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Using a wireless Apple iPad with the Standard Horizon GX2200 VHF/AIS Radio

Posted by Doug Miller on 12/10/2015 to Configuration Examples
Using a wireless Apple iPad with the Standard Horizon GX2200 VHF/AIS Radio

The Standard Horizon GX2200 AIS Matrix VHF radio is one of our most popular products. This radio has built in AIS and GPS receivers and makes a nice self-contained AIS system - not to mention a great VHF radio. In a previous post I provided the steps for connecting this device to a computer using a USB cable. But what about doing this wirelessly to other computing devices such as an iPad? Fortunately this is possible and very easy to do with one of our Wi-Fi adapters such as the ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter. Plus this can be done for less than $200. 

The goal here is to take the AIS, GPS and DSC NMEA data sentences that are normally sent out the GX2200 data output wires and convert this information into a wireless data stream. Then we can have wireless devices, such as an iPad, connect to the adapter's Wi-Fi network and apps then attach to the data stream so that the information can be used by a marine navigation app such as iNavX. When this is completed, you will have a true GPS position on your iPad and your marine navigation app will display real-time AIS target information. 

While this post focuses on connecting the GX2200 to an iPad using Wi-Fi, the concepts are the same for connecting any marine electronics device that outputs NMEA data using a pair of NMEA output wires and sending that to any Wi-Fi-enabled device that supports using NMEA data over a network connection. For example, this could just as easily be used to connect a Garmin chartplotter network to a wireless PC running Coastal Explorer.

Before walking through how to connect these products together, it is worth reviewing what each product does.

Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 AIS/GPS Receiver VHF Radio

Standard Horizon has been making marine radios for years but last 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 do 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 select 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 carry GPS and DSC NMEA sentences as well. The most common integration scenario is hooking the Matrix up to a chartplotter but we are now getting requests from customers asking to use the output data from the radio with their iPads. Since the iPad does not easily support a wired connection, the obvious way to do this is via a wireless connection. Since the GX2200 does not support wireless connections, we need a wireless adapter to make this work.

ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter

The ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter is a product designed to take a wired data connection using either RS232 (a common ground serial data protocol commonly used on computers) or RS422 (an isolated wire pair protocol commonly used for NMEA-based marine devices) and converting that information into a wireless data stream that can then be used by wireless devices that "join" its Wi-Fi network. The ATC product supports both serial protocols, can be powered via the included AC adapter or a boat's 12-24 volt DC power. The device can be mounted in any orientation and its Wi-Fi antenna can be positioned for use in either horizontal and vertical orientations. Milltech Marine pre-programs these devices so that they are ready to be used out of the box. While these devices can be custom programmed for different configurations, the pre-configured setup will work well for most marine scenarios.  

Making This Work

There are five basic steps to making this work correctly. Before starting, make sure power is off to the ATC Adapter and you have powered on the GX2200:

  1. 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 SETUP 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.

  2. GX2200 GPS Output Configuration: To send GPS data to the network, you will need to ensure that the GX2200 is outputting GPS sentences on the NMEA wires in addition to the AIS and DSC sentences. To do this, complete the following steps:
    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.

  3. Wiring: Power off the GX2200. Now, we need to connect the BROWN and GRAY output wires on the GX2200 to the RS422 input terminal positions on the ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter. If you need to extend the wires, you can do so using a two-wire shielded cable. The GX2200 BROWN data wire should be connected to the third position on ATC terminal block and the GX2200 GRAY wire connects to the fourth position. Note that we have had some customers report that they had to reverse the BROWN and GRAY wires. Therefore if you complete all the steps in the article and can connect but you don't see data, try the BROWN wire in the fourth position and the GRAY wire in the third position.
    Your 12-24 volt DC positive power wire connects to position 5 and the DC negative ground connects to position 6. Each wire should be secured in position on the terminal block by tightening the screws for each terminal slot. Now you can turn on the power to the radio and the ATC Adapter. If hooked up correctly, you should see activity on the LINK, ACT and PWR LEDs. A picture of the correct wiring connections with power on is below:


