Boat Beacon real-time internet AIS Sharing to Navionics, iNavX, OpenCPN etc.

Boat Beacon can now share its real time AIS feed from our global AIS aerial network via NMEA with other apps on the same device or on the same Wifi Network. Boat Beacon acts as a “Virtual AIS Receiver”. We are expecting this will prove popular with folks who already have other Marine Navigation apps/charts like Navionics, OpenCPN and iNavX which support an external NMEA AIS feed but don’t have their own Internet based AIS network or feed available like we do for our own Marine Navigation app SeaNav.  By the way, if you haven’t seen SeaNav why don’t you try it for free first, you can download it from here now https://apps.apple.com/app/seanav/id857841271 .
The AIS Share feature is free to trial in Boat Beacon using Boat Beacon’s Demo mode.  If you find it useful you can use it all the time when you are out navigating for a small monthly or annual subscription via IAP.
You can get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the App Store from here now.
Here are some screenshots from Navionics, iNavX and OpenCPN using it.

Navionics on iPad connected to Boat Beacon on 127.0.0.1 TCP port 5353

 iNavX on same iPhone device ( using TCP 127.0.0.1 port 5353 )

OpenCPN running on a Mac via Wifi to Boat Beacon running on an iPhone ( TCP to 192.168.1.106 port 5353).

 

and the description in our user guide:-
AIS Sharing

Share Boat Beacon’s real time internet AIS feed via NMEA with other apps on your device and on the same Wifi network, like Navionics, OpenCPN on your Mac, iNavX etc. so you can see live ship positions around you on their charts as well. Pocket Mariner’s AIS service is fed by one of the largest network of AIS shore receivers world-wide covering most major ports, harbours and popular coastal areas with over 60,000 live ship positions at any time. Boat Beacon acts like a virtual AIS receiver and can also share your live position via Internet AIS with other users and internet based AIS services like MarineTraffic. After purchasing the Boat Beacon AIS Sharing IAP (monthly or yearly subscriptions available) just set your other apps NMEA TCP settings to connect to the IP address and TCP port (default is 5353) shown in Boat Beacon’s AIS Share setting. If you are sharing with an app on the same device you can use 127.0.0.1 as the IP address to connect to instead of the actual device IP address so you never have to change the setting when you are on a different network. Boat Beacon must be in sailing mode when sharing with other apps on the same device so it can track your position and continually update the live AIS data around you in the background. Tap the SailBoat icon  bottom right to enable Sailing mode. In the unlikely event that you need to change the TCP port number in Boat Beacon to another number, tap on the AIS Share setting row and enter it. 

To try it out at home when there are no boats around your location put Boat Beacon into Demo mode ( Settings/Demo mode) first and then set sailing mode. Make sure the other app is showing the same map location as the demo mode is. If there are a lot of ships around it can take some apps like Navionics a bit of time to catch up the first time it connects. Make sure to turn sailing and demo mode off when you are done. If Boat Beacon is not displaying any ships around your location then no ships will appear in the other apps either.

Get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the App Store from here now

Entering routes and waypoints with SeaNav on a Mac

Here is how to enter routes and waypoints in SeaNav Mac
Left mouse click on the chart and select “Start new route here”
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.48.31.png
A green pin will be placed on the map and the Navigation panel will display on the left with the first waypoint information.
To add the next waypoint move to another point and left mouse click and select “Add waypoint here”.

A red pin will appear with a blue line (route) from the first pin.
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.48.59.png
You can add as many waypoints as you require and drag and drop the waypoint markers using a long mouse select on them.

Tap the i button on a Waypoint to give it a name ( optional) and view the full lat and long position ( including when you drag and drop it) so you can set its location precisely.

Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.53.03.png
Click on Done when finished and you can then sail the route at any time by pressing Sail. You can also select a previously saved route, Sail it , edit it or export it.
You can add a set of existing waypoints from a spreadsheet following this blog article:-
Here’s our guide on iPhone which also has some relevance to Mac. You can also export/import routes between the iOS SeaNav and Mac SeaNav app and also view them in Google Earth.
You can view the routes at any time by tapping the Navigation tab – there is a Demo route in the Solent included with the app that you can use to play with (tap the i button to view the route details and select Edit Route) :-
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.58.45.png

Simple 3dB dipole VHF AIS Marine Aerial from co-ax cable

Here’s how we make an AIS tuned 3dB gain VHF aerial using RF-coax cable.
Buy a 5 or 10m length of  50 ohm RF coax cable with bnc connectors already attached – this makes two – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JVUP0L4. Cut to required length. Strip back the outer coating at the cut end to a length of 44.4cm + 5cm to make a loop (1/4wave for AIS frequencies). Pull the inner core through the outer sheath and lay the outer sheath back along the length of the coax and trim to 44.4cm. I add a couple of cm to the length so I can bend the tip of the inner core back on itself to hook it over something. Make sure the length of the inner is 44.4cm excluding the looped over end. Cover in heat shrink wrap if you want to make it waterproof and you have a 3dB gain AIS Aerial.
There is a useful video here showing how to do it here :-
and a photo of a 5m long one we made earlier. This one had a range of over 25NM when we put it on the 20th floor of a high rise in Singapore.
Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 15.07.39

You could also go one step further and make a 6dB  collinear like this from Neil Arundale (I have made and used one of these too and it compared equally with a £120 commercial collinear).

I hope that this inspires someone. If you get connected up please consider sharing your AIS data with us. We can provide a dedicated port and web view for your data.

New Zealand and Finland Marine Charts for SeaNav

SeaNav now has seamless official raster (RNC) charts available for download for the whole of New Zealand and Finland. You can use all SeaNav’s route planning, POI and live navigation tools and display on top of the charts like you can with the existing vector charts.

Charts are automatically installed and saved as you browse and zoom in on SeaNav and you can also download all the charts in a map region for offline use ( no internet connection) in a single go.

Zoom right in to get fantastic detail on the charts. Here’s the marina in Auckland with live AIS ship positions overlaid:-

Here is Finland showing the chart coverage (outlined in red):-

and here is Helsinki zoomed in about half way:-

And zoomed close in at the beautiful Aaland islands between Finland and Sweden

 

You can find the new raster charts listed under SeaNav/Settings/SeaNav Chart Store in the new “Raster section at the bottom”.  A yearly subscription also provides ongoing chart updates from the Finnish and New Zealand Hydrographic offices. Get SeaNav for free from the app store and download  the new chart IAPs now:-https://itunes.apple.com/app/seanav/id857841271

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danish Vector Marine charts for SeaNav

Danish charts are now available in SeaNav. The vector marine charts are licensed and derived from the official Danish Hydrographic Office data. These cover the whole of the European Danish waters. Please see the coverage map below.

Coverage Map for Danish charts:

Here is a close up on the iPhone showing the approach to Copenhagen. Being  vector charts, all chart objects are tappable to give more information. This includes names and types as well as distance and bearing from your position. Sectored lights also show the colours, range and sector angle when tapped.

SeaNav also has complete live Ship (AIS) coverage for the whole of Denmark. Here is an example in the Aabenraa Fjord showing the Maureen S. just departed on her way to Germany.

Maureen S. © Gerolf Drebes

SeaNav now has UK, IE, NL, BE, FR, DE, ES, US and CA charts available with complete coverage across the English Channel  and we now have continuous coverage from Nantes in France through Belgium and the Netherlands, across Denmark and Germany including the German inland waterways.  Current European chart coverage is outlined in red below.

Norwegian charts are also available for free in SeaNav’s sister app, NaviPlotter by Nautisk (same app as SeaNav but with different branding and additional Norwegian charts from the Norwegian HO).

The Danish charts and others can be obtained via a simple In App Purchase (IAP ) in SeaNav and SeaNav UK. All SeaNav charts are regularly updated while you have a valid chart subscription in place. You can read more about SeaNav and how to download our free version here –  SeaNav