Eye4Software Hydromagic

  Hydrographic Survey Software


Download free demo version



AIS (Automatic Identification System) plugin for Hydromagic

The automatic identification system (AIS) is an automatic tracking system that uses transceivers on ships and is used by vessel traffic services (VTS). When satellites receive AIS signatures, the term Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) is used. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport. Although technically and operationally distinct, the ADS-B system is analogous to AIS and performs a similar function for aircraft.

If your vessel is equipped with an AIS receiver or transceiver, it is possible to connect this device to your computer using a serial or Ethernet cable and project nearby vessels as an overlay on the chart display in Hydromagic. This functionality can be used in both Hydromagic Survey and Dredging.

AIS information is sent over the serial or Ethernet connection as NMEA 0183 sentences. The AIS plugin will decode the sentences and the user interface of the software will provide all details on a vessel. Vessels will be displayed as yellow or green arrows, depending on how much information is received about the vessel. To show a vessel's navigation details, right-click the vessel and select the "Show AIS information" menu item.

Vessel information received by AIS
Vessel information received by AIS. It will display vessel's name, position and navigation info.


Loading the AIS plugin for Hydromagic

To load this plugin, open the preferences window by selecting "Preferences..." from the "Options" menu. In the window that appears, select the "Devices" tab. Next click the "Add..." button.

the devices tab in the preferences dialog
Select the "Devices" tab in the "Preferences" dialog.

A list of available plugins will be displayed. In this list, select the "Hydromagic AIS Plugin" and click "OK" to load and display the configuration dialog.

select the Hydromagic AIS plugin
Select the "Hydromagic AIS plugin" from the list and click "OK".


Configuring the AIS plugin

Serial or Ethernet Communications

First you must configure the serial or Ethernet communication with the AIS receiver (or transceiver). This plugin supports incoming data over a serial port, Ethernet, or WiFi. For more information on this, please see the General information on using plugins document.


Testing the plugin configuration

AIS equipped vessels will be shown as map overlay in Hydromagic
AIS equipped vessels will be shown as map overlay in Hydromagic.

When data is received, you should be able to see the nearby vessels drawn as a map overlay (yellow and green arrows). If no data is displayed, you can check whether data is coming in by using the "Communications Monitor". The "Communications Monitor" can also be used to determine whether data is coming in correctly.

AIS NMEA 0183 sentences should be visible in Communications Monitor window
AIS NMEA 0183 sentences should be visible in "Communications Monitor" window.

Open the preferences window by selecting "Preferences..." from the "Options" menu. In the window that appears, select the "Devices" tab. Next select the "Hydromagic AIS Plugin" and click the "Monitor..." button. The communication monitor appears and should display incoming ASCII or NMEA 0183 sentences. If the monitor does not display any incoming data, the serial port or serial speed (default speed for AIS is 38400 bps, while 4800 bps is used for echo sounders.) setting might be incorrect.

When you encounter problems getting the serial port to receive data, we suggest you look at our YouTube tutorial on troubleshooting serial communications using the puTTY software (free software).


Unloading the AIS plugin

To unload the Hydromagic AIS plugin, open the preferences window by selecting "Preferences..." from the "Options" menu. In the window that appears, select the "Devices" tab. Next select the "Hydromagic AIS Plugin" and click the "Remove..." button.

Plugins can be unloaded using the Remove button
Plugins can be unloaded using the "Remove" button.