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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:32 am 
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What is the best option in terms of safety and quality (waterproof for instance)/price?
I know it's impossible to send distress signal via Channel 16 with this type of equipment, but with 5km range one shold be able to send some sort of distress signal (in case of such situation) free of charge, don't you agree? In my place I couldn't find any.
Regards and my apologies if this is a silly question.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:05 pm 
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You can send a voice distress call (MayDay or Pan Pan) on VHF 16. Most Coast Guards stilll monitor this channel for voice even if they don't have a dedicated watch any more. DSC is not supported on any of the handheld VHF units as far as I know, so for handheld VHF, it's voice only.

If you want non-voice, or you want to transmit GPS data automatically, you should be looking at a PLB (personal locator beacon) like this one. They're not cheap though.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:00 pm 
Why 5 km? My VHF works in 30-50 km radius. This is for reception, of course, and at sea level, obscured by waves, the transmission distance is probably less than 5 km, but an aircraft should be able to pick up the Ch 16 signal transmitted by handheld low-power VHF at a longer distance than 5 km. PLB - yes, it will send the signal via satellite network from anywhere. ACR is reportedly a better PLB brand than McMurdo. It only feels funny to me to carry this quite a bulky and expensive item that I have never tested and have no idea if it works :-)... I can't test it without paing big $$$ for rescue helicopters that would arrive shortly, right?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:03 pm 
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Thanks for replies.

When mentioning PMRs, I meant the ones operating in 446 bandwidth (license free and normally having a 5km range), which cannot handle voice operation for Chn.16 I guess.
DSC of course, is a feature that's not incorporated in these PMRs, but I wonder if there aren't already in the market some with these specs.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:31 pm 
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If you can contact the Coast Guard (or someone) that's always a faster option than some sort of ELB, which requires sorting out your signal from all the false alarms, locating you, etc. Of course on open water you should have both.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:22 pm 
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Alex wrote: Re: marine VHF communication: Why 5 km? My VHF works in 30-50 km radius. This is for reception, of course, and at sea level, obscured by waves, the transmission distance is probably less than 5 km, but an aircraft should be able to pick up the Ch 16 signal transmitted by handheld low-power VHF at a longer distance than 5 km.

I think, Alex, that 30-50 km figure applies only for reception when the source is an antenna set very high, such as Mt. Ozzard, at the head of Barkley Sound. I find I can receive VHF signals from freighters 40-50 km away, barely, and can not always receive VHF signals from ordinary power boats 30 km away. The latter depends on the antenna configuration and height of the mast on the power boat. I am certain neither the freighters nor the power boats can hear me broadcast at those distances.

Where I paddle frequently, the Coast Guard has set up sensitive receiving (and broadcast) antennas, similar to the one on Mt. Ozzard, and the Coast Guard can hear me broadcast from my kayak at great distances. Not sure what the limit iis, but I know it works at 20-25 km, if I have done my math correctly, and suspect 50 km might be an upper limit.

I am puzzled about that statement on an aircraft receiving signals from a marine VHF transmittin on marine channel 16. Do passing aircraft commonly monitor marine channel 16? I know the Coast Guard aircraft do, but do commercial or general aviation craft do so?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:59 am 
Quote:
Do passing aircraft commonly monitor marine channel 16? I know the Coast Guard aircraft do, but do commercial or general aviation craft do so?

I was thinking mostly about Coast Guard aircraft. I doubt other aircraft monitor Ch16, unless they are asked to.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:26 am 
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Since I'm not open water expeditioner, and got Alex point of view and Michael's conclusion (and thank Krudave and Nohoval for inputs), nevertheless I'll be considering the purchase of a marine band PMR (safer and much more in compliance with marine environment than 446 equipment).
Thanks folks.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:59 pm 
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mussopo wrote:
What is the best option in terms of safety and quality (waterproof for instance)/price? I know it's impossible to send distress signal via Channel 16 with this type of equipment, but with 5km range one shold be able to send some sort of distress signal (in case of such situation) free of charge, don't you agree? In my place I couldn't find any. Regards and my apologies if this is a silly question.
mussopo,

I must apologize for responding with the assumption you were in North America. I know I gave a response that was not worth much to you. Couple questions:

1. Which of the variants of "PMR" are you considering purchasing? Over here, we do not use that acronym. Here is a lift from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PMR

2. That 5 km range (if I looked at the right units) looks to be a maximum range. In service, i suspect you will only occasionally be able to get that much range.

