The Recent RS-109 is a VHF compact AIS Beacon - and for those unaware of these products, they utilise the VHF Automatical Identification System that is built into most modern Marine Band Radios. They have an MMSI code, which in the UK is allocated by OFCOM, and added to your marine band radio licence. This code, and the built-in GPS receiver means a boat owner can buy one of these products and it will broadcast it's location every three minutes and the precise position and identification will appear on the screen of any vessel equiped with a chart plotter or AIS receiver. In addition, anyone with access to the internet can also see the location of the beacon on their phones or computers.
The intended use is for them to be attached to nets, or other objects at sea so the owner can return to them quickly and accurately, but many owners of boats without clever onboard electronics can use them to make their vessel or small boat visible to others. All professional maritime vessels have the equipment to see the positions of other water users, and now many leisure vessels can also see other vessels in the area.
The units have a removable transparent cover at the bottom, and an antenna in the thinner upright section. Range is typically a few miles to four or five. Range can be improved by attaching the beacon to a short pole - fishing rod style fibreglass or even a stout cane, attached with cable ties. It operates on internal batteries which last a few days between recharges.
If you buy one - you need to contact us with your MMSI number, and other details which you would like programming in, such as your vessel name or even your phone number - anything which you wish to appear to other users in the area.
For safety and peace of mind, they're really handy, and of course if you do set nets, it's a very quick way to recover them. Operation is really simple - they recharge through a socket under the transparent cover, and there is a simple rotary on-off switch.
The beacons will broadcast it's location, name, MMSI and also the battery level - which is rather neat!
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