New version of GpsSimul released

I am happy to announce a complete new version of GpsSimul. The first version of this great NMEA 0183 GPS simulator was released back in November 1999. There have been various updates of the program since the past 12 years but now it became really time for a radical new change.

The update was also needed because it became increasingly hard to support the old version that was written in VB6. The new version V4 is now based on the Microsoft .Net Framework and has a complete new designed GUI (graphical User Interface) as you can find out here.

A nice gimmick is the compass rose in the navigate window, automatically rotating into the direction that we are sailing or driving to.Screenshot_GpsSimul_SetupMode_thumb

Also new are the blue arrows for steering, speed and altitude. on both sides of the GUI. When holding these down with the mouse pointer they will increase or decrease the values for course, velocity or altitude until released, making a dynamic simulation scenario possible.

At the bottom of the GUI you will find the following buttons

  • to switch between Setup Mode and Navigate Mode,
  • to switch between the Trace window and the NMEA 0183 sentences window
  • to enable or disable logging to a text file
  • and of course to start and stop the simulation

You will find more details on the Sailsoft web site or go straight here.

The new version can be downloaded and installed directly from this link: Download GpsSimul Version V4.0, and as usual, this is a fully functional and free trial!

For the next two month (January and February 2012) the license price will remain the same as for the old version 3.3.1, but Sailsoft will probably increase the price after that period.

The license codes for the previous version of GpsSimul are not valid for the new version V4.

Users of version 3.3.1 of GpsSimul that purchased their license during October to December last year (the last 3 months of 2011) can obtain a license for the new version without any extra costs when they send a request to Sailsoft and include their V3.3.1 license codes in the mail.

Posted by: Ger Rietman | June 17, 2011

NemaStudio used in ECDIS training


NemaStudio and ECDIS training

Recently I was invited by Samos Steamship in Athens to come and demonstrate NemaStudio in combination with a Tokyo Keiki ECDIS as shown in the picture at the left.

ECDIS stands for Electronic Chart Display and Information System. If you are not familiar with this check out Wikipedia here.

New IMO (International Maritime Organization) regulations require that it is no longer sufficient to have crew to attend a generic ECDIS training but that the training and certification also requires ECDIS manufacturer “type specific” training.

In the case of Samos Steamship this would mean they have to send about 60 crew to Japan for the Tokyo Keiki EC-8000 training on the ECDIS simulators of Tokyo Keiki, meaning considerable costs.

Instead, Samos Steamship decided to install an EC-8000 ECDIS in their office and train their bridge officers in-house.P1010019

PC connection to the ECDIS

To obtain a realistic environment we had to connect the PC where NemaStudio was installed on to the ECDIS. This was achieved by using USB-to-RS422 serial adapters and configure NemaStudio to send the appropriate simulated navigation data to the correct ECDIS ports.

In the picture at the right you can see the laptop with NemaStudio in the foreground while an engineer from Tokyo Keiki  is checking the data coming from NemaStudio to the ECDIS.

NemaStudio in use as ECDIS ship and target simulator

After all technical issues were solved we prepared a number of scenarios with “own ship” data like GPS, sounder, heading and speed and “route to sail” based on waypoints. We also prepared a number of moving targets transmitting AIS and radar data while sailing a predefined route.

After starting NemaStudio the ECDIS nicely showed all “own ship” data and the track, and also all targets data dynamically generated by NemaStudio.

It was very satisfactory to see that a few invited ships officers were really fast picking up the ECDIS functionality and appreciated the simulated environment.

Room for improvement

Although NemaStudio proved to be a very useful tool in ECDIS training, I observed that for this specific purpose the program would benefit from a few improvements.

When a number of ship’s crew were invited to set up new scenario’s it turned out that the procedure for setting up a scenario is a bit too complex for people not technically skilled. This I will work on. I guess I need to develop a separate scenario editor.

For the trainer it is also desirable to hide more technical data currently on the user interface, and bring that to the background so he can better concentrate on the simulation and scenario’s.

