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Thread: DSC radio - do people use it ?

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    Member AKMarmot's Avatar
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    Default DSC radio - do people use it ?

    Are a lot of people using the DSC capability on their radios? I am picking up a standard marine radio for the skiff & for $50 more the 1700 series radio has an internal gps making the DSC automatic after registration. I am only using a handheld GPS so I wouldn't hook up / hard wire the DSC capability on the 1600 series. Just curious if its worth the extra coin & if others are using it.

  2. #2

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    I'm muddled (as usual) and not sure it's even available here yet. Could be right, could be wrong. In any case, I just bought a new radio and got one with DCS. If it's operational up here, fine. If not, I figure it will be before too long, certainly within the life of the radio.

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    Buying, selling or installing a VHF Radio?
    If you are considering purchasing, selling or reinstalling a VHF radio in the near future, this information is very important to consider.

    As of March 25th, 2011, the FCC has made it illegal to buy, sell, or install some DSC capable VHF radios. After this date, all VHF radios must not only be DSC capable, but must also be Class D compliant.

    This is a quote from the US Coast Guard website:
    Beginning on March 25th, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission will prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale and installation of fixed mounted (non-portable) digital selective calling (DSC) equipped marine radios that do not meet the requirements of International Telecommunications Union (ITU-R) Recommendation M.493-11 or higher, and in the case of Class D VHF DSC equipment only, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) International Standard 62238. Therefore, after March 25, 2011, radios built to RTCM Standard SC-101 can no longer be manufactured, imported, sold or installed; however, previously-installed radios meeting the older standard may continue to be used.
    This, and more information can be found at the USCG website; here: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtDsc
    What is "Class D"?
    Class D equipment is specifically designed for recreational vessels. It provides VHF DSC distress, urgency and safety as well as routine calling and position polling. Class D equipment includes a dedicated channel 70 DSC receiver, so you will never miss a DSC call.

    More on DSC (and Class D) here: http://www.vhf-dsc.info/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_...ective_Calling
    http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/info.htm
    After you buy a Class D VHF radio...
    You must do a couple things in-order for it to work correctly.

    1. You need to register for an MMSI number in order for the Coast Guard to be able to identify your boat (required).
    http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mmsi

    2. Your DSC capable fixed-mount VHF radio must be connected to an external GPS source for DSC function to work properly. This can be a separate GPS antenna, or a chartplotter/GPS unit (which has a built-in antenna).
    If you have a non-Class D DSC radio, will you need to upgrade?
    Users of RTCM-SC-101 compliant DSC radios that are not Class D, will not be required to upgrade. This new specification is only for insuring that all radios that are sold or reinstalled after March 25th, 2011 are Class D.
    What's the difference between RTCM-SC-101 DSC VHF compliant radios, and Class D VHF DSC radios?
    Class D radios have a dedicated receiver for channel 70. All DSC calls are transmitted on channel 70, so having a dedicated receiver means that there is no chance for a Class D user to miss a call.

    I found this explanation in an article at the US Power Squadron's website:
    There are generally two classes radios sold in the US. fall into. Class D was developed to provide DSC capability for VHF marine radios carried by recreational boaters. In order to get production going in the US a simplified version of class D was developed � designated SC-101.

    These new DSC radios use channel 70 for the transmission of digital information. The less expensive models (typically meeting the SC-101 spec.) have one receiver, and operate by scanning between the normal voice channels and channel 70. If your radio is in use (either transmitting or with the receiver squelch open) it will not receive a digital call. The class D radios have two receivers � the second is committed to receive only channel 70. In this way you are much less likely to miss a call, it is of significant advantage to buy a radio that meets the class D spec.
    The source of the above quote can be found here: http://www.usps.org/national/safety/SafetyBulletinFeb2007.pdf


    Non Class D DSC radios allow you to broadcast a distress signal on channel 70. The new Class D radios effectively minimize the chances of other DSC radio users from missing your distress call if they are simultaneously using their radios at the same time your distress call is initiated.

    All DSC radios (whether Class D or non Class D) transmit distress calls the same way.
    Are all new VHF radios Class D compliant?
    If you purchase a fixed-mount VHF radio from a reputable source, then it will probably be Class D compliant, as it is now illegal for anyone to sell non-Class D radios. Some smaller retailers may not be aware of this regulation change, so it is always good to check the model number to be sure. Be aware that some model names have remained the same through this change, so it is important to cross-reference the model number (not just the model name) of the radio you are considering.

    All portable/hand-held VHF radios being sold today are still not Class D Compliant, and are not yet required to be compliant by the FCC. Some handhelds, however, are DSC capable.
    How do you know if your current VHF radio has DSC?
    The simple answer: If your radio has a button that is covered by a bright red, see-through plastic cover, then it has DSC (Digital Select Calling) capability. Note that DSC does not work �out of the box�. It requires the owner/installer to follow some simple steps for it to be enabled. Refer to: �After you buy a Class D VHF radio� of these instructions for details. Please note that not all fixed-mount DSC VHF radios are Class D compliant, and must be in order to be installed in any vessel.

