Power Users

Software-On-Board Online Manual


Information presented on this page often assumes a high level of Windows™ proficiency, 
(mostly in regard to file handling, opening and manipulation). 

   Targets : AIS, ARPA, RADAR, Remote WAN Connections 

Quick links:


English Channel, UK

Guernsey, UK

Sydney, Australia

Curaçao, Caribbean Sea
Click an image to view full size


 Target display settings

Press the on the Target form to change AIS display settings 

Notes on the screen shots

The RED targets are those that pose a collision threat as per the settings in SOB that you enter to define what poses a danger (see image of the SOB Settings options to the right).

The YELLOW targets are still "alive" according to the Time to Inactive setting. 

The GREY targets indicate that a message has not been received from the target for the time set by Time to Inactive. If "Auto purge if Inactive" is checked, or the [Purge Now] button pressed, then all the GREY targets will be removed. 


  Terms and Acronyms 
CPA Closest Point of Approach
The position of your ship (latitude and longitude) at the point when your ship and the target ship are at the minimum distance apart. This location can, at times, be misleading ... for instance it can be half way around the World, or at a point after your two paths cross. SOB considers the ships as "passed" if the CPA is behind your current position.
TCPA Time to CPA
Is the time remaining until your ship reaches the CPA
DCPA Distance apart at CPA
This is the actual closest distance that the ships will ever be. In the Quick Info box below, it is "Clearance Distance" at the CPA.
DTG Distance To Go to CPA
The distance you are from the CPA position. This is a calculation based on the TCPA and your current speed.
ARPA (or MARPA)  Automatic Radar Plotting Aids
A pre-AIS technology based on RADAR signals to determine lat/lng, speed and course of defined RADAR blips. MARPA (Mini ARPA), for all intents and purposes, is the same as ARPA, just without the official ratification.


Detailed information is available for each target
Quick Info  [Enter]

Click the [Info] button (or press the [Enter] key) and hover the pointer over a target to get some Quick Information about it.

This selected target becomes the Active Target for tracking. See next ...


Note, the "hotspot" for each target is the tip, not the centre.



This example is from the NMEA sample AIS logfile installed with SOB: the ship SEAFRANCE RENOIR is selected in the list of acquired targets (below), and is being dynamically tracked with current data displayed in the ViewPanel (below, at left).


     Tracking Targets   [Enter]


  With Info mode active, the last target that the info cursor hovers over will display detail in the Targets Panel 


If enabled (on the Targets List, the [Mark CPA] button), the Hazard waypoint symbol will be displayed at the CPA. This is a temporary waypoint and will not appear in SOB's waypoint list. Its position is updated whenever the CPA with the chosen target changes location, it is therefore possible that a new position for the CPA waypoint will overlap previous positions, however with the next chart refresh, only a single CPA waypoint will be drawn at the current CPA.  


The example scenario (right, click for full size image), shows a collision threat with the red target in the lower-right of the image (MMSI 232001710), which is marked as a Tracked Target, with received data and CPA calculations in the white Targets Panel. A wpt shows the CPA with this target.


Detailed Target List   [T]
Looking at the right-hand panel of the Acquired Targets list tells us that it is a 135 metre long Passenger ship bound for Calais. However if you run the logfile, you can watch this ship LEAVING Calais, so I would suggest that the Ship's officer has not updated the "destination" yet. There are often errors noticeable in the "Ship's Static Data" that must be entered by the operator in their AIS transponder. The dynamic data however, (lat/lng, sog, cog) is never in error (theoretically) as it originates from the GPS or other instruments, and is not subject to human mistakes!

The list can be sorted on any column by clicking the column's header box (eg: the MMSI, Name, Rng, Crash, TCPA etc grey labels). Click the header box again to reverse the sort order.

ClearAll, Delete and Hide Targets buttons require no explanation. 

[Pan to Target] will centre the display at the target's position. The cross-hairs that always mark the centre of the SOB screen (unless in de-clutter mode) will make it easy to identify the Target chosen.

