Wireless AIS Configuration App for Android

AISConfig Icon for blog

Our proAIS2 software for configuring and checking our latest generation of AIS transponders is a useful tool, but only being Windows and Mac compatible, it does have its limitations.

With this in mind, we have developed an Android App that allows you to do pretty much everything that proAIS2 does, but wirelessly from your Android Smart Phone or Tablet. AISConfig is a free app, available on the Google Play Store, that works with our AIT1500 (NMEA0183 version), AIT2000 and AIT3000.

Being wireless, you will need a WLN10HS or AIS WiFi Server if using our AIT1500 or AIT2000, but this is a popular combination, so there should be many customers out there that will benefit from this new App and of course our “top of the range” AIT3000 has WiFi built-in so AISConfig is the perfect app for it.

AISConfig for blog

Using AISConfig you can do all of the initial configuration, including programming of the MMSI number and then once setup, you can use AISConfig to monitor the status of the transponder, repeat the LED status (useful if the transponder is behind a panel) and to turn OFF/ON the Silent Mode, avoiding the need for a physical switch.

If AISConfig proves popular, then we will certainly consider producing an Apple iOS version, but for now AISConfig is only available for Android.

TCP Connection Problems on Apple iOS 10

img_2705

Since Apple’s release of iOS 10 for iPhones and iPads, we have been getting a number of calls and emails saying that various navigational Apps that read wireless NMEA data from our products have stopped working, including our free iAIS app.

There are two modes/protocols that our wireless NMEA products can work in; TCP which is a reliable one to one type connection supported by most apps and UDP which is a broadcast protocol that allows multiple devices to all receive the same data.

When we started to investigate, we found that TCP communication on all Apps no longer worked with iOS 10 and UDP only worked on some apps. At first we thought this might have been an Apple API type change that had caused the problem, but then we discovered that changing the IP address of our wireless NMEA products from 169.254.1.1 to 192.168.1.1 fixed the problem.

The 169.254.1.1 IP address range is usually reserved for Ad-Hoc networks where there is no DHCP server and dates back to our first iAIS product (released in 2011) that only supported Ad-Hoc networks. With the release of Android, which did not support Ad-Hoc networks, we updated our wireless NMEA products to the more common Access Point mode but retained the 169.254.1.1 IP address, to avoid changing too many Apps and Documentation.

Now it seems that Apple are clamping down on TCP connections on Ad-Hoc networks and this means that all customers who have updated their iPhone or iPad to iOS 10, will need to change the IP address of their wireless NMEA product, if they have one of our; iAIS, WLN10, WLN10HS, WLN20, NavLink, PilotLink or AIT3000 units. Please note that our iNavHub and Sonar Server products are not affected by the iOS change.

To make this procedure as easy and simple as possible, we have created a new Tech Note that explains what needs to be done. Click here to download.

 

Looking for a Class B AIS transponder?

Its always good to have a few weeks at boat shows and listen to customer questions.  Differences between models always crop up as Digital Yacht have a big selection of Class B AIS transponders on offer.  We hope this document helps you decide which is best for your installation.  All units share a common technology platform so will give excellent performance and importantly have future proof SatTrak technology built in.

ait-family2-png-small

AIT1500 Series

All AIS transponders require their own dedicate internal GPS (you can’t use a NMEA feed from an existing GPS).  The AIT1500 series has a super sensitive internal antenna which cuts down on the need for another external antenna.  It will work well even below decks on GRP vessels but steel or wood will attenuate the signal too much.  The AIT1500 series is therefore great for RIBs, Center Consoles and GRP sail boats.  With many larger sail boats now fitting multi function displays in the cockpit, it can be unobtrusively installed in a location adjacent to the MFD and the same for flybridge motor boats.

The AIT1500 comes in two versions – one for NMEA 0183 based systems and one for NMEA 2000 systems.  The later is also self powered from the NMEA 2000 bus so installation really is plug ‘n play.  Both models have a USB interface for PC & MAC for programming and PC plotting.

AIT2000

Has dual NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 interfaces plus USB and ships with a dedicated external GPS antenna.  Its a great solution for wooden and steel vessels that require an external GPS antenna

AIT3000

Appropriately called “Nucleus” as it forms a hub in any marine electronics system.  It features our patented ZeroLoss VHF antenna splitter technology so the main VHF antenna can be shared with VHF and AIS which means no need for another VHF antenna and sophisticated connectivity including not just NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 but also WiFi for iPad and tablet interfacing.  Up to 7 wifi connected devices can be attached and neat NMEA interfacing allows instrument, AIS and GPS data to be used by hundreds of compatible apps.  There’s also a FM radio antenna outlet.

