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Old 10-28-2015, 09:43 AM   #1
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iKomminicate gateway

Got an email from Active Captain talking about this new product. They have a Kickstarter fundraiser going on and for $179 donation you get one of these gateways connecting nmea 2000 to this new signal K? It that's the way I understood it. Could be wrong.

Not sure if the gateway would do much good right now since no developers are making apps for tablets is the way I read this, but I'm not much of a techie.

What say you, techies?
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:44 AM   #2
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Forgot the link

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ternet-of-thin
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:54 AM   #3
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My opinion as a guy that specializes in industrial communications and networking is that they are trying too hard for a "marine" protocol, where we have protocols that provide interoperability already.

But thats just my opinion so it is worth zip.
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:02 AM   #4
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My opinion as a guy that specializes in industrial communications and networking is that they are trying too hard for a "marine" protocol, where we have protocols that provide interoperability already.



But thats just my opinion so it is worth zip.

Actually, I think your opinion matters quite a bit since you are really into marine electronics, networks, etc.

So there's a way to get data from nmea 2000 to my iPad already? Like engine data maybe?
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:25 AM   #5
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Actually, I think your opinion matters quite a bit since you are really into marine electronics, networks, etc.

So there's a way to get data from nmea 2000 to my iPad already? Like engine data maybe?
OK, but if you do not mind I'll use NEMA 0183 since I'm much more familiar with it from an engineering standpoint.

If... I was a developer, or integrator what I would do is:

Take the NEWMA 0183 signal and feed it into a terminal server making it available as a ethernet signal.

Then my app would open up a TCP connection to the terminal server at layer 4 of the OSI stack.

Then my App would at layer 5 and above structure it's "talkers" and "listeners" to utilize the NEMA 0183 protocol.

This sounds complicated to a layperson, but in the industrial control world we do it daily with off the shelf components, which are also available as chip sets and micro PCB's for integration inside a device.

And remember that's just me, with all of three minutes I've spent thinking about this.

So right now it's not available to you as a consumer, but it certainly does not require a brand new protocol to do.
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:41 AM   #6
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What this project seems to be doing is taking the "proprietary marine data", (NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000) and making them available via standard web services. HTML5 and JSON are the way in which many web-based applications share data with each other and with the user. If you're just worried about onboard use of data and happy to buy commercial applications then this is of no interest. If you want to be able to buy or build third party "open" applications and/or share your boat data on the internet then this is step in that direction.

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Old 10-28-2015, 11:40 AM   #7
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What this project seems to be doing is taking the "proprietary marine data", (NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000) and making them available via standard web services. HTML5 and JSON are the way in which many web-based applications share data with each other and with the user. If you're just worried about onboard use of data and happy to buy commercial applications then this is of no interest. If you want to be able to buy or build third party "open" applications and/or share your boat data on the internet then this is step in that direction.

Richard

I think the idea of converting from "marine" protocols to standard web services is a good one.

I just do not think we need to come up with a new wireless protocol to do that. Possibly I'm missing somethine here, but in my world I'm seeing a huge increase in manufacturers embedding web servers into their devices, making them accessable via a browser. In the case of a boat, you could develope a device that takes NMEA 0183 and 2K and offers it up as HTML.

The problem with a new protocol is acceptance. It might be the greatest thing in the world but you need to get manufacturers to adopt it.

Then we delve into the problem of off site communications, (or off boat in this case) You either need a routable IP address or you need for the devices to establish a connection with a fixed server, then the HMI would be through that server.

Again, I have not really studied the box or proposed standard at length, so this is just off the cuff stuff as it comes to mind.
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Old 10-28-2015, 11:58 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
Actually, I think your opinion matters quite a bit since you are really into marine electronics, networks, etc.

So there's a way to get data from nmea 2000 to my iPad already? Like engine data maybe?
Several companies make NMEA multiplexers that output NMEA data over WiFi. Here's a list I stole from the iNavX website:

Does iNavX support NMEA data?
Recommended multiplexers:
Brookhouse iMux WiFi multiplexer
Brookhouse eMux WiFi multiplexer
Comar NMEA-2-WiFi multiplexer
DigitalYacht iAIS WiFi receiver & multiplexer
DigitalYacht WLN10 WiFi multiplexer
ShipModul Miniplex-2 WiFi multiplexer
Redpark GPS Cable
vYacht NMEA Wifi router
DMK Yacht Instruments Box
Vesper Marine XB-8000 / WatchMate Vision

NMEA 2000 support:
Chetco Digital Instruments SeaSmart WiFi

OR
Combine an Actisense NGW-1 ISO with one of the above multiplexers.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:17 PM   #9
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I just do not think we need to come up with a new wireless protocol to do that. Possibly I'm missing somethine here, but in my world I'm seeing a huge increase in manufacturers embedding web servers into their devices, making them accessable via a browser. In the case of a boat, you could develope a device that takes NMEA 0183 and 2K and offers it up as HTML.
You are missing something. html will not allow my Android tablet to control my autopilot let alone the many other things that should be possible by accessing and sharing sensor data.

