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Old 24-02-2014, 23:09   #16
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Hi JD 1, OK, fair question. As you correctly said, the watchmate software is an app. It's not required to get AIS data from the unit, but it is required to get all of it's functions. I'm not sure where this project is at, so I'll ask Jeff tomorrow - its 8pm here now. The multiplex function of the ports has just had a major update so i'll also check on your second question. However, I've never seen any device that can take or transmit 4800 and 38400 from the same port at the same time. Does your raymarine plotter have nmea2000? If so, that port could go to the plotter, and the nmea0183 to the vhf. I'll get back to you,
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Old 24-02-2014, 23:37   #17
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
Hi JD 1, OK, fair question. As you correctly said, the watchmate software is an app. It's not required to get AIS data from the unit, but it is required to get all of it's functions. I'm not sure where this project is at, so I'll ask Jeff tomorrow - its 8pm here now. The multiplex function of the ports has just had a major update so i'll also check on your second question. However, I've never seen any device that can take or transmit 4800 and 38400 from the same port at the same time. Does your raymarine plotter have nmea2000? If so, that port could go to the plotter, and the nmea0183 to the vhf. I'll get back to you,
Thanks,
Matt
I realize that for normal operation the unit is independent of a computer but unfortunately it's configuration needs the computer as you say.
The issue with the ports is that the XB8000 only has one nmea 0183 in and one out and as you say, one port one speed only. This limitation is rather unfortunate as I believe most radios accept only 4800 baud as GPS input and that speed is too slow for chart plotter operation. I have since solved that issue by installing a dedicated GPS for the radio so this is no longer a stumbling block (but poor design IMHO). The nmea2000 question occured to me as well and I will need to check on that - my gut feeling is that it's the Raymarine nmea 2000 implementation which is non standard and all instruments use the same protocol before being converted to nmea0183 by the plotter and transmited on that port.
The big stubling block is the configuration utility as it is obviously not pratical to carry a dedicated computer just to be able to set up or change the AIS configuration.
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Old 25-02-2014, 00:00   #18
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Most nmea 0183 devices speak at 4800. That is the standard. Most ais systems use 38400, that is nmea hs. It's common for your instruments to have nmea 0183 or 2000 as well, possibly multiple ports. auto pilot as well. Sometimes you can use these ports to daisy chain the data between all the instruments. Often GPS units have multiple outputs as well, so that can help. Thinking about all the ports, it may be possible to combine data from multiple sources I into fewer streams. If not, an nmea multiplexor, or nmea 2000 to nmea 0183 can be used. They need not be expensive. Personally, on my boat the instruments are 0183, the autopilot and remote are nmea 2000, and the AIS is nmea 0183 hs. A PC is my plotter. Its all tied together with 2 nmea 2000 - 0183 converters, 0183 in and out on the instruments, vhf dsc, and a 4 port USB to serial hub. They can get quite complex! Everything talks to everything, and the nav source can be the GPS or the pc. Oh yes, and then there is Ethernet to the radar, serial to the pactor etc etc. Anyway, that's all a digression! I'll be back to you tomorrow.
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Old 25-02-2014, 03:02   #19
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
The nmea2000 question occured to me as well and I will need to check on that - my gut feeling is that it's the Raymarine nmea 2000 implementation which is non standard and all instruments use the same protocol before being converted to nmea0183 by the plotter and transmited on that port.
The big stubling block is the configuration utility as it is obviously not pratical to carry a dedicated computer just to be able to set up or change the AIS configuration.
Raymarine NMEA-2000 is pretty much the standard implementation. The connectors aren't like everyone else but the data packets are. They have some proprietary messages but AIS & GPS are standard. Raymarine list all the standard PGNs they accept in the manual.
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Old 25-02-2014, 07:27   #20
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Hi SV Alchemy,

We are happy to supply to Toronto. Neptune's Gear Ltd was conceived and established with the idea that not everyone lives in the same locations as the major boat stores or agents. We supply equipment worldwide, especially to cruisers in remote locations, often out of their home countries.

