Handheld DSC VHF/GPS, I wish!


Rusty commented that the FCC may make GPS mandatory in a DSC-equipped handheld VHF, adding that he’d “rather spend $300 on a 5 watt marine portable with GPS location rather than buy one of these FRS ‘locators’ {TracMe}.” I agree completely, and even see considerable safety value in a DSC handheld without GPS. If, say, my little Gizmo caught fire, I wouldn’t hesitate to hit the red button on my Standard Horizon HX470S. (Actually you have to flip off the cover, press the deep button hard, and wait three seconds, counted off on screen as shown above.) 

Even though the cradle is not currently hooked up to a GPS source, at least every DSC VHF within 5 watt range would wail out a serious alarm (have you ever heard one?) and switch to Channel 16 where I could shout out my position and situation. And if I fell off some larger boat (that properly monitored VHF) with this little beauty clipped to my belt, couldn’t I set off that boat’s DSC distress alarm and then guide the crew back to me both with voice and the radio’s included strobe light? This is a bit contrarian, as some VHF and  S&R folks don’t want to see any DSC used without a GPS location included (hence the new ruling, and the regular dissing of Standard’s HX line), but I think it could be useful, plus the HX is an excellent handheld VHF (FM, even FRS, too). Of course it would be even better with a built-in GPS, but I’m told that getting GPS and VHF to work well in close proximity, share a battery nicely, and still be reasonably sized and priced is a real challenge. Of course it has been done, with charting too, but the Uniden Mystic was a huge and costly beast, and is no longer made. Here’s hoping that some VHF company will meet the challenge. (And sorry about the sheet rock mud on my fingers; but the lady of the house is pleased!)

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

4 Responses

  1. Preston says:

    I think the Mystic is in production. Uniden has it at the top of their marine radio page.
    I looked it up on Amazon and they’re for sale @ $619. They must be made of pure expensium. Also, the shipping weight is 30.8 POUNDS. Hopefully, that’s the weight of a really nice box that provide emergency shelter.

  2. awboater says:

    Might some VHF radios suppress DSC transmission if the MMSI number and GPS information not present?

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    My HX does have an MMSI number; I think it has to to make a DSC Alert call. But I’ve never heard of DSC filtering like you suggest.

  4. aland says:

    A handheld with DSC is just what I have been looking for. Great for the life raft. You are sitting out there bobbing around and a ship goes by, I want to be able to “ring their Bells” on the bridge not just hope that they are monitoring 16!

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