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TOPIC: Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation

Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 15 Jul 2016 23:20 #1

  • TenMile
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Hi all,

On another thread a while back we had a discussion about integrating non-digital sensors onto NMEA-2000. There are a few devices out there that can accomplish this feat and I landed on the Alba-Combi unit. The unit is made by Albatross Controls out of Spain and distributed in the US by NavStore Online . I purchased the device and have it installed on the boat with partial success. I installed the unit to extend my fuel gauges to the upper helm station as I don't currently have those.

Basics on the device -- it can connect either directly to a sensor OR, it can connect to an existing analog gauge to take it's reading, allowing you to leave the gauge in place. It also has inputs for 2 tachometers along with a couple of alarm outputs (e.g. you could program it to sound a buzzer or light a lamp on an overheat etc). Big benefit of the system is that all the configuration is done via a Web Browser. If you have an existing Ethernet/WiFi network on your boat, the device can be accessed by opening a browser on your device of choice (PC, Mac, Tablet, Phone). Not only can you configure the device via the browser, you can also monitor all the gauges in real time (particularly useful if you wish to create a glass display using Chrome in Kiosk mode).

There is a full series of training videos posted here:


Datasheet is here: www.albacombi.com/wp-content/uploads/201...asheet-albacombi.pdf

Also found a detailed hands on via THT here: www.thehulltruth.com/marine-electronics-...albacombi-hands.html

I mounted the unit in the void behind my lower helm. That made connecting wiring to the existing gauges simple. The device gets it's power from the NMEA 2000 network -- it means adding a new Tee to the NMEA 2000 -- but snipping the barrel connector off the NMEA 2000 drop wire and connecting the bare ends to the unit (wires are color coded and worked without issue). I've not yet connected the device to the Ethernet network on my boat so I simply connected my laptop to it using a direct cable -- had to assign my laptop a manual IP Address in the same range as the Alba-Combi.

So far, I have been able to get my fuel gauges and oil pressure sender connected and working correctly on my Simrad NSS-9 EVO-2 and Lowrance HDS-7 plotters. It wasn't clearly detailed in the manual, but if connecting to an existing analog gauge, the unit needs to take a reference voltage from the exact same source the gauge gets it from. I made the mistake of thinking that any DC source would work -- and while it does, the reference voltage causes the readings to be off. Connecting the unit directly to the Ignition Voltage source on the analog gauge is the trick and leads to accurate readings. The reference voltage only needs to be connected once and all the analog gauges can use the same reference point.

While not critical for my application, so far I've been unable to get an accurate reading from my tachometers. I have an email into their tech support but have not had a response so far (although I've not had the chance to follow up myself). On my to-do list will be connecting a fresh water tank sender (mine is currently not working) along with a waste tank, boost pressure and exhaust temperature (boat doesn't have these sensors today).

If anyone has any questions, fire away and I will answer what I can...

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 05 Feb 2017 04:30 #2

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Thought I'd post an update as I finally figured out how to get the Tachometers properly calibrated. While this unit works very well, documentation is not as good as it could be, and there is no detailed explanation on how the Tachometer settings work.

My Tachs work off a magnetic sender positioned at the flywheel. Basically counts the number of Pulses Per Second which is the teeth of the flywheel passing by the sender. My Cummins flywheels have 173 teeth. So to get the number of pulses per second the math works out to:

Teeth x RPMs/60(seconds). So at 600 RPMs the unit should measure 173 x 600 / 60 = 1730 pulses (which it does). Easy setup is to simply tell the unit that this is a 4000 RPM Tach with and that a "measured value" of 0 = 0 and 11533 pulses = 4000 RPMs. The unit just assumes a linear equation (which is correct) and calculates RPMs based upon the pulses.

Simrad came out with a great software update this year called TripIntel. It can basically take fuel level from a tank sender or the Alba Combi (or other NMEA 2000 device) or a fuel flow meter, and calculate overall fuel efficiency, trip fuel consumption and range. Very cool. Read about the update here: www.simrad-yachting.com/Root/Simrad-Docu...Application-Note.pdf

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 05 Feb 2017 04:46 #3

  • Norton Rider
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TenMile wrote: Thought I'd post an update as I finally figured out how to get the Tachometers properly calibrated. While this unit works very well, documentation is not as good as it could be, and there is no detailed explanation on how the Tachometer settings work.

My Tachs work off a magnetic sender positioned at the flywheel. Basically counts the number of Pulses Per Second which is the teeth of the flywheel passing by the sender. My Cummins flywheels have 173 teeth. So to get the number of pulses per second the math works out to:

Teeth x RPMs/60(seconds). So at 600 RPMs the unit should measure 173 x 600 / 60 = 1730 pulses (which it does). Easy setup is to simply tell the unit that this is a 4000 RPM Tach with and that a "measured value" of 0 = 0 and 11533 pulses = 4000 RPMs. The unit just assumes a linear equation (which is correct) and calculates RPMs based upon the pulses.




