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Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" Freqs

Radio/Satellite/Phone/E-mail

Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" Freqs

by ka4wja » Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:09 pm

Hello to all,
Last fall I started a thread here, that I thought some may find useful, desribing how I programmed my M-802's, for more versatility / usefullness via its DSC functions.....
The discussion dirfted away, and I'm not sure how many enjoyed that.....so I thought I'd just repost my ideas again.....this time with a promise to stay on-point....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


1) There's been discussions on the "usefulness" of HF-DSC (and the Icom M-802 DSC functions and the necessity to have an antenna hooked-up to the "DSC receive" jack, etc.).
And, while I'm squarely in the "pro" camp (probably the "pro" camp leader), over the years I came to realize that some of the main reasons that many are not so convinced of this usefulness, is the lack of understanding of how the Int'l GMDSS system actually works.....how "reliable" MF/HF DSC signaling really is.....and how effective MF/HF DSC is in contacting ships in your vicinity (as well as shore stations worldwide), when you're in need of
assistance.....

So, while I've tried to impress these facts upon many, I'm not sure how many
are convinced.....




2) However, over this past year, I realized another hurdle to overcome, in order to convince some further....and that is the lack of coordination of "Routine" MF/HF-DSC calling and lack of Icom M-802 nomenclature / programming understanding......



ITU Radio Regs (quoted from US Pub 117).......



Regulations concerning distress, emergency, and safety
traffic are contained in the Radio Regulations of the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva.
Pertinent information is extracted below in condensed
form.

400L. Use of GMDSS Equipment for Routine Telecommunications

GMDSS telecommunications equipment should NOT be
reserved for emergency use only. The IMO has issued
COMSAR/Circ.17 (dated 9 March 1998) which
recommends and encourages mariners to use that
equipment for routine as well as safety.


DISTRESS, EMERGENCY, AND SAFETY TRAFFIC
4 - 48
telecommunications. The following recommendation is
extracted from Circ.17:

Use of GMDSS equipment for transmission of general
radiocommunications is one of the functional requirements
specified in SOLAS chapter IV, regulation 4. Regular use
of GMDSS equipment helps to develop operator
competency and ensure equipment availability. If ships use
other radiocommunication systems for the bulk of their
business communications, they should adopt a regular
program of sending selected traffic or test messages via
GMDSS equipment to ensure operator competency and
equipment availability and to help reduce the incidence of
false alerts. This policy extends to all GMDSS equipment
suites including Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on VHF,
MF and HF, to the Inmarsat-A, -B and -C systems, and to
any duplicated VHF and long-range communications
facilities.


4.2 Transmission of a DSC call for public correspondence to a coast station
or another ship:

A DSC call for public correspondence to a coast station or another ship is
transmitted as follows:

- tune the transmitter to the relevant DSC channel;

- select the format for calling a specific station on the DSC equipment;

- key in or select on the DSC equipment keyboard (in accordance with the DSC
equipment manufacturer's instructions):

- the 9-digit identity of the station to be called;

- the category of the call (routine);

- the type of subsequent communication (normally radiotelephony);

- a proposed working channel if calling another ship. A proposal for a
working channel should NOT be included in calls to a coast station; the
coast station will in its DSC acknowledgment indicate a vacant working
channel;

- transmit the DSC call.




Notwithstanding the above ITU Rules and suggestions, we should all accept that daily, continual / routine use of the dedicated Int'l GMDSS MF/HF DSC frequencies, for calling / signaling uses other than Distress, Urgency, or Safety, is a BAD idea......
Although, there is no problem with "test calls", and an occasional "all ships / position" call, daily / routine use of the 6 dedicated GMDSS MF/HF DSC frequencies has been discouraged and needs to continue to be discouraged.....

The M802's factory-programmed DSC Watch Mode Scanning Frequencies / Routine Call Frequencies are "paired" (different transmit and receive frequencies), it made ship-to-ship Routine DSC calling / signaling difficult.....
Although, some users simply used one of the six Int'l GMDSS MF/HF DSC
frequencies, for routine calling.....many users simply assumed
that there was little usefulness to the M-802's DSC capability, other than
in Distress, Urgency, or Safety instances.....

