WASS wacky, watch out!

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.

44 Responses

  1. Eliboat says:

    You know that is very interesting. Yesterday my friend’s Raystar 590, a unit from 1990 I think, was not able to get a fix at all as we headed down Penobscot bay. Perhaps this is the reason for that. His other GPS, a Simrad CP32 plotter was also having some difficulty getting a fix, but eventually managed to do so.

  2. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Could the effects have started before then?
    My Raymarine E-80 with Navonics charts has been misrepresenting my position since at least Thursday July 26th. It was very noticable that Thursday night coming home along a two mile length of huntington harbor back to my slip, a channel that gets down to less than 100 feet in width in the last mile.
    Following the channel on my charplotter while cross referencing the numerous shore lights, I became confused when it appeared that there was an 80 foot ship anchored right where the channel narrows, and brought my boat to a stop. Seeing that I had motored into the edge of the mooring field, I backed out, just missing the anchor chain of the large charter fishing vessel, and noticed that my charplotter disagreed with what I could clearly see was the center of the channel. The E-80 showed me way outside the channel, and in some cases over land during the rest of the short trip. I figured the GPS was misreading my position as being 50-100 feet W of what it actually was.
    Normally it’s been so accurate that I can use a combination of radar and charplotter to safely go down the entire channel despite many twists and turns.
    Two days later, that Saturday July 29th during daylight I noticed my position being misrepresented by about half as much as Thursday, but didn’t have time to investivate. As an experiment I placed a few waypoints to mark where the channel should really be on my GPS, and was going to compare it tommorow as part of investigating whats wrong.
    Now I have a clue … although I thought WAAS wasn’t so important anymore now that the GPS satalites are in a mode that provides a signal as good as the military’s to the consumer market now.

  3. Ron Rogers says:

    I’m really at a loss. I thought that DOD controlled the GPS satellites with the Air Force at Vandenberg, AFB, CA actually controlling them. The USCG monitors them and disseminates reports to mariners.
    The FAA began MONITORING GPS WAAS accuracy through a contractor in ~ 1992. I was under the impression that they do not control the satellites, rather they provide their comments through DOT to DOD.
    Surely there would have been a comment period on such a radical change?

  4. Dan (b393capt) says:

    According to this document, those sat’s were scheduled to be turned off on July 16th.

  5. DefJef says:

    Does this mean all older WAAS receivers which are not updated cannot receive WAAS corrections?
    Can we expect a firmware upgrade from the big boys?

  6. Norton Rider says:

    Ben, it may be interesting to ask the various marine GPS/Chartplotter manufacturers to comment on what units can receive the new satellites, what units can be upgraded, etc. I sent a note to Navman yesterday regarding my Tracker 5600s but I haven’t heard back.

  7. Skip Strong says:

    Take a look at the AIS display on yachts in Southwest Harbor, ME. Two are bouncing around over a wide area, two are rock staedy. Wonder wich ones are WAAS?

  8. Davandron says:

    Quick note for all interested; the new satellites transmit the exact same correction signal as the old satellites. You don’t need new firmware because anything technical changed.
    I believe the reason some manufacturers are updating firmware is because if you haven’t turned on your device in over a year (or you do a memory-wipe), it would have to scan to find these new satellites. If you did turn it on in the last year, the old satellites would have provided you with an updated almanac and it should be able to lock onto them from the get-go.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Davandron, if you read the Trimble PDF linked to above, I think you’ll realize that this is not quite as simple you presume. They have units–very high end GPS units, mind you–that apparently can not be updated to work with the new WAAS satellites.

