Welcome to the Marine Electronics Forums presented by Panbo and SeaBits.
Best compatible AIS for my Axiom Lighthouse Raymarine
Our vessel is fitted with a 2017 Raymarine Axiom MFD. Our Radar is the new 2018 dome. We want to add AIS. Any thoughts
AIS is one of a few categories of marine electronics for which there's really no benefit to matching the brand of your MFD and other electronics. With this in mind I believe that you will get more value-added features from the AIS specialist brands, like Vesper, SRT, Alltek, than the major MFD manufacturer brands. In most cases those companies are OEM'ing their AIS transceivers from an AIS specialist anyways.
The class B/SO standard was approved several years ago and allows for faster transmissions, higher power, and a less conservative back-off in RF congested areas. Each of the manufacturers mentioned above has or is coming out with a B/SO product. I'm quite excited to get some hands on testing of Vesper's Cortex which offers AIS, VHF radio, and boat monitoring in a single box, but there are lots of really good products in this space. Also, ACR has designed and built their own B/SO AIS transceiver that also deserves a look.
I installed a Raymarine Axiom Pro MFD and Vesper XB-8000 spring of 2019. They work flawlessly together. A nice benefit is that the Vesper's WiFi transmits all the messages that are on the NMEA2000 bus via it's internal WiFi. So, I use the Watchmate, RayControl and iNax apps on my iPad and iPhone. I like Vesper's Watchmate app very much.
FYI, the XB-8000 is connected to a Shakespeare 5215-AIS antenna at the top of my sailboat's 53' mast, via a Vesper splitter. Cabling is just RG-8U. I often see AIS targets 35+ nautical miles away. As Ben says, I would seriously consider a class B/SO AIS device if you cruise in a high traffic area. That wasn't an option for me, and I think the transmit rate of the XB-8000 has been OK (I'm a slow sailboat).