March 15, 2011
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Description of ShipPlotter 220.127.116.11
Display exact position of a ship using AIS
ShipPlotter displays complete information about ships that are within VHF range of your position using the Universal Automatic Identification System (AIS). AIS is a system that ships use to communicate their positions to each other as part of the global maritime safety system. From December 2004, all ships over 300 tons must carry an AIS system which broadcasts information about the ship to any suitably equipped receiver.AIS uses very short bursts of high speed data on two VHF channels in the marine band. The two frequencies used are 161.975 (Marine ch 87) and 162.025 (ch 88) MHz. Ships broadcast their identity, position, course, speed and destination so that other ships can take account of their movements.
Using a low cost radio scanner tuned to one or other of these channels and ShipPlotter software running on your PC, you will be able to see a radar-like real-time map of all the large ships maneuvering in your area together with information about their destination, estimated time of arrival and even the dimensions of each vessel.
ShipPlotter decodes the AIS digital signals from each ship using the sound card in your PC. You need a suitable VHF band radio receiver tuned to one of the two AIS channels. The program decodes the received digital data and displays it in a variety of formats.
• Signal mode - In Signal Mode, ShipPlotter displays the raw digital signals on your PC screen in a diagnostic display which helps you to set up the system.
• Message mode - In Message Mode, ShipPlotter displays each decoded message in plain language on your PC screen.
• Ship mode - In Ship Mode, ShipPlotter displays each decoded message in plain language on your PC screen. There is one line in the display for each ship. Depending on which message formats have been received from the ship, the information may contain the MSSI number of the ship, its name, its destination and the expected date and time of arrival, its length, beam and draught, and the latest position report received from the ship.
• Chart mode - In Chart Mode, ShipPlotter displays the position and identification of each ship on a chart of the area. ShipPlotter comes with a general purpose world map but you can add your own maps to ShipPlotter simply by digitizing a chart to create a BMP or JPG graphic file and calibrating the chart using tools built in to ShipPlotter. ShipPlotter can also read BSB format marine charts provided that your system performance, memory, etc. can handle the size of the chart.
• Ship details - In chart mode, if you right click on one of the ships displayed in the chart, a pop up window (right) displays all the data received about the ship you have selected. If you are connected to the internet, there is a Search button that will access the ITU ship callsign database to discover even more details about the ship including its port of registry.
• Message log - ShipPlotter can store all messages received and decoded in a text file for later analysis. It can also store messages in formats that are not decoded, in a hex format for subsequent decoding.
• Radar view - ShipPlotter can display the position and identification of ships on a circular display centred on the user's position, which can be a dynamic position based on positions from a connected GPS receiver. This radar display can be either North Up, or Heading Up.
• Serial input - ShipPlotter can decode messages received from a dedicated AIS receiver using NMEA serial format.
• Serial output - ShipPlotter can output demodulated messages to any AIS-compatible serial plotter using NMEA serial format.
• GPS input - ShipPlotter can include position data from a local GPS receiver on the displayed chart and can automatically centre the chart on the current position.
• Message sharing - ShipPlotter can use the Internet to share your messages with others so that all see the totality of messages received by participating users.
• Local sharing - ShipPlotter can share received messages with other instances of the program running on machines over a local area network.
• Automatic chart selection - If you have a selection of charts of your coverage area, ShipPlotter can automatically choose the appropriate chart to display any chosen ship of interest.
• Multiple sound card support - ShipPlotter can choose between multiple soundcards if you have more than one. This means that, subject to processing power, you can run multiple instances of ShipPlotter processing audio from more than one source.
• COM Automation support - ShipPlotter can be accessed by VB Scripts or other services through a COM interface.
• Automatic chart downloading - ShipPlotter can access several global databases of satellite imagery to use as the background chart for displaying ship positions.
• Waypoint/track/route overlays - ShipPlotter can display waypoints, routes and tracks that are read from a GPS data file in GPX data format.
• Peer-to-peer sharing - ShipPlotter can share data with up to four other instances of SP using UDP datagrams over a local network or over the Internet.
• TCP/IP client - ShipPlotter can receive data from a remote TCP/IP server that transmits NMEA AIS message data.
• TCP/IP server - ShipPlotter can receive data from a remote TCP/IP client that transmits NMEA AIS message data.
• Google Earth server - ShipPlotter can present a server to Google Earth that delivers ship position data that will appear on a Google Earth map.
• Memory Map support - ShipPlotter can control Memory Map Navigator so that it displays ships that are currently being displayed by ShipPlotter.
• MultiMap support - ShipPlotter can open a browser window on the MultiMap server so that it displays a ship that you designate. It can also import MultiMap maps into the SP chart window..
• HTTP server - ShipPlotter can present an HTTP server to other instances of ShipPlotter so that they can access the ship data on the host machine. It is possible to link a community of users with this feature, without requiring the use of a separate server.
• Language versions - ShipPlotter is also available with menu and dialog options in French.
• VMAP level 0 outline charts - ShipPlotter can display charts based on NIMA VMAP Level Zero data. The information is supplied in a compressed format including selected layers of certain limited areas.
• Navigation window - ShipPlotter allows you to create, edit, load and save a route and then to display navigation parameters relating to a designated ship following that route. The information includes cross track error, time to next route point and much else besides.
• Route window - ShipPlotter can display a route showing the track and distance between each route point, the estimated time between route points and the ETA at each route point.
• Rhein navigation - ShipPlotter decodes the Rhein waterway specific binary messages (DAC branch 200 - lock times, water levels, passenger and crew data, etc) and displays the data in the message window.
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