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Old 13 August 2018, 03:45   #1
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X-Band or AIS transponder ?

Looking for opinions or experiences of these.

I've had way to many trips in the fog this year and I started looking at X-band transponders (echomax) as an aid. There seems to be totally conflicting opinions regarding the value of simple radar reflectors and my take on that is, it's more to do with the quality of the radar that's looking for you.

X-band transponders are about 470, (X & S band almost twice that). Icom's Class B AIS transponder is around 570 and there's this.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Matsutec-...d275%7Ciid%3A1

My intial reaction is..it's Chinese but virtually every branded piece of equipment I strip at work is fitted with Chinese boards.

I'm not putting radar on a 6.5 mtr boat....cost and space. So......

What's yer thoughts..?
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Old 13 August 2018, 04:27   #2
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Got an awefull lot of negative feedback on ebay.
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Old 13 August 2018, 04:35   #3
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Right enough.....but the feedback looks like it's more to do with the seller than the item. I've seen UK based vendors doing it at around 350. Probably a safer bet.
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Old 13 August 2018, 04:36   #4
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X-Band or AIS transponder ?

Radar reflectors/transponders are a totally different beast to AIS, and do a similar job in different ways. like choosing between knife or fork. If I was only to have the one, it would be AIS. I've had both over the years & on a fast RIB AIS would be my choice of the 2. With a radar transponder you are still relying on the other guy seeing you & doing something about it. AIS allows you to see him, assuming he has AIS tx too. No brainer imo.
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Old 13 August 2018, 05:53   #5
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Does your current plotter accept an AIS feed? Most of the cost in that link will be the screen and any waterproofing they have done. You can get AIS receivers for about 100 if you are happy with listening only and can feed the Nmea output into your existing display.
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Old 13 August 2018, 12:16   #6
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I have both on the sailing yacht and wouldn't be without either. We commonly seem to find ourselves in thick fog when cruising in the Channel Islands and Brittany (did 8 hours in thick advection fog last week on our way to Roscoff...), and those 2 items together I think make us much more visible electronically and thus safer.


As PD points out, they are very different in nature, do different things, and rely on people having certain equipment onboard (and knowing how to use it). I would also agree that I'd take the AIS first if I could only have one, but as per Poly, I'd be looking to hook it up to a proper plotter rather than that separate display, which would overall give a much more useful and easy to read set of data.


Obviously the advantage of the AIS transponder is you would get both transmit and receive, so have a double benefit of being able to see other AIS transponder-equipped vessels as well. Obviously unless you have a radar, you wouldn't see any Echomax/SeaMe rader transponders.


Traditional passive radar transponders do have some use, although admittedly the active transponders do much better in the tests. As the best middle option, I'd fit the AIS transponder and a passive radar reflector (very cheap), and maybe upgrade to an Echomax/SeaMe later on?
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Old 13 August 2018, 12:44   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Last Tango View Post
I'm not putting radar on a 6.5 mtr boat....cost and space. So......

What's yer thoughts..?
But that's the only one that you know is working for you.

The problems with both AIS and radar transponders from your perspective is that you're relying on others to keep you safe. Only some folks will have the capability to see you. They then need to be attentive and actually see you on their instruments, then they need to take appropriate measures to avoid you! Too many thens for my liking.

With radar you can see them and take avoiding action if necessary. Even if a target is week or only appears at close range, because you're on a rib and it's light and agile you have the benefit and option of stopping quickly or last minute manoeuvring.

I'm not against AIS and radar transponders, indeed, I have them fitted to my boat, but I want to be aware of emerging situations.

I've had radar on a 6.5mtr rib without a problem so you've no worries there. Cost is an issue, of course but good second hand Raymarine units can be sourced fairly easily. The displays are mostly dual purpose so you'll get a backup plotter as an extra.
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Old 14 August 2018, 02:07   #8
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Dave

.... If I was only to have the one, it would be AIS. I've had both over the years & on a fast RIB AIS would be my choice of the 2. ........