This is a pretty simple (externally!) device. For a proprietary plotter, it can provide NMEA data either via NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000, depending on what that plotter needs. Same for opensource. So it your planned display system can use NMEA to display AIS, then this unit can do it for you. It works fine with opencpn, for example, and most plotters can accept NMEA. Not all have AIS though, so check your manual, or let me know a model number.

Like you, I'm personally not that keen on touchscreens. I use PC based systems on my own boat. You have several options for input with a PC - either NMEA (2000 or 0183), via the appropriate adapter to serial, or direct with WIFI.

If you would like, send me a PM or email (matt@neptunes-gear.com) with an outline of what you would like to do, and I'd be happy to help with the design of the system.

Cheers
Matt
Thanks, Matt and thank you, Jeff (who actually seems to listen to his customers!). I'm still evaluating my needs and, as is common with my rebuild, I've planned to acquire two of the same sort of thing: I am picking up a SH GX2200 VHF with GPS/AIS at the end of the week and intend on using that this season to "play" with AIS reception and functionality.

The Vesper or the Digital Yacht (the only other contender at this point) AIS transponder would come after this for oceanic use with a mast top, AIS-tuned antenna for maximum range. I see AIS as a handmaiden to RADAR in that it allows the small boat passagemaker to see and be seen by name (or rather MMSI) even when the RADAR conditions are challenging (weak returns due to waves, for instance, or when the vessels are separated by a low headland).

Regarding the wireless element, I will have to install wireless on the boat to see if it even works to judge whether it's something I would want (other than a wireless directional antenna on the rail for Internet access in marinas and anchorages). It's a steel boat with an aluminum pilothouse roof, so much remains to be learned, although my netbook seems to pick up wireless signals inside the pilothouse, but NOT in the hull proper.
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Old 25-02-2014, 07:35   #21
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Jeff, very interesting points I've bolded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffrobbins View Post

FYI: some things to compare... the WiFi implementation in other products, like the DY, use insecure ad-hoc mode only. This means only one device can connect. If you have more than one tablet, phone, computer you can't use them all at the same time. XB & Vision are access points with WPA2 encryption (like a small home router). You can have five devices connected at the same time and it will even route traffic between them. You can alternatively connect the XB & Vision to an external router and have many more devices connected or extend the signal range. And this also means you don't have to switch back and forth between networks every time you want to view info.

XB & Vision are N2K/1083 gateways. They translate instrument PGN's to 0183 and multiplex it into the output stream to all WiFi clients along with any other 0183 plus GPS and AIS. For example, this means you'll be able to view 0183 & N2K instruments on an iPad. It will also take WiFi data back to 0183 (not N2K yet) so you can send waypoints or routes to a chart plotter or control an A/P. They also provide GPS data to N2K plotters (something some other AIS transponders don't) so they can be used as a primary or secondary positioning source for navigation.

Because it's an AIS transponder it of course transmits but it also must pass pretty strict performance and environmental standards that AIS receivers don't have to. In practice this just means you know the performance is up to snuff and you also know immunity and emissions testing has been done to ensure it doesn't interfere with other on-board stuff.

Finally, XB & Vision are waterproof (IPX7 means submersible to 1m for 30 mins). Not because we expect you to use them under water, but it's a boat and stuff gets wet and otherwise PCB's corrode...

Not meant to be a sales pitch, but rather point out some key differences.... Please forgive me if read otherwise...
This is precisely the sort of information I wanted to hear: the real differentiation. I did not know that the XB was a de facto wireless router. In fact, it sounds as if one can use the XB and Vision to dispense with some other bits and pieces.

The IPX7 element is not so important to me as any AIS unit would be largely protected (unless we had bigger problems) within the hopefully dry pilothouse. That said, given that I'm not shy of voiding warranties to apply conformal spray and solder in gold connectors in order to better corrosion-proof electronics, it would be nice NOT to have to do that for a change.

Thanks for your excellent answers. I remain very impressed by the Vesper approach and I hope others do as well.
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Old 25-02-2014, 10:22   #22
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

The XB-8000 is certified by NMEA 2000. We have many customers using Raymarine MFD's with SeaTalk-ng and it works fine. You only need a Raymarine DeviceNet cable to plug into the XB-8000.

