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Old 11-04-2021, 08:21   #1
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SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

New boat came with a Raymarine AIS650 Transceiver. It has a dedicated antenna on the arch. Performance is pretty poor. To be fair, I don't think it is the transceiver itself, but the antenna, connector or the cable. Regardless, I prefer to use the top of the mast antenna with a splitter. I had that setup on the previous boat and was pretty happy. I can keep the arch antenna as a backup.

Instead of just buying a splitter, I am thinking of buying a SOTDMA transceiver with an integrated splitter. I have been thinking of upgrading to SOTDMA anyways, so this seems to be the right time.

Debating between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700. Here are the pros and cons, the way I see it (integrated splitter and SOTDMA are common across all three):
  1. em-trak B953: Has an integrated GPS antenna. Although I have a GPS antenna for AIS on the arch, this is appealing. Not sure what the performance will be when I put it in a cabinet though. It will be below fiber glass and thin wood layer (I can always use the GPS on the arch if it doesn't work). Disadvantage is the lack of FM output in the splitter. Price is inline with B600S.
  2. AMEC B600S: Similar to B953 but doesn't have an integrated GPS antenna but does have an FM antenna output from the splitter. I have a dedicated FM antenna but it is buried deep and the admiral likes listening to the radio (not a hard requirement though). More appealing part is, I had a AMEC B108S on the previous boat and was pretty happy with it. Price is inline with B953.
  3. Raymarine AIS700: It has the worst of both B953 and B600S and about $300 more expensive (has no integrated GPS antenna and has no FM output). The only advantage is, I have an all Raymarine electronics set-up so it may be "more compatible", though I don't see any issue with with B953 and B600S over NMEA 2000. What I like on the current Raymarine AIS on the boat though, is the ability to silence the transmit function from the chartplotter. Still not sure if worth the extra $300.

Wondering if anyone had with any of these units and has any recommendations?
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Old 11-04-2021, 08:35   #2
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Re: SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

I have used the AMEC B600S for a couple months now. No problems to report. It just works. I haven't used the FM splitter output. I do plan to wire up the "silence" switch but haven't got around to it yet. I got it for the same reason as you: SOTDMA and integrated splitter.

IMHO $650 for SOTDMA ("B+") and integrated splitter is a great price. Another option that I was looking at to add to your list is the Garmin 800 but decide to save the $150 and go with the AMEC. I briefly considered the Vesper Cortex M1 because I could later add a handset (or two) and upgrade it to a pretty impressive VHF radio and AIS combo but at more than twice the price of the AMEC B600S I couldn't justify that.
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Old 11-04-2021, 21:04   #3
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Re: SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

I have had a lot of issues with em track gps. Unless you mount it in the open it will not get gps. The Existing ray ant will probably work with it though.
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:22   #4
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Re: SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

The AMEC unit will also take any data available on the NMEA2000 bus and output it over USB (rather than just outputting AIS data). So if you're running OpenCPN, that could give you depth and other data using the AMEC as a interface.
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Old 12-04-2021, 22:29   #5
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Re: SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

Thanks.

After reading these I am leaning towards AMEC. Multiplexing to USB doesn't have that much value for me (though still good to have) since I have a Raspberry Pi connected to NMEA 2000 directly that shares data over wifi for OpenCPN and others. But lack of meaningful GPS signal strength on emtrak makes it a bit pointless for me.

I also noticed AMEC comes with a puck type GPS antenna, which I can probably position right below the fiberglass surface and the likelihood of reception is higher than emtrak with integrated antenna.
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Old 12-04-2021, 22:54   #6
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Re: SOTDMA Receiver Choice between em-trak B953, AMEC B600S or Raymarine AIS700

I installed the Amec B600w that includes WiFi broadcast of the NMEA data. So far its been good.
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