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Thread: NASA AIS Radar problem and firmware update

  1. #1
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    Default NASA AIS Radar problem and firmware update

    I have enjoyed the benefits of my NASA AIS receiver and display for several years. I especially enjoy the fact that it is a low AH user and that it is a stand alone device, needing only GPS input.

    I now have a problem. When the unit is powered up it displays nearby targets as it always has done. However, within a few minutes it "drops" these targets and shows a blank screen (no nearby targets). If I power it off/on it again or go to the threshold/sensitivity screen and then back to the radar screen it detects nearby targets again...but drops them after a few minutes.

    I have had a good email exchange with NASA and they are recommending that I buy and install a new firmware chip that promises to fix this "dropped target" problem and update the firmware to receive SART signals and make a few other improvements.

    My question: Has anyone else been down this path? Is the firmware chip easy to install? Any other thoughts?

    Thanks
    Last edited by Libations Too; 12-07-2015 at 05:42 PM.
    Richard
    Libations Too

  2. #2
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    I've had one of those since 2008 (thanks to Bob Johnson and his wife). Never had this problem. Sounds like a defect, to me, altho it's interesting that the manufacturer acknowledges the problem. I'm watching....

  3. #3
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    I installed mine in May of 2007 and it worked great until a year or two ago. I haven't done much ocean sailing since it started to have problems but decided that this is the year to either get it fixed or replace it. If I replace it I might be temped to put in an AIS transceiver...but the cost between a new firmware chip and a new transceiver is several hundred dollars at a minimum. So my preferred approach is to just fix the unit that I have now.

    The new firmware chip apparently includes "several enhancements including SART detection and a COG pointer". I'll follow with more information as I learn more.
    Richard
    Libations Too

  4. #4
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    Being Capt. Obvious, but did you play with the plug on the back? Mine wasn't very snug or protected and it sounds like it could be that kind of problem.

  5. #5
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    Bob, I did as much trouble shooting as I knew how to do: hooked my VHF up to my AIS antenna just to confirm that the antenna was working...all worked fine; cleaned all of the contact points and reconnected everything....still worked initially and then dropped the targets after a few minutes; ignored it for a while hoping it would fix itself....no luck; etc.

    My email correspondence with NASA gives me hope. While not stated explicitly, I got the impression that this is a problem that they have encountered in the past and one that the new firmware chip will address.

    I am waiting now for NASA to confirm shipping cost and then I'll probably order the new chip. One thing that I was not aware of in the past is the presumed fact that I can actually open up the NASA housing and access the "board" where the chip is installed. I asked NASA to confirm that this is possible; their website shows an image with the housing open.

    http://www.nasamarine.com/proddetail...DARUPGRADECHIP
    Richard
    Libations Too

  6. #6
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    Sounds good. Keep us posted - a bunch of SSS'ers have these.

  7. #7
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    RIchard, a long shot: Does the NASA have any internal battery, like a coin cell to keep a system state memory alive when powered down ? Did you change the gps signal that it receives, for example put in a new GPS ? Are your boat batteries topped off, or alternatively is the boats battery voltage above 12.00 volts ?
    Brian

  8. #8
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    Thanks Brian for your thoughts. As far as I know the NASA AIS Radar unit has no internal batteries...the owner's manual, my experience over the past 8 years, and NASA's service rep have not indicated any battery to check or maintain. The GPS unit is the same as I have used since installing the NASA unit, and my batteries are kept topped off with a solar panel. Besides all this, the unit does work normally when first powered up; it only fails after a few minutes of operation.
    Richard
    Libations Too

  9. #9
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    Perhaps just one of those "worms" that occur in electronics when a component heats up beyond its normal range? I've run into that problem with other equipment.
    At least, that seemed to be the problem....

  10. #10
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    Agreed. Heat would explain the delay in failure.

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