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Old 04-23-2012, 05:57 PM   #15
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edsailing--thanks so much for your posts and help! It is good to see you back here on Cruiserlog. Do you have adventures to report? Please give us an update in the appropriate forum(s) here

Fair winds
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:28 PM   #16
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Default opening cm93 charts

Ed, many thanks indeed. Everything OK. Brilliant in fact. I owe you a meal should we ever meet up in our travels. I should have known this - I've been using computers long enough! An age thing!
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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Glad you got it fixed. I'm based in Exeter so I'll be able to wave as you past down the channel. Have a great time and don't be afraid to ask if you get stuck for anything.
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Old 04-24-2012, 04:40 PM   #18
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Wrinklies on tour! No house, no base, just an old Oyster and a load of stuff from our previous boat waiting for us in Malta - where it's sunny - so I'm told.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:02 PM   #19
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Understood - I've had my bus pass for a couple of years now!

Enjoy the sunshine.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edsailing View Post
I use a NASA AIS engine with OpenCPN (a great program) and CM93 charts - works great. I have used this for 20,000 miles or so.
Hi Ed,

Nice bit of kit, although dated now. The average desktop PC might still have serial ports but I haven't seen a laptop with anything except USB for years.

The OpenCPN site suggests this one:

Radar Gadgets - AIS marine radio receiver - Virtual Radar

which is cheaper, smaller and runs off the USB power.

Personally I already have one of these:

FUNcube Dongle | A radio that's out of this world!

and since it can receive anything from 50MHz to 2GHz I'll be writing an NMEA0183 interface and AIS decoder for it. I already wrote the main interface about a year ago, so the extra work won't be much effort. Should be a useful device aboard a yacht for many purposes.

By the way, I would never use USB for a critical application usually, but in this case there isn't much option. My GPS unit, for instance, has a Compact Flash interface and plugs in via a CF to PCMCIA adapter. A solid physical connection is therefore made at all times.

Cheers,

Rob
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:59 PM   #21
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You can hook up any serial device via USB these days. There's a little USB-to-Serial hardware bit. There's also a couple bits of free software drivers already out there to get a NMEA 0183 device to be read via that once you're set up.

You will need a separate VHF antenna for your AIS OR you'll have to use a costly high speed antenna splitter as the regular splitters won't work for an AIS system.

I'd be a little concerned about having my radio, ais and all via my computer. Computers can be flaky. I'd think you'd be better off having a stand alone AIS engine that could be put into computer, chart plotter or wherever.

I liked the little AIS dongle thing from the Radar Gadget site, however, in US$ it costs $179.00 and my entire VHF radio including AIS built in is only $229 (street price via GPS Store). You don't have to have a computer on to use the one built into the radio. Even if I wanted a "spare" AIS engine, I'd probably buy and keep a spare Standard Horizon Matrix GX2100 before I'd buy one of the gadget dongles since I'd be getting a spare radio as well.
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:16 PM   #22
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Yeah, I have a serial to USB converter - I agree with the comment about not keeping all your eggs in one basket...... one down, all out is not a good scenario.

I always have the owners chartplotters, gps etc - my kit is a back up and I have backups for most of the backups!
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:42 PM   #23
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Yea, we've got back ups to back ups. Some of them are a bit hokey in set up (e.g. we're keeping old equipment aboard "just in case") but they're "back ups", right?
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:01 PM   #24
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The display on a $229 AIS radio would be way too small for my eyesight, I prefer the 14" screen on my notebook. Besides, I can build a software defined radio with the performance of a $1000 commercial unit and already own the hardware. The notebook PC will also double as a ham radio decoder, TV, DVD player and CD player amongst other uses. All electronics becomes flaky in a marine environment so I'll be sure to keep it dry.

The Radar Gadgets dongle is UKP11 cheaper than the NASA engine and is smaller, uses less power and needs no external supply or serial adapter. Any AIS option will need a dedicated antenna unless it's a combined AIS radio with an inbuilt splitter. Of course Ed should use what he has, but for a new purchase it wouldn't be my choice.

I totally agree that redundancy is needed. To that end I plan to use the existing battery and solar panel for lights and engine starting only. I'll install a new battery, solar panel and controller specifically for navigation and comms. I also bought two 240V inverters, and two 12V-to-20V charger adapters for the notebook.

The GPS and navigation software will be a backup to paper charts, but I've been looking around for a low-tech monochrome GPS unit on eBay as well. I'll also have stand-alone HF and VHF radios as a minimum.

Can't be too careful.

Rob
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:47 AM   #25
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Understand about eyesight issues. I'm amazed at how useful this thing manages to be with its small screen and even smaller screen on the optional remote mike. Having said that--it does export the AIS signal to your chart plotter or computer (if you've got software to display it (e.g. the PolarView program can do so and I'd expect most good chart software to do so)). You just export the NMEA 0183 stream to your computer.

