By Tim Clark
|Part 2: DSC continued|
Interfaced with your GPS, the Spectrum can also display date, time, position, speed over ground, and course over ground. The unit is guaranteed fully submersible, so it should easily withstand rain, saltwater spray, and other punishments typical of the marine environment. It comes programmed with every available U.S., Canadian, and international marine channel plus all 10 NOAA weather channels. The Spectrum features dedicated keys for channels 16/9, NOAA weather, and two channels you can program, so you'll rarely need to press more than one or two buttons to get where you want to go. And the Spectrum comes with bells and whistles--literally. Its newest feature is a 20-watt built-in loudhailer that includes software for a horn, siren, aground and yelp signals, and bells. Optional auxiliary speakers--including bullhorn-style--are available to help make the most of the loudhailer. Additional options include a CV240 voice scrambler and flush-mount brackets to simplify installation on a flat console. The Spectrum's suggested list price is $585.
ICOM's IC-M502 VHF with DSC comes with many similar features and also has been designed with the realities of life on the water in mind. In addition to being submersible, the IC-M502 features large buttons and dials that make it easy to use even if the seas have kicked up, and the DSC distress button is protected from accidental activation with a flip-up, hinged cover. The radio's memory capacity allows for the storage of 40 DSC distress ID numbers as well as 40 incoming messages. For private communications ICOM offers optional UT-98 or UT-112 voice scramblers. The IC-M502 has a suggested list price of $495.
Standard Horizon's Spectrum and ICOM's IC-M502 both feature optional remote control units that, in effect, provide a second communications station. ICOM's COMMANDMIC remote comes with a 19.8-foot cable with a connection outlet that can be flush-mounted at a lower helm, for example, or in a galley or stateroom. Available in black or white (like the IC-M502), the handheld mic lets you control all functions on the IC-M502 except for DSC. It also can function as an intercom with the main unit. The COMMANDMIC has a suggested list price of $164.50.
You can remotely control Standard Horizon's Spectrum with the optional Remote Access Microphone (RAM). Like ICOM's COMMANDMIC, the RAM does not control DSC capabilities. Nor does it access the Spectrum's loudhailer feature. But all other VHF functions plus intercom capability are at your fingertips wherever you decide to install the waterproof RAM. It has a suggested list price of $125.
Both Standard Horizon and ICOM back their radios with three-year "waterproof" warranties that include guarantees against water damage.
The days when a marine VHF may have seemed like little more than a high-performance CB are past. Not many years ago the combination of features now available in a single unit were hardly conceivable. Now these innovations are having a real impact. When you upgrade your helm to include a DSC-capable VHF, you're not simply adding a clever gadget. The practical convenience DSC provides can enhance every day you spend on the water. And you can't put a value on the added security it gives.
For details on DSC VHFs from Datamarine, Furuno, Raytheon, and Simrad, refer to our January 2001 issue.
Standard Horizon Phone: (800) 366-8431. Fax: (800) 552-6152.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.