AIS/NMEA Router by Neal Arundale

Routes AIS and other NMEA sentences between Serial, UDP, TCP, USB, Internet, Log Files, TTY Display Windows

I would be pleased receive comments, suggestions or bugs
(See Contact Me).
 

AIS/NMEA Router Latest Version  

Overview
NmeaRouter routes NMEA sentences from a Source (for example an AIS Receiver Serial Port) to a Destination (for example a Local Network Ethernet).
A Source or a Destination is called a Connection.
Connections can be External to the PC (for example a Serial/USB or Network) or Internal (for example a File or a Display Window).
A Source is linked to a Destination by a Route (for example the data from an AIS Receiver being routed to an AIS Chart Display).
The program has been developed with AIS data in mind, AIS data is encapsulated within one type of NMEA sentence.
There are hundreds of different NMEA sentences of which AIS and GPS data are but two, so the Router should handle any data conforming to NMEA standards.

Get Started
After installation, when run you will see this window displayed (initially with no entries in the tables).



The Menu Bar has four options - File, Configure, View and Help.

1. Make a Connection to a data Source
Configure > Connection > New > Select the type of connection > Select Input.
 If data is currently being received (1>) from the Source you will see the data in the lower pane.
2.
Make a Connection to a Destination
Configure > Connection > New > Select the type of connection > Select Output.
3.
Make a Route between the Source and the Destination
Configure > Route > New > Select the Source and Destination added in steps 1 and 2.
If the Route has been added successfully you will see the data being output (<2) in the lower pane.

Connections

Connections may be Input, Output or both.
You can name the connection to your own name, but once named cannot rename it without deleting and re-creating the Connection
Not all options are applicable to all types of connection.
Connections may be disabled.

All Data input is Time Stamped as soon as it is received into NmeaRouter. The time stamp uses the UNIX time format which is defined as the number of seconds that have elapsed since midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), January 1, 1970. This is the same as the time stamp used by IEC 61162-1.

Data may optionally be output with the Time stamp, Source and Destination added. This is done in accordance with the IEC 61162-1 standard which is the standard for NMEA, AIS and GPS using the PC's UTC time, and the name you have given to the Source and Destination Connections.
Comment blocks are decoded by AisDecoder.
For example:
\c:1336737548,d:Data Input Log,s:SR162 Receiver*4A\!AIVDM,1,1,,A,33MUhl?00pOwQgfOAU;oJmqn0000,0*2A

Selecting Only NMEA will remove any data preceding the $ or ! on any NMEA sentence.  Any NMEA comment block (including the IEC 61162-1 comment block) will also be removed. It will also remove any proprietary time stamp information which may precede the NMEA sentence and is sometimes added by base stations.

If you tick neither output option, the data output to the destination will be the data that has been received at the source.

Ticking either box has no effect on any data being input (if any) on the connection.



If you enter an MMSI in OwnShip MMSI any AIS sentence from this MMSI will be changed from AIVDM to AIVDO.
This will be interpreted by chart plotters as being your own vessel. In addition the last position sentence received will be repeated every 2 seconds for 2 minutes, or until another position report for you vessel is received. This has the effect of "spoofing" your own vessel when a PC does not have a direct connection to the vessel's own network data. This only affects data being sent to an Output Destination. 