  10. Davandron says:

    I did not see anything in the Trimble document that contradicts my post and I can assure you that nothing changed in the new satellites’ signal characteristics. If a firmware update is required by a manufacturer, it’s most likely because their implementation does not feature a sufficient auto discovery to utilize the new PRN numbers.
    Don’t let the cost or name on the equipment fool you; its quick and easy to make a bad implementation. Ben, I would encourage you to use your contacts within the companies to find an answer as to what exactly they needed to fix, but I won’t be surprised if they aren’t forthcoming about why they needed to make an update. Silly mistakes are difficult to admit.
    (As an example of people assuming something won’t change just look at what happened with the new DST date. At a previous job, the software team had hard coded the DST dates in an expensive long-term product and by the time I left they could no longer support that old product.)
    Last minute thought: Depending on the product, they may be relying on the underlying chipset to do the SBAS-related work. It’s possible the chipset firmware is the piece that can not be updated to the new PRNs in those older products. Same root cause, but the blame shifts to the chipset maker instead of the final product maker.

  11. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Some observations from this weekend from a Raystar125, Garmin 60C, and Garmin 76CS
    My Raystar125, as seen from the E-80, shows it continously seaching for the old sat’s only. Matched up to WAAS screen capture in a Raymarine help document, it’s clear the display is showing no success. Oddly, my position was close on saturday, and spot on sunday morning, then off 20 feet to the west sunday afternoon. Perhaps this is due to changes in the ionisphere that WAAS is intended to measure and provide corrections for.
    On Sunday afternoon I pulled out my Garmins, my favorite 60C first. The 60C locked into sat 51 quickly on sunday afternoon, and shortly after showed a “D” on each bar. It showed the correct position while my Raystar was still showing a position 20 feet to the west. The 60C also showed accuracy = 1m on it’s page that shows the status of current sat’s it can see.
    But … when I tried both my Garmin’s again 30 minutes later with my 76cs also, both garmins would pickup 51 but neither would show the “D”‘s (differential ?) in the other gps bars which I believe means differential is active. Confirming this, the 60C reported accuracy of only 4 meters (sometimes showing more) rather then 1m when the differential status was active. I waited 30 minutes, but no change. Don’t have any idea why it won’t use the differential anymore, I used the 60C in the same position 30 minutes earlier in my cockpit in the slip. The 76CS didn’t pick up the differential signal either, but showed a strong signal from sat 51.
    In any event, I have a feature request for Raymarine and Garmin. Both devices require you to be at an often unused GPS status display to know that the accuracy is degraded. Would be helpful if you could setup an alarm for the map screen that the GPS accuracy is below a certain amount. For me, being off 20+ meters is something I would have liked to have had an alarm for that thursday night a few weeks ago.
    Now very sure there is nothing uniquely wrong with my boats electronics, I believe this problem dates back before july 26th, as mentioned in my first post.
    Ben .. is it possible to inquire with Seatow or Boat US to see if anyone is blaming their GPS for collision or groundings over these last few weeks ?

  12. Dan (b393capt) says:

    For garmin users, here is an example of how a garmin gps display appears as it is aquiring waas.
    Unlike this example, I experience an accuracy of 1m in the Long Island Sound area, which is served by a Ronkonama based land element of the waas system.

  13. Dan (b393capt) says:

    From Chuck Anderson of Raymarine, in response to a technical issue I opened on Friday:
    When not tracking a WAAS satellite, the accuracy of a Raystar 125 GPS sensor will be approximately 15m. A question has been submitted to Raymarine’s Engineering Team regarding whether Raymarine WAAS GPS sensors will automatically track the 135 and 138 WAAS satellites. A response should be forthcoming early next week.

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Great work, Capt, thanks! Funny, I just put the same question into Raymarine’s support site. I will give the A60, a new Garmin, and some others a good chance to find 138/51 later today. Need a clear SW sky.

  15. adjuvantjfoster says:

    Hi Ben: Your sleuthing has spilled over onto the SSCA board
    the US Globalsat GPS manufacturer board
    but no sign on the blog like infomercial board of Garmin http://garmin.blogs.com/
    I look forward to your summary of which units by which manufacturers will automatically track the new ID #48 / PRN #135 and ID #51 / PRN #138 satellites, which have a firmware upgrade procedure published and which leave the user no longer able to access WAAS corrections.
    I wonder what will happen to the European users when and if the EGNOS switches satellites.

  16. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Checking the garmin web site, there are software upgrades labeled 3.70 and 4.10 for my garmin handheld units that I have not installed, that each have a written description of “improved waas search pattern”.

