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Old 06-03-2021, 16:03   #1
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VHF-DSC with or without AIS

I have a 1995 catalina 250 sailboat that came up stock with a Raytheon RAY45VHF radio. As this setup was up before 2004, no news for you that it is not to the norms. I intend to navigate east of Québec city on the St-Lawrence river and maybe to Gaspé this summer, I would feel more secure with at least a VHF-DSC radio.



Looking for an affordable setup, I came up with two solutions. Alternative brands of VHF-DSC with or without AIS will be welcome. I am not interested in a transponder as they cost too much. I would be happy with a AIS receiver only. After quite searching, I understood that not any splitter would do the job.



I have looked at two threads with interesting information, the third one was cited in 2):
1) simple VHF
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...hf-247372.html
2) AIS and antenna: to split or not to split
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ss-245248.html

3) referred document Goldshalk with specifications on both AIS transponders and receivers:
https://cruisingclub.org/sites/defau...30%20FINAL.pdf


I live in Montréal, Canada. It seems that some products are cheaper this side of the border, and from what I could understand ICOM seems to give a very good ratio to my canadian dollar than some other brands. Unless I am comparing bananas to cherries.


Here are my two VHF solutions based on ICOM products, any other brand with comparable features or more adequate features would be appreciated.


1) ICOM M330G Basic, Compact, with GPS, black
$292

2) A COMBO

ICOM M330G 31 Icom VHF, Basic, Compact, without GPS, black
$233
QUARK-ELEC AIS-GPS-SeaTalk (QK-A027)-NMEA-0183 message output through WiFi,USB and RS422
$245



needs:
VHS splitter
glomex RA201 wich is about 4 times cheaper than the QK-A015-TX/RX Active VHF Splitter

$ 72
GPS antenna

total $565


Note: the big advantage of the last solution is that the AIS info could be WIFI transmitted to an android tablet or on android phones with the opencpn or navionics softwares. Thus I hope so.


Comments and suggestions appreciated.


Great thanks.
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Old 07-03-2021, 02:43   #2
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

a vhf / ais radio does not need a splitter. there is only one antenna. and is probably cheaper. and easier to install a single unit. no wifi though.
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Old 07-03-2021, 03:35   #3
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

If it was me I would get one of these
https://www.defender.com/product3.js...649&id=6024066


A VHF with AIS transmit and Receive. It is all very well being able to see other vessels but they can't see you, especially handy in fog or at night with multiple lights in the back ground.
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Old 07-03-2021, 04:29   #4
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

I replaced my ancient SH VHF with a newer version with AIS. SH GX2400

Used the same antenna which is probably from the late 1980's or early 90's.

Price is around $375

https://www.hodgesmarine.com/stagx24...xoCgUwQAvD_BwE

I then ran the AIS info thru a USB adapter to my Raspberry Pi Computer which I had preloaded with OpenCPN Charts. The targets now show up along with my boat's position on the monitor's OpenCPN Chart display. (home made chart plotter)
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Old 07-03-2021, 04:41   #5
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
I replaced my ancient SH VHF with a newer version with AIS. SH GX2400

Used the same antenna which is probably from the late 1980's or early 90's.

Price is around $375

https://www.hodgesmarine.com/stagx24...xoCgUwQAvD_BwE

I then ran the AIS info thru a USB adapter to my Raspberry Pi Computer which I had preloaded with OpenCPN Charts. The targets now show up along with my boat's position on the monitor's OpenCPN Chart display. (home made chart plotter)
I will second the Standard Horizon GX2400. They are just a little cheaper than ICOM but same quality and functions. With both GPS and AIS you can connect to NMEA system and go. Only needs one antenna and no splitter. But receive-only AIS.
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Old 07-03-2021, 06:43   #6
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

It seems that SH GX2400 with nmea 2000, is a nice proposition. the problem is that it is not offered in Canada. Thus it will cost about $600 CAN.

An alternative SH GX6000 which would be the commercial version. It needs a separate AIS antenna. There maybe interesting features on this one which the 2400 does not have.
https://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-...on-gx2400.html
$440 CAN

Maybe I could use the Glomex splitter on this one.

Icom M506 Fixed VHF comes with a small integrated AIS plotter would be a great contender, however the AIS version is $649 CAN.

