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Vesper Cortex VHF / AIS North American model Sale

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
We deciding to install a Vesper Cortex. Murphy's law dictates it will now go on sale which of course happened. Hopefully some other Ericson owners can take advantage:


From what I understand, Garmin bought Vesper and they are consolidating their product offerings. Vesper used to offer a North American unit and a world wide unit, but Garmin is now clearing out the North American units. The only difference is the cellular modem. Since I don't plan on leaving North America with my boat, the North American Unit works well and it saved me $400 when I purchased it. it's now $700 less than the world version. The Cortex is an AIS transponder, AIS Receiver, VHF radio, VHF splitter, remote alarming unit, anchor watch, instrument WIFI server, and NMEA 2000 to NMEA 0183 converter. Not a bad deal if you're looking to upgrade any one of these systems. I haven't fully installed mine yet, but so far it seems to be a great unit.
 

vanilladuck

E32-3 / San Francisco
Blogs Author
I was just about to start a thread about AIS transponders. I've been looking at the Vesper Cortex M1 (same as the V1 without the handset). I already have a VHF radio onboard.

Is there no difference in the AIS capabilities between the NA and Global versions? (just the cell/LTE modem as you mention)
 

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
That's my understanding and experience so far. I have a cell modem on the boat and I don't plan to go outside North America, so I'm not concerned about the difference.
 

william.haas

1990 Ericson 28-2
Hi Nick (and the collective). I too have been looking to add AIS this off season - a late night research project that was started nearly two years ago. I had looked into the Vesper (sans VHF as well) because of the additional functionality and opportunities for future expansion. I have also looked into the Raymarine AIS700 and the Garmin AIS800. The difference between those two mostly being that the Garmin unit supposedly will often function without the external GPS while the Raymarine unit does not have an internal GPS chip.

I am curious what the initial thoughts are on the Vesper unit and if others have perspective on this topic.
 

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
I should probably reserve judgement until after I have some time to use it. This was the state of my install as of a few days ago:
20240204_125934 (1).jpg

I'm making the install much more difficult than it needs to be by taking the time to redo my NMEA 2000 network and fix a few other wiring projects I rushed during their initial install. I still need to connect it to my cell router and install the GPS antenna. The unit has an internal cell antenna and a port for an external antenna, but I don't want a ton of antennas hanging off the back of the boat. Programming the unit occurs when the cell network is connected to the Garmin cloud so I don't have the AIS function working yet.

All that said, the unit is promising and the North American versions they're clearing out make it only a few hundred dollars more than all the other units on the market. It's only a little more than the base M1 without the handset, so I'm a strong advocate for purchasing the North American unit and using it as your primary VHF. Construction is very well done and the manual and support from Garmin has been great so far.
The Cortex does require it's own GPS antenna. I think I read that is a requirement of AIS. I'm using it as on opportunity to upgrade my antenna to the chart plotter, but I need to get the Ray marine NMEA 0183 cable before I can verify it will work. I don't have any experience with other AIS units, so I'm not very helpful comparing it to others.

I just checked again and Hodges lowered the north American model to $914 today!
 

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
Correction. Looks like the North American V1 units are sold out and the $914 is for the M1 (non handset) version
 

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
It looks like you may still be able to get the V1 North American version here for $1,185 that's $165 less than the world wide non handset version of the M1.

 

southofvictor

Member III
Blogs Author
Hi Nick (and the collective). I too have been looking to add AIS this off season - a late night research project that was started nearly two years ago. I had looked into the Vesper (sans VHF as well) because of the additional functionality and opportunities for future expansion. I have also looked into the Raymarine AIS700 and the Garmin AIS800. The difference between those two mostly being that the Garmin unit supposedly will often function without the external GPS while the Raymarine unit does not have an internal GPS chip.

I am curious what the initial thoughts are on the Vesper unit and if others have perspective on this topic.
I have an older Garmin system and thought briefly about Vesper but decided I do t want to replace my existing VHF. I was thinking Garmin 800 but this was recommended to me as an alternative. Supposedly will plug into Garmin system via VHF and N2K and has way more functionality than the Garmin 800. Is anyone familiar with this unit or Em-trak in general?

 

vanilladuck

E32-3 / San Francisco
Blogs Author
I have an older Garmin system and thought briefly about Vesper but decided I do t want to replace my existing VHF. I was thinking Garmin 800 but this was recommended to me as an alternative. Supposedly will plug into Garmin system via VHF and N2K and has way more functionality than the Garmin 800. Is anyone familiar with this unit or Em-trak in general?


I haven't heard of the Em-trak device before, but I noticed it uses CSTDMA. The Vesper/Cortex unit uses SOTDMA. So, what's the difference?

tl;dr - Class B SOTDMA transmissions have higher effective priority over CSTDMA transmissions.

If you want to geek out a bit: This has to do with how the device finds "free slots" (i.e. dead air to transmit). SOTDMA is the same transmission protocol as Class A commercial transponders, but authorized for pleasure boats. More here: https://www.easyais.com/en/news/technical-news/ais-know-how-data-transfer-sotdma-vs-cstdma/

The number of features along with SOTDMA still has me leaning towards the Cortex M1 hub
 

southofvictor

Member III
Blogs Author
That’s good to know. It looks like Em-trak’s range includes both CS and SO transmitters, but i didn’t even know that was a thing. Of course their SO transmitters start getting up their in the Vesper Cortex price range. Thanks for sharing!
 

Nick J

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Blogs Author
Looks good! I like that you were able to keep the shelf and still have a good area to mount wiring terminals. How was your setup process through Garmin and the retailer you purchased from? Are you using the internal splitter with a single antenna or do you have a dedicated AIS antenna? It will be good to compare your experience as we get a chance to use the devices.
 

vanilladuck

E32-3 / San Francisco
Blogs Author
Looks good! I like that you were able to keep the shelf and still have a good area to mount wiring terminals. How was your setup process through Garmin and the retailer you purchased from? Are you using the internal splitter with a single antenna or do you have a dedicated AIS antenna? It will be good to compare your experience as we get a chance to use the devices.

I bought through Hodges Marine, https://www.hodgesmarine.com/ -- the experience was completely painless. Fill out their PDF form, emailed it. Got a confirmation the next day. And a couple days later the transponder arrived programmed with the boat's MMSI. The rest of the configuration was still stock, so I could set everything up.

I only configured the basic AIS transponder functionality. I haven't played with the collision alarms, WiFi, or other goodies.

I'm using the internal splitter with a masthead VHF antenna and Standard Horizon GX6000 radio. The unit comes with a dedicated mushroom-style GPS antenna (Class B AIS SO-TDMA transponders are required by international regulations to use their own GPS). Yet another cable to run, but it was easy to hookup.

We went on a little cruise out from Pt. Richmond to Encinal Yacht Club weekend before last. I was having trouble hearing them over the VHF radio, but they picked me up on AIS. Yay technology \o/
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
I purchased and installed the Garmin/Vesper M1 Cortex (no handset). I tucked it under the shelf at the nav station close to the radio:

View attachment 49559
I put my AIS (same one) in that place too. But my VHF is hanging above the upper shelf, so I was able to stick a 9" B&G chart plotter where your VHF is without impacting the AIS, and back just far enough not to obstruct the nav table lid.
 
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