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Old 01-11-2006, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default AIS

I've searched this site for anything on AIS (Automatic Identification System) without success. Am hoping others out there have some experience to share.

I've recently install and AIS listening system and have described it at http://yachtvalhalla.net/projects/ais/ais.htm

Two real life experiences I've had are at:

http://yachtvalhalla.net/adventures/...s/nearmiss.htm

http://yachtvalhalla.net/adventures/gemini/gemini.htm

Terry
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Old 01-11-2006, 06:36 PM   #2
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Terry, I am very impressed Once money is available I am intending to upgrade the electronics on my boat and will come back to your web site to try and copy what you've done. Thanks for sharing!!!

Rod
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Old 01-11-2006, 06:48 PM   #3
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Hi Rod,

Thanks mate.

I believe AIS availability to yachts is in its infancy and by the time you get the money together I expect much more sophistication and probably not much more in price.

Good luck and happy sailing.

Terry
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Old 01-11-2006, 07:36 PM   #4
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Rod, Terry & the group:

At the last London Boat Show (Jan 2005) and having seen NASA's stand-alone AIS hardware, I went to each of the major electronics mfgrs at the show and asked about their plans for passive AIS units. Without exception they all said they had a prototype in development and without exception they said it was not slated for production in the short-term. What I think that really means (it was, after all, salesmen talking...) is that these companies are monitoring the level of interest for this kind of unit in the marketplace and will adjust the priority on their R&D effort based in part on how much demand there is.

It's also reasonable to expect that some mfgrs will be motivated to intro a unit sooner than others because of their regional market shares. E.g. Garmin is working hard to have a bigger presence in Europe but, for now, is not a key player there. Simrad OTOH plays to a European market...and there's probably no other place on earth where AIS would be better used by yachtsmen than in the North Sea, English Channel and the Atlantic Coast of Europe.

So...speak up when attending a boat show, let your local dealer know you have an interest, and monitor the level of use among your fellow yachties.

Jack
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Old 01-11-2006, 08:09 PM   #5
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Excellent point, Jack, about talking with the boat show people.

I attended the December 2005 boat show in Phuket, Thailand and unfortunately got a few blank stares when I mentioned AIS and the others said 'we're working on it'. Not too impressive.

And, as Holger at Y-tronic just wrote me "Just imagine what would be possible if AIS could interface with DSC.... (unfortunately DSC units to not support external input for making calls)".

We can always hope.

Terry
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Old 01-11-2006, 09:40 PM   #6
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For a cheap way to get AIS now, check out www. shipplotter.com.

They sell AIS software that turns the sound card of your laptop into a decoder, and will plot ships' positions. All you need is a scanner or VHF receiver you don't mind opening up and tapping into the circuit board. (I used my old vhf when I replaced it; there are probably lots of junked VHFs with perfectly good receivers lying around).

I have tried it; it works.
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Old 01-11-2006, 10:42 PM   #7
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Terry,

Thanks for the great info!!! The information, and practical experience, will help us in our selection.

Ken
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Old 01-12-2006, 01:13 AM   #8
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Terry, the NASA AIS unit I've seen was showing a selected vessel's MMSI number, which should make a DSC call possible. Is that not true on the software you are using? Of course, the designated vessel's name is also shown, which makes haling via VHF at least more promising than a blind call (language and radio watch issues notwithstanding).

Jack
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Old 01-12-2006, 06:42 AM   #9
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Jack,

Yes, all of the display programs show the MMSI number (when it has been properly entered by the transmitting vessel) and you can key this number into a DSC unit and make a direct call.

What Holger at Y-tronic has in mind for the Yacht-AIS software is to be able to click on a vessel's symbol, select a working channel, and pick up the handset letting the software do the rest. Would be very convenient in a time-sensitive situation.

Sorry for the poor description :0)

Terry
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:15 PM   #10
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Here's one other AIS possibility that Ocean Navigator recently spelled out: using it to provide virtual buoyage in coastal waters. For those of us occasionally cruising in poorer countries which can not afford the lay & maintain buoys & other nav aids, it is possible to place a relatively simple shore station at some elevation above the coast and transmit navigational data which would essentially place extensive virtual buoys in appropriate places to mark sea lanes, port channels and even 'mark' buoys around a grounded or sunken vessel. This capability is being developed for use by the USCG in the Miami, FL USA area for another reason: to compensate for a transiting commercial vessel that has lost its AIS transponder. USCG radar can detect the vessel, determine its transponder is not operating and initiate a 'false' signal that transmits nav data on behalf of the vessel.

