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Navonics App, AIS & WiFi GPS

Oct 6, 2018
95
Watkins 25 Seawolf Rotarran Dunnellon / Crystal River
I've been trying to find information on the best budget way to hook up an AIS and GPS receiver to my Android tablet running Navonics.

I've found an Amazon, a 'Quark-elec Wireless AIS Receiver with GPS and NMEA', but have no idea how reliable it is...then you need a VHF splitter and GPS antenna which all adds up. If this is a quality unit, it might be worth it, but I have no experience to tell.

I am also replacing my VHF and would like the whole system to work together. Is there a VHF with AIS and GPS built in that will share the data? What is the best way to get it to communicate with my tablet?

GPS is the priority. For my needs, AIS is a nice to have.
 
Jan 11, 2014
4,159
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
I am also replacing my VHF and would like the whole system to work together. Is there a VHF with AIS and GPS built in that will share the data? What is the best way to get it to communicate with my tablet?
Yes. The Standard Horizon GX 2200 has AIS receiver and gps built in and NMEA 0183 out

Simrad/B&G have a VHF with an AIS transponder built in, however they are pricey at about $1K.
 
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Mar 20, 2014
675
Hunter 31 Shoreacres, TX
If you are committed to using your tablet rather than a chart plotter a small NMEA 2000 network might work with a GPS receiver, and a vhf with AIS and some wireless way to attach your tablet to the network.. If you only want to receive AIS and not transmit your position I have throughly enjoyed this from Simrad. Simrad RS35 VHF/AIS Radio | VHF | Simrad USA
 
May 17, 2004
1,945
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Simrad/B&G have a VHF with an AIS transponder built in, however they are pricey at about $1K.
Simrad also now has a radio with GPS and AIS receive (not transmit) built in, but it's still about $620. It's the RS40. It has NMEA 2000 and 0183 out, so you'll just need a NMEA wifi transmitter to be able to see the data on Navionics.
 
Oct 6, 2018
95
Watkins 25 Seawolf Rotarran Dunnellon / Crystal River
Yes. Those look reliable. So all I'd need is an NMEA 0183 or 2000 wifi gateway.

Will I be able to purchase 0183 accessories in the future if I need to replace either the VHF or The gateway?

I'm a complete Noob regarding electronics. I know what I want to do...use all features of Navonics on my phone and tablet and have a reliable VHF, but I don't really know the best way to get there being budget minded.
 
Jan 19, 2010
6,680
Hunter 26 Lake Martin AL
I purchased a GPS antennae for my VHF because the manual said that the internal unit sometimes cannot pick up if the radio is mounted deep in the boat. But after I got it all set up, the internal antennae worked just fine. I don't route the data to my phone nor do I know if you can so this might not be helpful but if you do decide to go with this VHF, wait to buy the external GPS to see if your mounting position lets the radio pick it up on its own.
 
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Apr 8, 2011
105
Hunter 36 Intrepid Deale, MD
I pretty much went through this thought process over the last year. I'll share what I did, what I learned, and what I'd change.

Garmin also has a VHF AIS (receive only) GPS product - the VHF 215 AIS ($550). I replaced my Standard Horizon with the VHF 215 this season, and it integrated right into my NMEA2000 network, and displays AIS targets on my aging Garmin GPSMap 7212 chartplotter, which allows MARPA tracking, etc. The 215 allows for a helm repeater handset - Garmin GHS 211 - which is fully capable, meaning you can change VHF channels, turn the VHF on or off, change volume, and listen to the handset extension's speaker in the cockpit. That's pretty awesome. And you only need one VHF antenna, and the GPS antenna is built into the unit, which works fine on most fiberglass boats. I don't use the unit's GPS antenna, so I turned that function off, since I already have a dedicated Garmin GPS antenna and unit on the boat.

Two issues here though: 1. Its a wired handset, which cost me $400 to have a technician run to my pedestal (I couldn't figure it out). That's in addition to the $179 handset cost. 2. The first handset I bought didn't pair with the VHF radio because the firmware version needed to be updated. Now I'm a pretty darn savvy electronics guy, but I just could not get it to update, even with tech support help. So I exchanged it, and the 211 worked right out of the box. Garmin was great here.

