Garmin AIS 300, first NMEA 2000 receiver


Today Garmin announced the $500 AIS 300, the first receiver to output NMEA 2000 as well as 0183.  Which means that if you’re in Miami like I am, you can not only check out Garmin’s new GPSMap 700 series, and the new top-of-line 6- and 7000 series, but what’s also becoming quite the line-up of VHF and AIS choices.  Oh, plus HomePort and N2K/analog adaptors; is Garmin on a roll or what?  Actually the show doors open tomorrow, but today there are demo cruises with Sirius/XM Satellite Weather (most of the companies who use their receivers will be aboard) and with FLIR (which is getting to be a tradition).  I also mooched onto a small Humminbird demo with my Bonnier colleagues Chris Woodward and Glenn Law.  Hell of day!  I may not even be able to Twitter much due to those trips and other reasons, but weren’t you planning to do the Panbo marine electronics poll anyway?

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

23 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    PS While I’m here I plan to ask Simrad and Raymarine if they’ve got updates for their AIS transponders that don’t yet have all the standard NMEA 2000 AIS messages because they weren’t written when the units first shipped. I presume that Garmin does have the complete set in its N2K AIS gear, as they had the time…but I’ll ask about that too.

  2. Chris Hallock says:

    Just wondering why these companies keep coming out with receive only units?
    For the high cost of these receivers, its not much more for a transceiver unit with transmit capabilities.
    If I am going to spend that much on AIS, it will be a full transceiver. However with the N2K interface that is a great step in the right direction.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Garmin seems intent on offering a wide variety of AIS options that will easily network with its own N2K equipment (and that of others). The prices are high but in line with premium AIS gear from Raymarine, Navico, and Furuno. All of them must be looking over their shoulder at the next generation stuff announced by ComNav, Digital Yacht, etc:
    Hey, Chris, have you filled in your survey yet?;-)?

  4. Adam says:

    Ben, while you are out asking questions, can you seek out Rose Point and query when they will support AIS over N2K via the Actisense NGT-1? That would make setup with a box like this beautifully simple. Thanks!

  5. del says:

    I’m sure I saw an entry on the FCC approvals website for a Garmin Class B Transponder, in the same box as the Rx-only.

  6. Evan says:

    According to the Garmin website there is a transponder (does not say what class) called the AIS 600 for $1,400 which is NMEA 2000 compatible.

  7. Roy Miles says:

    Unfortunatly, Garmin chose not to include a switch to turn off the transmit function while retaining the receive function. My fishing customers are shy to advertise their locations during tournaments, but do want to stay aware of the local traffic. When I called Garmin on this, they claimed it was a safety issue, bypassing some folk’s need for occasional privacy. Simrad, Raymarine, and others provide such a switch. Seems like a decision made by a non-fisherman.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Roy; I did not know that, but frankly I’m not surprised. Garmin has been overly parental in this area, as many of us have seen with unwanted AIS alarms that a user can not prevent. I appreciate their desire to keep us safe, but they must learn to give boaters ultimate control of the systems and the alarms.
    An AIS transponder “silent” mode is important not only to competitive fishermen but also to cruisers who venture into places where bad guys lurk. And there may be other uses for this normally standard feature that neither you nor I nor Garmin realizes. It seems likely now that I will get to visit Garmin headquarters in Kansas in a couple of months, and I will bring along a list of issues like this 😉

  9. norse says:

    The silent-mode switch is optional – it is not included, but there is nothing unfortunate about this. If you connect it to a Garmin chartplotter, you can turn silent mode on and off with the chartplotter. Or you can hook up a simple switch. Since this is a black-box unit which may be installed in an out of site location, providing for an external switch allows placing the switch in a convenient location. See page 8 of the manual.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Norse! I should have read the manual first myself, and apologies to Garmin for making wrong assumptions. In fact, this is the only Class B transponder I know of that lets you have remote switches for both Silent Mode and SRM messages, and lets you do the same functions via the MFD interface. Sorry again, Garmin, and thanks for letting us have total control. Now, about those alarms…

  11. Richard C says:

    I was wondering, did Garmin ever explain how their “ClearTrack” feature works on the AIS 600?
    How does a single VHF antenna act as a simultaneous receive for AIS, VHF, DSC and at the same time a transmitting antenna for AIS and VHF without loosing signal or contact for any of these functions? It would not be good to compromise my VHF radio even though I highly value AIS.

  12. VesselTracking says:

    Has anybody any experience with the sensitivity of this receiver comparing to other popular brands?

  13. John Whitehead says:

    Garmin seem to be makeing great guns on the hardware front. I like the hardware but I for one am concerned that they still don’t seem to be shipping up-to-date charts. July 2008 is 20 months ago, sandbanks move, depths change, windfarms get errected, traffic separation lanes are changed. Homeport is great but the charts I am looking can’t be relied on. The basic tidal stream info lags far behind other charts. This is fundamental stuff which needs higher priority.

  14. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Strolling thru the FCC approvals web site as I am not frequently wont to do, I noticed a singular absence of Garmin AIS approvals. Where are they?

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Check again, Sandy. I saw all the approval detail on the Garmin AIS 600 transponder there last week. From what I can tell it’s a pretty impressive unit, even has USB for programing and maybe for PC target monitoring.
    AIS receivers do not need, and can not get, FCC approval.

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    For anyone who’d like to search the FCC AIS approval records, just go to this link, and select “AIS” from the Equipment Class list:
    Now, does anyone know where fixed marine VHF radios are on that list, because I can’t find them?

  17. rummy says:

    This is a question on homeport. which I am seeing much discussion. Complaints on being very slow.. anybody out there using it and abormal amount of time to wait for each key stroke. Now using Open CPN and wish it could download to garmin 4208

  18. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Rummy, I’m testing Homeport and didn’t notice any speed issues. My three-year-old PC is running Vista (64).

  19. Anonymous says:

    Garmin technical support said that the Garmin chartplotter does not have the capability to control Garmin AIS 600 silent mode. Do you have yours set up that way? If so how did you get it to work?

  20. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’ve had a Garmin AIS 600 installed all season, and have not seen Silent Mode control on the 7212 MFD that’s networked to it via NMEA 2000. The transponder does have a pair of wires that you can use to install a physical Silent Mode switch, and is unusual in that it has a separate pair for a SRM (Safety Related Message) switch. Many transponders have one switch pair for either function (you choose which with PC setup software). However SRM messages are hardly used, and I hear there may be an issue with them.

  21. Mark Morwood says:

    I also have a Garmin AIS 600, in my case connected to a 4212. I confirmed with Garmin support that despite what the manual implies, you can not control it from an attached Garmin MFD. You have to add a hardwired switch.

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