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Old 31-05-2012, 03:49   #1
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Live AIS Via Internet

Is there any way to interface ais traffic from the internet (marinetraffic.com or shipfinder.co) into open cpn? Most of my sailing is on Chesapeake Bay and I'm always within cell range to access the internet on my computer. It sure would be nice not to have to switch between programs.

Ed
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Old 06-07-2015, 04:48   #2
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

I'm a little surprised that no developers have replied to this. After playing with this over the weekend there is NO doubt that Internet AIS will soon be made available within most other laptop/tablet chart plotters moving forward. I can assure you if OpenCPN does not provide this capability, it will go the way of the Do Do bird for many existing users like me. Posters on other related threads have said this capability was dangerous when compared to real AIS receivers. Those posters have simply never tried it. The "free" webpage screens might have significant delays as noted, but the downloaded software does not.

I downloaded Sea Nav (w/Boat Beacon), SEAiq and Marine Traffic onto my iPhone. When comparing the data with my real time AIS SDR receiver (used on OpenCPN) and my Standard Horizons GX2100, they are pretty much dead on with very little delay. Where there is a delay in the data, you can quickly see how old the data is and make your own assessments. Generally speaking, the only data older than a few minutes was that for ships at anchor.

The HUGE advantage to providing Internet AIS is the much greater number of ships/boats seen on the display. While OpenCPN showed ONLY the ships transmitting AIS signals, Marine Traffic also showed the boats using AIS apps on iPhones which doubled the amount of marine traffic seen on the screen. As more and more people hook up to these shared boat location networks (with and without real AIS/GPS transmitter data), it becomes possible to get a much better view of the traffic around you during the night and in fog.

AIS will never replace Radar, but considering how poor our own senses are at viewing targets at night or in fog, this capability can be a lifesaver to any boats without Radar. Internet AIS is here to stay and live data transmitted from cell phones is in my opinion little different than live data from AIS transponders. Both provide boat location in real time. One to a server that instantly transmits the data via the Internet and the other that transmits the data to our receivers. Both travel at near light speed. The Internet delay would only be significant for boats traveling at very high speeds. Something I hope nobody does at night or in fog.

OpenCPN has its own warnings that it should not be used to replace "real" navigation equipment. But I'm sure there are more and more people that use it as a primary source because it outperforms the older small screen chart plotters the average Joe can afford. I have a CPF190i on one boat and a Garmin 3205 on the other (both with AIS). And I prefer the laptop software to both of them.

Yes, Internet AIS doesn't really help anyone out at sea. But lets face it, 99 of the heavy recreational boat traffic is now within range of cell phone service. I'm on the Chesapeake and have yet to find a location where my cell phone does not have a good strong signal. And if you use Internet AIS on your laptop/tablet/iPhone chart plotter, you will see my boat, every time I go out (even though I cannot transmit an AIS signal). And every time I go out, I will see a lot more boats around me on my iPhone then you guys do on OpenCPN !
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Old 06-07-2015, 05:11   #3
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

You might have a look here:
Marine Traffic AIS targets via API Key

Gerhard
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Old 06-07-2015, 06:30   #4
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

All well and good but the marine traffic information comes from AIS base stations. AIS receivers collect signals from ships in range. Often ships and yachts are well out of range of base stations but in range if each other. Both may have cell coverage.
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Old 06-07-2015, 06:34   #5
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

Two rather small issues with boat beacon. Battery life on the phone is affected..external power helps. Collision alerts generate emails that may worry persons on shore. Other than that I agree...it works great.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:03   #6
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

Quote:
Originally Posted by hsi88 View Post
I'm a little surprised that no developers have replied to this. After playing with this over the weekend there is NO doubt that Internet AIS will soon be made available within most other laptop/tablet chart plotters moving forward. I can assure you if OpenCPN does not provide this capability, it will go the way of the Do Do bird for many existing users like me. Posters on other related threads have said this capability was dangerous when compared to real AIS receivers. Those posters have simply never tried it. The "free" webpage screens might have significant delays as noted, but the downloaded software does not.
I disagree with the assessment that internet based AIS will take over. There are too many negatives. I think the price of hardware AIS will drop dramatically, as well as be integrated into other devices (such as VHF radios, fishfinders, etc) in the next few years, and there will be plentiful RF sources for OpenCPN to connect to.

I won't speak for the rest of the developers, but I will speak for myself... I have the technical aptitude to implement such a plugin, but I will not do it.

For 2 reasons.

1) It's not just a matter of delays that makes it more dangerous. It's the fact that the data would be dependent upon other services not within the control of OpenCPN or anyone related to it. If a base station, the AIS service provider, the vessel's internet connection, or any other point along the data path fails, AIS data will simply stop arriving. It would be impossible to ascertain which piece had failed (other than the cell service) so from OpenCPN's perspective everything would be working great.

2) It's simply not worth the effort. You can buy an AIS transponder for a couple hundred $, and receivers for even less. I use dAISy, a USB device that connects to the Raspberry Pi. It costs $55.

Just my opinion, and no disrespect intended at all. Reasonable minds can disagree.
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:01   #7
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

I currently use AIS from my SH GX2100 on my chart plotters, but really like the idea of seeing lots more boats in times of fog or darkness. True, its the container ships that will most likely roll me over and they almost always transmit AIS signals. But I'd like to see more boats in general and that is what other laptop software provides using Internet AIS. I was just hoping OpenCPN could also provide this option.

