Today we finished a series of successful tests, connecting our AIS receivers to a Google Nexus 7 Android tablet. This has been made possible by a new version of Boat Beacon. The popular AIS App for Apple and Android devices, which should soon be available (as a free update) on the Apple Store and Google Play Store. Therefore allowing connection of an AIS receiver to an Android tablet.
One of the most popular features of Boat Beacon is that is allows you to receive AIS data on your phone or tablet (from the internet) without having to install an AIS receiver on your boat. What is more, you could also transmit your position (without having an AIS transponder). As a result allowing you to appear on AIS websites like Marine Traffic, Ship Finder and AIS Hub. Therefore friends and family can track your passage. In order to receive AIS data and transmit your position, you needed to have a 3G internet connection, but for many people Boat Beacon was a great app to have and introduced them to the world of AIS.
Relying solely on Internet AIS data does have serious limitations though, namely;
This is the reason why most boat owners ultimately decide to fit an AIS receiver on their boat. However, you then have the issue of getting this AIS data on to your phone/tablet. With Apple devices, currently the only option is to use one of our Wireless NMEA units. Which will convert the AIS data in to wireless NMEA data that an App running on the iPhone/iPad can read. Many Apps including Boat Beacon support Wireless NMEA, which we documented in a recent article.
However, many Android devices now support USB “On the Go” (OTG) which allows you to plug in USB slave devices – see USB OTG cable in image above. In order for the USB slave device to work correctly, Android must have suitable drivers installed. There must also be an App running that knows how to use the USB device. As part of our testing, we confirmed that the drivers for all of our AIS receivers (and our NMEA to USB adaptor cable) are pre-installed in Android. It was also determined that the latest Boat Beacon App will read the NMEA0183 AIS data. You can then see the AIS targets on its chart display.
Installation could not be easier. You simply plug in the USB OTG cable to your Android device and then download the latest version of Boat Beacon. Finally plug the USB lead of one of our AIS Receivers in to the OTG cable. Android should detect the AIS device and ask you to confirm that you want Boat Beacon to use this device.
Boat Beacon will open and you will see live AIS data starting to come in and displayed on the Boat Beacon app.
The app features CPA and TCPA alarms and colour coded AIS targets. As well as the facility to also transmit your position back to the internet AIS sites via 3G. Therefore Boat Beacon is the best AIS App for Android. Furthermore, it now has the option of connecting our AIS receivers via USB. Or alternatively any of our AIS units via one of our Wireless NMEA adaptors (WLN10, NavLink, iNavHub, etc.). As a result you have an app that can be seriously used at sea as an AIS display and alarm system.
For more information on Boat Beacon visit the Play Store by clicking here.