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Old 02-03-2019, 09:01 AM   #1
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Icom m506 N2k problems

I have 2 Icom m506 radios and unless Iím missing something these things are the worst NMEA devices Iíve seen yet, they seem to be stuck on instance 0 despite attempting to change with Furuno, Actisence and Maretron software and they appear to be rebroadcasting a bunch of sentences as well constantly switching which GPS source they use.

Has anyone had similar issues? Is there a hidden configuration menu on the icoms?
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:49 AM   #2
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I have 2 Icom m506 radios and unless Iím missing something these things are the worst NMEA devices Iíve seen yet, they seem to be stuck on instance 0 despite attempting to change with Furuno, Actisence and Maretron software and they appear to be rebroadcasting a bunch of sentences as well constantly switching which GPS source they use.

Has anyone had similar issues? Is there a hidden configuration menu on the icoms?

Bingo. Well documented in my blog from some time back, reported to iCom with detailed annotated traces, etc. On my boat, when I would turn on the second VHF, the radar would alarm because of loss of GPS. After lots of tedious tracing and experimenting, I figured out what was going on. And the M506 is a NMEA Certified device, which clearly means pretty much nothing as far as actually working with other products.


I have subsequently updated but VHFs to the very latest firmware, and the problems persist. The only way I could use them was to have one on N2K, and the other on 0183. Probably the most annoying part is that the VHF part of the device is really good. As a radio, I love them. As a NMEA device, they are one of, if not the worst device out there. But most problems only show up when you have two of them, so iCom just keeps cranking them out.


All I can suggest is to complain extensively, and even return for a refund if possible. In my experience that's the only way to get anyone's attention, and even then they typically just want to brush you off.
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:57 AM   #3
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Here's a bunch of info Adventures of Tanglewood: Search results for m506


I checked and I reported this to iCom in late 2014, so 5 years ago. And I followed up with them multiple times over the ensuing years, trying each FW update along the way which "would surely fix the problem".
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:05 AM   #4
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Very irritating and now that you mention it I do remember reading something about it on your blog. I am not having the same issue with the M605 I recently added.
Since I am down the street from them and have a few contacts ill see if some in person complaining will help.

As far as other options I guess one is to isolate them to 0183 but keep them on the N2K network via a ShipModule (just bought one but havenít installed it yet). Its how I am planning on getting my open array Furuno radar and my Furuno fish finder onto N2K as they dont support it since I guess its not certified for commercial use.

Ive got other issues though, and I think ill hit my 50 device limit in the next few weeks, have you had to tackle that yet? The Maretron extender seems to work but not sure if there are better options.

Will let you know if I get anywhere with Icom but I am not holding my breath..
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:10 AM   #5
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Is the problem related to having 2 on the same NMEA2K bus? I have an M506 connected to my ship wide NMEA2K and have not had any problems with it.

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Old 02-03-2019, 10:39 AM   #6
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It’s a combo, for one they play off each other, second is they refuse to not be instance 0, hence they have the same message priority as my Sat Compass and lastly they don’t have a way to tell them what to either use as a source or which pgns to transmit. It’s only become an issue as my network got complicated.
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Old 02-03-2019, 01:01 PM   #7
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The only way I could use them was to have one on N2K, and the other on 0183.

This ^^

??

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Old 02-03-2019, 02:21 PM   #8
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That solves the conflict they have but doesn’t keep the single one from instance 0, that said I haven’t sniffed the pgns they push when only one is on the network.
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Old 02-03-2019, 02:36 PM   #9
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That solves the conflict they have but doesnít keep the single one from instance 0, that said I havenít sniffed the pgns they push when only one is on the network.

As I recall they still transmit GPS and I think a few other PGNs all the time, but with blank data. That's what messes up other devices. The M506 advertises itself as a GPS, sends the GPS PGN, and does so as a high-priority device. If you hook up an 0183 GPS, that's the data that it repeats on N2K. But otherwise it sends blank data in the GPS PGNs. Some other devices see the newly advertised high priority GPS source and actually believe it. Silly them. They switch to the M506 GPS, but because there is no valid date, devices start to complain about loss of GPS. Eventually the devices figure it out and dump the M506 switching back to whatever they were using before.


Actual behavior is very device specific because none of this behavioral stuff is specified by N2K, and lots of people do it lots of different ways. I think 100% of the N2K problems I have encountered are behavioral with respect to message exchange, and it's all because it's not specified. N2K Certification doesn't look at that at all. Nada, zero, zilch. That was the basis of my N2K Standards Committee nomination to the Wall of Shame.


Ironically, it's two M506s that trip over each other the most. But the Furuno TZ2 triggered the same behavior as well. Use a TZ2 to scan the network and display available data sources, and you will find the M506 showing up as a source for all sorts of unlikely data. If you believe it, it's really a jack of all trades and the only device you need for a complete network.... :-) Just kidding of course.


Most of the problems go unnoticed unless you are looking closely. And even things like a momentary GPS alarm get ignored when it clears and doesn't return until the next time you get under way.
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Old 02-03-2019, 02:42 PM   #10
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Very irritating and now that you mention it I do remember reading something about it on your blog. I am not having the same issue with the M605 I recently added.
Since I am down the street from them and have a few contacts ill see if some in person complaining will help.

As far as other options I guess one is to isolate them to 0183 but keep them on the N2K network via a ShipModule (just bought one but havenít installed it yet). Its how I am planning on getting my open array Furuno radar and my Furuno fish finder onto N2K as they dont support it since I guess its not certified for commercial use.

Ive got other issues though, and I think ill hit my 50 device limit in the next few weeks, have you had to tackle that yet? The Maretron extender seems to work but not sure if there are better options.

Will let you know if I get anywhere with Icom but I am not holding my breath..
AC



I don't remember what my max device count was, but it was probably getting close to 50 at one point. But in my 2.0 electronics redesign, I cut the N2K stuff way back, basically moving all primary navigation off N2K and back to 0183 for better reliability and more deterministic operation. I'm doing the same again this next time around. There is a reason why IMO certified devices are 0183 and not N2K.


That said, I did have a Maretron Extender for several years, but not because of device count. I discovered early on that I had exceeded the cumulative drop length limit. I never saw any data errors, but wanted to bring the bus into compliance regardless, so split it more or less in half and installed the bridge. It worked fine, and was completely transparent to operation.
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Old 02-03-2019, 02:50 PM   #11
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Yeah I’m worried I overdid it on the n2k but will try the extender. I’ll likely pull both my 506s onto 0183 and eliminate them completely from n2k.
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Old 02-03-2019, 04:43 PM   #12
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Yeah Iím worried I overdid it on the n2k but will try the extender. Iíll likely pull both my 506s onto 0183 and eliminate them completely from n2k.

The only downside to putting both on N2K is the possibility of losing DSC alarms getting plotted on the chart plotter. That requires data from the M506 to the chart plotter. That's inherent in N2K, but requires a two-way port for 0183. I had all the necessary GPS data available to feed to the VHF, but no available 0183 port to bring data back to the plotter. That's why I left one M506 on N2K. If you have an available 0183 port going in the right direction, then dumping N2K completely would be fine.


It certainly urked me to have paid extra for an N2K port that doesn't work.
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Old 02-03-2019, 04:51 PM   #13
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Yeah I should be able to accomplish that with the ship module. Will let you know if it works.
ShipModul Marine Electronics

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