TCP Connection Problems on Apple iOS 10

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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.

 

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.

 

Portable Navigation Solutions from Digital Yacht

Digital Yacht have some great solutions for boat captains and skippers wanting a portable solution for their on board navigation.  This doesn’t just appeal to charter users but also to commercial and superyacht captains, delivery skippers and pilots who may find themselves on a vessel with an unfamiliar or inadequate navigation solution.

If you have an iPhone or iPad then our NavLink app is a great low cost solution.  UK (NavLink UK) and US (NavLink US) detailed charting is included based on official charts with in app purchases available for Canada, France, Holland and Germany.  More are coming too.

IPAD AIR MONTAGE TRANSPARENTNavLink can also connect to a boat’s navigation system with any one of our Wireless data servers – details HERE.  This allows AIS and GPS data from the on board equipment to be used by the app.  While not strictly a portable solution, it takes just a few minutes to install so may by a neat add on for a semi-permanent installation.

Commercial users navigating on ships equipped with a Class A AIS transponder (and that’s every vessel over 300GRT) can utilise our PilotLink portable wireless inteface – details HERE

pilotlink handheldThis is battery powered and allows AIS and GPS data to be streamed to up to 6 mobile devices – PCs, MACs, iPads or tablets and is compatible with a huge variety of applications line iNavX, iSailor, NavLink, iAIS etc.  Perfect for the professional pilot or commercial captain.

Using a notebook PC for navigation remains a favourite and the new Digital Yacht Smarter Track Express Package brings a plug ‘n play USB DualNav sensor with software to turn your PC into a sophisticated plotter.  There’s more information HERE

smartertrack express rhs

SmarterTrack uses Navionic’s charting which is available with global coverage making it the ideal solution for charter and delivery skippers.  The same Navionic’s SD cards can be utilised within traditional plotters too offering further advantages and value.   Download a presentation on the software from SMARTERTRACK EXPRESS PRESENTATION

Finally, if you’re a MacBook fan, NavLink is now available for Mac too – just download from the MacApp store and convert your MacBook into a large screen plotter

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Great portable navigation solutions from Digital Yacht

Wi-Fi Congestion

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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.

USCG Class A AIS Mandate Now Approved

If you own or operate a commercial vessel in US waters (ports, rivers, lakes, and seas) you are likely to be affected by this new rule. The United States Coast Guard is publishing a new rule which will require most commercial vessels operating in US waters to fit and operate a USCG certified AIS transceiver. On 23rd December 2014, President Obama signed the final rule documentation relevant to the new USCG AIS Rule. We expect it to be formally published in the coming weeks whereupon those vessels affected shall have a limited window of 7 months to install an AIS Class A transceiver to be operating legally.  Currently only vessels over 300GRT on an international voyage are required to have an AIS Class A transponder.  It is likely this ruling will impact on 40,000 vessels.

AIS Basics

An AIS transponder send your boat’s identity, position, course and speed to other vessels equipped with an AIS unit. This data can then be interfaced to a chart plotter display to present an overlay of targets with their heading information.   It greatly aids navigation and helps with collision avoidance.  Signals are transmitted over two dedicated VHF frequencies so typical range from a Class A unit is 20-30NM depending upon antenna height.  All commercial ships over 300GRT are mandated to carry a Class A AIS transponder and the new USCG ruling will also mean other commercial vessels in the US will require a Class A unit.  Class A units have a display to show an overlay of targets and also connect to the vessels electronic chart plotter.  Voyage data can be entered into the Class A display.

Other users including yachtsmen can opt for the cheaper Class B type units like the Digital Yacht AIT1500/AIT2000/AIT3000.  Class B units are fully integrated into the AIS system but have a lower 2W transmit power and only send their data every 30 seconds.  They also require a chart plotter to display target data

What equipment is required?

A USCG approved Class A transponder like Digital Deep Sea’s CLA1000 meets the requirement of the mandate.  Its built tough, is extremely reliable, fully approved and competitively priced as well as supported through a technical dealer network.

