Usage request: low cost alternative to ais (automatic identification system)

I dont use / make meshtastic project so far, but my plan is to use it as a low cost alternative to ais (automatic identification system). Here in Indonesia, ais device are too expensive & not all fishing boat (especially small traditional fishing boat) cant equipt with ais. For security reason & to avoid any accident at open sea (same reason as ais usage) i want to build my own version of ais using “cheap” platform

Here are my propose “how it works”

  • use accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer & gps sensor as input data (heading, location, speed etc)
  • no need for permission / validation to connect all lora node / device
  • send “blast message” to all nearby lora device within coverage
  • receive message from other lora device
  • use smartphone (via wifi or bluetooth) to show all nearby boat (similar to radar display)

I can connect all hardware device (plug-in or solder) but im not a programmer. Any advice or help to make this are awesome. Can be add-in feature for future development or an independent development dedicate to “low cost ais device”

Thanks alot for any input (sorry for bad english)

Edit: here are explanation what is ais & how it works for anyone who dont have idea what ais is


Welcome @gianto!

Have you considered using ATAK ( as the mapping software, and Meshtastic ( as the transport layer for offline mesh networking? @paulmandal have done a great job, combining both of those, with ATAK Forwarder (

You can download all those free of charge. You only need your Android mobile phones and low cost Meshtastic compatible LoRa modules.

By combining those, I believe you could achieve all your requests:

  • Meshtastic LoRa modules would act as standalone location beacons (“AIS transceivers”)
  • Meshtastic LoRa modules would also act as your offline self healing mesh networking solution for mobile phones
  • ATAK would handle offline mapping, sensor data (heading, speed…), realtime location tracking of others, overlay fishing areas on the map, and more
  • ATAK Forwarder would enable you to connect ATAK trough Meshtastic mesh

Meshtastic is pretty solid right now, but still under heavy development. @geeksville is doing a great job maintaining the coherence of new releases, but keep in mind, that there might be mistakes made regarding reliability: My proposition is not a bullet proof AIS solution. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Hello @CycloMies,

Thank you for reply & suggestion for ATAK map apps. Based on atak screenshot from google play store, those app too complicate for most of us (we live in “3rd world country” and not all of us good for some tech apps interface)

I love simplicity of Meshtastic android apps, but this app not designed for ais / boat beacon purpose. From screenshot i see at google play store, Meshtastic already have map view with list of all registered device & contact list with estimate distance

Found simple ais apps interface from google play store . This app are what we need, but those app need an ais device which is too expensive for us. My goal is to use ttgo t-beam as a low cost alternative to “real” ais device ($25 vs >=$500)

While waiting for my ttgo t-beam device arrived (just order from aliexpress), will try to figure out how to hack Meshtastic android app to meet what we need (hard to do since i have zero experience in programming). Any advice or information about similar apps are very welcome

Thanks alot


Thank you @gianto for the link to the easyAIS application!

That remembered me of a feature missing from both ATAK (?) and Meshtastic: heading and estimated travel distance for the next X minutes, shown as a line on the map. @geeksville, @lgx, or other great application developers: could the line be shown on the map screen?

Users should be able to enable/disable the feature, and set the line length (in minutes) for calculation and drawing the line. More options could follow (as choosing the color and width of the line).

The data (heading, speed, and distance for X minutes) could be extracted, or counted, from a couple of seconds from a GPS lock. Moreover, the heading and speed could be sent with the location update packet?

There could also be a dynamic distance indicator (circles), as seen on easyAIS, and Locus Maps?

Sorry @gianto for my long post regarding those ideas! :sweat_smile:

This is the plan to add a list of all received positions, and with the list, we can draw on the map the breadcrumb path between position

Later, display on the map the position of a message, other sensor info (like battery % and remaining time approx)


@lgx Breadcrumbs and sensor info sounds good!

What I tried to suggest, was a computed line, showing the estimated future movement, within the next X minutes. This is a common feature used in boats and ships. This feature is shown on the images of easyAIS. The moving targets can be updated less frequently, and you can still estimate their movement and position during the next X minutes.

The benefits are: helps the user to understand movement of the less frequently updated objects on the map, and even automatic collision avoidance (if alerts are enabled).

1 Like