Nautilus Lifeline With VHF Radio Option

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NW Dive Dawg

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So why was the Nautilus Lifeline with VHF radio capability discontinued? I fully understand that in some areas / countries...etc... that use of VHF is prohibited without proper licensing.... but that does not stop all the other outfits like West Marine, etc, from selling handheld VHF's that can be taken anywhere in the world. Why not have Nautilus go ahead and provide the Lifeline with VHF radio option along with a message stating to not use in unauthorized areas?
 

Akimbo

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IMHO, complexity of the user interface due to too few buttons was a major factor. Minimizing the number of buttons is completely understandable, but problematic. The buttons are also very hard to push with thicker Neoprene gloves.

A contributing factor is divers are not VHF savvy like boaters. Eliminating the VHF radio function simplified a lot of tech support and customer consternation to say nothing of being able to hit a lower price point with a smaller package.
 

BoltSnap

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IMHO, complexity of the user interface due to too few buttons was a major factor. Minimizing the number of buttons is completely understandable, but problematic. The buttons are also very hard to push with thicker Neoprene gloves.

A contributing factor is divers are not VHF savvy like boaters. Eliminating the VHF radio function simplified a lot of tech support and customer consternation to say nothing of being able to hit a lower price point with a smaller package.

Is what you are stating a fact you know from the mfg. or just a guess on why the feature was eliminated from the unit?
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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IMHO, complexity of the user interface due to too few buttons was a major factor. Minimizing the number of buttons is completely understandable, but problematic. The buttons are also very hard to push with thicker Neoprene gloves.

A contributing factor is divers are not VHF savvy like boaters. Eliminating the VHF radio function simplified a lot of tech support and customer consternation to say nothing of being able to hit a lower price point with a smaller package.
I had heard of a claim that it was because people needed to get a VHF license and they were not doing it, but per the following, it is my understanding that a VHF license is not required.


Radio Equipment You May Use

You do not need a license to use marine VHF radios, any type of EPIRB, any type of radar, GPS or LORAN receivers, depth finders, CB radio, or amateur radio (an amateur license is required). Ships that use MF/HF single side-band radio, satellite communications, or telegraphy must continue to be licensed by the FCC.
 

tursiops

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I had heard of a claim that it was because people needed to get a VHF license and they were not doing it, but per the following, it is my understanding that a VHF license is not required.
The license is not required for "voluntary ships operating domestically," but otherwise is required. So on a liveaboard in (say) Komodo, you would need to operate under Indonesian, not US, rules.
 

BoltSnap

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The license is not required for "voluntary ships operating domestically," but otherwise is required. So on a liveaboard in (say) Komodo, you would need to operate under Indonesian, not US, rules.

But why does this issue force the mfg. to remove this feature?
 

Akimbo

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Is what you are stating a fact you know from the mfg. or just a guess on why the feature was eliminated from the unit?

Strictly my impression from talking to tech support about my VHF Lifeline. There was a problem with the first battery. They were getting a lot of calls about licensing confusion and buttons that weren't responding as people expected.

Another problem was that a relatively small percentage of boat radios were enabled/configured for DSC (Digital Selective Calling) when it was introduced. It seems to be a lot more common now, in the US anyway.

I never had to use the "red button" but have used the radio several times to talk to the boat. I usually ask which frequency they monitor besides Channel 16. It is really handy on live boating and survey dives. You want to keep it on Channel 16 unless you are planning on coordinating with the boat instead of just calling for help or giving them a heading.

It is pretty cool that I can hear the boat talking even when the top is closed and under <1' of water — like when surface swimming back to the boat.
 

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If you ever used a handheld vhf on a boat, you know its range is severely limited compared to mast mounted units. The rule of thumb is typically 1 watt per nautical mile, but realistically you can rarely get more than 2 miles at deck level, say three or four feet over the surface . Now try it in a mere foot or two of swell IN the water inches over the surface. I doubt you'll get more than quarter mile or so of range given that vhf radio waves are (for the most part) line of sight dependent. So basically the only boat you would be talking to is your dive boat. If you were drifting in a five knot current, you would be over 5 nautical miles away in one hour way beyond the range of any boat if you were using a typical handheld vhf while at the surface.

In addition, you would have to go on the assumption that 1. The dive boat is within that limited range. 2. The boat has the vhf radio on. 3. The vhf is monitoring channel 16. 4. The boat has the volume turned up. 5. The skipper can actually hear your mayday call over the sound of the diesel engines, the wind, and other noise.

The current nautilus lifeline receives its gps position via satellites and transmits via a protocol called DSC to all boats with vhf radios. While the USCG requires all new fixed radios to be equipped to receive DSC calls older radios may not be equipped with this feature. Most handhelds do not have DSC capability though more and more do. When an emergency call DSC signal is received, it triggers a relatively loud alarm on that radio and typically shows a graphical picture of the signaler's position on an lcd screen relative to the boat. However, you still are limited by line of sight range and the fact that the unit emits less than 2 watts of power in its transmission. And once again, you must once again assume the skipper has a fixed radio equipped with DSC capability, that the radio on, and that he can hear the DSC alarm... lots of variables still!

So much better to use a PLB that sends your gps location directly up to satellites where the signal is then very quickly relayed to ground stations and then to the appropriate rescue agency.

And yeah, lots of countries require a radio operator's license to transmit on a vhf radio with the operator having to take a written test to acquire one.
 
OP
NW Dive Dawg

NW Dive Dawg

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But why does this issue force the mfg. to remove this feature?
That's my question also.....
 

tursiops

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But why does this issue force the mfg. to remove this feature?
The mfg said:

Why did production stop on Nautilus Radio?
Unfortunately, we had no choice but to shut down production on the original Nautilus Radio. US authorities have banned single transceiver handheld radios and the EU changed the CE technical requirements for this class of radio. The problem with the MMSI numbers was also a major hurdle. As well, there were tremendous difficulties with manufacturing in China. For the newer Nautilus GPS, manufacturing is being done right here in Canada.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

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