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AIS: USB dongle or via integrated VHF radio?
#1
Thinking about how to integrate AIS into my new OP install.  As it turns out, my new to me (last year) old sailboat does not currently have a fixed VHF radio.  I probably would have purchased a simple used ebay fixed VFH at some point.  If I want AIS in my OP install, I've been pondering these two choices:

(1)  AIS USB dongle and another antenna or a splitter.  I've read about getting the correct splitter (which is expensive).  Putting up another antenna is complicated and not inexpensive.

(2) Install a VHF radio that outputs AIS via NMEA 0183 like the Standard Horizon GX2200.

Any thoughts about complexity/cost?
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#2
If you're like me and you're trying to save every dollar, a $30 RTL-SDR and some faffing around with software will pick up AIS:

 https://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-tutorial...-tracking/
 https://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/
 
That comes with a telescopic antenna, and will receive AIS within about 5-10nm.

Another option for a few more $ is dAISy:

 https://shop.wegmatt.com/
 https://www.tindie.com/stores/astuder/
 https://pocketmariner.com/daisy-gives-bo...is-answer/

AIS integrated into your boat's VHF receiver sounds nice, especially if it will also double as an AIS transmitter.  But this is of course going to cost more, and AIS transmission is only useful if the "heavy" you hope won't run you over has someone at the helm taking notice.  It's not something I'd ever assume.  AIS transmit is also useful if you want your friends to know where you are, but the OnCourse app is also good for this, assuming you have mobile coverage where you're sailing:

 https://help.marinetraffic.com/hc/en-us/...h-OnCourse

I have an RTL-SDR and I've received AIS with it, but I haven't yet run OpenCPN and integrated it.  It's on my long TODO list :-)
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#3
If you are going for a VHF radio anyway I would get one with AIS. Better redundancy: even if your nav computer fails you can still use AIS with the radio’s display. Assuming yours has one.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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#4
For AIS receive only consider the Moitessier-hat and thereby also support indirectly the OP development.
Wink
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#5
If I had the choice, I'd get the VHF with integrated AIS receiver. Splitters can add a bit of loss, and certainly add a couple more connectors which can fail or add loss. Also, you are using the main VHF antenna, which for most folks is at the top of the mast. You'll gat better range and more reliable reception of closer targets.

Sent from my CLT-L04 using Tapatalk
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#6
Thanks everyone.  Regarding the VHF radios I've seen, most don't broadcast AIS (I think), just receive.  I'm assuming these things just have a built in splitter anyway with similar losses?  Still researching my options.

Regarding the dongle, I've read that a high quality splitter is important.  Any advice on a good one?  Will this one do?

For the dongle itself, I've seen people talk about the RTL-SDR and the NooEeec, both similarly priced?  Which way to go?

Regarding the Moitessier-hat, I don't think it's quite ready to go for my RPI4, and even when it is ready, I'm worried about access for cooling since I think I'm going to need a fan pointed at that CPU.
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#7
I got the Icom IC-M506euro  with ais and with the mast-top antenna I got 40-45nm range on ais reception.
Direct calling to ais targets is great too. I got several sdr-sticks too but the only use they have seen since i got the Icom is listening to fm radio or ch16.

  .manitu
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#8
(01-11-2020, 09:21 AM)w7thmark Wrote: Regarding the dongle, I've read that a high quality splitter is important.  Any advice on a good one?  Will this one do?

For the dongle itself, I've seen people talk about the RTL-SDR and the NooEeec, both similarly priced?  Which way to go?

For a splitter, I use a Glomex RA201. It's considerably lower cost than some of the other splitters out there, but seems to do a good job for me. The specs say that it has an integrated pre-amplifier to reduce losses. As with any active splitter, you need to be really careful to ensure that power is always applied to it when your ship's VHF is on. If it fails or loses power, there is a risk to your AIS receiver, as there is nothing to prevent the RF power from your ship's radio from going directly into your AIS receiver.

I have used a NooElec on the boat, and have that one on the bench right now. It's a good quality device, and I believe worth the little extra money over the little plastic dongles out there. One thing I did the other day was to check the frequency offset for it, just out of curiosity. Surprisingly, it was almost nil - the most I saw was 2PPM. This is much better than some of the really cheap SDR dongles you can buy.

At the moment on the boat I use a combined SeaTalk converter/GPS/AIS receiver from Quark-Elec. I like it because it has WiFi, USB, and NMEA0183 serial output. I put the USB into my OpenPlotter system. If for some reason my OpenPlotter system is down, I can use the WiFi connection directly from the Quark-Elec box to OpenCPN on my tablet as a backup. the NMEA0183 output is going to my new Clipper wind instrument (If I can ever get around to getting the darned thing installed!).
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#9
Winter Greetings to all.

Is there an VHF Radio including AIS Receiver that got an NMEA Out or equivalent to get the Ships into Openplotter?


reg - holger
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#10
(01-14-2020, 04:05 AM)holgerw Wrote: Winter Greetings to all.

Is there an VHF Radio including AIS Receiver that got an NMEA Out  or equivalent to get the Ships into Openplotter?


reg - holger

I'm very happy with a standard horizon GX2150
http://www.standardhorizon.com/indexVS.c...visionID=3
Might be an updated model now. And the remote mic is great single handed. 
Though is does draw about 0.5A standby which adds up, I also have a nasa AIS engine as the radio stays off quite often on long passages.
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