Ideal for solo skippers, the world’s first AIS handheld VHF also features an MOB alert.
It seems like yesterday that AIS first graced the screens of the latest high-end chartplotters. Now this technology has moved down the scale with the launch of Icom’s M94DE – the world’s first hand-portable VHF with an integrated AIS receiver and DSC/GPS.
The IC-M94DE offers users the ability to receive information broadcast by other AIS-equipped vessels, providing vessel traffic information on the radio’s display. The integrated AIS receiver also provides AIS target call function, allowing you to easily set up a DSC individual call, and distress calls can be made with the rear panel distress button.
In terms of power, the IC-M94DE’s 6W output provides a bit more range than the usual 5W offered by VHF handhelds. The BP-306 high-capacity 2400mAh (typical) li-ion battery provides 10 hours of operating time under normal conditions. Icom’s high-power capacity speaker delivers an impressive 1500mW audio output, with improved sound clarity for noisy maritime environments. The navigation function can guide you to specified predesignated waypoints, from a maximum list of 50. The radio floats and the LCD screen, keys and rear panel distress button flash to help you locate it if it inadvertently ends up over the side.
One very clever safety aspect is that, while the automatic ‘Float ’n Flash’ feature is activated – most likely the result of being submerged on the belt of an MOB – an MOB alert will be sent if you press the distress button. This radio is IPX7 submersible, meaning it can be submerged to a depth of 1 metre for 30 minutes. AquaQuake saves the radio’s speaker from audio degradation after submersion. It also features noise cancelling technology, and has dual and tri-watch functions. The cost is £310 (inc. VAT).