Category: AIS

SRT acquires Class B AIS patent, consequences uncertain

Jul 1, 2015

SRT_Acquisition_of_Patent_release_clips_aPanbo.jpgFor me, this story began with a March 5th email titled "AIS patent wars - a tax on safety?" It referenced the SRT stock market announcement partially shown above and went on to say:

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SOTDMA Class B AIS, the "new" middle way?

Jun 25, 2015

SRT_5W_SOTDMA_AIS_Class_B_on_way_aPanbo.jpgIt may be a while before we see the first 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver actually available for sale, but it certainly is interesting to see a prototype trumpeted in SRT's Summer 2015 Pulse Newsletter (available here). Given SRT's main role as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), we may first see this "new" AIS technology -- perhaps with even more features -- branded as Simrad, Raymarine, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Comar, etc. (and/or marketed under SRT's own Em-Trak label). Or maybe Furuno, AMEC, Vesper or another of the independent AIS manufacturers will be first out with SOTDMA Class B? I don't know. More important is SOTDMA Class B as a new middle ground between the Class A AIS used on large vessels (which also works on the SOTDMA protocol) and the CSTDMA Class B technology that we're used to...

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Apple Watch boat applets, Pocket Mariner is raring to go

Apr 9, 2015


I find the Apple Watch fascinating, even if I have no plans to own one myself, and I encourage anyone else with an interest to read David Pierce's Iphone Killer: The secret history of the Apple Watch at for a deep look at what the obsessed designers were up to. The first hands-on reviews are coming out now, pre-orders start late tonight, and at least one boating apps developer will be ready to go when the watches release to the public on April 24...

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AMEC Camino 701 Class A AIS, first with a nearly complete NMEA 2000 interface

Mar 19, 2015

AMEC_Camino_701_Class_A_AIS_front_aPanbo.jpgThere are several reasons that a yacht or workboat might want to use an AIS Class A transceiver instead of Class B, even if they're not required to. With Class A you'll be seen by other boats from a greater distance because you'll be transmitting at 12W instead of 2, and you'll be tracked much more smoothly -- particularly if you're going fast and/or manuevering -- because the Class A update rate for dynamic data like position, speed, and heading is much more frequent than Class B. The problem is that the total install cost of Class A can be quite high and especially annoying on a modern boat with a NMEA 2000 network -- despite what you may have read on Panbo! -- because no Class A truly supported N2K until the AMEC Camino 701 came along (and it's not perfect yet)...

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More AIS in the USA, the new USCG requirements

Feb 3, 2015

USCG_AIS_Final_Rule_collage_cPanbo.jpgPlease credit the U.S. Coast Guard with a sense of humor. The (NOA and) AIS Final Rule may be a dry read, but not last week's email announcement, which began with the giddy declaration "4,232 days in the making!" I don't know why the rulemaking process took so long, and it may have been most frustrating for those who do, but I'll still be glad to have more of the commercial vessels working along our coasts equipped with AIS. It won't happen fast, though -- vessels newly required to carry Class A or B AIS transponders can take until March 2016 to install them -- and the number of such vessels seems uncertain...

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Real, Synthetic & Virtual AIS AtoNs, can you see them?

Jan 9, 2015

USCG_synthetic_AIS_AtoNs_New_York_on_MT_cPanbo.jpg One way to spend a frigid night in Maine is learning about AIS AtoNs, an electronic augmentation to the aids to navigation we commonly think of as nav buoys, lighthouses, beacons, etc. The US Coast Guard recently began a year-long experiment with AIS AtoNs in New York Harbor, and sure enough, there they are on Marine Traffic. MT is an imperfect tool for understanding what AIS AtoNs look like on our boat displays, but if you set up the Filter as I have above -- Show Ship Names on, all vessel types but Navigation Aids off -- you can see that they are now set up around many major U.S. ports and that we're behind much of the world. There are three major types of AIS AtoN, along with many nuances, and their capabilities seem impressive, though perhaps a little confusing or even scary for some mariners...

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METS 2014: AIS MOB, Class A N2K, Torqeedo app, Wave WiFi router & more

Nov 26, 2014

Last week there were two Panbots roaming the annual Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) floor. Henning Dürr and Kees Verruijt were there trying to find (some) of what was new and interesting. This first entry focuses on vendors that Henning visited.

mets2014_ocean_signal aPanbo.jpg

AIS MOB devices were once called Personal AIS SARTs and are the baby brothers to commercial lifeboat AIS SARTs, but with lower requirements for range and operating hours. The advantage is that they can be made smaller, small enough to be carried by individuals. Since both device classes are relatively new, older displays capable of AIS targeting don't necessarily handle this type of AIS well (good behaviour illustrated here). Additionally AIS MOB beacons are not yet part of the official GMDSS, so officially the world wide SAR operations do not need to react to them and/or may not have the equipment to use them. Ocean Signal and Weatherdock showed new models with a DSC twist that aims to fix this -- as was discussed here on Panbo in 2012.

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MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

Oct 5, 2014


Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on the deck pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say, "Well, that is cool!" when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old-fashioned method of listening to the changing vent gurgles...

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Vesper XB-8000 test, much more than a Class B AIS transponder

Mar 30, 2014

XB-8000-3-in-one-800.jpgI've had a Vesper XB-8000 installed in the lab for the last month, and I'm confident that it will do well in a long test on board Gizmo beginning in May. I will miss some features of the Vesper Vision I tested last season, but having the blue box installed behind the scenes will help me test the glass bridge concept (one MFD brand, many screens), and at $799 I think the XB-8000 is a multifunction value that could work on a wide variety of vessels. The recent testing also revealed some new features that apply to both the XB and the Vision as Vesper continues to expand on the concepts expressed in the 3-in-1 diagram above...

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The new MarineTraffic Internet AIS service, cautiously optimistic

Mar 6, 2014


These days I feel obliged to include a warning every time I write about AIS over the Internet. What you see in a nice app like ShipFinder HD (above) probably does not include every vessel that's transmitting AIS info even in fairly well covered areas like the Miami/Lauderdale area, and many areas aren't covered at all...unless perhaps you're using the Seapilot app in Sweden or somehow have access to another well-organized AIS receiver system. That's because what most of us see on computers, phones or tablets connected to the web is target data collected by patchy networks of volunteers, whose shore antennas may well miss even fairly nearby 2 Watt Class B AIS transmissions or even 12 Watt Class A signals obscured by buildings or terrain (or may suddenly go offline just because the volunteer's kid trips on a power cord or something similar).

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