Interesting... to program the RPM on a Noland RS-11 all one needs to do is to enter the number of teeth (pulses per revolution). The flywheels on my engines (6BTA-270) have 159 teeth.

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1999 3788, Cummins 270 "Freedom"
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 05 Feb 2017 16:42 #4

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Norton Rider wrote:

Interesting... to program the RPM on a Noland RS-11 all one needs to do is to enter the number of teeth (pulses per revolution). The flywheels on my engines (6BTA-270) have 159 teeth.


That's exactly the way it *should* work!!! The lightbulb went off when I finally read the Actisense manual and they have an explanation how the various RPM senders work.

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 06 Feb 2017 03:52 #5

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Tweaking some of the settings today. Still need to calibrate both my engine temps and oil pressure sender readings. Got the unit hooked into my boat wireless system now so I can access the unit wirelessly from any device running Chrome.

Here is what the digital display looks like so far. I have all the inputs displayed as gauges, but they can be done as digits or as a graph as well.

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 25 Apr 2017 20:46 #6

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So gang -- an update to this installation. After months of writing Alba Combi for support, I finally contacted NavStore where I purchased the unit. I was unable to get AC to reply to any of my support queries and over the year I've had the device, I've never been able to get the RPMs to work properly. They would work at idle up to approximately 850RPMs and then would stop registering a signal. NavStore were able to get the support team to contact me and they had me purchase the supplies to build a filter (10K Ohm Resistor + 100nF capacitor). Farted around with it along with a friend who is an electrical engineer and we simply could not get the device to work. In fact their proposed fixes made it worse. Makes me think I either have a faulty unit or it just doesn't work as advertised.

Anyhow, NavStore have agreed to take the unit back and I have decided to replace it with the Noland RS-11.

The AC unit has a ton of great features, but terrible documentation and almost no support. It feels more like a science project than a marine instrument and I wouldn't recommend it any longer. Anyhow, project failed on this one and hopefully the Noland will provide better results.

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 25 Apr 2017 23:07 #7

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Good luck.... I'm having exactly the same problem with my RS11. :(

I had never checked it above idle until a couple of weeks ago, when we went on a cruise. The RPM readings becomes unreliable above a high idle. I haven't had a chance to troubleshoot it and/or call Noland.

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1999 3788, Cummins 270 "Freedom"
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 26 Apr 2017 00:43 #8

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Ah crap! I was going based on your success :(

I'm assuming we have the same setup -- Cummins engines with pulse senders and US Marine / Faria tachs? It might be worthy of an experiment taking the tachometers out of the loop and running a jumper directly from the signal input to the unit. Eliminates either noise/resistance in the tach as the issue, or noise/resistance from the sender.

If you search the web for RPM Signal Filter it leads me to believe the solution lies here somewhere.

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Terry
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 26 Apr 2017 02:40 #9

  • MonteVista
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I am not clear about exactly how you have connected the device to power. You say it "receives its power from NMEA 2000 network". I don't believe that is sufficient. There are two types of circuits inside such devices. One set of circuits is those that are native to the device itself, its own electronics; the circuits it needs to translate between different signals, re format those, etc. That set of the circuits must be powered separately, directly from the battery, not the N2K network. The other set of circuits are the interface circuits between the device and the N2K backbone; those circuits are powered from the N2K bus.

I would recommend doing both of the following;

1 - Provide an external 12v source to the device, as shown in the user's manual.

2 - Make sure that the T-connector linking the device to the N2K backbone is closest to where the backbone is connected to its 12v source; This minimizes the voltage drop between this device and othe NMEA components on the backbone.

Good luck.
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 26 Apr 2017 03:09 #10

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Monte Vista,

The RS11 does not receive power from the N2K circuit. It has it's own power connections. The N2K backbone on my boat also has it's own power source. This is not the issue. Having said that, analog to N2K converters have had issues in the past with accuracy. This was a result of different reference voltages: gauges vs. the power source for the box itself. To my knowledge this only applies to the analog senders/gauges: pressure, temperature, etc, and not pulse senders like the Cummins tach pickups.

Terry,

Taking the tachs out of the circuit is a good idea; I may try this. It may be worthwhile to contact Noland; we're probably not the first ones with the issue. I've found their tech folks to be very helpful.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 26 Apr 2017 03:12 #11

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Guys,

I have the noland rs-11 and tachs work perfectly. However, I have the Faria pulse sender at 4 ppr.

One of my analog inputs quit working, and the tech at noland emailed me back and quickly replaced the unit. Their service was very good, so at least they will help you work the problem. I found the tech to be very knowledgeable.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 26 Apr 2017 04:19 #12

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dpeery wrote: Guys,

I have the noland rs-11 and tachs work perfectly. However, I have the Faria pulse sender at 4 ppr.


