Welcome to em-trak support: A100
Our products are designed to be easy to install and easy to use. If however, you have a product question please look through our range of relevant support articles. If you are unable to find the answer please complete the form at the bottom of this page and one of our customer representatives will contact you within one (1) working day.
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[ + ] What type of AIS device is an A100?
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 vessels. Position is derived from GLONASS or GPS and communication between vessels is by Very High Frequency (VHF) digital transmissions.
The A100 is a Class A AIS device. Class A units are designed to be fitted to commercial vessels such as cargo ships and large passenger vessels. Class A transceivers transmit at a higher VHF signal power than class B transceivers and therefore can be received by more distant vessels, and also transmit more frequently. Class A transceivers are mandatory on all vessels over 300 gross tonnes on international voyages and certain types of passenger vessels under the SOLAS mandate
[ + ] Can I connect my A100 via NMEA0183?
Yes, you can. The A100 is supplied with a junction box that allows the user to connect a variety of external equipment/sensors/displays via NMEA0183.
[ + ] Can I connect my A100 by NMEA2000?
The A100 does not feature NMEA2000 connectivity, however NMEA0183 to NMEA2000 adaptors are available online from companies like www.actisense.com
[ + ] What do I do when something isn’t working?
We would recommend that you contact the retailer who supplied you with your A100 as they may be able to advise you of a way to resolve your problem without having to return the unit. If you have any questions about a problem, you can also contact us by using the support contact form on this website. If you do wish to return your unit for warranty repair, then please contact your retailer / supplier.
[ + ] Is the A100 waterproof?
The A100 is rated to IP52 standard which means it is designed with some resistance to dust and dripping water ingress
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/a100-waterproof/
[ + ] Can I connect my A100 to a PC/Laptop?
The A100 has an RS232 port on the back of the unit. This connection allows direct connection to a PC RS232 interface and can be used for installation, diagnostics or external display connection. If your PC/Laptop does not have an 9 pin RS232 port, then it is possible to purchase a serial to USB port adaptor from companies like www.easysync-ltd.com
[ + ] How do I reset my MMSI number?
Once the MMSI number has been set in your A100, you will only be able to delete/edit this number if you know the A100s password. If you have lost/forgotten your password, please contact em-trak support for advice.
[ + ] What is an MMSI number?
An MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identifier) is a nine digit number used to identify vessels and coast radio stations. The MMSI is similar to the phone number for the ships radio and can be used to place a radio call to a particular vessel. AIS systems also use MMSI numbers to identify vessels. With the exception of an AIS SART the same MMSI is used for all radio equipment on a vessel, so the AIS should be programmed with the same MMSI as the VHF radio.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/mmsi-number/
[ + ] How do I get an MMSI number?
Allocation of MMSI numbers is usually administered by a national maritime or radio authority. In the USA MMSI numbers for commercial vessels (or vessels making international voyages) are administered by the FCC. Recreational vessels can obtain an MMSI from BoatUS or Seatow.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/get-mmsi-number/
[ + ] Does the A100 receive Message 17?
The A100 Class A, AIS Transceiver will receive Message 17 data, provided it is in range of a base station outputting this information.
Message 17 is only transmitted by base stations and as such it is not transmitted by Class A devices.
The data contained in the message is used solely for correcting the location of the receiving unit (in this case the A100). This being the case, the received data is only used for the units own GPS receiver corrections. This (potentially) corrected information is then used in the receiving vessels A100 location.
It’s also worth mentioning that whilst Class A equipment standards dictate that a Class A cannot receive corrections from SBAS satellites directly, the unit can still receive and accept a differentially corrected signal by:
– Connecting a DGPS beacon receiver to the DGPS port of the junction box
– Connecting an external GPS receiver that either has a built in DGPS receiver or has the ability to receive SBAS corrections
This information can then be used by the A100 and also output (as required) via the units Pilot and Serial connections.