  17. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Spoke to Raymarine today. I received confirmation that my observations that the raystar 125 is not attempting to look for the new sat’s is correct, but they have not as of yet decided how they are going to support the new sat’s for existing customers.
    Anyone know of any field upgradable capability of the raystar 125?

  18. Norton Rider says:

    Navman Feedback:
    I spoke with a Navman (USA) technical support person today. He said that they just found out about the issue and will test units to see how they are affected. The testing will start with the top-end, current production units and move down to low-end and out of production. There’s no scheduled completion date that he knows of. He was also unaware of what vehicle will be used to alert Navman customers of the issue and the availability of software fixes.
    I was dissapointed with the above response. The rep was professional and cordial but it doesn’t look like Navman was paying attention to the WAAS issue at all. In any case, I’ll try to get on the water this weekend and see how my Tracker 5600s do.

  19. Norton Rider says:

    No WAAS on Navman Tracker 5600:
    I checked both my Navman Tracker 5600s today and neither received a WAAS correction. I disabled and enabled WAAS/EGNOS a few times, to no avail. At one point one of the units was locked on to 9 satellites, and had a .87 HDOP. Unfortunately none had ID# 48 or 51.

  20. MARC-LI says:

    I have a Raymarine C120 with a Raystar 125 GPS Antenna. I get no SD-FIX and it constantly searches for an WAAS satellite under GPS status. Raymarine may need to recall all Raystar 125’s for a firmware upgrade. I’m sure they won’t resolve this issue for months.
    I’m looking for a compatible GPS sensor. Any suggestions?
    Has anyone received any official word from Raymarine?

  21. MARC-NY says:

    Just found this update from the FAA at http://www.nstb.tc.faa.gov/incoming/New_WAAS_Geo_Status.pdf
    New WAAS GEO Status as of 7/13/07 (final update because GEO are operational)
    INTELSAT(PanAmSat), Galaxy-15, W133 deg, PRN -135 (48). PRN-135 was taken out of “Test Mode” and placed in normal mode at 08:00 UTC on 11/9/06. PRN-135 ranging quality is set to “not monitored”. PRN-135 ranging integrity will be improved to NPA quality, then PA quality as operational experience is gained and planned WAAS software upgrades are fielded during the 2nd half
    of 2007
    Telesat, ANIK-1fR, W107.3 deg, PRN -138 (51)
    PRN-138 was taken out of “Test Mode” and placed in normal mode at 15:21:00 UTC on 7/13/07. PRN-138 is operating as a NPA quality ranging source. PRN-135 ranging integrity will be improved to PA quality as planned WAAS software upgrades are fielded during the 2nd half of 2007.

  22. MARC-NY says:

    Oh, just realized that FAA document was dated July 13, 2007.

  23. MARC-NY says:

    Does anyone know what WAAS sensor does work so I can replace my Raystar 125?

  24. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Before you replace your Raystar, you might want to see what Raymarine will announce.
    I would guess that you will be able to send it in for an internal software upgrade.

  25. MARC-NY says:

    That would be the easiest solution. At the end of the season, I will remove my Raystar 125 so I can send it in for a firmware upgrade during the winter.
    However, My experiences with Raymarine have indicated that they will take months to resolve this problem – likely not until next summer. Hopefully, I’m wrong this time.

  26. MARC-NY says:

    Some useful information…
    “Typical” GPS Accuracy (will vary):
    WAAS On: 3 Meter / 10 foot accuracy
    WASS Off: 10 Meter / 33 foot accuracy

