SevenStar Electronics S287 AIS Class B Transponder User Manual SeaTracer USA Iss 1 3
SevenStar Electronics Ltd AIS Class B Transponder SeaTracer USA Iss 1 3
Revised User Manual with end user programming removed
© SevenStar 2008 1 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
S.287 Class B AIS Transponder
(FCC ID: RIKS287)
USER MANUAL - USA
SevenStar Electronics Ltd
© SevenStar 2008 2 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
About this manual…
This manual contains details and recommendations for the
installation and use of the SeaTraceR S.287 Class B AIS
Transponder from SevenStar Electronics Ltd. Please read through
the installation notes carefully BEFORE attempting to connect
power to the unit. The unit will need programming with your
MMSI and other details before it can be fitted. Please note that
incorrect installation or operation may void your warranty.
The carton contains your SeaTraceR Class B AIS transponder with
mounting bracket and integral power lead, this User Manual, a
combined serial/NMEA data cable and a CD-ROM containing
To install and operate the unit, you will also need a +12Vdc
nominal power source, a VHF antenna and a GPS antenna (these
should be separate from other antennae fitted to the vessel).
Note: BEFORE installation, your vessel’s MMSI and other static
data need to be entered into the unit. This may be performed
using SevenStar’s ‘proAIS’ software, but note that for US
territories the FCC have ruled that this must be done by an
appropriately qualified person such as a suitably trained installer
or dealer. Furthermore, it is a Federal offence to knowingly enter
an unauthorised MMSI or false static data. (Please contact your
dealer if you need assistance or advice.)
Once programmed and installed, the SeaTraceR Class B AIS
transponder will be able to automatically exchange MMSI, vessel
name, position, call sign, course and speed data with other
vessels and shore stations. Other suitably equipped vessels will
be able to see your position clearly.
Connect your SeaTraceR unit to your chart plotter or PC with the
data cable provided to SEE the full benefits of AIS - you will then
be able to see the ID, position, speed and course of all AIS
equipped vessels in range!
Please now take the time to read the rest of this manual to get
the best from your Class B AIS Transponder!
© SevenStar 2008 3 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
User Manual Contents…
Warranty statement, Declaration of Conformity
Radio Licensing, General Notices
Installation…3 easy steps
1. Programming your transponder
2. Installing the unit
3. Connecting the SeaTraceR, Serial Port Connection
Using your AIS transponder
Getting the most out of AIS
Your 'proAIS' software
APPENDICES - Further info
Antenna choice and mounting
What serial data is sent or received
Description of LED indicators
Trouble shooting guide
More about AIS
This product carries a 2-year return-to-factory warranty against defects due
to faulty manufacture or materials (i.e. 2 years from date of manufacture). In
the event of a problem, please follow the simple trouble-shooting guide in
this manual before contacting your dealer.
Declaration of Conformity…
SevenStar Electronics Ltd declares that this product is
in compliance with the essential requirements and
other provisions of the R&TTE directive 1995/5/EC. A
full Declaration may be viewed or downloaded from our
web site at www.sevenstarelectronics.com
The product carries the CE mark, notified body number
and alert symbol as required by the R&TTE directive.
The SeaTraceR is approved by BABT and BSH in the EU, and by USCG and
FCC, and carries the FCC ID: RIKS287
country of use:
GB FR ES SE
AT NL PT DK
NO BE IT FI
IE LU GR CH
© SevenStar 2008 4 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
IMPORTANT: In most countries the operation of an AIS unit is included
under the vessels marine VHF licence provisions. The vessel on to which
the AIS unit is to be installed must therefore possess a current VHF
radiotelephone licence that lists the AIS system and the vessel Call Sign
and MMSI number. Please contact the relevant authority in your country
for more information.
This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a
Class B digital device, pursuant to part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits
are designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful
interference in a residential installation. This equipment generates, uses
and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in
accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful interference to
The marine Automatic Identification System (AIS) uses a satellite-based
system such as the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) network to
determine position. The accuracy of these networks is variable and is
affected by factors such as the antenna positioning, how many satellites
are used to determine a position and how long satellite information has
been received for. It is desirable wherever possible therefore to verify
both your vessels AIS-derived position data and other vessels AIS-
derived position data with visual or radar based observations.
The compass safe distance of this unit is 0.5m or greater (for 0.3° error
as per specification).