In the mean time I decided to invest considerable future time in the ECDIS training market. It is for sure a very interesting market for Sailsoft. In this context it may be worth checking out this interview with Mr. Pearsall from ECDIS Ltd, a company commercially involved in ECDIS training.

Posted by: Ger Rietman | May 19, 2011

V1.13, minor update NemaStudio


NemaStudio new version 1.13

Sailsoft just released Version 1.13 of NemaStudio, the professional version of her NMEA 0183 simulator.

This is a minor release. In this version  some small bugs are solved and a new NMEA0183 GPS sentence is introduced.

The  $GPGSV sentence according the IEC61162 / NMEA 0183 standard shows the number of satellites in view, and per satellite the satellite number, elevation, azimuth and SNR value. The format of the $GPGSV sentence as implemented in NemaStudio looks as follows:


The values for Elevation, Azimuth and SNR are generated randomly. The the value for the total number of satellites in view is taken from the “Satellites” field in the GPS simulator. This value also determines the number of GSV sentences generated: 1, 2 or 3. Observe that each sentence can show a maximum of 4 satellites (SV’s). It can occur that empty sentences are generated, dependent on the number of satellites ticked in the “Satellites used” tab for GPS (1-32) or WAAS (33-64).

Corrected bugs in this version

The following bugs are corrected:

  • Sounder: Transducer Offset, sign now automatically changes to negative if "from Keel" is selected and to positive if “to Waterline” is selected
  • Velocity: Distance counters, counters now increase at negative speed, this affects the VLW sentence
  • GPS: $GPXTE sentence, direction to steer never changed to "L", corrected
Posted by: Ger Rietman | May 3, 2011

Reseller appointed for Sailsoft NMEA simulation software


I am happy to announce that per May 1 2011, Sailsoft has appointed Navigation Application as a reseller and partner for her NMEA simulation software.

The Dutch based Navigation Application is a relatively young company, and is part of the MHSI-group.
Navigation Application was founded by a number of GPS specialists and former navy officers with experience and degrees in navigation, hydrography, bridge resource management (BRM) and tactical operations.

Next to navigation software Navigation Application supplies ruggedized navigation hardware like vehicle GPS receivers and safety equipment with military specifications.

I am really happy with this co-operation since it opens a complete new range of opportunities for both Sailsoft and Navigation Application customers!

Posted by: Ger Rietman | April 14, 2011

NemaStudio v.1.12 released


NemaStudio new version 1.12

The object in the image at the left that looks like a pincushion is a screen shot from the new help file and User Guide of NemaStudio 1.12. Click on the image to enlarge and to see more detail.

The blue ‘needles’ point to the fields where you can input or change data, clicking on a numbered blue dot will bring you to a short description, purpose and usage of the field. All instruments and targets in NemaStudio have been described in this way.

Opening the Help menu in NemaStudio will present you with three obvious options to access and open the help file: Contents, Index and Search.

The help file is implemented as a compiled ‘.chm’ file and the v.1.12 installer will place it in the same directory where the other program files of NemaStudio are installed.

For easy reference the User Guide is also published as a PDF document and as a searchable HTML file with menu bar on the Sailsoft website.

Other changes in this version

The new and revised help file is not the only update in version 1.12. Some small bugs were corrected and limited new functionality was implemented also:

  • Communication settings: if Stopbits=Two was selected, OnePointFive was saved. (Corrected);
  • All objects: stopping the object now closes the port, re-starting re-opens the port again (New);
  • All objects: re-starting now updates the port settings text below the port selector (New);
  • AIS message type 14: !AIBBM changed to !AIVDM to comply with most transceivers (New);
  • AIS targets: MMSI number was erroneously initialized with some number with a length of 10 digits instead of 9 digits. (Corrected)
Download links

You can download and install the new version from the download section of the Sailsoft website or by clicking the following direct link:

Posted by: Ger Rietman | February 28, 2011

Radar Love, neglected but made good now…

NemaStudio Radar CPA calculation

Golden Earring:

“I’ve been driving all night, my hands wet on the wheel
There is a voice in my head that drives me heel
We’ve got a wave in the air: Radar Love
And  as I am speeding into a new sunrise
She sends her comfort coming in from above”

These are a few lines from the lyrics of the incredible song “Radar Love” from a Dutch rock band of the sixties called “Golden Earring”. Radar Love is one of the very few Dutch rock songs that ever reached sky high in the international hit lists.