    A few manufacturers are beginning to make hand-held radios that are currently available with built-in GPS, and so they are capable of Digital Select Calling. The major advantage to these newest handhelds, is that you can automatically communicate your digital coordinates � Important if you have no EPIRB or PLB, or if you want redundant forms of location-sending devices.
    How do you know if your current radio is a Class D radio?
    Typically this information is not shown anywhere on the radio, so you�ll need to do a little research. Consult your owner�s manual or look-up the model number (not the model name) on the internet. If your radio was purchased prior to March 2011, it may not be Class D compliant.
    What happens when you push the red button?
    When the DSC (Digital Select Calling) button under the red flap is pressed, digital information (not audio) is sent from your VHF radio to the Coast Guard, via the Rescue 21 system. This digital information includes your MMSI number and your coordinates. The Coast Guard can then look-up detailed information that you supplied when you registered-for (and received) your MMSI. Also after the button is pressed, your radio will automatically switch to channel 16, so the Coast Guard and other VHF radio equipped vessels may hear your calls and communicate with you. If their radios are Class D compliant, other radio operators/vessels will automatically hear your calls after the red button is pressed on your radio.
    Important note: If your vessel is more than 25 nautical miles from the nearest Rescue 21 station, the Coast Guard may not receive your distress call. However, if you are out-of-range, it is still important to press the button if you are in distress. Why? �Because other vessels within reception range will likely hear your distress call, and may be able to communicate with the Coast Guard for you, and may be able to offer direct assistance before the Coast Guard can reach you.
    What is the �Rescue 21� system, and is it available in your area?
    Rescue 21 is the system communication and implementation that the Coast Guard uses for monitoring distress calls (including DSC calls), as well as to aid in homeland security.
    This description is from Coast Guard website:
    Rescue 21 is the United States Coast Guard�s advanced command, control and communications system. Created to improve the ability to assist mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea, the system is currently being installed in stages across the United States.

    A map showing all existing Rescue 21 stations is located here:
    http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rescue21/images/R21nationwide.jpg

    More information on Rescue 21 can be found here:
    http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rescue21/project.asp
    Still Confused?
    The Coast Guard has a comprehensive tutorial video on VHF/DSC radio operation. It covers the "Rescue 21" system, and how it works in conjunction with DSC emergency calls. It also covers VHF equipment selection (including Class A, Class D, and the now obsolete SC-101), equipping your boat with necessary peripheral equipment, installation, programming MMSI, and use of your radio in conjunction with DSC. If you have any questions in your mind how VHF/DSC works, I highly recommend you watch this video from beginning to end. It is likely that even if you use VHF regularly, you're going to learn something you didn't know.

    The video is entitled, "Can you hear me". You can view it here: http://www.boatus.com/foundation/dsc...T.mc_id=400090The total length of the video is about 37.5 minutes.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    The Coast Gurad may not be set up in Alaska for the DSC but my understandig is that if I push my red button, any other boat in the area equipped with DSC and a GPS will get my distress call and location. At least thats what the info with the radio and GPS said. If it is true then it is worth it even if the USCG isn't running the system yet.

    Anyone else know more about this and can confirm what i'm thinking?
    Ignorance is not Bliss, it's insanity

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabliss View Post
    The Coast Gurad may not be set up in Alaska for the DSC but my understandig is that if I push my red button, any other boat in the area equipped with DSC and a GPS will get my distress call and location. At least thats what the info with the radio and GPS said. If it is true then it is worth it even if the USCG isn't running the system yet.

    Anyone else know more about this and can confirm what i'm thinking?
    I read it the same way. My inclination right now is to go through the steps and connect it to my GPS.

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    Member AKMarmot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabliss View Post
    The Coast Gurad may not be set up in Alaska for the DSC but my understandig is that if I push my red button, any other boat in the area equipped with DSC and a GPS will get my distress call and location. At least thats what the info with the radio and GPS said. If it is true then it is worth it even if the USCG isn't running the system yet.

    Anyone else know more about this and can confirm what i'm thinking?

    That is the way the mfg rep explained it as well, but then again do others have to be registered with an MMSI number to see your distress call?
    I am curious about how many people up here are registered. Because if no one is doing it, it defeats the purpose.
    Of course there were some cool other features mentioned as when you call another person using their MMSI # it, it will give your location to them or vice versa without have to talk on the radio, so if you wanted to let them know what hole you were fishing without broadcasting it you could do so. Sounds good, but again I don't know any other boats out there & obviously wouldn't know there number.

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    I thought all NEW radios had to have it, is this two year old left over stock or are you buying used?
    Spend the money and get it . hook it up to your chart plotter and you can see on your plotter where the other boats are that are talking, they pop up on your screen.

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    DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is a newer radio technology allowing enhanced distress radio messages to be sent digitally. Radios with DSC capability have been on the U.S. market for several years. Since 1999, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) began requiring new fixed mount models introduced in the U.S. to be equipped with the DSC feature. Minimally, DSC radios are equipped with single-button emergency transmission capability.