In accordance with a policy of continual development and product
improvement the SeaTraceR hardware and software may be upgraded
from time to time and future versions may therefore not correspond
exactly with this manual. When necessary upgrades to the product will
be accompanied by updates or addenda to this manual. (Check on web
Please take time to read this manual carefully and to understand its
contents fully so that you can install and operate your AIS system
correctly and get the full benefit.
Information contained in this manual is liable to change without notice.
SevenStar Electronics Ltd. disclaims any liability for consequences arising
from omissions or inaccuracies in this manual and any other
documentation provided with this product.
© SevenStar 2008 5 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Installation…3 easy steps
Installing the SeaTraceR is straightforward using simple tools, but you
will need to check you have everything ready first.
The unit must be programmed with your MMSI, vessel name,
size, etc. This must be done by a suitably qualified installer
or dealer. The MMSI is usually listed on the vessel’s radio
license. If you do not have one, you will need to apply for one –
ask your dealer or Coastguard if in doubt.
Mount the unit safely, out of the way, in a protected place.
You have to connect up the unit – the connections are shown
a) The SeaTraceR comes with a 1metre supply lead for you to connect
up to your vessel’s +12Vdc supply – it is strongly recommended that
you fit an in-line fuse, 2A rated
b) VHF antenna – mount as high on the vessel as practical for best
performance, clear from obstruction or other antennas, and must be
fitted with a 50 ohm TNC plug. (See page 15)
c) GPS antenna – this must be an ACTIVE type (has a built-in amplifier).
Mount with a clear view of the sky, away from any possible sources of
interference. Must be fitted with a 50 ohm TNC plug. (See page 16)
d) To view the received vessel positions, etc, connect the 9-way
serial/NMEA port on the unit to your laptop PC or chart plotter, which
must be running software capable of reading and displaying AIS B data,
using the data cable provided.
Alternatively, you can use the SX.588 combined GPS/AIS antenna
available from SevenStar dealers, which makes installation even easier.
AIS Class B
© SevenStar 2008 6 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
1. Programming the transponder…
Before an AIS Class B Transponder will operate fully, you need to
program in a few very simple details about your vessel:
Position of the GPS antenna
Vessel Call sign
WARNING: It is a violation of the rules of the Federal
Communications Commission to input an MMSI that has not been
properly assigned to the end user, or to otherwise input any
inaccurate data in this device.
The entry of static data into a Class B AIS device shall be performed by
the vendor of the device or by an appropriately qualified person in the
business of installing marine communications equipment on board
vessels. In no event shall the entry of static data into a Class B AIS
device be performed by the user of the device or the licensee of a ship
station using the device. Knowingly programming a Class B AIS device
with inaccurate static data, or causing a Class B AIS device to be
programmed with inaccurate static data, is prohibited.
Your dealer will tell you how this can be done for you – just make sure
you have your vessel information with you! And please make sure all the
data fields are completed to get the most out of your new AIS
© SevenStar 2008 7 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
2. Mounting the unit…
It is recommended that the unit is attached to a solid wooden, fibreglass
or composite surface with >15mm long self-tapping screws or similar.
Position the unit and the cables so that any water running down the
wires drips off rather than collecting on the unit.
Note: the bracket provided can be used to mount the unit in
several orientations - simply unscrew the black knurled
thumbscrews, and fit the bracket in the orientation that suits
you. Once installed, you can think of the unit as a computer modem –
you should have no need to check it regularly – so mount it out of the
way where it will not be knocked or subject to excessive vibration,
temperature, sunlight, fuel or water. It should be mounted at least
0.5m from any magnetic compass. It makes good sense to have the
LEDs visible in case you do ever need to check the unit.
CAUTION: The SeaTraceR unit is designed for operation in the
temperature range -25 °C to +55 °C. Do not install (or use)
the SeaTraceR unit in environments which exceed this
CAUTION: Do not install the SeaTraceR unit in an environment where it
can be subject to excessive exposure to water.
CAUTION: The casing of the SeaTraceR unit is NOT isolated from the
negative terminal of the supply and therefore it is
recommended that the unit is not attached to metal parts of
the vessel. (This avoids any potential ‘ground loop’
CAUTION: BE SURE TO USE THE CORRECT TOOLS AND SAFETY
EQUIPMENT WHEN INSTALLING THE UNIT AND THE
ANTENNAS. IF IN DOUBT, ASK A PROFESSIONAL TO
INSTALL IT FOR YOU.
© SevenStar 2008 8 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
3. Connecting the SeaTraceR…
WARNING: DO NOT connect the SeaTraceR unit to a mains (line) AC
electrical supply, as an electric shock or fire hazard could
CAUTION: Do not connect the SeaTraceR unit to a DC supply
exceeding 15.6 V or reverse the supply polarity. Damage
to the unit may result.