Although, in my opinion, this assumption is incorrect......it's been
difficult to convince many of my opinion.....and then I realized that maybe
few have reprogrammed their M-802's Routine DSC Scanning / Calling
Frequencies.....
And, while part of that reason is the crappy Icom manual, the other part is
a lack of coordination / consensus on what frequencies to use......


3) Before some write off this thread as just another of my ramblings on the
virtues of HF-DSC, PLEASE understand that is not what this is.....but,
rather is an explanation of where and how to use HF-DSC "routine" calling /
signaling......

And, to be clear, none of the following will change / interfere with the
Int'l GMDSS DSC calling / signaling, on the 6 dedicated Int'l GMDSS MF/HF
DSC frequencies (2187.5, 4207.5, 6312.0, 8414.5, 12577.0 and 16084.5 kHz)
used for Distress, Urgency, or Safety messages.....(which are constantly
monitored by the M-802, in the background, at all times the M-802 is turned
on).

In years past some assumed that the Icom M-802 had to be in "DSC Watch Mode"
in order to receive Int'l GMDSS DSC
messages (Distress, Urgency, and Safety calls), but this has never been the
case....

From the M-802's manual:


The independent built-in DSC receiver circuit in the ICM802 scans all
distress/safety frequencies,
therefore, the "distress," "urgency" and "safety" calls on those frequencies
can be decoded at all times.

Monitoring the frequencies, 2187.5, 4207.5, 6312.0,
8414.5, 12577.0 and 16084.5 kHz, for distress, urgency,
etc., no operation is necessary with the transceiver.
These frequencies are monitored at all times.






4) The M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" allows the unit's main receiver to scan 6 different MF/HF frequencies, listening for "routine" DSC calls, etc...

{Although 5 of these are "paired"/duplex frequencies, originally designed for shore-to-ship (and ship-to-shore) HF-DSC signaling for "public correspondence", in the succeeding 10-15 years since the ITU regs were drawn up for GMDSS and MF/HF-DSC, there are fewer "public correspondence shore stations", and is now very unlikely that any of the remaining shore stations will be making much use of this "paired frequency" HF-DSC signaling.....
So, re-programming them to allow a more useful purpose seems like a fine idea....}

And, for many cruisers / voyagers / small boat sailors, these functions seemed foreign and/or useless.....
But, some (like myself) thought they could be useful......
As a realist, I'm aware that most will ignore the usefulness, but for those who'd be interested, I thought I'd pass this on....

{Wow, a long preface, huh???}

Again primarily due to Icom's poor manual, many M-802 owners have never even attempted "Routine" DSC calls....
And, in addition to the poor manual (totally confusing to some), one BIG reason is that Icom programmed 5 of the 6 DSC "Watch Mode" Scan Frequencies / Call Frequencies ("Routine" DSC frequencies) as "duplex" frequencies, rather than "simplex" frequencies....


If you have an M-802 (and manual) you can easily re-program these DSC Scan Frequencies and Call Frequencies to simplex.....
But, what frequencies to use???

From ITU-R M.541-9


The frequencies assignable on an international basis to ship and coast
stations for DSC, for purposes other than distress, urgency, and safety, are as follows:

Ship stations:
458.5 kHz

2177 2189.5 kHz

4208 4208.5 4209 kHz

6312.5 6313 6313.5 kHz

8415 8415.5 8416 kHz

12577.5 12578 12578.5 kHz

16805 16805.5 16806 kHz

18898.5 18899 18899.5 kHz

22374.5 22 375 22375.5 kHz

25208.5 25209 25209.5 khz




And, since Icom chose their "Routine" DSC transmit frequencies ("Call Frequencies") to be 0.5khz above the dedicated Int'l GMDSS DSC frequencies, I thought that would be a good idea.....
Quite a while back, I re-programmed my HF-DSC Scan Frequencies and Call Frequencies.....

So, in my M-802, I have 2177.0, 4208.0, 6312.5, 8415.0, 12577.5, and 16805.0 khz, programmed as my DSC Scan frequencies, and in addition to the GMDSS-DSC frequencies, also programmed these in as "Call Frequencies", both transmit and receive (simplex channels)......
And, that means that when using DSC Watch Mode, I'm scanning those frequencies listening for "Routine" DSC calls.....
Who from??? You may be asking....

