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Why A Marine VHF Is Necessary For Your Vessel

Why A Marine VHF Is Necessary For Your Vessel

When you’re out at sea, there’s nothing more important than ensuring the safety of your crew. No matter how small or large your marine vessel, being out in the open ocean still leaves you vulnerable to the unexpected whims of the elements.

A key part of ensuring you and your crew’s safety is being able to maintain communication with crew and emergency personnel back on land, as well as other vessels in the water. Maintaining clear lines of communication enables you to receive immediate updates on weather conditions, inform other vessels of your relative position, transmit emergency broadcasts, and even join in on search-and-rescue missions if necessary.

And when it comes to maintaining communication while at sea, one must-have piece of equipment is a Marine Very High Frequency (VHF) Radio. Read on to find out more about what marine VHFs are, their key features, and when you can expect to use yours.

What is a Marine VHF Radio?

As its name suggests, a marine VHF radio is a type of communication equipment that utilises Very High Frequency (VHF) radio waves to communicate with other operators, usually between 156 MHz to 163 MHz.

It can come in the form of a fixed mount marine VHF (pictured: IC-M220 Marine VHF Transceiver) that’s bolted onto your vessel, or a lower-power handheld marine VHF for greater portability and versatility during emergencies. Your vessel may even be mandated to have a marine VHF set installed on board, in line with international and local regulations.

Marine VHF radios operate using ‘line of sight’, similar to other radio communication equipment. This means the antennas on both ends of the channel need to be able to ‘see’ or reach each other without being blocked by land masses and other obstructions. Additional equipment such as marine VHF antennas, antenna rotator systems, and two-way radio repeaters thus go a long way to ensuring your marine VHF operates smoothly under any conditions, with a typical range of 25 to 30 nautical miles.

It is also important to note that marine VHF sets bought in a specific country will usually come pre-tuned to transmit and receive on a series of locally used FM band channels, as well as certain channels that are internationally recognised and agreed upon. One such example of the latter is Channel 16, which is an international channel for distress and safety. If your vessel is planning to cross into international waters and other nations’ borders, do ensure that your VHF is able to pick up essential local broadcasts in your respective destinations.

How are Marine VHF Radios used?

Typical marine VHF sets usually come with certain features designed and fine-tuned to enhance and ensure safety at sea, such as:

  • Press to talk (PTT) functionality for direct and instant communication with other VHF operators at sea or on land
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC) for transmitting important updates from vessels or land
  • Squelch control to minimise interference and white noise for clear transmission

The DSC feature comes with on-land and handheld VHF radio sets, and is part of the larger GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) protocol. The GMDSS uses both satellite and terrestrial communication systems to ensure vessels can maintain necessary communication at all times, helping to protect you and your crew in case of an emergency.

Some marine VHF sets also come with built-in GPS which can help search-and-rescue teams or ground crews locate your vessel more readily and accurately in case of an emergency.

Buy Marine VHF Radio Equipment and More at Tecomart

Tecomart is a trusted radio communication equipment supplier in India, with a wide variety of communication equipment in our catalogue suitable for amateur and professional use. Ensure your vessel is safely equipped for the high seas with our marine VHF radio sets for sale, UHF handheld radio sets, Class A and B AIS transponders, GMDSS Navtex devices, and more. We also provide marine navigation equipment including echo sounders and fishfinders to help your vessel fulfil its duties out at sea.

Get in touch to find out more, or check out our FAQs. Our blog also has useful information on marine navigation, marine communication, and life at sea including a guide to Navtex, how to know if your fishfinder needs replacing, and how to choose the right radio communication equipment for your marine vessel.

Common Amateur Radio Equipment Mistakes

Common Amateur Radio Equipment Mistakes

Have you always wanted to get into amateur ham radio, and finally pulled the plug and bought your own amateur radio equipment set? Well now comes the challenging part: figuring out how to use it properly.

You’ll most likely make several mistakes in the beginning, as it is with any new hobby or interest. However with diligence and practice, you’re sure to become an experienced ham radio operator in no time.

Here are 3 of the most common mistakes first-time ham radio operators make, and how you can avoid them.

1. Not speaking clearly

A top mistake when using ham radio equipment for the first time is not speaking clearly – and it’s a mistake advanced or experienced users may accidentally make too! While you might be used to speaking in your usual tone and speed of voice on your smartphone, you will need to be more conscious of how you’re speaking when using a ham radio.

