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Old 10-10-2019, 09:38 PM   #1
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AIS Upgrade

I have a Si-Tex AIS receiver for Garmin MFD and VHF's. I want to upgrade to a both see and be seen. Is it better/cheaper to add on a transmitter or replace my current AIS with a new full transceiver? How much is involved in upgrading to a single unit? Probably a bad question and dependent on the particular boat but generically speaking. What cabling is required to add on the transmitting portion?

Thanks in advance...
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:47 PM   #2
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Do they even sell a transmitter-only AIS? I don't see how that would even work.

Buy a standalone AIS transceiver. It will be able to send data to your MFD and VHF.

I love my Vesper, but whatever brand you choose, it's a pretty simple install.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:53 PM   #3
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You may be correct. I thought that I ran across one in my searching. What additional has to be added for a full transponder? I have power and antenna for the receiver, cabling to VHF's and NMEA 2000 for Garmin (I think?) I have a mix of old and new.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:57 PM   #4
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I finally broke down and bought an AIS transceiver. I have Raymarine electronics so bought a Raymarine unit. It has a built in antenna splitter to use the existing VHF antenna, but I opted for a separate antenna. Installation was simple. Power and ground wires, a cable to the Seatalk network, a GPS antenna, and the new VHF antenna. Then I went home and looked at our boat on Marine Traffic.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:04 PM   #5
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You may be correct. I thought that I ran across one in my searching. What additional has to be added for a full transponder? I have power and antenna for the receiver, cabling to VHF's and NMEA 2000 for Garmin (I think?) I have a mix of old and new.
firstbase,

Nothing else. You have what you need.

I think the only things that could possibly be different is 1) possibly just a bit more power requirement, so check the wire size (ampacity required) for the transponder you select and 2) the transponder might be more picky about antenna and connector quality.

I have a digital yacht AiT2000, and was surprised to find that it internally measures SWR of the antenna, and will error out if you have issues in your antenna system. It was irritating, but good for me, because it found and forced me to find and fix the issue I had in a connection. As far as power supply, mine only draws 2 amps, so the power supply requirement is small.

Otherwise, the NMEA2000 does not require different wiring. If you were to say you had NMEA 0183, I would tell you you would have to do some additional wiring because you would need to worry about both a listener and a talker...

In short, you may just have a swap, with the possible exception of checking antenna/connection quality...

I wish you well, in the short time I have had active AIS, I have noticed multiples times that other recreational and commercial vessels use that knowledge of my speed and course to make both our lives a little easier, especially the ones that move substantially faster and are more maneuverable than I.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:51 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. I appreciate your responses. going to take your comments and study some more. I have some other upgrades/additions I am doing (new VHF's, additional nav unit - laptop/tablet/MFD, not sure) at the same time. Would be nice for everything to play well together.
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:26 AM   #7
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Thanks guys. I appreciate your responses. going to take your comments and study some more. I have some other upgrades/additions I am doing (new VHF's, additional nav unit - laptop/tablet/MFD, not sure) at the same time. Would be nice for everything to play well together.
(I plugged everything I have, NMEA 0183, 2000, and a laptop on an ethernet into a Rose Point NEMO and it all just talked....) Garmin nework via NMEA 2000, my ComNav autopilot via NMEA 0183, the VHF is also NMEA 0183, the AIS is NMEA 2000.... I can see my AIS targets on both of my chartplotting programs on the laptop and on my Garmins, I can run the autopilot from the laptop route course or the Garmin route course (whichever I have a course activated on). I can get the depth from the Garmin network but not the sounder data onto the laptop.. I was very impressed with how easy it was to multiplex all these diverse systems with the NEMO.

About the only thing I haven't done is set up a wifi system on board for my nav computer instead of the ethernet. Theoretically I could navigate via my autopilot from a course on my tablet in opencpn. Instead I stick with coastal explorer on the laptop.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:28 AM   #8
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(I plugged everything I have, NMEA 0183, 2000, and a laptop on an ethernet into a Rose Point NEMO and it all just talked....) Garmin nework via NMEA 2000, my ComNav autopilot via NMEA 0183, the VHF is also NMEA 0183, the AIS is NMEA 2000.... I can see my AIS targets on both of my chartplotting programs on the laptop and on my Garmins, I can run the autopilot from the laptop route course or the Garmin route course (whichever I have a course activated on). I can get the depth from the Garmin network but not the sounder data onto the laptop.. I was very impressed with how easy it was to multiplex all these diverse systems with the NEMO.

About the only thing I haven't done is set up a wifi system on board for my nav computer instead of the ethernet. Theoretically I could navigate via my autopilot from a course on my tablet in opencpn. Instead I stick with coastal explorer on the laptop.
That's what I wish would happen. I don't want Star Wars or anything but a reasonable upgrade would be nice. Not going to attempt anything myself, will have someone work on it. Just finishing an electrical audit and finally understand my system which is a little convoluted. Now want to do the same with the electronics and not comfortable going on my own. I'm sure its pretty simple as these things go but not a sandbox I want to play in without supervision.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:32 AM   #9
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One point about the Vesper AIS units; they re-transmit a lot of NMEA data (their own, as well as other data they receive either from NMEA 0183 or 2000) over a built-in WiFi router. This makes using just about any phone, tablet or laptop easy.

