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Old 06-09-2012, 10:32   #1
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VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Hello, I am a recent purchaser of a nice Dana 24 that I am refitting and wish to ask opinions on which VHF and AIS systems I might install. I wish an integrated system with an AIS Transceiver, integrated VHF and perhaps an integrated small GPS/Plotter. Considerations include low power usage, ease of use, bug free integration, and some expectancy of not being obsolete the day after installation. I like Garmin stuff, but have an open mind. I also have a feeling that Garmin might be on the verge of releasing updated equipment, which makes me hesitate. I don't have any time pressure, so am able to wait if it makes sense. I would appreciate any opinions and suggestions.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:14   #2
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

I believe there is a SH unit that joins VHF and a plotter. Add a compatible AIS transceiver and you have an integrated 'all-in-one' system.

Building things of separate bricks is just as adequate and twice as much fun, provided the bricks match.

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Old 06-09-2012, 13:00   #3
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Hi- I also have a Dana. Two years ago I upgraded to a SH 2100X which is VHF with AIS. It needs a GPS connection which I already had with previous DSC radio. Main advantage is it fits where old radio fit and shares one antenna (Dana's don't have a lot of space). I have heard that reception sensitivity is not so good and I only get AIS from ships at 9-15 miles (in rough seas). It doesn't integrate with chartplotter (except to get GPS). The AIS data displayed is minimal but adequate and the alarm is very loud (Ha!). I give this unit a rating of 90% or higher.
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Old 06-09-2012, 13:36   #4
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

The Standard Horizon GX2100 VHF includes a dual-channel AIS receiver and does indeed make this AIS data available to your chartplotter. Of course your chartplotter needs to understand AIS, but most of the new ones do. You need to feed GPS NMEA data at 4800 bps to the GX2100. The new GX2150 will accept GPS data at 38400 bps.

I'm not sure how the new GX2150 operates with an AIS transponder (should you choose to have a transponder instead of just an AIS receiver).
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Old 06-09-2012, 15:45   #5
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I would only consider AIS transponders , the receiver thing s only really a transition thing

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Old 06-09-2012, 16:03   #6
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Dave's point is good. Transponders are better. The VHF/AIS is a simple, cheap solution but has less capability. My boat has a minimal system of instruments with low power consumption and doesn't overload the skipper with too much information. A few times I wish there was more.
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Old 06-09-2012, 16:48   #7
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

I too believe the discussed SH integrates and not only for AIS but also for DSC. What it does NOT do is it does not contain an AIS transceiver, which is, so I believe, what OP wants in the package.

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Old 06-09-2012, 18:56   #8
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Ahoy, and thanks to all for your input. I appreciate your willingness to share.
Yes, I do intend to install a AIS transceiver (transponder) along with a state of the art VHF that would have DSC, etc. including integration with the AIS. And a smallish GPS/Plotter all connected together (with connectivity to a tiller pilot, such as a Simrad TP32).
I think that this is a modern electronic Nav/Com+ suite that, other than radar, covers the essentials. I am particularly interested in opinions about the major manufacturers such as RayMarine, Garmin, Standard Horizon, Icom and any others that people are willing to comment on. As Garmin and RayMarine have product lines that encompass all of the equipment mentioned, I was hoping to get users opinions on them as a means to evaluate customer satisfaction, quirks, gripes, praise and any other information. Information on mixed and matched systems with various other manufacturers would also be enlightening. I have read many threads here and elsewhere, and Practical Sailor reviewed VHF radios recently, but information and reviews on an integrated basic system, such as I have described, and that would be a logical installation on small and midsize sailboats is not easy to find.
Bill
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:28   #9
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Even if you have an AIS transponder, you might still consider connecting it to the Standard Horizon GX2000 VHF (as well as to your chartplotter), since the GX2000 can be used as a fairly low-power AIS monitor. This will give you guard zones, etc, and the power consumption will probably be less than you see from the chartplotter. The power difference may or may not be important to you -- this depends on how you will be using your boat.