However, I think wired VHF extensions are old tech in today's environment. Even Garmin admitted they're working to have a wireless handset extension option in their lineup. These days you shouldn't have to run new wiring, unless you're into that sort of thing (which I'm not). So if I had to do it all over again - particularly if I didn't have to consider compatibility with a Garmin Chartplotter - I'd think about a VHF AIS GPS unit that supported wireless handset extensions. The only one I know of is the Simrad RS35 VHF Radio with AIS (receive only). Its actually cheaper than the Garmin at $399, has all the same capabilities, and supports MULTIPLE wireless extension handsets (think multifunctional like walkie talkies for anchoring, etc). Those wireless extensions are $179 each.

And if you use an NMEA2000 network, you can plug in something like the NMEA 2000 Wi-Fi Gateway from Yacht Devices ($200) and now you're getting all data on the network broadcast wirelessly to whatever you want - your iPad, iPhone, etc. I added this also, and am still playing around with it, but I can get AIS on my iPad on chartplotter software. On my boat the older NMEA0183 network is plugged into the Garmin Chartplotter, which is plugged into the NMEA 2000 network and acts as a translator. That means I also get all my data from wind, depth, etc. over my wireless NMEA 2000 connection. Its pretty cool, and I'm only starting to figure out the best way to use it.

FWIW, I think that using an iPad for a chartplotter, while there are limitations (e.g. brightness in full sunshine, battery dying at inconvenient times), is a reasonable alternative to a dedicated chartplotter. The software is always up to date with the good apps (as opposed to paying $300 for an update for your chartplotter every year), and its portable around the boat. I recently crewed on a Hinckley Sou'west 42 from NY to Maine, a boat which has done 2 transatlantic races, a dozen Newport to Bermudas, Fastnet, etc. It has no chartplotter in the cockpit (it does have one at the nav station). But everyone uses the iPad, which repeats the chartplotter in this case. Otherwise there's no nav aids in the cockpit. Another buddy of mine who is an experienced offshore racer has also gone solely to an iPad on his J42 in lieu of a dedicated chartplotter, and another friend has a finicky chartplotter from a PO and has elected to mostly use his iPad (they're headed to the Bahamas as they retire this year). So, for every naysayer, there's a growing number of very experienced folks moving away from chartplotters in the cockpit. If the PO of my boat hadn't put in a Garmin 7212 that's probably where I'd be right now (that 12" screen is over the top, but pretty awesome when I can overlay weather, radar, ais, all at once and it doesn't look cluttered). And that's the one caution I'll lay out - I'll never get my radar to overlay or display on anything but my chartplotter because it requires an Ethernet connection due to the bandwidth. Raymarine may have solved that with their latest wireless technology - maybe someone here can comment.

Hope this helps. If you go this route it'll basically turn into a hobby. Good luck.
 
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Jan 11, 2014
4,159
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
And that's the one caution I'll lay out - I'll never get my radar to overlay or display on anything but my chartplotter because it requires an Ethernet connection due to the bandwidth. Raymarine may have solved that with their latest wireless technology - maybe someone here can comment.
My B&G accurately mirrors the Zues2 screen including radar on my iPad, it does not allow auto helm control.

Will I be able to purchase 0183 accessories in the future if I need to replace either the VHF or The gateway?
Probably for a while there is a large installed base. However, remember the technology behind 0183 is circa 1983 and the technology for 2000 is circa 1995. Over time 0183 devices will become harder to source. Both 0183 and 2000 are based on networking and data transmission for automobiles and the limited data that was needed back in the day.
 
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Nov 8, 2010
10,586
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
One nice feature of that Quark-elec device is that it supports muliplexing of the NMEA0183 data. Because 0183 is a 'one talker' network, you can put the device between an existing talker and it's listener(s) and have it add the AIS data to the original stream. Nice feature for the inexpensive device.
 
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Mar 20, 2014
675
Hunter 31 Shoreacres, TX
Yes. Those look reliable. So all I'd need is an NMEA 0183 or 2000 wifi gateway.

