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  #31  
Old 04-19-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
AIS is not that long of a range thing, so rail mount of second antenna is fine. Nice thing is then you have an emergency antenna in case you are too close under that bridge or what not. With a spliter you still only have one antenna.
Thanks miatapaul. Do you have your AIS antenna mounted low? Vesper stresses the need to mount it as high as possible. Your experience suggests this is not such a big deal?

If that's the case, then it would be pretty easy to mount a dedicated AIS antenna off the stern rail.
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  #32  
Old 04-19-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Thanks miatapaul. Do you have your AIS antenna mounted low? Vesper stresses the need to mount it as high as possible. Your experience suggests this is not such a big deal?

If that's the case, then it would be pretty easy to mount a dedicated AIS antenna off the stern rail.
I can change antennas as both the radio and AIS are in the nav station.
So at sea I have the AIS on the mast head antenna. In port I have the vhf on the masthead.

Reason is no one can ring you on the VHF if they cant see you on AIS! But seriously, most vhf calls are only a few miles off.
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  #33  
Old 04-20-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

For the most part only 5 % of the vessels out there carry transmitting AIS receivers. For my money if I could only have 1 device it would be a radar unit.

For those who sail IN CHANNELS with large ships constantly I could see the reason for one. Even for those who sail in Harbors like NY or major ones I could see the need. For the average sailor, it is quite unecessary .

I am sure very frieghter on the Delaware/ Chesapeake would love to be contacted by name by every sailing vessel asking them their intentions or telling them you were going to cross their stern. As the big ship Captain here posted, it is mainly a colission avoidance system

BTW we have AIS which overlays out Chartplotter as does the Broadband radar. 95% of the time I turn it off.
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  #34  
Old 04-20-2014
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Complete Nav set up for $1,000

Ok here is the system I am using and that you can get for $1,000 with the odd proviso...

I guess every boat has a VHF and mast head antenna so they are not factored in. Everyone has a laptop or Tablet, but mine is a laptop; those prices are not factored in.

Cost of Nav set up COMPLETE! :

AIS Transponder WITH USB, and preferable WIFI integrated. All AIS transponders come with their own GPS. $800 to $850

Antenna for second antenna $48 to $75 (I paid $75 )

Cables and connectors. Just the cable to the stern rail $30 and the connectors about $20(?)

OpenCpn FREE! CM93 charts FREE off the internet or most cruisers will give you a copy.

The last $50 to bring it to $1,000 was spend at the bar between the boat and the Chandlery.



This really is as SIMPLE as it appears!
The only difficulty is getting the NMEA 1083 connection to work properly to give the GPS info to the VHF. Bund rates in the AIS software were a pain.

Also I have added redundancy in that I have a handheld GPS (Garmin 76CX) that plugs into the laptop via USB; an Ipad with GPS and paid for charts; Satellite Phone with GPS.


It works!



Mark
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Last edited by MarkofSeaLife; 04-20-2014 at 10:17 AM.
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  #35  
Old 04-20-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Thank Mark. Very helpful. Did you choose NOT to use a splitter (like the Vesper option) for the redundancy and cost savings? Or was there another reason? Concern about signal degradation perhaps?

I like the idea of having two functional antennas, but still wonder about the simplicity of using the splitter option.
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  #36  
Old 04-20-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Thank Mark. Very helpful. Did you choose NOT to use a splitter (like the Vesper option) for the redundancy and cost savings? Or was there another reason? Concern about signal degradation perhaps?

.
Yes. I thought the splitter was ****.

I bought one when I bought the AIS.

These are my reasons I didnt like it (not in any order)

Another gadget that uses electricity.
Makes system more complicated
STOPS AIS transmission when VHF transmits or receives. I.e at the MOST crucial time I need the AIS it is cut off by the splitter! Thats when the ship and I are arguing about who is going to kill whom.
Raymarine removed its internal splitter from its earlier version WHY?
Its was $250 Vs $75 for the antenna = $175 saving = 2 prostitues and lots of beer to wash them down.


On your point about degradation of signal. I didnt know if it did degrade the signal, but it must. Any set of connectors must degrade the signal. Any box of electrodes must degrade it.

