1. What is the AIS Pilot Plug? The AIS Pilot Plug provides the means to enable pilots and other mariners to connect their own laptop PC or other portable device to a vessel’s Automatic Identification System (AIS).
2. What is the communication protocol for the AIS Pilot Plug? The communication protocol used by the AIS Pilot Plug is RS-422.
3. What is the wiring specification for the AIS Pilot Plug? The pin designations in the AIS Pilot Plug are: Pin1 – TxA(-), Pin4 – TxB(+), Pin5 – RxA(-), Pin6 – RxB(+), Pin9 – Shield / Ground. Important Note: Tx and Rx (Transmit and Receive) are from the perspective of the AIS Transponder.
4. What types of information is available from the AIS Pilot Plug? The AIS Pilot Plug is supposed to provide: a. Dynamic Information such as Own Ship and Target Vessel Lat. / Long. , COG, SOG, Heading, Rate of Turn, Navigational Status and time.* b. Static Information such as vessel name, call sign, IMO identification, dimensions, and vessel type.* c. Voyage Related Information such as draft, cargo type, destination, and ETA.*
(*Not all vessels transmit all of the information listed above.)
5. What is the accuracy of the information coming from the AIS Pilot Plug? The accuracy of the navigational information (such as position, course, speed, etc.) for own ship and target vessels depends upon the accuracy of the sensors used, environmental and operational factors which may degrade the position or AIS information, and the quality of the installation of the equipment.Further, the accuracy of static information and voyage related data depends upon the accuracy with which it is entered and the frequency of its update.AIS users must bear in mind that a third party enters the static and voyage information received and should also take that into account when assessing the usability of AIS information.
Users of AIS information should be skeptical of AIS information received and should always confirm by all other means possible the accuracy of the AIS information.
6. Can the signal at the AIS Pilot Plug be split so I can hook up more than one device to the Pilot Plug at a time? The RS422 signal at the AIS Pilot Plug is not meant to be split, and doing so requires a special piece of equipment.Using Portable Pilot Solutions AIS Interfaces with any kind of “splitter” or split AIS signal will void the warranty on the interface, and may damage the AIS unit.
7. The battery life of my Battery Bluetooth Device varies, and is less than what I expected. What's going on? First, you should be sure that the batteries in your device are fully charged. When using the supplied power supply, it will take up to 10 hours to fully charge a set of 1,000 mAh battteries and up to 12 hours to fully charge a set of 1,200 mAh batteries.
The amount of data being sent through the AIS Pilot Plug will greatly influence the battery life of your interface. If your vessel's AIS is recieving a large number of AIS targets, that will cause more data to be sent through the AIS Pilot Plug and consequently the battery life of your PPS-4-BBT will be reduced.
In our use of the PPS-4-BBT AIS Interface, we have seen battery life spans of up to 21 hours on a single charge (1,200 mAh batteries) in areas where there were few AIS targets, and as short as 8 hours on a single full charge when a high number of AIS targets (more than 30) were being recieved.
We recommend that whenever possible the power supply of the Battery Bluetooth Interface be used and plugged in to an available AC outlet so as to keep the batteries fully charged for those times when an AC outlet might not be conveniently located or accessible.
8. Can either of the Bluetooth AIS rigs be re-configured and used with an APPLE iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch? No. The Bluetooth AIS Interfaces sold by Portable Pilots Solutions require Serial Port Profiles (SPP) in the device to which they connect. Neither the APPLE iPhone (any version) nor iPad, nor iPod Touch (any version) support SPP.
9. I have a Bluetooth AIS Interface from another vendor that usually works, but it sometimes drops data and loses the connection with my laptop without warning. Do you have any suggestions or ideas about what may be the problem? We have seen that some vendors are selling RS-232 Bluetooth devices for use with the AIS Pilot Plug. However, as mentioned in FAQ #2 above, the AIS Pilot Plug communicates via the RS-422 signal format. An RS-232 device can be forced to work with the RS-422 signal from the AIS Pilot Plug, but it will be unreliable. All Portable Pilot Solutions products use the correct RS-422 signal format.
10. Why don't you sell your rigs with the "switchbox" or LED Detangler circuit and International Power Supplies as options? As we considered how to sell our products, we decided that most customers would want a device that from the moment they got it would work with the greatest number of AIS Pilot Plug installations possible. We realize it may cost a bit more to include the LED Detangler circuit and International Power Supply with each interface, but we feel the value of being able to "set up and go" right out of the box without the need to buy or supply added parts is worth it.
11. If I have a problem setting up or using my Portable Pilot Solutions AIS Interface, how should I contact you? Please e-mail us immediately at email@example.com. We try to respond to all e-mails within 24 hours, but sometimes can't due to our work schedules as pilots. We stand by our products and want to be sure that you are satisfied with your purchase. If you have a problem or a question, let us know and we'll get back to you as promptly as possible.
Copyright 2011 Observation Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.