Everything, with extensive use, wears down and eventually breaks. Now unless you’re an electric engineer or savvy electronic expert, your GPS cables will need to be replaced. And not just your run-of-the-mill GPS power cables think network cables, transducer extension cables, video cables, radar cables, VGA, composite, etc. You could also be implementing a new system, but it’s best to know all the components you need and research things properly before spending your hard earned money and time getting your GPS system in place. Keep in mind that sometimes a company that makes your GPS will discontinue producing that particular GPS device. When this happens, they often stop manufacturing the GPS cables as well. You may or may not want to consider purchasing additional equipment and cables because this happens far more often than we’d like.
The Global Positioning system is made up of 27 Earth orbiting satellites (3 of the 27 are back up satellites). This intricate system was developed by the military originally for navigating but eventually opened up to everybody. The expensive 3k-4k pound satellites travel around the earth at 12,000 mph, making two rotations a day. GPS locate four or more of these machines to device its own location. The GPS figures out your location based on those satellites and their distance to you with high-frequency lower powered electronic signals and a complex pseudo-random code. Multiple receivers = easier to receive signals.
GPS Power Cable – most are familiar with power cables at a base level, an assembly of two or more electrical conductors with some kind of protective sheath, used for electrical power. Unfortunately each GPS system comes with a different GPS power cable, so in this case the best case of action is to refer to your manual or manufacturer’s website for details about the cable model number.
GPS Antenna Cable – Installing a GPS on your boat means that you need an antenna that can reach signals transmitted by satellites. Try to avoid GPS antennas and cables from lesser known manufacturers, with at least a preferred gain of 30 and good “Out-Of-Band” filtering.
GPS Network Cable – Like a computer network, a collection of computers or hardware that come together to serve a purpose, in this case determining location via data input and output. The network routes the display around the boat so that the radar can be visibly as long as there’s a monitor or display system.
GPS MCX Connector – Standard connector (micro coaxial) RF connector (radio frequencies) developed in the 1980s, standardized in European CECC 22220 with a snap-on interface.
BNC connector – RF connector for coaxial cables (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) compatible with television, radio, and radio-frequency electronic equipment.
Radar cables – These wires are used to connect the radar wave detection system to the networking powerhouse. There are also radar signal converts for easy which strings together radar pulse signals so they can be easily read.
NMEA Networking cables – This is a difficulty that many boaters encounter; it’s a difficult concept to put simply. It’s a cable that shares data between other units on your boat. The NMEA works by having four units, one of which is the ‘talker’ the other ones ‘listeners’, but can only listen to one unit at a time. Think of it as a group of people, one person is talking and if another pipes up the conversations between to come apart and it’s no longer a group conversation. These units are designed to listen to one core source. The NMEA has transmitting and receiving wires like TX, Out, Transmit, RX, In and Receive. Each type of wire will either transmit or receive, not both, defined by their polarity (positive or negative). Data is sent as a sentence, followed by other sentences, in rapid succession. Data, such as route messages, beacon receiver status info, bearing origin to destination, date and time, etc. The wires must maintain polarity, so that positive connects to positive and negative to negative. NMEA networking cables are used for GPS, VHF, fish finding, and radar.
Please check with your manual for the appropriate GPS cable for your GPS. Or, visit your manufacturer’s website for compatibility listings. Once again, it may be a smart idea to purchase additional equipment for your GPS at time of purchase.