Radar Target in NemaStudio extensively updated in Version 1.11

Of course inspired by this song, but in reality more motivated by a number of user requests I decided to upgrade the Radar Target object in NemaStudio. I have been heavily neglecting Radar since the introduction of AIS in NemaStudio, but now it got really time to do something about that.

Radar Targets in earlier versions

The Radar object in NemaStudio before Version 1.11 has been a rather dull and static object. All parameters, including Target Speed and Course, Target Bearing, CPA, Latitude and Longitude, had to be entered manually and the target’s position did not automatically change based on course and speed as in almost all other NMEA simulated objects in NemaStudio like GPS and AIS.

Dynamically update of Target position

Based on course and speed, taken from the value of the controls in the Object Control Center, the position of the Radar Target is automatically updated every n second, whereas n is the interval set by the user. But there is more.

Linking a GPS object or an AIS target to a Radar Target

Apart from steering each Radar Target with the course and speed controls in the Object Control Center, you have the option to link an active GPS or Class A or Class B AIS object to any Radar Target.

NemaStudio Radar Target object

Observe that an AIS object itself can also have a GPS linked in turn. So if you link a GPS to an AIS object and then link that AIS object to a Radar object, you have them all three synchronized!

This way you can have the GPS object in control and all position changes will automatically be forwarded to the AIS and Radar object.

It gets even better when you create a number of routes with waypoints and put the GPS object in "Automatic Mode". Of course you can create several targets in this way so you end up with a really realistic simulation of AIS and Radar.

CPA and the introduction of an "Own Vessel" in Radar object

In order to have a CPA (Closest Point of Approach) calculated in the Radar object, an "Own Vessel" concept is introduced.

The CPA is dynamically calculated from the position, course and speed of the "Own Vessel" to the position, course and speed of the Radar Target. A negative value in the Time to CPA means that the target is moving away from the CPA.

And again, the "Own Vessel" can be linked to a GPS or AIS target and can in this way sail it’s own automatic GPS course.

Download and install NemaStudio Version 1.11

You can download and install the new version from the download section of the Sailsoft website or by clicking the following direct link:

In case you are a registered NemaStudio user you can as usual keep your current license for this updated version. No need to re-enter, your current license codes will automatically be applied to the new version.

Posted by: Ger Rietman | February 2, 2011

NemaStudio NMEA 0183 simulator, new release V1.10


New version of NemaStudio

Just released Version 1.10 of NemaStudio. In this new version many important updates in the Heading and the AIS sections have been implemented.

As usual, registered users can download and install the new version from the download section of the Sailsoft website or by clicking the following direct link: Of course you can keep your current license for this updated version. No need to re-enter, your current codes will automatically be applied to the new version.

Not a registered user? You can use the link above to download a trial copy of this version of NemaStudio. The trial is fully functional but is limited to output a maximum of 500 NMEA 0183 and AIS sentences.

