We have been trying out the new and very inexpensive dAISy AIS vhf usb receiver with our Android Boat Beacon app. It works great – straight out of the box. Just connect dAISy to an aerial and to your Android device via an android OTG cable, Boat Beacon automatically shows up as an app to pick to work with it, select Boat Beacon and make sure Local AIS via USB is turned on in Boat Beacon’s settings and receive local live AIS data straight into Boat Beacon. No need for an internet connection to see ships around you. I use an OTG cable with a power connector so that I can keep my device charged and use the external AIS receiver at the same time.
We have also tried using dAISy with our Mac SeaNav Marine Navigation app via USB and it also works very well.
dAISy is really well made in an amazingly small and durable aluminium metal box ( 63 x 44 x 23 mm – size of a matchbox ) and retails for the incredibly low price of $59 (£41). It is only single channel. It does channel hop but it will only receive half as many messages as a dual channel AIS receiver, so it can take twice as long to acquire a target or get an update to its position. But dual channel receivers cost at least double this and most are 4 to 5 times as expensive. It is available here:–
Here’s what Adrian, dAISy’s creator has to say about the range and sensitivity compared to other far more expensive AIS receivers:-
“dAISy did perform better than the RadarGadget AIS USB dongle and a cheap SDR dongle. One customer reported that dAISy’s performance is comparable to NASA AIS Engine, though I didn’t have an opportunity to verify that myself. Range in the real world is hard to quantify as it relies so much on antenna, location and radio noise. In general, with a proper VHF antenna, line of sight works well. Boaters with the antenna on top the mast report a range of approx. 17NM, that’s also a typical range that I see from unobstructed shore-based stations. .”
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.
One of our AIS contributors, Duarte in Portugal, has recently written an interesting and unique marine navigation app that we thought we should let our readers know about. It allows you to view Navtex information directly on your iPhone or iPad without needing an HF radio on board. NAVTEX provides navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts, as well as urgent maritime safety information to ships. You can download Navtex for free from the App Store here:- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/navtex/id1065285995 . You can also try out all the features for free for a week.
There is a short video clip showing what the app can do here:-
and here is what Duarte has to say about his app:-
Navtex should be a requirement to any mariner, hobbyist or professional, regardless the type and size of vessel as it offers important Navigation Warnings that are safety-related while at sea.
Nearly 200 NAVTEX Radio Stations across the world form a global coverage network transmitting messages either in 490kHz, 518kHz, 4209.5kHz, 424kHz and 486kHz.
At sea, safety is everything so our Navtex App will fetch the latest NAVTEX messages issued by the several official entities and present them to you whenever you want.
You don’t need to connect your iPhone/iPad to any HF Radio. Only an internet connection is required. Synchronize and within seconds you have the worldwide updated Navtex information in your pocket.
You may select any of the available NAVTEX stations in the App and check their transmission schedule, frequencies, local data and latest important transmitted messages.
The Navtex Navigational Warnings will be collected from the internet and will be stored on your device, so you can read them even if you are off-line.
In Brazil, Australia and New Zeeland Navigation Warnings are not broadcasted via NAVTEX. However, this App will still fetch the latest Navigation Warnings from those regions and show them to you.
Additionally, you can also subscribe to APRS weather that is broadcasted by ham radio enthusiasts all over the world. It is a good backup system to gather weather information in case of failure of the vessels’s primary systems.
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
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).
The latest versions of our SeaNav and BoatWatch iOS apps now include the fabulous ActiveCaptain database providing on and off-line access to information on tens of thousands of marinas, anchorages, hazards and local knowledge (bridges, locks etc.) , as well as reviews from other boaters, shown geographically on marine charts, satellite images, or street maps. The ActiveCaptain coverage is global. There is information on Marinas and Harbour side restaurants etc. from around the world including the US, Canada, UK, France, Spain etc. . If you aren’t already signed up for ActiveCaptain you can do it for free in a few seconds here:-
We found Jeff at ActiveCaptain really supportive and helpful on the integration with his data and had some lovely comments back from him on how well we did it too “The Pocket Mariner developers have been exceptional to work with. They are real boaters who get out on the water with their own tools.” Jeffrey Siegel, ActiveCaptain.
We look forward to adding more features and the ability to post reviews from our apps too in the near future.