Originally released in 2013 as a way to open up chart plotters to application developers the strategy has been expanded to include three levels:
- Data interchange between the MFD and other Ethernet capable devices such as tablets and computers. Three tiers exist: NMEA0183, NMEA2000 over JSON and full integration. The NMEA 0183 downlink allows tablets and PCs to access basic information such as GPS position, wind and depth information and AIS data. The NMEA2000 over JSON allows more detailed information, and also allows basic control over the system. There is a free SDK available for apps developers. Tier 3 allows video, radar and sounder integration but requires a license from Navico, costs of which have not been disclosed.
- Remote display and control. This allows a tablet or smartphone that can run the Simrad/Lowrance/B&G GoFree app to show and control the display of the MFD. Early non-touch devices that did get this update as well as smartphones only allow remote view. Touch devices in combination with a 7" or larger tablet allows control of the screen as well.
- Software and chart downloads and updates from the GoFree Shop over the internet.
Adding WiFi to the Navico Ethernet networkTo facilitate the GoFree capabilities there is a Navico branded WiFi router, the GoFree WIFI-1. The WIFI-1 has the advantage that you can set it up from the MFD (without a computer or tablet) and that it is a fully supported solution.
If you are computer savvy you can also use a standard WiFi router, but if that does not work Navico will not provide support on the GoFree aspects of your installation, or even all Internet Protocol aspects such as the connection to a radar or sounder module.
The latest Lowrance HDS Gen3 devices come with a builtin WiFi router/access point, so that devices supports all GoFree functionality without any extra hardware.
Support in different generationsThe support for the different GoFree capabilities depends on the hardware generation that you own and which software version is installed in the device.
- Devices that were latest gen in early 2013 support GoFree level 1: Data interchange.
- Touch screen devices support GoFree level 2: Remote display and control.
- Touch screen devices that were latest gen in late 2014 support GoFree level 3: Software and chart downloads.
The table below shows the support level. A numeric value is the lowest software update version that supported the version. This will link to the download page for that release or sometimes a later one (as Navico only provides access to the latest version.)
|Simrad NSO evo2||Yes||Yes||3.0|
|Simrad NSS evo2||Yes||Yes||2.0|
|B&G Zeus Touch||Yes||Yes||No|
|Lowrance HDS Gen2||2.0||2.0 (view)||No|
|Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch||2.0||2.0||4.0|
|Lowrance HDS Gen3||Yes||Yes||1.5|
This table is correct as far as I have been able to ascertain. Please contact me if you find any mistakes in the support levels.