Well, who from, could be anyone......but, more likely it would be some other
cruiser, either calling me directly or calling any other vessel (perhaps
looking for others in their area, or looking for a "radio / propagation
check", etc.)
If they're looking for me, this works as quasi-ALE (Automatic Link
Establishment).....
And, yes this DOES presuppose that I've got my M-802 turned on......which
may not be the case....but if I was expecting a call (at sea or at anchor)
and/or underway in heavy weather, I'd probably have the 802 on....



5) I also reprogrammed my M-802's "Traffic Frequency List"......for either GMDSS calling or Routine calling, etc......
So, now I've got 2182, 2670, 4125, 4146, 6215, 6227, 8291, 8294, 12290, 12359, 16420, and 16528khz... as well as some of WLO's and NMN's working (duplex) frequencies......




6) Using these frequencies and procedures (not using the GMDSS DSC Distress freqs for routine calls), DOES allows for fairly easy and seamless "Routine DSC" calling / signaling....
Although, until others accept these frequencies / coordination as "standards", and actually use them (at least try it once), there will be few users of "Routine DSC" calling / signaling on MF/HF.....



7) To summarize, my intention here is not to tout (not much anyway :) the
virtues of MF/HF DSC calling / signaling, since its prominence in the GMDSS
system for Distress calling / signaling is well-known, but
rather to pass on (to anyone interested) the simple way of utilizing the
M-802's DSC functions for "Routine" DSC calling / signaling.....

And, I do realize that most will have little interest in this, but hope that
someday that will change......and as we all know, change just doesn't
happen, but rather we need to "make it happen".....



I do hope that some find this useful.....

John
Last edited by ka4wja on Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110

(currently lying, Sewall's Point, FL)

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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by W5PAD » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:23 pm

John,

I for one am quite interested in your "ramblings" :lol:

My M-802 is being shipped to me as I type, my brother also has an M-802 on his boat, we both plan on departing for long term cruising this fall, I'll start in the Pacific and he in the Gulf of Mexico. I see HF/MF DSC as a great way for us to make contact and very much appreciate your time in posting how to accomplish this. Without DCS I can imagine we would have to coordinate a time and channel, and hope the other didn't forget the plan. We might just end up comunicating only via email. With DCS, we can have the radio on, one party places a call, and if the other is on the boat he can answer it. Simple - no?
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by Auspicious » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:18 am

W5PAD wrote:With DCS, <sic> we can have the radio on, one party places a call, and if the other is on the boat he can answer it. Simple - no?


Exactly, even better you can leave the volume all the way down. This works on VHF as well of course.
dave
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by ka4wja » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:31 pm

W5PAD wrote:Without DCS I can imagine we would have to coordinate a time and channel, and hope the other didn't forget the plan. We might just end up comunicating only via email. With DCS, we can have the radio on, one party places a call, and if the other is on the boat he can answer it. Simple - no?

Phil,
Yep, that's pretty much it.....

But, there are a few caveats that you need to be aware of...
a) the other boat still needs to have his M-802 turned ON...

b) and if you're planning on using non-distress / non-GMDSS DSC freqs for your routine messaging (as I recommend), then the M-802 needs to be in the DSC-Watch Mode (where it will scan the 6 frews you program it to scan)...

c) And, since this isn't a real ALE system, you still may need to try different freqs for contact, but allowing the DSC terminals to establish contact does make it easier....
{depending of time of day, and distance between vessels, the sender of the message may need to try multiple freqs, in order to assure contact.....for your application, probably try 12mhz (primary) and 8mhz (secondary), for daytime contact.....and 8mhz (primary) and 6mhz (secondary) for nighttime contacts....(assuming you're anywhere from 500 - 1500 miles away from each other....)}


Have fun.....
Fair winds....

John
John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110

(currently lying, Sewall's Point, FL)

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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by stormalong » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:56 pm

All this is true but consider the additional power required to have the M802 on 24 hours a day. about two amps on standby translates to 48 AH/day. For most sailors on solar/wind energy, that is a lot of power.

