Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Matsutec HP-33A 4.3" marine GPS AIS transponder

I bought Huaygang Tech in Hong Kong for £270 + import duty. It still seems a bargain as it is a 50 channel GPS and a class B AIS transponder. There is a video of it being opened on You Tube, and you can see the specs on Huaygang's Alibaba site . Obviously I did not buy it on Alibaba - I ordered it directly and paid by PayPal. Excellent

I tested it at home and the set up was quite simple. The MMSI number went in and was saved (without any "are you sure" type of message). The GPS fixed the position of my house within about 1m, and that was with the antenna on the window ledge so it did not see many satellites. It was giving out short bursts on the AIS VHF channel every few minutes, as I could see on my Ham radio, but my attempt to decode them with ShipPlotter failed. I am not sure why but these type of things can be a bit tricky to set up. The Tx Rx indicators on the AIS display did not change so I am not sure what they do. They were small grey circles and I expect they should flash in colour. I then took the unit to Conwy Marina for testing aboard Tui. I plugged the PL259 from the main mast antenna in the HP-33 A, and used an emergency antenna on my Standard Horizon MX2100 VHF and AIS receiver. As expected I did not show up on the MX2100 display as the same MMSI is programmed in so it knows it is me. I then put my AIS Man Over Board SART in test mode and that shows up nicely on the unit. It comes up in red even though it says it is a test.
  I then tried to see if Tui showed up on Marine Traffic web site, but she did not. Actually the Wifi and 3G signal were both very poor in the marina so this was difficult. There were no other AIS transponders within range of either my HP-33A or MX2100, although Marine Traffic showed some ships further out to sea. Actually the Marine Traffic web site says it does not have coverage in Conwy.

I ran in to the crew of a 39 foot sloop Testa Rossa also berthed in Conwy, and asked them if I showed up on their AIS. It turns out that I did.

It is strange that the beam says 7ft. The set up menu of the HP-33A indicates the distance of the GPS antenna from the port or starboard side of the boat, but it assumes it is a ship with parallel sides. Interestingly Testa Rossa does show up on Marine Traffic in Conwy Marina. They could also see the ships further out on AIS. I presume this is a combination of Testa Rossa having a taller mast (I presume they are using a splitter and their main mast antenna) as she is a sloop rather than a ketch, and being further away from land so maybe having a clearer view.Note the position is correct down to the correct berth in the marina.

So far it the unit is pretty impressive. The next step is a permanent installation including connection the NMEA output. Also I am intrigued by the method of uploading and downloading waypoints and tracks. Instead of using proprietary software it just spits ASCII files down a serial port. I think I quite like that approach as it is very flexible but we will see how we get on with that. I am planning to put a whip antenna on the mizzen mast, that way it serves as a back up antenna for the VHF as well.


Blogger Billlion said...

There is a PDF manual on line now. Also HuayangTech sent me a copy of the CE conformity certificate (as you can see on the video it caries teh EU CE mark on the back).

5:02 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Hi Bill, great find.
I just searched and find an HP 33 (rather than HP 33A) on Amazon.co.uk!

Was the 33 also available when you found your 33A? Maybe an earlier or lower spec model?

I hope you will continue to write about your experience and impression of this equipment.

Thanks for sharing!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Glenn said...

Hi Bill, saw your vid on this ais, great info mate! I just bought a hp33a from huyangtech after watching, however when the device arrive it will turn itself off after 5min if left idle. May I ask if you experience the same issue? or isit just mine? Thanks in advance!


1:59 AM  
Blogger Billlion said...

Sorry people for not approving OKing the comments straight away I didn't see the notification. Paul The HP33 is just a GPS not a combined GPS and AIS.

Glenn, no I bench tested it for several hours and it did not turn off. Sounds like a fault.

9:31 AM  
Blogger mr said...

I left a note on their web site to contact me with a quote and no response yet after 4 business days. Do you have a direct email from your HuayangTech sales guy?

4:37 PM  
Blogger Marijn said...

Hi Bill,

This message could be a bummer, sorry.

