Add AIS Coverage for Your Area

We use a network of shore and ship-based AIS stations to track and show live ship data in our apps and web services. Our coverage is global and amongst the best in the industry, typically showing 40,000 or more live ship movements at any one time and a database of over 1 million ships. Many of the shore stations are run by our customers and radio enthusiasts, and we are always looking for new members to bring new coverage areas to our network.

If you would like to join us and share ship coverage for your area then we would be very happy to have you onboard. In many cases we will be able to provide equipment to you free of charge.

The most important factor in providing ship data is having a clear view of the area of sea or river you want to cover  – the aerial must be mounted in a position where it has a view over the water, and – the higher the better – at sea level it will only pick up about 6 miles range. At 100m (300′) above sea level it will pick up ships 25 miles away. Other than that, you will need to provide internet access for the equipment to send its data to us, and an electrical outlet to power the equipment.

If you are interested in joining our AIS receiver network, please let us know.

If you already have an AIS monitoring system, it is very easy for you to share your data with our network – please see below for configuration instructions.

What equipment and software do I need to cover my Area from the shore?

Obtain an AIS receiver (we will often provide one for free, if required) , hook up an external VHF antenna and connect to the internet. Here are the three steps:

1. Hardware

AIS Receiver

The AIS receiver is a small electronic box, about the size of a cigarette packet. You can buy one from a local marine electronics shop or order one online.  The following devices (with serial and/or USB output) are popular in our network of AIS stations and can be easily found in many online stores:

Already have an AIS receiver? The simplest and most reliable way to connect your AIS receiver to the internet is via a relatively in-expensive serial to internet converter like one of the following. We can  provide one for free for good new locations:

Alternatively you can use one of these internet enabled AIS receivers to connect directly:

Or connect it to a PC and run the free PC Ship Plotting application to read and relay the data. See the section on software below.

 

Aerial

You can use a regular Marine VHF aerial or use an AIS specific one which will provide slightly better reception. They start at around $50.  The aerial position is very important in providing good coverage as VHF relies on line of sight transmission. There are two factors;  a clear view of the area of sea you want to cover and the height of the aerial. At sea level it will only pick up about 6 miles range. At 100m (300′) above sea level it will pick up ships 25 miles away! The aerial must be mounted in a position where it has a view over the area you want to cover. The higher the better.

 

2. Software – only needed if you are using a PC

If you are using an AIS Receiver connected to a PC you will also need software for processing and uploading the data to us.

The following is what we use and is free:-
– AIS Dispatcher (Thanks to ‘AIS Hub‘ – Just extract the contents of the ‘zip’ and run the program – linux version also available). Alternatively, you can use the following program: – Shipplotter (requires registration fee)

 

3. Connect to the Internet

Configure your device or software to send the data to the following destination and port  :-

boatbeaconapp.com  (54.225.113.225)  UDP port 5322

 

This will share your AIS data with our mobile apps (Boat Watch, Boat Beacon and SeaNav) and our web services.
Please get in touch and we will setup a dedicated port for your station so you will be able to view your own live data on the web (e.g http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/5353 ) and you can also embed this live view in your own web pages.
That’s it! Start seeing vessels in real time in your area!

Contact us if you need help on setting the connection up.

I am already using ShipPlotter software – how can I contribute?

If you already have an AIS receiving station and you are using the ShipPlotter software to process and publish your data, then you can easily send us your data as well without interrupting your current setup. Just configure ShipPlotter to send the data to our server too. Go to ‘I/O settings’ and locate the ‘UDP peer-to-peer output section’. Enable the output to Remote IP ‘54.225.113.225‘, Remote port 5322. That’s it. The same settings may apply to other chart-plotter programs capable of processing AIS messages. We can also set up a dedicated port for you to connect to which will give you the advantage of being able to see your live coverage via the web and also share your live coverage via other web sites.

I’m on a ship with AIS – how can I contribute?

Already have an AIS transponder on your ship? AIS transponders already installed on most vessels can be used as ‘mobile’ AIS receiving stations – we call it isAIS (internet over satellite AIS). These stations collect and export AIS information about the vessel’s own positions and about all the nearby ships. If your vessel has a satellite Internet connection onboard, then the collected signals can be easily sent to our service using a PC on board or by connecting via our in-expensive  internet adapter to the nmea, serial or PC port on your AIS transponder and uses very little satellite data. Please contact us if you would like to share AIS from your ship.