3. How much range do you need? If you are always within a couple of kilometers of a receiver tuned to the emergency PMR frequency, then it sounds like the unit will work fne. If you are paddling along a coastline, it might be that an intervening headland would prevent reception of a distress signal from you.

I hope this helps. I apologize for not looking carefully at your location. I am not at all familiar with radio rules and systems in Europe; although the marine VHF service in Portugal is parallel to that in other nations, the location and capability of marine VHF emergency services might be very different than it is here on the west coast of North America.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:28 pm 
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Hi Dave

In fact my concern for a PMR (Private Mobile Radio) resides rather on the safety issue, though most of the time I'll be paddling on inner waters, and ocasionally along coastline in small "treks". That's why initially I didn't care much for a marine bandwidth radio.
But considering the medium in which one paddles (aquatic), the 446 doesn't configure well the waterproof issue as far I as I know, and among other things there's the lack of Ch.16. That's why I posted my question hoping that in your place there would be different types of equipments other than in my place (in the 446MHz class, which is license free at least in my place).
Hope this clarifies my initial posting.
Regards


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:41 am 
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Sorry Dave and the others

Reading more carefully the Wikipedia's list, now i realize the confusion i might introduce when addressing to you all.
In fact the device i was initially referring to, is the PMR446 (Personal Mobile Radio, 446 MHz) - which seems to be illegal in most parts of the US.

My humble apologies


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:27 am 
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Here is a short FAQ on PMR 446, including some of the features which distinguish it from the US-based system FRS. Similar intent; different frequencies: http://www.pmr446mania.com/en/index.html

I've used FRS radios some, and 5 km would definitely be the absolute maximum range, ground to ground for FRS. Ground to air should be almost unlimited, however.

FRS radios are fun to use, and make two-vehicle travel much easier, coordinating rest stops and ensuring good navigating on land. Some US paddlers use them for intragroup/intergroup communication while on the water, to avoid cluttering up the VHF band with chatter, and saving their VHF's for emergency use.

I do not imagine PMR 446 would be of much use in an emergency, as I gather there is no emergency channel monitored by authorities.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:56 am 
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Then it would make sense if the industry could develop the impossible(?) gadget of the following type :
-Light and compact floating (waterproof) FRS or PMR446 (good for commuinicating with other yakers), plus Ch.16 and DSC options...powered by lithium rerchargeable battery and optional holder for AA NiMH batteries. :P


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:03 am 
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Thanks for the link Dave, I was on the wrong lines completely. I did at one time consider getting a few of these radios as a cheaper alternative to VHF, but the lack of CH16 or equivalent put me off.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:51 pm 
nohoval_turrets wrote:
Thanks for the link Dave, I was on the wrong lines completely. I did at one time consider getting a few of these radios as a cheaper alternative to VHF, but the lack of CH16 or equivalent put me off.

VHF can be used in place of FRS or PMR - for communication with fellow yakers. You can do this on non-emergency channels (I think, they are 6, 9 and 10 in North America). I've seen people doing that. May be in some very dense areas you can't chat a lot, because too many people are using them - I don't know. I'm carrying VHF as an emergency device only. Those that do chat, usually limit their talkingt to necessary navigation-related issues - where to turn, where to stop etc. And VHF does have a designated distress channel 16. But you can't use an FRS radio to send a distress Ch 16 signal. Low-end VHF are available under $70, I think.


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