162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

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162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Hi All,
Here is a description of how you can all use the 162 MHz Marine Tracking stations around Australia to help you with current propagation conditions.

1. First of all, navagate to http://www.marinetraffic.com

2. Click on 'Live Map', zoom in till you have Australia and New Zealand on screen for starters. Like this :
AIS1.JPG
AIS1


You can see the square green boxes on screen. These boxes are areas where ship signals have been received from in the past hour. The number in the top left corner of each green box indicates the number of ships located in the area of the green box.
The full map view like this is a handy guide to current paths around Australia. If there is a potential path to New Zealand, you will find that the green squares will extend from Australia to New Zealand or close to it. You will soon get the idea of when conditions are up. Under poor or normal conditions you will only find the green squares skirting the coastlines of each country. When conditions pick up, you will find the squares will start extending away from the coastlines as the RX stations begin spotting ships further away.
Look for other areas of propagation like Adelaide or Mt Gambier/Melbourne across to Albany. You can see on the map attached there is a lot of space with no green squares across the Bight path, when conditions are good the squares will bridge right across.
Similarly for Perth paths north to Indonesia or VK4 paths to New Calediona or New Zealand and beyond.

3. To concentrate on a particular path, we can get further informaion by clicking on a Green Square of interest to you. This then opens the map up like this -
ais2.JPG
AIS2


Also note on the above map, I have clicked the box over the left to make visible the RX stations, you can see the little antennas on the map. So on this map you can see all the stations and vessels being heard in this particular location and zoom position.

4. You will get used to what stations are where, but in this following image, I have clicked on the antenna for Station 183, which happens to be VK7JH -
AIS3.JPG
AIS3


This shows a brief summary of that stations info and data, most importantly showing "Reception Distance in Nautical Miles" in this case 358.7 nM. Which is quite good and conditions are up.

BREAK - I will post this now so I dont lose it all, will be further posts to follow.
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:32 pm

Continued-

5. From this point we have a number of options to further scope the propagation from each station. (Forgot to mention one thing, in the boxes to the left I also have show ship names ticked, which shows the ship names next to them on the screen). What you can do, particularly if you see a ship on screen thats in a position that doesn't usually get covered except under exceptional conditions, is you can click on that ship to bring up a summary of information about that ship and who has last spotted it -
ais4.JPG
AIS4


So in the image above, we can see I have clicked on a ship near the VK2 / VK3 border, we can see that station 183 was the last station to spot this ship 2 mins ago and below this it tells us its from VK7JH, whom we know from previous information is located near Burnie, Tasmania, quite a good distance. After you have watched Marine Traffic for a while u will see that VK7JH normall wouldn't hear over 100 nM, and thus you will know that the conditions must be up quite a bit.

6. The other option you can use to gauge a certain stations coverage and other information is to click onto that stations antenna, bring up the summary, then click on the option of "Details & Statistics". This will then bring up a screen that looks like this -
AIS5.JPG
AIS5


Here you can see all information for Station 183, Burnie Tas, VK7JH. Station details and Current Status, plus very informative graphs.
Firstly if you see the stations STATUS is ONLINE, this means they have received one or more signals in the past 15 mins. If no signals have been heard this will then say OFFLINE, but be coloured ORANGE, then after 30 mins it will colour RED OFFLINE. Now just because the status is OFFLINE doesn't mean the station has been switched off. While this could be the case, it usually means the station has not heard any ships for over 15 or 30 mins.
Again and probably most important to take note of is the Reception distance, this is for the past hour. So in the above image we see VK7JH has heard (logged) his furthest signals out to 358.7 nM.
Looking across at the graphs. The left side graphs provide information from the past two days. The right side are graphs from when the station first registered. The top left graph of distance over the past 2 days is handy for a visual of if the conditions are currently up or down (slight delay on graph updates btw). So on that graph we can see VK7JH station may have been switched of for a few hours at the start of the graph, then switched on a saw an afternoon depression in signals which has slowly risen ever since, a sharp peak around 0300 utc, a little strange and could be sporadic E, and after the signals have kept slowly rising with the strengthening tropo gradient.
Just to give another good example of where you can clearly see if conditions are up or down, here is Phil VK5AKK's statistics page -
AIS6.JPG
AIS6


Now we know that Phil had some good propagation to the west this past week, we'll here you can see how severly depressed the tropo condtions are now at Phil's QTH. You can clearly see in the 2 day distance graph that he had paths to near 1000 nM until around 1600 UTC prior. And since then his signal range has plummeted to a mere 64 nM.

