SevenStar Class B AIS transponder, a new face
Well, I attended most of the 3.5 hour GMDSS Task Force meeting at NMEA—with USCG, FCC, and other relevant parties present—but I still don’t know exactly when Class B AIS will actually be on the market, especially here in the U.S.A. But I did for the first time put my hands on one, and, surprise, it came from a company I had never heard of. The SevenStar Electronics SeaTraceR Class B AIS is based on a transceiver developed by Software Radio. The engineer who was toting it around said that is has received IEC approval and will soon be on the market for around $1,000. It is set up to connect to a PC with a small program that allows entering the MMSI just one time, either by a dealer or user (one of the issues yet undecided). An interesting feature I did not know about is that SRM Sent LED. Apparently the Class B standard includes the ability to send some sort of distress text message, using a ‘panic’ button connected to the unit. The SeaTraceR can supposedly be reprogrammed so that the button instead activates a Quiet Mode—receiving, but not transmitting—which is an option some users really want. More on AIS soon.