A warning: the SH GX2000 requires AIS input at 38400 bps, and GPS input at 4800 bps. It will *not* be able to use the 38400 bps GPS data that your transponder puts out in its AIS data stream.
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:39   #10
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Agreed that a Class B AIS transponder is far better than a receiver. All Class B units have GPS as part of the package, and usually require 38,400 output on NMEA 0183 (or N2K) to handle the potential data stream. Any black box AIS will be able to provide data to any display that can handle AIS data (with matching interfaces), so at first blush it seems like you can mix and match. The joker is that the industry was really slow to adopt a standard for passing a selected AIS target's MMSI to the DSC VHF radio to make a call. I think that is a very desirable feature. At least the required N2K PGN 129808 seems to be the accepted standard now. Simrad didn't wait and used a proprietary PGN to link their AIS with their VHF; understandable, but at this point you might want to stick with the standard PGN.

Good luck,

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Old 06-09-2012, 21:48   #11
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Quote:
Originally Posted by EveningTide View Post
Dave's point is good. Transponders are better. The VHF/AIS is a simple, cheap solution but has less capability. My boat has a minimal system of instruments with low power consumption and doesn't overload the skipper with too much information. A few times I wish there was more.
This depends entirely on where you sail and HOW you sail.

On the steel passagemaker, I am opting for the SH 2100 with the AIS ...and...a Vesper Watchmate (a transponder). Two AISes in sea lanes is prudent, as is radar.

On my plastic 33 footer in Lake Ontario, I go with my SH 851 handheld, because sometimes I need to report picnic tables in the water to the CG and having a GPS in the handheld is useful. AIS on a Great Lake is not critical, however.

For you, a decent DSC-capable handheld and an AIS transponder might make a good choice, for the rather obvious reason that a 24 footer is a small radar target, but properly set up AIS and a MMSI number make you as "visible" as a ship.

Like putting a laser flare on the roof of a Fiat 500, it could make you obvious when waving, shouting and standard flares do not.
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Old 06-09-2012, 22:36   #12
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

Transponders?

Just get the SH AIS receiver and plug a $150 Garmin handheld into it. It's super economical and easy to use.

Transponders on recreational boats just seem ridiculous to me. The boats you really need to worry about don't, and won't, have AIS receivers on them. Some Mexican panga with no nav lights out fishing isn't going to be monitoring your AIS.

The costs and power requirements for a transponder well exceed my needs.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:23   #13
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

The power requirement for a transponder (Class-B) is only slightly worse than a receive-only unit. A single-channel receiver draws about 0.1A @ 12V. A proper dual-channel receiver consumes slightly more. A Class-B transponder draws about 0.3A, which is still quite low.

With either the receiver or the transponder you need to have something that will display the AIS targets and raise an alarm if one will be approaching too closely. This can be an integrated unit such as one of the Vesper devices, or even the old Nasa Marine "AIS Radar" units, or it can be a chartplotter, or a computer, or the Simrad (or Garmin?) VHF/AIS units.

AIS will not show all threats, but it still can be very valuable. You really need to decide what you need, and what you want, then assemble the appropriate system. Look at where and how you will be sailing, at your power budget, your dollar budget, and where your interests lie. There are lots of good solutions out there. If you want to sail with a compass, chronometer, sextant, leadline, barometer, and paper charts I'm not going to criticize.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:30   #14
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Re: VHF, AIS, etc. Choices for Refit

My entire navigation electronics consists of:

- old furono radar; nothing integrated into the display
- sh ais receiver / vhf radio combo (displays ais targets)
- garmin 72 handheld, plugged into the 12v and the nmea out to the sh ais/vhf

The cost is really low for the amount of functionality I have. I even opted for the RAM mic for the SH radio, so I can just sit in the cockpit under the dodger reading a book with the full display from the SH in my lap.

I do paper nav based on GPS and my attempts at noon sites and various celestial nav when I have a moment. The chart plotter thing just doesn't float my boat, so to speak.
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