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Old 06-12-2010, 07:23   #1
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AIS: Standalone or Overlay

Good morning all,

I've been hard at work this weekend researching and pricing out the components for big electronics upgrade. One question that's still on my mind is whether or not I need a dedicated AIS display or if I will be ok using the overlay on my Navigation device. I mainly cruise in some pretty busy waters so AIS is a no brainer. I also like that a dedicated display with low power draw can be on and receiving when my nav system isn't. So for those of you who use AIS my questions are (in no particular order)

1) Dedicated or overlaid on charts?
2) Should I get the Simrad AI50 to go with the all Simrad system I am planning or is their a better standalone device to consider? Note: I realize that I can share AIS data either from the standalone to the new NSE or from the NSE to a standalone screen.
3) Receiver or Transponder?

As always, thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Greg
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Old 06-12-2010, 07:31   #2
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I chose going with an overlay with a small Garmin, a 546. The advantage of having a backup plotter and one that draws very little power made the choice easy for me. Hooking it up was a breeze with NMEA 2000. I also got the Simrad AIS transponder because of its NEMA 2000 output.

Good luck, you will be pleased having AIS.

Soiree
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Old 06-12-2010, 07:59   #3
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I think an overlay is the only way to go. We are new to this chartplotter world and have a Raymarine 500 with our C120W. After a couple of weeks underway my judgment is the chartplotter is a luxury but the AIS is a necessity. It is useful to have everything on the same chart at the helm and provides an amazing amount of information with one button. As an overlay it is in the same scale as everything else and at hand.
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Old 06-12-2010, 08:39   #4
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Thanks for both of your replies. I definitely agree with you 100%. I think that overlay is an awesome feature. Not only because it is critical safety info, but also because over charts it's so much easier to get a feel for where you are in regard to the potentially dangerous situation. If was up to my wife, this would be the only option, but I guess I am wondering if there are any other situations where a dedicated display like the AI50 or the Vesper WatchMate would be worthwhile. Even if I do a dedicated display, I will definitely make sure I have an NMEA feed to my NSE so I can overlay. The only downside to overlay that I have read about is screen clutter with navaids, depth soundings and other charting features, which is why I considered a standalone radar-like AIS display. Have you ever felt the screen is too clutter to focus on the hazards?

Also, do you think it is worth me buying a transponder. I like the idea of transmitting my position to bigger ships, but I am not convinced in the busier areas my family and I cruise in it will mean much to them?

Has anyone used the AI50?
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Old 06-12-2010, 09:11   #5
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I like the transmission feature,m it is nice to have the tug captain call you by name. So much clearer than "south bound sail at Gum Thicket Shoal." You can always choose to run silent.
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Old 06-12-2010, 09:25   #6
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If you have never used one, definitely go with the transmission feature. Don't underestimate the simplicity of being able to communicate who you are. I remember the first time I contacted a tanker in the gulf stream that was supposed to come within a 1/2 km and said this is s/v ---, would you mind changing course to avoid us by at least 1 1/2 km and they responded back, 'sure, no problem'. This was about 3 am. I remember thinking how easy it was. If there is a lot of traffic I would not have enjoyed trying to communicate which vessel I was in the fray, but I have never had to worry about that, it is right on his screen with my name. The other thing I heard is that some people who do long solo voyages put 'solo' in their name spot along with their vessel on the transmit so that tankers know that they don't have a big crew to change sail plans and manuever.
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Old 06-12-2010, 12:41   #7
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Ok cool. Thanks for the feedback. A transponder it is. Now to decide which one!
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Old 07-12-2010, 00:37   #8
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I use both systems and imo for off shore use, a non-overlay display that looks like a radar screen is better for AIS. AIS has nothing to do with showing your position on the chart... that is done by GPS. I like to use my charts North-up and my AIS display course-up.

The best I've seen is the Yacht-AIS software. It is a radar-like display that shows red no-go zones to avoid collisions long before you actually get near enough to receive an alarm. This always immediately shows you what course change takes you out of danger.

Only when we get to places where land or structures like jetties separate 2 bodies of water, I switch to overlay of AIS data on the chart.

I also love overlay of AIS data on the radar display.

ciao!
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Old 07-12-2010, 20:33   #9
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I use both systems and imo for off shore use, a non-overlay display that looks like a radar screen is better for AIS.
Second that.

Overlay inshore
Non-overlay offshore - I use NavMonPC - It's free and it works for me.

Thanks Paul!!
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Old 07-12-2010, 21:30   #10
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Second that.

Overlay inshore
Non-overlay offshore - I use NavMonPC - It's free and it works for me.

Thanks Paul!!
Hey, you're welcome! (NavMonPc is my baby: NavMonPc)

I prefer non-overlay offshore because it's easier to see the AIS targets that way. Both overlay and non work well as long as you spend time training yourself to use your system effectively. I prefer north-up on the AIS when I'm trying to select a target for more information, but heads-up is better for general orientation. Again, practice with your system.

As has been mentioned, look at your offshore power-budget. I choose to keep my chartplotters turned off for power savings when on a long passage, and so a low-power AIS solution is valuable for me. I have the ACR Class-B transponder, which draws about 300mA, my netbook running AIS and other monitoring tools, and basic NMEA instruments and mux. Of course I don't really *need* most of this stuff, but I like having it.
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Old 07-12-2010, 21:39   #11
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Am very near procuring Vesper Marine Ltd. (New Zealand) AIS WatchMate 850 - Display with built in AIS Transponder; see AIS WatchMate Transponder - Display with built-in GPS antenna
as soon as FCC approval is obtained.
Comments?
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Old 07-12-2010, 21:44   #12
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Old 07-12-2010, 22:06   #13
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Ok cool. Thanks for the feedback. A transponder it is. Now to decide which one!
I have owned the West Marine AIS 1000 transceiver for about a year. I mounted a dedicated VHF-band AIS antenna and the mushroom-style GPS on the aft rail. Performance has been excellent and the power consumption very low. You can also stop the transmit in stealth mode when you want, but the power-up default is transmit-on (as it should be).

I overlay it on Coastal Explorer software at the nav table but it can also interface to any other NMEA2000 display.

One more thing -- it comes with the GPS and along with the AIS it also feeds GPS info (with WAAS accuracy) on the same data stream.

Highly recommended and it's a fraction of the price of the competition.
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Old 07-12-2010, 23:28   #14
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For AIS when offshore redundancy and minimal power consumption is a good thinig. The NASA IAS from England is a simple, effective, low-power AIS receiver and display unit.

It's also really nice to include the AIS targets as an overlay on a chart plotter or similar charting software.

If you're crossing an ocean I'd lean towards the NASA unit. If you're sailing coastal where the chart plotter might be relevant, an overlay unit is ideal.

If you have the budget, do both.

- rob/beetle
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:16   #15
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Cant see why youd never not use an overlay, it is the only way, The only reason to non-overlay , is that you dont have the technology to use overlays

Dave
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