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

UPDATE: The latest Navionics Boating app for iOS and Android now supports AIS and GPS data sent over Wi-Fi. The the solution described below also now works for the Navionics apps.  We have also updated this article to refer to the latest Comar WiFi Gateway, the Comar I320W NMEA to WiFi Interface Gateway

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 Comar I320W NMEA to WiFi Interface Gateway. Plus this can be done for less than $300.

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.

Comar I320W NMEA to WIFI Interface Gateway

The Comar I320W NMEA to WIFI Interface Gateway is a product designed to take a wired data connection using 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 Comar product is powered via the the 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. The device has two NMEA inputs - one at 38400 baud and one at 4800 baud and one NMEA output at 38400 baud. Its internal multiplexer allows you to combine data from two difference marine devices - such as a GX2200 radio using 38400 baud and a chartplotter using 4800 baud. The data from both devices will be streamed to the connected Wi-Fi device.

Making This Work

There are five basic steps to making this work correctly. Before starting, make sure power is off to the Comar device 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 Comar I320W. If you need to extend the wires, you can do so using a two-wire shielded cable. The GX2200 GRAY data wire should be connected to the third position on Comar terminal block (NMEA INPUT 38,400 +) and the GX2200 BROWN wire connects to the fourth position (NMEA INPUT 38,400 -). 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 GRAY wire in the fourth position and the BROWN wire in the third position.
    Your 12-24 volt DC positive power wire connects to position 8 (12/24 V POWER +) and the DC negative ground connects to position 7 (12/24 V POWER -). 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 Comar Converter. If hooked up correctly, you should see activity on the Status, Data and On LEDs.
    NOTE: We have seen some cases where no data appears to get to the I320W based on seeing no activity on the DATA LED. If this happens, please put the I320W on a separate power circuit and power it first before powering up the radio circuit.
  4. Wi-Fi Connection on the iPad: Now that the GX2200 and Comar Converter are powered up, you are ready to join your iPad (or iPhone) to the Comar 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 "i320w" 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 Comar Converter. It does not route network traffic to the Internet.
    4. You should now see "i320w" 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. 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 "TCP" and ensure it is now highlighted.
    7. Enter "" in the "Host" field.
    8. Now enter "10110" in the "Port" field.
    9. Slide the "Link" selector to the right so that it it now highlighted in green.
    10. 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 and if necessary try the alternate IP address.
    11. 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.
    12. 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 Comar I320W NMEA to WIFI Interface Gateway with the information displayed via the iNavX app on the iPad.


This completes the steps to wirelessly connect a Standard Horizon GX2200 radio with an iPad using the Comar I320W NMEA to WIFI Interface Gateway.

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

Safe boating.



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