Changes and corrections in this version

•  AIS Class B targets: Position Device and Position Accuracy were not saved. Corrected.
•  GPS: UTC Date was not automatically advancing to the next day. Corrected. 
•  GPS: Introduced a new option choice in the NMEA settings: "User-tweaked UTC Date/Time" vs "Realistic UTC Date/Time".
With this new option the user can either choose to use the "real" UTC date and time or choose to fake UTC data and time to his needs. In the latter case the position update timer can have no decimals in its value, because this value is used to increment the UTC timeseconds field in this case. 
•  AIS message 21 (Aid to Navigation position report) corrected   is implemented       
•  AIS message 4 (Base Station position report) adjusted to ITU-R M.1371 version 4: Transmission Control bit included
•  AIS message 4 (Base Station position report) did not correctly include Type of Electronic Fixing Device. Corrected. 
•  AIS message 1 (Class A Vessel position report) extended with a checkbox to indicate that no Turn Indicator is present, resulting in ROTais=-128.
The ROT value in the ROT up/down control now gives the actual Rate Of Turn in degrees/min instead of ROTais. The actual ROT in deg/min as shown now in the up/down control is converted to the ROTais value (+/- 126) and stored in the ROT field in message 1. When the "No TI"(no Turn Information) checkbox is checked the ROTais value -128 is stored in the ROT field in message 1.
When the value in the ROT up/down control > 708 or < -708 then the ROT ais value is set to 127 or -127. 
•  Heading: now different up/down controls for Magnetic and True heading for better interpretation of HDT and HDM.
$HEHDM now gives the magnetic course calculated from the magnetic sensor compensated by variation and deviation.
$HEHDT now gives the True course straight from the True course sensor. w now
•  Heading: Rate Of Turn up/down control added.
The value in the ROT up/down control gives the actual Rate Of Turn in degrees/min instead of rudder angle as before.  The ROT in degrees/minute in the up/down control can either be adjusted with the up/down buttons of the control or is taken proportionally from the Rudder control, and is in the range of +708 degrees/min (turn to starboard) to -708 degrees/min (turn to port).

Important changes in the Heading Instrument

There are two major changes in the Heading Instrument in Version 1.10 of NemaStudio you may want to take notice of.

In earlier versions of NemaStudio the True Course value for the HDT sentence was derived from the Magnetic Course by applying Variation and Deviation from the Magnetic Course. This was because there was no field available for a True Course sensor, e.g. Gyro. This was kind of confusing for many people, since the Magnetic Course was taken straight from the Magnetic Course sensor to the HDM sentence, without compensation for Variation and Deviation.

Changes in Version 1.10 re heading sensor readings:

  1. An up/down control was added for simulating a True Course sensor. When there is a GPS running, the value can optionally be taken from the GPS course.
  2. The True Heading sensor reading now goes uncompensated straight into the HDT sentence.
  3. The value in the HDM sentence is now taken from the Magnetic Heading sensor compensated by the given Variation and Deviation.

The HDG sentence has not been changed.

Changes in Version 1.10 re Rate Of Turn:

The second major update in the Heading Instrument concerns the Rate Of Turn handling.
In previous versions, ROT was handled rather primitively by NemaStudio by just taking the Rudder Control value to the NMEA 0183 ROT sentence.

In Version 1.10 this is considerably improved by adding a Rate Of Turn control to the Heading Instrument. The value in this control can of course be adjusted by the up/down arrow buttons of the control, but also by using the main Rudder Control. When using the main Rudder Control, the the ROT value is calculated by dividing 708 by the maximum rudder setting and multiplying this by the value in the Rudder Control.

Why the value of 708? The value 708 is used for consistency with the maximum ROT value possible in AIS message 1.

Please notice you can change the maximum range for the main Rudder Control in the General Settings. It is set to 30 degrees by default.

AIS message 1: Rate Of Turn changes

As in the Heading Instrument, the ROT handling was also considerably changed from earlier versions of NemaStudio.

  1. The GUI has been extended with a checkbox to indicate that a Turn Indicator is not present. Checking this box will result in ROTais=-128. (ROTais is the value as stored in the AIS message 1 according to ITU-R M.1371-4)
  2. The ROT value in the ROT up/down control now gives the actual Rate Of Turn in degrees/minute instead of ROTais.
  3. The actual ROT in degrees/minute as shown now in the up/down control is converted to the ROTais value (+/- 126) and stored in the ROTais field in message 1.
  4. When the value in the ROT up/down control > 708 or < -708 then the ROTais value is set to 127 or -127.
Posted by: Ger Rietman | December 1, 2010

METS2010 and a new version of NemaStudio


METS 2010 Amsterdam

Last week I took the opportunity to meet a few business relations exhibiting at METS in Amsterdam. How often do you get a chance to see your customers in person, especially if they are from all over the world?

