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Thread: Need assistance!!

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    Default Need assistance!!

    We are developing a DSC (Digital Selective Calling) simulator and hope to have it ready in time for next spring's Sportsmans Show in Anchorage. We need some help from the boating public! I'll be training people to demonstrate the simulator and I'm trying to figure out how in-depth I need to get with their training so they'll be able to answer DSC questions from the boaters.

    So, what questions would you have/anticipate boaters might ask about DSC? Let me know please and I'll make sure that my people know how to answer them!

    Thanks!
    Mike Folkerts
    Boating Safety Specialist
    United States Coast Guard

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    Speaking from my recent experience, I bet you get a whole lot of questions about installs. You'd have a popular booth if you included install lit, maybe even examples, from the various manufacturers. One thing to see it at work on a simulator, but another for the individual user to see what it will take with his own setup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Speaking from my recent experience, I bet you get a whole lot of questions about installs. You'd have a popular booth if you included install lit, maybe even examples, from the various manufacturers. One thing to see it at work on a simulator, but another for the individual user to see what it will take with his own setup.
    BrownBear:
    Excellent suggestion! I already have a pretty good start on a cross reference guide that shows different manufacturer's wiring colors and the corresponding connections so people can match up their equipment. I'll make sure our trainers have some basic wiring skills so they can assist boaters...maybe I can get a company like Ancor to sponsor a small butt-connector 'give-away' promotional? Pick up a wiring diagram for your electronic set-up and a four pack of #14/16 butt connectors and a little di-electric grease package maybe? Keep them coming!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    maybe I can get a company like Ancor to sponsor a small butt-connector 'give-away' promotional?
    Check with Frigid North Electronics on something like that, too. (They're a local business, well known in the area amongst up electron nerds.) Tom McGrath is the owner.

    I would think you should cover operating theory on how SELCAL works, what it is and what it is not. (I think people often think it's more like a phone than a radio.) And be sure to discuss any limitations the system might have. (After all, it's still VHF based.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Check with Frigid North Electronics on something like that, too. (They're a local business, well known in the area amongst up electron nerds.) Tom McGrath is the owner.

    I would think you should cover operating theory on how SELCAL works, what it is and what it is not. (I think people often think it's more like a phone than a radio.) And be sure to discuss any limitations the system might have. (After all, it's still VHF based.)
    Sounds good, thanks! I remember Frigid North, used to buy stuff there when we lived in Eagle River years ago. I had to look up SELCAL because I didn't recognize that acronym...(aircraft term as I discovered, for SELective CALling...makes sense!) Yes, the limitations with VHF (antenna height, transmit wattage, signal propagation, etc.) are often unknown/misunderstood by the average boater. Interestingly enough, DSC signals will propagate farther than a VHF voice signal, so it's common to get a DSC alert with no voice comms when used at max ranges...all good stuff to know! Thanks for the suggestion!

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    Go to the local boat shops and give them all the information on installing DSC.

    Hand out a list of shops at the show that are willing do the install.

    Find someone that will go to a boat and do the install for a fee, instead of all the boats having to go to a shop.

    Have a phone # to call if a person has a problem and need help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    Go to the local boat shops and give them all the information on installing DSC.

    Hand out a list of shops at the show that are willing do the install.

    Find someone that will go to a boat and do the install for a fee, instead of all the boats having to go to a shop.

    Have a phone # to call if a person has a problem and need help.
    Good ideas...I think we can manage the distribution of information; I'll add the boat shops from around the state. Handing out a list of shops willing to do the install or recommending a technician is a bit trickier for us as we can't recommend a brand/business/person. The help line is a great idea too, not sure how I could man a help line though.. Appreciate it MacGyver!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    Sounds good, thanks! I remember Frigid North, used to buy stuff there when we lived in Eagle River years ago. I had to look up SELCAL because I didn't recognize that acronym...(aircraft term as I discovered, for SELective CALling...makes sense!) Yes, the limitations with VHF (antenna height, transmit wattage, signal propagation, etc.) are often unknown/misunderstood by the average boater. Interestingly enough, DSC signals will propagate farther than a VHF voice signal, so it's common to get a DSC alert with no voice comms when used at max ranges...all good stuff to know! Thanks for the suggestion!
    Well, I contributed to that misunderstandg because my background is in aviation electronics. I used to install/service SELCAL systems for an airline. I guess the DSC is "digital" selective calling" where as SELCAL is analog radio.

    As for the reasoning DSC will reach further than phone (voice), it's because digital modes of radio transmission always carry further than analog voice (FM, AM, SSB) all other things being equal. Digital signals require less bandwidth.

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    Is the distress feature of DSC feature working, or planned to be working in southcentral alaska in the future?
    2009 Seawolf 31'
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    Is the distress feature of DSC feature working, or planned to be working in southcentral alaska in the future?
    Yes it is! We haven't really broadcast the news yet but I'm OK with 'leaking' it on the forum...you may be aware of the Rescue 21 project http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rescue21/ which has been around for a few years now...at the risk of offering dated information here's the 'short' version: R21 was intended to update the Coast Guard's communication capabilities and General Dynamics was awarded the contract to install the system nationwide...unfortunately, the contract specifications really didn't work well for Alaska as our distances/topography are conducive to direction-finding (DF) functionality; however, DSC is...providing a better 'solution' to upgrading distress monitoring in our mountainous terrain. So, Alaska was granted the authority to develop our own system, R21 PRO. Because of fiscal constraints and cost overruns on the original R21 contract, there were inadequate funds to move forward with Alaska's system. The good news is that the contracts are now in place and we are currently in the process of installing the hardware so the Coast Guard can monitor DSC distress frequencies. The DSC simulator program has been waiting in the wings for this moment! The intent is to assist the public in understanding the capabilities of DSC distress processes and help them with setting up MMSI numbers and connecting GPS with VHF. You should also be aware that the CG monitors VHF around the coast of Alaska from South East, around the Aleutians and up about as far as Dillingham; this is about the extent of our current VHF capability (and eventually, our DSC distress monitoring capability as well).

    What about the rest of Alaska?

    Interestingly enough, we've talked with the Marine Exchange of Alaska http://www.mxak.org/ and they have developed hardware/software to monitor DSC distress from their AIS sites so the mariner will have coverage from SE to the North Slope! Be aware that MXAK does not anticipate having transmit authority from FCC so you won't have voice communications from Dillingham north like you would (with the CG) from Dillingham south. They will be able to 'see' your distress signal and will notify the appropriate rescue authorities; they just won't be able to talk to you.

    Sorry about the long reply, hope it helps!

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    ....the contract specifications really didn't work well for Alaska as our distances/topography are conducive to direction-finding (DF) functionality;.....
    Sorry, this should read: ]....the contract specifications really didn't work well for Alaska as our distances/topography aren't conducive to direction-finding (DF) functionality;....

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