Panbo

Raymarine AIS plotting, "buddies" & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 8, 2009
Raymarine_AIS_display.JPG

If I understand the timing correctly, about when Raymarine starts shipping its new AIS 500 Class B transponder in May, it will also offer software updates for A, C, E, and G Series MFDs that provide some AIS plotting improvements. On top of the list is "buddy tracking", which I consider a valuable feature, though the term -- used by several manufacturers -- is a bit misleading. The idea is that when you see an AIS target that you might see again, and care about -- be it a friend, or a local fishing boat that sometimes seems like it's driven by zombies -- you can save its name and MMSI in a little database kept by your MFD or charting software. Then...

Whenever that saved "buddy" is picked up by your AIS receiver or transponder again, its target icon is highlighted to let you know it's a familiar vessel.  And if you have your target plotter set to show vessel names -- or if you query the target -- the buddy's name (and maybe other static data) will be there instantly, because it's in the database and hence your receiver doesn't have to wait up to six minutes for the target to transmit the AIS static data message.  Ray's buddy feature should work with any AIS target input, but I'm not so sure about the AIS status icons seen on the screen below; i.e. I'm not sure that a Raymarine MFD will be able to tell if another brand's Class B transponder is in silent mode or not.  But I am sure that lots of boaters currently using AIS on Ray MFDs will be pleased that they're apparently cleaning up their AIS alarms.
   I'm also glad to see that the AIS 500 manual is already up. This is one versatile Class B, though I did notice that the VHF antenna splitter loss values are "Receive: < 4 dB" and "Transmit < 1 db" and the manual warns that users will hear a slight interuption when the transponder transmits. (I think antenna splitters are best used with a backup VHF.)  Comparing the install instructions on how to best use the two four-wire plugless NMEA 0183 "ports" (one regular speed and one high) versus how to use the SeaTalkNG port (just plug it in!) is another reminder of how worthwhile it is to switch your boat to NMEA 2000. But I did hear in Miami that Raymarine had to write a proprietary PGN because apparently NMEA is just now adopting its standard AIS PGNs to include good old message 24.  (Ray said they'd drop the proprietary message as soon as possible.)   I've yet to see AIS targets coming in over NMEA 2000, but am looking forward to it, as well as a rapidly growing number of Class B targets in the USA.

Raymarine_AIS_status_icons.JPG 

Comments

Ben, I think the icons are for "your" AIS status, it seems to be a "closeup" of the upper corner of the C/E series screen where status icons for all of the major connected sensors/transponders normally appear.

I've preordered an AIS500 for the new boat and will share my results when it comes in, as the new boat will hopefully launch right around the time the AIS shows up.

Posted by: Mark at April 9, 2009 10:27 AM | Reply

Mark, I realize that the icons indicate status of the AIS receiver or transponder that's hooked to the Raymarine MFD. What I don't know is if it can detect silent mode in an attached transponder that's made by some other company (which should work fine otherwise).

Navagear has more on AIS 500 multiplexing:

http://www.navagear.com/2009/04/raymarine-class-b-ais-with-multiplexing/

Posted by: Ben at April 10, 2009 4:32 PM | Reply

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