DY AISnet, making a good thing easy

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 1, 2010
Digital Yacht NetAIS.jpg

Another show, another nifty AIS appliance from Digital Yacht.  Following the introduction of the iThing-friendly iAIS receiver in Southampton, DY showed up at NMEA with the AISnet receiver above.  It's a pretty obvious concept, but I don't think it's been done before, and it could encourage a nice proliferation of land-based AIS stations flowing target data onto the web...

So for $500, plus a VHF antenna and minor installation, any marina or good samitaritan with a sea view and an always-on Internet connection can become part of the global network that's making AIS info available at sites like MarineTraffic and many others, without the need to leave a PC on.  But note that the AISnet has a USB port in addition to Ethernet, so the owner can access the target feed directly with any sort of AIS-plotting software, including DY's own AISlite, which comes with.
   Of course there are several utility programs already available that will put AIS receiver data coming into a PC onto the Web, and I've been meaning to try them, but this sure looks easier to set up and run 24/7.  DY's US distributor told me that they'll even pre-configure a unit to output to MarineTraffic and/or other sites so the install will be plug and play (though the AISnet also comes with a small program for doing this).  Mind you, the more receivers there are out there, the more likely a boater can check that his own transponder-equipped vessel is OK at her slip or mooring, or watch a transponder-equipped friend cruise the coast.  And while the primary purpose of installing a transponder is collision avoidance, being seen on the web is significant additional incentive for many.  More AIS web coverage equals more AIS transponders?
   And whereas I happen to be waiting for AIS seminar right now, I know about yet another AIS appliance that Digital Yacht might consider adding to the growing collection seen below (or any other company, like, say, L3 Protec).  Jorge Arroyo just told me that the U.S. Coast Guard is very close to the point where it will permit private parties like marinas and yacht clubs to establish shoreside AtoNs broadcasting real time weather and/or tide level AIS messages.  And I don't think there's any reason why that transponder device can't also put its data and local traffic onto the Web, AISnet style.  Isn't that an interesting opportunity for coastal organizations to promote themselves a bit while also offering useful info to their members/clients and others?

Digital Yacht at NMEA.JPG


There is of course Marinetraffic.com as you said and a couple of other sites that do AIS traffic, this could be very useful as a feed to that sort of a site,and of course if area sites were set up even more useful, but I would worry a little about the age of the data, as it's always going to be behind real time..but good luck to MES/DY all the same, it's innovative. I wonder how long it will be before Internet does become part of GMDSS?


Posted by: steverow at October 1, 2010 4:42 PM | Reply

Not a new product by far and expensive

see http://www.katas.co.uk/ theres is about 195 pounds of about 250 dollars
There are several other manufacturers of land bases ais receivers as well see http://www.coaa.co.uk/shipplotter.htm

This type of stuff ( user contributed AIS data) is quite big in Europe


Posted by: Dave at October 1, 2010 5:03 PM | Reply

Thanks, Steve, and maybe I should clarify that AIS target data put on the Internet is NOT meant for collision avoidance. But I don't think many people are using it that way. Web AIS is for tracking friends, watching megayachts, stuff like that.

I suppose you could view nearby AIS targets with a smartphone Web AIS viewer app, but only if there is a local Internet listening station and the phone's getting data, and it's an awfully roundabout and unreliable way to get data that you could reliably get with an inexpensive AIS receiver or, better yet, a transponder.

Posted by: Ben at October 1, 2010 5:07 PM | Reply

Steve, I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Why would the Internet AIS data be behind real time? Or do you mean just the seconds it takes to collect, transmit to MarineTraffic (or wherever) and publish?


Posted by: Adam at October 1, 2010 5:11 PM | Reply

Thanks, Dave, but those seem to be regular AIS receivers that can only output data to the Web via a computer.

Adam, I agree that there's no reason for Web data to be delayed significantly, but some AIS viewing sites delay it quite a bit due to privacy/security concerns.

Posted by: Ben at October 1, 2010 5:15 PM | Reply

OK Ben hope you're having a good time there.
No, of course I didnt mean to imply that it could be used as CA but if it was local and undelayed then that might be a near possibilty...and anyway it's yet another useful stream of data. Yep the English Channel Data FI is delayed quite significantly for precisely that reason, but shipping companies have access to fleet tracking services where it's not far off real time, by subscrpition and security systems.


Posted by: steverow at October 1, 2010 6:32 PM | Reply

Ben, Steve:

Delaying AIS data makes no sense to me. It's publicly broadcast over the air, for goodness sake. I would think that any AIS mapping site that delayed publishing data would fairly rapidly get arbitraged out of existence. As devices like the one above demonstrate, if necessary it would be cheap to set up a private data collection network if the "big" players were not willing to share a real-time stream.


Posted by: Adam in reply to Ben at October 1, 2010 6:44 PM | Reply

Speaking of big players, I wonder now how long it will be before this AIS data -- ships, AtoN, all of it -- shows up as a Google Earth overlay?

Posted by: Adam at October 1, 2010 6:47 PM | Reply

I see Ben , directly connected to the tracking sites, wonder what sites they support, theres very little real info on the DY web site.

