Peplink BR1 Pro 5G network interfacing with Garmin MFD and other equipment?

Great article on the BR1 Pro 5G, it certainly looks like an awesome solution for an onboard network controller. However, before purchasing one I would like to work out how the BR1 Pro5G can take over from the Garmin 8616 and other equipment on my boat, so as to have a single SSID that can access all boat devices, services, and external www etc?

As an example, I have a garmin 8616 which hosts it’s own Wifi network and uses an oddball 172.16,XXX,YYY network address scheme. I think some of the garmin nodes are fixed IP address, some join the network and receive an erratic DHCP address (Like the Fusion 770, AMEC AIS, my iPhone and iPad etc). My case is a little more complex because I also have a garmin Ondeck hub, which takes over the wifi AP duties, perhaps DHCP also from the GPSmap 8616. There is currently no ability that I can see to have the garmin devices “join” another wifi network as clients.

There are some old tech discussions on a few forums, but nothing recent. As you have a good working system now I was wondering if you could work on making the Pro5G the singular WiFi SSID/AP on the boat, add see if you can get all the boats client devices like Garmin etc to join either via Cat-5 or wifi?

Failing that, is there a reliable way to join the two IP networks (say a generic 192. on the BR1PRO5G, and the 172.16 from Garmin)…and have the data from both visible via wifi clients from the BR1Pro5g.

Many thanks, Ryan

Garmin is a hard one. As you’ve determined, they control their networking very tightly. Furuno does something similar. It makes it very difficult to integrate it with other local networks and devices. I’ve had discussions with both of them, and their claim, which is not untrue, is that by doing this, they can provide a more reliable network experience and ensure that their devices always work as predictably as possible.

Having spent most of my career in networking, I can see how this can be true. There have been many times that I’ve traced down network issues to a particular device that has had a bad network stack or was misconfigured in some way. If that were to happen on marine networks, and devices stopped responding or acted poorly, you could potentially have an issue with navigation. I think there are a number of things marine electronics vendors could do to protect against this, but they are such a small market, and getting really good networking people on staff is unlikely.

I’ve tried a couple of approaches that work for different use cases.

One is to use a router to connect the network to your local boat network. You can use a feature like NAT to spin up an IP on the router interface that is on the network as a client. You could also do this with a computer with network connections on both your local network and the Garmin network along with forwarding rules.

Two is to use WiFi as WAN on Peplink to connect to the Garmin network as a client, and then create outbound rules to allow traffic to flow to through that connection only, and no internet connectivity. I seem to remember some challenges with this, but I think it could work.

I have a pair of 8212s on my Tiara with the volvo engine instrumentation embedded. Because the original owner did not buy the WiFi adapter to the Garmin network, I have no way of using Active Captain on my iPad or iPhone or even a laptop!. From your research and Steve’s reply it would seem that there might be a useable workaround! I have to wonder if I could configure a LAN port on the BR1PRO5G to have a different IP address (so to connect to Garmin) than the 2nd LAN port, which would be on the WiFi network internal to the boat. Leave Cellular to provide all Internet unless need to reconfigure for marina access when traveling.

Other ideas?

Thanks guys,
Capt Paul

Adding an AP to your setup should not be a problem, Garmin themselves offered a ubiquity AP for a few years before their MFD’s caught up to the 21st century.

I don’t have the details, but they are on a few posts, and some old Garmin installation docs, static IP address. The AP has to be setup correctly for the Garmin MFD to recognize it… Now the real question is whether a nice new cell router like pep wave 5G would work?? Let us know if you try…

Cheers Ryan

Using a LAN port off of the BR1 should be possible as long as you reverse engineer what IP address it should be configured as. Either set it up as DHCP, or try connecting something else and use that IP address. Then you can write some firewall rules, or just allow intra-VLAN routing, and perhaps add a NAT or something like that, and you should be able to get to the IPs of the Garmin stuff from clients on the local boat network. It will require some networking knowledge and trial and error. I’m pretty sure a NAT will be required which might get a little fiddly. I assume the Garmin stuff has no default route and expects the clients on the network to just talk directly with them.

I have some Garmin stuff on the new boat and can play around with it in January once I’m aboard.