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Garmin 4212 won't talk to my TR-1 Autopilot

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Garmin 4212 won't talk to my TR-1 Autopilot

Old 03-02-2013, 02:57 PM
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Default Garmin 4212 won't talk to my TR-1 Autopilot

I have a Garmin 4212 which is linked to my Garmin TR-1 A/p through the usual NMEA 0183 wiring. I am also running a GSD 22 Sounder Module and a GPS17x antenna. Everything is wired as NMEA 0183 because that is really the only option with the TR-1. I did the installation about 4 years ago and everything worked just fine. I could select a point on the Plotter, tell it to navigate to it and tell the autopilot to go there too. Fast forward to about a year ago and suddenly the autopilot started saying it was not getting nav data and couldn't go to a given point.

The first thing you figure is that one of those micro wires in the 0183 harness is broken, so I checked all the wires and terminals. My original VHF did not have the transmit location data feature, so I could not use it to confirm that the 4212 was actually outputting the required position data, so bought a newer Icom VHF and installed it with the NMEA 0183 input connected, hoping that it would confirm that NMEA data was being transmitted. But, all it said was "I have no idea where I am." One other item of note: After the poblem started, the autopilot could take over and steer the heading you were on if you asked it to, it did so on a slight zig zag course, with the helm turning back and forth constantly, like there was a drunk at the helm.

The next check was to borrow another 4212 and put it on the boat. Same result - no navigate to a point, zig zag steering, no data to the VHF. A lot of work for nothing, eh? So, I replaced that 18 or 19 pin NEMA wiring harness with a new one from Garmin, which only confirmed that the old one was just fine, resulting in only more frustration. So what now? For all practical purposes, I live on a desert isle as far as marine electronics are concerned.
There is no one here capable of diagnosing the problem and Garmin's phone support has been sad. I asked if I could send them the 4212 and have them simply verify the NMEA output, but they only exchange the units - they do not check or repair them.

So, in a wild search for some sort of fix, my next plan of action is to convert most of the system to NMEA 2000 by replacing the GPS 17X antenna with the 2000 version, and setting up a small 2000 network which will consist of the antenna, the 4212 and the Garmin 200 VHF. If the VHF confirms position data, I'll know the 4212 is transmitting it in the 2000 format. That will leave my GSD22 and TR-1 wired as 0183 devices, but since the 4212 is supposed to be able to run both 2000 and 0183 at the same time, everything should work. Any bets?
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:04 PM
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if you're not getting gps on your vhf then you have a problem. the auto pilot will use the same gps info to steer. I would dissconnect the pilot. and work on getting gps info to your vhf. if you're tryed another screen and cable. then either the line going to the back could be shorted / bad etc (which is why I said disconnect it near the plotter to get vhf going) or your connections are wrong.

if it worked for years and then stoped. I'm thinking maybe the cable from plotter to pilot is damaged. if it is shorted, you won't get info on your vhf either.


other options are if nmea 183 sentance output settings where changed in the plotter. but since you tryed another unit I would doubt that. and probably not something you would have played with
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:44 PM
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That's a good thought, so I hopped on the boat and disconnected the 0183 cable from the back of the 4212. I then took my brand new 0183 cable, attached it to the the 4212 and hooked up only the grey and pink to the Garmin 200 VHF . The VHF has very clear labeling for the 0183 input and I did it per the instructions.

Net result: No Change.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:06 PM
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Have you done any resets lately? On most of the garmin stuff you have to actually turn on the nmea 183 RX TX. Is there a way it could have gotten turned off? You can go in the menu and find where the NMEA networking is and make sure it is turned on.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:32 PM
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I don't think I've ever had to do a reset, but I do keep up on the software updates, which were done within the last month. I've also verified that all of the output sentences are on and the ports are all set to NMEA standard. The only option there is to set them to NMEA high speed.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:09 PM
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other then wrong connections and wrong port settings I'm not sure what would be going wrong.

if you have a laptop with a serial port, or a usb to serial adatper, and hyperterminal program (comes in xp, but not in windows 7) you can connect pins 2 and 5 from the serial port (you can buy a serial cable and cut it) to the CP cable. pin 2 tx and pin 5 ground. 4800 baud in hyperterminal. and see if anything shows up comming from the chart plotter. I've had so so results with the usb atapters though. finally went and bought an old used laptop with a serial port couple months back for testing stuff.


which model vhf do you have? and which color wires are you currently connecting on both sides? maybe someone on here should confirm which wires should be going to where incase you're crossing something up.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:33 AM
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The VHF is a Garmin 200. The NMEA 0183 data cable has only four wires and those wires are clearly tagged with the color coding. It also has a NMEA 2000 port to allow it to be cabled to a NMEA 2000 network or backbone.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:52 AM
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so you're go plotter grey to vhf purple, plotter pink to grey ? and port 1 is set to nmea standard. and your ploter is getting a gps position from the antena?

if not working, try fliping the colors backwards and see what happens. (no harm can be done)


I see a possible problem later. since the radio seems to be 422, and the pilot is probably 232. but that is no reason why the vhf isn't working with the pilot dissconnected. you might have to use each on it's own port later though once you get it figured out.
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