Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

VHF Marine Band radios, protocol, radio communication theory, practical advice; AIS; DSC; MMSI; EPIRB.
jimh
Posts: 5712
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
Contact:

Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

Postby jimh » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:39 am

LINK-6WhiteRadio.jpg
Lowrance LINK-6 radio in white color scheme
LINK-6WhiteRadio.jpg (29.73 KiB) Viewed 1491 times
Lowrance are in the process of introducing a new VHF Marine Band radio with Class-D features, their new model LINK-6. The radio will retail for about $220 and perhaps discounted to around $190. The LINK-6 is a basic tier radio, without an internal GNSS receiver, without NMEA-2000, without AIS reception. For DSC operation the radio will need to be interfaced with an external GNSS receiver using NMEA-0183 protocol.

Perhaps the most innovative feature is a new flush-mount fastening design that will permit the radio to be installed in a cutout without requiring access to the rear of the panel to install fasteners. This should allow panel mounting in tight spaces on the helm of small boats.

The radio has a clear, white-dot-matrix LCD display with option for inverted light-dark presentation for night display. The hand microphone has somewhat angular styling and four pushbuttons (channel +/−, power Hi/Lo, channel jump to 16/9.)

The firmware in the radio includes a start up assistant to help users initialize the radio. The start-up "wizard" prompts for user input for:

--region
--country
--MMSI
--callsign
--GNSS source selection
--time offset

After country selection the radio's firmware adopts the Marine Band channel plan for that country from its internal listings.

The radio user interface also allows for simplified selection of favorite channels and set up of channel scanning. While this may seem a bit trivial, it should be a very useful addition. The user-interface of many current radios is often quite confusing for set up of channel scanning and often awkward to implement.

The LINK-6 will be produced in two colors, white (shown above) and dark gray. Availability in the USA is expected in the near future. The LINK-6 appears to replace the LINK-5 as the lower-tier radio in the Lowrance line.

jimh
Posts: 5712
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
Contact:

Re: Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

Postby jimh » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:53 am

RS20_VHF.jpg
Simrad new RS20 VHF Class D with NMEA 2000
RS20_VHF.jpg (50.77 KiB) Viewed 1471 times

Simrad is also introducing a new VHF Marine Band Class D DSC radio, the model RS20. This radio will also feature the new front-fastened flush-mount design of the LINK-6. The RS20 appears quite similar to the LINK-6, with some changes in the shape of buttons and other style elements, but quite significantly the RS20 will add NMEA-2000 interface to the feature set.

Simrad notes that all buttons and controls have a single function, which should improve usability. Having dual-function buttons on the interface of a radio is a common feature in competitors' radios and can be a bit confusing for the user to operate. The radio also has separate volume, squech, and power on-off controls. This is another improvement in usability compared to concentric knobs and providing the power switch as part of the volume control.

The RS20 is also ready to operate as an automatic transmitter identification system (ATIS) radio, necessary for inland operation on European waterways. The USA version provides reception of ten weather channels. It appears the RS20 is available in only the dark gray color, which will match other Simrad devices like chart plotters and multi-function displays.

The RS20 will also provide the "Track Buddy" feature. This is a provision in the radio to automatically initiate a DSC position poll request at pre-set time intervals (of one, five 15, 30 or 60 minutes) to one or more other boats whose MMSI have been entered into a local directory listing. This feature has been available on some Lowrance radios, and is now introduced to the lower-tier Simrad radios. If the other boats have set their DSC radios to reply to position poll requests automatically, the RS20 will then receive a position report from the other boats. These reports can be plotted on a chart plotter when the radio is properly interfaced with the chart plotter, either via NMEA-0183 or by NMEA-2000.

The RS20 is anticipated to retail for about $320. The added cost may be justified easily by the convenience of having NMEA-2000 for the means of interface of the radio to a GNSS receiver and chart plotter. The RS20 appears to replace the RS12 as the lower-tier radio in the Simrad line. The RS12 was the least-expensive VHF Marine Band Class-D radio with NMEA-2000 and sold for about $200. It will be interesting to see what discounted price will be given to the RS20 and if it can retain that very attractive $200 price point.

RS20Dimensions.jpg
RS20 dimensions
RS20Dimensions.jpg (38.75 KiB) Viewed 1477 times

porthole
Posts: 587
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:57 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

Postby porthole » Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:39 am

Is Simrad making the radios for Lowrance or is Lowrance making them for Simrad?
Or perhaps neither.

jimh wrote:...a new flush-mount fastening design that will permit the radio to be installed in a cutout without requiring access to the rear of the panel to install fasteners.


The HDS Gen3's that I have both are installed with front mounted fasteners, and perhaps Navico is trying to standardized their products. Not installed yet is a Simrad GO5 XSE, also utilizing the front fasteners concept.

Although it does make it easier to install, it also makes it easier to remove. I did a test last year with mine. To remove two HDS GEN-3 multi-function displays it took under two minutes, start to finish. I'd prefer a bit more security.
Last edited by porthole on Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:29 am, edited 3 times in total.
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

jimh
Posts: 5712
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
Contact:

Re: Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

Postby jimh » Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:19 pm

I was thinking the same thing: the easier installation of an expensive marine electronic device becomes without needing access to rear panel hidden fasteners, the easier (for anyone) to remove it. Previously flush-mounting seemed to be a bit of anti-theft device because the fasteners were all hidden and could be accessed only from behind the panel.

jimh
Posts: 5712
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
Contact:

Re: Lowrance LINK-6, Simrad RS-20 New VHF Marine Band DSC Radios

Postby jimh » Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:22 pm

Now that Lowrance and Simrad are part of the same NAVICO conglomerate, I would expect they are sharing manufacturing technology. If NAVICO is like most modern electronic device makers, the actual assembly of their devices is probably farmed out to a specialist electronic assembly company in Asia.