First, ActiveCaptain isn't doing this Kickstarter. We're just giving exposure to Digital Yacht's product because I think it's awesome. There's no commercial interest that ActiveCaptain has in it. In fact, I purchased one at the normal Kickstarter price myself yesterday.

The problem with NMEA 0183 is that it is too old to handle many of the information data exchange needed in 2015. It was also designed to be point-to-point and doesn't play very well when there are multiple talkers and listeners at the same time. Things like iPads and laptops have created many more talkers and listeners. NMEA 0183 fails for this new generation. The fact that many iPad navigation apps have been around for 5+ years and yet nearly none of them can display depth while underway is testimony to this. And while many apps can create routes, they can't control an autopilot along the route because there's no way to send the data to the controller. That's just the beginning of the issues.

Then there's NMEA 2000 (N2K). This is a very proprietary protocol. There's no wireless support and if I wanted N2K support in my apps, it would cost $5,000 for licensing and require an approval process. Not only that, but it too is very lacking in new types of data exchange needed - after all, it was created for release 15 years ago which is 3 lifetimes in this electronic world. While N2K adds multiple talkers and listeners, and even some new data types (tank levels, engine controls), it doesn't begin to touch the other general types of data that should be shared among devices. Things like your slip assignment, the video camera settings in the engine room, or the destinations of the boats around you have no place in N2K.

What's needed is an open protocol that allows 2015 types of data interchange between devices. It needs to be built from current web architectures like json (to make it trivial to interface with). It needs to be simple to add into software and chartplotters. And it needs to sit on top of all the general network and web technologies that exist in nearly every other area of use.

That's where Signal K fits in.

In order to get a lot of apps and products supporting Signal K so my iPad can control my autopilot as well as control the quadcopter drone looking ahead at depths from the boat ahead of me (also possible), the attention of the developer community has to take place so they'll support the protocols. And that's why we're involved - to get a bunch of these things purchased so every app developer gets hit between the eyes to support Signal K now.

Digital Yacht's goal was to generate $20,000 of pre-purchases for iKommunicate (the NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, to Ethernet gateway). At noon after our newsletter release at 7:30 this morning, they have nearly $70,000 of backers. I'd say there are a lot of people who understand the value and want to help make the next generation of marine electronics happen.

There is still time to get in on it and save $70. But backing this project does a lot more than give you a nice discount - it helps shape the industry and tells developers to take advantage of this new protocol. And you get the gateway hardware from a reliable, known, hardware manufacturer.

I added Signal K support into my Locations app for Windows, Max OSX, Android, and iOS in 3 hours. It supports position and heading data which are pretty simple to support. But still, 3 hours is nothing for full integration - the user-interface part of it was 2 of the 3 hours too.

The reason things have moved so slowly in marine electronics is that the standards have been tightly held and controlled. This is the beginning of the new age of data and connectivity in our boats. But you have to step up and help it.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:21 PM   #10
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Several companies make NMEA multiplexers that output NMEA data over WiFi. Here's a list I stole from the iNavX website...
I have a few of those devices today. I've used them and programmed with them. The problem is that there is no standard. They all have their own support and protocol. So you have to select the gateway device you want to connect to and hope that it has support for the data you want. That "device driver" technology is from 2002. It's terrible.

All of those products, even the old Digital Yacht ones, need to be replaced with something standard. Digital Yacht realizes this and is willing to kill their own existing gateways in that list to move to something for 2015. Signal K is the path to do that.
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:10 PM   #11
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You are missing something. html will not allow my Android tablet to control my autopilot let alone the many other things that should be possible by accessing and sharing sensor data.

First, ActiveCaptain isn't doing this Kickstarter. We're just giving exposure to Digital Yacht's product because I think it's awesome. There's no commercial interest that ActiveCaptain has in it. In fact, I purchased one at the normal Kickstarter price myself yesterday.