  4. Wi-Fi Connection on the iPad: Now that the GX2200 and ATC Adapter are powered up, you are ready to join your iPad (or iPhone) to the ATC Wi-Fi network. 
    1. On the iPad, click on the "Settings" app icon. 
    2. Now click on the "Wi-Fi" row in the "Settings" app.
    3. Make sure Wi-Fi is on and then click on the "Marine-Network" item under the "CHOOSE A NETWORK..." list of networks. Note that this network has no password and only provides a connection between the iPad and the ATC Adapter. It does not route network traffic to the Internet. If you want to assign a network password, see the User Guide that comes with the ATC Adapter.
    4. You should now see "Marine-Network" listed with a checkmark at the top of the Wi-Fi page. You are now connected.
  5. Setup your iPad app to use the network connection: You now need to configure your iPad marine navigation app to use the correct network port. For this example, I'll provide the instructions for configuring iNavX. Other navigation apps will have similar steps. The important point is we want to configure the app to use the UDP network protocol and network port 2000. For iNavX, do the following:
    1. Assuming you have installed the iNavX app on your iPad or iPhone, click on the iNavX app icon.
    2. Once the app has started, click on the "Instruments" word at the bottom of the screen.
    3. Now click on the wheel cog icon on the top right portion of the screen.
    4. Now click on the word "TCP/IP" on the top left of the next screen.
    5. You should now be on a configuration page called "TCP/IP NMEA Client".
    6. Click on the word "UDP" and ensure it is now highlighted.
    7. Now enter "2000" in the "Port" field.
    8. Slide the "Link" selector to the right so that it it now highlighted in green.
    9. In the window at the bottom of the page, you should now see green text scrolling with NMEA information. AIS data sentences will start with "AI...". GPS data sentences will start with "GP...". If you see these sentences scrolling by it means it is working correctly. If you do not see anything, double check the steps above.
    10. Now hit "Save" on the top right, "Save" again on the top right, and the "Chart" word on the bottom left part of the screen.
    11. You should now see your vessel located on a chart with AIS targets around you (assuming the GX2200 is able to get a GPS fix and you are close to AIS traffic). 

Your GX2200 should now be sending its GPS, AIS and DSC information wirelessly to your iPad via the ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter with the information displayed via the iNavX app on the iPad.

Summary

This completes the steps to wirelessly connect a Standard Horizon GX2200 radio with an iPad using the ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter.

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

Safe boating.

 

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8 Comments

Klaus
Date: 1/22/2016
Hello - some days ago I have read this article. Thank you for it. Because I live in Europe I have bought both devices in Austria. My problem now is that I don't know how to configurate the Serial to WiFi Adapter ATC-2000WF that I can connect it with my Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 AIS/GPS Receiver VHF Radio. Can you be so kind and give me an advice how to make the settings for this device (ATC-2000WF)? Thank you best regards Klaus
Steve
Date: 2/6/2016
I have a USR-WIFI232-610 serial to wifi adaptor, would this be suitable for this application?
Herb Stark
Date: 4/11/2016
If I have two ipads with iNavX, will they both be able to log into the wifi and see AIS targets at the same time?
Doug Miller
6/29/2016 6:44:00 AM
Yes if you use UDP, you can have multiple iPads or other wireless devices connected at the same time.
Doug Miller
Date: 4/11/2016
Yes, if you use the UDP connection method, you can have up to seven devices connected and receiving data at the same time. Instructions for setting this up are included with the product.
Dan Turk
Date: 5/27/2016
Hello, Will the ATC Serial to Wi-Fi Adapter work on a Navionics app for android ? I am purchasing a SH GX2200. Thanks, Dan
Doug Miller
6/29/2016 6:46:00 AM
Unfortunately this will not work with the Navionics app since that app does not currently support inbound instrument data via a generic wireless connection.
Steve
Date: 6/28/2016
Hello Doug, I have a Alluminium Trismus 37, I wish to upgrade my VHF to a GX2150 or 2200 Matrix AIS / GPS.. My concern is whether the GX2200 will work from the Nav station inside the yacht?? If not, can I fit an external GPS puck. Or would it make better sense to use the GX2150 Matrix AIS / VHF with an external GPS puck. Regards, Steve.
Doug Miller
6/29/2016 6:43:00 AM
The GX2200 has an internal GPS antenna. The optional external Standard Horizon "GPS antenna" is actually a GPS sensor that outputs NMEA GPS data as opposed to a traditional GPS antenna that is connected via coax. The best option is usually to use the GPS NMEA output from a chartplotter and connect that to the GPS NMEA input on the GX2200 if the internal GPS is not able to get a signal.
Daniel
Date: 1/3/2017
Will it work with laptop wifi and/or Android devices?
Doug Miller
1/3/2017 8:46:00 PM
Yes, this will work fine with Windows PC, Macs and Android devices. Same concepts apply for each. Connect to the WiFi network and configure the app to use UDP and port 2000.
Adam
Date: 2/21/2017
Which android nased navigation apps will this setup work with?
Doug Miller
2/21/2017
A number of Android marine apps support a WiFi connection to a data server. These include: OpenCPN, iSailor, MemoryMap and SeaPilot.

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