TH Class B, & come on FCC!
Back in June the FCC asked for comments regarding Class B AIS units, and several of you—along with the USCG and other safety minded organizations—all encouraged the FCC to approve, or at least waiver, transponders already approved and in use outside the U.S., as soon as possible. There were NO objections. I was not the only one who thought that units like this True Heading would be available shortly after the comment period ended, like now. But they’re not, and recently I heard that there will be yet another comment period and even waivers may not happen until October. How the FCC justifies it glacial pace I have no idea!
So while I can not yet fully test the TH unit here in Maine, today I did get it set up and programmed. It’s quite a rugged beast, encased in aluminum and with all cable connections protected inside a sealed cover, as shown in the photo (bigger here). However the GPS and VHF antenna connectors are more exotic (i.e. European) than the ones used by ACR’s Nauticast B, and the PC port, plotter, and optional Silent Mode/SRM switch are all carried in that one DB9 connector, where the Nauticast B conveniently breaks them all out. The software True Heading supplies (below, and bigger here) is also different than ACR’s; both work fine but each has niceties the other lacks. Then again each seems to work fine with the competitor’s transponder, which I guess is no surprise as both these units use SRT’s circuit board. I also tried both in Silent Mode today—lots of megayachts around—and their receive abilities were similarly good. So I’m ready to do some serious Class B testing on the Bay, when the FCC lets me!