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Old 04-26-2012, 07:47 AM   #1
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DSC, do you use it

I just purchased a VHF radio with all the bells and whistles which of course includes DSC (digital selective calling). I'm getting a MMSI number so I'll be ready to use it as soon as I install it.

That brings up a question though, does anyone ever use DSC. I don't mean for emergency calling, but for calling other boats. This VHF has the capability of not only storing several MMSI numbers but also displaying their location on a chart-plotter. The MMSI boat that is displayed on a chart-plotter muct agree to allow their position to be interrogated. The VHF will also call another boats' MMSI number and their VHF if so equiped will ring and display my MMSI number. They then simply pick up the mic and initiate a call on the displayed channel.

We don't cruise with a lot of friends and the few that we occasionally do have never brought up DSC. Just wondering if anyone ever uses DSC?
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:38 AM   #2
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I never have.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:17 AM   #3
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We use the DSC capabilities all the time. When traveling with friends we call them using DSC rather than Channel 16 (assuming they have set up their DSC radio). If we are with two or more boats on a "cruise" we will set up a group MMSI and use that to contact all the boats at one time. Also use the position request features to figure out exactly where friends are located.

In 2010 on our last trip to Alaska we were looking for friends who were late in joining up with us. Not knowing exactly when they might show up or where they were we used the DSC calling feature over a number of days trying to contact them. Once they got into range we were able to talk and arrange a meeting. Saved taking up the airwaves with multiple calls on VHF 16.

DSC is a great tool. It is a pitty more boaters haven't figured out how to use it.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:53 AM   #4
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Problem is that, for us and most of our friends, we spent good money for a good VHF radio before they all came with DSC. That radio performs just as well today as the day it was installed. Nothing I have heard about DSC causes me to open my wallet for a new radio, just to get that feature. Now, if there was something wrong with my radio, my next one would have both DSC and AIS.
I like the Standard/Horizon that has both and is reasonably priced. Since my present radio is a Standard/Horizon I have confidence in the brand.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:55 AM   #5
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I use it but like Koliver said. A lot of people have older perfectly usable radio's and will up grade some day.
For those that have it it is a great tool.

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Old 04-26-2012, 12:06 PM   #6
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DSC radio has been a dismal failure. Most of the radios are not registered and it is just too much trouble to punch in all those numbers when making a call. Glad I didn't buy one.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:46 PM   #7
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Problem is that, for us and most of our friends, we spent good money for a good VHF radio before they all came with DSC. That radio performs just as well today as the day it was installed. Nothing I have heard about DSC causes me to open my wallet for a new radio, just to get that feature. Now, if there was something wrong with my radio, my next one would have both DSC and AIS.
I like the Standard/Horizon that has both and is reasonably priced. Since my present radio is a Standard/Horizon I have confidence in the brand.
Same here. I bought real good radios the first time out, and am able to do what must be done.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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I too am one of the holdouts. DSC started showing up a bit after I bought my current radio. It is on the active list for replacement or rather secondary use as it is now 16 yrs old and although works great, my experience tells me it's time to get another one. When they goof up there is no or little warning, just a loss of some important function.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:59 PM   #9
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DSC has been a dismal failure and there doesn't seem anything on the horizon to make it otherwise. GPS is getting old and we no longer possess the technology or hardware to fix it.

The CG and the gov. should spend their money and time upgrading to handle cell phone technology (and return LORAN as a backup navigation aid).
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:00 PM   #10
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DSC radio has been a dismal failure. Most of the radios are not registered and it is just too much trouble to punch in all those numbers when making a call. Glad I didn't buy one.
I'm not defending DSC and I think you're right it doesn't get used much. But you don't have to punch in all those numbers once you've recorded them. Just like adding a phone number to your cell, once there you just select it to make a call.

If your VHF has DSC as all VHF's made since I believe '00, and AIS, they can be integrated to call a displayed AIS target directly. This may be the biggest advantage to purchasing a VHF with AIS capability.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:09 PM   #11
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DSC has been a dismal failure and there doesn't seem anything on the horizon to make it otherwise. GPS is getting old and we no longer possess the technology or hardware to fix it.

The CG and the gov. should spend their money and time upgrading to handle cell phone technology (and return LORAN as a backup navigation aid).
The govt wastes enough money as is, we don't need to support a clearly dated technology like LORAN. If you want a back up use the Russian GPS system, some consumer GPS's have it.

The Chinese I've heard are developing a GPS system that's more useful than ours to include internet and e-mail, for a price I'm sure.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:18 PM   #12
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We have used the selective calling feature only twice, on longer cruises up north we took with friends who accompanied us in their sailboat. It was useful but certainly not essential. It saved the two steps of calling on 16 and then determining a channel to switch to. Other than that the difference between using selective calling and the "normal" way of making contact another boat was zero.

