Monthly Archive: May 2010

DSC VHF channel changing SAFETY ALERT, depressing! 9

DSC VHF channel changing SAFETY ALERT, depressing!


Sorry, but I’m going to start off this week with depressing news:  The U.S. Coast Guard — which I’ve always thought of as a major proponent of DSC VHF — recently issued a Safety Alert that treats one of its core features as a hazard.  In fact, the Guard now “strongly recommends
disabling the automatic channel switching feature…”  Does this mean that placing direct DSC calls to AIS targets — a function that seems to be nicely designed into the DSC system, and one that many of us are enthusiastic about — may not work well?  Yes, it probably does.  But, then again, the USCG found itself between a rock and a hard place…

Azek PVC board, great for electronics panels? 23

Azek PVC board, great for electronics panels?


At first I was just going to replace the electronics panel at Gizmo’s lower helm, but I got carried away!  And at this point I’ve got a boat that I can’t start — because the engine instruments, and much else, are disconnected — in a slip that I’m just bumming until the real occupant’s boat is launched (which accounts for slow posting here).  But the project is going well, and I’m particularly pleased with the Azek expanded PVC board product I’m experimenting with for the dash panel(s)…

Minn Kota’s i-Pilot robot, & Geonav for real 2

Minn Kota’s i-Pilot robot, & Geonav for real


The Miami demo of Minn Kota’s new i-Pilot technology got somewhat humorous.  After some time with that trolling motor head turning this way and that as it automatically retraced a GPS track or pulled us along to a waypoint — where it could even maintain station — I started thinking of it as a faithful, friendly robot.  If I owned one, I might paint eyes and a smile on it to heighten the sensation.  And in retrospect it might have been whispering, “Hey, bub, I represent Johnson Outdoors technology prowess; wait until you see Geonav!”

AIS on fire worldwide, & hello AIS MOB tech 6

AIS on fire worldwide, & hello AIS MOB tech


Turkey is mandating some 25,000 commercial vessels to carry the unusual Class B AIS transponders seen above, which function like conventional ones but with some special added features. Note the extra SRM message buttons which should help nearby boats and SAR authorities to react quickly to collisions, fires, etc.  Also built into these units is a tracking scheme such that the Turkish government can identify vessels trying to avoid taxes by buying fuel in Greece!  Not only are safety, security, and even revenues driving a rapid increase in AIS mandates, but some amazing new AIS technology is just around the corner.  I learned a lot during a recent lunch with a man who may well know more about the worldwide state of AIS than any other…