It has one NMEA 0183 output port. You must choose between 4800 or 38400 baud output. However, there's no problem running both NMEA 2000 to the MFD and 0183 to VHF. That's what we had in mind when we designed it. It can also drive multiple 0183 devices connected in parallel. This can be useful in some configs because NMEA 2000 instrument PGN's will be converted to 0183 sentences and output to those other devices too. This allows you to take NMEA 2000 wind/depth/etc and send it to an 0183 display.

If your MFD/plotter/etc doesn't have NMEA 2000 then you have to use the 0183 for that and probably won't be able to connect it also to the VHF due to the baud rate. But you often are able to take a 4800 baud output from the plotter to the VHF and not require an additional GPS. Although the single NMEA 0183 output can present a configuration challenge in some installs, the real limitation comes from most VHF radios not yet supporting NMEA 0183 HS.

vmAIS isn't typically used in normal operation. It is primarily used for initial configuration. If you are in the USA, your XB-8000 comes to you pre-programmed with your boat's details so it isn't needed for that. You don't need to do anything other than plug the XB-8000 in. Our mobile app can also do initial vessel configuration and most other common settings. As mentioned, vmAIS is supported on Windows (XP or later) and Mac (Lion or later). Indeed, we have not released a Linux version. It's a matter of engineering priorities. Like everyone we don't have infinite resources and since I've had only 3 requests for it, I decided to focus our engineering team on other higher priority new features first. You can certainly disagree with that decision, but that's the rationale. This was reinforced for me because the existing customers that asked me about it have already run vmAIS in a VM on their Linux box as they told me they needed a Windows VM for occasional other stuff too.
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Old 25-02-2014, 11:57   #23
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Well, there you go guys, a direct and simple answer from the manufacturer! How many others give you that - especially on a public forum!! This is why I wanted the Vesper Marine Dealership!!!:-)
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Old 25-02-2014, 12:51   #24
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Oh, and I'd also like to re-iterate what Jeff has said about programming - before we can send an AIS unit to the US, it has to be programmed with the vessel details. This is due to US law. However, if you would like us to program a unit for you in another location, we are happy to do that. That way, if you are using Linux, you wont have to run the config program at all - day to day changes can be done via wireless on the phone/tablet app...

Also, as mentioned, if you really need to, most linux users have a windows VM loaded for non-linux apps - the Vesper app will run fine in the VM (virtual Machine) if you really want it!
Feel free to ask any other questions, or if you need clarity on something.
Cheers
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Old 25-02-2014, 13:14   #25
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
<snip>
That way, if you are using Linux, you wont have to run the config program at all - day to day changes can be done via wireless on the phone/tablet app...
That kinda assumes you have a phone or tablet

Quote:
Also, as mentioned, if you really need to, most linux users have a windows VM loaded for non-linux apps - the Vesper app will run fine in the VM (virtual Machine) if you really want it!
Alas, I am one of those people who doesn't

I really wonder though why it was decided to build an operating system dependent interface when a universal access method via built in web server is so much easier - imagine, only one piece of software to maintain .....
Well here is hoping that sooner or later a web server will be built in.
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Old 25-02-2014, 13:47   #26
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

JD1, I really have to agree! I've passed this on the Jeff to consider for a future version...
But it's not were we are at now.
Cheers
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Old 25-02-2014, 14:38   #27
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
Hi Everyone,

I'm pleased to announce we are now a Vesper Marine Dealer.

The reason I wanted this agency is because of their latest product (and upgrades), the XB8000. It's primarily an AIS class B Transponder, but also a Wifi access point, and a multiplexer (I'll explain that below)

Quite a few of you have asked me about wireless interfacing. Most wifi AIS units transmit the AIS signal over wifi. That's it. They cannot add the instrument data etc from the boat, so all you get on your wireless device is your position and AIS info. Most wifi AIS units are also point to point (so your cell, OR your Tablet/PC can connect to the AIS, but not both simultaneously) That is the standard.

