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Old 03 September 2009, 13:28   #1
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Lowrance lhr 80 e

Can anyone offer any advice. I have been looking at various handheld VHF radios and noticed that this also has GPS. Any thoughts anyone?

I should also add that I will only be using it no further than a mile off coast and on the lakes etc.

As always your help and advice is much appreciated,

Jake
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Old 03 September 2009, 14:57   #2
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Jake,

I've no experience of it. But just googled it. From the description (although it doesn't actually say this) it looks like it might have full DSC capability built in. That would make it quite an attractive unit for many small boat owners, or anyone who worries about falling overboard when on their own.

Looks like you can pick it up for less than £200 and maybe less than £140... ...which is less about the same as a cheap handheld vhf and handheld gps.

If I was in the market this would be getting my attention - and I would be hunting one out to see in action if I were going to SBS. My one word of warning as a Lowrance GPS owner is that their manuals are terrible. I wonder if their technical author has ever used the kit!
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Old 03 September 2009, 15:13   #3
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The way I understand it is that there is a US version and a European version ( thats the little e at the end of the product code I believe.) As usual the US version is about £60 - £70 cheaper but I think some of their channels are different. Is this right? Am I better off paying the extra for the European version?

As for DSC capabilities I found this on Mailspeed marine website at the end of the product description
"**Please note that due to EU regulations regarding handheld VHF's this radio is not DSC enabled, however this does not affect any of the features listed above."

Any thoughts?

Jake
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Old 03 September 2009, 16:13   #4
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I just looked at the manual. Looks like they have fired their previous author and it looks much less like something my son (age 5) had produced.

http://www.lowrance.com/en/Products/...-Radio-Manual/

I don't know why its not EU type approved - but my gut feel is that this is the main selling point of this radio! I suppose if you just needed a VHF and GPS its OK but when you really want those two things your are sinking/swimming/on-fire thats probably not the moment you want to be thinking, "I wish I had bought the illegal US version, so I could just hold down the red button!"
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Old 03 September 2009, 18:14   #5
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USA use different VHF channels....Try finding M or M2 on such a set.

We were taught/teach don't buy USA models of VHF's on VHF Courses for these reasons, and because they non - approved.

MMSI Numbers are issued from ofcom and are country dependant. So might not even accept a UK MMSI number.

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Old 03 September 2009, 19:15   #6
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MMSI Numbers are issued from ofcom and are country dependant. So might not even accept a UK MMSI number.

S. [/QUOTE]

What does this mean exactlt?

Jake
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Old 03 September 2009, 19:31   #7
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For the little DSC Red button to work, if am not mistaken you need to have a MMSI number programmed in, this is your unquie number that identify yourself.

This is issued in the UK when you apply for your "ships" or "T" Licence from Ofcom

Extract from my VHF notes:

MMSI - Maritime Mobile Service Identity

Nine digit number used to identify DSC equipped vessels and shore stations.
UK MMSI’s begin 232 – 233 – 234 - 235.

Typical vessel MMSI: 235 024 9xx (MMSI for boat)
Coastal station MMSI: 002 320 005 (MMSI for Forth Coastguard))
Group MMSI begin with single zero: 023 409 876 (Used to alert a group of vessels)
Hand portable DSC radio MMSI: 235 900 471 (Not being issued at present in UK)

it would be easy for firmware on a handset to block anything but USA MMSI numbers.

if you want to look up MMSI numbers:

ITU Search for MMSI numbers: http://www.itu.int/cgi-bin/htsh/mars/ship_search.sh

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Old 04 September 2009, 02:05   #8
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Originally Posted by jake 4589 View Post
MMSI Numbers are issued from ofcom and are country dependant. So might not even accept a UK MMSI number.

S.
What does this mean exactlt?

Jake [/quote]
I'm guessing you haven't done your VHF SRC course which is required in the UK before using any marine VHF radio (unless under the direct supervision of someone who has).

To cut a long story short, it used to be VHF radios were just VHF radios - you used them to talk to people and if the preverbial hit the fan you put it on Ch16 on max power and broadcast your mayday message. In the process and panic there is a good chance you either forgot to include important information, didn't speak clearly/slow enough for people write down the details - or misspoke your position. The world agreed a better way - since most boats now have GPS on board. So a modern fixed VHF radio has a little magic red button (with some form of safety cover on it) which in the even of a major crisis you lift and hold down. The radio then takes over and digitally broadcasts you distress message. To do this it needs to be able to uniquely identify you, this is done using a number provided by Ofcom (MMSI number). It then takes your GPS position and sends this with your MMSI number and the fact you are in distress to anyone who may be "listening". This should still be followed by a "spoken" distress message where possible.