Another alternative is to set an alarm on your watch to remind you of the sched.
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by ka4wja » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:12 pm

Brian,
You do bring up a good point, which I had planned on including, but forgot.....Thanks!
(although you can draw less power than you might think, since there is no audio out of the speaker, and if you dim the display, this saves power as well...)

In my case, when at anchor, I have plenty of power, as long as the sun is shinning :) (520 watts of solar and decent frig/freezer insulation)
But underway, with 24/7 autopilot, etc. added to the mix, unless the skies are clear (or I decide to trail my towed-water-gen), I don't leave the M-802 on 24/7.....

Again, as I wrote last fall.....there are many that pooh-pooh the whole DSC system as a boondoggle.....and for recreational boaters, it isn't far from it.....but IF we that actually have the equipment, actually use some of the features we paid for, maybe we'd find some additional usefulness....

And, lastly, please remember that I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything....rather just providing some info for those that might want it, as well as a description of what I did/do....
If you like it, cool....
If not, no worries here.....

Fair winds...

John
John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110

(currently lying, Sewall's Point, FL)

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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by stormalong » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:17 pm

John,

Your'e welcome.

I just looked up the specs on the M802. They state 3 amps at max audio. Since max audio is only 4 watts, at 12V it only accounts for 333 mills. I suppose dimming the display adds up to something but, assuming LED lighting it is not much.

The M802 is certainly the Cadillac of SSBs and it does carry a premium price for all of it's bells and whistles.

I think HF DSC could certainly have a use. With my 330 watts of solar, AirX with Air+ blades and a towed generator on the plus side and refer, freezer, autopilot, VHF and occasional use or radar, etc. on the minus side it just isn't in my energy budget. I am sure others have similar constraints.

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/ ... tions.aspx
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by ka4wja » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:12 am

Phil, Brian, et al,
Before leaving the boat last night, I looked at my notes, where I measured my M-802 current draw a while back....
So here are the actual real world figures on my M-802....(+/- 50ma / 0.050amps)

Normal SSB RX / Max Vol = 2.1 amps
Normal SSB RX / Avg Vol = 2.0 amps
DSC Watch Mode / bright display = 1.9 amps
DSC Watch Mode / dim displat = 1.8 amps
Turned OFF / Standby = 0.12amps (~ 120ma)

Just thought someone might want this data....

John
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by Tom_W9LT » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:58 pm

I am going to crew on an Island Packet 44 from Hampton, VA to Tortola beginning November 1, 2011, plus or minus the weather. The vessel has a licensed Icom M802 and I am a licensed ham and GROL licensee. I have no idea whether the M802 has that second antenna for DSC installed. But if it does, I'd love to schedule a test or two with anyone on this thread who is interested in assisting me in getting DSC watch programmed as suggested in this thread. Come to think of it, I'd love to complete a full test of this radio's other functions as well. The vessel also has an SCS Pactor II-USB and I'd love to confirm its' operation with Winlink too. Been learning about that on land here for the past couple weeks and think I have a good operational knowledge of it as well as a Winlink account with my callsign. We'll be at the boat in Virginia starting Thursday night the 27th. Would anybody care to assist me in this test?
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by ka4wja » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:28 pm

Tom,
I'm glad I've piqued some interest.....but please remember that this thread/info is about the "routine" messaging to/from other pleasure boats, and is NOT intended in anyway to interfere with the M-802's Distress, Urgency, and Safety messaging via the 6 int'l GMDSS freqs......
Tom_W9LT wrote: I am going to crew on an Island Packet 44 from Hampton, VA to Tortola beginning November 1, 2011, plus or minus the weather. The vessel has a licensed Icom M802 and I am a licensed ham and GROL licensee.

With just a week before departure, I'd spend my time making sure the GMDSS DSC functions work properly (do a test call with USCG NMN, etc...) AND, make sure you have the correct distress, urgency, and safety VOICE freqs (2182, 4125, 6215, 8291, 12290, and 16420) programmed in.....AND that all crew on-board are briefed/trained on proper use, etc.....and this is the skippe's job/responsibility.....


