Moving on... I think it would be wise to focus on AIS now.
will be needed fairly soon, because I will be sailing where a class B transponder is mandatory.
It is also my impression that an AIS kit does not really need connecting to everything else on the boat... so it should be possible to deal with this without ending up on that slippery slope where everything needs upgrading.
On the other hand, I would like to avoid getting a separate display for the AIS. There are enough displays on the boat already, and the planned upgrade to better MFDs will probably allow for showing AIS data combined with maps and radar imagery. In the mean time, it would be fine to use a tablet or laptop
to display AIS data.
I guess this means, the ideal choice would be the Vesper Marine
This would not only give great AIS transponder functionality, but also broadcast the signal to multiple tablets or smartphones on the boat, where it can be combined with mapping. The details tend to get complicated, but I understand OpenCPN
for Android would be a good option. For more details:
It seems the Vesper will interface with all sorts of devices over NMEA 0183
, NMEA 2000
, WiFi and USB... and it is getting great reviews
Probably my only question about the Vesper is: Will modern Raymarine MFDs happily receive AIS data from it, and overlay this on maps etc?
Another obvious option could be to go with a Raymarine AIS transponder. The current
model is the AIS650...
I guess this is also a fine product, and it would likely interface well with the other current and future Raymarine gear on this boat.
The AIS650 does not have wifi, but the built-in NMEA
multiplexer "simplifies integration with legacy Multifunction Displays, VHF
radios and 3rd party devices".. which sounds useful.
More immediately helpful is that it has a USB 2.0 port "for plug-and-play connection to PC based navigation
Am I correct to assume, unless/until I upgrade to modern MFDs, I could use a laptop
to display AIS data from this unit, via USB? How well does it work with OpenCPN
and other popular software
One practical benefit of the Raymarine transponder is that it comes with an integrated antenna
splitter, making installation easy. (With the Vesper, a separate splitter would be required... or a separate antenna
Yet another option could perhaps be the previous generation Raymarine unit - the AIS 500:
This can be had second-hand for a bit less money
. I wonder if this one would be compatible with the latest Raymarine MFDs... and what else would be the difference versus the 650.
Finally, I know there are also far cheaper AIS options out there... I have not researched them, as I guess it would involve various compromises.
How would you proceed here? Is it best to get a Raymarine unit for a Raymarine boat .. or is the Vesper really as superior as many say?
Alternatively, would it perhaps be wise to focus on the MFD upgrade before AIS?