UDP/TCP
A TCP/IP Network or Internet Connection
Options vary dependent on UDP or TCP and if TCP whether the Connection is acting as a Client or a Server.
To setup for Data Streamed over the internet use TCP Client - for an example try hd-sf.com IP 207.7.148.21 Port 9009 (see image below)
Multi-Client TCP connections are now handled. You must set the maximum concurrent connections you will allow to the same port.
Serial
A connection made to a Windows Com Port.
All currently enabled Serial and USB Com ports should be listed. If you do not see the Port/Device you are trying to connect to try
View > Serial Ports which will list all the Ports NmeaRouter knows about.
If you still cannot see the Port/Device, look at the windows device manager. Start > Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager > Ports (Com & LPT).
Note that USB ports are allocated by the actual USB device you are using, which is set by the Device Driver supplied with the actual USB device and not by Windows. Particularly with low priced USB devices, these drivers are not always reliable and the Com port allocated to a device can change. Most USB Devices use either the FDTI chip or the Prolific chip. The FDTI appears much more reliable in particular because the Prolific chip has been extensively "cloned" and if you upgrade the driver, you may find the cloned chip stops working. For further information see Prolific and FDTI .
File
Input from or Output to a File.
You cannot have the same file open for both input and output.
If Roll Over is selected (only applicable to output files), the file will be named yourname_YYYYMMDD.yourname
At Midnight a new file will be stated with the new date.
With Input files you can select the maximum rate at which the sentences will be read from the file. This allows you to slow down the output. You will also be given an option to Pause the input (re-starts from the file position when paused).
Display
Opens a separate Display Window to display the data routed to this window
Loop Back
Allows data to be looped back from the Output of a connection to the Input on the same Connection primarily for testing

Routes

Right Clicking Enabled or Disabled toggles enabling of disabling the route.

Menu Options
File




Test

Generates Test Sentences

Exit

Saves the profile and Quits NmeaRouter
Configure




Profile

A Profile is a snapshot of your current configuration, which may be restored later


New
Start a New Profile


Open
Close the existing configuration re-starting with a saved profile


Save
Save the current profile


Save As
Save the current profile with a new name


Delete
Delete the current profile

VCP

Virtual Com Ports for use when 2 programs on the same PC require access to the same Com port


Create
Creates a Com Port pair


Remove
Removes a Com Port pair

Connection




New
Opens a new connection for editing the settings


Open
Open an existing connection for editing the settings


Delete
Close and remove an existing connection


Recorder (V50)
Create
Creates a New Recorder for this Connection
Remove
Removes the Recorder on this Connection

Route




New
Create a new route between two connections


Open
Open a current route and change the route settings


Delete
Close and remove an existing route

Filters (V50)

Remove duplicated Sentences from all Sources (Input Connections)

Graph (V36)

Set Range and Period for Excel Graph

Export

Export the current configuration to a file
View




Input/Output




Data
Toggles show/noshow the Data display in the lower window pane


Connections
Toggles show/noshow the Connections display in the upper window pane


Routes
Toggles show/noshow the Routes display in the upper window pane


Graph (V36)
Toggles show/noshow the Graphical display of sentences by Connection

Connections

Displays details of current Connections

Routes

Displays details of current Routes

Forwarding

Displays details of current active Forwarding

TCP/IP Sockets

Displays details of current Network Sockets

Serial Sockets

Displays details of current Serial Connections including Virtual Com Ports

File Sockets

Displays details of current File Connections

Display Sockets

Displays details of current Display (TTY) Windows

Event Log

Displays the current sessions events (eg Port Opening and errors)

Registry

Displays details of current Registry settings
Help




Help

Display these instructions

Contact Me

Email me & testing Registration option

About

Copyright notice

Mouse Options
Edit Connections or Routes
To get the New/Open/Delete menu for Connections or Routes, right click on the Connection name or the Route name in the leftmost column of the appropriate display.
Toggle Enabled/Disabled
Right Click on the Enabled/Disable cell on the Connections or Routes display.
To Toggle all the Enabled/Disable cells, right click on the heading of the column.
Clear Sentence Counters
Right Click on the Sentence count.
To Clear all Counters, right click on the heading Sentences.  

Excel Graph of Connection Sentences Received (V36)

The graph for all connections is generated automatically if Options > View > Input/Output > Graph is ticked.
It is embedded in an Excel spreadsheet, allowing you to save the Workbook, and reformat the graph.
Before altering the graph, you should stop NmeaRouter and Save the Graph (before exiting NmeaRouter), to ensure NmeaRouter is not trying to update at the same time as you are trying to alter the Graph, otherwise you may get unexpected results.




