The Panbo Forum

Return to Panbo Forum main page »


AIS - Furuno FA 50

Vote 0 Votes

I've been researching this whole AIS install and for sure will be going with a Furuno unit as that gives me the most options and integrates well with my Furuno system.

What's the practicality of putting an FA 50 on a 30' boat? I fish and cruise a lot in crowded and foggy waterways here in the northwest.

I love the thought of being able to see ships marking on my chart plotter and knowing course and speed. But then I got to thinking that I'm a heck of a lot harder to see for a big ship than vice versa and it might be a good idea to broadcast as well.

Reading the info on the FA 50 it's obvious that it's a more complicated install. If I read it correctly you need an additional GPS antenna as well as a VHF antenna. It also mentions having a 10m seperation of two VHF antenna's. Well that won't be possible so how important is that seperation?

Any thoughts appreciated.

10 Replies

  • Hi Jeff,

    The 10m separation isn't so important basically go for as far as you can reasonably get (side by side like 30cm will cause issues) but a meter or so you should be fine.

    Any main reason your looking at the FA-50 as it is one of the most expensive transponders (if not the most expensive)

    On most of the NN3D networking im using we use a 'standard' transponder going in the NMEA port on an MFD and a serial port to MaxSea in case the MFD's are off / fail.

  • Andy I was looking at the Furuno simply because of having Furuno. I see it's one of the more expensive units. Is there one you would recommend?

    It seems that most transponders are close to a $1,000. I've seen one by SeaTrace that's more reasonably priced as well as one by ACR.

    I was also looking at the fact that I could run a connection to the NN3D via ethernet and then output to the PC in NEMA as a fail safe in case the MFD failed. But now that I think about it your way suggested above would work just as well.

    I'm also assuming that serial port could also equal USB port if you don't have a serial port on your laptop.

  • I also found a unit by Shine Micro which is made right here locally that sells for $800 for the class b transponder. Heard anything about this unit?

  • Hi Jeff,

    Pretty much all the other AIS units (true heading, shine micro, easy ais, transas, raymarine, digital yacht, comar, Shine Micro, ACR to name a few are based around a PCB made by SRT in the UK.

    Hence they all offer the same performance etc so pretty much any of those options are good!

    i have used a UK brand version of the Shine Micro that is the digital yacht AIT250 and also the transas version of this and had no problems with it.

    Nice unit as it has a configurable switch for either turning off the TX or safety message.

    my opinion go for the cheapest one as they are all the same (some have different boxes) lol !!

  • I agree with Andy about basic AIS Class B performance. I've field tested seven of them now -- ACR, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Sevenstar, Furuno, Raymarine, and Simrad (AI50) -- and they all worked fine and seemed to transmit and receive equally as well. Another reason besides the SRT boards in six of those units is that transponders are built and tested to high specs.

    However, I have not yet tried a Class B with SRT's second generation technology inside. It's claimed to have improved receiver sensitivity. I also think that some of extra features, though expensive, are worth consideration. Like the dedicated display on the Simrad and the new Icom Class B. Like interfaces to same brand VHF radios for automated DSC calling to targets, offered by Icom, Simrad, & Garmin (and also possible by directing AIS 0183 output to the new Standard Horizon GX2000).

    I'm also quite keen on the transponders that offer alternative output via NMEA 2000 (Simrad, Raymarine, & Garmin). There have been some glitches due to the fact that some of the N2K AIS messages arrived late, but we're close to the point that one reliable connector can feed AIS to multiple displays and PCs. It also means that on many systems heading info is fed to the transponder without any fuss. Heading is optional, but it will make your own target orient itself properly when you're stopped.

  • Do all of the aforementioned AIS units allow you to shut off their transmission if you don't desire to broadcast your position?

    I was initially leaning towards Furuno or ICOM simply because that's the brand of equipment currently on my boat. In looking this am I see that the ICOM Class B transponder hasn't yet been released. I would assume it will have a somewhat hefty price tag.

    I also have to figure out where to hook up the NEMA input. At present I have used the available one's on my NN3D unit. One is utilized by my autopilot and the other by my ICOM for DSC output. Although at present that is a waste as Furuno doesn't have the DSC sentence available in NN3D. I could use that but I do want the functionality of the DSC sentence when Furuno does include in a software update.

    Can you use a multiplexer with AIS output? I've been researching but haven't run across it yet.

  • Hi Jeff,

    Yes you can use a multiplexer with the AIS output (i have always used the Actisense NDC-4) it will combine just fine.

    All the units have a switch or are capable of having a remote switch in the circuit to shut off the transmission.

    Are you using the data port one for a Furuno GPS ? if not this could be used...

    At present the Furuno does not read AIS over NMEA 2000 and from product line they wont be offering it for a while...


    I have a new digital yacht transponder on order and am looking forward to receiving it their 1st gen PCB was already very sensitive their class b pcb always gives me very good reception as it is!!

  • Oh yeah, another reason to like AIS over N2K ;-) Same brand transponder/MFDs with that two way connection -- Raymarine and Garmin, specifically -- will purportedly let you go in and out of Silent Mode from any MFD on the backbone. Both the Ray AIS 500 and the Garmin AIS 600 also come with wires for installing a silent mode switch, like Dan Gingras's beauty:

  • lol Ben, i will do a write up of the network on the vessel we have here (mainly to show you we do use nmea 2000 and it does have its place ;-) and im with Furuno on this one :-P )

  • Andy , yes I'm currently using Data 1 for my GPS. I have been contemplating installing Furuno's NEMA 2000 GPS and hooking it into my 2000 network at the radar. If I did that then it would free up Data port 1. Thanks for input about the Actisense multiplexer.

    I need to spend some time looking at the pluses and minuses to all this and figure out what system would work best for the best price.

    I started the whole 2000 network in an attempt to have a bit of redundancy with my system. So that in the event my MFD failed I could still get NEMA 2000 data to my Furuno FL 50 gauge for depth, speed etc and get GPS data to my PC for navigation.

    Ben, I really like the looks of that switch Dan made. I will keep something like that in mind as I plan to build a switch to to be silent when I so desire.