So all in all I was glad to be able to take it back. It did nothing positive, but the dual antenna solution is a great series of positives:
Cost saving,
Redundancy
Simplicity


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  #37  
Old 04-21-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
It looks like all VHF/AIS units are receivers only yes? Would there be a conflict of any kind by buying a transmitter only and installing that separately? If you put a splitter in the line with the VHF/AIS-receiver would it all go haywire? I'm not averse at all to a 2 antenna solution (after all, the good boats have 2 masts ) for redundancy.
To my knowledge the integrated VHF/AIS units are all receive only.

To my knowledge there are no transmitter-only units available -- given the timing mechanism to avoid transmission conflicts I don't see any way to build such a unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
The setup I am imagining is the standard horizon VHF/AIS-receiver attached to the mainmast VHF antenna and either a transmitter only, or a transceiver separately on the mizzen mast antenna. Would the mizzen antenna transmitting cause confusion for the main mast antenna receiver?
No problem with VHF antennas on main mast and mizzen mast. If you have a metal triatic stay I would expect some directionality but likely not enough to be noticeable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I understand you want an entry level machine but the receiver only in the VHF doesnt send the AIS information to the chartplotter. All you get, as I understand it, is the tiny VHF screen.
The integrated VHF/AIS units I have seen all have 38.4kbps NMEA 0183 outputs to pass AIS and GPS information to other devices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
For those of us limited to one mast, is there any problem with two two VHF/AIS antennas being in close proximity at the masthead? Any interference issues?
Yes. Don't put two VHF antennas on the same masthead. Your options, in no particular order, are to put the second antenna on a spreader, on a bimini, on a pushpit, on the backstay, on a radar pole, or on an arch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Yes. I thought the splitter was ****.
I agree for a reason you did not list. Splitters insert a signal loss of 2.5 - 3 dB. That is equivalent to reducing power for both the AIS and the VHF by half in both transmit and receive.

The other reasons Mark lists are good reasons to avoid a splitter also, but the power loss is a good enough reason for me all by itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Raymarine removed its internal splitter from its earlier version WHY?
Are you talking about the older AIS 500 and the current AIS 650? You're correct. I don't know why they did that but I'm glad they did.
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  #38  
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Re: Entry level AIS?

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Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
I agree for a reason you did not list. Splitters insert a signal loss of 2.5 - 3 dB. That is equivalent to reducing power for both the AIS and the VHF by half in both transmit and receive.

The other reasons Mark lists are good reasons to avoid a splitter also, but the power loss is a good enough reason for me all by itself.
According to Vesper:
"Many AIS splitters introduce significant signal loss, some say no loss but this unique Vesper Marine splitter is the only one that provides signal gain - improving AIS reception and increasing range. This is because the Vesper Marine splitter has a built-in low noise amplifier."

Are they just blowing smoke?
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  #39  
Old 04-21-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Here are some prior threads.

This shows my hardware setup, which takes the AIS from my GX2150 and transmits it (and GPS) via Bluetooth to laptop, tablet, or whatever else I have onboard:

Sending GX2150 AIS NMEA data to chart plotter over Bluetooth

This shows some pics, including screenshots of the AIS output onto OpenCPN chartplotter display. Also shows my new Windows 8 tablet that I will use to display it all this year:

Chart plotter or IPad

If you only want receive capability, the integrated VHF radio makes for an easy install, and can cost much less than a transponder. I find the receive capability to be excellent in my area.

Although it's claimed that only 5% of boats transimit AIS, for boats 300 tons and over (the ones you really need to avoid) the transmission rate is 100% in US waters, as mandated US federal law.

The value of receiving AIS varies with your sailing location. If you have a lot of large ship traffic, it's a huge benefit IMO.
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Old 04-21-2014
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Re: Entry level AIS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
According to Vesper:
"Many AIS splitters introduce significant signal loss, some say no loss but this unique Vesper Marine splitter is the only one that provides signal gain - improving AIS reception and increasing range. This is because the Vesper Marine splitter has a built-in low noise amplifier."

Are they just blowing smoke?
Maybe not completely. Read the specs.

There is no circuit diagram I found easily. It looks like a low-noise pre-amp in the AIS receive path which helps. There is still a good bit of insertion loss for VHF receive and both VHF and AIS transmit. Unless there are active components I don't believe those insertion loss numbers are valid - let's see the diagram.

Upshot, if everything they say is true:

- good AIS reception
- reduced AIS transmission
- reduced VHF transmission
- reduced VHF reception
- increased power consumption
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