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Old 22-02-2014, 22:08   #1
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Vesper Marine AIS

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
Matt
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Old 23-02-2014, 08:43   #2
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Can you tell me where they are made?
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Old 23-02-2014, 18:34   #3
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Can you tell me where they are made?
It's a NZ company, but i'm not sure where their made. I have an earlier Vesper Watchmate and I really like it. My only wish would be for a louder alarm. But if you install one make sure you have a separate antenna for it. Using a splitter will always result in loss of gain in both the existing vhf and the AIS.
Come and have a look at mine if you like. I think that AIS transponders should be installed in all boats that sail offshore and maybe coastal as well. It would sure eliminate most collisions.
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Old 23-02-2014, 18:42   #4
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

They're manufactured by Vesper Marine in New Zealand and they are not made from someone else's design, modules, etc.

BTW: Not all splitters are the same. Indeed, nearly all impose lots of loss and cut your signal in less than half. But if you are interested, check out ours. It has virtually no loss but it also has a low noise amplifier with 12dB of AIS receive gain. Designed and made by us in NZ.
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Old 24-02-2014, 07:37   #5
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by jeffrobbins View Post
They're manufactured by Vesper Marine in New Zealand and they are not made from someone else's design, modules, etc.

BTW: Not all splitters are the same. Indeed, nearly all impose lots of loss and cut your signal in less than half. But if you are interested, check out ours. It has virtually no loss but it also has a low noise amplifier with 12dB of AIS receive gain. Designed and made by us in NZ.
Jeff, do you have a Canadian vendor/distributor, specifically in Toronto? I like this new "black box", which is like the Digital Yacht AIS receiver with wireless...but it's a Class B transponder, which is desirable to me.

Is there a review or product literature that delves into how the AIS output works with both proprietary and open-source plotting programs? I have a steel pilothouse sailboat, and so am more able to use a PC solution at the helm than many are. Otherwise, I'd go for the 850 model as I'm not a fan of touchscreens on boats.
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Old 24-02-2014, 11:39   #6
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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
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Old 24-02-2014, 11:44   #7
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Jeff, do you have a Canadian vendor/distributor, specifically in Toronto? I like this new "black box", which is like the Digital Yacht AIS receiver with wireless...but it's a Class B transponder, which is desirable to me.
Unfortunately, I don't think we have any stocking dealers in Toronto but many of our dealers, like Matt, will gladly ship one to you.

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...
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Old 24-02-2014, 11:50   #8
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Is there a review or product literature that delves into how the AIS output works with both proprietary and open-source plotting programs? I have a steel pilothouse sailboat, and so am more able to use a PC solution at the helm than many are. Otherwise, I'd go for the 850 model as I'm not a fan of touchscreens on boats.
The definitive source is ITU-R M.1371.4. I think you can download it for free. It has all the gory implementation details but also has a good section with all the AIS message payloads.

To decode the NMEA formatted sentences into those payloads, you'll need the NMEA encapsulated sentence description. This is described in the NMEA 4.01 Specification but that's not publicly available. However, I'm sure you'll find enough info with some google searches.

And maybe have a look at openCPN for your PC.
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Old 24-02-2014, 11:58   #9
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:00   #10
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

What's happening with the long promised compatibility with Linux ????
Semed to be 'imminent' but then heard nothing after that
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:10   #11
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:28   #12
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

My experience is positive with vesper.
Put the xb 8000 with a watchmate. No splitter. Separate antennae on the rail. 0183 hooked into garmin chartplotter without issue. When I get around to it I will put in a nmea 2000 cable. Great as anchor watch. You can add a separate louder alarm. I wanted low draw redundant and simple. The apple app is okay does not sync with navionics but should with Inavx on apple products. Maybe they will expand on compatibility or I navx will fix the license cost problem. I like the garmin weather over lay for east coast so I am using a lot of low cost apps that have a lot of potential.
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:44   #13
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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The apple app is okay does not sync with navionics but should with Inavx on apple products. Maybe they will expand on compatibility or I navx will fix the license cost problem.
The issue with Navionics app is they have made a decision that their app is a planning tool only. Same for Garmin's Blue Chart app. As a result, they don't accept any external input (either GPS or AIS).

iNavX and SEAiq work well. Our WatchMate app is free and now has a plotting screen but does not have chart overlays. It also has instant target acquisition.

And letting the cat out of the bag.... Vesper Marine News - Vesper Marine Launches Exclusive Partnership with NavPlay
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Old 24-02-2014, 18:04   #14
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

Which is why I use navionics on the east coast US and garmin weather without the mapping. I get that inavx works together at a price . I don't need to pay up yet. So I play with the lower cost options.
A few schools in my district missed that the weather was north of us. I watched the garmin weather and saw it going north. We opened on time. The forecast was for one more dumping. Thanks to live weather feed from garmin app we made another good call. Lots of tools in the kit.
Also hats off to the forecast discussion and the hourly weather graph on local noaa weather page. Best weather data you can get.
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Old 24-02-2014, 22:35   #15
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Re: Vesper Marine AIS

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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
The WatchMate app runs on Android/Ipad, vmAIS runs on Windows systems.
Could you please specify which program has vmAIS functionality and runs on linux?
Alas, despite it being extremely easy to incorporate a standalone web page server that would make device control independent of the computer used to connect to it (ie every wireless router I have ever seen is controlled this way), Vesper appears to have taken a whole bumch of steps backwards requiring operating system specfic software to be loaded to control their device.
I would be very happy if you could tell me that I am wrong and if you could point me to something that shows me how I can control the device under Linux.
BTW, I was all ready to buy the XB8000 until I found all this out. I talked to Jeff and he assured me that Linux compatible vmAIS software was about to be released and he even asked me if I wanted to be a beta tester - that wasAugust last year and I haven't heard anything from him since.
Oh, there was also a question on multiplexing both 4800 baud and 38400 baud signals to work with the XB8000 although I only recall a fraction of that discussion. The gist was that the XB8000 was not able (at that time) to talk both 4800 baud to the VHS (GPS data to the radio) and 38400 baud to the Raymarine plotter.
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