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Old 05-09-2012, 02:52   #1
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OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Hi,

After reading a few threads regarding openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiverhttp://radargadgets.com/ I decided to purchase this AIS receiver. And now I have difficulties in getting AIS info displayed on the sea chart on the PC.



My navigational equipment at the chart table is:
  • PC with Vista 32-bit OS with a serial RS-232 COM-port (COM1 in openCPN)
  • OpenCPN 3.02
  • MLR FX412 differential GPS connected to the PC with a 9-pin RS-232 plug into the COM1-port. OpenCPN is working just great!!!
  • MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver. The driver supplied with the AIS-receiver allocated an USB COM-port, COM3 in device manager and this port is working fine accordingly to the device manager. Settings for COM3 is: Baud rate: 38400 bps, data bits: 8, parity: none, stop bits: 1 and flow control: none
  • Separate VHF antenna to the AIS-receiver only (resistance in the antenna cable is 10kohm)
If I check the NMEA-stream under tools in openCPN for COM1 (GPS) it shows a big stream of info as it should.


If I under “tools/GPS” change the port to COM3 (AIS receiver) the “boat icon” on the displayed chart goes from red to black (which was expected since the AIS do not send any GPS info).

BUT if I then check the NMEA-stream for COM3 (AIS) it also shows a lot of information so the AIS receiver seems to work and transmits data to openCPN??? I did not think of taking any screen dump of the NMEA-stream for COM1 and COM3 but I can do next time I am at my boat if you advise me to do so.

Any advice to get the combo openCPN and the AIS working and be able to display ships with AIS transponders on openCPN???

Best regs /// Patrik
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:16   #2
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Try using Hyperterminal or another comm terminal program to monitor the AIS comm port, to verify that the right data is present.
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:49   #3
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Patrik...

This combination of COM1 for GPS and COM3 for AIS should work fine.
Set the AIS port to COM3 in Toolbox->AIS panel. This is not the same as Toolbox->GPS.

Are there actually AIS targets around?

Can you show any screenshots of the NMEA data stream windows?

Thanks
Dave
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:41   #4
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Thanks,

Yes, there should be AIS-traffic outside my marina which is located a few nautical miles south of Sweden's and Scandinavia's biggest port with lots of RORO and container ships, oiltankers and small ferrys etc etc.

I now about the different toolboxes. Myself and a friend installed a AIS-receiver on his openCPN set-up in less than one minute. I think that VISTA could be a part of the problem... So my plan is to do as follows:
  1. Test the AIS with the VHF-antenna to my VHF-radio
  2. Check com-ports in VISTA with emphasizis on "virtual" com-ports
  3. Try a higher com-port number like COM11
  4. Screen dumps from COM1 (GPS) and COM3 (AIS) in openCPN to verify if it was VMD-messages
  5. Install docklite (www.docklite.de) to check VDM-messanges
  6. If nothing else works change operating system from VISTA back to XP or Windows 7 (I understand why we skipped VISTA at my company and moved from XP to Windows 7)
Thanks /// Patrik
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Old 17-09-2012, 05:05   #5
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

I have run out of options and I still cannot get AIS information on openCPN.
  • The AIS-antenna works just fine
  • The com21 port for the AIS seems just fine (picture 1)
  • I have following configarion/set-up for the AIS (picture 2)
  • I have installed docklite and the data stream from the AIS-receiver is VDM-messages, which have been checked with the "Marine Gadget Radar" company (picture 3)
I do not know what to do, I have been offered refund from MRG which is fine. But I am more keen to get the AIS-receiver to work.

Any advise???

Best regs /// Patrik
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Old 17-09-2012, 06:58   #6
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

This should work. The output from the AIS looks fine. Your settings look fine.
You said earlier that you can see the AIS data stream in the GPS data stream window if you set the GPS input to the AIS com port. Is this still true? Does it look the same as in your screen dump above?

In this case the only thing I can think of is some incompatibility between OpenCPN and your AIS data, which is something we should fix. To do that we need a nice chunk of your AIS data stream as a readable file. I would assume the serial port monitor program you are using can dump the data stream to a text file. Get about 100kByte of data, zip it and attach it here so we can look at it.

