3m NMEA 2000 Drop Cable

“A 3m (9ft) NMEA 2000 drop cable made of metal connectors for maximum reliability.”


How to connect NMEA 2000 devices?

You cannot just plug two NMEA 2000 devices together with a suitable NMEA 2000 cable – they must be connected to a properly constructed NMEA 2000 network.

  • Each device has an NMEA 2000 interface that must be powered from the network
  • Some smaller low power devices, like sensors are also powered from the network
  • There is a small cost in setting up the network, but future expansion is very easy
  • An NMEA 2000 Starter Kit is a cost effective way to build a small, expandable network

Testing NMEA 2000 Network

If you have an old or spare NMEA 2000 cable kicking around in your “come in handy” box, then put it to good use and create your own NMEA 2000 Test Lead. Assuming your cable is a Male to Female cable, you can actually create two test leads from the same cable, by simply cutting it in half, stripping back the outer insulation and fitting the five wires inside (Red/White/Blue/Black/Shield) to a piece of terminal “chocolate” block – as shown below.

The Male Test Lead will actually be the most useful, as the majority of “back bone” connections are female, so you will be able to plug the Male Test lead in to any of these connections. The Female Test lead will be useful for connecting power to a “bus powered” NMEA 2000 device for firmware updating or configuration.

For the following tests we will be using the Male Test lead and a multi-meter to measure the NMEA 2000 Supply Voltage across the Red and Black power wires and to make sure the network is properly terminated by measuring the resistance between the Blue and White Data wires.


NMEA 2000 Supply Voltage Test

The NMEA 2000 network should be powered from a 12v supply and depending upon the number of devices on the network and the amount of power they take from the network, you may find voltage drops along the network. In extreme cases this can result in some devices not getting the proper 9.0v to 16.0v DC Supply voltage as specified in the NMEA 2000 specification.

You can use the NMEA 2000 Test lead to plug in to the network at various locations and test the supply voltage. In a well designed NMEA 2000 network the voltage drop should never be more than 1.5v. So if the supply voltage is 12.5v then you should never measure less than 11v at any point in the network.

NMEA 2000 Correct Termination Test

The NMEA 2000 network should be properly terminated with a 120 Ohm resistor at each end of the backbone. No terminators, 1 terminator or more than two terminators can adversely affect the data signals and so it is important to test that your NMEA 2000 network is terminated correctly.

Two terminators, give a parallel resistance reading of 60 Ohms and this is what you should read. Plug the test lead in to any spare socket on the NMEA 2000 network and with the NMEA 2000 Network’s power removed, do a resistance test between the Blue and White Data wires of the NMEA 2000 test lead. You should measure 60 Ohms +/- 5%.


Using NAVDoctor to fully test an NMEA 2000 network

The two tests above are important basic tests to check the electrical integrity of your NMEA 2000 network, however with so many NMEA 2000 devices now being installed on boats, data and interoperability issues can also arise and if you wish to be able to more fully test and diagnose NMEA 2000 networks, our NAVDoctor NMEA 2000 Diagnostic tool is a good investment as this video will illustrate…

How to create an NMEA 2000 network onboard