DSC Test Call

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by sailboatracer, Mar 15, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. sailboatracer

    sailboatracer

    Joined Aug 21, 2017
    19 posts, 6 likes
    Sunfish Thistle
    US NY
    Is there a way to test to see if a VHF radio can properly send a Digital Selective Call (DSC) if the sending radio doesn't have the "Test" function?
     


  2. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,446 posts, 422 likes
    Hunter 26.5, 212, 170
    us West Palm Beach
    I think that there is a USCG MMSI that is designated for tests like that. I think that it was listed in the owner's manual for one of my radios. It was a few years ago, so I'm a little foggy on the details.
     


  3. JamesG161

    JamesG161

    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    3,603 posts, 1,320 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS


  4. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,985 posts, 3,902 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Sure. Find a friend on his boat with a VHF radio that has DSC feature. Using his MMSI number you call the friend. If he answers it works. If not you have an issue to solve.
     


    Hello Below likes this.
  5. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    We use it while cruising with friends that we have entered their MMSI numbers. We select a channel and place the call. That brings our friends to that channel without having to hail them on Ch 16.
     


    jssailem likes this.
  6. sailboatracer

    sailboatracer

    Joined Aug 21, 2017
    19 posts, 6 likes
    Sunfish Thistle
    US NY
    To clarify my original question: If I place a DSC to a friend would my lat/lon show up on their radio? I want to test to make sure that my GPS data is being broadcast.
     


  7. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,985 posts, 3,902 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Oh. DSC Digital Selective Calling is just that, calling to another radio.

    You want to try a test call to see if the system transmitted your emergency signal?

    Here are the official instructions.

    https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=DSCTesting
     


  8. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,985 posts, 3,902 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    What radio and how old?
     


  9. SG

    SG

    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    1,420 posts, 271 likes
    J/Boat J/160
    US Annapolis
    What type of VHF do you have? What type of VHF does your friend have? What do the manuals say for the radio?
    This is from the ICOM website (General DSC applicable info):

    n HOW DOES DSC WORK
    DSC uses a digital signal to send a specific set of information.
    To have it work, you need the following:
    • The vessel must be equipped with DSC capable radio.It is
    best to have a Class D DSC radio as the new USCG
    regulations require.
    • You must obtain a MMSI # (Maritime Mobile Service Identity
    Number) for your DSC radio from Boatus.com. This is how
    others can identify it is you making the DSC call.
    • You must connect the DSC radio to a Global Positioning
    System (GPS) in order for yourposition to be sent with the
    DSC distress call. Interconnect your radio to a GPS receiver
    using a two-wire NMEA 0183 interface that is on all DSCequipped
    marine radios and on most GPS receivers. Refer
    to your GPS manual for instructions and the USCG web site for
    updates: www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtDsc.
    • The system should be tested. To test the system, do NOT
    press the distress button! You will need to determine the
    MMSI number of a friend or local shore station or use the
    USCG test MMSI # when making a test call. To make a test
    call enter the MMSI #. Use the DSC calling Channel 70.
    Select a working channel (NOT Channel 16), use a routine
    priority call (see manual) and then make a call.The USCG
    test MMSI # is: 003669999. Select “TEST” on your radio
    and enter 003669999 MMSI, make the call. You will
    receive an automatic acknowledgement from a USCG
    Rescue 21 shore station.
    The information that can be passed by a DSC call on VHF
    Channel 70 includes the following:
    • The caller’s unique MMSI number
    • The MMSI number of the unit being called
    • The caller’s location and time of location in a distress by
    using the distress button when appropriate
    • The requested working frequency and mode
    • The priority of call (Distress, Urgent, Safety, Routine)
    • DSC calls can indicate the type of emergency if selected
     


  10. sailboatracer

    sailboatracer

    Joined Aug 21, 2017
    19 posts, 6 likes
    Sunfish Thistle
    US NY
    Yes, I want to try a test call to see if my system is transmitting an emergency signal. I have a Standard Horizon GX1260 VHF radio. It does not have a "Test" function like the newer radios have. I don't know the age but would guess it was purchased in the early 2000's.
     