This digital calling function can be used for a whole load of other applications (which you will learn more about on your VHF course) but the most important use is having what in essence is a panic button. This digital calling technology is referred to as DSC. Within Europe that technology is only available within fixed VHF radios. The radio in question was developed with the US market in mind where it is approved for use as a DSC radio. For some reason it cannot be approved in Europe as a handheld with DSC, so they have modified it slightly for the E version (as well as putting the local channels on) so that these functions won't work - but that was to my mind THE major selling point of the radio.

That then leads to a question that SPR was getting at - can you buy the US version and use it here? With all US radios you will be missing a few channels which are commonly used for calling marinas/yacht clubs etc and so at the very least it will be a pain. What SPR is suggesting is that this radio may not work with a MMSI number supplied from the UK and so you may still not get the functions you (should) want to work.

If you just want to benefit from having a handheld gps and vhf in one package then this would seem to fulfill the need. Whilst I am saying that I think it is a major failing by not having the DSC function in Europe - I actually don't have a fixed DSC on board my boat - so it is not essential. One thing to be aware of is that if I drop my handheld VHF overboard or its battery dies etc - then I still have my GPS and so can navigate home. If I drop my GPS overboard then I have my chart etc and should be able to navigate home - but if I got lost or in trouble I can call for help on my VHF. I would be a little aprehensive that if I lost both at the same time then I was one step nearer to to a headline!

Going back to your original question about use 1 mile offshore and in "lakes". If you are communicating with other vessels within line of sight you will be fine with a handheld. If you are communicating with a friend "on shore" (que a barage of complaints from people pointing out it is illegal to use a vhf on shore) then again it will work if you are within line of sight. If you want to communicate with the coast guard then lakes may be harder (I believe they do have coverage on most of the popular lake district lakes) - but beware that "close in shore" means you may be tucked behind a headland that means you are not line of sight to their mast. A fixed VHF with an ariel 1-2m above sea level won't necessarily be any better though.
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Old 04 September 2009, 05:14   #9
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Is the "No MMSI on a handheld" not something to do with the number being attatcehd to the boat and not the radio?

So, as an example
in this parallell universe where I have my DSC/ GPS handheld, and get invited out on my imaginary friend's 200 foot yacht with 40 people on board and take the handheld 'coz the yacht's ariel has brokem, it starts to sink, I press the red button &they send out the inshore lifeboat thinking they've gone to help a RIB with a max of 7 crew, only to discover there are 33 people on board they hadn't accounted for, and this after circling round looking for a sunken RIB and not notiocing the yacht is actually sinking because they tend to lean over anyway and they're scanning the horizon for a bobbing rib bow........

There were a couple of canoists on my VHF course who would have killed for that set. I guess if you could guarantee it was going to stay with a boat it would work, but that's not going to happen......

I wonder how the US get round it? Can any of our American friends shed any light on it?
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Old 04 September 2009, 06:08   #10
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Is the "No MMSI on a handheld" not something to do with the number being attatcehd to the boat and not the radio?

So, as an example
in this parallell universe where I have my DSC/ GPS handheld, and get invited out on my imaginary friend's 200 foot yacht with 40 people on board and take the handheld 'coz the yacht's ariel has brokem, it starts to sink, I press the red button &they send out the inshore lifeboat thinking they've gone to help a RIB with a max of 7 crew, only to discover there are 33 people on board they hadn't accounted for, and this after circling round looking for a sunken RIB and not notiocing the yacht is actually sinking because they tend to lean over anyway and they're scanning the horizon for a bobbing rib bow........

There were a couple of canoists on my VHF course who would have killed for that set. I guess if you could guarantee it was going to stay with a boat it would work, but that's not going to happen......

I wonder how the US get round it? Can any of our American friends shed any light on it?
Thats a good point - although some googling suggest that is not the actual objection (I assume that Ofcom could issue a separate class of codes specifically for Handhelds (or the MARS database could list it as "H/HELD" rather than the vessel name?). It seems to have already been discussed over here (and I thought we sometimes had rants on here!). Conclusion is that the ITU hasn't agreed the rules governing these devices and the US has gone it alone, the EU has yet to get its finger out and catch up.
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