Break - To be continued on next post.
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:48 pm

7. Now back to VK7JH, if we click on the link to the left of his stats page which reads "All Recent Receptions (last 3 hours)" this is what we get -
AIS7.JPG
AIS7


In the above image we can see all of the vessel positions of which VK7JH has logged with Marine Traffic dot com in the past 3 hours. This gives us an excellent visual view on the propagation conditions from VK7JH's location. For some further information on the colours of the spots; the GREEN spots are spots from CLASS A transponders (12W); the RED spots are from CLASS B transponders (2W). The YELLOW spots are from shore based stations such as at Lighthouses and Maritime safety stations.

I think this is about all you need to know about how to use the Marine Traffic Website to help you seek out paths or gauge how good or bad the conditions may be in different areas. You can apply what I have shown here for other stations all around the country or the world. Just make sure you have the box ticked for show Stations, to the left of the Marine Traffic map and as you navigate the map around the country you can select other stations and view their particular stats and spots pages.

I will add another quick reference page shortly where I will list links to many of the stations around the coasts of Australia, so that you can bring up there stats pages very easily all from the one location. Many of the stations are run by licenced Amateurs also.

** I should stress with this, that the info available for each station is only what has been uploaded for each station. Only 1 station can upload each signal for each ship. So if 5 stations all hear the same signal, the one that gets the info to the server first is the only one that logs it.**
Last edited by VK2KRR on Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Leigh VK2KRR
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:46 pm

Quick reference list of Marine Tracking RX stations around Australia -
viewtopic.php?f=47&t=10482&p=23653#p23653
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK7HDX » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:38 am

Thank you Leigh.
73...Karl
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:51 pm

No problems Karl, hope you can put it to good use.

Just out of interest, here is a view of VK7JH's stats page with very short distance signals, which indicates how poor the conditions are currently. And as we saw from the inital posting, VK7JH had signals over 300 nautical miles. In the screen shot below, we can see that VK7JH has had signal range only below 100 nautical miles for the past 2 days or more. So we know when we check back and see VK7JH's stats up at 2 or 300 plus nM that condx are up a bit.

VK7JH low sigs.JPG
VK7JH Low Sigs
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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:02 pm

A little bit of an update for those trying to put the AIS Marine tracking to use as an indicator.
If you want to quickly gauge conditions around the whole Australian region, particularly your own area. Here is what you can do -

1. Bring up any Marine Traffic.com link. For this example I'll go to Russell VK3ZQB's http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/statio ... eader=true
In the screen image below I have circled the LIVE MAP tab. Click on that tab.
livemaptab.JPG
Live map tab


2. Once the live map is open, you can zoom/move screen till you have your general area up, or the whole of Australia as pictured below.
On this map, when zoomed out far enough will show green squares where ships are being heard.
QuietMarineTrafficmap.JPG
Quiet map


You will notice on the map above that most of the green squares surround the coastlines (Except NW Australia). This is a reasonably standard map when it comes to propagation conditions.

If you are looking for paths anywhere across water, such as Australian east coast to New Zealand/New Caledonia etc. When the conditions pick up, in most cases, if you observe this map the green squares will begin to show AWAY from the coastline (the coastline squares will also remain). You can observe what I mean in the map above, where in NW Australia you can see the squares basically connecting from Australia to Indonesia. So as an east coast example, you will see squares extending out from the coastline and reaching to New Caledonia or New Zealand.
In the Bight Path case the squares populate parts of the Bight area.

In the image below I have zoomed in a bit more on the east coast paths. This is a fairly non DX map. When conditions pick up extra square boxes will begin to appear in the area I've coloured in green. In some cases the boxes will show up right the way across particular paths under the right conditions.
GoneGreen.JPG
East Coast Paths

In most cases there is usually ships scattered around most areas, but the availability of ships in particular areas is obviously a factor, but in most cases there is usually plenty around to get a good idea of what is happening.

If you do come across a square showing in the middle of the Tasman sea for example and want to know who has observed that path, just left click once on the square and it will zoom in on that square and show the ships. Left click again on one of the ships and in the information box that pops up it will show you who the last receive station was and what time it was last heard.
If there is no identifying information for the receive station only the station number, you can look up details for that number here - http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/datash ... e=STATIONS

I must add that I have seen cases which would appear to be elevated tropo paths where ships signals were not heard, across the Tasman for example, but Amateur Radio stations on 2m have gotten through when good paths have been expected from other indicators or predictions. So dont let AIS be your be all and end all of propagation indicators. Combine as many resources and indicators as possible to get the best results.

Hope this helps.
Leigh VK2KRR
The Rock Hill, NSW

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Re: 162 MHz Marine Tracking - How to use as indicator

Postby VK2KRR » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:20 pm

Here is a great map from this evening, compare this to the one in the previous post. Remeber how I mentioned the green blocks would extend away from the coast.. well here you go :arrow:
There is currently a high probability of paths to FK8 and northern ZL.

across sea hookup.JPG
VK - ZL FK8 hook up
Leigh VK2KRR
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