How to check if my AIS is transmitting?

This is a very valid question. Especially if you have spent a few hours installing the transponder then knowing that it is working OK is very important. Using the proAIS2 configuration software allows you to see if the GPS position is OK. You can monitor the AIS reception of other vessels. As well as ensure that there are no errors or alarms. However, if you are new to AIS, there is always that nagging doubt as to whether other vessels are seeing you.

The best test of a Class B transponder is to ask someone else in your marina, who has AIS, to check that they are receiving you on their system. If your vessel is stationary, then a transponder will only transmit every 3 minutes. This increases to every 30 seconds when your speed over the ground (SOG) is greater than 2 knots. Therefore, do allow some time for them to detect you. Also when they first receive your transmission, the only data they will see is your position, speed, course and MMSI number. It can take up to 6 minutes to receive your “Static Data” (boat name, call sign, vessel type, dimensions, etc.). This is normal and is the way the AIS system regulates the amount of data being transmitted.

The other increasingly common method of testing an AIS transponder is to look on one of the online “live” AIS websites and the most popular of the free services is

However, it is important for you to be aware of the limitations of these online sites. As a result, do not assume that you will always be picked up by them. Each of the different online services are only as good as their network of AIS receiving stations. In many cases enthusiasts/volunteers operate these. In some areas the coverage is great but there are definitely “holes” in coverage.