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Old 13 August 2018, 04:45   #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, 05:27   #2
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Got an awefull lot of negative feedback on ebay.
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Old 13 August 2018, 05:35   #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, 05:36   #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, 06:53   #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, 13:16   #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, 13:44   #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, 03:07   #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, 03:23   #9
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Originally Posted by Last Tango View Post
..."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, 06:46   #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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