AIS, this ‘n’ that #2

Comar CSB200

* Rich Ray sent in a very interesting article at Lectronic Latitude which suggests that Class B AIS transponders will be made mandatory for recreational boats over 34’. I am quite dubious about this, though the article seems well reported. It is true that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security sees AIS transponders as a valuable surveillance tool (ID all the good guy radar/AIS targets, and the bad guys are left exposed), but my sources in the Coast Guard say that the strategy is to encourage transponders on smaller non commercial vessels, not mandate them. I believe the USCG has even distributed grant money toward development of inexpensive transponders.

* Meanwhile, the U.K. company Comar has quietly introduced the CSB200, above, which is expected to retail for $1,200. But it’s not shipping yet: “We initially anticipated shipping early orders in March/April; however due to delays in obtaining type approvals this has now been extended to August, for Europe. Once we have obtained approvals in Europe we will then submit for FCC approvals, so realistically product availability in US is probably late fall.”

* And a new outfit, Milltech Marine, has started selling Smart Radio single and dual channel AIS receivers. The single is even less expensive than the Nasa AIS Engine, but looks to be better made (it has LEDs!). A Panbo reader just ordered one, and promises to report back.

* Speaking of Nasa, the folks there are confusing consumers by claiming that their AIS output is NMEA 2000. That’s just not true. I wrote Nasa about this and they say they mean just the 38400 baud speed. But that doesn’t make sense either; NMEA 2000 is faster than that. Knuckleheads! 

* Finally, AIS targets were all over the Miami Boat Show, but probably the biggest single boost for the technology was Raymarine showing a lot of writers and marine electronics dealers how it works out on the water, on E and C Series displays.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    It looks like the Milltech units are actually the receivers from China.

  2. Y-tronic says:

    While the AIS Class B receivers will come to the market this summer (at least in Europe), our Yacht-AIS software is ready to interface them by now! This allows the user to change the ship static data and to send short safety related messages over AIS.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What NMEA messages are you using to setup the ship static data and send safety messages?

  4. Y-tronic says:

    We use the standard NMEA messages (ABM, BBM, SSD, VSD) to interface with the transponder.

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