AIS-catcher is an open-source initiative that empowers you to build a high-performance AIS receiver with affordable, general-purpose radio receivers like the RTL-SDR. This setup enables the local capture, analysis, and enhancement of maritime data, granting you full autonomy over your data while allowing for optional sharing with commercial aggregators. Unlike some commercial solutions that might provide you with expensive hardware for free, our project offers a cost-effective alternative without the need to sacrifice performance or control. AIS-catcher transforms your Software Defined Radio-equipped computer into a high-performance, dual-channel AIS receiver. It's compatible with a wide range of hardware, from RTL-SDR dongles to AirSpy, HackRF, and SoapySDR.

AIS-catcher allows you to effortlessly and anonymously share your AIS data with the community, should you choose to do so. This collaboration enables you to also access data from nearby stations. The live map section offers a comprehensive view of the information presently being captured by our network of feeders. We encourage you to contribute to this shared resource, enhancing the richness and utility of our ecosystem.

On this site, you can find examples of live station dashboards, download options, the community AIS feed and links to interesting AIS-related open-source projects.

AIS-catcher was conceived to close the gap between computers equipped with Software Defined Radio (SDR) and commercial AIS receivers, offering this capability as open-source to the community. Once set up, no internet connection is needed. For examples of local dashboards, refer to here. Detailed instructions for setting up an AIS receiver, including requirements, are available in this step-by-step guide.


Excellent Sensitivity

Enables the capture of AIS signals from extended distances, enhancing maritime monitoring capabilities.


Written in C++ with options to turbo charge on low-spec Single Board Computers

Open Source

Free Open Source with full source code available and published under the GPL3 license


Runs on Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux and Supports RTL-SDR dongles, AirSpy, HackRF, and more

Rich Output

Easily view NMEA messages directly or forward them via UDP/HTTP/TCP or submit to a PostgreSQL database

Web Viewer

Embedded web viewer that shows station performance and vessel positions


You're invited to share your data with the community. Simply go to the registration page which will generate a sharing key for you (no need for leaving credentials or an email address). Write down the generated sharing key and add '-X' followed by the sharing key to your AIS-catcher command line. That's all! In this way you contribute to our community feed and have an online station statistics page.

If you are not running AIS-catcher locally but any other program, you can still share by sending us your NMEA data over UDP. Register your station here to receive a dedicated port for data forwarding.

Getting Started

In this section we intend to describe how to set up your own station but is still work in progress. The intention is to improve the software and this site to make it as simple as possible.

The requirements are, an RTL-SDR (or other SDR or a AIS receiver with a serial connection), an AIS antenna and a simple device to run the AIS-catcher program. A Raspberry Pi is a popular choice for this.


Open Source AIS projects

Have a look at projects to get some inspiration on what we can be done with AIS data and AIS-catcher output.


Below is a list of AIS data aggregation sites that are sharing with