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  #1  
Old 08-29-2007
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How to use the VHF radio article, site, post or whatever?

I am picking up gear bit by bit to prepare for "real" sound cruising where I will sail a day away from the ramp before spending the night and coming back the next day. I got a handheld VHF radio for safety and convenience. These trips are generally organized to travel as a loosely organized pack keeping in touch by radio. Anyway, I found the info on what channels are used for what services:

http://wireless.fcc.gov/marine/vhfchanl.html

and I tested on one of the non commercial channels with another local who wanted to test his radio. Neither of us really knew what to do other than dial in the channel and say "testing, testing" and "I hear you, do you hear me?" and "yes, I guess they work".

Is there a good quick read on etiquette and whatnot (do people really say "roger" and/or "over", etc?). Does the USCG get ticked if you ask for a radio check on CH16? I would like to be sure it actually works on that channel, since that is a major reason for getting it.
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Old 08-29-2007
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http://www.concordelectronics.com/ne...-etiquette.htm
Here's a pretty good summary.
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Old 08-29-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arbarnhart View Post
I am picking up gear bit by bit to prepare for "real" sound cruising where I will sail a day away from the ramp before spending the night and coming back the next day. I got a handheld VHF radio for safety and convenience. These trips are generally organized to travel as a loosely organized pack keeping in touch by radio. Anyway, I found the info on what channels are used for what services:

http://wireless.fcc.gov/marine/vhfchanl.html

and I tested on one of the non commercial channels with another local who wanted to test his radio. Neither of us really knew what to do other than dial in the channel and say "testing, testing" and "I hear you, do you hear me?" and "yes, I guess they work".

Is there a good quick read on etiquette and whatnot (do people really say "roger" and/or "over", etc?). Does the USCG get ticked if you ask for a radio check on CH16? I would like to be sure it actually works on that channel, since that is a major reason for getting it.
Perhaps some of these links will help!

http://www.boat-ed.com/ma/course/p5-5_summoninghelp.htm
http://www.foremostboaters.com/safet..._etiquette.htm
http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/20.htm

I haven't heard of many radio checks on ch. 16 but I did hear one guy insist that the CG read him the weather of ch. 16. They were pretty patient and did read it to him, I think it all depends where you are, time of day, and the patience.

If you have a friend with a handheld or a friend with a scanner, you could test it on the hard away from water to ensure that it is working. If using a scanner, just make sure you tune it to channel 16 and then transmit and see if you can hear yourself.
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Old 08-29-2007
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Real general info:

Channel 16 - International hailing and emergency channel. This is the channel that most people monitor, and it's OK to hail someone (My boat is pelican and I'm calling bobber, so I say "Bobber, Bobber, this is Pelican, over". Bobber responds "Pelican, this is bobber." Then you arrange for another channel to actually talk on - "Bobber - switch to 68, over". Bobber acknowledges - "Bobber to 68, over" and then switches. Once on 68, the two greet each other similarly "Pelican, this is bobber on 68, over" and then have a conversation. Generally, once you are finished transmitting you finish up with "over" to signify you are clearing the airwaves for the other person to respond). Channel 16 is also the station that the Coast Guard primarily monitors and you can ask for information, report problems or issue mayday/pan pan calls. You also can do securite calls for hazards to navigation, or your position in the fog. Radio checks are generally frowned upon on 16, and the CG will get right on top of someone who uses 16 as a conversational channel.

Channel 9 - The second most monitored channel and the primary "recreational" channel in use. It's OK to do radio checks on 9 and many people are listening. You can have conversations on 9, but once again it's recommended that you find a free channel to converse on.

Channel 13 - Commercial traffic, bridges, tugs, etc. GENERALLY, tugs or other commercial traffic, plus drawbridges, will monitor 13, but not always. If you are going in a commercial shipping area, 13 is a good station to listen to.

Channel 22 (and sometimes 23) - Coast guard informational updates. If the CG is issuing an advisory (weather, navigational, etc.) they will often tell people to tune to channel 22 "alpha", which is really just channel 22 on an ordinary VHF.

Channels 68-72 (and some others) - Recreational channels. When you "meet" someone on 9 or 16, these are generally the channels you'll agree to tune to. Once your conversation is complete, most people go back to monitoring 9 and 16.

