If you plan to use non-MarineTraffic equipment for setting up your AIS-receiving Station, there are quite a few well-established manufacturers (Sirio, AC Antennas, Shakespeare, WiMo, Glomex etc) of marine VHF antennas to choose from.
We generally recommend a premium brand Omni-directional antenna which is a good all-around performer and it's easier to install. Make sure the antenna has (ideally) direct 360° line-of-sight view of the sea and it is not obstructed by any kind of structure and/or land formation.
Here are some general guidelines (applicable to both Yagi and Omni antennas):
- Choose an antenna model with more than 3dB of gain, centered at 162MHz, and a good brand RG-58 coax cable with good quality connectors.
- Make sure that the connectors are soldered properly to the coax cable and securely fastened to both the antenna and the receiver. You must also make sure they are in good shape (no signs of corrosion and/or water ingress).
- Try to minimize the cable length. A cable of the RG-58 type should perform well provided that the distance between the antenna and the AIS-Receiver is less than 10 metres. Anything above that would increase the signal attenuation exponentially and would require a cable of a better (and more expensive) type like the RG-213.
- Remember that the higher the antenna is mounted, the better reception range you can expect.
- Make sure the antenna is not placed in the direct path of the transmission lobe of any high power RF device such as DSC VHF radios, WiFi links and/or RADARs. Also, keep the coax cable away from any high power transmission line and/or mains transformer.