RTL SDR AIS RECEIVER

RTL SDR AIS App and AIS Share App

WHAT IS IT ?

It is an Android app that decodes AIS messages transmitted by vessels , ships, over radio using a cheap USB DVB-T /RTL-SDR stick.

AIS messages are transmitted over VHF.
Channel A: 161.975 MHz
Channel B: 162.025 MHz.
The app decodes both channels simultaneously.
This app needs no internet connection, it decodes the real time received messages.
This is a truly standalone full featured AIS receiver.

The received messages will be translated into NMEA0183 strings which can be forwarded then via UDP or TCP streaming to third-party apps, PC programs or other devices.
Such Apps can display the received AIS data for example on a map along with information about the received objects.

Please note: The app needs additional (very cheap) hardware to receive the radio signals.

FEATURES

  • Cheap AIS dual channel AIS receiver
  • Low power consummation
  • Easy to install
  • Receive VHF AIS radio signals via DVB-T / RTL SDR USB Stick
  • Decode AIS messages into NMEA0183 strings ( !AIVDM )
  • Send this messages via Network (UDP/TCP)
  • Device location (GPS,Network) translation into NMEA strings
  • location NEMA forwarding via Network (UDP)(GPGSV,GPGSA,GPZDA,GPRMC,..)
RTL AIS DRIVER
AIS SHARE

HARDWARE

Typical cost about ~ 15 -35 €
You need

Continue reading RTL SDR AIS RECEIVER

Is App XY compatible with AIS Share ?

Lot of users asking if chart App XY is compatible with AIS Share.
Basically any third party app supporting AIS messages via UDP or TCP should compatible.

To simply test such a connection there is a Debug/Test mode implemented in AIS Share. In this mode you can test the communication at home without need to connect the USB Dongle

Continue reading Is App XY compatible with AIS Share ?

Practical Boat Owner Test AIS Share

David Berry from Practical Boat Owner shows how to make an AIS receiver with an Android Phone or Tablet and a RTL-SDR.com dongle. He use AIS Share to stream data to Boat Beacon a very popular chart navigation app. See the full article on https://www.pbo.co.uk/publication/pbo/february-2019

See also https://pocketmariner.com/dual-channel-ais-receiver-for-under-35-boat-beacon-ais-share-and-rtl-sdr/

AIS Receiver Shopping Guide

USB OTG cable

Depending on your device you need an USB Micro or USB C cable.
A USB Y has normally less quality but it allow you to keep your device charging at the same time as using the RTL SDR-dongle.

Amazon Deutschland
Amazon USA
International Shipping (Aliexpress)
Budget Store – but shipping ~ 3 weeks
USB C Adapter OTG OTG Cable Micro USB OTG Micro USB Y

Note for Y cables:
It is important that you connect the power and the RTL-SDR dongle to the Y cable first before connecting it to your device otherwise it won’t charge the device – there is a video about this here:-https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rXiyzfP94AU


DVB-T Stick / RTL-SDR Stick

Search for RTL2832U / 820T / 820T2 USB stick.
I recommend high quality dongles which are more expensive but PPM is fix and stable around 0 or 1 . (0,5 PPM TCXO)

Amazon Deutschland
Amazon USA
International AliExpress
Budget Store – but shipping ~ 3 weeks
RTL SDR 0.5 PPM RTL2832U+R820T HDTV TV Tuner R820T
OFFICIAL RTL-SDR.COM BLOG WEBSHOP 0.5PPM

ANDROID SOFTWARE

RTL SDR AIS Driver

AIS Share

Using AIS Share and OpenCPN on sailboat

I live at a river. Especially in summer time sitting at the terrace and seeing all this nice river cruise ships travelling by, it comes to my mind, that it could be interesting to know a little bit more about these ships. At this time I knew about the possibility of tracking live airplane positions, but for ships? Soon I also found some similar pages in the internet, where you can watch vessel positions – but my region wasn’t covered. So i investigated a little bit more time and I found the amazing blog http://www.rtl-sdr.com/. The blog is absolute fantastic; showing several different applications what can be done with a so called RTL-SDR dongle. So in august 2015 I created a first Android app for decoding AIS ship positions.

It was beginning of december 2015 when I got an email from Harmen telling me that he would like to use my very first beta release of my RTL AIS driver app, but he had some problems with it. As my nautic experience was close to 0,  this connection was very helpful for me. The hole december and beginning of jannuary  Harmen tested my app , giving me some very useful ideas – just great that I got his email.

The main idea, why to use just my AIS decoder was, that it runs on Android > 4.1 devices.
This has some benefits:
Before he used an old Garmin navigation GPS, a cheap handheld scanner where he made a discrimator output using this with a laptop’s soundcard to get NMEA information and display this on OpenCPN for PC. But this configuration uses 3 – 4 amperes of the onboard 12 Volt supply.
Sometimes he sails more than 24 hours nonstop by the sea (no internet),  then power consumption is an issue.

So a couple of years ago he bought a NEXUS7 tablet to use seamap charts but in traffic lanes and by night he missed AIS information.

So he bought a cheap RTL-SDR dongle and started to experiment.
see my buying recommendations

That was the story how it started.

Harmen sent me some very nice pictures how his actual configuration looks like.

As you know one problem is that electronics don’t like water, even salt air is a problem with connectors.
So he made a special box for onboard.
This box is located close to the stearing place.
Harmen_sailboat_aisreceiver_enclosure_1

The backside of this box is equipped with:
— the USB dongle
— USB OTG cable with power supply so it does not use the tablet battery
— An MCX to BNC cable for the antenna.

Harmen_sailboat_aisreceiver_enclosure_backside_1.jpg

As Antenna he uses a coax collinear antenna. (The cheapest solution with high gain). See chapter (Coax Collinear Antenna) on http://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-tutorial-cheap-ais-ship-tracking/

So he uses the AIS Share app in combination with the free OpenCPN Android app to have navigation charts overlay with live AIS ship information at low power consumption.

Harmen_sailboat_aisreceiver_ais_sharer

Harmen_sailboat_aisreceiver_opencpn

Harmen_sailboat_aisreceiver_opencpn2

OpenCPN settings with AISShare

It looks really great what Harmen created.

Soon it becomes summer, he will sail again. ( At this season his boat lies in port, some 30 km’s away from his homeplace. )

You can have a look at his hoempage as well.
http://www.harmenmeijer.nl/