I had a JRC Radar on an "Offshore 27" (fast pot-hauler) and it was a nice "toy" but needed more "fiddling" than I could deal with bouncing about on a RIB. I do currently have a "NASA AIS" receiver but I find the display very poor. Cluttered and difficult to read in sunlight so my inclination is to go for an AIS transponder with a better display.

Poly

My Humminbird won't display AIS and having a second "independent", if basic, plotter kind of appeals. I've often had that moment of contemplation of "how difficult things are going that become if the screen goes blank"?

Paul
"....As the best middle option, I'd fit the AIS transponder and a passive radar reflector (very cheap), and maybe upgrade to an Echomax/SeaMe later on?...

This the way I'm leaning. There seems to be a lot more boats fitted with AIS now and despite all the recent tests on reflectors I have been assured by a lifeboat navigator that they do make a difference.

Jwalker

I really don't have room (or the budget) for radar. My only option would be to fit a "bimini" type frame over the console to mount it and then I'd still want AIS so it would end in divorce. I got away with a new engine at the start of the year, don't want to push my luck
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Old 14 August 2018, 02:23   #9
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..."how difficult things are going that become if the screen goes blank"?....
Sorry..running these teeth in for an idiot.

"how difficult things are going to become if that screen goes blank"?
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Old 14 August 2018, 05:46   #10
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Last Tango - I feel your pain. I've had the same experience and done the same math. The replies above seem well considered - lots of experience talking there. I'll say this much about kit (you've met us at sea so you know how we roll) - I didn't feel safe(ish) in fog until I had the radar installed.

That said, I think the entire discussion is really about risk and what one feels is a reasonable reduction of said risk. The old approaches to fog still have value - avoid fog, if unavoidable slow down, maintain very good watch. Having good crew is invaluable as the helm will be overloaded with tasks. At this point you have hugely reduced the risk of hitting debris, marine life, buoys and so forth.

However, we all worry about that LNG tanker that is bearing down in our mind's eye so we start adding electronics into the equation and the risks begin to reduce. Except IMO they don't. I think we begin to rely less on the traditional methods and cruise as if the fog wasn't meant for us. We all know that many vessels fail to observe what's happening around them in broad daylight. Many fail to maintain a listening watch on VHF. I'm absolutely sure many don't use radar installations properly and I KNOW a lot of fishing boats fail to do any of the above - while on autopilot.

So I consider the electronics as ways to remove shells from a gun that I'm about to play Fog Russian Roulette with:

Decent passive radar reflector - one shell out
AIS rx - one shell out
AIS tx - one shell out
Active radar reflector - one shell out (I suspect this is a blank shell, BTW)
RADAR - all shells out

So I suppose I'm saying the radar reduces the risks far more than the others combined. You are in control (as JW says). The others rely on some other eff-wit looking out for you. FYI - the latest radar kit is fairly much idiot proof - even I can use it. It has clear application on passage but is VERY useful inshore in the dark, or feeling around moorings etc in fog.

In summary, IIWY, I'd buy the biggest passive reflector I could mount and keep my speed down in fog. Save the cash for the next boat that I see in your future
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Old 18 August 2018, 12:31   #11
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The radar reflector is ordered (it was cheap and can't do any harm) and my AIS transponder has arrived.

I follow the analogy with the bullets but I doubt the extra toys will cause complacency. There's something surreal and disorientating about fog that keeps you on your toes. Certainly some of the trips we've done this year couldn't have been contemplated without chart plotters, VHF etc and that maybe means we've pushed on when we might otherwise have turned back but keeping a sharp lookout is kind of motivated by fear.

I've had a few 10 to 20mtr "near-misses" with sailing boats, other ribs and fishing boats and that's ok....that's what happens in fog. We pass within 20mtrs of hundreds of boats but you remember the ones that appeared out of the fog and disappeared again just as quickly but I'd really rather not have a 20mtr "near-miss" with a P&O ferry and hopefully the AIS will give us the opportunity to keep well out of the road of anything that size.

Not radar but better than nothing.