The problem with NMEA 0183 is that it is too old to handle many of the information data exchange needed in 2015. It was also designed to be point-to-point and doesn't play very well when there are multiple talkers and listeners at the same time. Things like iPads and laptops have created many more talkers and listeners. NMEA 0183 fails for this new generation. The fact that many iPad navigation apps have been around for 5+ years and yet nearly none of them can display depth while underway is testimony to this. And while many apps can create routes, they can't control an autopilot along the route because there's no way to send the data to the controller. That's just the beginning of the issues.

Then there's NMEA 2000 (N2K). This is a very proprietary protocol. There's no wireless support and if I wanted N2K support in my apps, it would cost $5,000 for licensing and require an approval process. Not only that, but it too is very lacking in new types of data exchange needed - after all, it was created for release 15 years ago which is 3 lifetimes in this electronic world. While N2K adds multiple talkers and listeners, and even some new data types (tank levels, engine controls), it doesn't begin to touch the other general types of data that should be shared among devices. Things like your slip assignment, the video camera settings in the engine room, or the destinations of the boats around you have no place in N2K.

What's needed is an open protocol that allows 2015 types of data interchange between devices. It needs to be built from current web architectures like json (to make it trivial to interface with). It needs to be simple to add into software and chartplotters. And it needs to sit on top of all the general network and web technologies that exist in nearly every other area of use.

That's where Signal K fits in.

In order to get a lot of apps and products supporting Signal K so my iPad can control my autopilot as well as control the quadcopter drone looking ahead at depths from the boat ahead of me (also possible), the attention of the developer community has to take place so they'll support the protocols. And that's why we're involved - to get a bunch of these things purchased so every app developer gets hit between the eyes to support Signal K now.

Digital Yacht's goal was to generate $20,000 of pre-purchases for iKommunicate (the NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, to Ethernet gateway). At noon after our newsletter release at 7:30 this morning, they have nearly $70,000 of backers. I'd say there are a lot of people who understand the value and want to help make the next generation of marine electronics happen.

There is still time to get in on it and save $70. But backing this project does a lot more than give you a nice discount - it helps shape the industry and tells developers to take advantage of this new protocol. And you get the gateway hardware from a reliable, known, hardware manufacturer.

I added Signal K support into my Locations app for Windows, Max OSX, Android, and iOS in 3 hours. It supports position and heading data which are pretty simple to support. But still, 3 hours is nothing for full integration - the user-interface part of it was 2 of the 3 hours too.

The reason things have moved so slowly in marine electronics is that the standards have been tightly held and controlled. This is the beginning of the new age of data and connectivity in our boats. But you have to step up and help it.
So, if I can ask, and remember that I am into industrial controls, so my boat protocol experience iis limited...

Why a whole new protocol? Why not push for adoption of existing protocols? I can control things, and get data back on my industrial devices using existing protocols. Take your pick but we use DNP3.0, even SNMP, and the old standard Modbus. These protocols might not be new and flashy but they work. If I can switch a microwave radio transmitter using SNMP, or open a substation breaker using DNP3.0 it seems like I could provide a Course To Steer to an autopilot. Then again if my chart plotter can send out a Course To Steer under 0183 why cant you write an app to do that???

Also if today I can enter data into a HTML based web page and have that data do things, why cannot manufacturers just embed a web server into their devices? I cannot count the number of things I have here at work where I can enter a value into a embedded web server.

Why a whole new protocol???

You are not just selling a box, you're selling the concept of a whole new protocol here.
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Old 10-28-2015, 03:30 PM   #12
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Why a whole new protocol???
I am not sure I understand where you are coming from. Something has to take the proprietary NMEA 2000 information and then repackage it via WiFi to apps on mobile devices. The apps have to be able to understand the format of the data and then be able to respond in a format that can be sent back to the NMEA 2000 bus and be understandable by devices that need to be controlled. It sounds to me like a data translation protocol. None of the existing protocols deal with these same elements of data. In my mind, the real culprit here is having to deal with the proprietary nature of NMEA 2000.

This link explains the Signal K gateway:

http://signalk.org/overview.html
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:00 PM   #13
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You are missing something. html will not allow my Android tablet to control my autopilot let alone the many other things that should be possible by accessing and sharing sensor data.

First, ActiveCaptain isn't doing this Kickstarter. We're just giving exposure to Digital Yacht's product because I think it's awesome. There's no commercial interest that ActiveCaptain has in it. In fact, I purchased one at the normal Kickstarter price myself yesterday.

The problem with NMEA 0183 is that it is too old to handle many of the information data exchange needed in 2015. It was also designed to be point-to-point and doesn't play very well when there are multiple talkers and listeners at the same time. Things like iPads and laptops have created many more talkers and listeners. NMEA 0183 fails for this new generation. The fact that many iPad navigation apps have been around for 5+ years and yet nearly none of them can display depth while underway is testimony to this. And while many apps can create routes, they can't control an autopilot along the route because there's no way to send the data to the controller. That's just the beginning of the issues.