  11. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho

    Joined Jan 7, 2011
    1,300 posts, 259 likes
    Oday 322
    US East Chicago, IN
    Or he does. :)

    Greg
     


    LloydB and jssailem like this.
  12. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    From the back of the radio I have a blue and green pair of wires that lead to my chart plotter to get Lat and Long. It displays on the Standard Horizon screen when I select it from the menu. I can send it to a friend in the DSC menu.
     


  13. Pearson 39-II

    Pearson 39-II

    Joined Aug 4, 2018
    54 posts, 20 likes
    Pearson Yachts 39-II
    Scotch Bonnet US Punta Gorda, FL
    Thanks for that post, jssailem. I installed a Standard Horizon GX2200 just last month and it does have the DSC Test feature, yet nowhere in their documentation was this USCG test MMSI mentioned. My concern is the same as the original poster - when I send out an actual DSC distress call will my GPS coordinates be part of what USCG receives - i.e. how to not just program that, but also how to test/validate I did it right and everything works as expected?
    Does anyone know if the USCG automated response to a DCS Test call includes any indication that they received my position info? Is the USCG response simply the "ACK" that shows up on my VHF display? Is there a way to VHF or telephone call someone in the USCG Rescue 21 System after you get an "ACK" to find out what they saw in your DSC test transmission?
     


    StargazerP303 likes this.
  14. StargazerP303

    StargazerP303

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    274 posts, 88 likes
    Pearson P303 #221
    US RockPort Maine
    Let me add this to your problem is..lol I too ran DSC test to get looped back ok.. However, When I really needed it... IT FAILED to send an emergency to the USCG with any information. The DSC around New England works off of towers and not satellites unless you have that system installed. I was on rocks last season and had to use my DCS button and no contact with USCG. The coast guard called my cellphone and explained they did not get me DCS signal. So I pressed it while they were on the phone with me.. NO WORKIE... Just use CH16 for help and the DCS. IMO
     


    LloydB likes this.
  15. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,985 posts, 3,902 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Isn’t that the procedure. Press the DSC Panic button and call CG on channel 16. Mayday Mayday, Mayday.
    When you need urgent help use all the tools in the box.

    Note that the Panic call on DSC goes out to all boats with a VHF radio turned on. Some will see it as an annoyance and press the clear button. Responsible boaters will listen and respond based on Radio traffic. If everyone responds at the same time no one will be able to communicate.

    You might reach out to your CG Auxiliary and ask them how they suggest you test your radio.
     


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  16. SG

    SG

    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    1,420 posts, 271 likes
    J/Boat J/160
    US Annapolis
    If you respond on the DSC mode to an emergency call, you cut off the automatic functioning and relay function, don’t you???

    You need to let your relay function work. Log the call, lat Lon of the caller, your last Lon, and the time. Then, call the USCG.
     


  17. StargazerP303

    StargazerP303

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    274 posts, 88 likes
    Pearson P303 #221
    US RockPort Maine
    Good point there... I did reach out to the local CG station.. they can't help with any testing.. You just have to rely on IT JUST WORK'S right! My new Standard Horizon radio was shipped back and all they did was send me a refurb one.. The USCG station wanted to know what happened and all Standard Horizon could say "NO PROBLEM FOUND!" would you expect any other responses! LOL, No I guess not... I now have a new one and have actually tested it out for real. ICOM you the.... Capt. Rob
     


    Pearson 39-II likes this.
  18. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    3,239 posts, 1,095 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    You also need to have the setting checked for transmit gps coordinates when calling friends.
     


  19. StargazerP303

    StargazerP303

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    274 posts, 88 likes
    Pearson P303 #221
    US RockPort Maine
    And answer yes, you would under certain conditions here. Let say your the only one on your sailboat and your chart led you around. first thing is HIT that button, then get the sails down 2nd assess your situation and take actions based on the event. the vessel was flopping port to starboard back and forth on its sides. Needed to stop flopping. moved the dingy inflatable boat to one side causing it to come to rest on the under the vessel. Next, use an adjustable boat hook under the boat toe rail to keep the boat from flopping. lol and NOW deal with why no answer from the USCG or any boats. So you see its a matter of "blind trust" that you realize its wrong and will never use it again till the USCG allows an actual test.
     


    jssailem likes this.
  20. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    3,239 posts, 1,095 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    VHF is line of sight. If the antenna is at the top of the mast, but the mast is in the sand, it's pretty obvious that the transmission and reception may be questionable.
     


    jssailem likes this.


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