CLA1000 Fault Finding Guide

CLA1000 Bundle HR

Despite our popular CLA1000 Class A transponder being predominately fitted to commercial ships by experienced electronic installers, an increasing number are being fitted to pleasure craft and are often installed by the boat’s owner or an installer who has never fitted a Class A transponder before.

Installation is pretty straight forward, but there are a number of steps and procedures to follow:-

  • Mechanical Installation
  • Power Connections
  • GPS antenna installation
  • VHF Antenna installation
  • Interfacing*
  • Configuration via the supplied configAIS program

*Many CLA1000 units are interfaced to our HSC100, USB to NMEA Adaptor cable, Pilot Plug or PilotLink units.

Things do not always go to plan and with this in mind, we have released a Fault Finding Guide to help users, new to Class A transponders, work out what is wrong. To download a copy of our AIS Class A Transponder Fault Finding Guide, click here.

 

New SmarterTrack Lite V1.04

SmarterTrackLITE_V1_04

Today we have released an update to our popular, free SmarterTrack LITE software. Version 1.04 has improved cursor Lat/Lon display in the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen and support for the AIS transponder VDO message which allows SmarterTrack LITE to take the boat’s position from the AIS transponder even if it is not outputting traditional NMEA0183 GPS messages like GGL, GGA or RMC.

A number of people have wanted to use SmarterTrack LITE with the Pilot Plug connection of a Class A AIS Transponder and the new version now supports this allowing you to plot the boat’s position and all of the AIS targets around the boat, via one of our Pilot Plug adaptor cables or wirelessly using our PilotLink product.

Other popular applications for SmarterTrack LITE are; testing a USB or Wireless enabled AIS unit on a Windows PC or for monitoring the local AIS traffic that our AISNet product is sending to Marine Traffic, AIS Live or any of the other internet AIS services. To download a copy of the latest V1.04 please click here.

Getting maximum Wi-Fi range on our PilotLink

PilotLink on Car Mount

Our PilotLink wireless NMEA server for connecting a Class A transponder to an iPad or other wireless device is proving very popular with commercial pilots and ship owners. PilotLink is the only wireless product in our range to feature an internal Wi-Fi antenna but its small ceramic chip antenna is very good and should have a range of 50m or more depending upon environmental conditions.

However, recently one of the Pilots who helped us in the original product testing reported that on some larger vessels, he was only seeing a 20m range. He also reported that if he held the PilotLink vertically and stuck it to the front window of the ship’s bridge that the range would suddenly increase and he could get reception from one side of the bridge to the other.

On checking the antenna data-sheet we confirmed that the antenna gave maximum gain when the Pilot Link was held vertically and also that if the PilotLink was laid flat on a metal surface, which is common when using it on a ship’s bridge, that the Wi-Fi range would be further reduced.

 

Pilot Link Signal Pattern

The drawing above attempts to illustrate how the Wi-Fi signals emanate from the center of the PilotLink – imagine a large doughnut approximately 100m in diameter with the PilotLink in the middle !

So after reviewing the Pilot’s feedback, backed up by the antenna datasheets, we recommend that anyone needing maximum Wi-Fi range from our PilotLink unit, should mount the PilotLink vertically, as far away from any large metallic objects as possible.

Whilst considering this issue, it occurred to us that a very good solution would be to use one of the many designs of mobile phone holders for cars. Although PilotLink is slightly thicker than your average mobile phone, most of these holders cope with a variety of different sizes and, as you can see from the photo at the start of this article, our PilotLink is held very securely by the spare holder we found in the office.

Mounting of the phone holder is easy, with the suction cup temporarily fixing to the front window of the bridge and, once adjusted for the PilotLink, it is held firmly in place. With these phone holders available from many online resellers and prices starting at just a few pounds, it is even worth considering one for smaller vessels, as a neat way to secure your PilotLink in rough conditions.

PilotLink and SEAiq Pilot App

iOS Simulator Screen shot May 13, 2013 11.08.11 PM

With Production of our PilotLink, wireless NMEA server for Class A Transponders, now under way, we were very interested to hear about the latest iPad/iPhone Apps from SEAiq. With support for S-57/S-63 charts and specific docking and pilotage functions, the new SEAiq Pilot App looks to be a natural fit for use with our new PilotLink.

To learn more about SEAiq click here to visit their website.

NEW – Pilot Plug 10m Extension Cable for AIS Class A Transponders

After receiving  a request from our UK distributor CA Clase, we have created a new 10m Pilot Plug Extension Cable which will be a very useful accessory for any large vessel fitted with an AIS  Class A transponder.

As their name suggests, Pilot Plugs were defined by the IMO as a simple and easy way for Pilots coming on board a vessel to connect their laptop to the vessels AIS transponder to get GPS and AIS data whilst onboard.

Most Pilot plugs are about 1-2m in length and have a USB plug on one end and the special 9 way Amphenol connector on the other end which connects to the AIS. On some vessels it is useful to be able to extend this cable length, but as standard USB cables are limited to 5m it is better to extend the RS422 section of the cable. This is where the new 10m Pilot Plug Extension cable from Digital Yacht comes in and allows any Pilot Plug (not just the popular Digital Yacht model see image below) to be safely extended.