Using Digital Yacht USB products with OpenCPN V3.2 or higher

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In the first of two posts about using our products with OpenCPN, we are pleased to announce the release of a new Tech Note that provides OpenCPN (Windows/Mac/LINUX) users with a clear guide on how to configure the latest Connection Manager (in OpenCPN since V3.2) to work with our USB products.

OpenCPN is one of the most popular marine navigation software packages and is completely Open Source, meaning that Windows, Mac and LINUX users can install and use the software for free. For more information on OpenCPN please click here.

If you have one of our AIS, GPS or Interfacing products that has a USB interface and you want to use it with OpenCPN, then please download Tech Note 00061-2014 by clicking here.

Digital Yacht Tech Training – A great resource

We’ve decided to publish our dealer training presentations on line so that the whole boating community can benefit.  Paul Sumpner, Digital Yacht’s CTO, was at the CA Clase distributor training event this week and presented a great overview on some of our core technologies including:

  • AIS – Hints and tips on transponder operation, programming and antenna selection
  • Wireless NMEA – differences between TCP/IP and UDP connections and app integration
  • GPS antennas and interfacing
  • Wireless internet and routers including common problems with accessing marina hotspots

Most importantly he covered lots of installation issues with hints and tips and important product selection advice.  Of course, reading a presentation on line is not as good as hearing the real thing so if you do have questions, feel free to contact us.

You can download the presentation from HERE  or click the picture below

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Wireless Navigation Takes Off at METS 2014

Digital Yacht have been pioneers in integrating consumer devices like iPads and tablets into your boat’s navigation system.  We introduced our award winning iAIS three years ago and our WLN10 NMEA to WiFi servers are installed on 1000s boats worldwide allowing NMEA data to be streamed to mobile devices.  The AquaWear WLN20 introduced this month enables wearable navigation for yachtsmen with its included wrist case allowing you to literally wear navigation on your sleeve – another first for the marine industry.  Find our more HERE

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Other marine electronic equipment companies are also realising the potential so we decided to take a look around this years METS 2014 marine equipment show and video some of the other innovations.  Here’s the world’s first iPad radar from Furuno.

We are working with Furuno and Maxsea to get real time NMEA data (like GPS, instruments and AIS) into their apps from your boat’s navigation systems  making the connected boat a reality today.  Start looking forward to next generation navigation from Digital Yacht and our partners who share our vision.

 

 

 

AIT3000 – A neat install by UK Dealer Maricom

We’re starting to see the first AIT3000 installation pictures and here’s a lovely example from Hamble based Maricom.  The AIT3000 is our latest Class B transponder and incorporates a VHF-AIS antenna splitter with our ZeroLoss technology.  Using the main VHF antenna for both VHF and AIS allows for a fast and easy installation as well as offering excellent range as the main VHF will normally be high.

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Note the white GPS antenna cable in the picture above is fitted with a FME connector which is about the same diameter of the coax cable so its easy to run the GPS antenna cable too.  The AIT3000 also features a built in wifi server so AIS, GPS and NMEA data can be streamed to an iPad or tablet.

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Maricom took the screen shot above showing local AIS targets and the boat’s current position shown in red.  There’s lots of apps for navigation afloat including Digital Yacht’s NavLink charting and AIS app for iOS and AISView for Android.  Below is our new MAC app also called NavLink which turns a MacBook into a full featured navigation system with real time positioning, AIS overlays and routing.  It even shows AIS targets scaled to size.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 08.43.55The AIT3000 supports TCP/IP and UDP formats so offers compatability with a huge selection of 3rd party apps too.   The AIT3000 also has NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000 and USB interfaces.

IMG_0417Finally, with the installation complete, the facia panel is replaced and the AIT3000 hidden from view.  A silence switch can also be fitted if required allowing transmissions to be silenced while still allowing AIS target reception.  What a professional install by Maricom.

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AISNET – A great solution for vessel tracking

AISNET is Digital yacht’s low cost AIS base station receiver.  It’s designed to be mounted ashore and connected to the internet via its RJ45 network interface.  Local AIS data can then be uploaded to websites such as Marine Traffic to allow easy web viewing of AIS traffic in your region.  It’s also fitted with a USB connection for a local PC.  Here’s Paul Sumpner, Digital Yacht’s CTO at METS 2014 telling us a bit more about this niche product.

 

Class B AIS – A New 5 Minute Guide

With the METS 2014 introduction of our new AIT1500 and AIT3000 Class B transponders, the Digital Yacht family is growing fast.  Here’s a quick 5 minute guide to the AIS system and the features of our new enlarged Class B AIS family.  Digital Yacht have an AIS system for just about every application including receivers, shore stations, ATONs, SARTs and Class A and Class B transponders.

Getting Maximum VHF/AIS Reception

AIS Antenna on Roof

We are often asked about the best antenna to use with our AISNet Base Station Receiver, which is used by many customers to send AIS data to online AIS websites like Marine Traffic, Pinkfroot, AIS Live, Boat Beacon, Shipfinder, etc. We usually suggest a good quality, AIS tuned antenna, with at least 3dB gain and in most cases this gives a good reception range – up to 20-25miles or more. You can get greater range by going to a more expensive directional Yagi antenna, but these often have a limited beam width and may only receive strong signals from vessels within a 120deg arc of the antenna.

Generally speaking a 1/2 dipole, omni-directional whip antenna is probably the best choice for most installations, as they are generally not too expensive, give a good 3dB of gain and will receive targets through a full 360 degrees. In our opinion, it is better to spend time and money on getting the antenna mounted as high as possible than to spend more money on a higher gain directional antenna.

This week, however, we were contacted by a customer who had bought a well known brand of AIS whip antenna but was only seeing targets out to about 12-15 miles. Looking at the spec of the antenna, everything seemed OK but then we noticed that it came with 20m of RG58 coax cable which, according to the attenuation table below, would lose over -3.6dB negating the benefits of using a 3dB antenna.

Attenuation figures of different types/lengths of Coax Cable
Coax Type 20′ (6m) 40′ (12m) 60′ (18m) 80′ (24m) 100′ (30m)
RG-58 -1.2dB -2.4dB -3.6dB -4.9dB -6.1dB
RG-8X -0.9dB -1.8dB -2.7dB -3.6dB -4.5dB
RG-213 -0.5dB -1.0dB -1.6dB -2.1dB -2.7dB

When selecting antennas, the coax cable is often overlooked and, as we discovered, this can have a significant impact on reception range. We suggested that they looked at an alternative whip antenna that came with no cable but had an N-Type or PL259 type connector on the base of the antenna. This would then allow them to make up their own coax cable, using the minimum possible length of low loss RG-213 coax cable.

Even with RG-213, you can lose approximately 1dB for every 10m of cable that you use and as the AISNet is fairly portable, it is always better to move the AISNet closer to the antenna and reduce the coax cable length. You can always run longer lengths of RJ45 network cable inside the building (which does not suffer the same attenuation as coax cable), or better still use a wireless access point or repeater to wirelessly connect the AISNet to the main router in the building.

For more information on our AISNet Base Station receiver, click here.