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NMEA 0183


NMEA 0183 is a combined electrical and data specification for communication between marine electronics such as echo sounder, sonars, anemometer, gyrocompass, autopilot, GPS receivers and many other types of instruments. It has been defined by, and is controlled by, the National Marine Electronics Association. It replaces the earlier NMEA 0180 and NMEA 0182 standards. In marine applications, it is slowly being phased out in favor of the newer NMEA 2000 standard.

The electrical standard that is used is EIA-422, although most hardware with NMEA-0183 outputs are also able to drive a single EIA-232 port. Although the standard calls for isolated inputs and outputs, there are various series of hardware that do not adhere to this requirement.

The NMEA 0183 standard uses a simple ASCII, serial communications protocol that defines how data are transmitted in a "sentence" from one "talker" to multiple "listeners" at a time. Through the use of intermediate expanders, a talker can have a unidirectional conversation with a nearly unlimited number of listeners, and using multiplexers, multiple sensors can talk to a single computer port.

At the application layer, the standard also defines the contents of each sentence (message) type, so that all listeners can parse messages accurately.

There is a variation of the standard called NMEA-0183HS that specifies a baud rate of 38,400. This is in general use by AIS devices.

As an example, a waypoint arrival alarm has the form:

Another example for AIS messages is:

The new standard, NMEA 2000, accommodates several talkers at a higher baud rate, without using a central hub, or round-robin packet buffering.


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