Vesper’s AISWatchMate RX standalone AIS receiver and display

by Tim on December 9, 2009

I’m going to admit it: I don’t understand this product. If I’m a boater considering a receive-only AIS unit, why would I prefer this unit to one without a display, that just sends the data onward to be displayed on my chartplotter?

I’m not being a smart-aleck! Well, OK, I’m not JUST being a smart aleck. I assume Vesper Marine put a lot of thought into this product before they developed it, so they must feel confident there is a market for it. I’m hoping some of my talented readers can help fill me in.

Anyway…on with the press release!

 WatchMate-RX HR PRG

Vesper Marine, a leading manufacturer of innovative marine safety products, announced today its next-generation, all-in-one dedicated collision avoidance display, the AISWatchMate RX. Building on the success of its award-winning AISWatchMate that can be used with any external receiver or transponder, the AISWatchMate RX is the only standalone safety display system on the market with an internal parallel two-channel Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, providing unequalled sensitivity for identifying targets at greater range. Feature-rich, affordable and easy-to-use, the AISWatchMate RX proactively alerts boaters of potentially dangerous crossing situations to improve safety and provide a more worry-free, on-the-water experience.

Designed to equip boaters with the ultimate in collision avoidance peace of mind, the AISWatchMate RX delivers the timely and easy-to-process information boaters need to interpret potential hazards, and react accordingly. The device displays 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 is capable of tracking other friends on the water. Building on the AISWatchMate’s unique filtering process that eliminates screen clutter and false alarms, the AISWatchMate RX includes additional filtering capable of removing non-converging vessels and employs a powerful proprietary target prioritization algorithm allowing it to plot crossing situations and clearly illustrate target vessels that pose the greatest collision risk. Once identified, the system automatically displays crucial target information for potentially 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, to best meet their current situational needs including: in harbor, near shore and offshore. In addition, the AISWatchMate RX displays GPS navigational data including course, speed, heading and satellite status, expanding the device’s functionality as a second-station GPS display at the helm or anywhere else throughout a vessel where critical information is required.

“Our AISWatchMate RX is an exciting addition to our AISWatchMate product line, offering a sophisticated collision avoidance system in a simple and easy to install package,” said Jeff Robbins, co-founder, Vesper Marine. “Gone are the days of complex set up and concerns over proper operation. By eliminating the need for a separate black box receiver, users simply plug in a VHF antenna and connect the unit to a GPS device and they’re up and running. Whether making passage or simply spending the day in a busy harbor or coastal area, boaters can enjoy their time on the water with the knowledge that the AISWatchMate RX is always on watch!”

The AISWatchMate RX receives on both AIS frequencies simultaneously from all broadcasting vessels in range, and has a reception sensitivity of -115 dBm. Housed in a flush mountable casing that is 8.9-inches wide, 5.3-inches high and 3-inches deep, the device boasts 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. Minimizing energy consumption, the low-power system features a 10-32 VDC power supply and uses less than 3-watts of power. The AISWatchMate RX has an operating temperature range of 32- to 158-degrees Fahrenheit, is waterproof to the IP67 standard and protected by a one-year limited warranty.

Pricing and Availability:
The Vesper Marine AISWatchMate RX has a suggested retail price of US $700, and can be purchased from authorized Vesper Marine dealers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on the AISWatchMate RX, the award-winning AISWatchMate, or to learn more about Vesper Marine and its entire product line, please visit

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Hallock December 9, 2009 at 11:47 am


Yes, I am afraid that I would have to agree with you on this product.

I would much rather have a small black box type receiver vs. another display to try and find some room on the dash for. Real estate on cruisers helm is at a premium. However those without chart plotters or units that don’t understand the whole AIS layer, I guess I can see having the separate display.

But with the costs so close to a full transceiver black box, I would think that most people even thinking about AIS would have a full size chart plotter already.

With the advent of the Standard Horizon GX2100 product release, that can interface into the chart plotter and has a small screen at half the price that option might be better solution, plus you have a VHF radio as well.

While I boat on inland lakes, AIS isn’t that important to me at this time, however I plan to take it to the ICWs and the rivers, so AIS would be a good thing, but with the choice to purchase a new VHF radio with AIS receive only for about 1/2 the price of a full transceiver it might be a good solution as 95% of the time the boat will be on the lake I won’t show anything on the screen anyway.



Bob December 9, 2009 at 6:48 pm

I could see it but not at that price. The world is awash in plotters that won’t display AIS data, my boat included. So my options have been to carry along a notebook PC w/ an AIS black box & nav software or upgrade my perfectly fine but dated 10″ MFD and add a black box or . . . this?

The SH radio with AIS kind of changes everything because its cheaper and simplifies communicating with one of the targets.

I would pay $200 – $250 for it tops


Steven Gloor December 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Hi Tim:

In the interest of full disclosure let it be known that I am the distributor for this product in North America.

I would like to address your introduction to the press release with a comment sent to us by one of our customers, currently on a single handed passage from Hilo to San Diego:

” The most important change has been the addition of an AIS system. The Vesper Marine Watchmate RX is no less than magical. The second day out I got my introduction as I had three targets on the AIS at once, two of which came within three miles, one never came over the horizon. None of these caused an alarm, which is set at a two mile CPA for offshore. I continued to “see” traffic on the AIS and grew to appreciate the design work that must have included some with offshore sailing experience. When there are no targets the display waits a minute or so and simply goes blank. This is perfect for when you are laying in the bunk at night. If the display is on there is traffic in your area, if dark you’re safe to sleep. As the second cold front of the trip passed, at 0200, the wind in the rigging woke me. After I got things reefed down I noticed that the screen on the AIS had turned on. The bulk carrier SD Progresss out of China en route to Panama was 22 miles away, but the bad news was our closest point of approach was 0.15 miles! Since I had plenty of time to deal with it I just sat and watched. The weather outside was pretty thick, about two miles visibility. The alarm went off as it was supposed to when we were 20 minutes apart, it’s 95db, loud enough to wake a tired sailor. Fifteen minutes later I was within two miles of THE spot, and I could finally see Progress, and yup we would have been real close. I simply stalled the sails for 10 minutes while the big guy passed about 3/4 of a mile safely in front of me.”

This comment highlights some of the key differences which set the AIS WatchMate RX apart from any other AIS system: dedicated to AIS, simple to use (no need to try and find the user manual at 2am), alarm profiles, filters, low power consumption, easy to install and on top of this it will also output AIS data to any other navigation systems installed. I’d be happy to address any other questions your readers might have.

Best regards,

Steven Gloor


Don July 12, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Typical yuppie response from the reviewer.
I can just imagine his high windage, high maintenance, pre-depression yacht with all it’s mix-masters,widgets, et al.
Oh so pre depression and the new reality.
That sort of …too much is never enough mindset.

Personally, I want something slim,focused, with a low power draw, good alarms, uncluttered, simple (yet elegant way).

This product looks to fit the bill. Best of breed.
I’ll be buying one shortly (and with cash… not on credit).

I predict the economy will ripple thru even sailing tastes.



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: