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Old 04-27-2012, 08:41 AM   #21
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Power&Motoryacht Magazine has an interesting article on DSC in the May 2012 issue. http://pmymag.com

According to PMY, after 12 years DSC has been largely a failure as a boating 911 system. Very few boaters take the time and trouble to connect their radios to a GPS and obtain an MMSI number. Nine of ten distress alerts have no position information and six of ten DSC calls have no MMSI number registered.

In 2010, there were more than 23,000 rescue calls to the GC and only 263 were DSC. Most were VHF, but over 7,000 were cell phone.

Smart phones with GPS and search and rescue apps are likely to provide the SOS system of preference in the near future.

----------------------------------------------------

This has got to be a bit embarrassing to the CG that has spent a lot developing the system, requiring VHF radio manufacturers to include DSC in their products, and promoting it nationwide to boaters. I'll admit that I owned my ICOM DSC for a year before getting an MMSI number and have yet to use it.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:42 AM   #22
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I have a DSC radio and it's activated with my MMSI number. It's really only for emergencies though, as I only have one person's number in there. I think Brent Hodges called me using that once and it scared the hell out of me because it sounded like an alarm going off that I had never heard before!
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:30 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Laker View Post
Power&Motoryacht Magazine has an interesting article on DSC in the May 2012 issue. http://pmymag.com

According to PMY, after 12 years DSC has been largely a failure as a boating 911 system. Very few boaters take the time and trouble to connect their radios to a GPS and obtain an MMSI number. Nine of ten distress alerts have no position information and six of ten DSC calls have no MMSI number registered.

In 2010, there were more than 23,000 rescue calls to the GC and only 263 were DSC. Most were VHF, but over 7,000 were cell phone.

Smart phones with GPS and search and rescue apps are likely to provide the SOS system of preference in the near future.

----------------------------------------------------

This has got to be a bit embarrassing to the CG that has spent a lot developing the system, requiring VHF radio manufacturers to include DSC in their products, and promoting it nationwide to boaters. I'll admit that I owned my ICOM DSC for a year before getting an MMSI number and have yet to use it.
The numbers are deceiving...as most USCG SAR cases aren't emergencies but general distress.

Boating safety education stresses that betting your life on a cel phone call is idiotic because the VHF reaches hundreds of potential rescuers rather than just one. In all my years of SAR and assistance towing (almost 35 years)...the vast number of SAR cases were reached first by other boaters...not the USCG.

Now...if smart phone apps get to the point where they are doing the same thing as DSC...then that's great...as long as you have cell coverage as well as your potential resuers and they aren't too busy texting or checking facebook...
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:21 AM   #24
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Let's say you have an emergency. Need to call a May Day. Seconds count.

What is faster push and hold a red button for 5 seconds or call on the VHF.
Call on the cell phone you get one person. How long does it take for that person to look up the number of the USCG or of Tow boat Who ever.

Regular VHF You have to call May day note your posititon and read the numbers Lat & lon. Hope for a reply and stand by the radio.

What if something else is going on. Like you are doing CPR or trying to stop a bad leak.

If you have DSC hook it up. You don't have to use the call feature if you don't want but the Red button.A simple thing to do. A Foolish thing not to.

The MMSI number will give all kinds of information about your boat. Make, Mode, Color, owner, agent.
If you need help who is going to be the first responder. Chances are a boat close to you.
Cell phones won't help you there.
The RED BUTTON.will allow the Coast guard to direct aid to you. Let them stand by the radio if you can't.
As fast as they are it still takes time for them to scramble a chopper or vessel to come to your aid.
It is not about the call feature that is secondary. It is about the RED BUTTON
Once again a simple thing to hook up a foolish thing not to
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:08 PM   #25
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This has got to be a bit embarrassing to the CG that has spent a lot developing the system, requiring VHF radio manufacturers to include DSC in their products, and promoting it nationwide to boaters. I'll admit that I owned my ICOM DSC for a year before getting an MMSI number and have yet to use it.


It would seem to me that this is not an embarrassment for the Coast Guard but rather an embarrassment for the boating community at large.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:26 PM   #26
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Let's say you have an emergency. Need to call a May Day. Seconds count.
...
What if something else is going on. Like you are doing CPR or trying to stop a bad leak.
Playing devil's advocate a bit here...

