Vesper Marine Adds Powerful Class B AIS Transponder

Auckland, New Zealand — Vesper Marine, a leading manufacturer of innovative marine safety products, announced today its next-generation all-in-one dedicated collision avoidance display, the AISWatchMate® 850. A compact and self-contained device, the WatchMate 850 offers an easy-to-read display, simple to use button-driven menus, built-in GPS antenna, best-in-class AIS receiver, and powerful Class B AIS transponder. Designed to equip boaters with the ultimate in collision avoidance peace of mind, the WatchMate 850 transmits a boat’s name, size, position, speed and course over AIS channels while simultaneously displaying the timely and easy-to-process information boaters need to interpret potential hazards and react accordingly — providing a more worry-free, on-the-water experience.
The most intuitive and effective collision avoidance device ever built, the WatchMate 850 employs a unique filtering algorithm that eliminates screen clutter and false alarms. Based on a powerful proprietary target prioritization process that plots crossing situations and clearly illustrates target vessels that pose the greatest collision risk, the device provides boaters with a clear picture of potential hazards. The WatchMate also automatically displays crucial target information for dangerous vessels, including name and call sign, to aid in rapid inter-vessel communication. Selectable boating profiles allow users to easily switch between pre-defined filter and alarm settings, without complicated set up. Profiles include in harbor, near shore and offshore among others.
“The WatchMate 850 is a highly-sophisticated collision avoidance system and is the most powerful addition to our growing line of safety electronics,” said Jeff Robbins, co-founder, Vesper Marine. “Our new systems include all of the required technology in a simple, easy-to-install package — completely eliminating the need for a separate black box receiver or transceiver. Whether displaying all AIS targets in range or only the targets that pose a threat, boaters can enjoy their time on the water with the knowledge that their WatchMate 850 is always watching for potential danger and that their vessel is always visible to others!”
The WatchMate 850 offers the ultimate in collision avoidance functionality. Transmitting and receiving on both AIS frequencies simultaneously, to and from all listening and broadcasting vessels in range, the WatchMate 850 is feature-rich, affordable and easy-to-use. Features include a built-in GPS patch antenna that eliminates the need for an additional GPS antenna on vessels where the 850 has a view of the sky, the ability to send a mayday message over AIS, fleet functionality for quick identification and tracking of groups of vessels or friends, and an easy to access •silent mode’ allowing boaters to suspend transmission of their current position when looking for privacy or protecting fishing hotspots. Simple to install, the device is bracket or flush mountable, requires only power and connection to a VHF antenna, and features a waterproof USB port for easy connection to onboard or home computers. All WatchMate devices display Class A and Class B vessel position; voyage data; navigation aids; AIS safety messages; meteorological and hydrographical information (where available) including real-time wind, current and tidal data; and are capable of tracking friends on the water.
The WatchMate 850 measures 8.9-inches wide by 5.3-inches high and 3-inches deep, and incorporates an uncluttered, easy-to-read 5-inch daylight-viewable grayscale LCD (320×240 pixel) screen with adjustable backlighting. A straightforward user interface allows all display features to be controlled via four clearly—labeled, backlit buttons for easy access during both day and nighttime use. The low-power system uses less than 3-watts of power and features a 12-24 VDC power supply. The WatchMate 850 has an operating temperature range of -13 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit, is waterproof to the IPx7 standard and protected by a one-year limited warranty.
Enhancing the functionality of the WatchMate 850, as well as any other third-party AIS receiver or transponder, Vesper Marine has also introduced the new, cutting edge SP160 AIS VHF splitter, allowing the use of an existing antenna for both VHF Radio and AIS. Unlike splitters currently available on the market that introduce insertion loss degrading the performance of both AIS and VHF signals, Vesper’s innovative splitter increases AIS signal strength and range — a truly valuable feature in response to the growing popularity of 2W Class B AIS transponders. The SP160’s integrated amplifier increases signal strength by 12dB. When used with the WatchMate 850 its already industry-leading receiver sensitivity is further increased to a remarkable -119dBm. The Vesper Marine splitter also offers visual feedback with LED indicators for power, VHF and AIS TX signals, and a unique warning light that triggers if there is a problem with the antenna. Built in fail safes ensure VHF priority and maintain VHF signal integrity even if power to the splitter is cut. When used with the WatchMate 850 a visual indicator appears on the display whenever the VHF radio is in-use to indicate that AIS traffic updates are delayed. The SP160 uses standard VHF coaxial connections, provides an AM/FM connection, works in both 12 and 24-volt environments, and is also the only IPx7 waterproof AIS VHF splitter on the market.
Availability: Currently pending FCC approval, the AISWatchMate 850 and the SP160 products will have a suggested retail price of approximately US $1,100 and $250, respectively, and will be available through authorized Vesper Marine dealers throughout the United States and Canada. Anticipated availability is November 2010. For more information on the WatchMate 850, 750, and the award-winning WatchMate 670, or to learn more about Vesper Marine and its entire product line, please visit
By Professional Mariner Staff