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Old 12-04-2013, 07:49   #106
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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Originally Posted by Triton318 View Post
I guess I'm just inconsiderate. If you want to avoid running into me out there, I guess you'll just have to be watching out for me with your eyes.
I'll see you. That's what radar does, it lets me see the 90+% of the vessels out there that don't deploy an AIS transmitter.

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But if you're not, that's okay, because I'll be keeping a watch out for you. With my eyes.
Oh, you'll see me on your receive-only AIS. But I'm glad you got my back!!
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:32   #107
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

I got my class-A transponder for $500 in 2006... just a matter of "do... or do not"

The Chinese started these websites to sell their wares almost a decade ago. You can actually buy those items. You can also sit back and wait until guys like Garmin, Raymarine etc. buy them, put their name on it and sell it to you for five times the price.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:22   #108
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3) Yep, it costs $$ to play, but it's a whole lot cheaper than just a few years ago.
It is still four times the price of the cheapest receive only systems, and roughly double the cost of the most robust receive only systems. The OP asked about how he could get AIS on board for the fewest dollars and frankly, regardless of its value, receive only is cheaper.

I would love forward facing sonar as well, but it isn't in the budget. Does that mean that I shouldn't buy a depth sounder because it isn't as good? I see the point about how nice it is to transmit, but the OP asked for cheap.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:42   #109
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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It is still four times the price of the cheapest receive only systems, and roughly double the cost of the most robust receive only systems. The OP asked about how he could get AIS on board for the fewest dollars and frankly, regardless of its value, receive only is cheaper.

I would love forward facing sonar as well, but it isn't in the budget. Does that mean that I shouldn't buy a depth sounder because it isn't as good? I see the point about how nice it is to transmit, but the OP asked for cheap.
I missed where the OP asked for a 'half-baked' solution.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:33   #110
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

I will be buying a transponder for the same reason that I will hoist a radar reflector (even though I "paint" better than an 80 foot fibreglass boat). It's the right solution for me. It may be unnecessary for you. To me, it's part of the watchstanding solution when I'm crossing mid-ocean shipping lanes beyond SAR reach. So is RADAR guard alarm, so are binoculars, so is a DSC-capable handheld. So is a SOLAS-grade flare gun if everyone is playing "Call of Duty" on the tanker's bridge!

Receive-only AIS is better than naught, as my relatives in Britain say, and combined with a DSC-enabled radio and MMSI numbers, arguably make the boat considerably safer, particularly in crowded harbours or congested, foggy night approaches.

So the argument to me is like inflatable (may not work) PFDs versus foam vest PFDs (will never fail, but won't keep your head out of the water). You have to properly use the solution you have, and part of that solution is seamanship, your eyes...and your mind.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:49   #111
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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Originally Posted by engele View Post
It is still four times the price of the cheapest receive only systems, and roughly double the cost of the most robust receive only systems. The OP asked about how he could get AIS on board for the fewest dollars and frankly, regardless of its value, receive only is cheaper.

I would love forward facing sonar as well, but it isn't in the budget. Does that mean that I shouldn't buy a depth sounder because it isn't as good? I see the point about how nice it is to transmit, but the OP asked for cheap.
a transponder is only 3x as expensive when you compare the cheapest ones ($530 vs $175)

$530 or $600 or $800 or $1000 is all a steal to get an AIS transponder. Much better value for money than most every other device aboard. Just one run to get some rum and wine costs more.
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Old 12-04-2013, 14:22   #112
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

There is a real downside to going as cheap as you can with AIS. The lowest-cost system will have a single-channel receiver and a poorly-placed antenna. This will almost always show you the big ships in time for you to react (let's ignore eyeball-aided safety for now), but you may not receive the vessel's name for many minutes. In fact, the ship may have already passed before the name appears on your display.

This is because the ship's name is only transmitted every six minutes, on alternating VHF channels. With a single-channel receiver you only get half of these. These single-channel receivers may alternate channels, so you *might* receive the name information sooner, but it is just as likely that you will get it later, too. This can easily turn into a 12 or 24-minute wait.

A poor antenna will cause the AIS signal to be marginal, even at a range of only a few miles. The vessel's position data is sent often enough that if you miss one transmission it's no big deal, but if the name info is corrupted you have to wait another six or twelve minutes for your next chance.

Having access to the vessel name is important to me. You don't need the name if you use your DSC-capable VHF to make a DSC call, but this is cumbersome to do in a cheap AIS system.

So, I recommend *at least* a dual-channel AIS receiver, and a good antenna installation. I do like my Class-B transponder, but a good receive-only system does get you the lion's share of AIS benefits.
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Old 12-04-2013, 15:01   #113
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

Any info on this unit? I'm thinking of purchasing this, but not sure about the longterm quality.......