This is really basic info and I recommend reading the links above.
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Old 08-30-2007
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Don't forget that some channels differ depending on whether the VHF unit is set for US or International. So if you're on the right channel, but you don't hear the party you're waiting to talk to... check the setting on your VHF unit....and make sure if you're in US waters, to have it set to US mode.
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Old 08-30-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Don't forget that some channels differ depending on whether the VHF unit is set for US or International. So if you're on the right channel, but you don't hear the party you're waiting to talk to... check the setting on your VHF unit....and make sure if you're in US waters, to have it set to US mode.
I don't think I am quite ready to leave the US, just yet. I should probably get a GPS and - oh yeah - maybe more experience and a blue water boat - first.
(I do plan to get the GPS before I do the serious sound cruises).

But I will keep that in mind on the off chance that I take the radio with me on a vacation or something.
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Mind you, that you don't have to leave US waters for this to affect you. Canada is considered international and their VHF radios, IIRC, use the international frequencies... so if you boat on the Great Lakes, you could run into this problem pretty easily without realizing it. Same thing with Mexico or any of the Caribbean Islands. Also, if you charter in the USVIs and go over to the BVIs, I believe you'd run into this problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arbarnhart View Post
I don't think I am quite ready to leave the US, just yet. I should probably get a GPS and - oh yeah - maybe more experience and a blue water boat - first.
(I do plan to get the GPS before I do the serious sound cruises).

But I will keep that in mind on the off chance that I take the radio with me on a vacation or something.
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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Old 08-30-2007
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Interesting. One of my questions is answered in the third link. It says it is techically illegal to bother the USCG for a radio check. But reading all the others (including that really great intro Cam posted a link to) it has become more than a little obvious to me that just regular usage includes CH16 pretty heavily, so if that didn't work I would find out pretty quickly.

Thanks for all the prompt responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by merlin2375 View Post
Perhaps some of these links will help!

http://www.boat-ed.com/ma/course/p5-5_summoninghelp.htm
http://www.foremostboaters.com/safet..._etiquette.htm
http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/20.htm

I haven't heard of many radio checks on ch. 16 but I did hear one guy insist that the CG read him the weather of ch. 16. They were pretty patient and did read it to him, I think it all depends where you are, time of day, and the patience.

If you have a friend with a handheld or a friend with a scanner, you could test it on the hard away from water to ensure that it is working. If using a scanner, just make sure you tune it to channel 16 and then transmit and see if you can hear yourself.
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Old 08-30-2007
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If you do a radio check on one channel, your radio should be working for all channels. The only difference may occur due to poor reception or transmission depending on the frequency and interference. GENERALLY, if you do a radio check on 9, you're fine for talking on 16.
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Old 08-30-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Mind you, that you don't have to leave US waters for this to affect you. Canada is considered international and their VHF radios, IIRC, use the international frequencies... so if you boat on the Great Lakes, you could run into this problem pretty easily without realizing it. Same thing with Mexico or any of the Caribbean Islands. Also, if you charter in the USVIs and go over to the BVIs, I believe you'd run into this problem.
Canadian radios appear to use Canadian frequencies. My VHFs (an ICOM base unit and two Standard Horizon handhelds) have VHF band choices of "USA", "CAN", and "INTL". The "INTL" frequencies are definitely different, but I couldn't tell you if (or why) there is a difference between "USA" and "CAN". Obviously, there is either crossover or dual transceiving on the "official" channels, because not only do I hear occasional U.S.C.G. "pan-pans" on the "Canadian" Ch. 16, but I also receive American automated WX broadcasts as I move down the lake and closer to Rochester (where I assume this stuff is transmitted).

The INTL frequencies appear to be another situation altogether. I switched my SH 471S to INTL before going to Portugal, and I noticed that in Portugal, people generally don't yak on VHF the way they do here...you can leave the squelch right down on 16 and will rarely hear a call.

On the other hand, the Portuguese aboard seemed to never sail completely out of cell phone range...the damn things went off constantly! I guess GSM has a greater range, because my digital phone range is about two NM, maximum.
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