GV30 Combo GPS-VHF Antenna – The Perfect Class B AIS Transponder Antenna Solution

Many users are put off installing a Class B AIS transponder because of the requirement for additional antennas on their space strapped pushpit rail or radar arch.

A Class B AIS transponder must have its own internal (built in)  dedicated GPS receiver so this requires a dedicated antenna.  It also needs a dedicated VHF antenna (ideally tuned to 162MHz) or connection to a specialist VHF-AIS antenna splitter if you want to share the main VHF antenna with the AIS and VHF.  Our SPL2000 splitter is a great choice here but this technology is relatively expensive.

Digital Yacht now have a great new solution – the compact GV30 combination GPS and VHF antenna, tuned specifically for 162MHz AIS frequencies.  Physically its around 75mm in diameter and has a compact helical stub antenna fitted to the top.  Two (10m) cables exit the unit (for GPS and AIS) with low profile connectors to make running the cable through the boat easy.  Adaptors are supplied for connection direct to our AIT2000 transponder.  Despite the compact stub antenna, performance is actually very good and it makes for a rapid installation.  Of course, range is slightly limited (typically 5-8 NM)  but range isn’t everything - actually too much range can cause too many targets to be received and overcrowd the plotter display!

GV30

Note that the GV30 is shown here fitted to a 1″ standard deck base (stainless steel) which isn’t supplied.  The GV30 has the industry standard 1″ female thread to fit a wide variety of 3rd party rail, deck and pole adaptors.

It will of course work with other AIS transponders but there’s some good reasons here to choose our brilliant AIT2000 Class B transponder

 

PilotLINK with NavLink UK app – Nice Solution

PilotLINK is our portable wireless gateway for Class A AIS systems.  It connects direct to any Class A pilot plug connector and allows AIS and GPS data to be streamed over a wifi link to iPads, iPhones or other tablets.  Just find the PilotLINK hotspot and connect.  There’s an internal 9V battery or you can power via a standard USB format adaptor.  Designed for maritime pilots, its also finding applications with delivery skippers, captains and crew.

ipadair_navlink

NavLink UK is our full featured iOS charting and navigation app using Hydrographic Office vector charts.  It supports real time GPS tracking, waypoints and routing plus an AIS target layer and works beautifully with PilotLINK.  There are now chart options for France, Holland and Germany (available as low cost in app purchases) and a separate version (NavLink  US) for the US market.

 

If you’re an Android user then our new AISView app for Android is now available on the Google Play Store.  You can get details here.  This provides a really nice north up or course up view of local AIS targets with drill down target information.  Here’s a busy Rotterdam port this week

nexus 7

AIS Sales In the UK – A job well done by AIS Companies

The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.  It started today at 0630 and the screen shot below at 0900 shows just how many boats have AIS transponders installed.

IPAD 4

It also shows that the AIS system is robust and even in confined areas can handle large amounts of traffic.  The image below uses our latest iPad navigation app NavLink UK to show a realtime view of AIS targets.  NavLink turns an iPad into a full function touch screen chart plotter with tracking and routing plus real time AIS overlays for just £19.99!  Here we can see sailing vessel Amorelle and all the targets around.  Of course these views only show vessels equipped with a transponder but there’s also thousands of users utilising AIS with just a receiver – seeing what’s around but not sending their location information.  Either way, AIS can only be a brilliant step forward in marine navigation safety and boating fun!

IPAD 1

This week we also launched our FIRST Android app called AISView.  Unlike NavLink it doesn’t have detailed charts but instead uses either a Google map or radar like PPI/range ring display to show AIS targets.

AISView is the ideal App for anyone wanting to display “live” AIS data from their boat’s AIS receiver or transponder on their Android tablet or smart phone. AISView is designed to receive and display wireless NMEA data from any of Digital Yacht’s NMEA to Wifi devices like the WLN10, NavLink, iNavHub or iAIS.

