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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics > AIS Receiver installation
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Thread: AIS Receiver installation Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-12-2014 02:14 AM
Classic30
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Missingyou View Post
Also your unit has a built in Power Divider/Splitter for connecting to a VHF Radio and a single Antenna. I'm curious as to how well that functions.
I've had an MXA-5000 installed for a little while now (to a single mast-head antenna) and haven't yet noticed any issues with the VHF around reduced range, etc. It was pretty easy to set up and, following the instructions, worked straight out of the box. You need to be talking for a long time for it to lose the AIS targets.

Assuming the DB9 connector was wired according to the manual, I suspect the OP's issues will be related to his choice of USB adaptor and/or baud rate. I'm using OpenCPN which has an in-built serial data monitor, making it easy to check that the comms is working properly.
06-11-2014 11:50 PM
Missingyou
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Also your unit has a built in Power Divider/Splitter for connecting to a VHF Radio and a single Antenna. I'm curious as to how well that functions.

My Simrad stuff came from the factory installed with a splitter and single antenna. It seems to work fine but I am considering running another cable and antenna when I finally get the courage to scale the mast to install a TV and WIFI antenna. I agree two separate are better, and I'm most concerned about the lessened VHF Radio Reception and Transmission, the AIS I could care less about, it is really a nice to have but not a need to have. Another 100ft of coax and an antenna isn't going to break me.
06-11-2014 10:59 PM
Missingyou
Re: AIS Receiver installation

You don't mention whether you have tried connecting it to a Chart Plotter yet. I take it you might be bench testing this? Connecting it to a Chart Plotter via the Nav Out Data connection would be a good place to start as far as seeing AIS Targets. That would rule out any problems with the unit and antenna. You won't need the GPS IN Data yet, at least not until you want others to see where you are.

I recently assembled a small PC for the boat, but I made sure that the Motherboard had a legacy Serial Port so that I didn't have to mess with Serial to USB converters. I know me bragging about my PC doesn't help your current situation, but if you have a Desktop PC you could buy an add in Serial PCI(E) card. If it's a Laptop does it have a PC Card Slot? I use a Serial PC Card in my laptop for serial connections with OBD Diagnostics Connectors and Software for my cars. It seems to work well.
06-10-2014 03:33 PM
TakeFive
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yofy View Post
No, we are always in range of ships here.

with a proper VHF plug


Dedicated antenna.

The installation is fine. I think that I may be missing a driver although when I bought the AIS receiver they assured me that I didn't need any other program or driver. Anybody know of a good site where I can download a driver for AIS to C map?
Three suggestions:
  • Hook up your VHF radio to the antenna and do a radio check. This will determine whether the antenna is the problem.
  • If you're running Windows, check Device Manager and make sure that you see the USB-Serial adapter. If you do, your should have the needed driver. If you see a device called "Unknown" with a yellow question mark on it, then you're definitely lacking the needed driver. Virtually all USB to serial adapters are built on one of two chips - Prolific or FTDI. IIRC, Prolific is not supported by Win7 or later. FTDI is. If your adapter has a Prolific chip, I believe you need to throw it out and get one by FTDI.
  • If you do have the right driver, install TeraTerm or some other terminal emulator. You need to see the raw NMEA data coming through, and TeraTerm will give you the ability to experiment with different baud rates.
06-10-2014 02:42 PM
Yofy
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Could it also be that there simply are no AIS targets in range?
No, we are always in range of ships here.
Quote:
How are you connecting to a VHF antenna?
with a proper VHF plug

Quote:
Are you using a splitter or a dedicated antenna?
Dedicated antenna.

The installation is fine. I think that I may be missing a driver although when I bought the AIS receiver they assured me that I didn't need any other program or driver. Anybody know of a good site where I can download a driver for AIS to C map?
06-10-2014 10:30 AM
Tim R. Would love to see some side by side real time comparisons between splitter and non splitter AIS reception and VHF radio performance.

