We've been using those transponders for almost 2 years now. I take mostly of what I need out of my radar, but now freighters simply repond to our specific VHF calls near the coast, a thing that never happened before ....
Recently I replaced my Smart Radio SR161 AIS receiver with a Comar CSB200 class B transponder. Since we do so many off-shore passages, I wanted to be able to see vessels using AIS and to be seen by the other vessels!
The installation was painless. I already had a second VHF antenna which was shared between a spare VHF radio and the AIS receiver via a VHF splitter. I removed the splitter and ran the antenna directly to the transponder. Should the need arise, I can simply move the VHF antenna from the primary VHF to the backup VHF.
The AIS transponder requires its own GPS antenna. This is required so that you can't feed it bogus position data.
The NMEA output of the AIS transponder goes to a RayMarine C-80 chartplotter, where the AIS vessel data is overlaid on the chart. I went to a neighboring vessel who had an AIS receiver and BlueJacket showed up! Yeah!
The following photo shows a target underway with basic information displayed. In this case it shows the vessel moving 17.2Kts on a course of 185T. The closest point of approach will be 5.25nm and will occur in 51 minutes.
If you ask for detailed information on the target, here's what you get:
Here's a photo of radar output with AIS targets overlaid in NY Harbor. Clearly this is an anomaly, but it certainly shows the power:
I installed the nauticast B from ACR and I'm very happy with it. It is a nice thing to have when offshore or when running with commercial traffic near the coast. I'd like to get into it a bit more and learn how to turn off the transmit part for those times I don't want to be seen which I think it can do.