Jack
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Old 01-16-2006, 06:45 AM   #11
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The Yacht-AIS Pro program has just been updated with

some new features. These are described in an update

at http://yachtvalhalla.net/projects/ais/ais.htm

The Y-tronic folks are very receptive to suggestions

for improvement from users. Very refreshing!
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Old 01-16-2006, 08:26 PM   #12
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Terry, I wonder if you could clarify one thing for us re: using Yacht-AIS. I looked at your newest additions to your report and the impression I have, and which I'd appreciate you confirming, is that Y-AIS runs separately from your nav software and therefore you must 'toggle' or switch between the chart display on your laptop and the AIS display on your laptop. True? If so, I'd welcome a comment from you about how you weigh this change from a practical standpoint (i.e. losing the 'on the chart' AIS data display but gaining the value of a more functional AIS program).

While this borders on 'thread drift', I'd like to add that reading these incremental reports is helpful because it highlights a problem those of us who cruise widely (vs. staying within one region) and on a budget have WRT electronic charting. Once outside USA waters (for which current electronic charts are now free), it always seems to be a challenge to find chart files that are affordable and also run on a navigation program that is affordable. Our experience is similar to yours: we can use freeware or low-cost nav software but find limited charts at reasonable cost, we can use old/free vector charts & nav program (the now elderly CMap Nav program and the CM93 vector charts, which they refuse to license or update, based on my conversations with them at the London Boat Show), or one can spend a surprising amount of money buying unlock codes while moving one region to another. Once you include the desire to add AIS functionality to your charting software, this just narrows the field in yet another way. (I also don't find scanning paper charts for use by a program like Sea-Clear is practical for us nor do we have a scanner, which further restricts our options).

Given the above, one of the benefits of Y-AIS (if I'm correct that it runs independently from the nav software) is that one doesn't have to worry about compatibility with one's navigation software, at least for now. This is helpful since the whole nav software industry seems to be in a state of flux, and one can wait to see what might be better value in a year or two and also compatible with an AIS receiver like the NASA unit.

Thanks for being our R&D Department out there. <g>

Jack
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:13 AM   #13
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FWIW, the Shipplotter.com software will plot both your position and AIS information on the same chart, using the SeaClear (freeware) navigation program as on overlay.

SeaClear uses raster based charts; it is compatible with the free US .bsb charts.

Also, 1yachtua.com has a bunch of inexpensive, downloadable raster charts for various parts of the world. They offer SeaClear versions (though in one case, the calibration of the chart was way off, and I can't vouch for the calibration of all of their charts).

I may sound like a broken record for Shipplotter, but I really don't have an interest in them (actually, used their demo version and still haven't got around to buying the paid version yet). It looks like good, functional software, at a very attractive price.

--Karl

SV Mabel Rose
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:29 PM   #14
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Jack,

Yes, and no.

Yes, the Yacht-AIS software can run independently from other programs. You can let it run in the background while using other programs and, if you have the guard zone set and/or are on a collision course a warning signal will sound (independent of your PC volume setting!) and you can toggle to it (Alt-Tab) to see what's happening.

In my case, no, it isn't completely independent. I have the Furuno GPS feeding the blue wire of the Nasa Engine which multiplexes the 4800 location data with the 38400 AIS data. This data stream is fed to the Yacht-AIS program and, with the Pro version, outputs the location data to another com port. Using a vurtual null modem program a pair of ports are created and one of these takes the output of the Yacht-AIS program and the other one feeds my Sea Clear II program. I use a split screen display to show the Sea Clear screen above the Yacht-AIS screen. I still like the radar type display but the Sea Clear gives the terrestial perspective.

In addition my GPS feeds, with hardwiring from the same output, the Raymarine autopilot and another com port. I use this other com port for the MaxSea program that displays the cm93 charts, ver 2002, which you point out are no longer supported. These are the best ones to use for Southeast Asia since the raster scan charts for this area aren't good enough (yet?) for detailed navigation or the ones that are available are very expensive.

Clear as mud?

Terry
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