Raymarine Incorporated in Nashua, New Hampshire, designs and manufactures electronic equipment for recreational boating and light commercial marine markets. Raymarine's onboard instrumentation includes radars, chart plotters, fish finders and a personal computer, all connected to a hsb2 (high-speed bus) token-passing network that is similar to ARCNET technology.
Contemporary Controls, Downers Grove, Illinois, a leader in ARCNET connectivity products, was selected by Raymarine to develop a custom PC Card interface to the hsb2 data network. This interface would connect laptop computers to the navigation system providing flexibility and easy access for the user.
"Contemporary Controls' networking expertise allowed us to get the product up and running quickly on the hsb2 network," said Matthew Thompson, Software Development Manager for Raymarine.
The hsb2 interconnects all devices in the system so that they can share radar, sonar and charting information. The hsb2 PC interface allows systems to transmit high-speed data between the PCs and interact fully with all other devices on the network. Twisted-pair cabling is employed with proprietary waterproof connectors for protection against marine conditions.
Thompson says since most systems configured are relatively small, between three and five nodes, Raymarine chose a bus architecture not requiring hubs.
A key ingredient of the architecture is that multiple hsb2 devices can be attached to one system, including multiple PCs. It's not unusual for a boat to have several PCs installed in a flybridge and several more at a lower helm station.
Thompson said his company was very satisfied by the work accomplished by Contemporary Controls. "Initially, we evaluated whether we should build our own interfaces or use existing products. It became clear that working with Contemporary Controls would substantially shorten our development time and reduce our costs. This has been primarily due to Contemporary Controls ability to modify existing hardware to suit our needs and provide complete Windows drivers for that hardware, allowing us to easily interface to it."
By working in conjunction with Contemporary Controls, Raymarine was able to reduce their time to market and provide new connectivity solutions for their marine navigation system.