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  #1  
Old 03-23-2007
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DSC (VHF/GPS) info

I just bought a VHF radio and it had a new feature I was unfamiliar with call Digital Select Calling or DSC. I'm posting the little info I gathered on it in case anyone had more comments and as general knowledge.

Basically if you connect a GPS NMEA feed to a VHF radio with DSC you can press one button which transmits a little packet of info in emergency that includes your location. All the guys at WestMarine where I bought it said they had their chart plotters in their boats connected to it too so apparently not just the coast guard can receive this info, anyone can with the right equipment.

Now our boats can have that red panic button we always wanted. ;D

US Coast Guard info on DSC:

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/gmdss/dsc.htm

Rescue 21 - In Puget Sound USCG just upgraded their old emergency response system to something called Rescue 21 ( I believe it's part of a larger national effort). The link below is about that. The thing of note is that you need to register with USBoat or SeaTow to get a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number (the links to those are in the webpage below):

http://www.uscg.mil/rescue21/dsc/index.htm

Last edited by tenuki; 03-23-2007 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 03-23-2007
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Tenuki-

DSC is much more than just a way to hit a panic button. It can be used in a lot of different ways. For instance, if you have the MMSI of a friend's boat, you can use DSC to send out a request for a radio conversation with them, without using channel 16. You can also transmit your position info to your friend over it, say if you want to raft up for lunch.
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Old 03-23-2007
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Sweet! Boat tech certainly has come a long way since the days I last need to use a VHF. I've been swearing that I'm gonna keep my new baby as low tech as possible, but it seems to be creeping on the boat anyway. I can't help myself, I'm a gear junky.

oh wait, I should probably get boating friends first so I have someone to call...
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Old 03-23-2007
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I just did a VHF DSC licence course last week and they seem a good idea depending on where in the world you might be sailing that is and how responsive coastguards might be. (not a problem in UK or USA)
What I'm wondering though, is which make of set to buy, as they vary in cost a fair bit and a waterproof set 25w tx is a waterproof 25w tx set is it not?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenuki
Sweet! Boat tech certainly has come a long way since the days I last need to use a VHF. I've been swearing that I'm gonna keep my new baby as low tech as possible, but it seems to be creeping on the boat anyway. I can't help myself, I'm a gear junky.

oh wait, I should probably get boating friends first so I have someone to call...
LOL... that would help...
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-23-2007
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I just bought a Standard Horizon HX-471S VHF/DSC. Aside from an absence of info on where to find the NMEA wires (look under the unmarked white disc in the base!), so far it's a pretty sweet little unit. I will test it throughly when I launch next month, but I am looking forward to installing it in my pilothouse.

I'll use it as my "carry" VHF for off the boat and in the Zodiac. I use an older, but quite rugged and well-performing SH 260S as my "deck" VHF (which gets used the most, actually) and my ICOM M45 base unit down below.

The new SH 471S has family band as well, which is handy for talking to the foredeck in loud conditions and/or anchoring.
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Old 03-23-2007
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The HX-471S is a great little unit, but has very limited DSC capabilities... Basically, it only has the panic button feature... and that only really works well if it is in the cradle—otherwise it may have old GPS information in the unit and may mislead the rescuers to the wrong coordinates. I have one as my primary handheld VHF.

The HX-471S isn't new and has had the GMRS and FRS radio capability for at least a couple of years IIRC... mine is over a year old, and it wasn't a new model when I got it.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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I always liked Icom gear although it was not so robust as I recall. I used to be a dealer for them a few years back on the PMR (private business radio) front. I also sold and hired out Motorola gear which was a definate league ahead, albeit far more expensive. The Icom stuff looks much better manufactured now and maybe it is worth considering but is it any better than Horizon/Simrad etc? anyone got Icom fixed marine and really love it?
The boat I have bought has a really good non-DSC vhf so I am wondering whether to replace or just to add a second set with DSC.
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Old 03-23-2007
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Well... how big is your boat... how much space do you have at the nav console... I'd replace instead of add... but that's just me.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-24-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
The HX-471S is a great little unit, but has very limited DSC capabilities... Basically, it only has the panic button feature... and that only really works well if it is in the cradle—otherwise it may have old GPS information in the unit and may mislead the rescuers to the wrong coordinates. I have one as my primary handheld VHF.

The HX-471S isn't new and has had the GMRS and FRS radio capability for at least a couple of years IIRC... mine is over a year old, and it wasn't a new model when I got it.
I know, but I got a deal and the DSC is strictly of limited interest as it isn't going to replace an EPIRB but might help if I'm away from the mainship with it and have an idea of set and drift.

It's the weight and the multi-band functions I wanted. The DSC option is just gravy to me...because I usually know where I am from the six other position-fixing technologies I already have!
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