NASA AIS Engine 2, as screwy as #1
OK, admittedly I’m in a foul too-much-work mood, and maybe that’s why I find NASA’s new AIS Engine 2 so totally exasperating. Sure, they added “Power” and “Data” LED status lights, a big improvement over the original, but that’s just catching up with the Smart Radio SR161 that has deservedly stolen much of NASA’s business at the low end of AIS receivers. And note how Milltech carefully explains that the SR161 only receives one of the two AIS channels at a time, scanning back and forth, while the NASA specs are, um, less clear about that limitation.
NASA also continues to insist that its output is “NMEA 2000 (38400 Baud)”, which is flat untrue; it’s just High Speed NMEA 0183 like most other receivers. This has been confusing AIS Engine #1 consumers for years, despite the protests of myself and others. Finally, NASA’s Engine 2 apparently also limits AIS messages in the same odd way #1 did. Why would a receiver only pass along “messages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 and 21”? If you compare that list to the whole AIS message list, you’ll see that a boat using a NASA receiver will never get Class B Static Data (Message 24, boat name, type, etc.), safety related or weather messages, SAR aircraft, and much else that will become more common as AIS proliferates. I don’t know of any other receiver that filters AIS messages (though I’m learning that a lot of plotters don’t yet understand them all). Then again, maybe NASA’s Engine 2 product specs are wrong on this subject? It seems possible. Oh, and as for the “free” SeaClear ECS software included with the product, hey it’s also freely downloadable with each and every free Panbo subscription. There, I feel better.