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Author Topic:   VHF Radio for Safety
Roarque posted 06-08-2006 02:02 PM ET (US)   Profile for Roarque   Send Email to Roarque  
I am planning to update my ship's radio and would like to ask the experts on board about features and benefits.

The radio must handle this scenario:

I am using it while floating in my Mustang survival suit as my Whaler disappears into the distance at trolling speed.

The perfect radio must handle this scenario:

I am still in the water but now I want to tell the Coast Guard exactly where I am. This last feature would require wireless transmission of a signal. I would press the red panic button . From my hand held VHF radio to my fixed mount VHF radio on board the Whaler which would grab the coordinates from my Lowrance GPS and tell the coast guard where I was. Meanwhile, I could be talking to the rescue boat from my floating position in the frigid Pacific Ocean, for a few minutes, anyway.

Kookadala posted 06-08-2006 02:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Kookadala  Send Email to Kookadala     
Try attaching the lanyard of a kill switch to your belt and you wouldnt have to watch your boat motoring away from you.
chopbuster posted 06-08-2006 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster  Send Email to chopbuster     
You could "Google" for that or wait for replies but tthere is no technology that will save your ass from "stupid is as stupid does"....Forrest Gump (1994)
Chuck Tribolet posted 06-08-2006 03:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
That doesn't exist.

I suspect that in the next generation of handheld VHFs, we'll
see the high-end ones with built-in GPS.

What you can get today is a Personal Locator Beacon with a built-in
GPS. About $600.


jimh posted 06-08-2006 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You can get most of this capability today. Just have your CLASS-D DSC radio connected to your vessel GPS, and configure it to automatically respond to POSITION REQUEST.

When you fall overboard, you can call the Coast Guard and give them the Marine Mobile Service Identifier of your vessel. They will issue a POSITION REQUEST to your vessel. Your vessel's CLASS-D DSC radio will reply. They will know the position of the vessel. They can track back to your position by taking several positions on the vessel and plotting a course line back to you.

crabby posted 06-08-2006 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
The problem is raising the CG from sea level with a handheld: you are not going to get much distance.

You could Rube Goldberg some sort of device (like a solenoid) that is actuated by a signal from a garage door opener that would depress the emergency button on the VHF when triggered by you pressing the remote door opener. This could also be rigged electronically but would mean you need to have the radio altered by a good tech.

How about a personal epirb to alert the SAR team?

pglein posted 06-08-2006 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
You're in luck! Every single VHF radio available on the market today already has this capability. The best part is that you don't even need to have a radio on board your boat for it to work.

The Coast Guard can triangulate your position to within a few miles simply by picking up your transmission. Since if you fall overboard you are likely to become separated from your boat by this distance very quickly anyway, this is sufficient accurace. Of course, this assumes that you can even transmit a good enough signal from your handheld to be heard.

If you want pinpoint GPS accuracy, strong transmitting power, and the ability to send a distress signal after falling overboard, a better option would be fixed mount radio that works with a wireless remote, such as the Uniden units now available: 10001/81813/10001/657/64/3

I'm not sure what the range on those is, but if you act quick enough, you ought to be able to fire off a distress call. That, in conjunction with a regular handheld VHF, ought to keep you in touch with the USCG.

swist posted 06-08-2006 06:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
The theoretical horizontal propgration distance from an antenna sitting on the surface of the Earth is, unfortunately, zero. You better hope there is a receiving antenna somewhere sufficiently high up that it has a line-of-sight to your handheld.
rtk posted 06-08-2006 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I'm with Chuck, a personal locator beacon makes the most sense given the restricted range of a VHF radio.

Wear the beacon on you while fishing, they are pretty small. Have a small handheld VHF and some signaling devices on you also.

And set up the VHF on the boat as Jim describes as an additional resource.

The scenario you describe has gone through my head many times. I fish alone often in the ocean. Not long ago in my area they found a boat with no one in it, poor guy. In his seventies, fished alone off the coast for years.

I take no precautions, but I should. I can't stand having equipment on when fishing or boating, drives me nuts. Sounds stupid, but I really have a problem wearing life jackets and having stuff hanging off me, it is down right uncomfortable.

But I plan to start, so an autoinflate PFD and a PLB is probably where I will start.

That has to be one lonely feeling watching your boat slowly drive away and not having anything with you to reach out.


Binkie posted 06-08-2006 08:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Binkie  Send Email to Binkie     
I would get the handheld VHF that emits a shark repelent. Might come in handy while waiting for the Coast Guard. Also tie a lanyard to your instant blow up life raft, and another one to the sixpack in your cooler. Might come in handy when the Coast Guard calls off the search.
jimh posted 06-08-2006 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Alternatively, get a CLASS-D DSC handheld radio. Set it for automatic reply to position requests. Carry a handheld GPS. Maintain the connection between them.

Seriously, with the low cost of a basic GPS receiver, it should not be too hard to build a GPS receiver into a handheld VHF Marine Band tranceiver.

It you are in the water and the elevation of your radio antenna is zero feet, the radio range to other stations is determined by the height of the antenna at those other stations. If a boat were nearby and had the typical antenna installation with an antenna about 9-feet above the water, you should be able to communicate with such a station from your position at the water up to a range of about

RANGE (miles) = 1.42 X HEIGHT(feet)^0.5

RANGE = 1.42 X 3

RANGE = 4.26 miles

You should be able to raise any vessel within about a four mile range if their antennas are at least 9-feet above the water.

An interesting idea as an adjunct to the DSC emergency button would be to connect the button to the kill switch circuit is such a way that if the kill switch were activated the DSC radio emergency transmission would also be activated. This may not be a great idea, as it could lead to many false alarm transmissions of DSC distress calls when people forget about the linkage and pull their kill switch lanyards for other reasons.

Chuck Tribolet posted 06-08-2006 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The CG's VHF antennas are quite tall. The one that covers
Monterey Bay is on top of a 3400 foot mountain. I still
wouldn't trust a handheld (I've done relay for them to a
fellow with a handheld).

I've been working on a "Pouch of stuff" for my inflatable
PFD. Ideally I'd like it in the small of my back.


Raging14 posted 06-08-2006 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Raging14  Send Email to Raging14     
Uniden Mystic.

Handheld 5 W VHF radio with DSC, JIS7 Submersible, Built-in Mapping WAAS GPS, Distress Button, Position Send and Request.

Pretty slick unit!

Sheila posted 06-09-2006 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sheila  Send Email to Sheila
Roarque posted 06-09-2006 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Roarque  Send Email to Roarque     
Now we're cooking.

I like the Uniden Mystic and next weekend is Father's Day.

Thanks for the perspectives, Paul, Sheila, Jim, Kookadala.

And the humour, Bink.

And even the innane, Chopbuster.

I fish where there will be boats with radios within a mile or two and the CCG booms a signal down the Strait from Comox to collide with the CG signal booming up the Strait from the USA.

alfa posted 06-14-2006 02:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for alfa  Send Email to alfa     
Another new item from SIMRAD : aspx?path={CB412E4C-9FB3-4120-8EB5-A8534514523F}

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