    Your new DSC-enabled radio needs an MMSI or, rather, A Maritime Mobile Service Identity. This is a unique 9-digit number that is assigned to your radio. When you buy the radio you MUST obtain your MMSI in order to take full advantage of newer radio technology allowing enhanced distress radio messages to be sent digitally. A link to get your MMSI FREE can be found towards the bottom of this article.

    Your MMSI registers the boat information in the U.S. Coast Guard's national distress database for use in emergency situations. DSC radios have a one-button emergency transmit button that sends the vessel's unique MMSI number. In addition, if the DSC equipped radio is linked to a GPS or Loran unit, the distress call will include the vessel's position. Should the skipper become incapacitated, the radio will continue sending the mayday. In addition, a DSC equipped vessel with an MMSI number can make a "private" hailing call to another DSC-equipped vessel. Only the vessel being called will receive the hail. VHF Channel 70 is reserved exclusively for DSC.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    All new radios have the DSC but not everyone hooks it up to a GPS or gets an MMSI number. I did for the fact that I wanted help to get to me as soon as possible if I ever pushed that red button.
    While on the water I have never had it alarm me of another boater in distress but as more people take advantage of it I think we will start seeing it pop up on the GPS when someone is in need of help.
    I wish there was a way to test the features. I can only hope it works but will never know for sure until I need it.
    The FAA gives the first 5 minutes of the hour to test ELT's, be nice if we got the same.
    Ignorance is not Bliss, it's insanity

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    One time a friend of mine pushed the red button by mistake.
    On my radio and a lot of orther radios. A loud alarms went off and my friends name and location flashed on my radio.
    You have to have your MMSI number installed in your radio and it needs to be installed in your friends radios.
    Every boat in your group of friends need to exhange and install MMSI numbers.
    In you exhange numbers you can have a semi private converstion on the VHF on the channel you choose.

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    Maybe we should start a thread where we all list our numbers, the AOF MSSI directory.

    My Chart Plotter does something with DSC as well, I think it keeps track of all the calls, but I don't know if all that is hooked up.

    Sent from my phone while I should be working.
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Well, I guess I need to replace my old radios then. What brands are better than others without breaking the bank?
    27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
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    You can get a MMSI number for free. See:

    http://www.boatus.com/MMSI/

    From my understanding DSC/Rescue 21 is not operational in Alaska, yet. See: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...Alaska-by-2017

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR2 View Post
    Maybe we should start a thread where we all list our numbers, the AOF MSSI directory.

    .
    Great idea!
    Ignorance is not Bliss, it's insanity

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    Good info on this thread! I second (or third) JR2's idea of an MSSI directory! Here's the latest/greatest on DSC for Alaska: Yes, DSC works. No, the Coast Guard (Alaska) isn't on the "lower 48" R21 system...lots of reasons for that (one major reason is $$). To elaborate a bit, DSC works in Alaska as it does anywhere; any vessel with DSC can communicate with any other vessel with DSC using the system. Garyak's post gets into alot of detail so I won't repeat all that. The Coast Guard is working to upgrade existing VHF 'high sites' with the appropriate hardware in order to monitor DSC; I believe the work is to be completed by 2017. The Marine Exchange of Alaska http://www.mxak.org/index.html is poised to install DSC on the AIS sites that they own/operate which (when completed) will virtually cover the remainder of Alaska's coast line. Spend a little time on the MXAK site, there's lots of valuable information there even though much of their work is focused on commercial shipping. The real-time weather info is particularly helpful.

    As the Coast Guard gets closer to DSC, we expect to offer public classes/seminars on DSC and how to get the most out of your DSC system. I'm currently working on building a couple of DSC simulators that we can give to specially-trained Coast Guard Auxiliarists so they can interact with the boating public (hopefully at next year's GASS and other boat shows). Stay tuned!

    Boat Safer!
    Mike

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Bump to the top. I think it's an important topic that we need to keep going. A sticky needs to be made of all our MSSI's to help us while we are out on the water. "if I can ever get out there". Went looking for a new DSC radio today. No good ones in stock at the local shop. Looks like I'll be shopping at Amazon tonight. Interested int he Standard Horizon 1600 or the Simrad RS12, althought the ne Garmin 100 looks like a good model too. I don't need the GPS versions due to having a Garmin 740S and a Simrad Handheld with GPS already. Ideas?

    Rob
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    ...Standard Horizon 1600....
    I just installed one, but haven't connected to my GPS and gone through the DSC setup yet. All I can tell you is that it is really clear and crisp, easy to use. A marine tech buddy really swears by them for their price range.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    A sticky needs to be made of all our MSSI's to help us while we are out on the water.
    Rob
    Have mine in my sig....

    ALASKAN SEA-DUCTION
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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. That's the model I was looking at.
    27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Have mine in my sig....
    That's a great idea.
    27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
    Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Pro Staff
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