Although a “wire free” connection is the easiest way to get data in to the tablet, if you do not have one of our wireless NMEA products, you can also connect using Digital Yacht’s USB-NMEA adaptor. Connect this cable to the NMEA0183 output of your AIS and plug the USB connector in to a suitable USB OTG cable for your tablet and you have a simple and cost effective method of getting AIS data in to the tablet

Even if you have a full featured AIS display on your main plotter, having an extra display on a tablet is useful as a repeater or 2nd display. Utilising the internal GPS of the Android tablet, you will also have a completely separate backup system, which should your main plotter fail, will display your position, all of the AIS targets around you and also provide anti-collision alarms with CPA and TCPA calculations.

AISVIEW 2

Once installed, you’ll see an overlay of AIS target information onto a background Google map. Tap on a target and you’ll get a drop down list with identity, heading and closest point of approach (CPA) information. A heading vector makes it easy to see potential collision course targets. Google maps can now be cached if you don’t have an internet connection but even if this feature is not used, AISView will present an attractive radar like visualisation with range rings overlaying the targets around your vessel.  Note in the pic above the Lymington – Yarmouth ferry making its way through the Round the Island race fleet!

AISView also supports a simple bearing and distance ruler, compass heading display and current position and track history from the device’s built in GPS. Alarms can be configured for closest point of approach and AIS SARTs – useful for MOB applications. If you have a live internet connection, you can also supplement the real time overlay with AIS information obtained from the popular BoatBeacon internet AIS app (if this is installed) allowing you to view AIS targets in remote ports or locations.

All these are exciting developments for Digital Yacht and we can see how consumer devices are really taking part in real time boat navigation

AISView Android App launches on the PlayStore

With over 1.5m Android devices activated daily, it’s the world’s leading mobile platform but, up until now, supported remarkably few marine navigation apps.  Digital Yacht have just changed that with the introduction of AISView – an AIS viewing application for Android tablets and phones.

AISView Screen Shot Experia

AISView is designed to wirelessly connect into your boat’s AIS system via any of Digital Yacht’s NMEA to Wifi devices like the WLN10 or iAIS. Alternatively, you can also connect using Digital Yacht’s USB-NMEA adaptor which can link to a tablet’s USB port via a suitable adaptor but you’ll have a cable attached to the tablet.  Even if you have a full featured AIS display on your main plotter, having an extra display on a tablet is useful as a repeater or 2nd display.  It can also be used for anti collision alarms with CPA and TCPA calculations.

Once installed, you’ll see an overlay of AIS target information onto a background Google map.  Tap on a target and you’ll get a drop down list with identity, heading and closest point of approach (CPA) information.  A heading vector makes it easy to see potential collision course targets.  Google maps can now be cached if you don’t have an internet connection but even if this feature isn’t used, AISView will present an attractive radar like visualisation with range rings overlaying the targets around your vessel.

target details

 

AISView also supports a simple bearing and distance ruler, compass heading display and current position and track history from the device’s built in GPS.  Alarms can be configured for closest point of approach and AIS SARTs – useful for MOB applications.  If you have a live internet connection, you can also supplement the real time overlay with AIS information obtained from the popular BoatBeacon internet AIS app (if this is installed) allowing you to view AIS targets in remote ports or locations.

The situation awareness picture below perhaps best shows off AISViews capabilities – change the beautiful sunny weather in the Fort Lauderdale location to a foggy or poor visibility day and you can see the benefits of AIS.  Download a pdf navlink situation awareness drawing

You can download the app from here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.digitalyacht.navlink

 

navlink situation awareness drawing

AISView is available now and is priced at $10/£5.75 – to get it just visit the Google Play store on your Android device or click here

 

Sneak preview of NavLink for Android on Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Sony Experia Z2 Tablet-lr

We are just in the final stages of testing our new NavLink App for Android devices and thought we would give you a sneak preview. This app supports the display of “live” wireless AIS data from all of our wireless NMEA products and plots the AIS targets on a Google Map.

When outside of 3G range and no longer on the internet, cached copies of the Google Maps will still be displayed or the app will show the AIS targets on a plain “radar” type display with the boat displayed at the center of a series of range rings.

The App provides full AIS functionality including CPA and TCPA alarms – click here to see our previous post on these features.

