Keep DSC equipped VHF radios turned on 24/7

#1
Hey Folks,
With the high canyon walls, and the sheer size of Lake Powell, we know VHF range is limited. It's been mentioned the Park Service has an antenna on top of Antelope mountain, but often the closest help is the boat across the channel from you. Let's help each other out and agree to keep our radios turned on 24/7 (yes, I know it's annoying to hear rental houseboats calling the marina all day long, but keep reading below about turning down the volume.)

If you have a DSC capable radio, with a MMSI and GPS connected:

  • Keep your VHF turned on 24/7
  • Optionally turn the volume all the way down, it will still alarm like crazy if a DSC alert is received. If an alert is received, turn the volume back up to hear the subsequent voice call.
  • Notify others if an emergency exists. For example, if you get hit by a dangerous monsoon, or other weather incident, when safe immediately transmit a DSC call of type "Securite", and follow up with a voice call on 16:
"Securite, Securite, Securite, currently experiencing a Monsoon at Rock Creek with winds in excess of 50 knots, it is heading down river..."​


For Fun:
Also for fun, everyone program in a group MMSI of 022 222 222, the "Official" non official Wayneswords group code??? If you do a group call to that code (where you specify channel 68 for example), any radio with the same group code will ring and if accepted will switch to channel 68. After sending the group code, follow up with a voice call on 68 "Hey Wayneswords folks, where are the stripers biting today???


Let's hear your thoughts on the above?
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
#2
Grant,

I think you know WAY more about your marine radio than I do mine.... mine is over 10 years old and probably needs updating. I keep mine on during daylight hours, help relay calls from hailing boats to the park service and even offer assistance when I can, but I don't think my radio (on my speedboat or houseboat) support the DCS or MMSI

If I had the capabilities I think the idea has merit.

That said I am flabbergasted by the number of Lake Powell "regulars" who venture out without a radio and that the rental boats don't include them.
 

VanillaIceCream

Well-Known Member
#3
As a former submarine Radioman, I'm ok with 24/7 monitoring of radios if you want to.
I carry four VHF's - one base and three handheld, plus two Family Service Radio's for the kids when hiking and stuff.
But I don't monitor 24/7 as I want to unplug and get away. So we monitor while underway only.



My main concern is people draining their small boat battery with the VHF on 24/7, then unable to start their motor and becoming stranded (and then unable to call for help because of a dead battery). Probably wouldn't happen with a houseboat.

I think its an awesome idea to program the MMSI group into the radio if you have one....REALLY AWESOME!



I've noticed nobody does morse code or Q & Z signals on Lake Powell either......
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#4
Know nothing about MMSI and DSC other that what I've just read by googling. I for one could not handle the chatter that comes out of the vhf but an alert type of protocal as you mentioned could be tolerated. About how much does a vhf with those capabilities cost. I am one of the people that powellbride is flabbergasted about with no vhf. After working on the lake for ten years I am flabbergasted at myself for not having a radio and just keep putting it off. Definitely need one and would consider one with the features described if affordable. I will look up prices online. I hate being one of those who ask others to do what I can do myself.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#5
Not as easy as I thought. Any suggestions on a decent radio with the features described
As a former submarine Radioman, I'm ok with 24/7 monitoring of radios if you want to.
I carry four VHF's - one base and three handheld, plus two Family Service Radio's for the kids when hiking and stuff.
But I don't monitor 24/7 as I want to unplug and get away. So we monitor while underway only.



My main concern is people draining their small boat battery with the VHF on 24/7, then unable to start their motor and becoming stranded (and then unable to call for help because of a dead battery). Probably wouldn't happen with a houseboat.

I think its an awesome idea to program the MMSI group into the radio if you have one....REALLY AWESOME!



I've noticed nobody does morse code or Q & Z signals on Lake Powell either......
 
#6
PowellBride - Any VHF radio sold in the states since 1991 has DSC capability. If you have the big red button you have it. The problem is connecting it to a GPS has proven a hurdle for most, as 90% of the radios are not connected. The USCG "Rescue 21" has been deemed a failure for this reason, no one connects their radio to their GPS nor gets a MMSI#. Anyone who needs help with connecting their GPS to their radio, post your VHF and GPS model# and I can tell you what wires to connect.

