Lowrance LINK-9; SIMRAD RS20, RS40, RS40B

VHF Marine Band radios, protocol, radio communication theory, practical advice; AIS; DSC; MMSI; EPIRB.
jimh
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Lowrance LINK-9; SIMRAD RS20, RS40, RS40B

Postby jimh » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:17 am

Lowrance have introduced a new VHF Marine Band DSC Class-D radio that will be available in November 2018, designated the model LINK-9 and intended to replace the LINK-8. The LINK-9 will have a MSRP of $499.

LINK-9.png
Fig. 1. Lowrance LINK-9 VHF Marine Band DSC radio
LINK-9.png (218.07 KiB) Viewed 4185 times


The key features of the LINK-9 are:
  • digital selective calling to Class-D specifications
  • integral global navigation satellite system receiver
  • integral automatic identification system receiver
  • NMEA-0183 and NMEA-2000 interface ports
  • removable microphone with front and rear panel connectors
As required for all VHF Marine Band digital selective calling (DSC) radios to be sold in the United States, the LINK-9 meets the DSC Class-D specification. All radios to be sold in the USA have had to meet this criterion since March 2011.

The LINK-9 contains its own internal GNSS receiver with internal antenna, which will provide good reception when the radio is mounted in the clear on an open boat. For flush mounting the radio or for use with obstructed sky view, the internal receiver can also be connected to an external model GPS-500 antenna via a SMA connector on the rear panel. The GPS-500 antenna is an existing product and has an MSRP of $139. Compare at

https://www.lowrance.com/lowrance/type/vhf-ais/gps-500/

The radio can also get position data from an external position receiver by using NMEA-0183 or NMEA-2000 connections to the other device.

The internal GNSS receiver is described by Lowrance as a "GPS", which may perhaps indicate the device can only work with one of the several global navigation satellite systems available, the U.S. Air Force's NavStar Global Positioning System. The Lowrance literature is unclear about the details of the GNSS receiver. Considering at present there are three major global navigation satellite systems available to the public, GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO, to provide a receiver that can only work with the GPS constellation will be a limitation compared to modern position-finding devices.

The LINK-9 also contains an automatic identification system (AIS) dual-channel receiver. The AIS receiver shares the main radio antenna whenever the radio is not transmitting. The description of the receiver as "dual-channel" is not particularly clear. The better AIS devices contain two AIS receivers, one for each of the two AIS frequencies, and are able to monitor both frequencies simultaneously. Again, the Lowrance literature is unclear about the details of the AIS receiver, and if it simply switches one receiver between two channels or has two separate receivers.

To integrate the radio with other vessel electronics both the older NMEA-0183 serial data interface and the NMEA-2000 network interface are provided. Having NMEA-2000 makes integration with other devices such as a chart plotter much simpler. Lowrance has had a long history of providing NMEA-2000 interfaces on their products, so problems with the NMEA-2000 aspect of this radio are not anticipated. Having NMEA-0183 ensures good compatibility with other devices.

The hand microphone and cord can be connected to the radio on the front or rear panel. An extension cord is available as an accessory to extend the microphone cord, as may be needed in a flush-mount installation. In addition, the hand-held microphone is unusual in having six buttons. In addition to the four common buttons for push-to-talk, channel selector, power level selector, and jump-to-channel-16-or-9, the LINK-9 also has two buttons on the microphone to control speaker volume.

The design of the radio housing is said to have been styled to match other Lowrance chart plotter devices in their product line. A removable bezel permits the flush-mount fasteners to be concealed.

The display appears to be a white back-lighted display. The display does not appear to implement soft key designators for the user interface.

The radio also has a hailer function and can use the remote loudspeaker as a microphone for listen-back or intercom function.

Volume and squelch controls have separate and dedicated knobs, but the two are concentric.

The larger knob on the front panel upper left appears to the a channel selector knob with a second function as a push-button for the ENTER function. I suspect this knob will also be part of the user interface and allow scrolling among the menu choices presented on the display. The button marked "X" will likely provide an escape or cancel function for the user interface.

Lowrance has not yet published an electronic copy of the user manual for the LINK-9, so details about the radio are limited. The limited information available has come from their website:

https://www.lowrance.com/lowrance/type/vhf-ais/vhf-marine-radiodsc-ais-rxlink-9/

The actual selling price of the LINK-9 will likely be lower than the $499 suggested retail price. The now obsolete LINK-8 had an MSRP of $375; that radio did not provide an integral GNSS receiver.

jimh
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Re: SIMRAD RS40 and RS20

Postby jimh » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:41 am

SIMRAD have also announced a very similar new radio, the RS40, replacing their model RS35. The RS40 differs from the LINK-9 in having the ability to use wireless remote handsets. This features is not particularly necessary on small boats.

See: https://www.simrad-yachting.com/simrad/type/vhf-radios-ais/vhf-marine-radiodscais-rxrs40/

SIMRAD also have a model RS20. This is a similar radio but without AIS and likely without the ability to use wireless remote handsets.

See: https://www.simrad-yachting.com/simrad/type/vhf-radios-ais/vhf-marine-radiodscrs20s/

jimh
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SIMRAD RS40-B DSC Radio and AIS Transmitter-Receiver

Postby jimh » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:57 pm

In late 2019 SIMRAD introduced another VHF Marine Band radio product designated the RS40-B. This product contains an RS40-type DSC Class-D radio and a AIS Class-B Carrier Sense Time Division Multiple Access (CSDTMA) transmitter-receiver.

SimradRS40-B_large.png
Fig. 2. SIMRAD RS40B: a DSC radio and an AIS transmitter-receiver.
SimradRS40-B_large.png (105.99 KiB) Viewed 459 times


As far as I can find, the RS40-B with DSC Class-D radio and AIS Class-B transmitter-receiver combined into one enclosure is the first such combination device to be approved for sale in the USA. The DSC radio and the AIS transmitter-receiver have separate antenna connectors. This means either two separate antennas will be needed, one for the DSC radio and one for the AIS transmitter-receiver, or some sort of broad band antenna and fast-switching device must be used to allow the two transmitters to share one antenna.

SIMRAD makes such an antenna sharing device: their model NSPL-500.

The street price of the RS40-B DSC and AIS transmitter-receiver is around $1,100. The NSPL-500 is $250.

SIMRAD has published information about the RS40-B. See:

https://www.simrad-yachting.com/simrad/type/vhf-radios-ais/vhf-marine-radio-dsc-ais-rxtx-rs40-b/

fno
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Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:01 pm

Re: Lowrance LINK-9 VHF Marine Band DSC Radio with AIS and GNSS: SIMRAD RS20, RS40

Postby fno » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:50 pm

Probably a well thought out product from Navico but the microphone shape is ridiculous. I can only imagine who thought that design up and what they were smoking when they did.

jimh
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
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Re: Lowrance LINK-9 VHF Marine Band DSC Radio with AIS and GNSS: SIMRAD RS20, RS40

Postby jimh » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:58 pm

Regarding the design of the push-to-talk microphone with six buttons:

Without actually holding the microphone in my hand, making an true assessment of its design will be impossible. One defect in PTT microphone designs I have observed is locating a channel-changing button too close to the PTT button.

When the operator picks up the microphone and pushes the PTT button that is close to a channel-change button, there is a risk of inadvertently hitting the channel change button. In that regard, I find the design of the microphone on the LINK-9 and RS40 has the channel changing buttons far from the PTT button, and the channel-change buttons should not be accidentally hit.