There has been an extensive forum discussion about this product on zeilersforum.nl (in Dutch). The conclusion after contact with the manufacturer is:

This device is not aproved for the european market and could disrupt the AIS traffic in the area.
In a reply ot an inquery Matsutec writes:
Good day! Thanks for your inquiry to our HP-33A. As per your request, please check the brochure of HP-33A, and the manual will send to you thru my other email address. You can download the file there.
This model don't have CE marks yet. We will apply the CE in the future. But HP-33 already got the CE marks, you can have a look.

and in reply to an other:

We don't have R&TTE & ETSI currently. Is that R&TTE & ETSI required? Because we haven't do this test before. And we don't know how to apply this approval. I will check it with our boss. Do you know how much cost it could be to apply this approval?

The CE documents are made by the company itself stating that the internal electronics is according de CE rules.

CE+(!) and R&TTE and ETSI are needed to be allowed on the european market.
And yes if this device would be safe I would love to have one.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Deano said...

Glenn, there is a firmware upgrade available. You can upload it yourself using a USB cable connected to the main loom.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Billlion said...

I tested the unit on a trip Conwy to Inverness, but only connected the proper antenna on the mizzen in Scotland. The results are impressive as a receiver it picked up stations 40 miles away, much better than the approx 20 miles I got from the Standard Horizon antenna on the main mast. Marine traffic.com shows it had pretty good range on transmit too.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Billlion said...

Marijn I found the forum you mentioned but no posts about this unit. Is it a private forum? If not can you provide a specific link. I don't speak Dutch but I am sure Google Translate will give me the gist of it.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Marijn said...

The link to zeilersforum: http://www.zeilersforum.nl/index.php/Forum/73-stroom-a-elektrische-apparatuur-aan-boord/454385-objectieve-mening-omtrent-deze-ais-transponder?limit=25&start=200#477051

It is a long topic, 9 pages.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Billion,

Are you still happy with the hp-33a?

With kind regards,


12:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Billion,

Are you still happy with the hp-33a?

With kind regards,


12:08 PM  
Blogger Billlion said...

Yes still very happy with it. Excellent performance, especially as a receiver.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Billlion said...

This commenter wanted to post anon so I am quoting "
I would be better off not doing this but against better judgement I will put in my two cents . because in that forum discussion to which Marijn is referring to there was also a personal threat of a member (freebird) to squeal , meaning betray , all those who use this non approved ais transponder. Several parts of that discuussion where deleted by the mods. Some comments where plain rude and inappropriate. A few members also cracked this device down simply because its not Dutch or European but Chinese , and in this case taiwanees. Speaking about protectionism right.
Although there where also a few sensible remarks regarding the correct timeslot of broadcasting your ais data. That can only be checked by a specialized company , therefor there is the risk you run in disturbing ais traffic around you . But it could also be you dont , who will tell. I've been using this device for 6 months now , to my great satisfaction . However when using it in high traffic zones i switch it off for reasons stated above.
There is one nasty catch though , when the transponder is switch off on the circuit panel there is a possibility that the mmsi code will be deleted resulting in no broadcasting whatsoever. When the device is switched off on the unit itself , the bue button , all is well.
The tricky part is that after such a delete you can easily re-program the mmsi again. It is a good thing you can re-install your mmsi , but it should not be swept away in the first place. Maybe something to warn Matsutec for.
Approved transponders will not allow you to re-program as you well know.
The gps function works like a charm , immediate location pin point , my transponder is also hooked on a wify multiplexer giving me all the data I need on my ipad.
My personal score for this device - the very compatible price taken into account - ........altleast an 8 , but Matsutec should get rid of the bug responsable for deleting the mmsi in the transponder when not correctly swtiched off.
But it could also be a 1 device fault ofcourse . If so , sending it back to Taiwan would probably cost me nearly as much as the price i paid for this fancy gadget itself.
As i said earlier , my 2 cents. Hopefully freebird and a few others dutch board members dont read in here :-)
Kind regards