During our tests, we had the opportunity to try the new Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (they also do a smart phone version) which Sony describe as the World’s slimmest and lightest waterproof tablet. We were all very impressed with this tablet which features special waterproof covers for the various connectors and expansion slots.

We would still be careful when using it in the cockpit of a “very wet” boat to not let it rest in standing water, but the Sony should be capable of surviving the odd splash or being used in rain and spray.

The screen size, battery life, weight and build quality were all very good and we would certainly recommend this 10″ Quad Core Android Tablet.

As well as our new NavLink, there are a growing list of Marine Apps for Android – click here to see our previous post about Android Apps.

With testing nearly complete, we are confident that our new NavLink Android App will be available on the Play Store next month.

 

Tempting tablet for boating – Lenovo MiiX 2 + SmarterTrack

With a price tag of around £160/$260, the Lenovo MiiX 2 is a full featured Windows 8.1 tablet (not a cut down RT version) and it might be one of the best buys for a boater.  As its operating system is regular Windows 8.1, standard marine PC software runs as it would on a notebook or dedicated PC but you get the benefit of portability, a built in GPS and  all the other features this amazing device offers.  The new Windows operating system has had a hard time in the mainstream consumer press but actually, once mastered (we’re all old hands at XP!), it brings alot of extra features.  I guess it’s like any learning curve, but once cracked it’s very stable and easy to use.

lenovo miix 8 tablet

Key features for the tablet are:

  • Bright 1280 x 800 pixel 8″ display (can be portrait or landscape orientated – good for sailing N-S or E-W!)
  • Built in GPS, BlueTooth 4, WiFi (You can use a Bluetooth mouse rather than touch screen if you prefer)
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Intel Z3740 processor
  • Mini USB port for external devices (our USB-NMEA adaptor and USB AIS products are now plug and play with an OTG USB cable)
  • Long life battery – we were navigating for a good day’s sailing and with a standard USB connection you can easily recharge from anywhere

We bought a MiiX to test our SmarterTrack software on a mobie platform.  SmarterTrack is a sophisticated, Navionic’s based PC chart plotter system which offers real time navigation, NMEA interfaces, tracking, waypoints, routes, weather overlays, AIS and much more.  It costs £250/$399 and has a unique feature in that you can copy Navionic’s charts on cartridge format to the PC’s hard drive and licence them to SmarterTrack at no extra charge.  That means you can use the same Navionic’s cartridge in your Simrad, Lowrance, Raymarine etc plotter to save on duplicated cartography costs.

Lenovo Tablet with SmarterTrack

Setup was pretty straightforward but not without a few headaches if you want to use the internal GPS.   First install SmarterTrack via a USB thumb drive or email link. Second, install and save the Navionic’s charting data from the microSD card to the tablet and thirdly get the internal GPS to work…

We reckon many users will be using the tablet as part of their boat’s integrated navigation system so there’s a good argument for fitting a Digital Yacht NMEA to wifi device so you can use a wifi link to the boats GPS, instrument and navigation data.  Our WLN10, iAIS, NavLink  and iNavHub products can all support this protocol and it’s the best solution – saving on battery life for the tablet and ensuring you’ve good accurate GPS data even when below decks as you’re not reliant on the tablet’s internal GPS.  SmarterTrack supports this TCP/IP wifi feed too.

However, we appreciate there’s a market for a totally portable solution.  Here’s how to use the internal GPS on the tablet.  The problem is that many tablets now feature GNSS devices, which provide location data via the Windows Location Platform. Unfortunately, they do not provide that data via a traditional com port, so most desktop apps simply will not work. That’s where a special software application called Localizer comes in – click here to go to their website

This low cost patch allows you to create a COM port so traditional navigation programs reliant on an NMEA 0183 com ports can function.  It works great and costs about $15

So for about £450/$660 we now have a portable 8″ high resolution (compare 1280 x 900 to a traditional plotter) GPS chart plotter system which is AIS compatible via wifi or USB and can share Navionic’s charts with many popular dedicated chart plotters.  Looking at the maths, we can see this working – fit a small chart plotter in the cockpit or at the helm and feed NMEA data to a wireless server and use this tablet for the 2nd station.