I'm not advocating not having, or not properly installing/preparing a VHF with or without DSC. But in my boating usage (weekends and short trips), a cell phone is more convenient, and in my opinion more effective than the VHF, and would be my first choice for communicating with emergency services.

With a cell phone (assuming coverage), I can dial 911 and hit the speakerphone button. Then I can perform CPR, stop my leak, load up my dinghy, etc. It's also private.

But if I'm on VHF (assuming a built-in unit, not a handheld), then I need to stay at or near the helm for the entire conversation.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:35 PM   #27
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A great point Conrad.

Such a simple thing to do. Most GPs's have the NEMA 1800 all you have to do is hook up two wires.
It looks a little funky because you have to peal back the braded coaxel and splice it into the wire.
Once done you have a Panic button.

Anyone on board can push a button.

Have you ever seen anybody use a a VHF for the first time.

They forget to let the mic button go to listen or to even push it to talk.

Imagine someone not familiar with a radio trying to call for help if it is you that needs the help.

Comm'on guys get those things hooked up.

For safty sake.

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:41 PM   #28
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With a cell phone (assuming coverage), I can dial 911 and hit the speakerphone button. Then I can perform CPR, stop my leak, load up my dinghy, etc. It's also private.

But if I'm on VHF (assuming a built-in unit, not a handheld), then I need to stay at or near the helm for the entire conversation.[/QUOTE]

You are using the word assuming there a lot.

How far out do you have to go for the cell to be out of range?
I don't know. For me it is about 6 miles.

In an emergency you want private?
Not me I want everyone to know. HELP SOS. PLEASE PLEASE

Every aid at your disposal. Lives could be at stake.

Sombody Hit that RED BUTTON
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:03 PM   #29
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You are using the word assuming there a lot.

How far out do you have to go for the cell to be out of range?
I don't know. For me it is about 6 miles.

In an emergency you want private?
Not me I want everyone to know. HELP SOS. PLEASE PLEASE

Every aid at your disposal. Lives could be at stake.

Sombody Hit that RED BUTTON
SD
I'm not arguing against your point, nor the red button, SD.

My waters are Puget Sound, and I need to travel for hours to get out of cell phone range, and this is where the assumptions in my scenario came from. If I was in a different location, and I readily recognize that many people on this forum are, then it's a completely different situtation.

I also think we're talking about two different emergency situations. In a true emergency (Mayday) then hit the RED BUTTON and accept assistance from everyone that comes to help.

In an "emergency" (Pan pan) I personally would probably dial 911 first, or a combination of the RED BUTTON and the cell phone.

In a "problem" (Securite) situation, I would resort directly to the cell phone.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:04 PM   #30
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skipperdude

You are making way too much sense! While all of your points are right on, it seems the public has yet to buy in.

One thing that might help is that VHF manufactures are beginning to include a dedicated GPS in the new radios. This eliminates one of the steps required to use the DSC function.

Another thing that might help is to have a DSC test function. No one wants to push the red button in order to figure out how to use it and whether it works.

Finally, the whole MMSI concept and implementation is poorly explained in user manuals and I find it hard to use due to non-intuitive use of buttons and limited display space. It would be nice if it were integrated with the chart plotter.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:18 PM   #31
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Matt, I understand the cell phone thing and I too would use ti IF I had coverage.

I am sure there are many boaters on this Forum that are in the same situation I am.

Boat US does not have service in Alaska. Even in the pan handle where most of you lower 48'ers come up to visit.

To me it is just plain silly not to have every option at your disposal when it comes to being on the ocean.

People die at sea all the time albeit more commercial than pleasure.

If you are out on the water it is always SAFTY FIRST.

DSC another tool Just like a life vest.
You don't need it till you need it.

SD
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:25 PM   #32
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I work in a warehouse run by the Chinese. You really don't want to use anything put together by them......
Like a Boeing or Airbus airplane?
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:32 PM   #33
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I'm not arguing against your point, nor the red button, SD.


In an "emergency" (Pan pan) I personally would probably dial 911 first, or a combination of the RED BUTTON and the cell phone.

In a "problem" (Securite) situation, I would resort directly to the cell phone.
911? And get what, the local police/fire/ambulance dispatchers? What the hell good is that going to do if you're broke down and the current is carrying you toward the rocks?

