AIS receiver
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AIS receiver for the Raspberry Pi

This is very much a work in progress...

Installing the RTL_SDR software


This information is a direct copy of my write-up for installing the same software for the ADS-B dump 1090 program.

  • sudo  apt-get  install  git-core
  • sudo  apt-get  install  cmake
  • sudo  apt-get  install  libusb-1.0-0-dev
  • git  clone  git://
  • cd  rtl-sdr
  • mkdir  build
  • cd build
  • cmake  ../ -DINSTALL_UDEV_RULES=ON
  • make
  • sudo make install
  • sudo ldconfig
  • cd ~
  • sudo  cp  ./rtl-sdr/rtl-sdr.rules  /etc/udev/rules.d/
  • sudo reboot
  • rtl_test
  • rtl_test -t  (for E4000-based tuner)

If you get an error....

If, at this point, you get an error like:

Kernel driver is active, or device is claimed by second instance of librtlsdr.
In the first case, please either detach or blacklist the kernel module
(dvb_usb_rtl28xxu), or enable automatic detaching at compile time.

usb_claim_interface error -6
Failed to open rtlsdr device #0.

You should follow the steps here to stop Linux claiming the device for itself to use for broadcast reception.

Installing the AIS Decoder software


The basic instructions are:

  • wget
  • tar  zxvf  aisdecoder.tar.gz
  • cd  aisdecoder
  • mkdir  build
  • cd  build
  • cmake  ../ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

At this point, the cmake command was not found, so I tried:

  • sudo  apt-get  update
  • sudo  apt-get  install  cmake

and then repeated the command:

  • cmake  ../ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

This resulted in the error messages:

-- Build configuration: Release
CMake Error at CMakeLists.txt:54 (MESSAGE):
  The development files for ALSA or PulseAudio are required - libasound-dev,

-- Configuring incomplete, errors occurred!

So let's try installing those packages, but first remove the file which tells cmake which packages were found or not.  If you don't do this, no amount of installing packages will help, and you can waste an entire morning chasing the problem,  Been there, done that!

  • rm  CMakeCache.txt
  • sudo  apt-get  install  libasound-dev  libpulse-dev
  • make


Not sure what's happened (other than two reboots), but now running the cmake command works without errors:

-- Build configuration: Release
-- Configuring done
-- Generating done
-- Build files have been written to: /home/pi/AIS/aisdecoder/build

so next to link the radio receiver software with the AIS decoder program...


In 2022 I looked at newer software for this, and can recommend both the Airspy HF+ receiver, the AIS Catcher software, and the AIS Dispatcher software.  This combination gives significantly better results than a COMAR AIS-3R dedicated AIS receiver.

Copyright © David Taylor, Edinburgh   Last modified: 2022 Jul 02 at 06:19