New in safety: Exposure OLAS Float-On, Vesper smartAIS deckWatch, and Digital Yacht Nomad portable AIS

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.

14 Responses

  1. Atlantis says:

    Too bad DY did not include a NMEA 2000 port on the Nomad. It would make it an alternative to the Vesper 8000.
    I’ve used the single channel Daisy and it has worked great!
    While these smartphone connected devices sound good, when I am offshore my phone is stowed in my bag. Any decent safety device needs to connect to something that is turned on and accessible.

  2. Peter Mannerstråle says:

    Interesting is the battery time of the MOB devices like Crew Watcher, OLAS and Sea-Tag.
    So you don’t have to change or charge batteries all the time.

  3. Paul_DY says:

    Hi Atlantis,
    Our AIT3000 has NMEA0183/NMEA2000/USB/Wifi and would be a good alternative to the Vesper 8000.
    With Nomad we wanted something different; a stand-alone, USB powered, portable and quick to (temporarily) install unit that could be used with any wireless device; PC, Mac, Phone, tablet, etc.
    If users have to start pulling out panels, finding spare T-Pieces, etc. They might as well go for our NMEA2000 bus powered AIT1500N2K model.
    Best regards
    PAUL SUMPNER (Digital Yacht)

  4. Francis says:

    I had the opportunity to test Nomad in real life, and I must agree that it is an effective secure device in a “nomad mariner” haversack!

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry but I don’t understand how just having WiFi and NMEA 2000 makes a transponder a full alternative to the Vesper XB8000?
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think many, if any, of the XB8000 features I mentioned above — like four custom collision alarm modes, advanced multiplexing (full GPS, wind, depth, etc), alarms managed by apps but not dependent on them, a watch app, the sophisticated anchor drag presentation, etc — are offered by other Class B AIS transponders with N2K and WiFi.
    I’d be happy to be corrected about this.

  6. Paul_DY says:

    Hi Ben,
    Don’t worry I won’t try to correct you 😉
    I was simply highlighting to Atlantis that we already had AIS products in our range that output AIS over NMEA2000 and that Nomad was a solution for a different type of AIS usage.
    For some customers, the features that you mention will be a draw but for others hopefully our iAIS (now with Navionics chart support) and new SeaTalk to NMEA0183 interface will keep things competitive.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Paul. I just recently noticed the Navionics update to iAIS and think it’s great that there is apparently no further charge for charts if a user already owns them in another app, plus they’re inexpensive if you do have to buy them.
    I also think it’s cool that iAIS will forward a user’s boat location to Web sites like Marine Traffic if the mobile device is online. And that feature, like the Navionics charts, is not offered by Vesper’s WatchMate app.
    But my main point is that NMEA 2000 and WiFi only suggest many of the features an AIS device can offer; they do not guarantee that the features are actually offered.

  8. Atlantis says:

    Paul @ DY
    Thank you for the info. I like that the AIT3000 has a built in splitter too.

  9. Amity says:

    I don’t understand how it is legal to use a Nomad AIS on multiple boats? In the USA, AIS modules must be programmed by the dealer even though end users are able to. End users are not able to change the MMSI at all once programmed, only dealers can do this and many charge for the service. This concept kindof ruins the value of the portability of the AIS.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Amity, the possible problem is the same everywhere. Even where an owner can program their MMSI into their transponder, they can not change it.
    However, it is sometimes possible to change the boat an MMSI is registered to. For instance, if you get a free MMSI at BoatUS you can easily change the vessel name, size, etc., even add notes about what you’re doing with it.
    You can also change the boat name, size, etc. in the transponder, in some cases with an associated app.
    Finally, if you got an MMSI for a ‘virtual’ vessel — like say “Capt Amity” — I don’t think it would mess up the system and I doubt you’d get in trouble. Not that I’m advising it…

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nomad AIS questions by email:
    “I saw your article in PMY magazine this past month concerning the NOMAD portable AIS transceiver and thought I’d comment.
    I frequently deliver yachts between the Midwest points on the coast. Navigating the inland waterways makes AIS really important in order to adequately and professionally communicate with commercial traffic.
    With some consternation I’ve been using a device from Quark Electronics.
    It allows me to have a portal AIS receiver onboard which broadcasts to WIFI with the bonus of a backup GPS receiver. I connect my Ipad to its wireless network and display AIS targets in a number of apps that accept NMEA 0183 sentences over WiFi. (Primarily I use SeaIQ). All-in, I’ve got less than $150 into the device with associated antennas! My only concern with the entire set-up is that it’s not FCC approved so I consider it a hobby device… J
    In regard to the NOMAD AIS device from Digital Yachts, is it FCC approved? Does it allow the changing of MMSI’s as it is moved between vessels? Would setting this up with a Portable VHF MMSI license be the way to go?
    Thanks for having a great website and for all your contributions to the community.”
    Thanks and no worries about your Quark AISrx/MUX/WiFi server. No AIS receivers are FCC approved because they don’t transmit and therefore can’t mess with the system. In fact, it looks like Quark has numerous interesting products.
    The Nomad has to be FCC approved to be sold in this country because it is a full transponder. But there is no such thing as an AIS transponder whose MMSI can easily changed. I’ll ask Digital Yacht here in Miami what they advise, but as explained above, I do think that there are reasonable workarounds.
    How about a small vessel named “Delivery Skipper Xxxxx” for the MMSI or your Nomad and portable DSC/GPS/VHF?

  12. Matthew says:

    Good stuff Ben! I wasn’t aware an AIS receiver didn’t require FCC approval. Of course this particular device does transmit WiFi, but, a very limited range. I doubt I’d see the network it creates 10′ from the boat.
    I think changing the MMSI as necessary before a delivery would work. In fact, most boats I move don’t have an MMSI programmed into their radio. New boats for sure.

  13. Stefan Maix says:

    Dear Paul,
    being based in Europe, will I be able to change the MMSI number of the NOMAD using the PC config tool?
    This is critical, as I intend to use the NOMAD during charter trips.

  14. Cyrus says:

    The vessel name and the search & rescue information on the FCC’s site (where you apply for a call sign and MMSI in the US) can be changed online (but not the official gov’t registration number) so at least the MMSI will show a different boat name.

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