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How to test a VHF marine radio?

How to test a VHF marine radio?

In the past, the Sea Tow automatic radio inspection system could be used in the U.S.A to detect the VHF marine radio, this system can be used on VHF channels 24 to 28. But now, this system is no longer available and was terminated on October 2, 2020. How can we continue to test our VHF marine radio for free? The answer is Rescue 21 coastal stations.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to offer an automated Digital Selective Calling (DSC) Test Call capability from each of its Rescue 21 coastal stations. All fixed-mount marine radios certified by the Federal Communications Commission since 1999 are required to have a DSC capability. All such radios sold since 2011 must also have a DSC test call capability. Marine radios transmitting and successfully receiving a response from a DSC test call can be expected to operate acceptably in the voice mode as well.  

To perform a DSC Test Call, enter the U.S. Coast Guard’s coast station group identity “003669999” into the radio’s DSC memory. Once entered and stored, a DSC test call can be made by executing the following three steps: 

  • Select “Test Call” from the radio’s DSC menu,
  • Select the USCG number entered into memory, and
  • Transmit the call.

The radio display should indicate when that test call is acknowledged and display the acknowledging station’s nine-digit identity. That identity may be different than the group identity previously entered into memory.


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