Will I be able to purchase 0183 accessories in the future if I need to replace either the VHF or The gateway?

I'm a complete Noob regarding electronics. I know what I want to do...use all features of Navonics on my phone and tablet and have a reliable VHF, but I don't really know the best way to get there being budget minded.
If I was starting from ground zero I would not even consider 0183, the NMEA 2000 stuff is plug and play and is much more flexible than the 0183. There is a software program put out by Maretron that’s free that helps you design a NMEA 2000 network. I have put together a NMEA 2000 network and have at least a basic grasp of it. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss further.
 
Apr 8, 2011
105
Hunter 36 Intrepid Deale, MD
If I was starting from ground zero I would not even consider 0183, the NMEA 2000 stuff is plug and play and is much more flexible than the 0183. There is a software program put out by Maretron that’s free that helps you design a NMEA 2000 network. I have put together a NMEA 2000 network and have at least a basic grasp of it. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss further.
Completely agree. NMEA 2000 stuff is so easy to work with, and the network provides a low level of power as well, so depending on the needs of the device you may not even need to hook it up to 12v separately.
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,204
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
@jamieFL I see you are in FL. Listed on a "river". That you are using the Navionics on a tablet.
Are you using the tablet locations to provide your location to Navionics, or are you just watching the map and moving it along as you go? Not really having the tablet track our course.

Connecting it to a GPS signal means you need to get the GPS into your tablet. This may be accomplished either through a WiFI gateway (your tablet connected to the wifi signal of your boat). Or through a USB plug in. Which makes sense depends on the hardware you are using.

Are you planning to sail out in to the Gulf or beyond sight of land? Then you will need a reliable system providing the resources you want for navigation. If this is the case I would look at the SH GX2200 mentioned above. A reliable system. It provides the GPS, VHF and AIS all integrated in the single radio. You can get a GPS signal out that you can connect to a WiFi gateway then you will get it into your tablet. This will give you the GPS location data on the tablet when the tablet is connected to the boat wifi.

All of this is over kill if you are day sailing in a local river or near shore in a bay.
 
Oct 6, 2018
95
Watkins 25 Seawolf Rotarran Dunnellon / Crystal River
I searched and found YakBitz. There are several models, but I don't see NMEA 2000. They have USB only, 1,2,and 3 port one way NMEA 0183, and 3 port bidirectional NMEA 0183. If the is NMEA 2000, I have not found it.

I will be coastal sailing the Florida Gulf Coast out of the Crystal River area from St. Petersburg to Panama Beach. I'm working on a Watkins 25 for the task.

So I think that a VHF with built in AIS receiver and GPS with a wifi bridge is my best option. Now my choice is NMEA 0183 or 2000...either the Standard Horizon GX 2200 or the Simrad RS35. I'll have to ponder.
 
May 17, 2004
1,945
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
One note on the RS35 - It has been replaced by the RS40. You might still be able to find 35's, but they don't have the built-in GPS receiver that the (nearly twice the cost) RS40 does.

Also, if you do get the RS35, be sure that it has up to date firmware. You can update the firmware easily if you have a Simrad / B&G chartplotter, but I'm not sure how it would be done otherwise. Early versions of the firmware were super-buggy. Like taking down the whole NMEA 2K network at random times buggy. The newest firmware seems stable.
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,093
Columbia 36 Muskegon
I purchased a GPS antennae for my VHF because the manual said that the internal unit sometimes cannot pick up if the radio is mounted deep in the boat. But after I got it all set up, the internal antennae worked just fine. I don't route the data to my phone nor do I know if you can so this might not be helpful but if you do decide to go with this VHF, wait to buy the external GPS to see if your mounting position lets the radio pick it up on its own.
Right. Fiberglass is pretty much invisible to rf energy so GPS usually works fine below deck. In a metal boat, probably not. I'm using a $6 GPS stick on my laptop at the chart table, it works fine. Once it looked like it wasn't getting good signal so I took it out on deck, the signal didn't improve so it was the satellite geometry not the receiver causing the problem.