AIS-SART device

I had a nice chat with people from Weatherdock about their newest product easyRESCUE, nominated for the Dame Award (but unfortunately not a winner). The EasyRescue is a personal AIS-SART device with built-in GPS capable of transmitting an AIS-SART message in cases of emergency. It transmits an AIS message 1 in combination with a safety message 14. In NemaStudio you can simulate this by combining a Class A and a Class B object, but this is not ideal so I consider to implement a new AIS object AIS-SART or something. Let me know what you think of this idea!

Weather on board16112010065_244

I also met Dennis Walter of Bonito for the first time in person. He was demonstrating  his great WeatherInfoViewer using NemaTalker to provide the necessary navigational data to feed his software. Dennis turned out to be a very nice guy demonstrating his products with great enthusiasm and at the same time promoting Sailsoft to fellow exhibitors and prospects!


It was also great to meet the very nice people of Actisense. Especially Andy 16112010063_244Campbell, who has not only supported me heavily with the NMEA 2000 support in NemaStudio via the NGW-1 but also providing me with many fresh ideas. And not in the least by catching a few bugs in NemaStudio.
Andy showed the new analogue to NMEA 2000 devices (No doubt we will hear more about these shortly) and the QNB-1 Quick Network Block. This is a kind of junction box allowing connections to both NMEA-0183 buses and NMEA 2000 networks. In the latter case it acts as a multi-drop network connection block. To me this seems an invaluable piece of kit when fitting a NMEA 2000 network backbone on your boat.
In the image above Actisense’ Managing Director Phil Whitehurst (at the left) and me.

NemaStudio Version 1.9 released

Today (December 1, 2010) I formally released Version 1.9 of NemaStudio.

New in Version 1.9
  • Functionality to optionally checking for a new version of NemaStudio has been implemented
  • A ‘Check for New Version at Program Start’ option is added to the General Settings
  • A ‘Check for New Version’ menu item is added to the Help menu
  • Improved buffer handling in the serial port receive thread is implemented
  • The I/O Monitor buffer size is now limited to 100 sentences in order to prevent huge memory consumption during long runs
  • Logging to a log file: code changed to prevent a stack overflow in some situations
  • The MDW sentence has been corrected for a magnetic variation mistake (E/W was interchanged )
  • The VWR sentence was ignoring the decimal place of the speed when the wind speed variation was 0, corrected
New feature: automatically checking for a new version

From Version 1.9 NemaStudio can optionally find out for you if there is a new version available for download and install.

NemaStudio offers two options to achieve this:

1. Automatically at each program start, or
2. Manually via the Help menu

It is up to you which method you prefer. If you want NemaStudio to check for a new version each time the program is started, you need to check this option in the Program Settings.

Alternatively you can use the new menu option in the Help menu for this, if you don’t want NemaStudio to go out on the internet at each program start, as shown below.

Check New Version

Of course, since 1.9 is the first NemaStudio version offering this, you will not see a screen like the one above before the next new version (Version 1.10) is released.

I/O monitor change

The I/O monitor is now limited to show max 100 sentences on a first in, first out basis so it will always show the last 100 sentences sent/received. The reason behind this change is performance. Before Version 1.9 there was no limit to the size of the monitor window, resulting in a huge memory consumption when NemaStudio was running for a longer period.

NemaStudio can from today be downloaded and installed from the download swection of the Sailsoft website. Here is also the direct link to the installer:

Maretron USB100 Gateway

I have had (very) few requests from users to support the Maretron USB100 NMEA 2000 to USB gateway in NemaStudio. Unfortunately, in spite of my requests Maretron so far has refused to borrow me a device for testing. As a result I have to decide negatively to the requests to supporting the USB100, meaning that the Actisense NGW-1 will remain the only NMEA 2000 gateway supported in NemaStudio.

Posted by: Ger Rietman | October 7, 2010

Version 1.8 of NemaStudio released


NemaStudio Version 1.8

Version 1.8 actually has already been available since mid September, but due to circumstances I have not been able to blog about it here.

I did send an email newsletter about the release though, and also published a news feed. Unfortunately the feed was pointing to version 1.6 instead of 1.8, the result of a copy/paste action of a previous feed. Lesson learned. Thank you Joel (Nobeltec) for pointing me to this embarrassing mistake! In the mean time the download links on the web site have also been adjusted to point to version 1.8.