Where are your senders attached? The senders on my engines are on the flywheel housing and send pulses for each tooth: 159 ppr.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 00:11 #13

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. . . . reading and listening with interest . . . . would like to do the same on my (soon-to-be) 454's EFI Mercs (1998 vintage) . .. :S

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 02:08 #14

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The hinos have a gear drive and a Faria 90901 sender

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 03:03 #15

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MonteVista wrote: I am not clear about exactly how you have connected the device to power. You say it "receives its power from NMEA 2000 network". I don't believe that is sufficient. There are two types of circuits inside such devices. One set of circuits is those that are native to the device itself, its own electronics; the circuits it needs to translate between different signals, re format those, etc. That set of the circuits must be powered separately, directly from the battery, not the N2K network. The other set of circuits are the interface circuits between the device and the N2K backbone; those circuits are powered from the N2K bus.

I would recommend doing both of the following;

1 - Provide an external 12v source to the device, as shown in the user's manual.

2 - Make sure that the T-connector linking the device to the N2K backbone is closest to where the backbone is connected to its 12v source; This minimizes the voltage drop between this device and othe NMEA components on the backbone.

Good luck.


Yes, it gets it's power from the NMEA2K bus. Here is the spec:

ELECTRIC SPECIFICATIONS
Tension 9-18V DC from the NMEA2000 bus
Consumption 150mA
Equivalent load 3 LEN as per NMEA2000

The device is powered correctly per their installation manual. Everything else works -- just not RPMs.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 18:21 #16

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Don't know if this will help but do you guys have Synch gauges? When I installed Aetna digital tachs in our previous Cummins 330 4788, they also weren't behaving correctly. Discussed with Aetna and they advised that the Synch gauge can affect the signal and advised to disconnect it (its superfluous with digital tacks anyway). After disconnecting the synch gauge the issues went away and tachs worked perfectly.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 21:32 #17

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WhiteRockMike wrote: Don't know if this will help but do you guys have Synch gauges? When I installed Aetna digital tachs in our previous Cummins 330 4788, they also weren't behaving correctly. Discussed with Aetna and they advised that the Synch gauge can affect the signal and advised to disconnect it (its superfluous with digital tacks anyway). After disconnecting the synch gauge the issues went away and tachs worked perfectly.


Thanks Mike. My boat does not have sync gauges.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 27 Apr 2017 23:58 #18

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TenMile wrote:

MonteVista wrote: I am not clear about exactly how you have connected the device to power. You say it "receives its power from NMEA 2000 network". I don't believe that is sufficient. There are two types of circuits inside such devices. One set of circuits is those that are native to the device itself, its own electronics; the circuits it needs to translate between different signals, re format those, etc. That set of the circuits must be powered separately, directly from the battery, not the N2K network. The other set of circuits are the interface circuits between the device and the N2K backbone; those circuits are powered from the N2K bus.

I would recommend doing both of the following;

1 - Provide an external 12v source to the device, as shown in the user's manual.

2 - Make sure that the T-connector linking the device to the N2K backbone is closest to where the backbone is connected to its 12v source; This minimizes the voltage drop between this device and othe NMEA components on the backbone.

Good luck.


Yes, it gets it's power from the NMEA2K bus. Here is the spec:

ELECTRIC SPECIFICATIONS
Tension 9-18V DC from the NMEA2000 bus
Consumption 150mA
Equivalent load 3 LEN as per NMEA2000

The device is powered correctly per their installation manual. Everything else works -- just not RPMs.


I am a bit surprised but will accept that this is the case. For example, a VHF unit that is capable of broadcasting at 25W to be powered via the N2K backbone surprises me, but I won't dispute that.

I still suspect that your problems may be due to voltage differences. When the rpm's go up the alternator's output and hence the battery voltage would be going up. I don't know how this is being compensated at the tach-sender output?

Good luck!
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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 08 May 2017 01:51 #19

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I was away for a while and did not watch the forum. Did this issue get resolved?> If not, going on my previous hunch, here is a suggestion for a test.

I suspect that the inaccuracy of the tach via N2K is due to a voltage issue. If so, one possibility is that as the engine speed increases the alternator brings the engine battery to a higher voltage while, if the N2K backbone is being powered via the house battery, the N2K base voltage remains unchanged. I would recommend that after the engine has been started you should combine the house and start batteries so that both the engine and the N2K backbone are powered via the same DC source. Of course this becomes unnecessary if you are using an ACR. It may not hurt to test/check.

Good luck.

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Failed: Alba-Combi - Analog Gauge to NMEA2000 installation 08 May 2017 03:38 #20

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Issue was never resolved. Got the guys who sold it to issue a refund for the device. Picked up a Noland RS11 (see other thread) and it works as expected.

PS I do have an ACR on the boat. I suspect that the Alba Combi was either faulty or just poorly designed. Either way, their technical support would not respond to requests for help so back it goes.

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Terry
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