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Old 10-26-2020, 06:04 PM   #1
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Vesper Cortex

My boat came with only 1 VHF radio and no AIS. I do want to add AIS and I wanted to have wifi out of the AIS. That narrows it down to Vesper(and one other company I don't remember). The Vesper unit is $800 and once you get all of the "kit", it pushes $1100. I have just found out about this new "Cortex" model. Not cheap but I need a new VHF anyway. It retails for a whopping $1849. ANd it does have some pretty neat whiz bang stuff to boot. My only reservation would be if it does well as an actual VHF microphone. I can't tell you how many times I bang my mic around...but it is a lot. It also has a splitter to share the only VHF antenna I have making it easier to install....yes I realize I am giving up redundancy on that one if I were to exercise that option versus a separate antenna.

My first question is anyone out there using one of these things?

Second question....do you see the value for my application? I think I would be close to spending that amount if I bought everything separately...AIS...VHF...Antennas and all of the other accoutrements for installation and I would be missing some of the functionality this thing provides. Extra handsets can be added for another $599!!! A lot of money but they can be hardwired or they can be carried around the boat wirelessly(they have their own power source) over the wifi. Not a bad feature.

https://www2.vespermarine.com/cortex/vhf
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:24 PM   #2
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You are the one to decide whether you need or just WANT all the functionality. I have installed and sailed with an AIS transponder and felt it was a great addition to the boat, but I was in the middle of a 1400-mile delivery when the owner asked me to add the AIS and a compatible VHF. For my own boat which will never travel much farther from home than about 125 miles in daylight, I am happy with a single VHF (handheld backup) and a receive-only AIS. Although we have commercial seagoing shipping and a few barges pushing through here, I am not concerned about them seeing me because I am nimble enough to remain well clear of them. I rarely take any notice of the AIS proximity alarm (set at 1/4 mile) as I am looking at the vessel well ahead of that. I pay more attention to it on the rare occasions we are out after dark when waters here are like the proverbial rolled up sidewalks. Your needs may be quite different, but while I would not mind having all the transponder and a compatible VHF goodies, I would simply not make good use of them preferring to just keep a good lookout.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:18 PM   #3
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We have a Vesper 8000 and itís terrific. Fully integrated into the NMEA network and works very well with our FURUNO gear and Coastal Explorer. We donít use the WiFi capability yet.

Highly recommend.

The Cortex is intriguing but Iím not sure it replaces/improves enough of what we already have to make the jump.

If I had nothing and needed a new VHF I could see going with Cortex.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:53 PM   #4
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I've been looking closely at the AMEC B600 for AIS. There's a version with wifi, and it'll feed all available nmea2000 data out over WiFi or usb. It's also SOTDMA, unless the older Vesper models (the cortex is though). It's a black box, but if you don't need the fancy integration, something like that plus another VHF is half the price of the Cortex.
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Old 10-28-2020, 07:13 PM   #5
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I don't have the Vesper Cortex, but have been doing some research on it myself.

I was wanting to add a transmit AIS function as well as a backup VHF. The Garmin AIS 800 transceiver is ~$800. A descent VHF is about $500. Those together are about $500 less than the Vesper Cortex. However, the Vesper has anchor watch function as well as remote equipment monitoring. for my money, the added functionality is worth it.

This is on my winter project upgrade list.
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:46 PM   #6
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Hi, all!

Funny that this topic came up, as it is exactly the topic for this weeks Seattle Biat Show Live webinar tomorrow at 7pm PST. Details here:

https://www.openforboating.com/sbslive

(Be sure to check out my appearance in the archive - I was last weeks guest presenter).
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pau Hana View Post
Hi, all!

Funny that this topic came up, as it is exactly the topic for this weeks Seattle Biat Show Live webinar tomorrow at 7pm PST. Details here:

https://www.openforboating.com/sbslive

(Be sure to check out my appearance in the archive - I was last weeks guest presenter).
Damn.....how about that. I will have to give it a listen!!! Thanks Peter!!!!
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Old 10-29-2020, 01:52 PM   #8
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I am not a fan of one-box-does-everything solutions.
If one feature becomes obsolete - happens a lot nowadays - then the other features may be impossible to uncouple.
If one feature fails....same problems.
Go modular. Then update/repair/replace as needed.
My $0.02 worth.
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Old 10-29-2020, 02:32 PM   #9
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If the VHF part of it quits, I’ll just use my second radio. If the AIS quits, it wouldn’t matter if it’s an all-in-one unit or not. If the anchor watch doesn’t work, I’ll use my handheld GPS or chartplotter. The downsides of an all-in-one unit don’t sound all that onerous to me.

Ever the optimist, I don’t see things like AIS, VHF and GPS becoming obsolete any time soon and unlike my olde timey Icom radios, the Vesper is firmware and feature upgradable over Wifi/Internet.
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Old 10-29-2020, 04:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
I've been looking closely at the AMEC B600 for AIS. There's a version with wifi, and it'll feed all available nmea2000 data out over WiFi or usb. It's also SOTDMA, unless the older Vesper models (the cortex is though). It's a black box, but if you don't need the fancy integration, something like that plus another VHF is half the price of the Cortex.
I'll vouch for the AMEC solution. I did not opt for the wifi (couldn't think of the reason for it) but later wish that I had. It would be nice for the Admiral to be able to check info on AIS targets on her cell phone without having to take over the chartplotter display. That said, once I refit the onboard network so that I can see the Raymarine with the phone, that becomes moot.

Anyway, it worked fantastic for alerting us to tows up and down the Tenn-Tom, Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois rivers well in advance of being able to see them. Plus with the vessel name you could hail them directly as there were usually multiple tows to coordinate passes with. It also was a tremendous asset out on the Great Lakes in the fog as a supplement to radar.

BTW I added a dedicated AIS antenna for it.

BD
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