Robert and Doug, I was referring to 47 CFR 80.275, 47 CFR 80.1101 (c)12 and the NVIC 8-01 as amended by Change 01.
Both Class A and Class B AIS devices must be certified by both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Coast Guard before being marketed or sold in the U.S. FCC rules require that certification first be obtained from the Coast Guard. The FCC Laboratory will coordinate review of applications for certification of AIS equipment with the United States Coast Guard to ensure that the equipment meets all applicable international standards and requirements.
While I have worked as a pilot with a laptop (using the neat little pilot plug that is required for vessels over 1600t), it was equipment that met technical requirements for shipboard use by the US. Coast Guard (for the FCC), as spelled out in part in the CFR's stated above and links below. Maybe gTrax can get approval, or maybe the software that it is working with is already approved. It would be worth checking into.
Any equipment that is placed in the wheelhouse, has to be Coast Guard approved. It may be a last resort to bring you own equipment with you. But regardless of how great it works, if it is not approved, it may cause problems in court. I don't agree with it, necessarily, but it is one of the "legal" problems in our profession. Regulations, regulations, regulations...
Coast Guard Certification Requirements
Certification requirements for Class A AIS are described in 47 CFR 80.275, 47 CFR 80.1101(c)12 and in the Coast Guard's Navigational and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 8-01, as amended by Change 01, Approval of Navigation Equipment for Ships. NVIC 8-01 describes the certification process for AIS and other navigation equipment described under SOLAS V. Note that applications should be submitted to Commandant (CG–521), the new routing code replacing G-MSE and G-PSE.
Certification requirements for Class B AIS equipment are described in 47 CFR 80.231(c) as well as 47 CFR 1101(c)12.
I realize (NVIC's are not the law), but cfr's are.