to the iPad. You can use Wi-Fi. Something like the Comar NMEA-2-WIFI will work or if you are using a PC you can set it up as a NMEA server. See my article here for more information: http://www.milltechmarine.com/AIS-on-the-iPad_b_9.html
Ian Cameron
Date: 4/2/2015
I purchased a USB-RS232 cable for my Standard Horizon GX2000 linked to a Raymarine A50 chart plotter. Will this work or do I need A USB to RS422? If so, may I exchange my unit and pay for shipping? Thanks.
Doug Miller
Date: 4/2/2015
Actually will work but technically the newer Standard Horizon radios now use RS422. You can certainly exchange the cable if you like. Just complete an online RMA request and follow the instructions for the return. If you have questions, please contact us at info@milltechmarine.com.
Sean Clancy
Date: 9/15/2015
You show how to connect the AIS but what about the gps?
Ray Wildey
Date: 11/13/2015
I am trying to make my pc based gps, (using a USB gps antenna) communicate with my dsc, vhf radio. Will this cable work for that purpose?
Jose Vayas
Date: 2/6/2016
I got a question can it be used to do the same connection but with the P-SEA windplot software?
Doug Miller
Date: 2/7/2016
This same technique can be used with any software that reads standard NMEA data via a USB COM port. Just make sure you set the baud rate in the program to match the baud rate of the device sending data.
Peter Jung
Date: 9/11/2016
I have successfully interfaced my GX 2200 to my Coastal Explorer chart software on my PC to display AIS targets via the USB Breakout Cable, as described in this article. WORKS GREAT! The COM port is connected at 38400 baud, as required. Thus, this COM port, when configured as a Talker as well (to enable Coastal Explorer to output waypoint data) also outputs at 38400 baud. However, my COMNAV 1001 autopilot is expecting this nav data at 4800 baud. Do I need a 2nd USB Breakout cable on another USB port on my PC, configured as a talker at 9600 baud, to successfully interface with my autopilot? Regards, Pete
Doug Miller
Date: 9/11/2016
Yes, you'll need a second cable set to 4800 baud to talk to the autopilot.

Add Comment

What's This?
Type the code shown