My AIS transceiver w/splitter has picked up signals as far as 34nm away.
06-10-2014 09:12 AM
SVAuspicious
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
In-band splitters are fundamentally bad and should be avoided.
These blanket statements are not helpful to novices. There isn't anything "bad" about splitters. Some are better than others.
A blanket statement in response to a blanket statement? *grin*

There are lots of things bad about splitters. I've held forth on this subject before and will again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
The points against splitters are twofold. First there can be attenuation of the transmitted or received signals. This is usually specified in the technical data of the splitter. It is possible to build a splitter with very low attenuation. Second, is the time sharing of transmission as the VHF and AIS cannot transmit at the same time. This second issue is not a big problem for most cruising boats.
Not "can be attenuation" - WILL be attenuation.

You can certainly find splitters with very low noise pre-amps before and after the switching circuitry with additional amplification on each leg. Those are pricey units.

Commonly available splitters attenuation is 2.5 - 3.0 dB. Add .20 - .25 dB each for the connectors on each side and it adds up. You already knock down your signal 4.5 dB / 100 ft (at least - not all 8X is equal and 58 is worse) in the coax. Why give up more that you don't have to?

Let's ignore coax loss since that is common to both alternatives. Add a splitter and both the VHF and AIS will take a hit of 3.0 - 3.5 dB, a reduction in received signal strength AND transmitted of half. Over clear water line-of-sight is more important than power but if you are in a winding channel or dealing with propagation over hills or through trees such as around a point or past industrial buildings in a port you'll want all the power you can get to take advantage of refraction and reflection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
There are also points in favor of splitters. Ease and speed of installation are a good thing. Usually the mast head antenna can be used which due to height can more than make up for any splitter loss.
From a practical point of view the value of height is over-rated, particularly with regard to large commercial traffic. I'll post the numbers when I figure out a way to convert the table I have in a useful form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
So maybe we should just list the pros and cons and let the reader decide what is "good" or "bad" for themselves.
I stand by my statement that in-band splitters are fundamentally a bad idea. That is different from an FM/TV splitter (a notch/bandpass filter since FM radio is between TV channels 6 and 7) or a VHF/FM splitter (VHF 150 - 165 including weather and FM 88 - 108 MHz). In-band is entirely different. After all the AIS channels ARE VHF channels (87B and 88B).

Adding a second independent antenna on the pushpit, a radar pole, arch, or spreader is not that hard, particularly if you DIY. People--including novices--should know that there is a greater detriment to the splitter approach than the manufacturers promulgate.
06-09-2014 06:29 AM
transmitterdan
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
In-band splitters are fundamentally bad and should be avoided.

These blanket statements are not helpful to novices. There isn't anything "bad" about splitters. Some are better than others.

The points against splitters are twofold. First there can be attenuation of the transmitted or received signals. This is usually specified in the technical data of the splitter. It is possible to build a splitter with very low attenuation. Second, is the time sharing of transmission as the VHF and AIS cannot transmit at the same time. This second issue is not a big problem for most cruising boats.

There are also points in favor of splitters. Ease and speed of installation are a good thing. Usually the mast head antenna can be used which due to height can more than make up for any splitter loss.

So maybe we should just list the pros and cons and let the reader decide what is "good" or "bad" for themselves.
06-09-2014 06:18 AM
SVAuspicious
Re: AIS Receiver installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. View Post
Some splitters work better than others.
In-band splitters are fundamentally bad and should be avoided.
06-08-2014 07:23 PM
Tim R.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yofy View Post
I have a serial to USB converter Yes set correctly? Don't know. I'll check that. No not for AIS. IT has for other devices but not AIS. I also tried connecting the AIS to "Open CPN" which does have a designated AIS connection and didn't receive any data there either.... Manny
Speed should be 38,400. Could it also be that there simply are no AIS targets in range? How are you connecting to a VHF antenna? Are you using a splitter or a dedicated antenna? Some splitters work better than others.
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