  27. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Received word today from Raymarine about my waas issue with the raystar 125 and my e-series combination.
    They are offering a solution (copied below), via a software upgrade to their multifunction chartplotters. I am confused.
    I thought the raystar 125 is a self contained unit capable of looking for sat’s, making gps calculations, listening for waas, and incorporating the result in either a nmea0183 or seatalk output without any dependency on a chartplotter.
    If that’s correct, that must mean that there are seatalk and/or nmea 0183 commands available to program the raystar 125. If I could get my hands on those commands, maybe I can program the raystar 125 from my pc ? I will ask.
    Raymarine solution :
    In late July, the FAA decommissioned the 122 and 134 WAAS GPS satellites and commissioned a new pair of WAAS GPS satellites, 135 and 138 respectively. Presently, Raymarine’s Multifunction Displays (http://www.raymarine.com/raymarine/Default.asp?site=1&Section=2&Page=1034&Parent=2) will not track these newly commissioned WAAS GPS satellites. Raymarine will be releasing Multifunction Display software updates later this year to enable the Multifunction Displays to track these newly commissioned WAAS GPS satellites. When released, customers will be able to update the software in their Multifunction Displays. For more information concerning the Multifunction Display software update procedure, click on the following URL: http://raymarine.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/raymarine.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1219. Following the release of these software updates, Multifunction Display customers not having the PC hardware or Internet access required to perform download these software updates from Raymarine’s website and populate a SanDisk Standard Grade CF memory card (http://www.sandisk.com/Products/Item(1074)-SDCFB-256-SanDisk_Standard_CompactFlash_Card_256MB.aspx) may contact Raymarine’s Parts Line (800.539.5539 x8865) to order part E06058 CF memory card, specifying that it be populated with the latest software for their E-Series or C-Series Multifunction Display.

  28. MARC-NY says:

    Later this year? Figures. I notified Raymarine back in April about a bug in their current C80 software (routes and waypoints that start with a number fail to load) and they still haven’t fixed it or posted a FAQ.
    I am not happy with Raymarine.
    Here is the “proposed” FAQ that was never posted:
    The FAQ has been generated and is awaiting approval by Raymarine’s management. The proposed details follow:
    Q: I have recently updated the software in my C-Series display to v4.25. When loading waypoints and routes from an archive.fsh file that was developed with C-Series v3.18 software some routes overwrite other routes, even though they have different route names. This did not happen with the C-Series v3.18 software.
    A: Raymarine has identified a feature with the C-Series v4.25 software in which the waypoint / route / track database within the C-Series display may become corrupted when inporting waypoints, routes, or tracks from the archive.fsh file saved on a CF memory card. This feature may occur when the archive.fsh file contains waypoint, route, track, or group names beginning with a number. Raymarine will be addressing this feature in a future C-Series software release.
    Customers may work around this feature by using RayTech Planner / RNS 6.0 to rename waypoints, routes, or group names such that the first character of these names is a letter.
    Regarding updated software to address this issue, Raymarine is currently planning to release C-Series software to address this issue. A date has not yet been specified for the release of this software.
    Chuck Anderson
    Senior PC Support Engineer
    Raymarine Inc.

  29. MARC-NY says:

    My response to Raymarine:
    “Later this year” means no differential GPS for thousands of customers for the balance of the summer. Raymarine should have anticipated this problem and had a fix ready. This is a grossly negligent oversight and may even put some boaters at risk. I’m very disappointed with Raymarine and so are many of your customers if the newsgroups are any indication.
    In addition, Raymarine still has not addressed the bug I reported back in April.

  30. MARC-NY says:

    Oh, and by the way, you need to change the product description for your Raystar 125 on your website and advertising.
    It states “12 Channel Satellite Differential GPS sensor … the Raystar 125 delivers accuracy better then 3 meters by decoding GPS correction signals from the WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System.)”
    This is no longer true. Until it’s fixed, it’s just a “12 Channel Satellite GPS Sensor” with no WAAS. Your current description is false advertising and illegal. You may want to notify Raymarine corporate counsel.

  31. MARC-NY says:

    A friend spoke with someone he knows at Raymarine. He was told that the software update will be out in 2-3 weeks. The problem is in the display itself and not the Raystar 125 antenna. Garmin is the only one to anticipate this problem. I will let you know when I hear more.

