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The West Marine AIS1000 Review

The West Marine AIS1000 is a class-B AIS transceiver designed to display data on a compatible chartplotter, dedicated display, or on a PC with compatible software.

The AIS1000 ships with the transponder unit, a GPS antenna, a power and data cable, a BNC to VHF adapter cable, and a user manual. The user manual is thin and contained limited information.

west marine ais1000

West Marine AIS1000

The AIS1000 is housed in a brawny die cast aluminum case measuring 7.6-inches by 5.4-inches by 3.3-inches; it tips the scale at just under 51 ounces. It is designed to mount vertically on a bulkhead or horizontally on a deck. The box must be placed in an enclosed location as it is not rated waterproof. Case seals and rubber bushings surrounding in and outbound wiring and a gasket sealing the case top to the bottom offers some protection against water intrusion.

Four front mounted LED lights let you know that everything is operating correctly. A pushbutton above the lights lets you select silent mode operation. Turning silent mode on activates a status light and stops the AIS transmissions rendering the unit to a receive-only mode of operation.

Regulations mandate that an AIS unit capable of transmitting, meaning any Class A or B unit, must have a properly registered MMSI number installed. To facilitate this West Marine has AIS1000 buyers fill out a form online with required contact, MMSI, and vessel information. They then input this data into your AIS1000 before shipping to you.


Electrical connections to the AIS1000 are made by removing eight screws and lifting the case top. The transponder unit needs to be connected to a 12-volt DC power supply, its GPS sensor, a VHF antenna, and a NMEA0183-HS port on the designated display unit. A display unit could be a compatible chartplotter or a PC. We used a Raymarine A50D display for testing.

Installation is fairly straightforward. You mount the box, connect the power, and hook up the GPS sensor and VHF antenna. You’ll also need to make a data cable connection to your display of choice. You should be aware when connecting this or most any other AIS to a chartplotter it will need a high-speed NMEA port to work.

To connect to a PC you’d use the provided RS232 (serial port) connector. If you have a newer computer that lacks a built-in serial port you’d need to get a serial to USB adapter. Our test display, the Raymarine A50D, has two NMEA0183 ports that can be manually set to 38,400-baud for high-speed AIS communications. In this particular display you’ll also need to turn on the AIS data layer via a menu selection and configure the data port prior to use.

Sea Trial

To test the West Marine AIS1000 for functionality we mounted it temporarily on our powerboat test bed and used it extensively in our lab. A status icon lets you know its working. Triangular shaped icons are used to display sleeping targets onscreen; these are passing ships that are not a collision threat. We were able to display several ships simultaneously and according to the owner’s manual the AIS1000 can show up to 100 targets.

west marine ais1000

The West Marine AIS1000 with cover removed. Gasketing and bushings help prevent water intrusion.

Information on a particular ship target can be viewed onscreen by placing the cursor over the target. Doing so will bring up the target vessel’s course, heading, CPA, and TCPA in a small box onscreen. This data can also be selected to display at all times. A heading vector for each target can be display too. To get the full list of AIS data you’d press a soft key.

Alarms and safety zone settings in the AIS1000 provide collision avoidance. You can set a safety zone around your vessel in one of four steps from a distance of a tenth of a mile up to two miles. You can also set the time of closest approach in one of four settings from three to 24 minutes. Should another vessel breach this safety zone an alarm will occur.

We checked the AIS1000 output using the another AIS unit and found it transmitted stored data properly.

Final Thoughts

The West Marine AIS1000 performed well, however, we’d like to see it get a waterproof rating.