[ + ] Can I use an antenna splitter with my em-trak A100?
IMO regulations on the use of Class A AIS transceivers state that Class A units must be connected to their own VHF antenna and must not share a VHF antenna with other devices. This being the case, you must not use an antenna splitter to connect your A100 to an existing antenna system.
For help deciding which antenna is most suitable for you and advice what to do/what to avoid regarding installation, please search this support section for “What VHF antenna should I use?”
[ + ] What do the cables do?
The A100 is supplied with a 50 way data cable (with connectors) which connects the A100 to the Junction box supplied with the A100.
The A100 is also supplied with a power cable which has four wires. Two of these four wires are for carrying power supply to the A100 and the other 2 are for connection to a bridge alarm system. (Usually found on SOLAS vessels as standard) Providing these wires are connected to any such alarm system, cutting power to the A100 will cause the bridge alarm to be sounded, alerting the operator to the fact that the A100 is not operating.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/cables/
[ + ] How do I send a unit in for repair?
If you do wish to return your unit for warranty repair, then please contact your retailer / supplier who will be able to assist.
[ + ] Why can’t I see other vessels?
If you are happy that your A100 is installed and working correctly, but you are not receiving any targets, this may not necessarily indicate a fault. There could simply be a lack of active/visible AIS targets within range, or there may be an issue caused by your choice or location of antenna. If there is a fault with the A100, then the built in self diagnostics will alert you to any problems with the system.
[ + ] My A100 isn’t transmitting.
The best way to confirm whether or not your A100 is transmitting information is to ask another AIS equipped vessel (within the near vicinity) if they can see your AIS information on their own display. Relying on AIS websites to confirm if your vessel is working or not will not always give a clear indication if this is the case as most websites do not show real-time AIS information.
You can also check the A100’s display to see if the “TX” indicator appears periodically. Remember, the A100 (like all AIS devices) does not transmit permanently, hence why the “TX” symbol is not always shown.
[ + ] How often is my position reported?
The A100 will send its information at varying intervals, depending on a number of factors related to a vessels status and its speed.
When a Class A equipped vessel is at anchor and moving slower than 3 knots, it will transmit once every three minutes. When the same vessel moves faster than 3 knots, it will automatically recognise that it needs to (transmit) its information more frequently and will increase the number of times it sends its position information to as often as once every two seconds, without the need for the user/operator to make any changes.
[ + ] Position Sensor Fallback for the em-trak A100
Please see below for a table detailing the Position sensor fall back conditions for the A100 Class A AIS Transceivers.
[ + ] How do I know my A100 is working properly?
The A100 has a clear and simple to use display that will alert the user to any problems with the A100 AIS system through a series of alarms that are displayed on the screen. These alarms are also output to any displays connected to the NMEA/RS232 connections on the A100. The display will also show details of any received information from other vessels and will also indicate when it transmits.
[ + ] Why can’t I get GPS reception?
The screen of your A100 will confirm whether or not you are receiving a GPS signal. You can also see how many individual GPS satellites your A100 can see by going into the “Diagnostics” menu of the A100. Provided you have a suitable and serviceable GPS antenna connected, lack of GPS signal can be caused by factors such as installation location or even environmental factors.
The best rule of thumb to remember is that the GPS antenna should be mounted as high as possible (do not mount on the top of a high mast though as the motion of the vessel will cause the antenna to swing and potentially reduce the accuracy of the GPS position), with a clear view of the sky above and out of the direct path of RADAR or satellite communication antennas.
[ + ] What are the typical ADC and VSWR values (for fault finding)?
The following figures relate to typical values seen in the diagnostics screen of the display on an em-trak A100 Class A unit working in high-power (ie 12.5W). These figures reflect what you ought to see when a unit is connected to a suitable VHF antenna, GPS Antenna and PC Comm Port.