[Pan to CPA] is only enabled if the target poses a collision threat. Then it will centre the screen at the CPA. [Mark CPA] will place a regular SOB waypoint at this position (which, of course, can change its location never, frequently or continuously).

[Send Message] requires a transponder and is not yet implemented.



  or  +

 Target Friend's List   [F]

This is a free-form list that the SOB user can create to highlight or exclude any particular target for any desired reason.

Acquired Targets that are found in the Friend's List will be drawn on the chart display using the colour chosen for the Friend, and will include the Nick Name chosen when displaying the Target label on the chart surface.

Any entry in the list can be excluded from the target display by ticking the Hide box. By default, the ship with MMSI number of zero is set for exclusion (it is common for AIS and SOB to "pick up" a zero MMSI when first starting to acquire targets, and usually only indicates an incomplete AIS message was received). Excluded targets will still display in the Target List, and can be redisplayed with the [Show Target] button if hidden.

Note: the Target Friend's feature does not work without some extra information for WAN and ARPA Targets, as their unique numbers (which SOB uses to simulate an MMSI number) is unknown before reception. Once a new WAN or ARPA target is acquired, the new unique MMSI number for it can be used when adding it to the Friend's List and then named and coloured as you wish. Press the [Add to Friends List] button to simplify these steps.

The list of friends is maintained in a simple text file in the SOB main folder: FRIENDS_List.txt. This file can be manually edited, or created from a spreadsheet list etc. Be sure to include the data delimiters "~" after each field, and at the end of each line.



AIS Transponders

If you are equipped with an AIS transmitter/transponder, then SOB makes it easy for you to "set" your AIS details in compatible devices (your AIS transponder must be capable of receiving static ship's data via the SSD and/or VSD NMEA sentences)



RADAR Targets

ARPA / MARPA Targets

SOB reads the TTM, TLB and TTL NMEA sentences, sent from compatible RADAR units, and displays the targets in the same way as the AIS targets. However ARPA targets don't transmit the same amount of detail about themselves (so no Ship Type, Destination, dimensions ... ie: none of the Static Data at all).

SOB creates a unique MMSI number to associate to each received ARPA target. A user-defined name for any targets will also be used by SOB (the target's name is typically keyed in at your RADAR device's console).

Not all RADAR units are ARPA (or MARPA) capable. Check your RADAR's specifications if you are unsure.


VRM / EBL Targets

The RSD NMEA sentence contains information about the RADAR cursor's current location, and up to two separate RADAR targets (usually referred to as VRM/EBL marks), as set by the user of the RADAR device.

The targets displayed in SOB are simulated targets that SOB creates from the VRM/EBL marks set by the user of the RADAR device. SOB will draw these simulated targets on the screen as a circle (rather than the triangle used for AIS and ARPA targets).

SOB can also re-display the RADAR unit's cursors, marks and range-rings directly on the chart surface.

NOTE: SOB can not display the Raster Image that the RADAR builds from the returned echoes of its magnetron.

Importing Routes and Waypoints from a GPS

Refer to AllWaypoints

NMEA Logfiles 


The NMEA DATA log file is used to replay a voyage in SOB. In fact ANY plain text file containing NMEA data can be used by SOB to replay a voyage (ie: data captured by HyperTerminal). These files can be easily copied (or emailed) between different computers and the past voyage replayed as often as you wish.

The data written to the file will resemble the text in this example, each line as known as a NMEA Sentence:

$PGRMM,WGS 84*06

Optionally save ALL NMEA data received by SOB to a standard NMEA format log file by "ticking" the checkbox on the Raw NMEA Data form which selects whether to write this log file or not.

Regularly throughout a long voyage, or at the completion of your voyage, use Windows™ File Explorer to save this data to an appropriately named file and place it in the \LogFiles folder for easy replay from the buttons on the Raw NMEA Data form.

The folder that this file is found in is the SOBvMAX\Logfiles folder.

NOTE: This logfile is ONLY AVAILABLE after SOB exits. If you try any file operation on it while SOB is running you get a "File Open Error" from Windows.