Simrad AI50 Class B AIS Transponder / Display - Simrad Yachting
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Old 12-04-2013, 15:16   #114
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

Totally agree on the single channel receiver and antenna placement comment.

However, independent of the decision regarding receive-only vs. transmit is how you will view and use the received AIS information. AIS is of little value if you don't have a way to interpret what you receive. Price discussions don't always appear to take the whole system into account.

Like everything, it's how you intend to use it that may be a good way to drive your decision process... will you only be operating in areas with very few other vessels? Will the small display of a VHF radio be sufficient? Or do you have a plotter, MFD, computer to display the info? If so, will you be able/willing to keep it powered on at all times? Do you want an alarm that will alert you to the presence of another vessel or only if another vessel is on a collision course? If the latter, will whatever display you use allow you to eliminate false alarms sufficiently to make it not be a nuisance? If you will be operating in areas with a fair amount of shipping traffic, will the display allow you to reduce the clutter on the screen so you can determine which targets to focus on?

I'm sure there are other considerations too, but when comparing the costs take into account the whole system, what equipment you already have and what your individual needs are.
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Old 12-04-2013, 15:17   #115
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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Any info on this unit? I'm thinking of purchasing this, but not sure about the longterm quality.......

Simrad AI50 Class B AIS Transponder / Display - Simrad Yachting
It is obsolete. The biggest problem is that Simrad failed to get the NMEA2000 support right for this unit. They now have a black-box unit that does work correctly so a new unit with display will soon follow.

The Vesper Marine touch + wifi unit is in your future I think, check it out
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Old 12-04-2013, 16:57   #116
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

Hi Paul,

I agree with much of what you are saying. However by the time you add the bits needed to make a $600 great system work as it should you are at a much higher number. If you are just adding another piece of tech to an absolute top notch tech machine then the costs will not be as great.

I have no argument about the virtue's of an incredible system like Vesper and others offer for sale. It is what I need! What I can afford! About 12 years ago I was getting my boat ready for a quick dash across the Atlantic back to Ireland. I bought Radar, because of the traffic in the Western Approaches!

Now technology moves on in wonderful ways. Aparently 15 years ago I was a well equipped and knowledgable mariner, now I can't leave the dock without more technology than the Apollo missions had.

I will get something, meet with bank person tomorrow morning, may be good news?
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Old 12-04-2013, 17:21   #117
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

I'm responding to the "cheap" part of the equation. If you already have a GPS, and already have a laptop or AIS-aware chartplotter, then the GPS and display / alarm functions are "free". In this case, if you are capable of wiring these pieces (and an antenna) together and otherwise integrating your system, the simple receive-only AIS black box will be the cheapest AIS solution. The alarm functionality can be quite good, depending on the chartplotter or software.

If you are willing to spend a little more money, or if you don't already have the other pieces on hand, you should look into something like the Vesper gear. The advantages are significant: lower power consumption, excellent functionality, ability to have your display in an exposed location, AIS transponder if you want it, and easier system integration, among others.

If I were starting fresh I would take a good look at the Vesper products. These do appear to be designed from the sailor's perspective, which makes a big difference.

And of course you don't *need* AIS, Radar, GPS, chartplotters, computers, satphones, radios (other than a VHF), to take off and go sailing. I happen to think these are all very good things to have, but you can certainly do without them.
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Old 12-04-2013, 17:33   #118
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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AIS is of little value if you don't have a way to interpret what you receive.
This brings up something I have been thinking about regarding black box units.

It would be nice if a black box could also have a CPA alarm that would alert you to turn on a display and have a look.

For instance, you set the AIS receivers parameters for CPA alarm with an IPAD or computer then you can turn off the display till you get an alarm.

Same alarm could be used for anchor alarm.
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Old 12-04-2013, 17:46   #119
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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This brings up something I have been thinking about regarding black box units.

It would be nice if a black box could also have a CPA alarm that would alert you to turn on a display and have a look.

For instance, you set the AIS receivers parameters for CPA alarm with an IPAD or computer then you can turn off the display till you get an alarm.

Same alarm could be used for anchor alarm.
Vesper already has those functions built in. One of reasons it is hard to beat.
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Old 12-04-2013, 18:39   #120
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Re: Want the Best, Cheapest Easiest AIS solution:-)

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I'll see you. That's what radar does, it lets me see the 90+% of the vessels out there that don't deploy an AIS transmitter...
You are much better radar operator than I am. I might see 90%+ of large ships on radar (who are required to have AIS anyway), but closer to 10% of small sailboats. They tend to just look like the rest of the sea clutter to me.

Of course the radar has to be on and i have to be sitting in front of the thing to see anybody on it.
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