VHF antenna: For best performance, use a VHF antenna that covers up
to 162.025MHz – not all do! Mount as high on the vessel as practical for
best performance, clear from obstruction or other antennas, and it must
be fitted with a 50 ohm TNC plug. (These connectors were designed for
use in marine environments, and provide a splash-proof connection when
mated.) See warning in Appendices about antenna positioning.
GPS: The SeaTraceR unit requires a +5v-powered active GPS antenna,
suitable for a marine environment, and the down lead will need to be
terminated in a TNC 50 ohm plug. The SeaTraceR feeds +5v to the
antenna automatically via the GPS antenna lead – you do not need a
Alternatively: SevenStar have developed a combined GPS/AIS antenna
for use with its AIS products. This makes installation quick and easy. Ask
for details on our SX.588 combo antenna!
Data: In order to see the data from approaching vessels and aids to
navigation, you need to display the messages the SeaTraceR receives
and decodes. To do this you need to connect a chart plotter, laptop PC,
PC serial terminal or other display device to the SeaTraceR Serial/NMEA
data port (9 way male sub-D connector on the rear panel). To connect to
a PC or similar device, use the cable provided to connect to the PC serial
port. To connect to a NMEA instrument, use the NMEA/RS422
connections on the cable provided (connections are shown in the next
section). Note that the software in the display device must be configured
for AIS operation AND must be able to receive the standard Class B
operation NMEA sentences. This external display unit software is not part
of the SeaTraceR transponder package – consult the manufacturer of the
unit if you are in doubt about it – most manufacturers are issuing free
upgrades for their units.
© SevenStar 2008 9 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Power: Connect a 12V DC power source (9.6-15.6V) capable of
supplying 2A peak, 0.4A continuous to the DC power lead (brown/red =
positive, black/blue=negative). IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
THAT AN IN-LINE FUSE IS USED, RATING 2A.
Connector for active GPS Connector for VHF antenna
Antenna (includes +5v feed)
Power cable Data and Programming Connector
View of SeaTraceR rear panel
© SevenStar 2008 10 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Serial Data Connection…
There is a 9-way D-type male connector mounted on the rear panel of
the SeaTraceR transponder. This connector is used initially to program
the unit with your MMSI, vessel name and other vessel data, and then
once the transponder is installed, to send data about other vessels to
your plotter or PC software for display.
The connector provides input/output of data in two different formats,
RS232 and RS422/NMEA – either may be used. The pin connections are
shown in the following diagram (as seen looking at the rear panel):
A minimum keypad and display (MKD) unit, chart plotter, PC or other
display device may be connected to the SeaTraceR via an appropriate
cable assembly. The default baud rate of the data link is 38.4kBaud with
8 data bits, one stop bit and no parity. No handshaking is used. The
data interface conforms to IEC 61162-1. See page 17 for further info.
PIN FUNCTION WIRE
1 Silent mode +ve BLACK
2 RS232 Tx (data out from unit) BROWN
3 RS232 Rx (data in to unit) RED
4 Silent mode -ve ORANGE
5 Signal ground, cable screen YELLOW
6 RS422 Tx +ve (data out from unit) GREEN
7 RS422 Tx –ve BLUE
8 Rs422 Rx +ve (data in to unit) VIOLET
9 RS422 Rx –ve GREY
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
Note: wire colours may vary from that stated. If in doubt, buzz it out.
Date cable detail
PC serial port
and optional connections
Data connector on rear
panel of SeaTraceR
© SevenStar 2008 11 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Using your new transponder…
When the +12V supply is switched on all four LEDs visible on the front
panel of the unit will flash twice. The red green and blue LEDs will then
go out, leaving the yellow LED lit. All GPS receivers need to ‘lock’ onto
the signals from at least 3 satellites before they can compute a position,
so there is a delay before full operation is available - this process may
take up to 30 minutes worst case if the GPS receiver is starting from
‘cold’ (no previous position information). When this has been achieved,
there is a further short delay until the unit transmits its first position
report (message 18) whereupon the yellow LED will go out and the green
LED will illuminate, indicating that the unit is now operating correctly.
The blue LED will flash each time an incoming AIS messages is received.
GREEN YELLOW RED BLUE LED
Status OK Unable to
Your AIS Class B Transponder is now fully working! Your plotter
or PC, if connected and set correctly, should now show you all
AIS-equipped vessels within range (and remember, this includes
all commercial vessels > 300 tonnes, which HAVE to fit AIS
transponders, and AIS-equipped racons, as well as the growing
numbers of leisure craft and work boats now fitting these units.)