3:28 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello Bill
I recently bought this transponder and have fitted it. It appears to work very well, except that I can not be sure that it is transmitting my AIS info. A local boat does not appear to see me. It is possible that my MMSI was deleted by switching off at the switch panel rather than the blue button. We will see next time I am at the boat. The page showing RX and TX puzzles me also. I can see no instruction in the manual which explains their function. Can you offer any more suggestions in this respect please? For any others looking to buy this kit I approached the Company direct by e-mail, payed with Paypal a total of £263 all in and received the package in 5 days. A very good service you must admit.
With best wishes to you Bill

2:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Guys,

I was the first to make a faulty MMSI input on my "Matsutec"-HP-33A and HUH ....believed it should either back to China or taste my sledgehamer..... But hold a minute.. I called the guys in China and they gave me a English/haf Chinese explanation on the subject... I am now Writing in big letters... to the guy or two who had to much speed trying this little wonder out. THE FIRST 3 TIMES YOU MAKE A FAULT IN THE MMSI PROGRAMMING, YOU CAN ACTUALLY DELETE THE HOLE THING BY GOING INTO THE SYTEM MENU AND CHOOSE RESET TO FACTORY AND THE MMSI WILL BE EMPTY AND READY FOR A NEW TRY, BUT ONLY 3 TIMES THEN YOU ARE DONE AND ITS OVER AND OUT. I wrote this to the person who is about to panic..... I was for sure.... Thanks for a nice blog...

Leif in Denmark

10:13 AM  
Blogger Billlion said...

Sorry Martin and Leif I didn't see those comments awaiting moderation. Martin the TX/RX dots on mine are not always visible when it is transmitting, I am not sure why. One way to test the range is to look on a web site like Marine Traffic to see if you show up. If its not working well suspect the antenna, especially the connectors. Unfortunately the HP33A does not warn you if it has a bad SWR.

Leif I can hear him in my head! I suppose after 3 times you can still send it back to China to be reset by more invasive means (short of a hammer).

11:51 PM  
Blogger Deano said...

The 'Dissapering' MMSI number is fixed in a software update from Matsutec. Well it did on mine.
I'm very happy with mine. It has proven it use all last summer. Woking faultlessly and at a great range.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Bill and all the other guys.
My name is Ivan and I´m in Brazil. Was introduced to the equipment by one of the salesperson via facebook. I´m very interested because of the the low price and other details. I´m technician and my plain is to offer to my clients here as a good and cheap AIS B.
I´d like to remember you two important things around AIS intallation.
The AIS use a frequency around 162 mhz and most of a normal VHF antenna are not suitable for this frequency causing hi SWR and reducing the transmiting range so much.
Second issue is to remember you that Class B AIS has only 2W. Avoid long coaxial cables. For example: if you install your AIS antenna at the top of your sailboat mast and you have around 100 ft or 30 meters of RG58 you will get around 9 db loss on your cable. It means that the 2W from AIS will be divided by 2 on each 10 meters/30 ft cable. 2w/2=1 1/2= 0.5 0.5/2=0,250.
So you have only 250mW at the antenna. It will reduce very much your range.
Change your cable for RG8X or RG213 or use your antenna at the middle or lower at the mast.
I´ll buy one to make test and will give more information about.
I´m also curious if it has a SILENT mode. When you dont want to show your position but still want to see other boats.
Thanks you all and sorry any mistake on english

Ivan PY1YB

10:08 PM  
Blogger Billlion said...

Thanks Ivan. Yes to switch of the TX off you go in to the AIS config menu and turn the TX to off.

You are right about the antenna. I use a standard VHF antenna on my mizzen mast (Tui is a ketch so this is shorter) and some good quality coax. The antenna is designed for 156.8MHz so it works best on Ch 16 rather than 162MHz, however it serves as a back up for the VHF if we lose the one on the main mast (or the main mast!). It is a compromise.

As a receiver it is considerably better than the one build in to my Standard Horizon VHF, despite the lower antenna, and the TX performance is pretty impressive too. Actually I am not sure the range needs to be any better for collision avoidance but it is handy for shore stations tracking on Marine Traffic.

4:24 AM  

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