  32. MARC-NY says:

    Official Response from Raymarine #2:
    Response (Chuck Anderson) 08/15/2007 10:36 AM
    Thanks for the feedback. The problem is not within the Raystar 125 itself, and if used with any other manufacturer’s chartplotter, it would track the new WAAS satellites properly. Rather than include the significantly greater testing cycle involved with including the WAAS satellite fix along with other software fixes and enhancements, Raymarine is currently planning add the WAAS satellite fix to the v4.25 C-Series and v3.22 E-Series baselines. The waypoint problem previously identified with the v4.25 C-Series software will be addressed in a subsequent C-Series software release.

  33. MARC-NY says:

    Under GPS Status, DIFF Setup, you will find the following:
    You should select the satellite group(s) appropriate to your area, via the Other Set Up soft key:
    • WAAS – United States
    • EGNOS – Europe
    • MSAS – Japan
    • GAGAN – India
    This tells the C or E series to monitor or perhaps filter certain differential Satellites. I believe that the Raystar 125 is sending the differential data, but the C or E series is ignoring it because it was not programmed to receive the new satellites.

  34. Dan (b393capt) says:

    I am starting to hear of groundings that can be attributed to the loss of waas … I say this recognizing that any one navigation tool alone shouldn’t be blamed for the result of a captain running his ship aground.
    I was speaking to a sailor yesterday who was using his Raymarine GPS to navigate his sailboat thru a curvy narrow channel that was the inlet to a small and beautiful harbor. He has transited this passage that leads to the coast guard station at Eaton’s Neck, NY with GPS many times before, and relied upon features of the GPS to duplicate his route though the inlet with precision.
    This time he ran aground. After dealing with the grounding and getting underway, he came to notice how far out of kilter his GPS was.
    I am familiar with the channel. The numerous 30 and 45 degree curves in the deep part of the channel don’t follow the shore of the inlet. Although the nav bouys make it clear it’s not a straight shot … alone they are not enough to navigate without having a chart or chartplotter handy to understand the bottom. I can see how I could have fallen into the same trap, the application of other navigation techniques are far more work than using the (formerly) trusty chartplotter.

  35. MARC-NY says:

    Official Raymarine FAQ
    Changes to the US WAAS System and Impact on Raymarine GPS Products
    What impact does the recent change to the United States’ WAAS GPS correction system have on my Raymarine products?
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently decommissioned two WAAS GPS satellites (PRN 122 and PRN 134), and the activated two replacement satellites (PRN 135 and PRN 138). The WAAS firmware in certain Raymarine products does not recognize satellites 135 or 138.
    All of the Raymarine products affected continue to receive the standard GPS signals and therefore are safe for navigation. As always, these products are an aid to navigation. It continues to be the user’s responsibility to use caution, sound judgment, official government charts, notices to mariners and proper navigational skill when using this or any other electronic navigational product.
    All software updates and instructions for these products will be posted to Customer Support section of http://www.Raymarine.com.
    If you have additional questions, please contact our product support department by clicking on the “Ask Raymarine” tab above, or by telephone on 603.881.5200. Press option 4 for Tech Support.
    C/E series utilizing an RS120 or RS125 GPS sensor connected on SeaTalk – require a software update that will be posted on our website during September, 2007.
    2007 RC435 and RC435i- require a software update that will be posted on our website in early November 2007.
    A60 and A65 utilizing RS12 GPS sensor- solution pending, check back for update on our website in early September 2007.

  36. MARC-NY says:

    “connected on seatalk” implies this is seatalk issue.