And of course, your position will also be shown on THEIR
© SevenStar 2008 12 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Getting the most from AIS…
Some hints and useful advice:
• Switch it on! Your SeaTraceR consumes only 4 watts – less than a
single nav light. Only switch it off when you are safely tied up in
• Keep it fully operational! – then other vessels, Coastguard or VTS
(Vessel Traffic Services) in port areas will be able to call you if they
see you running into danger.
• Read the manuals for your plotter or chart software to make sure
you are displaying the AIS targets in the most useful way. It may be
possible to filter what is shown to avoid too much clutter in crowded
waterways – and make sure you are not using too large a range
relative to your speed.
• AIS targets are shown as triangles giving position and heading. A
vector may also be shown to indicate speed over ground so you can
assess any collision risk.
• In the very near future, aids to navigation (AtoNs) such as buoys,
channel markers and lighthouses will be identified by AIS
transmissions at regular intervals. Shore stations will also be
capable of creating “virtual AtoNs” where a warning will appear on
your chart in the appropriate position without there being a buoy
physically in position. This is likely to be used for temporary
situations such as wrecks, or buoys which are out of position.
• For maximum help in poor visibility, AIS should ideally be combined
with radar. Radar can show passive targets such as debris or vessels
not equipped with functioning AIS transmitters. AIS will help to
identify targets acquired by radar plotting aids such as MARPA, which
can give automatic warnings of close approach.
• Always plan to keep a safe margin to avoid close quarters situations
– at least 0.5nm closest point of approach (CPA), and more for
vessels restricted in ability to manoeuvre. Aids such as AIS and
MARPA can give a false sense of security; so don’t forget to use the
Mk.1 Eyeball to confirm the situation and to navigate according to
the Collision Regulations.
• The Collision Regulations are not negotiable, but if you are uncertain
of another vessel’s intentions and they have an AIS transmitter, then
you will be able to readily call them on DSC or channel 16.
© SevenStar 2008 13 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
If you have been provided with a CD-ROM with your SeaTraceR, it should
contain a 'soft' copy of this manual, plus some interesting and
informative software called 'proAIS'. In order to use it, load the software
onto your PC, then connect your SeaTraceR to your PC using the serial 9-
way cable provided to a suitable serial port. (If your PC does not have a
serial port, you can connect using a USB-to-serial adaptor widely
available from computer stores.) Connect +12v power to the SeaTraceR,
start the 'proAIS' software, make sure the correct port is selected, and
then click the 'Connect' button.
proAIS offers you a number of ways of looking at the AIS data
being processed by your SeaTraceR Transponder, and also at the
operation of the integral GPS receiver. There are a number of pages
arranged as 'tabs' across the top of the page.
Static Data: This page displays the static data relating to the vessel,
including the MMSI which must be programmed before the unit will
function as a two-way transponder. See page 6 of this manual.
GPS Status: This tab shows the status
of the internal GPS receiver, and
includes the current position fix, course
and speed as well as bar graphs of the
strength of the GPS satellite signals
being received. This can be used to
verify correct GPS antenna connection
Diagnostics: This tab shows the internal condition of the SeaTraceR. It
includes the information used to drive
the LED's on the unit front panel,
software version numbers, internal
power supply measurements, and some
statistics on numbers of messages
received on each of the two AIS VHF
channels. When you turn on you will
see the conditions change as GPS lock
is achieved, and messages are received.
© SevenStar 2008 14 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Other vessels: This page displays
messages received from other vessels
transmitting AIS data in your vicinity.
Data from Class A transponders is
shown in black text, and that from
Class B Transponders is shown in blue
text. MMSI, vessel name and call sign
is displayed, along with speed, course,
and latitude and longitude. An
estimate of each vessels distance from
you is also given.
Safety messages: AIS-equipped
vessels have the ability to send text
'Safety Related Messages', either in
Broadcast or Addressed mode. This
page allows you to see any such
messages, with their UTC time
received and the MMSI of the sender.
Serial data: This page displays the
raw NMEA0183 serial data being
processed by the SeaTraceR. There is a
facility to create a log file where
received NMEA data can be logged.