VanillaIceCream - We would get along well, I seem to always have multiple radios on hand. Agreed on the dead battery. These radios draw very little power, but each owner make their own decision, especially if your battery is marginal.

Birdsnest - Agreed on the chatter, most if it comes from rental houseboats calling the marina for a pilot. This is illegal, and the Marina's should be using channel 14 for their customers to call for a Pilot or other reason. The constant chatter on 16 defeats the purpose of having an emergency channel, if everyone turns off their radio because of the annoying chatter it becomes useless. DSC eliminates the need to monitor the voice traffic, as your radio will alert with a loud ring tone if anyone hits the red button (or does a DSC alert call of other than distress, which would be type PAN PAN, or Securite.)

As far as radio recommendations, many now have built in GPS and I'd recommend those to eliminate the issues discussed above. The Standard Horizon GX1700 is $200 after the $40 rebate. For a handheld, the Standard Horizon HX870 is also $200 after rebate. Both of these are very nice radios ( I own the HX870, GX1600 in my sailboat, GX2100 in my fishing boat, and Icom IC-302 in my houseboat which is NOT connected to GPS. Hopefully I can convince the other owners to pitch in 10 bucks to upgrade to a GX1700...)

Let me know if you have additional questions, it helps everybody if all our radios are properly configured with a MMSI and connected to a GPS.

If you didn't know, every radio in range will immediately ring an alert, and will display course and distance to the vessel in distress. Pretty cool stuff, but for over 20 years it's mostly gone unused as only 10% of the boats are properly configured...
 

Regal95

Active Member
#7
What's the best antenna to be using out there? I have one of those 3' little metal ones. I've seen the 8ft fibergalss type, but have been hesitant to mount something that big on my 24ft boat. Does height really matter much when in a canyon with 200ft high walls?
 
#8
What's the best antenna to be using out there? I have one of those 3' little metal ones. I've seen the 8ft fibergalss type, but have been hesitant to mount something that big on my 24ft boat. Does height really matter much when in a canyon with 200ft high walls?
Like you mention, height is not going to mean much back in a canyon, at Powell we are always deep in a valley, the worst place to be as far as radio is concerned. Plus antenna height is usually measured at the middle of the antenna, so simply changing from a 3 to 8' antenna will change the height from 1.5 to 4 feet, not much.

The 8' antenna will have a higher gain, meaning it focuses the energy along the horizon instead of losing energy up in the sky and down in the water (think of a mag-light type flashlight where you can focus the beam, it's the same amount of light, but a narrow beam focused at the horizon will go farther than a wide beam where much light is lost in the sky/water.) Gain isn't your friend on a rocking boat, as distant stations will hear your signal fade in and out, as the focused beam goes above and below them. Thus the 8 footers are better suited for the house boat.

A good quality antenna with quality coax is your best bet, I had great range with the 4' Shakespear Galaxy on my center console, heard good things about Digital antennas too...
 
Last edited:

Squirrel

Well-Known Member
#9
I recall that the antenna should not be within 6 feet of the operator or cockpit. What is your thought on location?? Sq
 
#10
I recall that the antenna should not be within 6 feet of the operator or cockpit. What is your thought on location?? Sq
I'd be more worried about the cellphone in your pocket 2" from your nuts... Seriously, RF exposure is a concern, but not much you can do on a small boat. On my center console, the antenna was about a foot from my face and body, not ideal. That said, 25 watts is not a whole lot of power. If you primarily receive, and only occasionally transmit, I wouldn't be concerned. On my center console, I was very aware, and found myself standing away from the antenna, and using low power more than I would on a boat with a better antenna location.

Just make sure your kids/grandkids are not swinging off the antenna when you transmit and I don't see an issue. In regards to cancer causing, with everyone constantly having a cellphone in their hands (mm's from the antennas), pockets, or next to their head, if it was an issue we would know by now...