Diagnostic Values on the Unit:
Internal GPS Status: GPS Locked
ADC & VSWR Menu:
Ch0 – Needs to be over 100 (typically around 140-150)
Ch1 – Needs to be under 50 (typically around 20)
Ch2 RSSI Rx1 – About 50 (can typically vary between low 40s to mid 60s)
Ch3 RSSI Rx2 – About 50 “ “
Ch4 RSSI Rx3 – About 50 “ “
Ch5 ADC Channel 5 – Below 70
Ch6 6v8 Supply – About 06.8
Ch7 13v8 Supply – About 13.8
VSWR Last Transmission: (typically see values around 1.25:1 / 1.15:1 on a “healthy” antenna setup)
TX power level: High (if in high power mode)
Forward Power – Typically around 220
Reverse Power – Typically around 15
If you see anything outside of these values, then please contact the support team for advice on how to proceed.
[ + ] How do I program the A100?
The A100 can be programmed either by entering information directly via the controls on the front of the unit itself, or alternatively you can connect the A100 to a PC (via the RS232 port) and program the information using the configAIS software that is supplied on the CD that comes with the A100.
A copy of configAIS can also be downloaded below.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/program-a100/
[ + ] Do I have to install the GPS antenna supplied with my A100 if I already have an external GPS fitted to my vessel?
The A100 is supplied with its own GPS antenna and receiver (the receiver is built into the A100 itself and the antenna for this is supplied in each box), but it also has the ability to accept GPS information from an external GPS.
As a minimum though (and for regulatory reasons), the A100 must have it’s own GPS receiver running in order for it to work correctly. The external GPS connection is supplied in order to offer the unit a “fallback” position in the event that the signal accuracy of a GPS receiver dips below a certain level. It is not permitted for any Class A to rely solely on an external GPS position feed.
This being the case, you must ensure that you install and use the provided GPS antenna. If you would like additional information on the reasons for this, would like some advice on how and where to install the GPS antenna or would like to better understand how the unit GPS works, then please contact the em-trak support team for assistance.
[ + ] Why does my Heading Information appear blank even though my GPS is connected and working correctly?
In order to display and transmit heading information on any Class A device, you would need more than just a GPS fix for your vessel. COG and SOG (Course over Ground and Speed Over Ground) can be determined by GPS alone, but in order to ascertain the true heading of a vessel (i.e the way it is pointing at any time) then you would need to use a dedicated True Heading Sensor or Gyro Compass that is capable of outputting a HEHDT NMEA sentence containing this information.
If you connect a device that outputs a True Heading to the A100, then the heading will be displayed on your “Dynamic Data” screen of the unit and will also be transmitted as part of messages transmitted by the A100. GPS information alone (RMC sentences for example) is not sufficient to provide true heading information.
[ + ] Why is the VSWR alarm showing when I’m connected to my VHF antenna?
The VSWR alarm usually appears when the connected VHF antenna is not performing well. This could be caused by a faulty or loose connector and damaged or faulty cable. It can also be caused when a VHF antenna is mounted parallel to a metal surface or in proximity to a metal pole/too close to another antenna. In some instances, the antenna itself may also be faulty. In all instances, we would advise that if you see a VSWR alarm, you check all antenna cables and connections (starting from the back of the A100), all the way to the connected antenna and then check the antenna itself to make sure it is installed as per advice in the manual and is of a suitable type.
[ + ] How do I check if my display is AIS compatible?
Most modern Chartplotters made in recent years will be AIS compatible. Provided your Chartplotter/external display has an NMEA0183 connection of 38400 baud and also the ability to interpret AIS VDM messages (VDM messages are received from other vessels AIS devices), then it should be able to display other vessels AIS information. If in doubt about compatibility then please contact the em-trak support team for advice.
[ + ] Will my Chartplotter/Display AIS if I connect it to my A100?
