AIS Class B, really on the map
Check the stats! They indicate that at one moment earlier today one particular network of AIS coastal receivers was seeing 763 AIS Class A transponders from towers scattered around the U.S. And one Class B. Guess whose 5 meter pleasure (and electronics testing) vessel that was?
Yes indeed, not only is Gizmo now Class B equipped but I’ve got an excellent testing aid thanks to the gracious support of Penobscot Pilot Skip Strong (buy his book!). Whereas no public AIS site (I know of) is covering my area these days, I asked Skip for access to the receiver network the Pilots built to help them manage their work. Well, it turns that it feeds into the fairly substantial nationwide net of receivers seen above and the data is Web served via SiiTech’s excellent Web VTS Pro software (with much of it public, though not the Bay, once you’ve registered). Web VTS Pro keeps a replayable minute-by-minute target history, which is how I made these screen shots. Skip may also help me practise collision avoidance with some big iron.
And both of SiiTech’s Web viewers count transponder types, which will let us watch Class B use grow here in the U.S. Which is going to happen. There’s lots of good news. Simrad’s dealers may now take orders for the AI50 ($1,595) and the NAIS-300 ($1,149 for either SimNet or standard NMEA connector models); the dealers will do the data input. Milltech Marine is taking orders for the ACR Nauticast B ($899, with antennas, and a proven performer in my book); Milltech will input static data before shipping the unit. In both cases, deliveries are expected soon, and more for sale announcements will follow soon.
Best of all, my worries about Vessel Name are past. Unless your boat is one of the 14–17,000 U.S. commercial vessels who may be mandated to carry Class A or B in a couple of years, the static data seen below (bigger here) is apparently just fine, as long as it corresponds to the boat’s MMSI registration (which, I assure you, it does ;-).