An AIS transponder receives and translates the AIS digital radio signals. It also sends AIS signals, making your vessel visible to others with AIS equipment. There are two types of transponders, Class A intended for SOLAS vessels and Class B for fitting on non-SOLAS category vessels. AIS transponders are sometimes referred to as transceivers in the marine industry.
An AIS receiver operates in the same way as transponder but is a receive only device. If your vessel has a receiver you are able to view vessels in your area but other vessels will not see you on their AIS equipment.
An AIS display interfaces with either a transponder or receiver to display the AIS radio signals in a useable format. A dedicated AIS display is very useful to allow critical safety information to always be available at a glance and can include features that aren’t normally found in plotters or computer programs. If the transponder or receiver is WiFi enabled, you are able to use your smartphone, tablet or computer as an AIS display.
A dedicated AIS aerial is used to pick up and transmit AIS signals only. A AIS/VHF splitter can be installed in order to share an existing VHF aerial between your VHF radio and AIS transponder or receiver.