Furuno FM-4800 VHF Marine Band DSC Radio

VHF Marine Band radios, protocol, radio communication theory, practical advice; AIS; DSC; MMSI; EPIRB.
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Furuno FM-4800 VHF Marine Band DSC Radio

Postby jimh » Sat Mar 10, 2018 8:50 am

Furuno have announced a new VHF Marine Band DSC radio model FM-4800.

Furuno FM-4800 VHF Marine Band DSC transceiver
FM4800.png (39.28 KiB) Viewed 776 times

The FM-4800 is a Class-D DSC radio with attractive features:

  • internal GPS receiver with 72-channels
  • internal AIS receiver dual channel
  • NMEA-2000 and NMEA-0183 interfaces
  • optional second station with HS-4800 handset
  • hailer-foghorn function
  • ATIS mode for European inland waterways
  • weather radio broadcast receiver

By combining internal GNSS receiver, internal AIS receiver, and NMEA-2000 network interface, the Furuno FM-4800 radio hits the Tri-fecta of desired features in a modern radio for a recreational boat. Typical competitor's radios with these features are their top-line models with correspondingly high prices. Since Furuno seems to not have announced a price yet, it is hard to know how the FM-4800 will compete in the market on a price-features comparison.

The internal GNSS receiver is for the GPS L1 Coarse Acquisition carrier. Limiting the receiver to only reception of GPS and only L1 C/A is a bit out-of-date. There are now three active global positioning systems: GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO. Having a more fully featured GNSS receiver would be better. Also, the newest GNSS receiver chips can utilize two carrier frequencies from the same satellite simultaneously, allowing much enhanced position fixing accuracy for that pseudo-range calculation. Whether an external GNSS antenna can be used or not is not made clear in the literature. Radios with internal GNSS receivers that can only use their internal antennas will have to be carefully located so the radio has a clear sky view. A more flexible arrangement would permit use of an external antenna, typically only a $40 to $50 accessory, to provide the option to install the radio in a location that lacks a great sky view. The notion of the GPS receiver having 72-channels should be interpreted as follows: for each satellite to be used in a pseudo-range solution three "channels" will be used. This suggests the receiver is able to track 24 satellites simultaneously. With only GPS satellites to be found, there will only be about 11 satellites in view at any time, thus 33 "channels" will be needed. The other 39 "channels" can be used to watch for satellites about to come into view. Some receivers can dedicate many "channels" when searching for signals to acquire, and this improves the time needed to acquire and track them, that is to say, to develop a pseudo-range solution from the signals. In the simplest terms, "72 channels" is more than enough.

The specifications do not indicate if the receiver supports satellite based augmentation systems (SBAS) such as WAAS, but that would be typical for any modern GNSS receiver. Lack of SBAS support will be a significant oversight.

The internal AIS receiver monitors both AIS channels. The specifications do not indicate if there are two independent receivers with simultaneous monitoring. AIS receivers that advertise dual channel could be interpreted to mean one receiver that alternates its tuning between two channels. The best implementations are actually two independent AIS receivers that each monitor one of the two AIS channels on a full time basis. Again, the Furuno literature is rather imprecise in its explanation.

The NMEA-2000 interface is CERTIFIED by NMEA as compliant, which is a very positive feature. The following PGN's are supported, listed by number and by NMEA.ORG description from their on-line database, except descriptions marked with an asterisk refer to information contained in the NMEA.ORG literature "field list" published in July 2010 or other sources.

059392: ISO Acknowledgement*
059904: ISO Request*
060160: ISO Transport Protocol, Data Transfer*
060416: ISO Transport Protocol, Connection Management*
060928: ISO Address Claim*
065240: ISO Commanded Address*
126208: NMEA - Request group function
127258: Magnetic Variation
129026: COG & SOG, Rapid Update
129029: GNSS Position Data
129044: Datum*

059392: ISO Acknowledgment*
060928: ISO Address Claim*
126208: NMEA - Request group function
126464: Receive/Transmit PGN's group function
126993: No records found
126996: Product Information
126998: Configuration Information
129025: Position, Rapid Update
129026: COG and SOG, Rapid Update
129029: GNSS Position Data
129038: AIS Class A Position Report
129039: AIS Class B Position Report
129040: AIS Class B Extended Position Report
129041: AIS Aid to Navigation Report*
129540: GNSS Sats in View
129793: AIS UTC and Date Report
129794: AIS Class A Static and Voyage Related Data
129795: AIS Addressed Binary Message
129797: AIS Binary Broadcast Message
129801: AIS Addressed Safety Related Message
129802: AIS Safety Related Broadcast Message
129808: DSC Call Information*
129809: AIS Class B "CS" Static Report, Part A
129810: AIS Class B

(Note: I am working on organizing and collecting a list of NMEA-2000 parameter group numbers and their function that will typically be found in DSC radios with NMEA-2000 support. Watch for a separate article on that topic.)

The NMEA-0183 interface supports the following sentences:

There is no public disclosure from NMEA (the organization) about the function of any NMEA-0183 sentence. There is good documentation available for many of the most common NMEA sentences mentioned above in the excellent collection available at http://www.catb.org/gpsd/NMEA.html. For information about NMEA sentences DSC and DSE, the only public information about them may be my own descriptions. See http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/DSC_Datagrams.html

By adding the optional wired HS-4800 handset a second station can be created as far as 30-meters away. On smaller recreational boats a second station is not always necessary, but having the option to run the radio via a full-feature handset may permit more flexibility in mounting the radio itself in a location with better weather protection. Also on small boats there may be a lack of space at the helm for the actual radio, and a handset may be better.

The hailer-foghorn audio amplifier provides 30-Watts of peak power. Of course, an external dynamic speaker will have to be installed to make use of this feature.

The transceiver also can operate on European inland waterway ATIS channels. (For more about ATIS see a separate article.) Usually access to the ATIS option is constrained to certain models or versions specific to certain European countries. It would be surprising to find the radio sold in the USA can enable ATIS features.

The main voice receiver can also be tuned to the usual ten weather radio broadcast channels.

The front panel display is a 192 x 128 pixel monochrome LCD display. The microphone is detachable. The front panel controls are quite limited:

  • Power ON-OFF
  • Return or Escape button
  • Revert to 16 button
  • EMERGENCY button
  • Volume-Squelch rotary knob
  • Menu-DSC rotary knob

The number of front panel controls is unusually small. I suspect that the Menu-DSC button must also have a push-to-select function. The front panel dimensions are approximately 4 x 8-inches. The depth of the enclosure is about 7-inches.

No price has been mentioned by Furuno as of this writing.

The Furuno FM-4800 radio has Federal Communications Commission identity FCCID ADB9ZWFM4800 and has been granted approval for sale in the USA as of February 16, 2018. I am not aware of any vendors offering it for sale in the USA as of this writing.

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

Re: Furuno FM-4800 VHF Marine Band DSC Radio

Postby jimh » Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:12 pm

The Furuno FM-4800 MSRP is $745. That is certainly a top-of-the-line price point.