The Exploratorium’s AIS feed relies on several AIS streams, maintained by radio enthusiasts. The main feed is maintained by a guy in Berkeley, who we usually refer to as “the dude”. His antenna is high in the hills, and he gets great coverage of the most of the bay. The main problem with this arrangement is that he doesn’t really owe us anything, so if by any chance he goes on a two weeks vacation and right as he’s about to board the plain he realizes his machine crashes, we loose our ShipTracker exhibit for two weeks.
The solution is, of course, to build our own radio receiver, which is exactly what I did. I am turning it into an exhibit, to also show how data is collected and converted into something meaningful. I also used this opportunity to try some new things.
This is what it looks like now: