03 July 2015

Automatic Identification System Installation

Still More Boat Projects: AIS


Linda got AIS for her birthday.

I ordered the Raymarine AIS650 and figured the installation would be pretty simple.  While waiting for it to arrive, I decided to read the installation manual. Ugh - you need a VHF splitter too. This is not some little cheap transformer thing either. It is a powered unit and adds a tidy $260 to the price.

So I ordered one of those.

What is AIS?
Automatic Identification System.  Ok, but what is that? AIS uses VHF to send and receive information about a boat: such as Name, Heading, Speed, Destination, Propulsion, Length and Beam. You can get a receiver only that will show other ships to you or a transceiver which will also broadcast your own signal to other ships.  This is what we got and since we may one day want to visit a foreign port, it required getting an FCC Ship's License. Every ship has a unique identifier called an MMSI number (don't ask).  Argon's is 367679020.

Installation
This should have been really simple.  We asked Tartan to put a SeaTalk backbone cable inside the instrument area above the nav table.  I assumed it was there.  It wasn't.  So I had to find another termination point on the backbone and run another cable. Fortunately, there was one in the aft compartment where the steering is. So off to West Marine to see if they had a SeaTalk backbone cable in stock.  Good news: they did.  Bad news(s): it was not quite the length I wanted and they did NOT have a network "T" in stock.  So, back to the internets to order more stuff.

Finally, with all the bits, the installation really did go very smoothly.




And it works.  Now that I have it, I can say that I wish ALL boats had it.  It is very nice to be able to see targets with bearing and speed.  Also, if you have to hail one, you can do it by name instead of "vessel over by blahdi-blah with the blue hull"

AIS On The Internets
There are several phone apps and websites that allow viewing AIS data. I think the way this works is that there is a network of receivers (volunteers?) who pick up AIS and repost it to various central data stores in reasonably real-time. I have not researched this. I could be totally wrong about that. As of this writing, we're still not showing up on the FindShip Android app, but we are now showing up on http://www.shipfinder.com/.  You can type our MMSI (367679020) into the search box and find us.

Update:  13-Jul-2015: we ARE now showing up on at least one AIS Phone App.  FindShip for Android is showing us. I would assume the various iPhone apps would show us too but I will become seasick if I have to touch an iOS device again. You can find us by name or MMSI


1 comment:

  1. Hey Bob - Maybe you can show me how to do this. Would be a great addition to PG

    ReplyDelete