Tag Archives: ais

All is Lost, Robert Redford’s movie or how to save your life on a boat

How would everything have happened if the skipper (the actor Robert Redford) had taken the best-in-breed measures to avoid the problems he found himself drawn into

I have just watched All is Lost (2013), the latest film from Robert Redford.

It is amazing how a simple accident that really could happen to anybody while sailing, can turn into a dreadful experience. In this case, the context was harder since the sailor Robert Redford was during a solo (singlehanded) navigation. But I believe that the initial problem, crashing with a floating container lost in the middle of the sea, is something that can happen also with a crew, but under low visibility conditions such as night navigation or under a storm.

All is Lost - 203 movie by Robert Redford

All is Lost, movie about a sailor that breaks into a container and has to fight for survival

What strikes me most is how vulnerable this sailor is when the little accident takes place. The radio stops working, and you wonder if there is no simple solution to it like carrying a simple handy vhf radio that is water resistant. Well, everything should be water resistant in a Yacht, shouldn’t it.

Also, I don’t understand why he is not carrying a Distress RadioBeacon. This is a very simple piece of equipment that as soon as taken out of its craddle, it will start transmitting. In many countries, this is a compulsory equipment for the yacht that is in open seas.

Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon

Distress Radio Beacon – Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon

They are making a very little favour to those people who are navigating seriously. I mean, after watching this movie, somebody who is not knowledgeable or experienced in the matter could think that sailing is an extremely risky activity to undertake. And it is not true. It is risky, but not that risky. Moreover when you are taking the measures to minimize risk, and when you are equipped to face these types of situations, they should have an easy solution.

Equipment I recommend to the All is Lost captain:

- Handy VHF radio
- Distress Radio Beacon
- AIS transmitter and AIS Beacon

Also, next time, please do notify your friends and family about your plans, if you spend 8 days in open seas they would search for you. You can use a GPS satellite tracking solution such as AtPosition to let the people know the position of your yacht, or even Spot.

Even the first problem of the collision with the container could be solved with a navigation radar system programmed with an alarm while the sailor is sleeping.

iPhone, iPad and Android apps to receive AIS info via WIFI

If you are looking for applications that you can use in your mobile or tablet in order to see AIS data coming from your installed transponder,

With the Vesper XB-8000 AIS transponder here is the official Vesper list of compatible applications: http://www.vespermarine.com/xb/apps


There is also this good article explaining how it works http://i-marineapps.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/vesper-marine-ais-watchmate-app.html

Lastly, if you want to see how simple it is to configure the iNavX app with this transponder, nothing better than watching this short video:

How to connect AIS receiver or transponder to OpenCPN software

As you probably know the AIS receivers generate NMEA sentences.

In other posts we have presented the excellent software for navigation OpenCPN that more and more sailors are using as their main chartplotting solution on board. This open source software is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.

In the latest version 3.2 there are significant improvements for AIS data processing.

Today we will focus on the installation and configuration procedure.

1. Connecting the AIS receiver to the chart plotting software OpenCPN

If the AIS receiver has USB connection, like for example the True Heading AIS RX Carbon, then it is very straight-forward.

If it has a serial connector (DB9 RS232), then you will normally have to use an adapter, because modern computers do not feature serial ports anymore. These have been replaced by USB ports.

We can recommend any Prolific chipset based converter, there are a lot of generic brands. Or if you want to search for a specific model, Belkin offers a few.

2. Configuring OpenCPN

You should follow the same guide used to configure a GPS, because basically as the GPS uses NMEA sentences, it works similarly to an AIS receiver. You can find them here http://opencpn.org/ocpn/setting_up_gps. This example is based on Windows. Basically you have to identify what is the COM port being used by the USB serial converter.

There is additional info in this page http://opencpn.org/ocpn/data_connections. You will see that the example is based on Linux.

3. Plotting AIS targets

The result of decoding the AIS data can be shown in the charts, as seen in the below image:

OpenCPN navigation software AIS decoding example view

OpenCPN navigation software AIS decoding example view

And a lot of configuration options are available, as described in the manual here: http://opencpn.org/ocpn/ais

AIS transponder class A True Heading Carbon Pro: ready to mount

We have many customers asking about what is included in the package for the class A AIS transceiver True Heading Carbon Pro. Well, here are the pictures so you see what you get when you buy one of these AIS transponders

This is the box weighting around 4 kg.


