Sunday, June 8, 2014

Keeping the legacy alive, installing the Raystar 130

It was dead period. No pulse, and its faded chalky pallor were indicators it had joined thems what's dearly departed. Its destiny is a pauper's landfill grave gently swathed in a plastic garbage bag along with the remnants of last nights Chinese food take out dinner.

The Raymarine classic C-80 is still in mourning, and something has to be done. It's currently a really expensive repository of non-moving electronic charts. There are two things that have to be considered. The old Raystar 120 GPS needs to be replaced, and whatever is selected, we have to install.

There are two good scenarios available to the owner, one being more expensive than the other. Our C-80 can use either a NMEA 0183 output GPS engine, or we can use Raymarine's Raystar 130 NMEA 2000 version with an adapter to convert it to the legacy Seatalk format.

The least expensive route is to get a NMEA 0183 output GPS. In round numbers a decent unit will cost somewhere between $150 to $200 bucks. If you shop till you drop there are less expensive options available, but they may require some creativity to install.

So if this is the cheapest way to go, why isn't this fix a no brainer? It's a good question but there are other things to mentally masticate on. One is it has to be installed and connected to the NMEA 0183 input, and we only have one. 

Regardless of what system you have, a NMEA input may not be easily available (multiplexer usage possible at more expense, batteries not included). The C-80 only has one NMEA 0183 input (happy green and white wires) and it might already be in use. It's a prudent boater who checks this out first before spending the dinero. The not so prudent boater may end up selling a slightly used GPS on eBay.

The second thing to consider is our C-80 although working well now is long in the tooth. Although it usually can still be repaired it has opted to sign a DNR and save its kin folks the pain of a long and lingering passing. So what if it passes next week? The owner will let it join the Raystar 120 in its austere resting place and go buy a new system. What then do you use your newly installed NMEA slow as molasses in January 4800 baud 0183 GPS for? It's now the proverbial tits on a boar.

Option two costs a bit more. The Raystar 130 and the SeatalkNG to old style Seatalk converter can be bought bundled together (T-70133). Prices vary, but this one cost about $365. 

The big plus is this is usable on not only a new Raymarine system but if you add an adapter cable it's good on almost anyone's new system. It's also simpler to install as we will see.

The picture of the Seatalk converter bits you see above isn't quite correct. The Seatalk output cable comes with the old style Seatalk plug attached. This would be good news if I could use it, but I can't and surgically amputate it.

Installation of this kit is very simple. Mount the interface block in a convenient location. Plug the red/black cable into a white socket and connect it to ship's power. Plug the RS 130's antenna cable into the other white socket. Put the two termination resistors into the blue sockets, and plug the seatalk output cable into the yellow socket. Then find the seatalk wire the original antenna was connected to. Just reconnect the the new cable to the old cable. There are only three wires, Red, (power) Yellow (data) and Bare (ground).

The summary goes something like this. For a few more dollars you get a faster and more up to date GPS, and there is now a NMEA 2000 (SeatalkNG) backbone installed and ready for newer tech. In our case there is some minor legacy related nuance. The C-80 will not display the satellite position or signal strength bars, and never will. It had its last software upgrade some time ago. It does show you the HDOP (Horizontal Dilution Of Precision) value, and WAAS is automatically enabled. You don't need to turn on the differential feature.

I guess there was a third option available. You could leave a bottle of bourbon, and a gun with a single bullet next to the console overnight and see if the C-80 wil do the honorable thing so you can buy that new Ray e125 MFD.


  1. Slippery slope, the e125 likely requires a newer radar scanner than the one currently servicing the C80. Then possibly a new NavPod as well! I have the perfectly functional, integrated C80, and opted to install an RS130, when my RS125 began experiencing Daija Vu, and reporting tides and currents decades out of date.

  2. Thanks for making me aware of an alternative! I'm curious though; my C80 has both a dedicated NMEA I/O port and an "old-style" SeaTalk port so the cable you cut appears to be just what I'd need. My C80 also displays satellite status. How old was this C80 you were working with?

  3. Dave, both the C and E display satellite status only if it's coming from a Ray legacy original Seatalk GPS. If it's being imported via NMEA 0183, or via SeatalkNG (N2K) it accepts the position data but the software regardless of level can't display the satellite status.

    Jim, you're right about the slippery slope. I always suggest people keep their legacy gear running as long as possible, while thinking about what you will buy when a major system element ends up in hospice.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. Is it also true that the Raystars all eventually die due to a non-replaceable CMOS battery?

    1. The battery is designed to retain data pertaining to the last GPS position fix to minimize the time to fix when next powered on. I've easily replaced the battery on my Raystar 125 (Lithium CR2032). When you open the unit, you will find an o-ring which seals the sensor. Simply ensure that the o-ring remains in place when reassembling the sensor. I lightly coated mine with silicone grease to hold it in place in the groove and to ensure a water tight seal.
      Note: The older Raystar 120 has a soldered battery

    2. how do you open the raystar 125 unt as it is sealed. Or doues appear to be

  5. I just pulled out Raystar 120 NMEA that after 10 years was suddenly getting no fix to my C80. Took it to Battery store to have them replace lithium battery. $5 dollars later for battery and labor I reinstalled GPS and Lo and behold I got a fix! Hopefully I bought a couple of years to figure out my replacement system. I would definitely recommend the replacement battery route as a first step.

  6. I'm going thru a new RS130 gps on my seatalk network. The old cable has 5 to we attach to the seatalkng cable which has only red,black,bare?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Ed and Linda. I'm assuming you have a legacy Seatalk system and old old GPS was something on the order of a Raystar 125. It had five wires, red, black, yellow, green and brown. You exisitng Seatalk network wires are red, yellow, and black What you do is buy the Raymarine part number E22158 which will let the 130 GPs connect to your network. it sells for about $90 online. It's a case of old tech meets new tech.

    2. Hi Bill
      Thank you for your reply.
      I did buy the part to connect my 130 GPS to my Seatalk network.

      I connected the five wires to the 3 wire Seatalkng cable...yellow to yellow, red&green to red, brown & ground to ground.

      It does power up and function, but I have not yet connected a 12v source to the converter.
      I see you connected a separate 12v to the I disable somehow the power from the Seatalk?

      Thanks for your help.

    3. Oh... I think I have it...I disable power to the seatalk then supply power thru the conversion kit right?

  7. Hi Ed, that should do the trick. The Ray Classic MFD supplied power to the Seatalk network, but sometimes it wasn't enough. If I'm guessing right from the colors you had a Raystar 125 GPS and the red wire went straight to 12VDC ships power. In this case connect the SeatalkNG red/black power wire to 12VDC ships power along with its ground. Cut the Seatalk red Seatalk wire going to the MFD so only the yellow and black are connected to it. The point is to have only one 12VDC source powering the networks.


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