Using AIS Share, OpenCPN and an RTL-SDR on a Sailboat

AIS Share is an app for Android that allows you to turn an Android device into an AIS receiver by using an RTL-SDR. AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and is used by ships to broadcast their GPS locations, to help avoid collisions and aid with rescues. An RTL-SDR with the right software can be used to receive and decode these signals, and plot ship positions on a map.

AIS Share is a dual channel decoder that outputs decoded NMEA messages via UDP, so that plotting software like OpenCPN can be used to display the ships on a map. AIS Share had been around before in another form known as rtl_ais_android which we posted before, but this version of AIS Share is a newly updated and improved version that now includes a very nice GUI. The app costs about $2 and is available on the Google Play store, but there is a demo available that will work up until 1000 messages are received. You will need an RTL-SDR and a USB OTG cable to run the app.

Recently the author of the app received word from a user called Harmen who has successfully been using his AIS Share app on his sailboat. Harmen uses the app on an Android tablet which is enclosed in a waterproof box. For an antenna he uses a coax collinear.

In the future the author writes that he’d like to update the app to support things like the ability to change more dongle settings like bandwidth/sample rate and add the possibility of using the internal phone/tablet GPS. He is also open to any community suggestions.

AIS Share Receiver on the sailboat in a waterproof case.
AIS Share Receiver on the sailboat in a waterproof case.
The back of the Android Tablet, showing the RTL-SDR and the antenna connection.
The back of the Android Tablet, showing the RTL-SDR and the antenna connection.
The AIS Share main screen GUI.
The AIS Share main screen GUI. (Unfortunately the video has been removed)


  1. Fernando


    I searched ppm using sdr touch and the result is -1200. When I try this value in ais share I get an error. I supose that value is out of range.

  2. Alfonso

    Thank for your work.
    I have been testing your app and I got ais reports fron ships.
    The statistics in your app showed that but I was unable to conect the data to opencpn.
    In Opencpn I add a connection to port 10110 and that ip and port was also configured in your app. Both apps Opencpn and Ais share are Android apps. My tablet is an BQ Edison 3 mini. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks in advance

  3. neo

    1) I would use an LNA + Filter
    2) How about an List when other Ships cross my Path? Like:
    Ship XY Possible Collision in X Km.
    Ship XY come near your Ship in X Km.

    An “range warning” would be also nice to have.

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