Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Application: IOS and Android Devices
Function: Navico MFD chartplotter, autopilot
Cost: Free
Rating: ****

Navico is one of the major players in the marine industry when it comes to marine navigation, chartplotters, fishfinders and displays. The company includes the brands of Lowrance, Simrad and B&G.

If your a Simrad or Lowrance MFD (multifunction function display) owner with Touch capability there is some exciting news. Navico has just rolled out a new GoFree WiFi and Ethernet strategy for connecting and controlling their Touch MFD with both IOS and Android phones and tablets.

There are three parts to setting up your new network. First, you will need the free GoFree app. The IOS version is already available for download from the iTunes Store. The Android version is scheduled for a later release. The app basically connects through the device wirelessly and allows display and optional control of the MFD functions.

Second you will need to have a Simrad Touch screen MFD which is the NSS series.  The new Lowrance HDS Gen2 series of units is also compatible and will be available in 2013.  Older non Touch screen units will not be supported.

A software upgrade RTM version 2.5 for the Simrad NSS MFD will be available in November.  This upgrade will give you access to all the features of the MFD remotely.

The third part is the Simrad WIFI-1 router hardware and is expected to go on sale in November 2012 for $199.  This is not your typical WiFi router. It has the capability to transmit high bandwith images for sonar and radar. It is basically an onboard WiFi dedicated to wirelessly sharing the MFD data to remote devices.

The obvious questions is can we use our present onboard router to talk to the MFD displays?  The answer is yes, but is will not be encouraged by the manufacturer.  Obviously some capabilities will not be available.  The Touch MFDs already will allow NMEA 183 data to transferred to some data display apps that use TCP/IP.  iNavX, Coastal Explorer, SEAiq and iRegatta have the ability to set up TCP/IP links and display various NMEA 0183 data sentences.

Simrad is encouraging app developers to write apps for their products. They have released the GoFree Developers Tool Kit which is an open protocol and will allow developers access to all NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 data. The Toolkit includes protocols for 5 Tiers of data. Tier 1 is the NMEA 0183 data display, Tier 2 is for the Websockets CAN-Bus display and control. Tier 3 is MPEG4 video. Tier 4 is for custom radar and sonar. Tier 5 is FTP or similar file transfer of data. The specifications for Tier 1 and 2 protocols have been published and are available.

The matrix shows the MFD products, feature applications, software and availability.  It looks like you will have to be patient for some features with many slated for release in 2013.

Navico is certainly looking towards the future and allowing app developers to become involved in the process of pushing their products forward. It is an exciting time to be in the marine electronics industry!

~~~Sail On~~ /)


  1. When will the Android release be available so I can use my Nexus 7 to link via my Simrad WiFi to my NSS8?

  2. Same question.
    I wait for the Android version to buy the Gofree wireless hardware module.
    For the moment I just expect for the software.

  3. Android release ? When ?