Welcome to the Marine Electronics Forums presented by Panbo and SeaBits.
Handheld VHF Reimagined
A handheld DSC radio (HX890, M93D, etc.) with a simple AIS-RECEIVE screen would be the ultimate safety tool; here’s some thought - serious subject that needs discussing, so a bit “Bucky Fuller” long, maybe good read for the long off season:
1) fine print of AIS kits state: “do not rely on this device for safety”, proclaiming a right-to-fail (often while pimping “safety” in marketing/sales/awards). Indeed, mission critical safety law/engineering evolved out of the tragic consequences of relying on only one device. ‘FAIL-SAFE’ was born to address the reality that electronic devices all begin to fail the moment they are turned on (mtbf), and to resolve lethal-kinetic-energy threats (container ships, etc.) with minimum two standalone safety devices (AIS-RECEIVERS) operating redundantly.
2) handheld VHF-DSC-AIS-GPS enable practical/cost-effective multiple unit (two per sailor) fail-safe, are IPX8 mobile on deck to eyeball/comm a target, go with the dinghy or liferaft, and are the stateoftheart for MOB self & CG rescue.
3) the AIS/GPS functions are manual ON-OFF for power management - ON for 12v ‘in the cradle’ AIS-WATCH stationed arms reach overhead (masttop antenna gains very little for the receive mode, DSC callback already @ 5W+), ON for mobile alert response, OFF as a standard VHF/NAV tool. So no bigger battery needed.
4) for mission critical open ocean electronics like AIS, and as a result of the nMEa TOO movement (those who have been abused by lightning), professional safety engineers testify for the ‘clip-on-the-sailor’ standalone fail-safe operation.
5) AIS transponder signals are not fail-safe, provide a false/idle sense of safety, and can be legally diminished/gamed. For the small boat (undangerous KE), DSC is their best bet.
6) PRICE-POINT: it is easy to drink too much koolaid at the firmware meet&greet and get seduced by feature layers & comm connected boxes/functions (i.e. wifi) that all reduce mtbf exponentially, EASY to make expensive toys for the few. But real hi-tech (difficult stateoftheart challenge) is to make critical function marine electronics at a price-point for the many, the rest of us. It is here in the handheld challenge that Standard Horizon, Icom, Garmin lead the world.
7) ‘DSC-GROUP’ function exponentially increases safety strategy for small boat caravans (what we do), and with the IN-REACH MINI, the most advanced way to care for each other.
8) The iPHONE is the most man-design hours/dollars and it shows (not even a close second) and the kids will use nothing else, they love Navionics and a lot of other apps, and they love the 890/93D equally. The next-gen sailor favors IPX8 mobility and mechanical-genius over elaborate/expensive marine-electronic abstractions for operating these new winged sailboats. They are sharp - operating like navy seals to get after saving our oceans.
9) Parents demand things make sense, that if you demand multiple GPS/CHARTING backups to avoid ‘stationary land’, why not demand the same for way more dangerous ‘moving land’ (ships). Safety engineers must see the electrostatic-sea dangers thru the lightning (forest thru the trees), account for loss/claims, and create functionally independent standalone electrostatic (faraday) skins for marine life-threat avoidance electronics. So standalone IPX8 mobile AIS-MMSI-RECEIVE/DSC-CALLBACK fail-safe operated VHF HANDHELD RADIOS are the new fine print, wherein power supply, ais receiver, logic processor, alarm generator, and display are all physically & functionally inside the same electrostatic skin (same standalone handheld device). AIS REIMAGINED.
Footnote concerning the “ship”: hundreds-million pounds @ 20 knots, WHY we spec two standalone AISreceive-DSCcallback specific devices 12V-operating (in the cradle) at all times checking each other - each independently serving up the MMSI# for simplest push-button DSC callback. Lightning demands that mission-critical devices be unencumbered by irrelevant features for highest mtbf, demands a handheld DSC-AIS radio that can clean up irrelevant-undangerous “cryin wolf” TXs for a much smarter-safer ais tool to rely on for the ship-sailboat relationship (like Billy Joel said - it’s a matter of trust). The MARKET for a handheld vhf-dsc-gps-ais would be EVERYBODY for safety & rescue ops. Game changer....
Hey Captain Ron, how did the ais band get so mucked up? “NOBODY KNOWS!”. Design/build engineering for getting the next GEN sailors safely out on open ocean in radically new small winged-craft must necessarily specify that the aisMMSIreceive function be added to the handheld DSC radio to finally unleash the full functionality of DSC. Never having used ‘forums’ before, in sum, thank you for allowing our few posts to ‘reason for’ ais transmissions to address only relevant targets, to be managed like channel 16 - with greatest seriousness for safety & rescue ops:
SAFETY: two standalone handheld vhf-dsc-gps-ais mobile radios (each having a dual-channel ais receiver) must be ON at all times, fail-safe operated on watch by two sailors, each radio independently confirming the MMSI# of dangerous ship approaches for one-button alarm-response DSCcallback to actively avoid collision.
RESCUE: the same two standalone handheld vhf-dsc-gps-ais mobile radios (each having a dual-channel ais receiver) must be ON at all times, fail-safe operated on deck by two sailors, each radio independently confirming the MMSI# of available ships/CG for one-button distress-directive DSCcall to actively pursue assistance.
So, the handheld DSC radio with aisMMSIreceive added becomes by far the most powerful self & CG rescue tool. Certainly a call out to Standard Horizon & ICOM (whose incomparable mobile ham radios have enabled terrestrial emergency communications worldwide for decades) to add the aisMMSIreceive-DSCcallback to your flagship handheld DSC radios for enabling marine emergency communications, which by nature, MUST be able to be moved off the boat - to move operation from cabin to cockpit to deck to liferaft, from boat to dinghy to another boat, from person to person, from overboard to boat, from chopper to shore, etc.