Commands: Under this tab there are
some user-selectable options for your
SeaTraceR unit. You can set the port
data baud rate, and how often GPS
data and alarm data is output via the
serial link. Depending on software
version installed, you may also be able
to select 'silent mode', and/or set-up &
send a 'Safety Related Message'
© SevenStar 2008 15 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
The SeaTraceR unit is sealed against ingress of water or dust to IP-65.
There are no user-serviceable parts inside, and the unit is protected
against tampering, so DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE UNIT. No regular
maintenance is required other than wiping down with a soft cloth as
necessary, and keeping the connectors in good condition.
WARNING: Unauthorised opening of the SeaTraceR unit will
invalidate the warranty.
CAUTION: Avoid using chemical solvents to clean the SeaTraceR as
some solvents can damage the case or label material.
NOTE: The SeaTraceR unit contains no user serviceable parts.
Contact your Service Agent for repair if necessary.
SevenStar was created in 2002 by committed, professional engineers
with extensive experience in the design, manufacture, sales and
marketing of marine safety electronic apparatus and other high tech
communications equipment. SevenStar’s S.701 SART (Search And
Rescue Transponder) set new standards in marine electronics, and its
innovative design enabled it to be the first that can be shipped globally
as non-hazardous cargo. It is EU ‘Wheelmark’ and FCC approved, and it
has since captured around 75% share of the latest market segments.
SevenStar also designs bespoke transponders for both marine and
Both the SeaTraceR Class B AIS transponder and SeaVieweR dual
AIS/GPS Receiver have followed the same market-leading philosophy
and both use the latest digitally-defined radio techniques to achieve and
exceed the demanding IEC AIS specification released during 2006. The
robust, IP-65 rated aluminium enclosure and bracket have been designed
to service both the professional vessel market and the safety-conscious
leisure user equally.
SevenStar is approved and audited annually to ISO 9001:2000. Its
GMDSS/SOLAS products are 'Wheelmark' approved and the company is
audited annually by Bureau Veritas.
SevenStar Electronics Ltd
© SevenStar 2008 16 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
List of Appendices…
• Antennas and antenna mounting
• What serial data is sent or received
• Description of LED indicators
• Trouble shooting guide
• More about AIS
• SeaTraceR Specifications
If your business depends on temporary periods of ‘position reporting
silence’, for example to safeguard a special fishing ‘sweet spot’, it is
possible to fit a switch to your vessel that will temporarily disable the
Transmit function of the SeaTraceR. See wiring connections earlier in this
It must be stressed that this compromises the safety of your vessel and
other vessels, and must NOT be done without careful consideration. It
may also lead to intervention by the Coastguard or other authorities to
investigate why you are not transmitting.
(The SeaTraceR also has the capability of sending what is called a Safety
Related Message (SRM), transmitted as VDL message number 14. At the
time of printing it is currently undecided who should listen and/or
respond to any such messages.)
© SevenStar 2008 17 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
VHF Antenna Connection…
Connecting a badly mismatched VHF antenna, leaving the VHF antenna
port disconnected, using a poor quality or poorly jointed cable, or
shorting the VHF antenna port will activate the internal VSWR alarm,
causing the unit to stop sending position reports, and may cause damage
to the transponder.
Radio Frequency Exposure…
This equipment generates and radiates radio frequency electromagnetic
energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions,
may cause harmful interference or even personal injury.
Never switch on the equipment without the VHF antenna properly
connected. To maximise performance, and minimise human exposure to
RF energy, always mount the antenna at least 1.5 meters from the
This system has a Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) radius of 1.5m,
assuming max antenna gain of +3dbi. Use of higher gain antennas would
require a greater MPE radius and is not recommended.
The VHF antenna should be mounted at a minimum vertical distance of 3
metres from the head of any person standing on deck in order to meet
international safety directives on Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) /
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). Failure to adhere to these limits could
expose persons within the 3 metre radius to RF radiation in excess of the
recommended MPE / SAR limits.
Antennas and Antenna Mounting…
VHF antenna for AIS use…
The VHF antenna employed for AIS use:
¾ Must be a dedicated antenna, i.e. not shared with any other VHF
¾ Must be suitable for marine shipboard applications (index of
protection, ruggedness, means of mounting, etc.)
¾ Should be omni-directional and vertically polarised with a bandwidth
© SevenStar 2008 18 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
sufficient to maintain VSWR <1.5 over the frequency range 156 –
163 MHz. As a minimum the -3dB bandwidth must cover the two AIS
channels and the DSC Channel.
