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2 December 2007

Digital Yacht has introduced a new Class B AIS Transponder suitable for use on leisure and small commercial vessels.  Called the SMARTERTrack AIT250, it incorporates an AIS transmitter as well as receiver, allowing your vessel’s position, identity and track to be relayed to other vessels equipped with AIS equipment.

Class A AIS is now mandatory on all vessels over 300 GRT and any commercial passenger carrying vessel.  The system automatically sends a ship’s identity, position, course and speed to other vessels equipped with either an AIS transponder or receiver.  As such, the system greatly improves both onboard security and safety as well as aiding navigation with a detailed plot of nearby vessels overlaid on to an electronic chart.  Class B AIS operates in a similar way but is intended for non-mandatory fitting and is ideal for use on yachts or power boats.

The AIT250 incorporates a dual channel AIS receiver picking up signals from nearby targets as well as a transmitter which sends the yacht’s position.  A GPS receiver is built in and the unit allows direct connection to an onboard PC or plotter for a graphical plot of other nearby vessels.  It comes complete with a GPS antenna and a compact VHF antenna, and is suitable for DIY installation.  Using an industry standard NMEA 0183 interface, it works well with most leading brands of chart plotter, including Raymarine, Furuno, Garmin and Standard Horizon.  The built-in GPS can also be used as a secondary GPS if necessary.

Whilst seeing the position of nearby vessels greatly aids navigation, being seen by other vessels equipped with AIS greatly improves safety and security and minimises the risk of collision.  What’s more, most Port Authorities are now equipped with AIS monitoring systems so that they can track harbour and port movements more effectively.  Class B AIS transponders still output all the relevant data such as boat identity, course, speed and position.  The data is only sent every 30 seconds to avoid the system becoming congested with too many leisure users in busy areas.  The system operates globally.

Priced at £499 including VAT, and including the relevant antennas, the system is available from Digital Yacht, at

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