Garmin AIS revisited, a dite dissappointing

 Garmin AIS 2 Panbo

Today I thought I’d see how well the latest 3210 software (version. 2.6) handles input from the SeaCas SafePassage 300 (it’s got a model number now because Fred has added two new versions). The results were better than last time; for instance, the megayacht Floridian, (visiting again), revealed its name and other important info (bigger image here), and the AIS control menu sub tab is available, letting users specify what zoom levels show AIS and whether target prediction lines are based on time or distance (and how much). But I was a little surprised by what’s missing, and asked Garmin for confirmation/explanation:

1) The 3210 does not yet calculate CPAs…”We wanted to see how reliable and accurate the AIS system really was before giving users automated monitoring. We felt it best to not give users a false sense of security if in reality AIS data transmitted by most ships was inaccurate.”

2) It also won’t list targets, a feature that I think I’ve seen on every ECS and MFD that handles AIS. But Garmin’s comment, “Can you help us understand what such a list would be used for?” is interesting. Nothing came to mind instantly (besides hunting for megayachts); I usually do query AIS targets graphically, putting the cursor over one and hitting “enter” for more info (as above, the only way possible on the Garmin).

I guess the good news here is that Garmin is supporting AIS at all. I dare predict that CPA calculations will come eventually, maybe even a target list, especially if you all make a case for why in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, you may wonder what’s up with the rusty coffee can in the background left? That’s part of my testing gear, a GPS signal inhibitor! I was hoping that if I forced the attached Garmin GPS 17 to lose position, the unit might pick up the position being sent by the SafePassage (as is done by the Raymarine E-120, sort of; it gives priority to the NMEA 0183 SafePassge, but will pick up a NMEA 2000 GPS if the SafePassage loses signal). No such luck, even when I totally uninstalled the GPS 17.

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

6 Responses

  1. William Henry says:

    My AIS experience is rather limited, both in product experience and in actual use. However, Garmin’s comments strike me as being extraordinarily disingenuous.
    In terms of the accuracy of AIS data, the system has been mandatory on the world’s commercial fleet for four years. Some very simple enquiries and observations would certainly yield the answer to the accuracy question. A week monitoring traffic off New York, in the Western Approaches, or the English Channel would yield enough data to keep the statisticians busy and satisfy their need for a statistically valid sample size.
    In terms of the Target List, I can only base my comment on the AIS list provided in the BoatCruiser 2.0 software from NavSim. That list contains Target ID, Distance (away from receiver), CPA, Time to CPA, COG, SOG, and Age (time since the last update from the target). The list can be ordered / sorted by any column and is updated constantly.
    In terms of identifying and focusing on targets of interest, I find the list to be very useful.
    Based on what I’ve read, it seems to me that the Product Development Managers in the leisure marine electronics arena just don’t “get it” when it comes to AIS.

  2. Gene Hoffman says:

    I for one expect that some of my boat friends are going to install class B transceivers. When traffic is high (as it often is in the SF Bay) I would very much like to be able to see if one of my friends is out and broadcasting AIS. MMSI calling ends up being much easier that way.

  3. Pascal says:

    Coincidentaly I have tested a Garmin GpsMap 3205 last week. I was hapy in to seeing that at last there is AIS in garmin ploters, but I agree that it is very very basic. CPA and TCPA is a must, a target list is very importnt too. A excekente feature I have seem in the ShipPlotter software is a Data Base of ships that is builded on thje way, that is, every new ship you get, the ships info is aded to this DB (very samll indeed). This is usefull since there is a good probability that that ship will be encountered gain, remebering that to get the STATIC ship info on single channels AIS receivers demands some time, and in some cases, does not hapen. mm.

  4. PascalNavstar says:

    I have tested the AIS on a friend’s Garmin GpsMap 3205 last week and my impressions is exactly the yours, but even with the lack of CPA/TCPA I would like to have this AIS support on my Gpsmap 276C. I agree that the target list is very useful but I can not list what the advantages really are.
    Talking about features, I liked the AIS implementation on Raymarine C Series which everyone can give a look using the online PDF manuals available for download.
    One good feature I have seen in the ShipPlotter PC software, which I have, is the “ShipInfo” Database, which is build every time we get a “new” ship; this is very useful since the one channel AIS receivers delays somewhat the acquisition of the STATIC info from the ships, and this DB would be used to get the static data based on the MMSI very fast.

  5. Torben Precht says:

    I’m about to buy the EasyAIS for my Garmin 3006C plotter and would like to know if there has been any change in the way Garmin are handling AIS information on the display or are the still only at the very basic level without CPA/TCPA informtions.
    According to the information from Garmin concerning update to there units there has been no update with AIS interface, can that be true?

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Torben, I looked over the 3006C software change list and don’t see anything about adding CPA/TCPA:
    The 4- and 5,000 series definitely calculate CPA/TCPA, however.

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