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Old 09-06-2014, 14:12   #1
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Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

Along with EPIRB, sat phone, portable marine vhf and gps, I also already owned, so I've included in my ditch bag, a small $200 submersible air band radio (Yaesu FTA-230 Air Band Transceiver) tuned to 121.5 Guard. Idea is I'd be able to also then reach out to any aircraft with Mayday call, possibly even jetliners far overhead, if needed, that could pass on my request for assistance.

Make sense?

- Shane
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Old 09-06-2014, 14:24   #2
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

From a practical point of view, the most bang for your buck in extra electronics for a ditch bag is probably a PLB, as a back up to the ship's EPIRB. In your case the radio is free, so if you have room and weight is not an issue, then sure take it. It'll be yet another battery to keep charged.
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Old 09-06-2014, 14:31   #3
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

I say very good idea. I was thinking of a fixed vhf air radio in my boat. For alaska cruising since there are planes everywhere. I also have see many planes in alaska with vhf marine radio's. Probably because there are boats everywhere. More comm options the better. And yes airliners are required to tune the spare radio to 121.5 so good thought on that one.

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Old 09-06-2014, 15:25   #4
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

It can't hurt and it might help. The current EPIRBS and PLBs transmit a weak signal on 121.5 as well as their main broadcast on 406.

Would an airliner passing overhead at 40,000 feet hear the weak 50 mw transmission from an EPIRB?

I know airliners are supposed to monitor 121.5, but do they actually do it? I'm sure there are some airline pilots on this forum who can shed some light on this.
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Old 09-06-2014, 15:34   #5
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

I'd say a PLB would be a better use of that valuable space in your bag, and less of a distraction in terms of battery charging.
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Old 09-06-2014, 15:42   #6
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

Agree about PLB, did not mention I've got ACR PLB-350B AquaLink w/strobe attached to my PFD.

- Shane
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Old 09-06-2014, 15:52   #7
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

Yes we monitor 121.5 and I to have a aviation tranciever. Oh and a folding solar charger to keep everything topped off.
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Old 09-06-2014, 16:20   #8
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

You seem to have the communications contents your ditch bag covered. Now just make sure you never need them.
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Old 09-06-2014, 16:22   #9
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

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You seem to have the communications contents your ditch bag covered. Now just make sure you never need them.

Amen brother!
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Old 09-06-2014, 18:14   #10
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

Shaktisboy, thanks for your feed back. I asked a friend of mine who drives big airplanes and he confirmed that you guys really do monitor 121.5 and he thought an air band transceiver in a life raft was a good idea.
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Old 09-06-2014, 22:49   #11
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

Thanks all for the input!

- Shane
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:52   #12
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

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Shaktisboy, thanks for your feed back. I asked a friend of mine who drives big airplanes and he confirmed that you guys really do monitor 121.5 and he thought an air band transceiver in a life raft was a good idea.
I think it's a bloody great idea!! You can't take (practically) a HF radio into the life raft, and marine VHF will not reach anyone. But you can definitely talk to aircraft from the surface with a handheld air band VHF.

Keep in mind that it's illegal except in case of emergency.
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Old 10-06-2014, 13:13   #13
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

I thought it might be a good idea as I've got one too and the range is hugely further than a marine hand held, but thinking about it, it really isn't likely to achieve much.

There are large important routes where there are no or nearly no aircraft such as Panama to Tahiti or Cape Town to North Brazil or the southern part of the Indian Ocean. Then if you do contact an aircraft, you will only have minutes to communicate, if they get the message they will relay it to a rescue coordination centre, who are the people who would get your EPIRB signal and then rescue would follow hopefully by contact with a large commercial boat.

Better to have an EPIRB and a PLB and maybe an InReach. All of which are far more likely to save you. It can't do any harm to have one. You can get a Yaesu and modify it by removing a resistor to work on both marine and aviation bands and quite a lot of other frequencies. I did this and it might be a good option, but I can't recommend it as I found I got far better rx/tx quality with dedicated handhelds.

It can't do any harm though. If you've got the other stuff packing a blanket and good book might be more useful.
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Old 10-06-2014, 13:51   #14
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

"You can get a Yaesu and modify it by removing a resistor to work on both marine and aviation bands and quite a lot of other frequencies. I did this and it might be a good option, but I can't recommend it as I found I got far better rx/tx quality with dedicated handhelds."

No small wonder, since aircraft VHF transmissions are AM while virtually all other VHF traffic (and the proverbial Yaesu) are VHF/FM and can't receive or transmit on AM.

I have an airband VHF handheld and believe it's a good addition to the grab bag. Also, many aircraft, especially SAR aircraft, have VHF/Marine capability, e.g., Channel 16, and will monitor this band if they know there's a boat in trouble in their general area.

Bill
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Old 10-06-2014, 14:50   #15
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Re: Aviation Band Radio in Ditch Bag Opinions...

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
"You can get a Yaesu and modify it by removing a resistor to work on both marine and aviation bands and quite a lot of other frequencies. I did this and it might be a good option, but I can't recommend it as I found I got far better rx/tx quality with dedicated handhelds."

No small wonder, since aircraft VHF transmissions are AM while virtually all other VHF traffic (and the proverbial Yaesu) are VHF/FM and can't receive or transmit on AM.

Bill
The radio I was referring to is the VX-6R. You may be right about the aviation band transmission, it works on receive, but I haven't tested it on transmit. It isn't good for marine use for sure.
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