Most modern Chartplotters made in recent years will be AIS compatible. Provided your Chartplotter/external display has an NMEA0183 connection of 38400 baud and also the ability to interpret AIS VDM messages (VDM messages are received from other vessels AIS devices), then it should be able to display other vessels AIS information.If in doubt about compatibility then please contact the em-trak support team for advice.
[ + ] What is the range of the A100?
There are many factors that will affect the range of the A100, not all of which are within the control of any installer. Things like atmospheric conditions and local geography, sea conditions etc. can all have an impact on the range of any radio based technology. In addition to these factors, thinks like choice of antenna and height/ location of installed antennas can also adversely affect the range of any device. Also, the strength and quality of an inbound signal will also mean that range from other vessels will be hard to reliably predict.
To better your chances as getting the best range performance, the user manual for the A100 lists all things that need to be taken into consideration as part of the installation process. Assuming though, that an A100 is connected to a suitable, well serviced and correctly installed antenna, in ideal line of site conditions, users can expect ranges of at least 25 miles, if not much more.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/range-a100/
[ + ] Where should I install my A100?
Please note the following guidelines when selecting an installation location for your A100 AIS transceiver:
● The A100 must be fitted in a location where it is at least 30cm (1ft) from a compass or any magnetic device.
● There should be adequate space around the A100 for routing of cables. See the user manual for additional details of the A100s dimensions.
● The ambient temperature around the A100 should be maintained between -15°C and +55° (5°F to 131°F). Ensure adequate ventilation is present when panel mounting the A100.
● The A100 should not be located in a flammable or hazardous atmosphere such as in an engine room or near to fuel tanks.
● The A100 must be installed in a ‘below decks’ environment protected from the weather.
● The A100 is supplied with four self-tapping screws for attachment to a suitable surface using the trunnion bracket. (Supplied in the box)
● The A100 is also supplied with panel mount clamps for flush mounting through an instrument panel. Access behind the panel is required when using this mounting option.
● A100 should be mounted in a location where the display is visible to the user at the position from which the vessel is normally operated.
● An AC power port should be available near to the pilot plug. A pilot plug is located on the front panel of the A100 and can also be relocated using the junction box.
Full Link: https://em-trak.com/support/install-a100/
[ + ] What VHF Antenna should I use with the em-trak A100?
The em-trak A100 Class A AIS Transceiver is not supplied as standard with a VHF antenna. There is no regulatory requirement to supply an approved antenna with the product. The MED certificate for the A100 product will list a recommended VHF antenna along with the remark ‘or equivalent’ allowing use of any similar antenna.
A standard marine VHF band antenna is recommended for use with the A100 Class A AIS transceiver. Use of narrow band AIS ‘tuned’ antenna is not recommended as these antennas are optimised at the standard AIS1 and AIS2 frequencies and may not give optimum performance when regional channel settings are used, or for DSC reception. AIS optimized ‘broadband’ antennas are suitable for use; these antennas typically have a wider bandwidth to give improved performance at the top end of the VHF band where AIS usually operates.
Please also remember that any antenna is only as good as the quality and standard of it’s installation on the vessel, so also consider the type of antenna mount you use, the location of the antenna in relation to any sources of interference or items that might affect its ability to transmit/receive signal and also the cables and connectors you use.
Additional advice on how to install AIS transceivers is given in the attached “IMO Circ 227” attached to this article.
Please see below for typical VHF antenna specification. If you have any doubt as to the suitability of your antenna system then please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] and we’ll be glad to help!
Typical VHF antenna specification:
Band: Marine VHF band (nominally 156MHz to 162MHz)
Impedance: 50 Ohms
VSWR: <1.5:1 at resonant frequency
Max power: Typically >25W
Bandwidth: Typically 6MHz
Cable: RG58 or better. Note the IMO recommend RG214 or better for SOLAS installations
Connector: PL-259 (sometimes called ‘UHF’)
- A100 User Manual (Francais)
- A100 User Manual (Deutsch)
- A100 User Manual (Nederlands)
- Quick operations Guide (Deutsch)
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