Digirig for Marine VHF on autonomous boats

I am looking for a solution to connect a digirig to a marine transceiver on an autonomous uncrewed vessel. The ability to monitor and transmit on channel 16 then switch to a working channel is the primary need. I believe FAA regulations will not allow non-marine VHF radios to transmit and it looks like all the listed Digirig compatible radios are not marine VHF type accepted radios.

The IC-M400BB looks to be an ideal radio due to it’s blackbox form factor but any marine radio would work if it can be fully interfaced with the DigiRig.

The alternative is the mimer softradio but am hoping the DigiRig will be cheaper.

Any suggestions?

Digirig will get audio to and from the radio, switch between receive and transmit (control PTT) and allow CAT control if needed and radio supports it. You mentioned switching between different channels which sounds like a case for CAT control.

  • Does the radio support CAT control?
  • Do you have the software in mind that will accommodate your use case?

This is a very interesting application. Please keep us posted on your progress with it.

I cannot find a marine VHF that advertises CAT control and believe that FCC regulates the usage of CAT controls for type accepted radios such as marine VHF. Mimer interfaces with most of the marine I-Com and other radios so there is a way, just not sure how they do it.

The homebrew CAT implementation can be bolted onto the radio if needed. Assuming that the switching of the channels is the matter of pressing buttons or clicking the rotary dials then the radio can be hacked with relay(s) so your controlling device can control them electrically when needed while maintaining isolation. You’ll need an Arduino board listening on the Digirig’s serial port for CAT commands and energizing the relays accordingly. Simpler integration options may be available depending on radio’s implementation.

Before diving into the workarounds, I’d confirm that you have a regulatory obstacle to using the stock ham equipment.

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Interesting project. Have you looked at the NMEA standards which allow control over
many marine devices. NMEA 2000 allows for some control of radios including DSC calling. Interface might allow control you need?

Keep us advised as to what you try.