"Yep the English Channel Data FI is delayed quite significantly for precisely that reason"

Steve , AIS over the internet is not time delayed, its collected and fed to free web sites straightaway and displayed. That comments came from commercial sites like AISlive ( I think when they started off) . Theres no delay over the internet, how could there be.


Posted by: Dave at October 1, 2010 7:58 PM | Reply

Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act in the UK it is actually Illegal to "listen in" to AIS or any Radio Communication that is not deemed public or intended for the recipient. It might be public domain sort of, but these transmissions are very definitely the property of the MCA and therefore the crown. The reason they are delayed on sites like MTr is simply anti terrorism, and I'm sure the US is the same. The same things apply to GE f.i. where you cant get a full zoom in the UK like you can in say NZ, and why certain installations are browned out. Big Brother mate.


Posted by: steverow at October 1, 2010 8:02 PM | Reply

Jeepers, just had a look at Marinetraffic, I had been using various other sites, this is way teh best Ive ever seen, IN my general area , theres well over 20 ais sites contributing data... wow

There not much point in me adding one, theres one within 5 miles of me!!.


Posted by: Dave at October 1, 2010 8:35 PM | Reply

Steve, your comments re teh Uk may be so, however MarineTraffic.com shows well over 50 Ais receivers in use in the UK, all the main shipping areas are covered

As to your repeated commenst re "delays". AIS over the internet in "open source" sites like marine traffic IS NOT DELAYED. Jeepers, look at the time stamps on the ships data, some of ot is like 40 seconds old!!..

The original comment about "delayed AIS" over the Internet is based on an old IMO comment, where clearly they didnt understand that this "open source" user colaboration would spring up. It was made as a comment to proposed commercial AIS sites. ( That actually never took off).


Posted by: Dave at October 1, 2010 9:16 PM | Reply

Is it legal for a land base electronics repair facility to xmit an AIS position with their city street address and ph number?

Newport Oregon has a land base guy that does....

Posted by: Tom at October 1, 2010 9:35 PM | Reply

Hello Ben! I have been working with DY and Talbot for the past 8 weeks, to set-up AIS Net AIS broadcasting systems. This cooperation came about when I talked to Talbot some time ago to cobble together the parts to set-up a station in Portsmouth, NH resp. Eliot, ME, where I keep Bremer Speck. That is when I learned about AIS Net and Talbot talked to the UK to make one available to me. Meantime, Talbot set one-up on Plum Island, Newburypoprt, at the mouth of the Merrimack River. This station is live and on Marine Traffic. My station will go live in Portsmouth/Eliot on Saturday. I am a great fan of the iPhone andiPad and am using the Ship Find app. Per my request, DY and my station which feed data into Marine Traffic, this data is also ported to the guys at Ship Finder and that is why you see Newburyport on Ship Finder and soon Portsmouth, too. I have no commercial interest in this but it has irked me for quite some time, that there has been an AIS hole (no coverage) between Boston and Portland. I am sure there will be other people who want to see AIS in their areas and more of these stations will go online. Best regards, Ronald Hiemann

Posted by: Bremer Speck at October 2, 2010 12:35 AM | Reply

Gee, I hope someone sets up a station for Western Long Island Sound since "Ship Find" has no feed for this area. There was a land based station in Northport but it's feed has been turned off for several months. Considering all the commercial traffic on this body of water located adjacent to New York Harbor there is very spotty coverage. If I lived closer to the harbor I would set up a DY AISNet myself.

Posted by: Richard C at October 2, 2010 8:56 AM | Reply

Ben, I agree with your thinking about owners being able to "see" their vessels on the web - but folks should remember that most installations are wired to the electronics bus and/or main DC panel. Unless the boat owner ensures the AIS is powered from a 24 hour cicruit, the only way he's going to see it on the web is by leaving the battery switch on and the boat "hot" - never a good idea when unattended in the slip or mooring.

Posted by: Grant at October 2, 2010 11:07 AM | Reply

This doesn't seem very different from Comar Systems existing SLR 200N / 200NG product which has been available for some time.


Posted by: SJF at October 2, 2010 12:24 PM | Reply

Just as an aside and in a similar manner to discussed about the AIS, is everyone aware of the Worlwide Navtex site www.frisnit.com where Navtex Recievers all over the world (usually radio hams like the AIS) connect their streams to a central website for display. This is extremely useful for weather forcasting and for RNW's on the web.
Official Navtex weather warnings/forecasts are also available from this site hosted on behalf of the WMO by Meteo France:


Most Metareas are available now with the rest coming on stream by 2011/2012.



Posted by: steverow at October 2, 2010 8:07 PM | Reply

While this concept may not be new the packaging and interface are nice. I would love to be able to install this unit along with the WiFi access points I have installed at various marinas. I'm going to order one and install it at my home marina for the initial testing. I have noticed the online sites rarely cover Little Egg just North of Atlantic City so adding this would definately help. I have never seen my boat or any vessels on these online AIS sites that I see from my own AIS transponder. So I already know the area is under served.

Posted by: Bill Lentz at October 3, 2010 12:26 PM | Reply

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