Connecting to Data Streamed over the Internet

Try hd-sf.com who stream data from San Francisco Bay area on TCP port 9009



Command Line Options & Minimising to System Tray (V41)
    Click Minimise to send to System Tray
    Right Click on systray Icon to Restore or Exit
    If Exit from Icon in systray when re-run application will restart in systray
    If Exit from Graphical User Interface (GUI) when re-run application will restart in GUI
    Command Line Options (not case sensitive) are:-
        systray        (Overrides profile setting)
        Profile=ProfileName
    If ProfileName includes spaces include ProfileName in Double Quotes
    Separate Command Line options with Forward Slash (/) (do not use / in profile name)
    Example:  dos Prompt> NmeaRouter.exe  systray/profile="TCP Client 1"

Command Line Options & To Start NmeaRouter Automatically on startup (V41)
  1. Click the Start button, click All Programs, right-click the Startup folder, and then click Open.
  2. Using Windows Explorer, locate  C:\Program Files\Arundale\NmeaRouter\NmeaRouter.exe.

  3. Right-click NmeaRouter.exe, and then click Create Shortcut. The new shortcut appears in the same location as the original item.

  4. Drag the shortcut into the Startup folder.

  5. Additionally to Start NmeaRouter in the system tray and/or to Specify a Profile (otherwise the latest profile will be used).

  6. Right-click the shortcut, and then click properties.
  7. At the end of Target
    Add /systray/profile="My Profile Name"
    The Window will contain "C:\Program Files\Arundale\NmeaRouter\NmeaRouter.exe" /systray/profile="My Profile Name"
    There is a space after .exe and if your profile name contains spaces, it must be enclosed in quotes.
   
Understanding UDP & TCP

AisDecoder will not output TCP data only UDP
Nmea Router will output TCP and UDP data acting as either a Client or a Server.
For the sake of clarity, both append a CRLF (this is part of the NMEA spec)

UDP
is a connectionless protocol, which means you just send the data (like a radio broadcast) and you are not interested in whether the recipient receives the data or not.
The data is One Way only.

TCP guarantees receipt of the data by the recipient by confirming back to the sender as "chunks" of the data have been received. TCP is therefore Two Way, data can and does flow in both directions and receipt is guaranteed. For example an internet connection between your web browser and a web server actually uses TCP, enabling you to both send and receive data. FTP and HTTP also use TCP.

Although TCP itself uses UDP, you cannot use TCP at one end and UDP at the other.

Assuming you are trying to make a TCP connection, you need to be clear as to who is going to make the initial connection. Think of a telephone, one party makes the initial connection by calling the other party. In internet terminology the called party "listens" and is the Server, the calling party, initiates the connection and is the Client. Like a telephone, once both parties have picked up the phone, the conversation (data) can travel in either or both directions.

Both a TCP Server and a TCP Client can send data to another party. Whether you are the Server or the Client depends on who is making the first contact. Are they waiting for their phone to ring, or, are you waiting for their call to you ?

NmeaRouter setup if you are the Client and they are the server
You will note that if you are the Client, you must enter their IP Address and their Port.
They will give you an IP address (or URL) and a port on which to make contact, AND their firewall must allow an incoming TCP connection from your IP address on their port.


NmeaRouter setup if you are the Server and they are the Client
You will note that if you are the Server, you only enter the Port you wish to use.
You will tell them this Port, AND your firewall must allow an incoming TCP connection from their IP address on your port.
Your Router must also forward incoming TCP on this port to your PC


In both cases the data direction is Output, because you are sending them the data.
The direction is only used by NmeaRouter for sentence routing, it is not relevant for the actual TCP connection between the Client and Server.