¾ Should be mounted with at least a two metre vertical separation
distance from any other VHF antenna used for speech or DSC
communication but see also the section “Radio Frequency Exposure”
The GPS antenna used must be of the active type (i.e. it should
incorporate a low noise amplifier) and must be suitable for marine
shipboard applications (index of protection, ruggedness, means of
mounting, etc.). It must be capable of running from the +5v that is fed
up the GPS coax cable. Most +5v active GPS antennas will work well with
the SeaTraceR on short to medium cable lengths. If you need to use long
cables then you may need to select an antenna with a higher gain (in dB)
to deliver an acceptable signal level to the SeaTraceR GPS antenna
connector. (Antenna gain - cable loss should be more than approx 15dB.)
The GPS antenna to be used for AIS use must be a dedicated
antenna, i.e. not shared with any other GPS receiver.
Installation of the GPS antenna is critical for the performance of the built
-in GPS receiver that is used for correct timing of the transmitted data,
and also for the supply of navigational information should the main
navigational GPS fail. We strongly recommend that:
• The GPS antenna is mounted in a slightly elevated position and free
of shadow effect from the ship’s superstructure
• The GPS antenna has a free view through 360 degrees with a vertical
angle of 5 to 90 degrees above the horizon.
• As the received GPS signal is very sensitive to noise and interference
generated by other onboard transmitters, ensure that the GPS
antenna is placed as far away as possible from radar, Inmarsat and
Iridium transmitters and ensure the GPS antenna is free from direct
view of the radar and the Inmarsat beam.
• It is also important that any MF/HF and other VHF transmitter
antennas are kept as far away as possible from the GPS antenna. Try
to keep the GPS antenna at least 3 meters away from these
© SevenStar 2008 19 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
What serial data is sent or received…
As mentioned above, the serial port is used for programming the unit as
well as for ‘passing on’ the AIS data received from other vessels, AtoNs
and shore stations.
Note: Either RS232 or RS422 connections may be used. RS232 is
intended for connection to PC serial ports and similar devices. RS422 is a
balanced system, in which +ve and –ve signals are used to give good
immunity to noise. These can be used to connect to NMEA ports on
plotters, etc. (It is allowable in many cases to just use the +ve
connections and ground (0v), but this will be more susceptible to
Data/message types vary with the activity.
a) During programming, the data/message types are proprietary to the
b) Power up messages: On power up the unit will report details of the
firmware versions residing in the unit.
c) In normal AIS transponder operation, each message received over
the VHF Data Link (VDL) is decoded and relayed on to the display
unit as a VHF Data Link Message (VDM).
d) Also as part of normal operation, the SeaTraceR’s VHF data link own
vessel messages (VDO) transmitted over the VDL are also sent to
the display unit.
e) AIS regional channel assignment messages (ACA) received. These
are derived from an incoming VHF Data Link message (message 22)
or from a DSC message.
f) AIS channel management information source (ACS) messages.
g) Alarm messages (ALR, TXT) can be sent to the display unit and
Alarm acknowledgement messages (ACK) received from it.
h) It is possible to modify the behaviour of the SeaTraceR slightly using
one of the pins – see ‘Options’ section.
(VDM, VDO, ACA, ACS, ALR, TXT and ACK messages conform to NMEA
0183. Please refer to NMEA 0183 for full details of these AIS messages.)
© SevenStar 2008 20 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Description of LED Indicators…
Status – GREEN (‘All OK’)
This green LED indicates, when lit, that power has been connected
correctly to the transponder, that the transponder hardware has been
programmed, that the operating software is present and running, that
GPS lock has been acquired and position data transmitted, and that the
VHF port appears to be connected correctly.
TX Timeout – YELLOW (‘Unable to Tx/lost GPS Warning’)
This yellow LED indicates, when lit, that the SeaTraceR transmitter is
currently prevented from transmitting. If the unit has not been able to
transmit a position report during the last expected two reporting
intervals, either because of loss of GPS lock, or for operational reasons
such as a Message 23 quiet period, high channel load conditions, etc, the
yellow LED will illuminate. It will also illuminate if the user has chosen to
use the ‘silent mode’ option. This is a warning condition only and
indicates that your vessels position is not currently being reported to
other vessels. Reception of other vessel AIS information by the
SeaTraceR is not affected. When the unit is able to commence reporting
again the yellow LED goes out.
Error - RED (‘Fault condition exists’)
This red LED indicates, when lit, one of the following status conditions:
• Transmitter lockout timer (1 second max) has operated
• GPS is unable to gain lock even after 30 minutes
• VHF antenna VSWR is out of range (poor connection, badly sited
• Power Supply is out of range
• Background noise level is above the threshold level (-77dBm) (Poor
connection and/or poor antenna siting.)
