How To Use DSC VHF Radio & How Does It Work?

Knowing about the latest and advanced DSC feature that is available in a VHF radio is essential for every user. 

If you’re one of them who are interested in knowing about how to use DSC VHF Radio and How Does It Work, this comprehensive guide might be helpful for you to clear the topic well!

Basically, all the current VHF radios come with the DSC features, and you might already notice a button on your device, to get the benefit from this feature, you’ll need to know what’s this and how it does work!

If we explain to you about the DSC feature, Digital Selective Calling means that all your boat’s information is within your device. DSC is also a new way of exchanging digital data on voice while at sea. you’ll need a short-range certificate to operate a DSC radio in much the same way as a regular VHF.

If you are connected to a GPS, your boat’s information is also broadcast at the same time without any hassle.

The most useful and easy benefit of using a DSC feature is you can get help from others with a single touch of a button, the procedure of using it is quite simple!

But that’s not the key advantage that offers this feature, another amazing aspect is if you have got a mate who’s also on the water and they have a Digital Selective Calling supported VHF radio, you’ll be able to call them directly on the DSC channel. 

Why The Digital Selective Calling Feature is Amazing? 

A press of a single button can transmit your position, your actual identity, and also the nature of your distress to anyone in range, anyone means, small ships, large ships, coast stations!

This feature works well on a huge network around the planet because it’s part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, (GMDSS), which is the world’s standard marine radio distress system.

It’s carried by all merchant ships but also managed by volunteer and coast guard radio base stations.

DSC system is not hard to use because it’s a paging mechanism that use to tell people you have got an issue with the water. When sending a distress alert on DSC, your alert will go to everyone.

On your VHF radio, the digital selective calling system work on its own separate channel which is channel 70. So you have to always remember that channel 70 is only created to manage DSC, not for Voice. 

Also Read:

  1. Best VHF Radio For Firefighters

How Does A DSC System Work

The working process of a DSC system is simple, Since every DSC supported VHF radio comes with a red button, when you hit the button, your radio will send your current position and identity as a digital message using channel 70. 

The massage will be repeated continuously every 3-4 minutes until the radio receives an acknowledge message from another ship or a co-station. 

After you send the alert and if you have got time, you can easily go to channel 16 and send a regular voice “Mayday”.

How to Set up DSC On a Boat? 

If you already have a DSC supported VH radio, you’ll need to follow two basic steps to complete your setup, first you’ll need an identification number for your radio, which is commonly called a Maritime Mobile Service Identity.

And second thing is to connect your GPS to your boat’s DSC radio. Good to know that every DSC radio has a dedicated identity number call as MMSI. They are issued by AMSA and it’s free. 

Once you have your MMSI, you can hook your radio up to your boat’s GPS, GPS is fundamental to DSC because when you make a DSC distress alert, the GPS position is directly included in the call. 

You can also send a digital selective call without having the GPS connected, but we’ll suggest you using the GPS because GPS will allow you to send your current location to see others to help you in a short time. 

The DSC function works the same way as a voice in terms of range, so the range will depend on your radio power.

Well, Once you have got your identity number and GPS connected with your radio, it’s time to demonstrate the advantage of digital selective calling. To do that, simply hit the red DSC button. 

Once you hit the button, your alert will go to your nearest boats, ships, and help stations, they can see your message and reply to you as soon as they can to help you!


The innovation of this DSC feature is a new way of increasing safety on the water, every boater should use this feature to protect them in the open water,

But if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to use DSC VHF radio and how does it work, it’s a required thing that you should know about it before going to sea. 

In this post, we have tried our best to show some steps and tips on how to use it and how does it work.

Still looking for more information, we will suggest watching videos because a video can help you a lot to learn more about this topic!