Continuing with the telephone analogy, each party wishing to talk to one another can use multiple phone lines in order to conduct several conversations at the same time. These are the "Ports". Both parties must us the same port, otherwise they will not actually be a connection between themselves. Similarly three or more parties cannot use the same port, otherwise the conversations would be jumbled on top of one another.

So how do more than two Clients receive the same data from one Server ?
The Server actually uses One port as a "Listening Port", the initial connection is made on this port, but having made this initial connection the Client and Server negotiate a mutually agreed port that is available on both Client and Server, then switch the connection from this Listening Port, to the mutually agreed port, on which the actual data transfer continues.
This allows another Client to make a second connection to the Server.
NmeaRouter makes the port switching and re-routing transparent to you.

This is the same procedure as is used in radio communications between Ships or Aircraft. All Parties listen on the "Calling Channel". The initial contact is made on the "Calling Channel", the parties agree a "Working Channel" and both then move to the Working Channel.

TCP Multi-Client Server
(V43)
This enables you to distribute data received by one PC to multiple PC's either locally or remotely via the internet.
When you set a TCP server port (eg 11367), this port is set a a "listening" port, awaiting a TCP connection request.
If Client tries to make a connection to the Server on this port (eg 11367), the Server will "spawn" another connection.
The spawned connection inherits the routeing of the "Listening" port.
The server recommences "listening" on the port (11367) allowing it to set up another connection to a second Client, should it be requested. This will continue up to the limit of Maximum Concurrent Connection set when the Server was configured.
This enables multiple Clients to be given the same socket to connect to the Server on which to receive the data.
TcpServer
You you can set up another instance of NmeaRouter on the same PC to try this - set the remote host IP as 127.0.0.1 which translates to the local PC.

Routing to a Program which only accepts Serial Data
- Virtual Com Ports
Some programs (note OpenCPN now accepts network data) will only accept serial data, or possibly proprietary network data such as Garmin or Json as well. These programs expect your PC to be physically connected to serial or USB port.
If you attempt to connect two programs to the same physical port (eg COM4) at the same time, your PC will prevent this, and you will receive an error message such as “port in use”.
From V46, you can overcome this problem by creating a Virtual Com Port Pair (VCP) with Connection > New > VCP > Create
You can see the created VCP with View > Serial Sockets

The Serial Socket CNCA0 is linked to COM15
A Serial Connection called OpenCPN is created using Port CNCA0
A Route is created between the incoming data (AIS Data) and OpenCPN
Data arriving on the Connection AIS Data will appear to be Output on COM15.
If the OpenCPN Chart Plotting program is started using COM15 as the Input, the AIS Data will displayed on the OpenCPN program.

For more details see Guideline on installing and connecting NmeaRouter on a Windows computer with OpenCPN or any other program only accepting Serial Data.

Filters
Remove duplicated Sentences from all Sources (V53)
The main purpose is to reduce network bandwidth when NmeaRouter is used to combine several differing Sources of data.
This filter monitors the input from all source connections. If an identical sentence is received, possibly/probably from a different source, the duplicated sentence is rejected and not passed forward to any Destination.
The previous 6 minutes of received sentences are compared with each received sentence..
Multi-part messages are subject to additional "special" handling.

To insert this filter click Configure > Filters and Tick the box.


All sentences filtered out are sent to a Demiliterized Zone (DMZ), in a similar manner to an internet router.
These sentences can be forwarded to any existing Output Connection. For example, you can set up a File Output Connection to write the duplicated sentences to a Log file.



In addition you can see the Source of the duplicated sentences by adding IEC 61162 comments to the output.