Rx Data - BLUE (‘Data is being received’)
This blue LED indicates, when it flashes, that a valid AIS message has
just been received. This will be lit frequently in a busy environment. If
the SRM option is provided (factory option) the blue LED is lit to indicate
that an SRM has just been sent.
© SevenStar 2008 21 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
With all electronic equipment, unexpected or severe transient conditions
may leave the equipment in a ‘locked-up’ state. Every effort has been
made to prevent this occurring with the SeaTraceR. If you think this may
be the case, simply disconnect (switch off) the power connection, leave
for a few minutes, and then reconnect the power.
If you have reason to think your transponder is not working correctly,
follow this procedure before contacting your technician or dealer:
Unit shows no LEDs lit, sends no data for display:
¾ Faulty power connection or in-line fuse blown
………Unit should operate normally when fault is fixed
Unit powers up but yellow LED comes on:
¾ Poor or broken GPS antenna connection, poor antenna position
¾ GPS signal blocked, either physically, or by excessive electrical noise
¾ Shore station has requested Class B silent mode
¾ Heavy local AIS traffic has blocked your AIS transmission
………Unit should recover when the condition is removed.
Unit powers up but red LED comes on:
¾ Poor or broken VHF antenna connection, poor antenna position
¾ Interrupted or out of range power connection
¾ GPS has been unable to lock on even after 30 minutes
………Unit should recover when the condition is removed.
If the Red LED illuminates continuously even after correcting these
items, the unit should be switched off for a few minutes, then tried
again. If the fault persists it can be assumed to be faulty and should be
switched off (power removed). Consult your dealer or technician.
Unit powers up with just green LED on, but no data is displayed:
¾ Poor or incorrect data cable connection to plotter or PC
¾ Plotter or PC not configured or not able to receive AIS sentences
Note: If you connect a PC running the Windows utility ‘HyperTerminal’ or
similar to the serial port, you should see log data sent regularly. If your
terminal settings are correct and you still get no data, either the cable of
the unit must be faulty.
© SevenStar 2008 22 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
More about AIS…
The marine Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a location and
vessel information reporting system. It allows vessels equipped with AIS
to automatically and dynamically share and regularly update their
position, speed, course and other information such as vessel identity with
similarly equipped craft and with shore stations. Position information is
derived from a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) such as GPS,
and communication between vessels or between vessel and shore is by
VHF digital transmissions on channel 87B at 161.975MHz, or on channel
88B at 162.025MHz. The system can cope with large numbers of vessels
in close proximity because a sophisticated and automatic method of time
sharing the radio channel is used to ensure that blocking of individual
transmissions is minimised, and any potential degradation of the
expected position reporting interval is indicated to the user. If the unit
suffers extreme channel overload conditions it will always recover to
There are two classes of AIS unit fitted to vessels, Class A and Class B.
In addition AIS base stations may be employed by the Coastguard, port
authorities and other authorised bodies. AIS units acting as aids to
navigation (AtoNs) can also be fitted to fixed and floating navigation
markers such as channel markers and buoys.
Class A units are a mandatory fit under the safety of life at sea (SOLAS)
convention to vessels above 300 gross tons or which carry more than 11
passengers in International waters. Many other commercial vessels and
some leisure craft also fit Class A units.
Class B units are currently not a mandatory fit but authorities in several
parts of the world are strongly considering this. Class B units are
designed for fitting in vessels which do not fall into the mandatory Class
A fit category. The SeaTraceR is a Class B unit.
Information Transmitted and Received…
Class A units transmit their IMO number (if known), MMSI, Call sign and
Name, length and beam, ship type, time, course over ground (COG),
speed over ground (SOG), heading, navigational status, rate of turn,
draught, cargo type, destination and safety related messages via a short
© SevenStar 2008 23 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
message service (SMS) facility. Message lengths are variable with static
and voyage related information being transmitted less often.
Class B units transmit their MMSI, Call Sign and Name, length and
beam, ship type, time, course over ground (COG), speed over ground
(SOG) and heading.
