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No limits to potential of AIS technology


em-trakAs AIS systems become increasingly ‘de rigeur’ it seems we have only touched the surface in terms of the information which they can provide.

Collision avoidance based on AIS technology is fundamental to the safety of any offshore race boat and her crew. The world leader in AIS is em-trak, whose transceivers have been the top choice for commercial and leisure vessels for more than 20 years, thanks to their proven performance, reliability and seamless inter-operability with other navigation and display systems.


AIS B transceivers are now required on all races of Category 3 and lower in World Sailing’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) and the Offshore equivalent category in the US’s Safety Equipment Regulations (SER) – and will be required in the SER Coastal category from 2024.

AIS is becoming so popular and widespread that nearshore and even some offshore race organisers are starting to look at AIS-based transceiver systems to put real-time positions on display units to inform race managers and entertain spectators at a fraction of the cost of conventional tracker systems.

Main picture: Ocean racing yachts need robust and reliable equipment. Every em-trak product is conceived and designed for continuous use in the most extreme marine environments. Standard features include exceptionally robust, UV-impervious enclosures, marine grade stainless steel connectors and internal components, robust waterproofing along with vibration and shock resistance, and high grade electronic components that are designed to operate at extremes of temperature.

Thirty years of accumulated experience of developing communication products for professional use is built into every em-trak unit with an unusual focus on quality and innovation. Every em-trak product is conceived and designed from scratch for continuous use in the most extreme marine environments. This approach helps to drive product features such as exceptionally robust, UV impervious enclosures, use of marine grade stainless steel connectors and internal screws, robust waterproof sealing, vibration and shock resistance and high-grade electronic components designed to operate at extreme temperatures.

The Company is completely focussed on manufacturing quality and its products are built in one of the world’s most advanced electronic production facilities. All processes conform to the highest standards with every component tracked and every product going through multiple rigorous testing gateways during its manufacture. Any non-compliances that might be detected will result in the product being scrapped – re-working to fix issues may save on costs, but it can also introduce weaknesses which may reduce reliability. Prior to leaving the factory, each product undergoes an extensive automated test that checks more than 1,000 parameters, including a waterproof test.

This quality obsession is what’s needed to protect the essential core technology that is built into em-trak transceivers: the ability to receive and process any AIS transmissions in real time without error/loss at maximum range. The very latest advanced electronic architecture integrates high quality components with powerful firmware to deliver exceptional performance and reliability, plus ultra-low power consumption within a miniature footprint to save weight.

The next challenge for a high-quality AIS transceiver is connectivity to make the information available in a wide variety of available display platforms. All em-trak transceivers have dual NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 data outputs and a selection of interfaces, wired and wireless (WiFi and Bluetooth). Extensive testing over many years has also ensured interoperability with any third party navigation system – app, chartplotter, phone, watch and so on.

Em-trak B900 AIS Class B.

Among the eight different models on offer, all have the convenience of an internal GPS antenna, making installation faster and easier with no need for an external antenna. Similarly, there are also models that include an integrated VHF antenna splitter – no need for a separate VHF antenna to be installed.

This diversity in connection types then leads to the final important feature of em-trak transceivers: functionality. They will receive and decode all AIS transmissions from any transceiver type – these include Class A, Class B, SART, MOB, AtoN and Base Stations. This means you have access to live weather and sea information as well as the ability to receive and send text messages.

With the introduction of the new B900 Series, em-trak recognises that mariners want the freedom to use multiple devices and applications for their navigation needs. Chartplotters and navigation apps, many of which are free to download and are constantly updated with new features, have a massive array of ever more sophisticated functionalities, from anchor watch which fuses multiple sensor data such as radar and AIS, to target fusion and identification and even augmented reality. What they all need is high-quality data – without data such functionality is worthless.

The B900 Series has been specially developed with the most advanced core technology to deliver the very best AIS data and information and enables this to be used by all devices simultaneously. All this functionality is delivered within a compact, easy to install, ruggedised package designed and manufactured to operate reliably without maintenance in even the harshest marine environment.

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