The Log File will contain the commented sentences
\c:1369230289,d:File Output,s:Home TCP*30\!AIVDM,1,1,,B,35DrjF5000Ow5M8NdHD2Mb9T0000,0*12
\c:1369230289,d:File Output,s:Home TCP*30\!AIVDM,1,1,,A,33P;J:03A@P1Ku@O6<bu0bQV0000,0*27
\c:1369230289,d:File Output,s:Home TCP*30\!AIVDM,1,1,,B,34VgUR0OhA01nk8NsH<dVrIV0000,0*68

Output Recorder
Currently on test - for further details click
   
Other Information
I intend integrating AisDecoder with NmeaRouter in the future by plugging in AisDecoder into NmeaRouter.
This requires re-writing AisDecoder as a stand alone module, with the ability to plug-in to other software.

There is a limit of 10 on most of the options. This is because I may release an unrestricted (commercial) version of NmeaRouter in the future.


Version History
V60    OwnShip not copied to TCP server socket [fixed]
V59    Unix Time Stamp 1 day short [fixed]
        Not always retaining current profile setting [fixed]
V58    Changes to links and email for new web server
V57  Deleting Route could select non-existent route [fixed]     
        Scroll bars on Sockets/Routes could disappear when a Socket enabled [fixed]
        Routes/Sockets could not be Enabled/Disabled when clicked in scrolled off region [fixed]  
        Message display synchronised with AisDecoder
V56    Asynchronous user message display implemented
        Detect NMEA sentence delimiter error
        Possible to set New Route to non existent socket [fixed]
V55    Option to filter out one MMSI
V54    Changes to De-dupe routine
V53  Not !**VDM input filter added
        De-dupe now looks at previous 6 minutes of received data
        DMZ added additional terminator [fixed]
V52    Split Source sentences now re-assembled (where possible)
V51    Rejected Filtered sentences sent to DMZ
        DMZ routed to any Output connection added
V50    Remove duplicated sentences option added
    Output Recorder on test (settings not retained)
    Possible error when installed on non system disk [fixed]
    Configuring Graph when not visible caused error [fixed]
V49
    MyShip output option - Converts !AIVDM to !AIVDO for one MMSI
    IEC 61162-1 Output option CRC error [fixed]
V48    Option to enable/disable graph series added
    All Serial ports not always enumerated [fixed]
    Enable/Disable Graph series by Connection added    
V47    Graphs now on separate Excel sheet
    Local Time option on Graphs
    Connections with no Sentences not graphed
    TCP Client graphed by Remote IP address
V46    TCP Routes Forwarding <--> could be displayed incorrectly [fixed]
    Graphs failed with Multiple TCP Clients [fixed]
    Installation of com0com Virtual Com Ports (VCP) added (not all Windows platforms have been tested)
    Enable/Disable Route to VCP could cause error [fixed]
V45    Bug fix, router may not start
V44    Redesigned GUI
    User can set max streams per Client IP address
    Improvements to TCP Server & Client error recovery & reporting
    Improved System Tray handling
    User Registration Testing
V43    TCP Multi-Client Server bug fixes
V42    Enumerate Virtual Com Ports
V41    Click Minimise to send to System Tray
    Right Click on systray Icon to Restore or Exit
    If Exit from Icon in systray when re-run application will restart in systray
    If Exit from GUI when re-run application will restart in GUI
    Command Line Options (not case sensitive) are:-
        systray        (Overrides profile setting)
        Profile=ProfileName
    If ProfileName includes spaces include in Double Quotes
    Separate Command Line options with Forward Slash (/) (do not use / in profile name)
Example:  dos Prompt> NmeaRouter.exe  systray/profile="Tcp Client"
    Graphs timer was not stopped on close, could cause Object no found error
V40-V36
    TCP multi-client Server development
V35
    Added ExcelChart module (no code to use it added yet)
    Fixed not writing View/InputOutput ticks to registry
    This probably caused the main display to not always restart
    with a new profile displayed properly.
    TTY's Window settings not being saved properly either- fixed
V34
    TTY window not opening when Start pressed
    TTY Windows not closed properly
    Cleaned up TTY window handling
V33
    Tidied up Event Log
    Repeat counter added
V32
    Command options added

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