This product complies with all the necessary standards under the
European R&TTE directive for Article 3.1(a), 3.1(b), 3.2 and 3.3(e). The
following standards have been followed in pursuance of this:
• IEC62287-1: 2006-03 Maritime navigation and radiocommunication
equipment and systems – Class B shipborne equipment of the
automatic identification system (AIS) – Part 1: Carrier-sense time
division multiple access (CSTDMA) techniques
• IEC60945: 2002-08 Maritime navigation and radiocommunication
equipment and systems – General requirements – Methods of testing
and required test results
• IEC61162-1: Maritime navigation and radiocommunication
equipment and systems – Digital interfaces – Part 1: Single talker
and multiple listeners
• IEC61108-1: GLOBAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEMS (GNSS) –
Part 1: Global positioning system (GPS) —Receiver equipment —
Performance standards, methods of testing and required test results
• EN 301 843-1 v2.1: Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio
spectrum Matters (ERM); Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)
standard for marine radio equipment and services; Part 1: Common
• EN 50383: 2002 Basic standard for calculation and measurement of
electromagnetic field strength and SAR related to human exposure
from radio base stations and fixed terminal stations for wireless
telecommunications system (110MHz – 40GHz)
• EN60950-1: 2001 Information technology equipment – Safety – Part
1: General requirements
© SevenStar 2008 24 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
Dimensions 180 x 110 x 40 mm (L x W x H)
Power DC (9.6-15.6V)
Average power consumption 4W
Peak current rating 2A
Internal GPS Receiver IEC 61108-1 compliant
Electrical Interfaces RS232 38.4kBaud bi-directional
RS422 NMEA 38.4kBaud bi-directional
Connectors VHF Antenna connector - TNC 50 ohm coaxial - on rear panel
GPS Antenna connector - TNC 50 ohm coaxial - on rear panel
RS232 serial/RS422 NMEA serial/silent mode - 9-way sub-D male
connector (PC serial connector) - on rear panel
+12Vdc (nom) Power - Integral 1 metre twin core lead, red/brown
=+ve. ***In-line fuse strongly recommended***
VHF Transceiver Transmitter - single channel
2 Independent, simultaneous VHF Receivers (One of which is
time shared between AIS and DSC)
Frequency: 156.025 to 162.025 MHz in 25 kHz steps
Output Power +33dBm ± 1.5 dB (2 watts nominal)
Channel Bandwidth 25kHz
Channel Step 25kHz
Modulation Modes 25kHz GMSK (AIS, TX and RX)
25kHz AFSK (DSC, RX only)
Bit rate 9600 b/s ± 50 ppm (GMSK)
1200 b/s ± 30 ppm (FSK)
RX Sensitivity Sensitivity - 107dBm 25kHz (Message Error Rate 20%)
Adjacent Channel 70dB
Environmental IEC 60945
Operating Temperature: -25ºC to +55ºC
IEC 62287, Section 5, Cat b) protected from the weather
Compass safe distance 0.5 metre
Indicators Status, TX timeout, Error, Rx Data.
Operator options a) 'Silent mode'
b) Optional pre-set safety related message (SRM)
© SevenStar 2008 25 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
ACA (AIS) Regional Assignment Channel Assignment Message
ACS (AIS) Channel management information source
AFSK Audio frequency-shift keying
ALR (AIS) Alarm Message
AtoN Aid to Navigation
AIS Automatic Identification System
BIIT Built In Integrity Testing
BNC Bayonet fitting type RF connector
CSTDMA Carrier Sense Time Division Multiple Access
COG Course over Ground
CR Carriage Return
CS Carrier Sense
DC Direct Current
DGNSS Differential Global Navigation Satellite System
DSC Digital Selective calling
GLONASS Global Navigation Satellite System (alternative to GPS)
GNSS Global Navigation Satellite System (GPS, Glonass)
GMSK Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying
GPS Global Positioning Satellite / System
HF High Frequency
IMO International Maritime Organization
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
LED Light Emitting Diode
LF Line Feed
LNA Low-noise amplifier
MF Medium Frequency
© SevenStar 2008 26 S.287/UM1/USA/1.3
MKD Minimum Keypad and Display
MMSI Maritime Mobile Service Identity
MPE Maximum Permissible Exposure
NMEA National Marine Electronics Association
PC Personal Computer
PI Presentation Interface
RF Radio Frequency
RTCM Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services
RX Receive or Receiver
RFI Radio frequency interference
SAR Specific Absorption Rate
SMS Short Message System
SOG Speed over Ground
SRM Safety Related Message
TDMA Time-division Multiple Access
TNC Threaded type coaxial connector
TX Transmit or transmitter
UTC Universal Time Co-ordinated
VDM (AIS) VHF Data Link Messages
VDO (AIS) VHF data link own vessel messages
VHF Very High Frequency
VSWR Voltage Standing Wave Ratio
You may find further information and FAQ’s on our web site of interest.