AIS transceivers are mostly expensive but as indicated by many here very nice to have. Not only do you get to see other targets near (or heading towards you on a collision course) but they get to see you as well. This is especially true for large ships in busy channels. All you need to do is cross the florida
straights in the middle of the night approaching key west
to know that being visible by all those big boys is really nice....
So... back to cost.... Recently, for all the reasons mentioned above, we deviced to buy an AIS transmitter for our 40' custom trawler
"Bliss". I wanted the following features.
3. Class B AIS trasmitter
4. Built in GPS (for redundancy)
5. Integration to my iPad
and Mac navigation
5 was important because it mean that
a. that I could have my targets displayed on my navigation software
b. I did not have to have a display on my AIS unit
c. I could bury the AIS unit away which was important in my cluttered pilot house.
So i settled on a sitex class B transceiver and its mating VHF splitter.
Si-Tex Metadata Class B AIS Transceiver
The unit is small, inexpensive (compare to other AIS devices), a built in GPS that does not require an external antenna
(important since I did not want to put another hole in my boat) and could use (with the assistance of the VHF splitter) my current
(important since i did not want to put more holes in my boat).
The device outputs NMEA
183 via both serial
and USB. For PC users the USB feed can be fed into a computer directly.
I however chose to use the serial NMEA
feed to go into an SeaModul-Lite NMEA combiner (so that I could get my other instrumentations into the mix), which then feeds the USB NMEA out to a RedPort Optimizer and the NMEA out to my chart plotter.
Not sure if you are familiar with the RedPort Optimizer but this small inexpensive WiFi
Router (Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot - RedPort Optimizer
) is really cool. Here is what it does
1. it controls your satellite equipment
for optimizer email
and browsing (works with most (all?) satellite
devices out there.
2. Will repeat NMEA data via WiFi
for use with navigation software
3. Has a really inexpensive 4 Watt (that is effective watts) WiFi Extender option which will allow you to connect to WiFi hotspots a long way away.
4. Is a full tracking device which will send your position report to a web site using your existing satellite phone
All in all a very cool device.
So my boat now has an integrated WiFi hotspot that allows me to use my satellite systems, Marina WiFi, and most importantly access to my AIS/GPS data on my iPad
BTW... full disclaimer... I invented the Optimizer one of the reasons I thing is so great! But... anyway... i though this might add to this interesting discussion which is why i am posting
Bliss to all!