Here’s how you can ensure your message is heard loud and clear:

  • Hold the microphone or radio about 5-7 cm away from your mouth
  • Always aim your voice at the mic when speaking
  • Speak clearly and enunciate
  • In emergency situations, stay calm and continue to speak with a measured voice so your message won’t get lost in transmission

2. Using incorrect programming

If you’ve wanted to get into ham or amateur radio for a long time, you’ll understandably feel very excited to finally have your own ham radio equipment set. That often leads to a common rookie mistakes by first-time ham radio operators, which is getting overexcited and using the wrong programming or settings on your device.

Even if you’re excited to dive into the world of ham radio, it’s best to start with the basic controls of ham radio equipment. Don’t get too carried away with all of the additional features your ham radio set offers just yet. Instead, figure out how to get the Frequency, Offset, and Tone configured to suit your local repeaters and frequencies first. Once you’ve gotten the hang of this, you can move on to exploring all of the exciting features your transceiver has in store for you. 

3. Not practicing with your radio enough

Many people buy amateur radio equipment in case of an emergency, and fail to familiarise themselves with the equipment by the time an actual emergency occurs. Even if you only intend to use your set under dire circumstances, you should take the time to understand and practice with the equipment the moment your radio set arrives. This ensures that you will feel well-prepared to use your ham radio in an emergency.

You might also feel overwhelmed or intimidated by your new equipment at first, and hence uncertain about using it. Start small by reaching out to other ham radio operators in your area, or occasionally scan for frequencies to find one that has some activity. You might not always get a response back, but these attempts will add up over time and build your confidence in using your ham radio.

Buy Ham Radio Equipment and More at Tecomart

Tecomart is a trusted and reliable radio communications equipment supplier in India for amateur and professional usage alike. Shop a wide range of amateur ham radio equipment on our online store including amateur HF radio transceivers, two-way radio repeaters, amateur handheld radio transceivers, and more.

Get in touch to find out more about our products or get a quote, or check out our FAQs. Read our blog for more useful information on communication equipment, such as whether an antenna rotator system is necessary for you and how to choose radio communication equipment for land or sea.

5 Basic Marine Safety Tips For Any Vessel

5 Basic Marine Safety Tips For Any Vessel

If you are the captain of a marine vessel, it is your duty to ensure that you and your crew can carry out your tasks and responsibilities safely. When you’re out at sea, even the smallest of mistakes or oversights can lead to devastating consequences.

Whether you are piloting a small craft with just a handful of crew members, or at the helm of a much larger cargo vessel, you have the obligation to make sure all of your crew will return back to shore unharmed.

Here are 5 basic marine safety and boating tips to get you started.

1. Ensure you have the proper safety equipment on board

Having the right safety equipment on board your vessel could quite literally mean the difference between life and death during an emergency. Many vessels are already required to meet the safety standards set out by treaties like the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which mandates or recommends essential maritime safety equipment and procedures.

Some of the equipment required by SOLAS includes:

  • NAVTEX: NAVTEX is an internationally recognised and used marine communication system for vessels to receive maritime safety messages. These range from weather updates to ice reports to navigational messages.
  • GMDSS: The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) is an internationally recognised distress and radio communication system, specifically designed and intended for safety purposes out at sea. It is mandated under SOLAS for certain classes of vessels, and serves as both a transmitter and receiver of emergency and general broadcasts. GMDSS is available in both GMDSS (Fixed Mount) and GMDSS (Survival Craft Radio) formats.
  • Lifejackets or life vests
  • Liferafts

Find out everything you need to know about GMDSS and what are the basics of NAVTEX on our blog.

2. Conduct regular equipment maintenance and checks

Having the right safety equipment is just the beginning. You should schedule regular maintenance, inspection, and upkeep sessions for your equipment to ensure that it is working as it should. Sudden mechanical failure is still a possibility, and you don’t want to realise this only when you’re already out at sea. Keep detailed checklists and records on board your vessel at all times so that you can have peace of mind before casting off.

3. Choose your crew wisely

Picking the right crew is key to ensuring a trip or operation goes smoothly. If you are anticipating rough weather conditions or a long-haul operation for example, you should select crew members who have the relevant experience and appropriate credentials to handle the vessel throughout those conditions.