Updates in Version 1.8
  1. AIS Msg 14 (Class A, !AIBBM) reformatted according IEC61993-2 BBM message, ITU-R M.1371 message Id included now
  2. AIS Msg 21 (AtoN, !AIBBM) reformatted according IEC61993-2 BBM message, ITU-R M.1371 message Id included now
  3. GPS: ‘No Fix’ option added to GPS Fix Quality options
  4. AIS Class A and Class B: New feature: a GPS object can be linked as navigation data server, making automatic sailing possible via @GPWPL file
  5. GPS: now remembers waypoint input file ($GPWPL) at restart in Auto and Navigate mode
  6. Unhandled serial port read timeout, corrected
  7. Unhandled exception while interpreting data read, corrected
  8. General Settings user interface redesigned
  9. Number of decimal positions in Lat/Lon for $GPGLL, $GPRMC and $GPGGA can now be set between 2 and 5
  10. GeneralSettings: Log file Browse button now works as expected
Linking of AIS Class A and Class B objects to GPS

An exciting new feature in this version of NemaStudio is the possibility to link a GPS object to a Class-A or Class-B AIS object (item 4 above).

Why would you link a GPS to an AIS target?

Because it brings consistency in the generated output. The GPS position will always agree with the position of the AIS target in question. This is particulary handy if you have set the "Own Ship" to generate VDO sentences to be input into any chartplotter together with GPS data.

And more: it enables another much asked feature, namely that you are able now  to automatically have your AIS targets follow a predefined route!

How does that work?

By using the "Auto" or "Navigate" execute option in the GPS object. Selecting one of these objects brings up a file selection window asking to select a text file. This text file will contain any number of waypoints the GPS object has to follow. The waypoints must be in the $GPWPL format.

The file(s) can of course be created and edited with the text editing functions built in NemaStudio. But it is a lot easier to use the free WaypointCreator. You create waypoints by just point-and-click, and save them as a $GPWPL file for import in NemaStudio.

WaypointCreator  is using Microsofts Virtual Earth maps and can be downloaded from the download section of the Sailsoft website or by directly clicking this link.

Posted by: Ger Rietman | June 17, 2010

NemaStudio Version 1.7 released


NemaStudio Version 1.7

I just released NemaStudio Version 1.7. The new version can be downloaded and installed from the download section of the Sailsoft website.

Optimized thread handling

A lot of work has gone into optimizing the thread handling of the serial IO handlers. This optimization solves the apparent freezing of the User Interface in situations where too much data was multiplexed over a port with too little bandwidth, mostly this occurs with 4800 bps connections.

I have also introduced a cache that is buffering the sentences before they are transmitted to the selected ports. This is made visible on the status bar on the bottom of the main Window.

Status bar

You can easily follow port buffer overruns captured in the cache since from now on the status bar shows the number of sentences in the cache still to be sent. When you see this number increase you know that you have a situation as described before.

Balance the output!

There are a number of options available in NemaStudio to avoid this situation and to balance the output:

  1. Increase the baud rate of some or all transmitting instruments
  2. Use different serial ports for some instruments
  3. Lower the frequency the sentences are sent (interval timer)
  4. Limit the number of instruments transmitting simultaneously
  5. Limit the number of different sentences per instrument
  6. Set the output of some or all instruments to UDP instead of a serial port
  7. Use the ‘Stop All’ button to temporarily suspend the output until the buffers are emptied
  8. A smart combination of some or all of these
New Start All, Stop All and Close All toolbar buttons

3 New buttons are introduced on the toolbar to facilitate simultaneous starting, stopping and closing of all tabbed objects (see image above).

Other updates

A few bugs were corrected, with the most important the Special Manoeuvre Indicator not showing in the AIS message type 1.

Work to do

I still need to upgrade the help file to the current version. I am also considering an ‘Automatic Check For Updates’ function in NemaStudio, but that would require a ‘Call Home’ over the internet each time NemaStudio is started and I am aware that some users are not in favor of that. I have asked all NemaStudio users for an opinion, and will base my decision on the result.

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