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Friday, April 16, 2010

VHF DSC Automatic Channel Switching Safety Alert!

The USCG has issued a safety alert to mariners using DSC-equipped VHF radios with Automatic Channel Switching. The concern is that important communications can be interrupted by the Auto-Channel Switching feature when a DSC emergency call comes in. For example, if a mariner is engaged in communications with regards to the safe navigation of his or her own vessel, or if the mariner is communicating with the Coast Guard or another vessel with regards to his or her own emergency situation, the Auto-Switching feature will interrupt comms and automatically switch the channel on the radio operator in order to give priority to a DSC message comming through on channel 16. If this happens, it might happen uknowingly, and/or it might be difficult re-establishing comms.

For more information on what radios and/or manufacturers are impacted by this alert go here.

I have long been a critic of these types of brainless innovations, brainless because they assume we have no brain. Automatic Channel switching is like the automatic car door that locks when you turn the ignition key. I don't need my car telling me when to lock my door and I sure don't need the radio manufacturers telling me what channel I need to listen to and when I need to listen to it.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is recommending that mariners turn off the Automatic Channel Switching feature in radios if they are so equipped.


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