This weekend was pretty productive for me. I wrapped up the securing of plumbing, routing pex tubing, installing foam insulation over the hot water tubing and even started to make some sense of the electrical so I can plan the install of another bigger high water bilge pump. The weather has been great and the marina is pretty quiet these days aside from the regular live-aboard and walker/runner types enjoying the weather too. I actually found myself enjoying the new heater and running water for washing hands, doing dishes and making tea. So far the new plumbing has been great.
Today I decided to bail on some skiing plans and check out the boat show. I’ve heard of the boat show since I was a kid yet I really have never been from what I recall. I might have been once but I don’t remember it. I knew of such things as ‘boat special’ prices on equipment and that’s worth checking out if only to save money on purchases I plan on making anyways in the future. I was hoping to go home with a new chart plotter but I have my heart set on a brand new Garmin that they are shipping in February. I stopped by the Garmin booth to check it out and ask some questions about how to get my other network data from Seatalk and of course they had no idea how to do it. I thought I was going to give it more time to ponder but then I wandered by the Vesper Marine booth and decided to break down and but their combo XB-8000 Class B AIS transponder and antenna splitter.
A quick stop by West Marine to pick up another terminal block and the parts to make an antenna cable and I was ready to get it done. I started by tracing the existing wiring I used to install the VHF radio and then removed the existing non-functional GPS. Then I installed the new GPS, removed the unused wiring and then began putting it all together in a locker near the VHF radio at the navigation station. Since I’m going to power it at the same time I’m broadcasting VHF it made sense to use the same circuit as the VHF radio. Both the transponder and splitter draw very little amps but I may later decide to add a switch in case I only want the VHF radio operating without transmitting my AIS position. It really depends on if it draws more amps than I’d like.
One quick piece of advice about getting the iPhone and iPad setup. Follow the video on YouTube and you cannot go wrong. I accidentally switched a couple of things that lost the GPS signal. After watching the video I fixed my issue and was up and running. Once the installation was complete I went to both my iPad and iPhone to connect to the wifi that the transponder was broadcasting and then was able to see all of the other AIS broadcasting vessels in the area. Some were class A and others were class B. I’m still learning what the other data they are broadcasting and probably won’t see much until I install the chart plotter and send it the AIS data and also pipe the GPS data to the VHF radio.
One thing I noticed about the iPad vs iPhone app was that the iPad version had names for each AIS target where the iPhone app only had their MMSI number showing. Otherwise they were both doing what they needed. Also previously I was using a bluetooth GPS unit to get GPS data onto my iPad but I now have a new dedicated GPS for any device that needs it.
So really today was supposed to be about installing a new bilge switch or skiing in the great weather but I decided to make it an AIS installation day and so it was. As far as the boat show goes, I really wish they had more vendors specializing in solar and wind. I only saw one panel and the guy seemed to want to push it and argue that panels weren’t for charging a battery. Boat show fun!