AIS, this ‘n’ that #3

* Panbo reader Gary has a positive report on the Smart Radio SR161 sold by Milltech Marine. Using it with a standard VHF antenna on his 53’ mast, he’s seeing (in CE) ”marine traffic as far away as Port Townsend, Sr161which is a fairly straight shot 30 miles north. I could see traffic in Seattle’s harbor, which is only 4 or 5 miles away, but there is a large hill between it and Shilshole. A few ships showed up in Tacoma, 25 miles or so south, but not as clearly – they were blue triangles without names. There are a lot of twists, turns and hills between my location and Tacoma.”  He had some problems with a another setup at home, since resolved, but “In all, it is pretty amazing to get all this info from a $200 black box!…It will be a great addition to the GPS, radar, and charting software to use while crossing the Straits of Juan de Fuca in the fog. Now I will know the size, speed, course, and even name of those large dots coming at me.” A guy named Paul is also posting reports on the SR161 at

Aisempfaenger* Another Panboid, Jeff, found this low cost dual frequency receiver from a German company called EasyAIS. If you hit the ‘products’ tab at the site you’ll see that they also have an interesting splitter that will supposedly let you share AIS, VHF, and FM on one antenna. Has anyone had experience with EasyAIS gear specifically, and with antenna splitting AIS in general?

* Then there’s the recent plan in the U.K. to built a national infrastructure of AIS listeners,  because “AIS technology will form a key building block in an ‘e-navigation’ system of the future – an internationally integrated, electronic navigational aid that could transform the shipping industry and provide a safer and cleaner marine environment across the world.” Wow…e-navigation.

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.

20 Responses

  1. Walter Guinon says:

    If the VHF radio doesn’t blow out the front end of the AIS rx I don’t see any problem with a splitter excepting the 3 dB loss in signal power which will reduce range by 30%.

  2. John Forder says:

    Anything that reduces the number of antennas we carry is worth investigating — I’ve ordered one. Now if they’ll only develop a masthead antenna that carries VHF/FM/Cell/WiFi…
    s/v Galadriel/Cabo Rico 38/currently in Daytona Beach, FL

  3. Pascal says:

    Hi Ben,
    I and a fiend here are planning to buy one SR161 each, from Milltech Marine and probally I will have myne at hands in May. After almost one year waiting the development of this thing, I can not wait more..
    Two other friends have bough theirs AIS NASA Black Box late last year and we do not want to stay behind so much time.

  4. We have a lot of positive feedback from customers both from the EasyAIS and the EasySplit.
    And soon we will also have a combined VHF/AIS antenna for AIS receivers/transponders with build-in GPS.

  5. Pascal says:

    I have found an interesting information on the SmartRadio page; I was looking into the info from the VHF Anetenna spliter and there there is a info saying that the future AIS Class B Transponder will have an integral VHF antenna splitter, very secure; the name of the unveiled product will be SR 262 Clas B AIS Transponder.
    I decided to buy now a SR161 and when the SR262 would be released, I can sell my SR161 e buy one SR262.

  6. Dan says:

    I imported the SR161 directly from China radio last year and am extremely happy with it’s performance. I can get data from just outside Portland harbor from Portsmouth NH, and I have the antenna mounted on the stern rail. It would be awesome if it was at the top of the mast. It works great with SEA CLEAR, the free charting program, and I’m planning to try to integrate it with the Brookhouse NMEA mux this year so I can get both AIS and DSC data from my Standard 3500 and plot it on Nobeltec VNS 8.0. It will be interesting to see how it works cruising in Maine this summer.
    Capt Dan

  7. Terry says:

    The EasyAIS website does not show the price, just references to dealers. Anybody have the prices?

  8. Terry says:

    Has anyone found an email address for either Ben or Yme that will get a response? I have sent three requests to Yme over the past ten days for help on an important matter.

  9. About the splitter: I figured, in the event that the mast comes down, a second good quality VHF antenna would be extremely handy!
    I’ve mounted it on a multi-purpose 8-ft pole at the stern, and the VHF and AIS units are mounted close to one another, with connectors that allow the antennas to be easily switched.
    On the other hand, if you’re only interested in nearby ships (which is all you need for collision avoidance), I guess a small portable antenna mounted inside the boat would be sufficient.

  10. Noah says:

    I have also seen the promising info on the upcoming SR262 but Smart Radio tells that it will be “a long time” before testing and approval have been finished. I am not sure though how it will handle the problem with both the ais and vhf sending at the same time, but of course it can be done. For my part I would always use two antennas.
    Meanwhile the SR260 (or the SR261 for about $100 more) seems like a good alternative. I ordered one for testing, hoping to get it within two weeks. As I can see by the technical documents the only problem is that it might not send out “ship name” without software on the board computer, but it does send MMSI number so it is really only a problem for the few of us still holding on to our old SP144. Have anyone tested the SR261?
    By the way the EasyAIS here in Denmark goes for about 330 euro and the EasySplit for about 180 euro.

  11. John Forder says:

    Price from SVB Technical Boatparts ( for the EasySplit is 137 euro for delivery to USA (no VAT). DHL delivery is another 30 euro (about $204 total).

  12. Pascal says:

    Raymarine released today the software update 3.16 for the C Series Chartploters, wich introduces the AIS support in these plotters.
    I have a friend wich has one C80 in his sailboat and we two are buying an SR161 AIS receiver from Miltech Marine. I need to know ASAP if the SR161 is compatible with the C80 software 3.16, as my friend is going to Houston in begining of May and will buy this for us.
    Thanks for any help

  13. Russ Tardif says:

    Yacht bits ( in the UK is selling the EasyAIS and EasySplit separately and bundled. Bundled price is 249.02 GBP which works out to about $436 US at the current exchange rate. I have contacted them about shipping costs to the US but haven’t heard back yet. Looks like a good system, but I wonder about signal strength with the 3-way split.

  14. Doug says:

    Read about AIS on, and just received my SR161
    today. Will definately use a separate antenna. The AIS Engine info is well worth reading at the above site.

  15. Terry says:

    Doug beat me to reporting about John’s posting on the SV Sarah website. The Ais Engine posting is at and it’s VERY comprehensive. Not addressed, however, is the recent upgrade of the Yacht-AIS Pro software to do the automatic switching between frequencies.

  16. Pascal says:

    The Raymarine C series AIS software support is excelent, see the Raymarine Web site, download the Reference Guide PDF manual and read the chapter 11. This support was added in software update 3.16, wich is already available for donload and install.
    With this, there are at last 3 Chart Plotters supporting AIS: Sitex, Standard Horizon and Raymarine. Garmin not have anounced yet AIS support, and is late in this subject.

  17. Derek Hodge says:

    Some wonderful work being done by hobbyists on AIS. Check out
    Multiple maps with tracks. Logs of passing ships, photos from an automatic web cam annotated with ships name and time. Data sharing with other enthusiasts to cover a wide area of Liverpool and England’s North Sea.

  18. Pascal says:

    The Site AisLiverPool is realy spetacular. Thanks

  19. Anonymous says:

    Integrated masthead antenna was asked for, it maybe missing wifi, but most other tasks are build in. unquestionalbe good (I had one for years, sold with the boat and will buy another again), but the price is from another world, at least for me. RR-Electronics from Germany, look for the Pacific model. page is in English

  20. Jukka says:

    SR161 works very well!

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