Troubleshooting Sitex MDA 1 Metadata Class B AIS transceiver...
First of all, it appears the unit is working. I contacted another pleasure craft after we left Pender Harbour and he replied that he could identify us on how plotter, so it seems to be transceiving as per specs. When I mentioned to the fellow that I was "troubleshooting" my AIS, he said "Yes, that's a common problem."
Yes. I have an external GPS antenna. I tried it without and found that the our vessel was "misplaced" on the Coastal Explorer software, when I directed it to use the AIS port for GPS. With the GPS antenna installed, it performed much better, clearly showing the vessel on the slip. For now, that external antenna just sits on the Pilothouse dash where it seems to work well. I will install it permanently on the roof later in August when we get back.
I wish to emphasize that the people at Si-Tex and the other reps were very helpful in helping me get this system working. It seems the new antenna is an important upgrade. Note, that just after the original installation, we cruised up and back down the Fraser River for an hour and a half and we still were not received. With the vessel moving, it peeps out more frequent transmissions. Also, we could not get it to broadcast properly at the slip, but it seems it works well when within VHF range on the water when the vessel is moving. Furthermore, the land-based vessel tracking websites are not reliable in determining how well these systems are working due to the limitations of the land-based receiving stations. On our own AIS, we can receive large vessels from a distance of at least 35nm.
However, if you want people back at home to see where you are, it's best that you use one of the Satellite tracking systems, such as Inreach as there are no land based tracking limitations with such a system.
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