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Old 03-11-2016, 05:43   #1
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Cheap AIS Alternatives

I recently bought a dAISy AIS receiver. While waiting for an antenna and adapters to arrive I passed the time looking around on eBay and found a few other devices that might be of interest.

The Quark-Elec QK-A021 appears to have similar specs to the dAISy. It's price is less than the dAISy but when you add shipping it costs more.

Marine/ship/boat AIS Receiver(USB connector)--UK seller | eBay

The Quark-Elec QK-A022 is a dual channel receiver.

Marine/ship/boat Dual Channel AIS Receiver--UK seller

Both publish specifications, which are lacking from the dAISy manual or Web pages.

If you want to be seen by other AIS-equipped vessels there some fairly inexpensive AIS transceivers are beginning to appear.

The Matsutec HA-102 is the cheapest.

CLASS B AIS Transponder HA-102 Dual Channel Function CSTDMA Function | eBay

Next is the Matsutec HP-33A.

4.3" Color LCD Class B AIS Transponder Combo High GPS Navigator HP-33A /CE | eBay

The cheapest way to go is still the SDR USB dongle. I found a bunch of these at prices ranging from $5 to $15. I bought a Terratec a couple of years ago for $15. It's replacement is available for $12.80.

US Ship RTL-SDR Radio USB Kit for Terratec DVB-T TV FM add DAB RTL2832U Replace | eBay

My experience with the SDR device was similar to my experience with the dAISy--my antenna wasn't good enough. SDR requires collecting some software and configuring it to work together. I went through all the steps and managed to get AIS targets to appear on my OpenCPN display (when I connected my masthead VHF radio antenna), so I know it can be made to work. I don't know how much the SDR software impacts OpenCPN's performance. I prefer to offload all that digital signal processing to the dAISy and make it a plug and play appliance. If you don't mind tinkering SDR can save a few bucks and there's plenty of guidance on the Web to get you up and running.

It looks like the market is beginning to make AIS a pretty affordable option. OpenCPN's support for AIS lets you get by with a cheaper receiver that doesn't have its own display. It also assures you will be able to adapt to any changes in standards. You won't have to worry about your AIS equipment becoming obsolete as you do with expensive proprietary units.

Fabbian
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:26   #2
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Hard to beat recycling old vhf radios or scanners for "cheap".. and they are good receivers.

AIS (Automatic Identification System)
Discriminator Output

SDR is great but a good device and antenna are expensive, imo
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:54   #3
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Yep.

Very good sum up on available cheap AIS devices!

Great post. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 03-11-2016, 21:48   #4
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappySeagull View Post
Hard to beat recycling old vhf radios or scanners for "cheap".. and they are good receivers.

AIS (Automatic Identification System)
Discriminator Output
Good point. You lose the plug and play simplicity and one of the two channels, but you get a much more sensitive receiver. It's another option that I had forgotten about.

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Originally Posted by HappySeagull View Post
SDR is great but a good device and antenna are expensive, imo
I don't have enough experience to evaluate the different devices on the market. AIS transceivers range in price from $200 to $3,000. One would hope you get something extra for the higher price, but often it's just a manufacturer exploiting a brand name.

I suppose it depends on what you plan to do with AIS. I'm primarily interested in being able to see the name of the ship I see heading out the channel. Collision avoidance isn't a priority for me because I don't sail where the big ships go.

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Old 04-11-2016, 08:00   #5
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by fgd3 View Post

(...)

AIS transceivers range in price from $200 to $3,000.

(...)
Can you PLS disclose the $200 unit?

Thanks,
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Old 04-11-2016, 22:11   #6
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Can you PLS disclose the $200 unit?

Thanks,
b.
I'm sorry. It's a $300 unit, the Matsutec HA-102,

CLASS B AIS Transponder HA-102 Dual Channel Function CSTDMA Function | eBay

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Old 05-11-2016, 00:06   #7
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Remember that a AIS transponder is part of the ship station, has to be documented as such (in the vessels papers) and has to be homologated by a competent body.

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Old 05-11-2016, 06:53   #8
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

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Originally Posted by fgd3 View Post
I'm sorry. It's a $300 unit, the Matsutec HA-102,

CLASS B AIS Transponder HA-102 Dual Channel Function CSTDMA Function | eBay

Fabbian
A-ha.

Will check this one out.

Furuno knock-offs. Sometimes come pre-programmed with a Chinese fishing vessel MMSI.

A friend had their model with the color screen. Reprogrammed works all right though.

BTW Interestingly seen identical units with extra power setting. Could be a very useful thing.

THX for sharing!!!

Cheers,
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Old 15-11-2016, 03:24   #9
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Re: Cheap AIS Alternatives

Hi,
Kittiping here from Quark Electronics, I see you are discussing our products and I thought you might like to know that we are offering a 10% Christmas Discount if you order an AIS module from our online shop before December 31st. Just quote CFXmas10 at the checkout QK-A022
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