And do I need it ?
When you buy marine AIS receivers or multiplexers there is often the option to
‘Download a configuration GUI‘.
So what is a marine configuration GUI, and what does it do ?
On a very basic level GUI simply stands for ‘Graphical User Interface’ and most people will have used them to control their computer (For example when you point your mouse at a picture on a windows pc)
But a key advantage of using Marine GUI is that you will be able to set up your equipment in a way most suited to your boat.
All you do is just download the control file, install & run it on your pc – and then connect your pc or phone to the marine equipment (such as your AIS receiver or transponder).
In particular your GUI will be able to change 3 items:
- The Baud Rate
- The WiFi method
- Channel Hopping
Taking each one in turn:
1. Your Baud Rate
The baud rate is the rate at which information is transferred in a communication channel. For example in the serial port context, “9600 baud” means that the serial port is capable of transferring a maximum of 9600 bits per second.
Both your computer and the peripheral device must be configured to the same baud rate before you can successfully read or write data.
For most boats using marine equipment this means you need to configure your receiver so that it can receive the AIS data.
Most boats currently have marine equipment designed for NMEA 0183
The NMEA 0183 AIS signal is sent out at 38400 bits per second – which means you need to setup your receiver at the same rate (otherwise you will simply not receive a signal). It’s very much like someone whispering to you in the same language, and no one else can hear it.
2. The WiFi Method
The other side of your AIS receiver are your ‘outgoing’ messages i.e. the information going to your laptop, mobile phone, chart plotter, etc.
However an equally important element is deciding if you want to use Ad Hoc or Station Mode.
Using the GUI you will be able to quickly set this up – and most of the Quark-elec products can use both options.
Option 1 – Ad Hoc Mode ?
If you don’t have much equipment on your boat and want a very ‘quick & easy’ system then you will need to set your receiver to Ad Hoc mode.
Then all you need to do (in the same as if you connect to WiFi at home) is to use your computer, mobile phone, etc. and then scan, locate the receiver & connect.
Option 2 – Station Mode ?
On the other hand if you set your receiver to Station mode it will make a connection via a router and is ideal if you have a variety of different items of marine equipment on your boat.
When you use this method in your marine GUI you will have a number of options in the dropdown menu – such as your routers name, password, etc.
In most cases this is really easy to set up but ‘just in case’ you can always just download the ‘step by step’ manual from our site.
3. Channel Hopping
The final element in the GUI setup only affects a small number of marine equipment – namely ‘single channel’ receivers.
When a ship sends out AIS signals it will use 2 VHF radio frequencies.
A single channel receiver can only receive the information from one of these channels at a time. and will hop between the two AIS channels in turn (alternately).
And when a single AIS receiver hops between the two channels it can incur a loss of some parts of the message – for example not picking up the ships name. The advantage of the Marine GUI is that you can set the ‘hopping rate’ to best suit your circumstances.