Just be aware of who is next to the antenna when transmitting, maybe ask them to re position, that's the best you can do in small boat...
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#12
Now that is what I call alot of good information. Thanx but when you were talking about squirrels nuts, you meant his acorns, right?
I'd be more worried about the cellphone in your pocket 2" from your nuts... Seriously, RF exposure is a concern, but not much you can do on a small boat. On my center console, the antenna was about a foot from my face and body, not ideal. That said, 25 watts is not a whole lot of power. If you primarily receive, and only occasionally transmit, I wouldn't be concerned. On my center console, I was very aware, and found myself standing away from the antenna, and using low power more than I would on a boat with a better antenna location.

Just make sure your kids/grandkids are not swinging off the antenna when you transmit and I don't see an issue. In regards to cancer causing, with everyone constantly having a cellphone in their hands (mm's from the antennas), pockets, or next to their head, if it was an issue we would know by now...

Just be aware of who is next to the antenna when transmitting, maybe ask them to re position, that's the best you can do in small boat...
 

VanillaIceCream

Well-Known Member
#13
In my option - the ICOM marine radio's always held up the best on our subs, both hand held and fixed mount. Remember that our radios on subs were exposed to the similar environment as Lake Powell boaters, exposed and getting wet constantly. Our radios were not hidden away like in a surface (target) ship.

I still have one ICOM hand held unit that we bought in 1990 and survived two Mediterranean patrols, and that early 90's ICOM still outperforms the new Standard Horizon handheld units today on distance and clarity. That ICOM was $450 in 1990 fyi.

(We did have handheld VHF units catch on fire while being used......saltwater I suppose, I think it was the keyboard and all the potential water entry points)
We always had trouble with the Motorola's for different reasons....so I just don't care for them personally anymore.

For a fixed mount at a good price I was going to buy this one for my little run about when I take my boat the the Atlantic later this year...but I need to make sure its not a rebadged unit from somewhere else before I buy.
ICOM
M324G Fixed-Mount VHF Radio with GPS Receiver, Black

$259.99


linky to the ICOM.........
https://www.westmarine.com/buy/icom...ith-gps-receiver-black--16350647?recordNum=14


The Standard Horizon Radio's are ok also if your mainly concerned about price..



edit - a simple radio is sometimes better than a better but complicated radio..I have simple handhelds for crew as they can get confusing.
 
Last edited:

Meatwagon

Well-Known Member
#14
Now that is what I call alot of good information. Thanx but when you were talking about squirrels nuts, you meant his acorns, right?
:oops:Might have been walnuts, and yes that's great info that helps me allot as I am in the market for a good radio and didn't really know much about them.
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
#16
PowellBride - Any VHF radio sold in the states since 1991 has DSC capability. If you have the big red button you have it. The problem is connecting it to a GPS has proven a hurdle for most, as 90% of the radios are not connected. The USCG "Rescue 21" has been deemed a failure for this reason, no one connects their radio to their GPS nor gets a MMSI#. Anyone who needs help with connecting their GPS to their radio, post your VHF and GPS model# and I can tell you what wires to connect.

VanillaIceCream - We would get along well, I seem to always have multiple radios on hand. Agreed on the dead battery. These radios draw very little power, but each owner make their own decision, especially if your battery is marginal.

Birdsnest - Agreed on the chatter, most if it comes from rental houseboats calling the marina for a pilot. This is illegal, and the Marina's should be using channel 14 for their customers to call for a Pilot or other reason. The constant chatter on 16 defeats the purpose of having an emergency channel, if everyone turns off their radio because of the annoying chatter it becomes useless. DSC eliminates the need to monitor the voice traffic, as your radio will alert with a loud ring tone if anyone hits the red button (or does a DSC alert call of other than distress, which would be type PAN PAN, or Securite.)

As far as radio recommendations, many now have built in GPS and I'd recommend those to eliminate the issues discussed above. The Standard Horizon GX1700 is $200 after the $40 rebate. For a handheld, the Standard Horizon HX870 is also $200 after rebate. Both of these are very nice radios ( I own the HX870, GX1600 in my sailboat, GX2100 in my fishing boat, and Icom IC-302 in my houseboat which is NOT connected to GPS. Hopefully I can convince the other owners to pitch in 10 bucks to upgrade to a GX1700...)

Let me know if you have additional questions, it helps everybody if all our radios are properly configured with a MMSI and connected to a GPS.