SmarterTrack New Instrument Displays

SmarterTrack software offers alot of features a regular chart plotter can’t support such as weather overlays, a sophisticated AIS overlay with CPA/TCPA alarms, log books, printing routes and more.

I think we’re finally getting some great value added integration with consumer electronics on board boats – making sailing more affordable and fun.  We’re testing next week for some other product development work but will try this set up as our primary navigator.  Please tell us your experiences too

 

Why the AIT2000 is your best choice for an AIS Class B Transponder

The AIT2000 Class B Transponder – Best in Class!

ait2000 vr 2

We would all like to claim we make the best products with the best performance and features (and of course we do!) but with a highly regulated product like a Class B AIS transponder, all manufacturer’s have to meet a strict specification and performance curve laid down in international standards. However, it’s the little extras and features that we’ve considered and designed into our value priced AIT2000 that make it your best choice.  Here are just some reasons why…

EASIER GPS ANTENNA INSTALLATION

fme connector

 

All Class B AS transponders require their own internal GPS and associated antenna.  We supply the AIT2000 with a compact antenna with an industry standard 1″ threaded base for mounting onto standard pole, deck or rail mounts.  What’s more we’ve designed the cable to either exit from the side of the antenna or through the base and it can even be “puck” mounted if required.  The 10m cable is terminated with a FME style connector which means you don’t need to drill large holes through the boat to run the cable to the transponder and of course, we supply an adaptor to fit the transponder’s TNC GPS input.  Easy!

THE BEST IN CONNECTIVITY

AIT2000 NMEA Connections to WLN10HS

We designed our AIT2000 to be compatible with any AIS ready device so we’ve included multiple NMEA0183 interfaces, NMEA2000 and USB connections as standard.  In addition, all three sets of cables are supplied with the device ready to plug ‘n play into any installation.  We’ve also added a 2nd NMEA 0183 output with GPS data at 4800 baud which can be used to feed a DSC VHF.  There’s also a NMEA input and built in multiplexer so instrument and AIS data can be aggregated into one output

REMOTE SILENCE CAPABILITY AND EASY STATUS INDICATION

AIT2000 LED Indication Table

You may want to silence your transponder but still receive AIS information and we’ve made that easy with two extra cables in the harness which can be connected to either a simple push button or toggle switch.  Nice!  The four status LEDs on the AIT2000 can show the status of the unit and full internal diagnostics mean that if you’re GREEN, you’re good to go and the whole system has self checked and even verified the VHF transmission.

PC or MAC 

AIT2000+USB to NMEA

Our proAIS2 programming and diagnostics software works with PC and MAC and allows the transponder to be programmed at home* without connection to a DC power supply utilising just the USB connection.  What’s more, we include our SmarterTrack Lite AIS viewing software for a PC (Windows XP, 7, Vista and 8 compatible) so you can use your PC for AIS monitoring – or upgrade to SmarterTrack for full charting and routing capability at the chart table without the need for a 2nd expensive plotter display.  For a permanent PC connection, we’d recommend utilising our USB-NMEA adaptor for compatibility across a wide range of charting and navigation programs.

* Note:  In the US, the device must be programmed by the dealer

OPTIONS FOR iPAD AND MORE…

AIT2000+WLN10+iPad+AutoPilot

Our WLN10HS fits to an AIT2000 in seconds and adds wifi connectivity for iPhones, iPads or tablets.  Use our free iAIS app or opt for the low cost NavLink range of charting apps for real time charting and AIS overlays on your iPad screen.  iPad connectivity effectively adds a 10″ touch screen plotter into your navigation system for the fraction of the cost of a dedicated display.  The WLN10HS will support multiple devices too and is bi-directional so apps can control a compatible autopilot with a special version of AIT2000 firmware we have developed.  Smart!

LOW POWER AND HIGH VOLTAGE PLUS BUILT TOUGH!

