Page 46

How to Get the Most Out of Your DSC By Glenn Hayes

E

fixed-mount marine VHF very boat with a radio (as well as an fixed-mount VHF increasing number of radio that was manhand-held radios) has ufactured after June 17, DSC capability. 1999, has a feature—one By pressing that little that is many times misbutton, a boat operator is understood and very frecapable of sending a disquently under-utilized— tress signal automatically known as DSC. The butwithout having to remain ton under that little red at the radio keying the cover is the trigger for microphone that will conDSC, or Digital Selective tinue to send that signal Calling. Many know it as until acknowledged. But a button that can transwith this emergency aid, mit an automatic maythere can be some userday signal but there is related problems. more to its capabilities than just that. Connecting the DSC This useful and lifesaving technology that is A fixed-mount DSC-capable VHF radio. Notice the button in the very bottom Radio to Your GPS now built into your VHF right corner, covered with a plastic, lift-up cover that must be opened to The Coast Guard has radio came about as a expose the emergency locator button—covered to ensure against accidental gleaned that with this new technology, in many direct result of require- activation. cases, it is not being used ments for large passento its full potential, and although it is a great feature, it is not ger vessels and commercial ships. In 1999, the Safety of Life transmitting all the information it could. DSC also has the At Sea Convention, or SOLAS, required all passenger vessels and other ships on international voyages to carry DSC-capable equipment that would work in the HF, MF and VHF frequencies. These radios had the capability of automatically sending a distress signal with position and vessel information to coastal authorities, as well as other ships, and would continue to do so until acknowledged. Once they met this requirement, they were allowed to turn off their 2182 kHz monitoring. The U.S. Coast Guard then determined that this action could cause a void in communication and monitoring between commercial vessels and recreational boaters. With this discovery, they petitioned to have the same type of distress calling capability be a requirement of VHF radios manufactured for the recreational marine industry. Aided by the development of a standard created by the RTCMS, or Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, this added capability was developed without significantly raising the cost of VHFs to the recreational market. Now every new

44

January 2015

SOUTHWINDS www.southwindsmagazine.com

Southwinds January 2015  

Sailing magazine serving Florida and the Southeast United States

Southwinds January 2015  

Sailing magazine serving Florida and the Southeast United States