We have had a number of customers come to us and ask for a low cost solution that combines a Class B AIS transponder, a DSC-enabled VHF radio and a basic AIS display with as few components as possible. One way to do this is to build the solution with the AMEC CAMINO 108 Class B transponder and the Standard Horizon Matrix GX2000 VHF radio with AIS display. The CAMINO-108 is a well-built, yet low-cost Class B transponder and features both USB and NMEA inputs and outputs.
The Matrix GX2000 is the little brother of the famous GX2150 and GX2200 radios and has the same AIS display capabilities unique to the Matrix line but has no built-in AIS receiver. This makes it a perfect mate for an AIS transponder. .
First of all you will need the following parts:
- AMEC CAMINO-108 Class B Transponder
- A GPS antenna is included with the CAMINO-108.
- Standard Horizon GX2000 VHF Radio
- A terminal block and some wire
- A VHF antenna such as one here for the CAMINO or a VHF AIS Antenna Splitter such as the AMEC CUBO-161 which helps to simplify the installation or if you are going to use a splitter, choose the AMEC CAMINO-108S Class B AIS Transponder with integrated splitter.
Second, we are going use the NMEA output from the CAMINO-108 to provide data for the GX2000. We need to ensure that the baud rates are set correctly on the CAMINO and the GX2000. Use the AMEC AIS Configuration program that comes with the CAMINO and run it with the CAMINO connected to the USB port of your Windows-based computer. Go to the BAUD RATE tab and make sure the NMEA baud rate is set to 38400 baud. Also ensure that GPS data output is turned on. Hit the Config button to save the setting. The baud rate on the GX2000 should already be set to 38400.
Now we will connect the signal wires together. The two NMEA output wires from the CAMINO should be connected to the AIS input wires on the GX2000. This will supply the AIS and GPS NMEA data to the GX2000. That is:
- Connect the CAMINO NMEA positive output GRAY to the GX2000 YELLOW AIS positive input wire
- Connect the CAMINO NMEA negative output YELLOW to the GX2000 WHITE AIS negative wire
If you are using the optional antenna splitter then connect both the GX2000 radio and CAMINO-108 to the splitter and the splitter to your antenna cable. Be sure to connect the optional GPS antenna to the back of the CAMINO-108. Make sure power is connected to all devices and turn them all on. Generally for this setup I like to have all three devices on the same breaker.
There you have it. With this setup, you should now have:
- The AMEC CAMINO-108 running as a Class B transponder, an AIS receiver and a GPS receiver.
- The Standard Horizon GX2000 with both GPS and AIS data supplied by the CAMINO-108 which allows the GX2000 to:
- Display your GPS position and even use the GPS waypoint functionality
- Display other AIS vessels using its mini-AIS display
- Ability to set AIS alarms for collision avoidance based on user-configurable CPA and TCPA settings.
- Have full DSC functionality which also uses the GPS input from the CAMINO.
- Have the ability to call other AIS vessels by simply selecting them on the AIS display and hitting the call button.
One of the many benefits of this setup is reduced power consumption. In most cases you will always want to have a VHF radio on and the transponder is useful to have on all the time. Knowing where you are and where you are going is also helpful. You can accomplish all of this with these devices while consuming less power than having a chartplotter or computer running all the time.