4. Keep communication lines open

Once you have your trusted crew on board, it’s important to keep lines of communication open. This encompasses communication with authorities and other crew members back on the ground, as well as between crew members on the vessel itself. Clear communication helps you minimise human error, and can prevent accidents that could lead to severe consequences. Buying additional equipment like loud hailers or handheld VHF marine radio can also come in handy in helping on-deck crews communicate effectively.

5. Set a good example for your crew

As the captain, you are the de facto leader of your crew and your crew members will be taking their direction of how to act from you. This will extend from day-to-day situations to unexpected emergencies where your firm guidance is necessary to keep everyone safe.

Shop Essential Marine Vessel Equipment at Tecomart

Tecomart is a marine navigation equipment and marine communication equipment supplier that has all you need to keep your vessel safe and up to SOLAS standards. 

We have been in the communication and navigation technology business since 1994, and offer a wide range of products from notable brands such as ICOM, Yaesu, and Garmin. We also stock amateur radio equipment, aviation communication equipment, and outdoor navigation equipment to meet your needs in a wide variety of situations and environments.

From loud hailers to handheld radio sets, you’ll easily find the equipment you need for sale in our catalogue. Get in touch for a quote, or see our FAQs for more information.

Is An Antenna Rotator System Necessary?

Is An Antenna Rotator System Necessary?

If you’re involved in the amateur radio or ham radio scene, you know that you only need some basic amateur radio equipment to get started. 

At the bare minimum, you’ll need a HF transceiver and antenna, which connects you to the signal range and network you want to communicate on. Many amateur ham radio operators can get by on these two equipment types alone, especially if they might not want to commit to a more expensive setup.

However, if you intend to continue with this hobby and want to improve your ham radio experience, this might be when you consider getting additional equipment like two-way radio repeaters and antenna rotator systems.

Today, we’ll be looking at the latter: just what is an antenna rotator system, and when should it be used? Is it amateur ham radio equipment that’s necessary for every ham radio enthusiast to have? Read on for answers to these questions and more.

What do Antenna Rotator Systems do?

As their name suggests, antenna rotators are mechanical devices that help to rotate your directional antenna so that it ‘points’ at a particular set of coordinates. While some antennas have built-in features enabling them to do this, many other antennas require manual ‘pointing’ as the antenna needs to be held in place to keep the signal stable. This is where an antenna rotator system comes into play.

This enables you to access a specific desired direction and signal-to-noise ratio, letting you have more focused access to certain signals which can broaden your reach and reception on the ham radio network in your area. This usually makes the signal louder and clearer, improving communication on both sides.

There are 2 main types of antenna rotator systems:

  • Azimuth rotators: Azimuthal rotators rotate your antenna parallel to the horizon (i.e. spin them around along the horizontal plane) but cannot point them upwards towards the sky.
  • Azimuth elevation rotators: Azimuthal elevation rotators can both rotate your antenna parallel to the horizon and elevate them. This type of antenna rotator is more useful for satellite radio applications.

When should you use an Antenna Rotator System?

Not every ham radio enthusiast needs to beef up their setup with an antenna rotator system, and you can certainly continue with the hobby without ever using a rotator. However, antenna rotator systems can be useful in enhancing your ham radio experience under certain conditions.

First, if you live in an area with uncertain weather conditions, or if you otherwise need to keep up reliable communication lines. Antenna rotators help ensure reliable and steady communication at all times, which is extremely important during emergency situations.

Second, if you want to broaden your reach across ham radio networks and have a more immersive ham radio experience. If you’re only just starting out in ham radio, you may not want to commit to additional equipment just yet. However if you feel confident about continuing in the hobby, an antenna rotator system will certainly give you an easier and more meaningful ham radio experience.

Do note that your rotator and antenna will need to be set up on a roof or garden, with unobstructed line of sight to the network you’re trying to connect to. If you live in an apartment building, you will need to find a suitable location to install both your antenna and rotator system.

Selecting your Antenna Rotator Systems

When purchasing your antenna rotator system, you should look at factors such as environment (e.g. wind strength, frequency of strong winds or tropical storms), antenna size, antenna weight, and rotator type. Mechanical considerations also matter, such as the load-bearing capacity and torsion. These will all affect the height and size of antenna compatible with your rotator system.

