AIS Unit for Raymarine Chartplotter System
It is Boat Show time here in snowy Seattle. So I think it is time for me to purchase an AIS receiver to install in my C320. The type of sailing we do on busy Puget Sound and not so busy San Juan Island and Canadian Gulf Islands suggests that an AIS receiver would be a worthy upgrade.
I have the Raymarine integrated C80 Chart plotter, Radar, GPS, and Autopilot installed in our 2007 C320 Mk II. We have an ICOM VHF ICM412 Base Station Radio with the Command Mic at the helm. It is a great set up. I like the radio as well. We also have an unused VHF antenna splitter that was incorrectly utilized by the factory (or commissioning dealer) to connect our factory installed LCD TV antenna to the VHF antenna. Since both the TV and VHF work off of different frequencies, the splitter was of no use for TV reception. So I still have the splitter for use with a new AIS receiver if I need it.
So, I am looking at the following AIS receivers:
A. An ICOM MXA 500 Dual Channel AIS receiver. It has a built in antenna splitter and NEMA 0183 and PC data outputs. I found it at Defender for about $335 and ICOM currently has a $100 rebate on the unit resulting in a net cost of about $235.
B. An ACR Nauticast Dual Channel AIS receiver. It is has a small unit with similar dual channel features without a built in VHF splitter for about $140 at Defender.
C. A used Raymarine AIS 250 that is selling at a local marine exchange for about $280. It is an older unit with only a single channel receiver.
So, my questions are:
1. Anyone have any experience with any of these AIS receivers?
2. Connecting them to the Raymarine C80 should be pretty straightforward. Has anyone done this and are their any bits of advice out there from fellow sailboat owners?
3. Since the AIS data will be streamed to the C80 Chart plotter, I would imagine that the data that is displayed would look the same on the chart plotter whether it was from a ICOM, Raymarine or the ACR unit. Right?
4. Any other AIS receiver recommendations?
I am leaning toward getting the ICOM unit due to the price with rebate, built in VHF splitter, and same brand as my VHF radio. I did look at the integrate d Standard Horizon VHF with built in AIS, but with my relatively new ICOM VHF and Command Mic set up, changing out the good working existing VHF radio with a new VHF with AIS does make sense to me. So, my plan is to upgrade my existing system with an AIS receiver.
So, any and all advice or experience with these AIS units or others would be welcome.
S/V Emily Ann
2007 C320 MK II, No. 1107