But, here there's a bit of an issue......
Tom_W9LT wrote: I have no idea whether the M802 has that second antenna for DSC installed. But if it does, I'd love to schedule a test or two with anyone on this thread who is interested in assisting me in getting DSC watch programmed as suggested in this thread.
As owner/skipper of my own boat, I have no problem re-programming my own M-802, or giving info to those that wish to do the same to their radios (on their own boats), but as "crew" you should not do this unless specifically asked to by the vessel's owner and/or skipper....
Further, in my opinion, your time would be better served by politely asking the owner and skipper if the GMDSS DSC functions work properly (have them do a test call with USCG NMN, etc. or allow them to ask you to do so....) AND, have them verify the correct distress, urgency, and safety VOICE freqs (2182, 4125, 6215, 8291, 12290, and 16420) are programmed in.....AND confirm that all crew on-board are briefed/trained on proper use, etc. of the M-802, including DSC functions....
Remember this is the skipper's responsibility, and if you ask politely, damn few skipper's would ever be offended that a crewmember was inquiring about safety procedures, and most will find it refreshingly helpful.....but understand that damn few skippers would appreciate a crewmember "messing around" with their gear (especially safety gear) without specifically being directed to do so....



Good luck and Fair winds....

John
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by Tom_W9LT » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:45 am

Hi John,

See my PM for specific information as I'd love to test this out with both you and Phil W5PAD. Actually, I've been specifically invited and assigned the tasks you mention. Skipper is neither a ham nor particularly up to speed on the technicalities of this radio operation. This is symptomatic of the issues facing many owners who have the gear but don't have the convenience of a techie crew member to assist!!

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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by TSparks » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:47 pm

Hi John,

Very good information you have posted. I have been searching for internationally agreed simplex channels to re-program my radio to to allow for extended range of DSC since 2177.0 KHZ does not travel that far.

I am retired in Mexico and wrote the book ICOM IC M802 Made simple for Cruisers. As such, I help a lot of other cruisers in Mexico learn how to use DSC. The problem has been there is no one to talk to shore with on the duplex channels and I could not find simplex channels as stated before.

Your Idea makes a lot of sense. I have "Another" note into ICOM asking for their idea in Simplex channels, but I after reading your paper, I do not expect much back.

I would like to get your permission to add the key parts of your information to my book and post it within the 2nd addition updates to the book on my website so that people will start using the expanded capability from cruiser to cruiser. My email is p-t_on_sunyside@live.com

Terry Sparks
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by ka4wja » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:44 pm

Terry,
You're welcome....


TSparks wrote: I have "Another" note into ICOM asking for their idea in Simplex channels, but I after reading your paper, I do not expect much back.

1) Whatever you get back from Icom, please take it with a grain-of-salt, as I've heard some fairly errornous things from them over the years!!!!




TSparks wrote:
I would like to get your permission to add the key parts of your information to my book and post it within the 2nd addition updates to the book on my website so that people will start using the expanded capability from cruiser to cruiser.

2) Wahtever I post here is public info, and you are welcome to it!!!!
(but, I'd hope that nobody would use someone else's words, ideas, information, etc. for their personal profit!!!)



Fair winds...

Johm
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by TSparks » Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:15 pm

Thanks John,

ICOM has still not replied. But they probably can not answer the questions I asked as they probably do not research usage as you have done.

As far as profit from your words, if I insert some of them into my book on the 802, I would be making a profit I suppose. My plan is to post it on my web site as a planned appendix in revision 2. All the people that have already purchased my book, or for that matter anyone could download the information for free. The other thing you should know about me is I would not take credit for your ideas. The appendix will reference your full information on this site.

I guess I liked what you wrote, but the only way it will become a standard usage for 802 users is if it is publicized beyond this forum. Referencing this forum will also help promote the DSC call frequency change.

I am really into the 802 as well, but I did just the right search this time, after years, to pop up this site.

My web site is http://sunnyside-adventure.webs.com/trainingforsailors.htm

I will put something together by the weekend.

Terry
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Re: Routine HF-DSC Frequencies/Icom M-802 "DSC Watch Mode" F

by TSparks » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:04 am

John,

My procedure is now posted on my website: http://sunnyside-adventure.webs.com/trainingforsailors.htm

If you have a chance please review to see how I used your information and name.

Thanks again,

Terry
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