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VHF Radio Testing

Old 02-23-2015, 10:19 AM
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Default VHF Radio Testing

I recently purchased a larger boat (07) that came with a ICOM IC-M304 VHF radio. Is there a way to test my transmission? I would hate to use channel 16 for a test. Also, I'm hearing about MMSI number. Do I need to get a new one or can I use the one that may be programmed in the existing radio?

Thx
Old 02-23-2015, 10:21 AM
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Sea Tow has an automated service. Check their website for channel number in your area.
Old 02-23-2015, 10:42 AM
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Good for you not to clog VHF16 with radio checks, like so many do
First try VHF26 or 27 and see if you get the Seatow automated radio check - just say your vessel name or whatever else you want, and in a couple seconds the radio check will come back with a recording of your transmission - which is nice because you can hear exactly how you sound.

Alternatively, you can follow some traffic to a working channel, and then call them by name and ask for a check. Just don't jump in in the middle of their conversation, obviously
Old 02-23-2015, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by TopCat View Post
Good for you not to clog VHF16 with radio checks, like so many do
First try VHF26 or 27 and see if you get the Seatow automated radio check - just say your vessel name or whatever else you want, and in a couple seconds the radio check will come back with a recording of your transmission - which is nice because you can hear exactly how you sound.

Alternatively, you can follow some traffic to a working channel, and then call them by name and ask for a check. Just don't jump in in the middle of their conversation, obviously
Thanks. How far do these radios typically transmit? I'm about 5-10 miles from the water (boat is in a storage yard). Trying to determine if I need to be on the water to test. Thx
Old 02-23-2015, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Flats_Addict View Post
Sea Tow has an automated service. Check their website for channel number in your area.
Thx
Old 02-23-2015, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by sunstate78 View Post
Thanks. How far do these radios typically transmit? I'm about 5-10 miles from the water (boat is in a storage yard). Trying to determine if I need to be on the water to test. Thx
VHF is line-of-sight, so 10-15 miles ship to ship is about right, but Seatow has some really high antennas.....I can get them at 25-30 miles.
Old 02-23-2015, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sunstate78 View Post
I recently purchased a larger boat (07) that came with a ICOM IC-M304 VHF radio. Is there a way to test my transmission? I would hate to use channel 16 for a test. Also, I'm hearing about MMSI number. Do I need to get a new one or can I use the one that may be programmed in the existing radio?

Thx
You use the MMSI # thats programmed into the existing radio (IF the previous owner had one assigned). What you must do is attach YOUR info to that MMSI number because now , if a distress call is sent from that radio it will have the previous owners name, address and other info. The boat info will remain the same . I THINK that the previous owner has to pull his info from the radio before you can input yours. Ask him to do that. If he didn't bother to get an MMSI, you can just get one now.
Old 02-23-2015, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sunstate78 View Post
Thanks. How far do these radios typically transmit? I'm about 5-10 miles from the water (boat is in a storage yard). Trying to determine if I need to be on the water to test. Thx
If you're not on the water, it's technically illegal to use your marine VHF. The FCC license that marine VHF radios are used under only permits usage when actually on the water.
Old 02-23-2015, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by yammi250 View Post
You use the MMSI # thats programmed into the existing radio (IF the previous owner had one assigned). What you must do is attach YOUR info to that MMSI number because now , if a distress call is sent from that radio it will have the previous owners name, address and other info. The boat info will remain the same . I THINK that the previous owner has to pull his info from the radio before you can input yours. Ask him to do that. If he didn't bother to get an MMSI, you can just get one now.
Good info. Let me add that when you first turn the radio on the 9 digit MMSI will display if one has been programmed in. The radio must be connected to the GPS too. If a lat long is displayed on the radio while both units are on, you know you are connected.
Old 02-23-2015, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by n0tqu1tesane View Post
If you're not on the water, it's technically illegal to use your marine VHF. The FCC license that marine VHF radios are used under only permits usage when actually on the water.
That said, nobody with the FCC will care.
Old 02-23-2015, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
That said, nobody with the FCC will care.
Exactly. A radio check takes 5 secs. The automated service is very nice....when it's working. You're permitted up to 3 times on Ch. 16 with 2 minutes apart.
From US Tow Boats' website:
"Using a VHF radio is as easy as announcing yourself on an apartment intercom. Turn the power on, set the channel to 16, and listen for a few seconds. If Channel 16 isn't in use, key the microphone--meaning squeeze the transmit button on its side--and say the name of the boat you are calling twice, followed by the name of your boat, and then "over." Release the mike button. A typical call transmission would sound like this:

"Cowboy, Cowboy. Tambourine, over." You can say "this is Tambourine," but keeping calls as cryptic as possible is desirable. Since VHF licensing was eliminated (except for vessels traveling into foreign waters), you no longer need to announce your radio call sign. Cowboy will respond "Tambourine, (this is) Cowboy." If Cowboy doesn't respond, wait two minutes and try again. You are permitted three tries two minutes apart, but common sense should tell you that if Cowboy has failed to respond twice, the third transmission is just airwave pollution. Wait at least 15 minutes before you make another attempt. Few things will give your on-the-water neighbors a worse opinion of you than listening to you call over and over and over. They're not there, already; give it a rest."
Old 02-23-2015, 04:56 PM
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The question of to what or to whom the MMSI belongs is a bit murky. See

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum6/HTML/003679.html

for a good summary.

The first step in evaluating what to do with the present MMSI is to find out who issued it. Assuming you are in the USA, there are two types of MMSI:

--ones issued by the FCC

--ones issued by private registration agents

If the MMSI ends in a zero, it is likely an FCC-issued MMSI. Otherwise it is a private-registry MMSI. If you want to keep the MMSI, you have to contact whomever issued it and change the data. If the FCC, be prepared to pay.

If you want to get an new MMSI, you may or will have to send the radios back to the manufacturer or his agent to have the MMSI reset. If the radios are older digital selective calling radios you may be able to enter a new MMSI without the factory reset, as some older radios allowed for the MMSI to be changed once it was entered the first time. Newer radios should not permit this, but some still do. Give it a try before sending the radio back, as there will be a service fee to change the MMSI by the factory.

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