Kickstarter Logo
 Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

– Simon and Garfunkel –

In case you missed it in late October, iKommunicate launched on Kickstarter. There are now less than 10 days left in the campaign and I urge you to fund it. I’m getting the iKommunicate Gateway and newly announced iKConnect Wireless router as a bundle for $329 US (too many Canadian Dollars).  While I think of it, remember that if you have a Raymarine system (Seatalk NG network) you will need an extra adapter cable (Raymarine #A06045) to connect the iKommunicate to your boat’s NMEA 2000 network.  Digital Yacht tells me that the iKommunicate comes with a deviceNet cable so you will need to adapt it.

I’ve been using an Apple Air Port router for awhile but it’s messy with the inverter and it will be nice to have a low power consumption 12 volt wireless router built specifically for marine use.   Bonus is the capability for a 3G / 4G dongle.  I just hope the router plays nicely with my Rogue Wave WiFi Antenna….  As a first step I will probably use the personal hotspot feature on my iPhone for the WAN connection (while at Sea) and to test sending Signal K data over the Internet.

iKommunicateiKommunicate network diagram from Digital Yacht is here and like a bridge over troubled water it will kickstart the broader acceptance of Signal K by marine hardware and software developers.   Digital Yacht is the UK company behind it and they have the smarts and experience to bring this to market with full support for all NMEA 2000 data, including engine data that hasn’t been easily accessible.   Ultimately this will mean more flexible data sharing and viewing options on board your boat, and at a much cheaper cost.   Marine electronics are expensive which limits their user base.   As an example… if multi-function displays (chartplotters) are available to more people, our lakes and oceans become a safer playground!

vYacht Wifi RouterWhile there are already homegrown Signal K gateways being worked on and projects like Canboat which are reverse engineering NMEA 2000, iKommunicate will likely be the first NMEA 2000 certified gateway which is an important milestone.   When the NMEA standards committee first recognized Signal K earlier this year, it likely motivated Digital Yacht to try to commercialize this product.  Well done!   I imagine there will be more gateways like; iKommunicate, Redport (commercial shipping), and the more techie oriented vYacht wifi router mk III (shown above), who have said they will be supporting Signal K.  The price of Signal K gateways will come down over time.

If your eyes haven’t glazed over by now and you are still with me, you might want to check out some excellent posts with much more detail from my favourite marine electronics blogs:

  1. Ben Ellison at Panbo has written an awesome article on iKommunicate.
  2. Bill Bishop at The Marine Installer’s Rant has an excellent FAQ on Signal K.

Bill has been championing Signal K from the beginning and has even been kind enough to give SIGNAL Kool some blogging tips!

– Safe Boating –

editors note (12/13/2015)… I changed my mind about purchasing the iKonnect Wireless router for now, will pick it up later after I get more detailed info on it.