Ask Sail

Test Calls

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Ralph Manies of Seattle, Washington, asks:

"We’ve installed a new ICOM-802 single-sideband radio and now we want to test its DSC (digital selective calling) features. What’s the best way to do this?"

Gordon West replies:

First enter your MMSI number into the unit’s memory and then hook up the second receive antenna to the DSC antenna connection; it can be a METZ weatherfax antenna or even just a 19ft wire belowdeck. Next, load the Coast Guard’s master station MMSI number into your radio’s DSC call directory: the East Coast number is 003669995; the West Coast number is 003669990. Choose the station for your coast, dial in DSC Test Mode and use the 4 MHz channel for distress/safety to execute the test call. Never test your radio by lifting the distress button’s red cover, as this will send out a real distress call. An “ACK” readout on your screen indicates your test call was successful. Incidentally, night is the best time to test the automatic response on the 4 MHz band.

You can also make a DSC test with WLO Shipcom LLC in Alabama. Their DSC number is 003660003, and you can call them on the 4, 8 and 12 MHz DSC distress/safety channels programmed into the radio. Some NMEA dealers also have DSC test capability. You can get their MMSI test numbers by contacting them directly. Again, never lift the red cover to make a test call.

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