Sunday, February 18, 2018

Digital Yachts Nomad Portable Class B AIS Transponder

Application: iPad, iPhone, PC and Android Devices
Function: AIS Class B receiving and transmitting
Rating: *****
Cost: Nomad AIS Unit $699 US, compatible with many PC and mobile devices.

Image compliments of Digital Yacht
Digital Yacht is a leading edge marine electronics company. They are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve marine electronics and connect our mobile devices to yacht electronics. You may be familiar with some of their AIS, wind, GPS, multiplexer, signal K and wireless products.

Digital Yacht's latest Nomad AIS product is in the area of AIS.  AIS is the Automatic Identification System used by commercial and other yachts to identify each other at sea.  All commercial ships over 300 tons are required to have a AIS Class A system. Non commercial yachts use the Class B system. The system uses VHF frequencies and has a range of about 15-20 miles.  Early systems only allowed receiving AIS data from other ships. The new transponders can now not only receive other ships position data but also transmit data.  Many of these class B transponders range from $500 to $2000 dollars.

The advantage of having an AIS system is that it provides data about other ships which can improve your safety by knowing if other ships are on a collision course with your yacht.  Other ships can also see your course, speed and position data which improves safety and prevents collisions.

Digital Yachts new Namad  AIS system is portable and costs $699. It is designed for recreational users who want a low cost portable solution.  It has a wireless connectivity for computers and tablets and is USB powered all in a compact portable package.

The Nomad device was built to be mobile so it would appeal to charter captains and pilots who want this AIS capability on any yacht they step onto. 


  • Class B AIS transponder
  • Compact antenna receives AIS 10-12 nautical miles and transmit 5 nautical miles.
  • Mast mounted antenna receives and sends AIS signals 20 nautical miles at 2 watts.
  • Opens up new “portable navigation” market with the 1st portable Class B AIS transponder
  • Applications include charter and delivery skippers, pilots, tenders and back up for main systems
  • Can be utilized as AIS/GPS receive only
  • Powered via USB – connect to PC, USB outlet or USB battery pack for power
  • Wireless interface for iPad, tablet or PC/MAC
  • Built in high performance GPS
  • Supplied with portable VHF antenna with sucker cup mount
  • Can be used as AIS receiver only (if no MMSI programmed) or if silent mode selected
  • Programmable via PC, Mac and app
  • Choose your favourite charting and AIS app!
  • Wireless connectivity through TCP/IP and UDP for up to 7 devices
Image compliment of Digital Yacht
Any AIS compatible software can be use to create a virtual com port. The unit is compatible with many PC charting and navigation software packages like MaxSea, Nobletech, Expedition, SeaPro and OpenCPN. Connecting it to your PC with the USB cable will power the unit and send data AIS and GPS data to your PC.

For tablets and iPads the wireless WiFi interface is used. Up to 7 devices can be connected using TCP/IP or UDP protocols. Simply go to your setting page and select the Nomad WiFi connection. Once connected the AIS and GPS data can be used by many iPad and Android devices. 

The only downside I see for the Nomad is the cost. If you don't need a mobile solution there are other cheaper options out there for Class B transponders. A did a quick Google of AIS class B transponders and it showed a Milltech model for $499, Garmin AIS 300 for $406 and Vesper's XB-6000 for $555.

Has anyone use the Nomad, if so, please share your experience.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

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