Then there's NMEA 2000 (N2K). This is a very proprietary protocol. There's no wireless support and if I wanted N2K support in my apps, it would cost $5,000 for licensing and require an approval process. Not only that, but it too is very lacking in new types of data exchange needed - after all, it was created for release 15 years ago which is 3 lifetimes in this electronic world. While N2K adds multiple talkers and listeners, and even some new data types (tank levels, engine controls), it doesn't begin to touch the other general types of data that should be shared among devices. Things like your slip assignment, the video camera settings in the engine room, or the destinations of the boats around you have no place in N2K.

What's needed is an open protocol that allows 2015 types of data interchange between devices. It needs to be built from current web architectures like json (to make it trivial to interface with). It needs to be simple to add into software and chartplotters. And it needs to sit on top of all the general network and web technologies that exist in nearly every other area of use.

That's where Signal K fits in.

In order to get a lot of apps and products supporting Signal K so my iPad can control my autopilot as well as control the quadcopter drone looking ahead at depths from the boat ahead of me (also possible), the attention of the developer community has to take place so they'll support the protocols. And that's why we're involved - to get a bunch of these things purchased so every app developer gets hit between the eyes to support Signal K now.

Digital Yacht's goal was to generate $20,000 of pre-purchases for iKommunicate (the NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, to Ethernet gateway). At noon after our newsletter release at 7:30 this morning, they have nearly $70,000 of backers. I'd say there are a lot of people who understand the value and want to help make the next generation of marine electronics happen.

There is still time to get in on it and save $70. But backing this project does a lot more than give you a nice discount - it helps shape the industry and tells developers to take advantage of this new protocol. And you get the gateway hardware from a reliable, known, hardware manufacturer.

I added Signal K support into my Locations app for Windows, Max OSX, Android, and iOS in 3 hours. It supports position and heading data which are pretty simple to support. But still, 3 hours is nothing for full integration - the user-interface part of it was 2 of the 3 hours too.

The reason things have moved so slowly in marine electronics is that the standards have been tightly held and controlled. This is the beginning of the new age of data and connectivity in our boats. But you have to step up and help it.
I'll add to this that the majority of N2K implementations that I have encountered have problems, some of them quite severe. I did a count a while back and it was something like 80% of the N2K products that I have personally owned have had problems severe enough to report back to the manufacturers. In any other industry, Darwin would have killed all these people off a long time ago.

A big part of the problem is the closed status of N2K. It's a big secret, so people like me and professional installers are left guessing what's working right and what's working wrong. You think one vendor is doing something wrong so you call them to report it. But they insist it's the other guy who is doing it wrong. Since it's a secret, you can't call BS on either of them.

As Jeff points out, for $5000 you too can be let in on the secret, but in doing so you agree to complete silence about what you see and hear. I actually considered paying up, but decided I'd rather continue to reverse engineer things and remain free to talk about it.

Also, for whatever reason the various vendors refuse to pick up the phone to their competitor and work out their problems. I have offered to introduce people to their counterparts in other companies so they can sort out their differences, but they all have zero interest.

I attribute a huge part of the problem to NMEA itself. Any spec that has such divergent and incompatible implementations, is by definition an incomplete spec. Yet nothing happens to tighten it up. And their certification program is a complete joke. I have encountered countless NMEA Certified products that blatantly violate the specification, yet NMEA doesn't seem to care and products continue to not work together in the most basic ways.

I've come to believe that the only way this stuff will get to the point of actually working in a reliable and scalable way (it works fine in small implementations, but when you build larger systems the wheels very quickly come off the cart) is to pull it out of the closet and create an open source solution that the world can collectively perfect. SignalK is the first step towards making that happen.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:08 PM   #14
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I am not sure I understand where you are coming from. Something has to take the proprietary NMEA 2000 information and then repackage it via WiFi to apps on mobile devices. The apps have to be able to understand the format of the data and then be able to respond in a format that can be sent back to the NMEA 2000 bus and be understandable by devices that need to be controlled. It sounds to me like a data translation protocol. None of the existing protocols deal with these same elements of data. In my mind, the real culprit here is having to deal with the proprietary nature of NMEA 2000.

This link explains the Signal K gateway:

Signal K » Overview
Why can't they take the NEMA signals feed them off of an embedded web server? Then you could access the device using a browser? Then nobody would have to write an Application.

One side of the new "box" is NMEA and the other side is a web server.

