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Old 05-11-2009, 11:47   #1
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Which AIS Unit?

After a long break from Cruisers Forum I am now back again. I'm returning to my boat on Aruba after working like mad to raise $$$ for further sailing.

What's the obvious thing to do when you've just saved up money to go sailing? ... To spend it! I have worked on a cruise ship for a few months and by talking to the bridge officers it's really hit home how important having AIS is. All the bridge officers said that to them it was a no brainer and worth quite a chunk of change to have that additional safety net.

I read a number of threads and have done some research online, but haven't really found a unit I'm 100% about. I definitely want a send and receive unit and so far the easyTRAX is my favorite. If I use that together with the easySPLIT OCB it seems like I'll be in business.

My question goes out to other AIS owners: Are you happy with what you're using or have you seen other systems that work better?

I would greatly appreciate your help, because the easyTRAX isn't the cheapest one around, but it comes recommended from a friend.
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:57   #2
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Hey Andreas…welcome back.
Aren’t you the guy who bought the cat and went to the Caribbean to operate her as a charter?
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:01   #3
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Hey Andreas…welcome back.
Aren’t you the guy who bought the cat and went to the Caribbean to operate her as a charter?
Yes.
Enter credit crunch ... and exit Andreas

It didn't work quite as well as I had hoped to operate the charter business, I did have a few charters, so it started well, but ...

Anyways, now I'm returning with a vengance (and hopefully with an AIS) to do a month of charters, before I return to cruising and enjoying life.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:03   #4
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This stuff is all standardised, can't really go wrong. If you've been credit crunched, you may be pleased to hear that westmarine has got a particularly affordable transponder unit out..
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:06   #5
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We had the owner of Milltech Marine come to one of our club's dinner meetings and give a talk. It was very helpful as several of our members wanted AIS, but didn't know which one. Send and e-mail to them and they will be very helpful.

Products from Milltech Marine
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:15   #6
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This stuff is all standardised, can't really go wrong. If you've been credit crunched, you may be pleased to hear that westmarine has got a particularly affordable transponder unit out..
I've looked at that one and naturally the price is appealing, but I'd like to hear from someone using it that it works well and that they are happy with it. Sometimes cheap price also means cheap quality ... or at least a Hellish install.

Quote:
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We had the owner of Milltech Marine come to one of our club's dinner meetings and give a talk. It was very helpful as several of our members wanted AIS, but didn't know which one. Send and e-mail to them and they will be very helpful.
I will do. Thank you for that.

I'm still hoping to hear from Forum members that are using AIS units. I like to hear info from the Horse's mouth. I know I can speak with real passion about some of my gear...
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Old 05-11-2009, 13:25   #7
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The Simrad AI50 transponder is a great unit, and can be linked to a plotter display like the NX45 that makes it really easy to read.

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And here's why they're a good idea - 0300 in the English Channel!
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Old 05-11-2009, 13:52   #8
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Simrad - cheap, standalone, screen, active.

NASA - cheaper, standalone, screen, passive.

The Watchman / any receiver or transceiver - chepa, screen, active or passive, crossing situation pre-visualisation.

Personally the Simrad, or a NASA blackbox plugged into any reasonable plotter.

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Old 06-11-2009, 00:58   #9
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I use this

Comar Systems CSB 200

no complaints
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:21   #10
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I use this
Comar Systems CSB 200
no complaints
Thank you. This is actually the one Milltech Marine recommended, when I contacted them, because Tom Spohn suggested it in this thread.

I'm happy to hear that you have no complaints. I have a couple of questions:
How was installation?
Did you go for a splitter, or did you install a second antenna dedicated to the AIS?
What do you view the information on?

I really appreciate your help.
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:24   #11
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The Simrad AI50 transponder is a great unit, and can be linked to a plotter display like the NX45 that makes it really easy to read.

And here's why they're a good idea - 0300 in the English Channel!
The Simrad looks to be an excellent unit, but it is a bit expensive.

I was lucky the last time I sailed though the English Channel ... hardly any traffic: it felt like it was an early Sunday morning on the road.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:29   #12
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The Simrad looks to be an excellent unit, but it is a bit expensive.
Well, it is EUR 1000 or so here, probably cheaper in the US. For this money you get an active unit and with a screen. Good value if looking for networkable standalone.

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Old 06-11-2009, 08:02   #13
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simrad AI50

I recently bought the simrad AI50, and have been happy with it.
I like that it is a stand alone active system with its own display. So it provides redundancy to my radar etc.
I also use the NMEA 0183 output to send it to Maxsea. So I have the AIS display at the helm and Maxsea inside.

Just have to be careful of those Ferrys in maine....
(large fast vessels that don't use AIS because they are just under the 360ton cut off for mandatory ais....)
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:58   #14
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For $1000 I bought both the West Marine 1000 and the Vesper Watchmate-- gives you a display and a good alarm system.

Yet to be installed on the boat, as I am in Calif and the boat is in Trinidad, but I plan to play with it here soon. I installed a separate pulpit antenna on the boat for use with my old AIS receiver and as a backup if I lose the mast. There was some discussion on the SSCA bulletin board about being able to tee in my existing Garmin external GPS antenna with the West Marine AIS, which would make the installation a snap.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:49   #15
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I have the ACR AIS-B, which comes with a gps and vhf antenna. I installed the VHF antenna on my port transom about 14 feet above the water, and routinely see shipe 20+ miles away. The software runs on my PC, and the data reaches both of my plotters very well.

I suspect if you bought every AIS B on the market today, 90% have identical boards, so they are functionally equal. The differences are strictly according to what else comes with it, and a little premium for name brand recognition. If you intend to share a VHF antenna, or bring in GPS from another source, you can save a couple bucks, but pay the difference in aggravation unless you have a lot of experience integrating electronics. I do, but I druthernot.
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