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PLB, AIS, DSC, or Ray Technology?

There is a whole lot of maritime safety systems on the market. Their technologies range from VHF to satellite based systems and offer a variety of different features.

In order to decide for yourself, which technology fits your needs best, we decided to collect all necessary information on this page to give you a quick overview concerning the pros and cons. They all have one thing in common, they lack the option to contain a distress signal within their system. Offering such a feature is one of the many unique characteristics of the Ray system by Blue Locar.

 

PLB – Personal Locator Beacon:

  • Technology: Transmitter sends signal to satellite
  • Range: World wide

The personal locator beacon sends its GPS position to a COSPAS or SARSAT satellite, which then redirects the distress signal to an unmanned base station and then to the closest emergency call centre. They will then either contact a ship close to your position, or activate a SAR unit (search and rescue) in order to assist you. PLBs have to be registered onto a single user, in case of an false alarm this user may face charges.

Pros:

  • range not limited
  • works anywhere

Cons:

  • rescue charges may apply
  • false alarm will be charged
  • ship of origin won’t be alarmed
  • distress can’t be contained
  • needs to be registered

AIS – Automated Identification System

  • Technology: VHF ~160 MHz
  • Range: ~ line of sight

In an emergency situation the AIS transmits its position and course via VHF and will be received by any vessel carrying an AIS receiver. All commercial vessels over 20m are obliged to carry an AIS receiver. If a ship receives your call they are bound by international law, and have to assist you. Being an uncontained system you can never be sure which ship may have picked up your signal. AIS have to be registered onto a ship or single person, who may face charges in case of a false alarm.

Pros:

  • may be received by any vessel within reach, carrying an AIS receiver
  • signal is relayed between vessels and may reach coast guard, even if they are not within line of sight

Cons:

  • commercial vessels receiving your call have to help and might charge you
  • false alarm may be charged
  • only line of sight range
  • distress can’t be contained
  • needs to be registered
  • long antenna necessary

DSC – Digital Selective Calling

  • Technology: VHF  ~156 MHz
  • Range: ~ line of sight

Works similar to AIS, all ships carrying a DSC controller (integrated into almost every new VHF radio)
will be alarmed if DSC is activated.
DSC sends its position and ID (MMSI) to any receiver within reach. All commercial vessels and a great number of smaller private ships on the sea are equipped with a VHF device, many of which are capable to receive DSC. Every DSC device needs to be registered to a certain ship ID (MMSI). This ID contains information about the size of the ship, the number of people on board and the owner.

Pros:

  • may be received by any vessel within reach
Cons:

  • rescue charges may apply
  • false alarm will lead to charges
  • Range only within line of sight
  • distress can’t be contained
  • needs to be registered
  • long antenna necessary

The Ray System by Blue Locar

  • Technology: VHF on SRD Band
  • Range: line of sight

Our devices transmit their position, battery state and ID via the SRD band this makes the system fully independent from GMDSS, mobile reception and satellite coverage. Using the SRD band also allows us to sell our devices without the need of registration and possible follow up costs due to false alarms and rescue missions.
Our transmitters, the Marlin and the soon to come Marlin EVO send their position every 3 seconds to any receiver (base station or Marlin EVO) which is within range.
Up to 150 devices may be sending their position at any given time without interfering. All devices are senders and receivers, thereby received distress signals are relayed by every turned on device. The range depends (like in AIS and DSC) on the height of the sender and receiver.

Pros:

  • fully self-contained system
  • visual feedback if signal was received
  • signals may reach vessel which is not within line of sight since signal is relayed by every device in range
  • no registration
  • false alarm is free of charge
  • waterproof up to 100m (300ft)
  • 2 different modes (Home and SOS)

Cons:

  • range is only within line of sight
  • distress is only received by base station or the soon to come Marlin EVO
Das Funktionsprinzip

 

All pictures are derived of wikipedia.org under the CC public domains and CC 3.0 – S.A. licence (by Ulf Larsen)

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More safety in water
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