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Shop a range of antenna rotator systems for sale on Tecomart. From the entry-level Yaesu G-450C (pictured) for light- to medium-duty installations, to the Yaesu G-800DXA high-performance rotator with medium- and heavy-duty installations, we bring you quality antenna rotator systems to suit your needs.

Shop more amateur ham radio equipment and marine communication equipment online with Tecomart today. Get in touch to find out more about our products or to seek a quote, or peruse our FAQs for more information.

A History Of Fishfinders & Marine Sonars

A History Of Fishfinders & Marine Sonars

The activity, hobby, and even industry of fishing has been around for millennia all around the world. However, for thousands of years, fishermen and anglers needed to depend on luck or their eyesight to uncover the best catches. 

Today’s fishermen (whether casual or commercial) don’t have to struggle with these rudimentary tracking methods to come away with a catch of the day – and it’s all thanks to fishfinders.

Sometimes also referred to as echo sounders, fishfinders are a type of marine sonar specifically designed to detect schools of fish below and around a boat or ship. This piece of equipment has greatly revolutionised the fishing industry – and it hasn’t even been around for a century yet!

The Early Years

Opinions on who created the first fishfinder tend to be split between two camps. 

As early as 1948, Kiyotaka Furuno (co-founder of the renowned electronics brand Furuno) began to commercialise the world’s first fishfinding device: the Furuno Fish Finder. The device did not use sonar but rather worked by detecting bubbles in the water. It was also targeted at commercial vessels, rather than recreational or non-commercial usage.

In 1957, Lowrance Marine & Fishing Electronics released the Fish Lo-K-Tor, the first fishfinder targeted at recreational fishermen. While sonar technology made it more reliable than Furuno’s version, the Fish Lo-K-Tor worked best on smooth bottoms such as sandbars, and debris such as shell, sand, or gravel could interfere with its accuracy. The Fish Lo-K-Tor also required anglers to manually adjust the gain function, making it prone to human error.

Research and Development

The Furuno Fish Finder and Lowrance Fish Lo-K-Tor were only the start, and other companies began to manufacture fishfinders and echo sounders throughout the 1960s to 1990s. One such company was Humminbird, which introduced the Humminbird Super Sixty fishfinder in 1975. The Super Sixty was the first waterproof depth sounder ever, and remains one of the most commercially successful fishfinders today.

Humminbird’s later products in the 1980s and 1990s included the LCR series (the first LCD fishfinders) and the LCR 4ID (which had a two-colour display that showed the fish in red for easier visibility), both of which pushed fishfinding technology forward and emphasised user-friendly design.

21st century Innovations

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Pictured: Furuno FCV-295

Since the dawn of the 21st century and the refinement of sonar technology, fishfinders and echo sounders have undergone massive improvements – making them unrecognisable compared to Furuno and Lowrance’s earliest efforts.

Humminbird was at the forefront of this wave once again, with the launch of Side Imaging technology in 2005. This widened the visual scope of what a fisherman could see from his vessel, creating a faithful and more detail-oriented representation of the watery ‘world’ underneath the boat rather than just a vertical interpretation.

In 2009 Lowrance followed up with the StructureScan, which could produce high-resolution 3D scans of underwater terrain and fish-holding structures, with views up to 600 feet on each side of a vessel. Humminbird’s 2012 release of 360 Imaging (an improvement of Side Imaging) only enhanced this feature further, with a full 360-degree view around all sides of a vessel.

Garmin’s 2015 Panoptix changed the game by merging an instant feedback transducer with GPS in the Garmin SideVü. This allowed fishermen to watch, observe, and track their fish in real time, and the inclusion of GPS also enhanced their tracking capabilities.

Since then, companies have continued to push the boundaries of sonar innovation even further. Recreational and commercial fishermen today have a wide variety of fishfinder companies to choose from, each of which has its unique take on echo sounding technology and additional features to boot.

Looking to buy a fishfinder or echo sounder for your ship? Look no further than Tecomart. We have been a trusted and reliable supplier of marine navigation equipment in the region for decades. Find and buy marine and boat radars for sale, transducers, multifunction displays, and more on our online shopping platform.