You will find everything you need to install the AIS on your vessel. The only item not included is the VHF antenna. You can use an standard marine VHF antenna. The items in the box are the following:

● Carbon-ProAIS transceiver
● GPS antenna with 20m cable
● Data cable
● Junction box
● Power cable
● Trunnion bracket
● Panel mount brackets
● Fixing screws
● User and installation manual
● Quick start guide
● Support tools CD


Detail of transponder and manual:


And the back view of the transponder with all the connectors:


Following the Quick Guide and the Manual you will find it very easy to do the installation.

Cheap AIS receiver

If you are looking for a bargain AIS receiver, check out this second and equipment in Ebay.com. It is a TrueHeading RX Yacht:


Former AIS RX Yacht receiver

Former AIS RX Yacht receiver

It has now been replaced with the new model, now accepting USB connection and also includes an internal splitter (RX “Plus” model) that will simplify your on-board installation.

AIS receiver RX + (plus) by TrueHeading

AIS receiver RX + (plus) by TrueHeading

You can buy on-line the AIS receiver RX Plus from TrueHeading in this link

AIS Automatic Identification System standard technical specifications document

For those of you who like to go deep into the technicalities, in this link you can find the document that details the Automatic Identification System standard, with all the message types comprised in it for class A and class B, Recommendation ITU-R M.1371-4: http://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/m/R-REC-M.1371-4-201004-I!!PDF-E.pdf

Recommendation ITU-R M.1371-4 AIS Automatic Identification System Marine Standard

Recommendation ITU-R M.1371-4 AIS Automatic Identification System Marine Standard

OpenCPN, a free open-source navigation software, alternative to MaxSea

We are very happy to see that the great open source software OpenCPN is releasing a new version, 3.2. in May 8th 2013. This is a great alternative to MaxSea, Navi Sailor, etc.

In this version we find a lot of improvements for AIS support. Please see the list below.

OpenCPN a free open-source sofware for PC, Mac and Linux

OpenCPN a free open-source sofware for PC, Mac and Linux


  • BSBv3 raster and S57 ENC chart support.
  • CM93 vector chart support, with per cell offset corrections.
  • IHO S52 compliant display of S57 vector charts.
  • “BSB4″ and “nv-chart” support through plugins.
  • Single-chart and Quilted display modes.
  • North-up, Course-up and Chart-up display modes.
  • Moving-map display mode.
  • Route navigation with ship tracking functions.
  • Waypoint navigation.
  • Dashboard for configurable on-screen display of ship’s NMEA data.
  • NMEA 0183 GPS interface at selectable baud rate.
  • OpenGL support for enhanced performance on modern hardware.
  • Advance NMEA message handling structure, with built in multiplexer.
  • Autopilot output support.
  • AIS input with full target tracking and collision alerting.
  • AIS support for SART, DSC and GPSGate Buddies.
  • Anchor watch/alarm functions.
  • GRIB file input and display for weather forecasting.
  • GPX Waypoint, Track and Route input and output file support.
  • Tide and Current prediction and display by location.
  • Route planning with tidal support.
  • Builtin great-circle routing.
  • Integrated weather routing through qtVlm.
  • GPX Layers for annotation of charts.
  • A selection of display themes.
  • A growing number of plugins. Google Earth, World Magnetic Variation, Voyage Data Recorder, AIS -radar, SAR and a LogBook.
  • Multi-language support. 20+ languages supported.


  • Windows XP, Vista and 7
  • Linux, BSD, Solaris
  • Macintosh OSX

More information: http://opencpn.org/ocpn/

The future of AIS is here

In Atlantic Source we are glad to introduce yet again the latest in AIS technology.

The AIS CTRX CARBON + Transponder is a class B AIS transponder with built in splitter, so installation has become easier than never before.

But that’s not all, since this transponder is ready to connect to the digital sensors on board that will let you or personnel in your marina or harbour, in the not-far future monitor your vessel in your mobile phone or desktop.

You can read more specs in the following link.