In the time it takes to get the 911 operator to even figure out what you're talking about and determine that, no, you don't need a policeman, no, you don't need a fire truck, and no, you don't need an ambulance, and what's the nature of you're emergency again? and you're where? and you're in what? and then explain why they can't get a policemen or fire truck or ambulance to you you'll probably be on the rocks. If you're lucky they'll eventually transfer you to the Coast Guard's main switchboard or something.

Calling 911 for a marine emergency is about as pointless an exercise as I can think of.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:32 PM   #34
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911 is a land based service. The call is routed to 911 by your area code. How does that help you if you are out on the water? So you call 911 and then what? They have to transfer your call to the CG. The CG rescue service is set up to use the VHF, not the phone.

I think that the reason many VHF DSC radios are not set up is that the connection from VHF to GPS is not standard. The wiring color codes are not standard, and there is no connector provided. The industry needs to get it together and provide a dedicated connector on both the VHF and the GPS to enable the DSC functions. Then its a plug and play system. For VHF and GPS that are not side by side, an extension cable should be available. Having the interconnection become a do it yourself project is nuts.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:37 PM   #35
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We no longer have the space shuttle program. The older satellites are well past their 'sell by' dates. We can't go up and fix them anymore and must rely on other countries (China??) to put new ones up.
That's silly. GPS satellites weren't sent up by the Space Shuttle and the Space Shuttle people didn't fix them when they broke. We simply send up another one. They are a "disposable" item. I work for one of the companies that does this (Boeing) and we have sent up plenty of new GPS satellites over the years. The Space Shuttle had nothing to do with the GPS system satellites whatsoever.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:45 PM   #36
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I think that the reason many VHF DSC radios are not set up is that the connection from VHF to GPS is not standard. The wiring color codes are not standard, and there is no connector provided. The industry needs to get it together and provide a dedicated connector on both the VHF and the GPS to enable the DSC functions. Then its a plug and play system.
I think Larry has summed up the situation perfectly. The DSC concept is fine. But the hardware needs to be made more user-friendly. Not the red button--- that's about as user friendly as you can get. I can teach my dog to push the red button.

But connecting a VHS and a GPS/Plotter/etc can be a bit of a pain. When we hooked ours up we simply had the electronics dealer we buy all our stuff from make us up a cable. Furuno plug on one end but I still had to solder the red and yellow wires or whatever together because that's all that came out of the back of the radio. But if, as Larry suggests, they adapt a standard plug for radios and GPS units or plotters--- something basic along the lines of a USB connector---- and you simply buy the length of cable you need and plug the two units together, the whole thing becomes a snap.

Installing a GPS receiver in the radio itself like in a smart phone or iPad is a good idea but whether or not it can be used will depend on where the radio is mounted. So even if the industry goes toward putting a GPS chip in VHF radios I think there still needs to be a provision for connecting a remote antenna either directly or via a plotter or other navigation device.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:45 PM   #37
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Calling 911 for a marine emergency is about as pointless an exercise as I can think of.
I wouldn't say 911 is pointless.

My six year old knows how to use the cell phone, as does my guest that has never been on a boat in his life.

If I call 911 on my cell phone, they have my name, street address, and GPS location, without me speaking a word. If the boat sinks and the DSC on VHF shorts out.... someone can still coordinate a rescue.

Again on the disclaimer: I'm not arguing against DSC -- hit the RED BUTTON and the same information is available to a person to coordinate the rescue.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:45 PM   #38
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I'm with you there larry.
Could be that there are to many GPS manufacturers. They all have propriatry systems.
But really it is just a couple of wires.


So everyone is going to hook up the RED BUTTON RIGHT?

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Old 04-27-2012, 04:15 PM   #39
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Save the local USCG station's number in your cell phone and call them directly should the need arise.

I'd use the red button as well! we have our MMSI number, GPS is hooked up... ready to go.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:30 PM   #40
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I saw this system in action at the USCG station under the Golden Gate bridge in SF a few years ago. Pretty neat! Sounds an alarm and prints out a chartlet with your position shown as well as the lat/lon, boat name, and all the information you have in your MMSI registration. Takes seconds.
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