PS I've canned the idea of an X-Band transponder for the mean time, as said it relys on others taking action and that's probably a forlorn hope.
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Old 18 August 2018, 12:38   #12
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....I've had a few 10 to 20mtr "near-misses" with sailing boats, other ribs and fishing boats and that's ok....that's what happens in fog.....
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Old 18 August 2018, 12:57   #13
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What else do you expect to happen? If you are travelling long distances and suddenly caught turning back poses the same danger as carrying on if you are in the middle of somewhere/nowhere.

I was with LT on a run back from campbeltown a few months ago and a fishing boat literally appeared out the fog VERY suddenly with maybe 75-100m of visibility. Obviously we were not going fast but the fishing boat was dragging nets and between boats the closing speed must have been in the 25-30mph region, they flashed their lights which we took to mean dragging nets or we wouldn't have known (we assumed they were anyway ofcourse) sure enough about 300m later we see an orange buoy being towed out the fog by a boat long gone. Fishing boat was coming directly at us so we had to split either side, close one. I do have radar reflector so either the fishing boat didn't see me on it or they were not looking at it but result was same either way.

I have got AIS sitting ready to install now but as I have 2 plotters that I can share data across I'm happy to put it on those rather than a separate unit As LT has done.

Radar ofcourse would be nice, maybe one day.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:22   #14
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No "Beam me up Scotty" button, so you just have to deal with what comes out the fog. Plan is to miss it and that seems to be working.

There was life before radar.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:24   #15
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Obviously we were not going fast but the fishing boat was dragging nets and between boats the closing speed must have been in the 25-30mph region.......

.....I do have radar reflector so either the fishing boat didn't see me on it or they were not looking at it but result was same either way.
What were they do do? They are trawling at no more than 5mph? Makes you 25mph - 10mph+ too fast if the viz was that bad.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:34   #16
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Ain't no way they were going 5mph. I was doing 17mph to be exact which is as slow as I can go on plane and I figured they were about 10-12mph. If i had to bet they were doing maybe slightly more going on their wake and how fast that orange marker went past.

I didn't say they were to do anything did I? The point is they had a BIG fancy boat, AIS and radar and didn't see us so do radar reflectors even work?, did they have radar on, collision avoidance setup....that was all I was getting at.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:34   #17
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If you're truly caught out, and, IMO you shouldn't be. At a minimum slow down to quiet displacement speed, as slow as you need to go to make your boat engine and wave splash as silent as possible. Stop if necessary. Listen out for other vessels and use your fog horn at the required intervals to warn other vessels of your presence. You do carry, or have fitted, a fog horn, don't you? Silly question, of course you do.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:43   #18
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...If you're truly caught out, and, IMO you shouldn't be......

Unfortunately we don't have a crystal balls. Presumably you're also equiped with that ?

We missed them.....plan worked.
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Old 18 August 2018, 13:51   #19
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No "Beam me up Scotty" button
Radar/AIS is so yesterday, BMUS is the future for boating. One button press and bang, in Bahamas. Be ideal for the poor gits stuck boating on the forth.

Edit, a JW crystal ball is also a good shout. In light of those not existing for the rest of us I've ordered a magic 8 ball, we will give it a shake and go with it next time in fog. Or maybe buying a new outboard on what shaft length to get it would work.....

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You do carry, or have fitted, a fog horn, don't you? Silly question, of course you do.

Ofcourse we have horns but it is gone as soon as the crystal ball/magic 8 ball or BMUS arrives. Any other kit you want to presume we don't have?
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Old 18 August 2018, 14:01   #20
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X-Band or AIS transponder ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwalker View Post
......You do carry, or have fitted, a fog horn, don't you? Silly question, of course you do.


Confession time, until a few months ago I didn't. But venturing down to Portugal this summer, a fog horn is a legal requirement (among other things) so I lashed out on the cheapest option I could find to comply. It's bloody brilliant, you wouldn't think that so much noise could come from something so small and cheap.
https://www.force4.co.uk/plastimo-mi...-fog-horn.html

PS, it's worth the money, just for the name
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