(Remember you need to change the extension of the file for this stupid forum software to allow it to be attached so if you have for example aisdump.zip you need to rename it aisdump.zip.doc before attaching).
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Old 17-09-2012, 07:12   #7
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Thanks Jesper,

I will do my best to get a nice chunk of AIS data stream. My marina is just a few miles south of the entrance to the port of Gothenburg so there are a lot of ships with AIS.

I am not sure now if it was AIS info or if it was GPS data when I changed to COM21 on the GPS-tool-page. I will check that to.

Thanks for your support!!!

Best regs /// Patrik
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Old 17-09-2012, 08:19   #8
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

I agree that your problem may be Vista..whenever I'm told of a "strange" problem that defies explanation, Vista seems to be the common variable.
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Old 17-09-2012, 08:38   #9
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Re: openCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

...when I get desperate, I check the Baud rate is the same everywhere... in Windows's device manager too.
I understand that 38400 is the correct baud rate. 4800 seems to work too.

Sometimes twisting dials and flicking the lights off and on fixes things in Windows.
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Old 24-09-2012, 02:20   #10
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

I left the PC with openCPN and the MGR-AIS running for 24 hours to get a nice chunk of data stream on Docklight. I got a lot of info and when I should copy that I got the reply that it was not possible when you have the evaluation version (read cheapskate version) of docklight installed. So I don not know any more than that the AIS is working and rececing a lot of info and it is not displayed on openCPN.

I got the message that COM21 is not working when I start-up openCPN and i do not got any datastream on docklight either. I have to go to AIS-tool in openCPN and push on OK after done that I can see that docklight register datastream over COM21.

I am more and more convinced that VISTA is part of the problem and I will change OS most probably to Win7.

Best regs /// Patrik
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:45   #11
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

As I have stated earlier I have had problems with the combination openCPN and an AIS (Marine Gadget Radar) on a PC with Vista 32-bit as OS. This weekend the combo decided to co-operate and all of a sudden it worked. I have not done anything new. No updates what-so-ever. No changes of set-up or settings under openCPN tools. Nothing. Nada.

The only thing I did in a different way was that after starting up the PC with the AIS connected (in the correct usb-port) from the beginning I waited (read forgot to start openCPN) some time, at least 5 minutes before I started openCPN and there it was; a map-screen with lots of AIS-tracks, heading vectors and AIS boat symbols in different colours. When we arrived to the weekend marina I turned the PC off and then on and started openCPN as fast as it was possible and it was no AIS-info on the screen. Sunday morning I repeated the “waiting trick” and started openCPN at least 5 minutes after the PC and there it was again; AIS-information.

This is far over my head now, can anyone with PC skills and knowledge explain why it is like this??? I still plan to change from Vista to Win 7, any comments or recommendation on that.

Best regs /// Patrik
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:27   #12
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

I remember problems like these with Sentinel dongles (software protection).
The OS seems to take some time to register those dongles so you cannot start the program using it, by putting it in the startup folder.
What you can do, is create a shortcut to a little script.
This script does nothing else than delay, say 1 minute, before it starts the program.
This has shown to work OK for these Sentinel dongles.

I'll show you how this can be done, and hope its a good workaround for you:
Create a file "start.txt", and open it.
Copy and paste all from the code part in this post:

Code:
@title Starting OpenCPN....
@echo off
echo OpenCPN will start in a minute.
echo Please wait..
PING -n 60 127.0.0.1>nul 
***put link to OpenCPN here***
Ofcourse put the link to OpenCPN instead of the last line.
Now close and rename this file as "start.cmd" or any other name, as long as it stays a .cmd file.
Put start.cmd in the startup folder.
Reboot.
I have tested this with XP and Win7, so Vista should work just fine.
Let us know if this is OK for you.

You can play with the duration of the delay by changing the value 60 in line 5.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:54   #13
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAS3 View Post
PING -n 60 127.0.0.1>nul
... clever delay!
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Old 09-10-2012, 00:43   #14
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

Many thanks MAS3!!!
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Old 09-10-2012, 14:17   #15
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Re: OpenCPN and the ”MarineGadget Radar - AIS Receiver"

You're welcome.
Can't take credit for this solution or its cleverness, found it online years ago as i was trying to find a solution for these sentinel dongles.
If you know the cause of a problem but cannot solve it (because the cause is a crappy OS for instance), you can go look for a workaround like this one.
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