That said, if I were re-rigging a lot of electronics, I'd look at their new Cortex offering. I haven't really had a chance to dig into it, and it's not officially for sale yet, but the idea is intriguing.
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:05 AM   #10
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One point about the Vesper AIS units; they re-transmit a lot of NMEA data (their own, as well as other data they receive either from NMEA 0183 or 2000) over a built-in WiFi router. This makes using just about any phone, tablet or laptop easy.

That said, if I were re-rigging a lot of electronics, I'd look at their new Cortex offering. I haven't really had a chance to dig into it, and it's not officially for sale yet, but the idea is intriguing.
Yes, I saw the new Cortex w/ VHF. I'm not so hot on brand new release of Version 1 products but it looks promising. Not cheap but promising!
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:07 AM   #11
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Also check out Digital Yacht AIS units.
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:27 AM   #12
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That said, if I were re-rigging a lot of electronics, I'd look at their new Cortex offering. I haven't really had a chance to dig into it, and it's not officially for sale yet, but the idea is intriguing.

I wouldn't get too excited about Cortex (combined VHF and AIS T&R) just yet. Standard Horizon announced their combined device over two years ago and still doesn't have FCC/USCG approval to sell in the US. At this point I just assume it's never going to happen, for whatever reason.


Hopefully Vesper has some magic or took a different approach that will avoid whatever buzz saw Standard Horizon ran into.
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:32 AM   #13
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Does your current installation use a dedicated AIS antenna, or is it shared with the VHF? If shared, you will have some extra work to switch to a full AIS device, either installing a dedicated antenna (preferred) or an active switcher (sometimes easier where adding an antenna is untenable).
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:37 AM   #14
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I have a dedicated AIS antenna. I assume it will be fine for a transponder?
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:56 AM   #15
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I have a dedicated AIS antenna. I assume it will be fine for a transponder?

Yes, sounds like it should be an easy swap out of the AIS unit.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:07 AM   #16
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Yes, sounds like it should be an easy swap out of the AIS unit.
Cool. I have a budget amount for it so now that I hear it should be a simpler job I will expect an actual cost that is only double my estimate not triple.

I have seen Digital Yacht, NEMO, etc. multiplexers. Are they fairly equal in quality just chose the options you need and whatever fits or is there a standard issue unit that fits most? Need to study, same with the AIS units. Haven't a clue whats good and bad.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:43 AM   #17
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I have a Si-Tex AIS receiver for Garmin MFD and VHF's. I want to upgrade to a both see and be seen. Is it better/cheaper to add on a transmitter or replace my current AIS with a new full transceiver? How much is involved in upgrading to a single unit? Probably a bad question and dependent on the particular boat but generically speaking. What cabling is required to add on the transmitting portion?
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I have a dedicated AIS antenna. I assume it will be fine for a transponder?

Does Garmin offer an AIS transceiver? Does it talk over NMEA2000? If so, and given it seems you already have power, ground, and antenna... could be as simple as out with the old, in with the new. Then some set-up options in your plotter.

Maybe.

Possibly not much more difficult if it's NMEA0183, just maybe connecting some wiring...

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Old 10-11-2019, 12:14 PM   #18
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Hal,

You mentioned you have Garmin MFD? Is so I would recommend staying in the Garmin family and install a Garmin transceiver (Transmit and receive) AIS. Also easier to update if all in the same family.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:42 PM   #19
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I wouldn't get too excited about Cortex (combined VHF and AIS T&R) just yet. Standard Horizon announced their combined device over two years ago and still doesn't have FCC/USCG approval to sell in the US. At this point I just assume it's never going to happen, for whatever reason.


Hopefully Vesper has some magic or took a different approach that will avoid whatever buzz saw Standard Horizon ran into.
I'm worried about delivery times with the Cortex as well, both from the FCC perspective, but also just in terms of their delivery schedules. I'm hoping to get a review unit, hopefully earlier, but it sounds like that is not happening for a few months.

Besides that, given that the Cortex is going to have a lot of software stuff inside of it, I would not likely want to deal with the first 6 months or longer of usage as I expect there will be bugs to work through that could be challenging.
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:00 PM   #20
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You mentioned you have Garmin MFD? Is so I would recommend staying in the Garmin family and install a Garmin transceiver (Transmit and receive) AIS. Also easier to update if all in the same family.
I hear that a lot, but it really hasn't been my experience. At my upper helm, I think I have at least one component from every manufacturer I've ever heard of (and one I hadn't.) They all talk to each other just fine.

In fact, the only problem is with the Garmin MFD itself. It doesn't talk nice (doesn't follow standards) sending to a non-Garmin autopilot in certain unusual situations.

Because Garmin can't follow standards seems like a very poor reason to buy more of their stuff. I'd tend to go the other way, and avoid them. Although admittedly, sometimes their stuff is the best value for a particular task, and I have to weigh that against their flaws.
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