However, both of these options would need a multiplexer with wifi to connect with mobile application like my samsung android tablet:
https://www.milltechmarine.com/AIS-T...Care_b_35.html
`network-enabled multiplexer with Wi-Fi to convert NMEA 2000 data into NMEA 0183 data, which is more commonly used in mobile device apps.`

I wonder if I could easily get wifi capability with the SH GX6000 to connect with my android tablet.
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Old 07-03-2021, 06:56   #7
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

It seems that the NMEA 2000 radios like Icom M506 and SH GX6000 have connection issues:
https://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-...00-issues.html


It seems very hard for a newbie like me to find its way. : (
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:15   #8
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

A splitter is only needed if you have an AIS transponder. The VHF with AIS receivers do not need a separate antenna.

Given a choice, get the VHF with NMEA 2000 interface not one with only a NMEA 0183. The older Standard Horizon models only had NMEA 0183, this new model has NMEA 2000 and all the features you'll need, DSC, GPS, AIS.

https://www.standardhorizon.com/inde...3&isArchived=0
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:21   #9
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

I like the Standard Horizon GX2400 Matrix VHF radio with AIS, DSC, GPS and hailer and have it installed on both a powerboat and sailboat. Costs $375.
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:27   #10
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

Another voice for Standard Horizon. Quite happy with my GX2000 which is also the display for the separate AIS receiver / transmitter.

Standard Horizon belongs to the Yeasu group, which makes quite decent radios.
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Old 07-03-2021, 11:25   #11
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

If you have a recent vintage chartplotter with GPS, then you should be able to connect it to the VHF via NMEA. (08183, or better 2000) The AIS information received via the VHF will display on the chartplotter, and GPS info will will be sent to the VHF. I use a B&G Vulcan 7FS as my nav station chartplotter and a B&G V50 VHF (DSC & AIS rcvr) connected via NMEA2000. Easy Plug & Play. NMEA0183 usually involves soldering 4 wires, a Tx/Rx pair on each device. (Rx-Tx | Tx-Rx) I'd go for the AIS rcvr if you are going to be around shipping lanes.
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Old 07-03-2021, 11:56   #12
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by francois.lavoie View Post
It seems that SH GX2400 with nmea 2000, is a nice proposition. the problem is that it is not offered in Canada. Thus it will cost about $600 CAN.

.
$600 in Canada.

http://https://www.radioworld.ca/product/00/sta-gx2400b/GX2400B-BLACK-VHF-MARINE-FIXED-MNT-GPSAISNMEA-30W-HAILER-2ND-STN

$650 for 6000 at same store. May be cheaper options. But those cane up in search.
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Old 07-03-2021, 12:13   #13
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

Having sailed for many years without AIS & the last few years with it, my experience has been that you only REALLY look at your AIS when it is important. In that situation, I have found that using a big plotter screen has been invaluable. IMHO using AIS on a small screen would make it much less useful at just those times when you want all the functionality you can get. FWIW I do not think that AIS is somewhere you should be economising. Get a proper receiver - & an AIS transmitter too. When you need it - you need it.
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Old 07-03-2021, 14:36   #14
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

I'm satisfied with Shipfinder App on my cell phone. If I can see a ship, I'm able to identify it and call them on VHF if necessary. But I'm only operating within range of cell phone towers - coastal cruising.
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Old 07-03-2021, 15:03   #15
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Re: VHF-DSC with or without AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clivevon View Post
Having sailed for many years without AIS & the last few years with it, my experience has been that you only REALLY look at your AIS when it is important. In that situation, I have found that using a big plotter screen has been invaluable. IMHO using AIS on a small screen would make it much less useful at just those times when you want all the functionality you can get. FWIW I do not think that AIS is somewhere you should be economising. Get a proper receiver - & an AIS transmitter too. When you need it - you need it.
Strongly agree - the details are important.

I purchased my first AIS (receiver) in 2009 for not much money. It promptly failed not long after leaving for a multi day cruise down the west coast from BC to San Francisco. I replaced it with a better quality unit which I used until about 2015. I replaced that one with a transponder that has wifi capability and NMEA 0183/2000 outputs so it can feed all of the equipment needing location data and display targets on the chartplotter as well as an iPad and iPhone. This works well and makes us visible to everybody else as well.
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