Well, the standard is now broken! The XB8000 has WIFI, NMEA2000, NMEA0183 and USB. It can translate messages in both directions - so your old NMEA 0183 instruments (or PC) can send and receive data to and from wireless devices, as well as get the AIS stream by any connection method they may have. It also can act as a Wifi access point for up to 5 devices, or join an existing network. So it's a NMEA 2000 - NMEA 0183 bi-directional adapter, wifi access point and WIFI AIS all in one unit. It used to take 3 devices to do this!! You can now, as an example, control your autopilot from your tablet/PC, without wires. Lots of other things as well.

They do some other great, award winning AIS units (the best known being the AIS watchmate) as well. A quality New Zealand made AIS, with both FCC and CE type approvals.

You can see them here HERE

I'd be happy to talk to anyone interested.

Cheers
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Quote:
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Hi SV Alchemy,

We are happy to supply to Toronto. Neptune's Gear Ltd was conceived and established with the idea that not everyone lives in the same locations as the major boat stores or agents. We supply equipment worldwide, especially to cruisers in remote locations, often out of their home countries.

This is a pretty simple (externally!) device. For a proprietary plotter, it can provide NMEA data either via NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000, depending on what that plotter needs. Same for opensource. So it your planned display system can use NMEA to display AIS, then this unit can do it for you. It works fine with opencpn, for example, and most plotters can accept NMEA. Not all have AIS though, so check your manual, or let me know a model number.

Like you, I'm personally not that keen on touchscreens. I use PC based systems on my own boat. You have several options for input with a PC - either NMEA (2000 or 0183), via the appropriate adapter to serial, or direct with WIFI.

If you would like, send me a PM or email (matt@neptunes-gear.com) with an outline of what you would like to do, and I'd be happy to help with the design of the system.

Cheers
Matt
Quote:
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Hi Jeff,

I thought that was a bit heavy going for most people! But you are right, that's how it works.
I read his question a little differently to you - like he was asking how it would talk to his various devices. The simple answer is NMEA or wifi, using industry standard communications. The complex answer is in the ref Jeff gave!

By the way, for those wondering, Jeff is from Vesper Marine, the Manufacturer. Neptune's Gear is a dealer...

Matt
Quote:
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Hi JD1.

It IS compatible with Linux - works with opencpn on linux.

What exactly are you trying to do?? Remember that this is an NMEA device - over Wifi or via the NMEA ports. It is not operating system dependent.... BUT it does depend on the software you are running on the device (PC/Tablet/Plotter whatever) to be able to accept the data it can provide, so it is APPLICATION dependent.

Happy to answer any questions, or even chase up Jeff if needed. If you don't want to do that here, then matt@neptunes-gear.com

Cheers
Matt
Quote:
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Hi JD 1, OK, fair question. As you correctly said, the watchmate software is an app. It's not required to get AIS data from the unit, but it is required to get all of it's functions. I'm not sure where this project is at, so I'll ask Jeff tomorrow - its 8pm here now. The multiplex function of the ports has just had a major update so i'll also check on your second question. However, I've never seen any device that can take or transmit 4800 and 38400 from the same port at the same time. Does your raymarine plotter have nmea2000? If so, that port could go to the plotter, and the nmea0183 to the vhf. I'll get back to you,
Thanks,
Matt

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Quote:
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JD1, I really have to agree! I've passed this on the Jeff to consider for a future version...
But it's not were we are at now.
Cheers
Matt
Ok...I got the part where they are technically from NZ. Can you tell me where they are made?...
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Old 25-02-2014, 15:35   #28
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

They are made in New Zealand ... I'm sure Jeff said that further up somewhere!


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Old 25-02-2014, 16:07   #29
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Ok thanks...I will check them out...sounds like a good product.
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Old 26-02-2014, 07:13   #30
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

While I'm sure 90% of these details are of little interest to prospective customers, it's golden stuff for those of us trying to self-assemble PC-based navigation setups. The 0183 to the VHF and 2000 to the MFD (or "other") is a great feature.

The MMSI is input by the end-user here in Canada, by the way. No pre-programming required, as an AIS isn't in the same category as a medium-sized bottle of liquid soap.
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