Past-Track Logfiles

See also Easy Tool Page

When SOB exits, the current on-screen PastTrack will be logged to two different files:

!PastTrack.txt will be appended with any unlogged points from the current session. 
This file is controlled by the settings on the PastTrack form..
The data in this file is designed to be thoroughly analysed with Excel. (see Power Users - Analyse your Voyage)

will be created to temporarily hold the current PastTrack, this track will be redisplayed in SOB when next started. 

The LastTrack file uses the same format as the PastTrack file.  This allows ANY logged track to be redisplayed in SOB.

Analysing your Voyage

SOB will automatically create a Log File: LogFiles\!PastTrack.txt
However, if SOB has not been Unlocked, then PastTracks will not be logged to file (ie: if AccessLevel = 0, or trial period has expired).

SOB logs a lot of data about the ship every few seconds to a standard "row/column" formatted text file for direct importing into a spreadsheet for archival purposes or voyage analysis.

The logfile is appended every few hours (about 4.5) of running time, and any unlogged data is added to the logfile when SOB exits.

This file can get quite large when SOB is employed in a real-time navigation scenario. The file grows at about the rate of 1 Megabyte every 24 hours of running time. 
A typical use would be to import the logfile into a spreadsheet every day or so, deleting the !PastTrack.txt file after importing. The logfile will be re-created the next time (about every 4.5 hours) that SOB is logging data.

The data logged by SOB to this file is:

Column Heading Description
TIME UTC time for this row of data
LAT/LNG Latitude and Longitude
MODE Real-time, Dead Reckoning or Voyage Replay
COG Course (Over Ground)
SOG Speed (Over Ground)
DEPTH Depth of Water
AWD Apparent Wind Direction
AWS Apparent Wind Speed
TWD True Wind Direction
TWS True Wind Speed
TEMP  Water Temperature
ALT  Altitude (Height above MSL)
TRIP Accumulated Distance
SPD Speed (Over Water)
HDG Heading (Over Water)

When imported into Excel, the resulting data will appear as: (after some simple formatting)

Now use Excel's powerful tools to analyse or present this data in a multitude of different ways. For example, a graph of the apparent wind speed for the voyage can reveal much interesting and useful information:

Zoomed-in from the example chart (pictured above), the entire voyage, or any part of the voyage can be visually analysed with Excel's powerful charting tool.

To create this chart in Excel, simply highlight the Time column and the AWS column (for this example), then press the 
Chart Wizard button on the Excel toolbar, select a "Line Graph" option from the choices provided and press [Finish].


Voice Recognition and Spoken Commands

Voice recognition is built into Windows XP, refer to your Windows™ User Manual for instructions on how to enable and use this feature.

Voice (or speech) recognition can function in two different ways:
(1) Commands, or (2) Transcription.

With adequate "training" of the speech recognition engine, and a disciplined "dictation" voice, it is not unreasonable to expect better than 95% recognition accuracy during a "transcription".

However SOB does not have a use for the dictation properties of speech recognition, rather, SOB uses Spoken Commands to activate Macros that are linked to SOB's features.  Each user must set-up these macros for their own use (using techniques as described in the Windows™ voice recognition manual).

The design of SOB should allow any feature to be accessed with a two or three word command. Organise and plan your tasks thoroughly before beginning to create the voice command macros.

Some examples:

SOB Voice Command Configure Macro to Perform These Actions...
Centre-Ship press [Centre-Ship] button on SOB Toolbar
or [space] key
Autocentre-Ship-Mode press [Info] then [Centre Ship] buttons
Show-Ships-Form press [F9] key
Show-AllRoutes-form press [F11] key
Show-Conversions-form press [F12] key
Close-Form close any open form (a default command)
Select-Waypoint-Tool click Waypoint button on SOB Toolbar
Select-Routing-Tool click Route button on SOB Toolbar
Pan-East click to right of display centre
Pan-Far-East click on right edge of screen

In addition, many of the standard command macros created by the speech engine will be suitable for using with SOB. 
ie: Maximise, Minimise, Tab, Go-Down, Go-Up, Page-Down, Enter etc...


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