3 connections to an AIS: power, aerial and computer.
From your description, you have access to the unit for a period of time in USA. And I assume you don't have access to the computer untill you're onboard.
Typically 12 VDC so straight to onboard DC power board (if boat is 12V, and fused of course). Some AIS units may allow 10-30V range so suitable for 24V systems.
Requires normal VHF
aerial, mounted higher the better. The specs will say it requires its own VHF aerial, however good results can be achieved sharing the VHF radio's aerial using this electronic splitter http://milltechmarine.com/products.htm
. You can wire up the AIS-to-splitter at home. The other side of the splitter will connect with the large aerial screw plug
that you remove from the VHF radio
on board, you'll need to make up another coax length (which you can do at home) from the splitter to the VHF radio
Alternately fit a complete new VHF aerial for the AIS. The AIS will probably have a BNC connector for the aerial coax (this is the small bayonet type you may know better from older network cables) and the aerial will probably have the larger screw type connectors. You can buy a converter for connecting these two before you leave (any electronic supplies shop, or in milltech's catalogue).
The AIS device should be supplied with a 9-pin serial plug
for connecting to the computer. Your computer may not have a mate for this so you need a "USB to Serial
Converter" cable (from electronics
or PC shops etc) and the driver disk supplied with it. If the onboard computer is running Vista, then confirm that the driver is Vista-compatible before you leave.
I think that covers the process, I'm sure someone will fill in any spaces. Mostly you should notice that you can do most of it before you leave, and if you have the computer also then that is better. So all you'd do onboard is connect to power and change the aerial connections around.
Hope this helps