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Basic VHF GPS Interface Question

Old 07-12-2012, 09:42 AM
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Default Basic VHF GPS Interface Question

I am brand new at all of this so bear with me. I want to get a VHF that I can interface with my gps and then enable the dsc function.

First, what exactly does dsc do?

Second, I have been thinking of buying a Humminbird combo unit, how do I know if this unit will be compatible with the VHF I buy? Does the DCS function come as part of the vhf or the gps?

In a nutshell, how do I make all this work?

Old 07-12-2012, 01:18 PM
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Any radio you buy new from a dealer is supposed to be DSC capable. Just verify it is a "Class D" unit before you buy it.

DSC has two primary functions--the first is to send a distress call with your location data so that adjacent vessels and the USCG can locate you and send help. To do this, it must be enabled by
1. signing up, getting and programming your radio with a MMSI number (, and
2. interfacing your radio with position data (hooking it up to your Humminbird)

The second purpose of the DSC function is to allow easier calling of friends who also have DSC radios. Set your radio to a working channel, say 68, then send a DSC call to one of your buddies. His radio will switch to that channel automatically and will indicate an incoming call. He then keys his mic and the two of you can talk. No more hailing on 16 and switching to 68 (or 72, 78, etc.)

If the radio is interfaced to your chartplotter with two way communications, then other vessels making calls, or sending position data, will show up on your plotter screen. So, when out fishing, you can send a position request to your buddy, and his position will show up on your screen. Nobody will know you did this, and the exchange of data is private to you two.

So be sure the radio has two way communications (NMEA 0183 in and out) and then check your plotter to see if it has both in and out ports available. You might need some help hooking up the little wires to complete the interface, but it's not rocket science and you can't hurt anything by doing it wrong. It just won't work.

Unfortunately, many even experienced boaters have not enabled their DSC radios. Eventually, it will catch on. But it's been slow going because the interfacing is not "plug and play" yet. You will want to practice the radio functions with a friend nearby (like a slip mate) so you understand how it works. Once you do that, the functions become much more intuitive.

Hope that helps.
Old 07-12-2012, 03:01 PM
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Nice post Buoy Scout,

I have been meaning to get mine set up on the new boat, now i have no more excuses. I have the right units and all the wiring. . .

Old 07-12-2012, 03:17 PM
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Thanks Bouy Scout. That response could not have been more informative. I reallyh appreciate the education.


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