The CLA1000 requires two antennas – a GPS antenna (included) and connection to a dedicated VHF antenna.  It may be your vessel already has a spare VHF antenna but if not a good quality (3dBi) VHF antenna should be fitted and ideally a version which is tuned to AIS frequencies (162MHz) which are slightly higher than the normal 156MHz range used for voice traffic.  Digital Deep Sea can help specify the right antenna for your vessel and even have a bundle package available

CLA1000 Bundle HR

The picture above also shows a couple of useful accessories like our HSC100 fast compass sensor which can be connected to the CLA1000 to provide Rate-of-Turn and vessel heading data for the AIS transmissions.  Also show is our Pilot Plug cable allowing connection of a PC or MAC to the CLA1000

What’s in the box?

This video is a little old, but we’ve been in the AIS business for a while which helps us support you better.  Here’s a video showing what’s included with the CLA1000

I know I have to get one but are there any advantages of installing an AIS?

Nobody likes a mandate with deadlines for installation but AIS genuinely improves navigation, safety and will make vessels more efficient for the future.  Unlike radar, AIS positively identifies a target with MMSI, callsign and name allowing communications to be quickly established.  The CLA1000 can also decode ATON (AIS aids to navigation) – these synthetic markers show on an AIS display but may not physically exist allowing dynamic management of the waterways.  AIS Personal SARTs are also available for MOB applications.  Additionally the AIS network can transmit information such as weather to mariners in real time.

iPad, MAC and PC Navigation

The CLA1000 is fitted with a pilot plug connector on the front of the display.  This allows GPS and AIS data to be connected to other devices either wirelessly (to an iPad or tablet using our WLN10HS NMEA to WiFi Server or PilotLink) or via a cable to a PC or MAC.  Digital Yacht has a great range of apps like NavLink US – a full featured charting and navigation program with detailed NOAA charts and a great AIS overlay including vessel scaling

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How do I get more information?

You can get further information on the CLA1000 from HERE

List price on the CLA1000 is $2799 but there’s amazing deals and offers for all commercial operators either through your local dealer or direct from us.  Contact us direct on 978 277 1234 to learn more and get instant savings today.

Testing Wireless NMEA Data

iAIS TCP-IP Screen

 

With more and more wireless NMEA systems being installed on-board boats, it is very useful for dealers, installers and enthusiastic end users to have simple tools to “view” this wireless NMEA data.

Traditionally, wired NMEA0183 data was viewed using an NMEA to USB cable connected to a PC and then a program such as Hyperterminal (included with Windows up to WinXP) would be used to display the data. In fact Digital Yacht released a free, dedicated NMEA Display program to use on Windows Vista/7/8 and this proved to be a popular tool for testing wired NMEA0183 systems.

With wireless NMEA systems it is much easier to test using a smart phone or tablet and we would recommend the following free apps;

For Apple iOS Devices – our own free iAIS app (see image above) has a very simple raw data view window that can be used to display the wireless NMEA data in TCP or UDP mode. Alternatively iNMEA Logger is another free app, written by the company that developed the popular iRegatta App that can log 30 seconds of received data and create a text file of the results, useful if you do not understand NMEA0183 and want to send it to someone who does.

For Android Devices – there are no specific wireless NMEA Apps, but there are a lot of terminal programs that display TCP and UDP data and after trawling through a fair number of apps, we came across TCP/UDP Terminal App which we think is the best Android App found so far.

Once you have installed your app for displaying wireless NMEA data, then you need to know what you are looking at. To buy the NMEA0183 Specification costs quite a lot of money but there is quite a lot of data on-line, you just need to hunt it out.

Unfortunately a lot of the information on-line is quite old and some of the newer sentences are not fully explained. The NMEA do in fact publish a complete list of all Sentence Identifiers with a short description of what they are (not the complete sentence description) and this list also includes the proprietary Manufacturer’s ID – these sentences start $Pxxx, where xxx = the manufacturer identifier.

It should be noted that most wireless NMEA data is “human readable” (ASCII Text) but the AIS sentences VDM and VDO have what is called a “binary encapsulated” section (bit like a zip file) to reduce the sentence length – see example below.

!AIVDM,1,1,,A,13P;QeO001wrdB`M28kpmCa<0Ua0,0*5D
!AIVDO,1,1,,,B00000@00ovdqaWAUv“CwkUsP06,0*20

This means that you will not be able to make sense of the AIS target information in the VDM and VDO messages, but our free iAIS app does display this information on the main plotter screen, so worth having a copy of this app.

New SmarterTrack Lite V1.04

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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.