The AIT2000 offers best in class power consumption (typically less than 2W) as well as 12v and 24v DC operation so there’s no need for expensive voltage droppers on 24v systems and sailors will appreciate the minimal battery drain.  Pick the unit up and you’ll be surprised at the rugged and tough construction of the unit too despite its compact dimensions.

MAN OVER BOARD, AIS SARTs AND ATONs

AIS LifeGuard

AIS LifeGuard

There’s lots of development in AIS with AIS SARTs for MOB applications and AtoNs for navigation.  The AIT2000 decodes and deciphers all these alternative AIS signals and we even offer LifeGuard – a dedicated AIS SART alarm which connects direct to the AIT2000.  AtoNs are now being used to mark fixed structures, wind farms, wrecks and dangers to navigation allowing positive identification on the electronic chart display.

OPTIONAL VHF ANTENNA SPLITTER OR COMBO VHF-GPS ANTENNA

AIT2000+SPL2000+GV30The transponder will need a dedicated 3rd party VHF antenna our optional VHF-AIS splitter like our ZeroLoss SPL2000.  This allows the main VHF antenna to be shared with the VHF and AIS system.  Alternatively, use our new GV30 combo VHF GPS antenna .

EXPERT TEAM AND SERVICE

The AIT2000 is our 3rd generation of AIS transponder so its fair to say we are “old hands” at AIS and have been involved with this revolutionary technology right since its inception.  Our tech team has 100′s of years of combined experience in AIS and we’ve a product to suit just about any AIS application, commercial or leisure.  We also pride ourselves on fast and efficient tech support and service and the flexible firmware inside the AIT2000 allows us to add new features as the AIS system matures.  Just browse this blog to see all the ideas and applications we’ve been involved in.

Want to know more – just drop us a mail or give us a call + 44 1179 554474 or in the US 978 227 1234

NAVLINK UK iPHONE and iPAD NAVIGATION APP UPDATED

Now with French, Dutch and German charts available as low cost in app purchase
Back in January we released  our low cost NavLink UK charting and navigation app which features real time navigation and full integration with our wireless range of interfaces for GPS and AIS data connectivity – the WLN10, iAIS and iNavHub.  This allows Digital Yacht to offer a supported iPhone and iPad navigation solution with on board hardware sold through our dealer channel and a compatible app.  With over 600m iOS operating systems, we can’t ignore the size of the market and a boater’s desire to use iPad’s and iPhone’s for navigation.  At Digital Yacht we want to offer the best of solutions.

IPAD AIR MONTAGE TRANSPARENT

Our UK app has now been upgraded to include detailed  French, German and  Dutch charting – all available through a simple low- cost, in app purchase.  This now opens the market to French, German, Belgian and Dutch customers as well as UK yachtsmen sailing in these territories.

With NavLink, you can explore, plan and navigate your boating trips in real time and in high resolution using the latest UKHO digital vector marine charts covering the whole of the UK and Ireland which are included with the £19.99 app.  For the additional areas, all that is required is an easy, low cost “in-app” purchase.

Whilst using an iPad and NavLink is an attractive alternative to the cost of a dedicated touchscreen chart plotter, it does not compromise on features. Charts can be presented north up or course up and routes and waypoints are created and edited using a simple touch screen interface.  Real time navigation shows your current position, track, course, speed, ETA, VMG, bearing and distance to next waypoint.  There’s a simple A-B chart ruler too and you can tap on an object such as a buoy or nav-aid and get a pop up data window showing its characteristics. Its sharp, high-definition display enables simple zooming on detailed vector format charts, as well as allowing chart data to be layered and therefore de-cluttered.

It’s also designed to work seamlessly with Digital Yacht’s  NMEA to WiFi devices so will integrate with the boat’s GPS and AIS systems.  If AIS data is available, you’ll see AIS targets overlaid with all their identity information and a heading line as well as alarms for CPA and TCPA.

Utilising the on board GPS with these wireless servers means customers don’t need a GPS enabled iPad.  Even if your device is GPS enabled, it significantly reduces battery drain when using an external source.  It also means your iPad/Phone can be used below deck and generally, the boat’s GPS is superior for marine based navigation.