In an emergency the DSC with automatic position reporting, which we have, would be very valuable.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by alormaria View Post
DSC has been a dismal failure and there doesn't seem anything on the horizon to make it otherwise. GPS is getting old and we no longer possess the technology or hardware to fix it.

The CG and the gov. should spend their money and time upgrading to handle cell phone technology (and return LORAN as a backup navigation aid).
What money has the Government spent on DSC? other than regulating it???...

So GPS is getting old...let's see...do we need better navigation than to the nearest meter? It would be more wasteful to start developing something else...let "someone else" spend that R&D money. Plus what do you mean by "GPS is getting old and we no longer possess the technology or hardware to fix it."

That's news to me...
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:26 PM   #14
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One really good reason to have a DSC radio programed with an MMSI number is for emergencies. The Red Button sends a Mayday call with one push. Anyone onboard can do it. Just push and hold the red button for 5 seconds. By having a MMSI number and programming it into the radio, the Coast Guard will know your boat, its name, color, size, and more.

If you have the GPS connected to the radio, the Coast Guard and all other DSC vessels in you area will also know your location. If you have a heart attack, or fall and hit your head, will any passengers know how to make a VHF Mayday call? Will they know your location? Anybody can push the Red Button!

Another advantage is receiving Mayday calls from other boats. When another DSC radio sends a Mayday, your radio alarms like a French ambulance. No one (unless deaf) can ignore that alarm! You will hear it even if the volume is turned down. If the sending boat has GPS connected, you will see their Lat-Lon.

The Canada Coast Guard uses the alarm feature when they have a reported emergency to inform and request aid from boaters who might be nearby. Say a small boat fisherman needs help and uses his cell phone to call the CG. The CG can then alert other boaters who might be nearby, but don't know of the emergency.

DSC with AIS with a GPS connected is a great new aid to navigation and safety. If you buy a new radio these days, DSC will be included. Its up to you to get an MMSI number and enter it into the radio. If you don't leave the USA, Boat US can issue an MMSI. For international travel, a FCC issued MMSI is required.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:42 PM   #15
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I programmed my radio, but have never used it. We don't cruise with other boats very often, and have never discussed it with the few we do cruise with. I don't even know how to use it.

Locally, we would just call their cell.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:42 PM   #16
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If you don't leave the USA, Boat US can issue an MMSI. For international travel, a FCC issued MMSI is required.
The "official" FCC MMSI number is better because it puts your boat into a data base that can be useful to get or supply certain kinds of information. The BoatUS number simply gets you on the air with the system but there is no record of your information.

While I realize the more paranoid among you will look at that as a good thing I ran into a situation some time ago which I unfortunately cannot recall the details of when I needed to find and supply information about our boat. Because we have an FCC MMSI number the information I needed was readily available in the data base. Had we had a BoatUS MMSI the information I was trying to get would have been much harder and time consuming to obtain.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:36 AM   #17
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The Chinese I've heard are developing a GPS system that's more useful than ours to include internet and e-mail, for a price I'm sure.
I work in a warehouse run by the Chinese. You really don't want to use anything put together by them......
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:46 AM   #18
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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 an Apple computer???
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:50 AM   #19
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So GPS is getting old...let's see...do we need better navigation than to the nearest meter? It would be more wasteful to start developing something else...let "someone else" spend that R&D money. Plus what do you mean by "GPS is getting old and we no longer possess the technology or hardware to fix it."

That's news to me...
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.

Every prudent mariner uses two forms of navigation. Relying exclusively on GPS is risky. Take for example that new land based cell phone provider trying to get his transmitters approved when they blasted nearby GPS receivers off the air. He went to court claiming GPS receivers were inaccurate and he should be allowed to continue expanding. GPS can be jammed very easily - apparently by accident.

That said, almost every cell phone has a GPS unit inside. Why not take advantage of them?
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:02 AM   #20
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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.

Every prudent mariner uses two forms of navigation. Relying exclusively on GPS is risky. Take for example that new land based cell phone provider trying to get his transmitters approved when they blasted nearby GPS receivers off the air. He went to court claiming GPS receivers were inaccurate and he should be allowed to continue expanding. GPS can be jammed very easily - apparently by accident.

That said, almost every cell phone has a GPS unit inside. Why not take advantage of them?
OK...we can't send up reapir teams but the "constellation" is designed to lose sats and still work. The US still has satellite launch capability and for how useful GPS is to the nation...launching a satellite every onceand awhile is chump change.

The flap over LightSquared was a temporary road bump....I doubt it ever will be a threat. Claiming GPS was inaccurate would have been foolish as every Congressman with GPS in their car knows it will put them in their driveway every day.

Maybe GPS can be jammed easily...but only on a local level...the type of equipment to jamb it widespread would be a national security threat and a SEAL team would fix that pronto...

Why deal with cell phone GPS at all? GPS units for boats are widely available with screens you can actually see...plus a lot of boating is done beyond cell towers...
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