AIS Class B Transponder: Worth it?
Wondering if the Class B transponder rather than a dual channel receiver is worth the extra $$ and the extra power draw is really worth it. We are preparing for a classic Atlantic circle and then, next time around, into the Med for 3 to 4 years.
1) I know the motto is see and be seen but has anyone with a Class B transponder really had the bridge of a big boat call them?
2) Won't carefully set guard zones and alarms (even with the false alarms) be more effective than assuming a tanker doing 15K is going to call me doing 4?
3) Am I missing something that makes the extra power consumption really worth while (about 20 percent of our total daily consumption for Class B transponder compared to 8 percent for a receiver only).
Many thanks for helping me sort this out,
PSC 37, Kenlanu
Do it, I perspmally think it is worthwhile.
I have the AIS500 transponder and am happy with. I don't think that a big ship is going to call me, but as I am transmitting AIS signals it is going to set off all sorts of alarms in the bridge (at quite a distance) if a collision is likely, so most likely they'll just change course by a degree or three - particularly as they can see from my AIS data that I'm a sailing boat and probably am the stand-on vessel. Those extra Mw of electricity are a small price to pay for a bit of additional security.
You can always turn off the transmit feature on AIS if you have the transponder.
I've noticed pricing on AIS Class B has come way down. West Marine has a full Class B transponder for $500 now. Considering most receive only units are in the $200-$300 range minimum, thats really not much a premium for full features.
Also, I'm watching this trend of AIS being integrated into the VHF radio. Right now, Standard Horizon has a receive AIS only integrated into their latest VHF for about $350. I cant wait for that to be send/receive both because it would eliminate the need for either a second VHF antenna as well as the radio has a VHF on masthead already.
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