If you don't yet have a good marine VHF with DSC, there are a couple other competing radios with AIS built in and if purchased outside USA you can find one that is a transceiver (send and receive) whereas here until recently it was against the law for non-commercial vessels to transmit AIS. You might get one of these (more costly ones) that can transmit and receive.

GPS--yea, we've got an amazing number of back ups for GPS, actually... four sources at present--first is the puck style Garmin one which feeds the AIS it's GPS on the radio. Second is a different puck one which is used attached to a computer for charts if we'd like. Third is one we use alot--it is the one built into the little Nokia N810. Talk about low power use--I have a tiny little (maemo mapper) chart plotter in that little thing, hubby wrote an anchor watch program for it so I can keep it at the bedside and look at our swing whenever I'd like and have the alarm go off if we swing too far. The fourth source we've never even tapped into--it's the one in our Airmar mast top weather station.

We like to conserve energy. So, typically we're just running the VHF radio and the Nokia N810. We often put waypoints into the VHF radio's memory so that the person on watch can just look at the remote mic in the cockpit and see bearing/distance/eta to waypoint on the mic. Simple is good--especially on a dark and stormy night. When coastal cruising, every 1/2 hour the watch person updates the paper chart. The update is based on GPS coordinates on the 1/2 hour but we also use dead reckoning taking bearings from known landmarks/aids on the charts when we are close enough to one to do so--then verify that our DR is making sense using the GPS to back us up. We're always within a couple hundred miles of land. We have completed NO bluewater passages, so can only speak to coastal cruising. I would imagine when sailing far away from land, we'd lengthen the interval between chart updates to more appropriate timeframes.

We have multiple computers aboard--an emachines notebook, an old but tiny sony vaio notebook w/docking station (yep, has serial port and this is a "backup" computer), and a Shuttle SFF computer.

You are only interested in RECEIVING not transmitting on marine SSB? I would suggest that you consider investing in something which allows you communicate if you bother doing a radio beyond the VHF at all. Hubby loves software "things" e.g. oscilloscopes, radios, and so forth. I fully expected we'd have a soft radio. However, when push came to shove, Hubby said "let's get a regular SSB radio" and not be dependent upon a soft radio. So, we have a regular SSB radio and are glad to have it. Quick and easy to use. More redundancy--we've got two 3 band portable HAM radios as well. We have no soft-radio though since Hubby found the various hardware modules required for one (send and receive not just receive) to be more costly than he though worthwhile.

Fair winds,
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Old 06-17-2012, 02:26 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
You are only interested in RECEIVING not transmitting on marine SSB? I would suggest that you consider investing in something which allows you communicate if you bother doing a radio beyond the VHF at all. Hubby loves software "things" e.g. oscilloscopes, radios, and so forth. I fully expected we'd have a soft radio. However, when push came to shove, Hubby said "let's get a regular SSB radio" and not be dependent upon a soft radio. So, we have a regular SSB radio and are glad to have it. Quick and easy to use. More redundancy--we've got two 3 band portable HAM radios as well. We have no soft-radio though since Hubby found the various hardware modules required for one (send and receive not just receive) to be more costly than he though worthwhile.

Fair winds,
Don't know where you got that idea. I've had an advanced ham licence for years and intend to do the marine HF exam as well.

Being an electronics tech, my interests in gadgets are similar to your hubby. I'll be taking the CRO, various microprocessor development kits, spare parts, soldering iron and SMD heat gun. Never know, I might pick up some work repairing dud radios on the way around.

The SDR-1000 software defined ham transmitter (I was buyer #68, it covers from 500kHz to 50MHz) will be used mainly for entertainment, and possibly email with a software modem like Winmor ... to hell with the expense of Pactor! I also have a bid in on eBay right now for an old and venerable 10 channel HF marine rig with 130W output which should be adequate for marine nets and lesser emergencies that don't require hitting the EPIRB's button.

The bugbear is VHF where the value for money is poor. Lots of slick waterproof cases but I find them all too feature-rich and thus expensive ... then again I'm the sort that wants a mobile phone that is just a phone, and maybe a camera with Bluetooth, at most. An average VHF transceiver with DSC here is $250+ and AIS capable units have to be imported. If I could find a simple older unit I'd be happy to modify it to bring a tap out from the discriminator and generate AIS in software, the cheapest solution. Let's face it, once you get 10 nm offshore the thing is useless for comms anyhow, so it might as well be used for AIS.

I'm pretty sure that when I finally head off an IBM Lenovo notebook will be even cheaper than the $150 I paid for this one, so I'll get a second unit for backup.

The Funcube dongle mentioned previously is designed to receive satellite transmissions, and in fact it can be tuned continuously from 50MHz to 2GHz, so weather and time signals are not an issue no matter where I go.

Rob
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:56 PM   #27
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I was speaking to the funcube only--thinking "receive" humm....

Glad to hear that you're planning on transmit and receive w/soft radio.
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:56 PM   #28
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I was speaking to the funcube only--thinking "receive" humm....

Glad to hear that you're planning on transmit and receive w/soft radio.
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