  37. MARC-NY says:

    Dear Raymarine C-Series or E-Series Owner,
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently decommissioned two WAAS GPS satellites (PRN 122 and PRN 134), and the activated two replacement satellites (PRN 135 and PRN 138). The WAAS firmware in certain Raymarine products does not recognize satellites 135 or 138. All of the Raymarine products affected continue to receive the standard GPS signals and therefore are safe for navigation.Click here for additional information on this topic on Raymarine.com.
    We are pleased to release a software update for Raymarine C-Series (C70, C80, C120) and E-Series (E80, E120) Multifunction Displays that restores the ability for their connected Raystar GPS sensors to detect, track and utilize the new WAAS PRN 135 and 138 satellites.
    Step 1: Requirements for Upgrade
    Raymarine C & E-Series displays are field upgradeable using a common CompactFlash (CF) memory card. For performing upgrades on Raymarine CF compatible products we strongly recommend using a SanDisk brand “Shoot & Store” or SanDisk brand standard grade CompactFlash card. Raymarine cannot guarantee other CompactFlash suppliers will offer the correct specification card for a successful software upgrade.
    Step 2: Software Upgrade Procedure
    Back up your existing waypoints, routes and tracks. Failure to create a back-up could result in the loss of this data from your multifunction display. For step-by-step instruction on how to perform a backup please consult your MFD Operating Guide, or read FAQ 1145: Backing Up Waypoints, Routes and Tracks on C & E-Series.
    Please review the instruction for upgrading your Raymarine Multifunction Display software. Complete step-by-step instructions are available online in FAQ 1219: Upgrading the software in C70, C80, C120, E80 and E120 Displays
    Step 3: Download the Software Upgrade
    Specific software packages are available for C-Series and E-Series displays. Click on the appropriate link below get the correct software for your display.
    C-Series Software Upgrades (C70, C80, C120)
    Version 4.26, September 2007.
    E-Series Software Upgrade (E80, E120)
    Version 3.31, September 2007.
    Please note, online registration of your Raymarine product is required to download software updates. If you have not already done so, you will be prompted to register your product before you can download the software.
    Alternatively, you can obtain a preprogrammed CF card directly from Raymarine for a nominal reimbursable fee. For more information please contact Raymarine Product Support at (603) 881-5200, x2444 for details.
    Kind Regards,
    Raymarine Product Support

  38. Looutout Sailors says:

    I just received an email from Raymarine. The software upgrade is now available for Raymarine C & E series.

  39. Tim Flanagan says:

    I installed the version 4.26 software upgrade on a C-series multifunction display successfully today. There is a slight “gotcha” that could throw some users off, which we’ve documented at http://www.navagear.com/2007/09/raymarine-releases-waas-software-fix/.

  40. MARC-NY says:

    You need to have both “WAAS” and “Diff GPS” set to “On” for things to work right. If you turn either off, the WAAS satellites won’t appear.
    Goto Menu, GPS Status
    Turn on “DIFF GPS”
    Then goto “Other Setup” and turn on “WAAS”
    See: http://www.navagear.com/2007/09/raymarine-releases-waas-software-fix/
    Note: Always backup your Routes before doing a software update just in case. To backup your routes, follow these directions:
    To backup your data to a CompactFlash memory card use this procedure:
    Insert your backup card into the card slot.
    Press the DATA button.
    Press the ARCHIVE & TRANSFER.
    Press the SAVE TO CARD.
    Toggle SELECT LIST to WPT (Waypoint), RTE (Route), or TRK (Track).
    The database list for your selection appears on the screen.
    Use the track pad (up/down) to highlight what you want to save.
    Press the SAVE ALL or SAVE GROUP/ROUTE/TRACK as appropriate. A message box appears to show that the information is being written to the card.
    When the transfer is complete a message will appear on the screen. Note: Pressing the SAVE ALL soft key, will save all of a Database list to a card.

  41. MARC-NY says:

    I tested the update and it worked perfectly. Under GPS Status, it now displays “SD FIX”
    System Settings, Route sand Waypoints are not effected by the update. But you should still backup your routes just in case.

  42. My Garmin 2206 and 545 are receiving data from PRN 138 (51) without interruption. To get the NMEA sat numbers for these satellites just subtract 87 from the PRN # it’s standard NMEA 0183 protocol. Here’s a screen shot of my 545 on Sept 20, 2007.

  43. Butch Davis says:

    All well and good for the C & E Series Raymarine users.
    What about the A-65 users. Raymarine said check back in early September for a solution. It seems that, to date (21 Sep), the only solution offered to those users is to upgrade to an RS-125 antenna.
    What’s with that? If what I’m hearing is true Raymarine’s performance in resolving this issue for ALL it’s customers is very disappointing.
    That can’t help future sales, eh?

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