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Old 09-11-2013, 05:09 AM   #1
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Default Connecting a GPS to COM 801E

I've had an ICOM 801E for a few years now and its a great radio, but I have never got around to connecting up all the features. I'm keen to feed in a GPS signal to enable DSC position functionality - punch the button and out goes a distress call with position appended. The radio has a dedicated plug to accept NMEA input from a GPS, but it is a standard RCA plug and nothing I've seen in a GPS has its output going to one of those.

Has anyone successfully connected a GPS to an 801E? If so, what did you use as a GPS?
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:27 AM   #2
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The GPS input on your Icom should be a BNC plug and not an RCA one. It accepts a standard NMEA 0183 input to obtain position and date/time. This is normally obtained from a chart plotter NMEA output or from a dedicated GPS receiver. I have used a "puck" type GPS receiver on Icom radios before and they work well. What type of chart plotter do you have - maybe it already has a NMEA 0183 output you can use. John.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:52 AM   #3
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John, thanks for those comments. I'm starting to think that there is a way forward.

We have a fairly old Garmin GPSmap 162 which outputs through a RS 232 plug, which then is connected into a Keyspan USB hub. That hub connects to a small PC and also to a Pactor modem, which in turn connects to the ICOM. The PC uses the GPS position to drive OpenCPN as our chart plotter. The PC also controls the Pactor and, through it, the ICOM. The NMEA data is there on the PC, but I can't see how you can send it on to the ICOM.

I've also got a puck type GPS (BU-353) - it has a USB connector and works well with a PC. Connecting that to the radio would be ideal as we only keep it lying around as a emergency spare, so thoughts on how you do that would be great. Thanks again.
Peter
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:46 AM   #4
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Just read the manual (when in doubt, RTFM) - page 4 of the 801E instruction manual.

It clearly shows an RCA plug, NMEA IN (+) for the centre pin and NMEA IN (-) for the outer, for GPS input.

I talked to the local electronics store earlier today and the guy there was very sceptical about converting USB to RCA.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:31 AM   #5
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You can't do it with a USB GPS to the RCA plug, you need a GPS with serial output such as RS232. You will need to connect pins 2 and 3 of the serial port to the RCA plug, by the look of what I can see for the 801E manual that should be pin 2 to the centre and pin 3 to the outside but if that doesn't work swap them over and try again.

You could split the RS232 line out of the GPSmap 162, you only need pins 2 and 3. A bit of soldering would do the job but I'd be inclined to run the lines to a proper pair of small terminals and split from there.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:40 AM   #6
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Thanks Del. That and the other comments are quite useful. As usual, I'm learning far more than I wanted to know - I really just want to plug it in and have it work, but that is clearly not going to happen.

I also wrote to ICOM for advice. This is what I got back:
"Thank you for your inquiry. Please read page 50 of the attached instruction manual for possible connections to the GPS on the M801E. You can input the GPS signal in the RCA socket providing it is an NMEA 0183 ver 3.01 with correct sentence format. The RCA input can take RS232 direct into it. Tx data from PC , RS232 to GPS input on RCA and ground."

I found your comments more useful.
By the way, are you still planning to head to NZ this summer? Might see you there if you are.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:09 AM   #7
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Well, that turned out to be an interesting journey. I called out the local techo (Norton Makepeace if you need someone in Hobart) and we traced the GPS wiring back from the RS 232 into the cabin wall and finally found where both the RS 232 connector and power (as well as a fuse - well hidden) were spliced onto the GPS cable.

We spliced an RCA cable onto the GPS NMEA output and fired everything up. Worked first time! The Garmin now delivers NMEA to a PC and to the ICOM 801E and both show position as soon as they are fired up.

A good result. Hopefully I will never need to push the red DSC button on the ICOM, but now it will know where it is if I do.
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