National Coastwatch Barry now provides live AIS service for Mariners

Pocket Mariner and Digital Yacht have sponsored a new AIS receiver for the National CoastWatch Institute ( NCI )  station in Barry. Terry Ewington, the station manager, and his team helped us with the installation today and we now have a live AIS internet feed providing greatly improved real time coverage for the Bristol Channel from Bristol City centre across to Newport and down through Cardiff and Barry to Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast. The real time AIS data is available instantly for folks using our Boat Beacon, SeaNav and  free Boat Watch apps.

The NCI perform an increasingly important “eyes on the ground” role for marine safety, especially with the loss of many of our regional Coastguard stations due to centralisation by the MCA in the UK. The NCI have also recently been assigned VHF channel 65 as a dedicated  VHF channel to provide information and assistance on. Call them up on channel 65 if you are passing in the Bristol Channel or phone them on 01446 420746.

The Barry NCI station is in a wonderful and beautiful location at Nells Point with excellent views and a coastal path running past it. It is very well worth a visit if you are in the area or call them up on VHF Channel 65 if you are sailing in the area and need local information or help. You can check out the live data using this web link or on any of our apps.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

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http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

 

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Zeus, Simrad and B&G GoFree settings for Boat Beacon

Here are some instructions on how to connect to GoFree on Boat Beacon Android to use AIS from your own boat’s AIS receiver.

On the B&G: Settings Page –> network –> nmea0183  –> Ethernet , take note of the IP Address (e.g. 192.168.1.109)  and Port  (port is usually 10110) . See screenshot below

 

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In Boat Beacon: go to Settings –> scroll down to AIS Sources. Tap Local AIS and select TCP. Then tap Local AIS host and enter the IP address you noted from your B&G device. Then tap Local AIS port and enter the port number – e.g. 10110. Boat Beacon should then see the AIS data from your B&G instrument and the Local AIS light on Boat Beacon should go green,


Be sure your Android device is connected to the GoFree wifi networkIP. If GoFree on your boat doesn’t have a full internet connection available there is also a setting in Boat Beacon to allow you to use your 3G connection at the same time as connected to GoFree to get internet data (like email and the map overlays).
 
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Boat Beacon and SeaNav Apple Watch App tips

Here are some tips/pointers from our initial experience of using the Apple Watch with our Boat Beacon app.

1. By default the Apple Watch shows a watch face when you raise your wrist to look at it. If you want to see your nav data on Boat Beacon you have to press the crown and select Boat Beacon. This is really annoying when you want to see your navigation information at the flick of your wrist. Fortunately there is an option in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to ensure the Boat Beacon app (or whichever app you were using last ) stays on top – its in My Watch/General/Activate on Wrist Raise/Resume Previous Activity  – make sure this is ticked.

2. You need Boat Beacon on your iPhone/iPad to be in Sailing mode (Sailing button bottom left selected) to get  SOG, COG , Heading and CPA/AIS information on Boat Beacon’s watch app display. The same applies to our SeaNav Watch app which also has a Waypoints display.

3. iPhone Battery is draining much faster when SeaNav or Boat Beacon app has been run on  my watch even though it is no longer being displayed on the watch and I am not running the apps on my phone/iPad.

The problem is that when you launch the SeaNav or Boat Beacon watch app (or in fact any app that needs gps) on your watch it stays running even when its not showing on the watch face and/or another app (e.g. the clock) is showing. As it is running it will keep asking the iPhone for gps info which will eat battery on your iPhone. The solution is to “Force stop” the SeaNav app on your Watch when you have finished using it. Here’s how to do this:-

With the SeaNav/Boat Beacon app showing on your Watch screen press and hold the side button below the Digital Crown for a few seconds. The next screen you see features buttons for Power Off, Power Reserve and Lock Device. When you see this screen press and hold the side button again until you see SeaNav disappear and be replaced by the home screen.  There are more instructions for how to do a force stop here

We need a way to exit the SeaNav app on the watch more easily – either from the iPhone or more directly from within the SeaNav app running on the watch. This appears to be a mistake/oversight by Apple (a lot of folks with fitness and cycling apps are complaining to Apple about battery drain) and hopefully they will address it in a future release.

Just remember to force quit it on your Watch when you don’t need it running.

4. The wrist torch mode doesn’t work – looks like Apple won’t let the watch show a blank white screen (it worked in the simulator). We will take a look at how to get this working. For now you can use the AIS Map display to shed some light in the dark.

5. The watch screen is polarised to reduce glare and visibility is good on a bright day.  Apple have got the polarisation right – just like on instrument displays on aircraft –  it works fine with Polarised sunglasses. We tested with a pair of my son’s Ray-Ban Aviators and we could see the watch face fine. seanav-watch

 

 

Independent trials of the Pocket Mariner AIS Dual channel receiver.

With the help of a ShipPlotter user in Finland we have been able to run side by side tests of our Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver with a mainstream commercial brand AIS receiver costing over 3 times the price. We are very pleased with the results, with the Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver achieving almost exactly the same coverage/range/data rate of the well known commercial brand. Here are some stats comparing our Pocket Mariner AIS receiver on port 7018 (blue) and the other on port 5378 (red ) and screenshots at the same time of the coverage from the same aerial in Helsinki.

Rate of data received (bits/s)

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We also found that the coverage/range for both the commercial AIS receiver and ours was significantly improved using a relatively in-expensive AIS frequency (162MHz) tuned filter and pre-amp on the aerial feed. We used and would recommend the VHF Pre-amp from Spectrum Communications (formerly known as the Garex pre-amp). They start at around £15 for the pcb built one and around £50 for a boxed version. The ship ranges in the screenshots below is approximately 150km (100Miles).  The tropospheric conditions were good.

7018 Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

 

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5378 Commercial AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

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N.B. The buoys at the top of the screen (North) are over 350km away and most likely Synthetic Aids To Navigation being broadcast by a shore based station nearer our aerial.

If you are interested in having a Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver please get in touch with us at . support@pocketmariner.com

 

Row around Singapore Island (RASI), Mission to Seafarers and Boat Beacon AIS tracking

Pocket Mariner are very pleased to be sponsoring the  Row around Singapore Island  in aid of the Mission to Seafarers .

A group of 40 enthusiasts from the maritime and insurance community in Singapore have come together, to undertake a 24 hour endurance sea challenge, all in aid of the global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers.

Mission Row Around Singapore Island (RASI), will see two teams in ocean-going rowing boats attempt the 140km journey, taking on the seas and shipping lanes (not to mention two live military firing ranges) to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the island of Singapore. The event itself will be held during the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence and will also coincide with Singapore Maritime Week on the 22nd / 23rd April, 2015.

Pocket Mariner have provided their Boat Beacon app to both teams so they can share their position and speed during the event and everyone will be able to follow their progress on our live group tracking web view service.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/missionrasi.html. If you would like to add the view to your own web page you can use the following iFrame:-

<iframe src=”http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/groupwatch.php?group=MISSIONRASI&drawtools=1&embed=1&groupgetotherships=0″></iframe>

 

If you are organising an event or a race and are interested in having live tracking available please contact us :- support@pocketmariner.com