I know little of the underliying stuff behind NMEA 2K but I'll guarantee today that I could take NMEA 0183 and make it available over a wifi network using a inexpensive terminal server. I could telnet to that terminal server today using my Ipad and see the raw data. Someone could write an App to do that and organize the data in a meaningful way.

Perhaps I'm just poo pooing the concept of a new protocol and shouldn't.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:17 PM   #15
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I've come to believe that the only way this stuff will get to the point of actually working in a reliable and scalable way (it works fine in small implementations, but when you build larger systems the wheels very quickly come off the cart) is to pull it out of the closet and create an open source solution that the world can collectively perfect. SignalK is the first step towards making that happen.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:37 PM   #16
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OK, so why not use SNMP???

Then all a manufacturer would have to do is publish a MIB file and everybody would know how to talk to their device?

SNMP is if memory serves correctly already there, is publoc, open source, and again if memory serves correctly might even have RFC's out there as a standard.

With SNMP you can read, you can write, you can poll, you can send traps...

Why re-invent the wheel?
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:04 PM   #17
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OK, so why not use SNMP???
...
Why re-invent the wheel?
I believe there is no existing protocol based on 2015 capabilities that can meet the needs of marine electronics for 2025. Added to that is the new requirement of being able to be quickly and easily integrated into app types of products. Using json as the transport is brilliant (I had nothing to do with it). It's what anyone would use in 2015 to create an interface for easy adoption. In my own case, I recently released a route storage and sharing API. It was build around json as well. The result is that major players (Coastal Explorer, etc) have taken the couple of hours needed to integrate to it.

The truth is that developers today aren't the developers of yesterday. I've spent thousands of hours bit fiddling protocols to interface one thing to another in previous decades. No one does that any longer. Perhaps it's the 25 year old software developers doing most of the development today - I don't know. It's just a reality in the app world.

Twisted had so many excellent points, I can't repeat them. He's exactly right about the issues with NMEA and interface issues. Being "open" solves all of that.

It needs to be mentioned that NMEA itself issued a press release in May embracing Signal K. I had something to do with that - I'm trying to help NMEA move to the next generation and I've been lucky enough to have a few meetings with their upper management. At the recent NMEA annual conference in Baltimore, NMEA gave the Signal K group space for presenting a seminar - it was overfilled with people spilling out into the hallways.

So NMEA is in on this. They understand that they can't deliver that "last foot" of wireless connectivity. There are some great aspects of N2K that will remain for many more decades. But something hanging off that to provide wireless access, either by gateway or chartplotter, is desperately needed. And if we're going to do that, let's make it possible to share data that NMEA never dreamed about.

I also think Digital Yacht's product plan is fantastic - they're delivering much more than a gateway. It's a full server that developers can add to without license. So if I wanted to add a small amount of code to track movement and depth, I could add that to their gateway in about 20 minutes. Doing that in a box for $299 with N2K and N183 interfaces in a marine powered enclosure is killer. They've raised nearly $80,000 today - there are a lot of others who see the same thing.
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:25 PM   #18
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Well thanks jeffery, and twisted tree i learned something today!!
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:27 PM   #19
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OK, so why not use SNMP???

Then all a manufacturer would have to do is publish a MIB file and everybody would know how to talk to their device?

SNMP is if memory serves correctly already there, is publoc, open source, and again if memory serves correctly might even have RFC's out there as a standard.

With SNMP you can read, you can write, you can poll, you can send traps...

Why re-invent the wheel?
I can't speak for SignalK, but all the NAME protocols are broadcast protocols, and anyone can listen to what they want, and ignore the rest. It works really well for marine stuff. SNMP is a request/response protocol, and as such I think sub-optimal for this particular application. BTW, one or two of those SNMP RFCs have my name on them...... But I also have to confess that although most every product in the IP world implements SNMP, I think very, very few people actually use it.
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:34 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
I can't speak for SignalK, but all the NAME protocols are broadcast protocols, and anyone can listen to what they want, and ignore the rest. It works really well for marine stuff. SNMP is a request/response protocol, and as such I think sub-optimal for this particular application. BTW, one or two of those SNMP RFCs have my name on them...... But I also have to confess that although most every product in the IP world implements SNMP, I think very, very few people actually use it.
Well very cool indeed! I really appreciate this discussion, Thanks

If it makes you feel better, I use snmp daily right now. What I have done is taken things like microwave radios and created dynamic block and level schematics showing the subsystem in alarm.

Literally today I am building maps of the enterprise class network i maintain using Solar Winds, so if you came up with some of this, thanks!
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