As per this question, I want to obtain AIS ship tracking data worldwide.

I can't find a free source, but can find a website where all members pool their AIS data. So, buying a very cheap AIS receiver could be a solution.

I found one for about $250 on AliExpress - is there anything cheaper?

The only requirement is cheapest (plus, can receive some kind of AIS data, of course).

  • 1
    There is a list of AIS data sources here
    – Mawg
    Mar 12, 2020 at 7:30
  • I found some much cheaper AIS receviers here
    – Mawg
    Mar 16, 2020 at 13:17
  • Lolx - why the drive-by down vote? This seems a perfectly cromulent question (unless the down-voter cares to explain why). I even gave a good answer - you know, something that could help others, so, yeah,, go right ahead and down-vote and don;t tell me why. After all, that might help me to ask better questions in future.
    – Mawg
    May 19, 2020 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


As per my comment, I found some affordable AIS receivers here.

The cheapest seems to be this one.

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Receiving on dual channels (161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz) alternately
Auto-hopping channel algorithm improves captured message rate by 4%
Manually adjustable hopping interval rates (0.25 sec, 1 sec, 30 sec and auto-hopping)
Sensitivity down to -104 dBm@30% PER
Up to 12 nautical miles receiving range
USB 2.0 powered (<26mA @5.0V)
Serial output: 38400 bps baud rate over USB
Message output in NMEA 0183 format
QK-A021 AIS Receiver USB Dongle(Auto-hopping V2.0)
SMA connector for 50 Ohm VHF antenna
SMA to BNC coaxial adaptor included
Compatible with Windows XP,7,8,10, Mac OS X, Linux systems

What’s included?

1 x QK-A021 v.2.0
1 x SMA-BNC coaxial adapter
1 x USB extension cable
1 x CD containing Manuals, Configuration Software and driver

For $60 / Eur 55 / £50, I doubt that I will find cheaper.

The only question is what kind of an antenna I would need. They sell one for a further £30, but I will shop around for a cheaper.

For programming, I would imagine that it presents itself as a serial port.

[Update] I bought this antenna for £20, and, yes, the device presents itself as a virtual serial port.

[Further update] it turns out that this particular solution is of no use to me. Despite my living less than 2 miles from a major working river, the device cannot detect a single vessel.

I imagine that I will have to purchase a more expensive device & will post details here. Meanwhile, this is probably adequate for use on open water. It does seem to get reasonabale reviews.

  • 1
    I've been thinking about using aishub as well..but know next to nothing about the AIS receivers and how to actually connect to the aishub data around the world. Any update on this? or tutorials/info to help a newb get started?
    – Derek Eden
    Apr 19, 2020 at 19:58
  • Look on their front page at "How to share AIS data". Or use their contact form. Strangely, I can't see a forum on the site. I think, though, that you are going to have to be near to a river/sea, or located very high, in order to receive any signals. Why not contact them & ask for advice. Post it here, if you get any. Or details of other useful forums. Perhaps that of the manufacturer of that receiver that I bought? Good luck & pelase share any knowledge
    – Mawg
    Apr 20, 2020 at 8:19

Any luck getting a working receiver, joining AIS Hub, and being able to access the data?

This isn't really an answer, just a bump to hopefully catch some of the original posters' (Mawg says reinstate Monica and Derek Eden) attention. I'm also interested in getting access to AIS Hub data. This question (and it's parent question) were helpful to find and see that someone else was attempting this path.


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