Every ship of 300 GT. or over plus passenger vessels of any size, are required by the I.M.O., since December 2004, to operate a class-1 AIS transponder .
Prices for 'Class A' transponder systems are well over US$3000.-.
And 'Class B' transponders are priced up to US$2500. These are for non-SOLAS vessels eg. small fishing and pleasure vessels.
All these prices are definitely beyond the scope of this website.
There is a cheaper option...
Which is to have a dedicated AIS receiver with its own VHF antenna installed at around US$500.-
The picture on the right shows a dedicated Class B receiver hook-up
This setup, is a good idea, as it leaves your VHF radio available for scanning or comms.
The GPS connects directly to the AIS receiver, which plots your yacht in the center of it's rather small 5" screen.
It plots all the ships with AIS transponders, within your VHF range, at their GPS position.
You could connect this receiver to your laptop RS-232 or comport, to give you a lot bigger screen.
A pentium-3 PC or faster is recommended for this system.
Unfortunately most modern laptops do not have an RS-232 port anymore.
An out-of-the-box 'RS-232 to USB' converter does not work, as the driver is not compatible with the incoming AIS/NMEA data. It needs to be an actual comport.
And if that is not all, you also need a second GPS connected to your laptop, for your navigation program.
The cost of a dedicated AIS receiver, is also beyond the scope of this website.
There is a much much cheaper way........
Is my VHF radio suitable for AIS reception?
You can use your VHF radio to receive AIS data, but it needs an additional 'RC-Circuit' or filter, in order to distinguish the incoming data on frequencies 161.975 and 162.025 MHz.
Try it for yourself, listen to VHF Ch 87 or 88 . All you can hear is background noise, nothing that resembles data of any kind. Yet there is lots.
Depending on available internal space of your radio, a chassis socket or a pigtail is installed as output.
Be assured that you can use your radio just like before the installation.
While you are using the VHF for AIS reception, you cannot use it for scanning
or comms and vice versa.
The good news is that you can use virtually any Pentium3
or faster, laptop, irrespective of whether it has comports or not, as long as it has a 'Line-in' or a 'Microphone-in' socket.
You only need one GPS, which can be used at the same time for Navigation and AIS. You can run both programs, side by side on the same screen.
Or or you can have the AIS objects plotted on the same E-chart you are using for navigation.
These E-charts can be scanned paper charts in various formats or any Cm93 chart.
The sound-card must be able to handle a 48 Kb sampling rate. Most laptops do.
The audio connection lead (1.5m long) between the VHF and laptop is supplied.
The software on the DVD includes: World wide Navigation with Ais overlay, chart making - , Manuals, 2009 charts
for New Zealand with coverage from Australia to Tahiti and some Pacific Islands, US East and West coast and more + dozens of handy utilities.
The best news is that AIS over VHF is a lot more economical than a radar system, not only in power consumption but financially also and gives a clutter free screen.
The most COST effective way is wired up, like the picture, bottom right.
The RC circuit or filter installation price is NZ$125.-, if done by us; This price includes postage back to your address in NZ.
To send your radio to us by mail, NZ Post provides an economical service (Parcel_Post) in New Zealand and parcels are automatically insured.
arrangement, you send the radio by Tracked Parcel Post
to AISonVHF in Tauranga, we do the modification, turnaround is usually within 7 days.
However if you wish to go the DIY way, it is just NZ$97.- (About US$70) incl. postage worldwide.
We accept Credit Cards, Paypal, Bank Transfer, NZ cheque.
Prefer to install it yourself?
You will receive:
AIS RC-Circuit as a sealed unit
Audio connection lead
Comprehensive 'step by step' instructions for hardware and software.
On the DVD you will find:
N. Zealand and S. Pacific Ocean Charts
USA East and West coasts charts to the equator.
Australia East coast charts.
World magnetic variation chart 2010.
World Wide tides with sun and moon data.
Linux navigation software Ubuntu and Debian plots live AIS
Windows navigation software for plotting live AIS data.
++ Many more very useful utilities.
DIY involves soldering the sealed RC-Circuit unit to the vhf main circuit board, installing the chassis socket and making the internal connections.
It may sound rather daunting, but is really easy to do.
Just a couple of simple solder joints and you're done.
In order to supply you with the correct filter and soldering information, we need to know your VHF radio brand and type and if possible it's approx age.
Postage world-wide is included with every AIS Package.
For clients outside New Zealand, the only realistic option is DIY
ORDER your AIS pack and worldwide vector charts.