You mentioned that AIS transponders are available for a couple hundred bucks. I'm all in. Please point me in that direction !! I may also buy the cheap AIS receiver you pointed me to, just for a backup and to hook to my OpenCPN application. Not quite as clunky as an SD Radio.

Bob
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:16   #8
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

Bob,
if you don't see all ships with AIS around you with your SH GX2100 then check the antenna. It is wrong when you think you will see more with Internet AIS.

Gerhard
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:22   #9
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

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You mentioned that AIS transponders are available for a couple hundred bucks. I'm all in. Please point me in that direction !!
Sorry, "couple hundred" for the receive only. It's more for the transponder.

I was seriously considering the sub-$500 SiTex SAS300 though.
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:31   #10
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

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Originally Posted by mattkab View Post
I disagree with the assessment that internet based AIS will take over. There are too many negatives. I think the price of hardware AIS will drop dramatically, as well as be integrated into other devices (such as VHF radios, fishfinders, etc) in the next few years, and there will be plentiful RF sources for OpenCPN to connect to.

I won't speak for the rest of the developers, but I will speak for myself... I have the technical aptitude to implement such a plugin, but I will not do it.

For 2 reasons.

1) It's not just a matter of delays that makes it more dangerous. It's the fact that the data would be dependent upon other services not within the control of OpenCPN or anyone related to it. If a base station, the AIS service provider, the vessel's internet connection, or any other point along the data path fails, AIS data will simply stop arriving. It would be impossible to ascertain which piece had failed (other than the cell service) so from OpenCPN's perspective everything would be working great.

2) It's simply not worth the effort. You can buy an AIS transponder for a couple hundred $, and receivers for even less. I use dAISy, a USB device that connects to the Raspberry Pi. It costs $55.

Just my opinion, and no disrespect intended at all. Reasonable minds can disagree.
1) A dedicated AIS reciever can fail also. It can even fail in such a manner that OpenCPN thinks it's getting good data.

2) Assuming you already have a laptop with a mifi hotspot activated, it costs nothing to pull it up via internet, so you do save a few hundred.

Not saying developers will jump on it but your arguments against don't hold much water.
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:35   #11
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
1)
2) Assuming you already have a laptop with a mifi hotspot activated, it costs nothing to pull it up via internet, so you do save a few hundred.
You are talking bullshit, right? How many miles is your internet connection at sea?

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Old 06-07-2015, 13:39   #12
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
1) A dedicated AIS reciever can fail also. It can even fail in such a manner that OpenCPN thinks it's getting good data.

2) Assuming you already have a laptop with a mifi hotspot activated, it costs nothing to pull it up via internet, so you do save a few hundred.

Not saying developers will jump on it but your arguments against don't hold much water.
It only costs nothing if your time is free.

Thinking about it a bit more, one of the benefits of internet based AIS over VHF-based AIS is the expanded range -- via the internet I could pull targets hundreds of miles away. That would be a huge help in some circumstances.

Maybe iconography could help -- render VHF AIS targets as is. render internet targets differently. Then provide a mechanism to turn on and off the different targets (because I forsee the same target rendered twice on the display from the two sources).

It would be a bit of work, but maybe I jumped into the "no" group too fast.
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:50   #13
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

Hi, to join this thread as well, I also think it would be a neat feature to show AIS targets received through Internet on OpenCPN (for many good reasons, such as redundancy, more detail, etc.) and 95% of my sailing is done where I have GSM/3G coverage (southern Norway, Western Sweden, etc.)

That being said I also would think it would be a neat feature if O could also transmit the AIS information. I tried the following post about a month ago in the Marine Electronic forum, but without an response. Maybe this forum is more appropriate:

"Hi, I was wondering if there is any small program (pref. in Linux) that could, based on some pre defined parameters and the navigation information from a GPS, produce the standardised AIS sentences, AISVDM, etc.

I don't have an AIS transmitter aboard, but I do have a Utilite Arm computer running Linux and OpenCPN, and the idea was to have it produce such sentences, and then send them to marinetraffic.com using AIS dispatcher or something similar if not built into OpenCPN. I usually have a 3G connection.

I have searched but not really found any such program. Anyone has any leads?"

Maybe this could be a plugin or something?

B/R Eirik


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Old 06-07-2015, 14:00   #14
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

It's going even worse now. Do you really think it will be allowed to disturb an IMO security system with your playground? If you will do so your boating driver license will be gone...

Gerhard
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Old 06-07-2015, 14:21   #15
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Re: Live AIS Via Internet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eirik View Post

"Hi, I was wondering if there is any small program (pref. in Linux) that could, based on some pre defined parameters and the navigation information from a GPS, produce the standardised AIS sentences, AISVDM, etc.

I don't have an AIS transmitter aboard, but I do have a Utilite Arm computer running Linux and OpenCPN, and the idea was to have it produce such sentences, and then send them to marinetraffic.com using AIS dispatcher or something similar if not built into OpenCPN. I usually have a 3G connection.

I have searched but not really found any such program. Anyone has any leads?"

Maybe this could be a plugin or something?
I'm not a lawyer, and won't pretend to be, but this idea very quickly and easily becomes illegal. I'll let someone else expand upon it.
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