If you didn't know, every radio in range will immediately ring an alert, and will display course and distance to the vessel in distress. Pretty cool stuff, but for over 20 years it's mostly gone unused as only 10% of the boats are properly configured...
We usually left our radio on CH 16 most of the day. And we did assist in relaying messages in places like Rock Creek - but the most irritating thing of all and everyone should take heed is children on houseboats who think the radio is a toy and get on CH 16 and go on and on and on until you have no choice other than turn the thing off. Everyone should teach their children what the radio is for and how to use it - ONLY for emergencies. BTW we had a marine battery in both of our boats and never had problems with the marine radio draining it - if anything would have drained it my computer would have, but never had an issue.
 
#17
In my option - the ICOM marine radio's always held up the best on our subs, both hand held and fixed mount. Remember that our radios on subs were exposed to the similar environment as Lake Powell boaters, exposed and getting wet constantly. Our radios were not hidden away like in a surface (target) ship.

I still have one ICOM hand held unit that we bought in 1990 and survived two Mediterranean patrols, and that early 90's ICOM still outperforms the new Standard Horizon handheld units today on distance and clarity. That ICOM was $450 in 1990 fyi.

(We did have handheld VHF units catch on fire while being used......saltwater I suppose, I think it was the keyboard and all the potential water entry points)
We always had trouble with the Motorola's for different reasons....so I just don't care for them personally anymore.

For a fixed mount at a good price I was going to buy this one for my little run about when I take my boat the the Atlantic later this year...but I need to make sure its not a rebadged unit from somewhere else before I buy.
ICOM
M324G Fixed-Mount VHF Radio with GPS Receiver, Black

$259.99


linky to the ICOM.........
https://www.westmarine.com/buy/icom...ith-gps-receiver-black--16350647?recordNum=14


The Standard Horizon Radio's are ok also if your mainly concerned about price..



edit - a simple radio is sometimes better than a better but complicated radio..I have simple handhelds for crew as they can get confusing.
Agreed, both good radios and I wouldn't flinch buying either. I have many Icoms as well, but now I buy on who has the best service and support. Standard Horizon support and service is excellent, that's worth a lot to me.
 

GregC

Well-Known Member
#18
A few years ago I got a MMSI number and tried to program it in to my VERY inexpensive Cobra unit on the cruiser, only to find that it requires a gps location source to work. Fortunately, I later purchased a fishfinder/chartplotter with that capability. Few things grind on me more than paying $20 to $40 for a 6 ft. piece of wire with a couple of pins and $0.02 worth of plastic on the end, so I bought the pins at a local electronics store and made a cable. When connected, everything started to work! Since then, I have yet to hear even one notification on the thing! Since there isn't an easy way to "test" the thing, I think the "Waynes Words" group address is a great idea. I just can't believe that in all that time (two weeks in the spring and two more in the fall for three years) a three or four-year-old hasn't tried pushing the red button somewhere, setting off the alarm. Admittedly, I don't always have the radio and chartplotter turned on. Makes me wonder if the Park Service even has the capability to use the information. Anybody know?

GregC
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#19
One of the funniest things that I heard on Powell was a little boy chatting away on 16 and an NPS radio lady came on and told the boy that he was in big trouble cause the radio was not a toy and to go get his parents on the radio right now cause she was gonna tell on him.... Not another peep
 

Pegasus

Well-Known Member
#20
I'm interested in knowing if NPS monitors DSC on Lake Powell. I did call their main Glen Canyon office and asked them this question a couple of years ago and the dispatch person I spoke to did not know what DSC was - so I assumed that as a big NO, they do not monitor DSC/Ch70. Hopefully things have changed in the past couple of years.

We keep our radio on 24/7 most of the year (with the exception of June/July as kids playing on the radio becomes too much) primarily to provide help when we can. A couple of weeks ago I tried to 'warn' some kids playing on Ch16 in Padre Bay and it just made them talk more. I could hear adults talking in the background that didn't seem to care about my warning or their kids playing on the radio.

I like the idea of the Waynes Words MMSI channel and will program mine next trip - I think if you really need help, the majority of persons on this site would be more than willing to help - I know I would.
 
Last edited:
Top