Other advanced features include tidal information, weather data from weather buoys showing current local conditions such as wind speed/direction and swell and full route planning capability with sharing – useful for keeping all the crew updated!

navlink key screen shot landscape

NavLink also helps with watch keeping and lookouts.  In its unique HorizonView mode, you can use the camera on the iPad to scan the horizon.  You’ll get an overlay on the camera screen of nav-aids, AIS targets and waypoints which serves as a great visualisation tool.

The app is purchased through the Apple app store and costs just £19.99.  On board hardware is available through our technical and installing dealer channel which allows dealers and distributors to take advantage of the Apple sales revolution.

Existing users can update their app free via the App Store

 

Wireless NMEA2000 on OpenCPN

NavLink

Slowly but surely, NMEA2000 the latest marine electronics networking standard is making its way on to boats; old and new. With most new marine electronics equipment having an NMEA2000 interface, we are seeing more and more requests for our NavLink Wireless NMEA2000 Server, that allows you to wirelessly send NMEA2000 data to phones, tablets and computers.

Although there is some initial investment required to purchase and install an NMEA2000 “Backbone” (the T-Pieces, terminator resistors and cables) once you have your basic network setup adding extra equipment is very quick and easy. Just today we had a customer who phoned us concerned about how to install a new AIT2000 Class B Transponder and one of our NavLinks on to his new boat that already had an NMEA2000 network installed. The customer had never seen the “backbone” and had expected to need all sorts of tools, crimps, soldering iron, etc. He was very pleasantly surprised to discover that both units just plugged in to the network and the NavLink even took its power from the NMEA2000 bus.

NMEA2000 Backbone

It turned out that the customer was a big Apple fan and wanted to use all of the NavLink’s wireless NMEA2000 data in OpenCPN running on his Mac and maybe later on to purchase a suitable app to run on his iPad. With everything connected up, it was a simple matter of scanning for wireless networks on his Mac and connecting to the NavLink.

Then in OpenCPN, we got him to go to settings, select connections and click on the “Add Connection” button. Then in the connection properties section select “Network”, Protocol = UDP (so that multiple devices can receive the same data), Address = 169.254.1.1 and Port = 2000 (as shown below).

OpenCPN Connection Mac

Once the connection settings were entered, it was just a case of clicking the “Apply” button and then the “OK” button to establish the data connection to the NavLink and the GPS and AIS data started to stream in from the AIT2000 AIS Class B Transponder.

OpenCPN AIS on Mac

 

Our customer was extremely happy that everything was so easy to install and setup and is now looking at installing the Dashboard or NMEA Instrument Plugins for OpenCPN so that he can use more of the NMEA2000 data available on the network.

By selecting the broadcast UDP mode (rather than TCP)  in the connection to OpenCPN, it means that he can simultaneously get the same data on his iPad, when he decides what App to get.

Permanent USB Connection to our AIT2000

AIT2000+USB to NMEA

Our AIT2000 transponder comes complete with a useful USB connection that allows you to quickly and easily configure the unit using our proAIS2 software. Once configured, there is no need to use the proAIS2 software again, other than perhaps to check the AIT2000 at the beginning of the season to ensure it is operating correctly.

A number of customers have also used this USB connection to permanently connect our AIT2000 to a PC or Mac, so that they can display the AIS data on suitable navigation software. For the majority of customers this works perfectly fine, but you need to be careful with your installation as the USB interface is designed to link consumer products.

The problem appears to be that the microprocessor’s USB interface can be damaged by static discharge (in lightning storms) or grounding differences between the boat’s electrical system and the PC/Mac power supply which is often AC powered or via a DC-DC converter.

In these situations, the ground connection in the USB cable can see high surges in current/voltage that can damage the microprocessor and to avoid this, we recommend that any customers who will be connecting the AIT2000 permanently to a PC or Mac, should use one of our NMEA to USB Adaptors (see image above) to provide an extra level of protection.

The part number of the adaptor is ZDIGUSBNMEA and below is a diagram showing how it can be connected to the AIT2000.

AIT2000 NMEA Connections to USB Adaptor