Here’s a 5 minute guide on Youtube and of course we’re standing by on email and phone to answer any queries.  Digital Yacht – for your biggest and best choice in Class B AIS.

Wi-Fi Congestion

WiFiAnalyzer

The range of 2.4GHz frequencies reserved for Wi-Fi is fairly limited and with so many Wi-Fi devices and networks these days, it is not unusual for wireless networks in the same location to share the same frequencies and this results in lower connection speeds and even connection drop outs in extreme situations.

The good news is that the wireless network(s) on your boat, once out at sea, will not be affected by the wireless networks on land or on other boats. That said, these days it is not unusual for larger yachts and powerboats to have two or more wireless networks and so it is really important to ensure that your own wireless networks are working at peak performance and not sharing the same frequencies.

The good news is that most Wireless Routers and Access Points can be configured to work on a specific frequency and so you should be able to ensure that each network is using its own frequency band without any overlaps.

There are affectively 13 frequencies in the 2.4GHz range and each wireless router will use five adjoining frequencies to setup its network. Looking at the diagram above, where each coloured curve is a separate wireless router/network, you can see that in general three frequencies are used; 1, 6 and 11. which allows three routers to work side by side with no overlapping/sharing of frequencies.

So how do you optimise the frequencies used by your wireless networks ? Well first you need to “see” what is going on by carrying out a wireless survey of your boat. This can be done using a number of free programs and apps. Unfortunately Apple do not allow iPhones and iPads to provide this level of Wi-Fi Information so you will need to use a Windows PC or Android device to do your wireless survey.

If you have an Android phone or tablet, then you are in luck as the free App “Wi-Fi Analyzer” is one of the best tools available and created the image above. For Windows PC users then “NetSurveyor” is very good or “WiFiInfoView” which is not so graphical but is only a few hundred Kilobytes in size and needs no installation, so can run straight from your memory stick.

Whichever tool you use, once you have conducted your wireless survey, you will be able to see what frequencies your wireless networks are operating on and decide if you need to change them. All Digital Yacht wireless products can be changed to use a different frequency and should you need to do this, please contact us for instructions.

No GPS on Transponder due to loose FME connector

FME Connector Apart

Our AIT2000 and AIT3000 Class B transponders are supplied with a GPS antenna that has a 10m cable terminated in an FME connector (right hand connector in the above image).

These connectors are very slim, not much larger than the coax cable and are much easier to route through the boat. We also supply an FME to TNC adaptor for connecting the cable to the transponder (left hand connector in the above image).

Today we were reminded of the importance of ensuring this adaptor is firmly screwed on to the cable, when a US customer reported that their AIT2000 had stopped getting a GPS fix. After using the proAIS2 software to confirm that the GPS signals were very low, we asked the customer to check the GPS antenna connections to the AIT2000 and sure enough found that the FME connector had become loose and was no longer making a good connection.

A quick tighten of the FME connector in to the adaptor and the AIT2000 started to get a GPS fix again and the customer could continue their cruise.

The nut on the FME connector is 8mm (AF) and the TNC adaptor has two flat indents that are 9.5mm (AF). You can tighten the two connectors quite tightly but avoid using too much force which could damage the connector and cause a different set of problems. The image below shows the FME fully tightened in to the adaptor and there should be about a 1.5mm gap between the FME nut and the collar of the adaptor when properly tightened.

FME Connector Joined

Our GV30 combo GPS and VHF antenna also uses FME connectors and is supplied with a TNC and BNC adaptor, which should also be tightened in the same way.

Miami Boat Show 2015 – All Ready to Go

Miami Stand 2015

The Miami Boat Show 2015 will open tomorrow and with the Digital Yacht stand up and ready to go, we are really looking forward to show casing our latest new products.

Our new AIT1500 and AIT3000 Class B AIS transponders will be on display along with our brand new AISnode, the world’s first NMEA2000 bus powered AIS receiver. Our innovative, DAME award nominated AquaWear wireless server will also be on show opposite our Aqua Media entertainment center.

So if you are visiting the show please do come and see us on Booth 2509 in the Marine Mart.

Full User Manual now available for new transponders

Transponders 2015

With the recent release of our new AIT1500 and AIT3000 Class B Transponders, we now have three Class B Transponder models in our 2015 product range.

Traditionally, we supply our Class B transponders with a printed Quick Start Guide that provides basic information on installation and operation and for many people this is all the information they need. However, for dealers and customers that want to have more details of using, configuring, installing and fault finding our transponders we have now released a combined Full User Manual for the three units.

To download a copy of the AIT1500/2000/3000 Full User Manual V1.00, please click here.