Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 8

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 04N 047 26W, saillng at 4.5 knots on a course of 105M. The wind is N at 8-12 knots with a slight sea and 4m swell.  We are sailing under full main and yankee.  Scattered cumulus cloud.  Our day's run was 131nm, our DMG was 107nm and we have 925nm to go.

In addition to downloading GRIB files we are also receiving weather facsimiles over the HF/SSB.  We're finding those transmitted by NWF in Boston to be the best - they are both laid out well and we receive them clearly.  The faxes include current analysis and forecasts, at sea level and also 500Mb.  I'm no expert at interpreting the 500Mb pictures but am reading up on them.  The nice thing about the faxes is they show the fronts - something that GRIBs do not show.

North Atlantic Surface Weather Forecast for 3rd June

Yesterday afternoon the winds held in at 20-25 knots until late afternoon when they dropped to 14-18 knots.  Overnight and this morning the winds gradually dropped and they are now down to 8-12 knots.  Meanwhile the swell was increasing from 1m yesterday to at least 3m now.  These were generated by the big depression to our NE.  The swell is making it difficult to maintain boat speed in the decreasing wind.

The big depression also appears to have generated a pulse of S flowing current.  Yesterday afternoon and overnight we were being pushed south at around 1 knot.  The RTOFS current GRIB showed up to 1.6 knots of S current in our area.  Thankfully we're out of that current now and if the GRIB data is correct we should have an E current helping us along for the next few days if we stay around 35N latitude.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 7

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 05N 049 43W, saillng at 5 knots on a course of 090M. The wind is NNE at 18-22 knots with a 2m left-over sea and 2m swell.  We are sailing under single-reefed main and triple-furled yankee.  Broken cumulus decreasing.  Our day's run was 134nm, our DMG was 112nm and we have 1032nm to go.

Yesterday afternoon the wind gradually increased from the WNW, reaching 24-28 gusting over 30 late in the evening. By then we had an overcast sky and light rain showers.  The wind then banged around to the N with moderate rain and gusty winds around 30 knots - frontal passage!  For a while we were under double-reefed main and a tiny bit of yankee.

Today's GRIB with arc of front unusually clear
(the depression is heading east)

For the rest of the night we beam reached east in a gradually settling but initially very confused seaway.  By dawn the wind was in the NNE and we were close reaching to maintain course.  We had double-reefed main and triple-furled yankee flying.

This morning the wind has been up and down between 15 and 25 knots but is gradually decreasing overall.  We've been gradually increasing sail.  The seas are still quite uncomfortable and once in a while the boat drives through a nasty sea with water cascading aft in a torrent.  ie We "cop the occasional greenie".

We're taking part in two HF/SSB nets at the moment.  The main one is a group of six English-speaking boats, most going to the Azores.  The two who are not have diverted to Bermuda.  The other is a group of Dutch boats also heading for the Azores.  They speak Dutch on their net but at the end I speak with one of them (La Luna) in English to exchange positions and weather info.

La Luna is a Beneteau 34 and I think we've got a bit of a cruiser's "race" thing going.  Neither of us overtakes anyone very often since we're relatively small boats.  T'will be interesting to see if we can catch them - they departed a day prior to us.

Trust all's well where you are.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 6

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 03N 052 03W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 140M. The wind is WSW at 14-18 knots with 1m sea and 1m swell. We are sailing under double-reefed main and double-furled yankee. Scattered cumulus increasing. Our day's run was 115nm, our DMG was 93nm and we have 1144nm to go.

Shortly after sending off yesterday's post the wind died altogether. We motored at 1600rpm doing about 4.5 knots across a glassed-out ocean. As soon as the ocean calms the Velella / Portugese Men-O-War set sail in amazing numbers. We motored for about 2 hours and then a light breeze - only 4-6 knots - came in. We had a very pleasant sail doing around 3.5 knots. Before shutting down the motor we ran at 2500 rpm for 15 minutes to give it a "blow out". We were doing 6.5 knots so the hull must be quite clean.

At 1800 the wind died again and we motored from then until 0500. Twas a very quiet night wind-wise but noisy otherwise. The batteries are fully charged which is about the only positive of having to motor. The half moon rose at about 0130 this morning and created a wonderful "stairway to the moon" across the glassed-out sea. The low swell produced the stairs. Spectacular.

Since 0500 the wind has been gradually building from the W. We reduced sail in stages and are now in our best downwind VMG mode of deeply reefed main with the yankee doing the work.

We expect the wind to build to around 25 knots later today and we'll catch the tail of a cold front from the big depression I described yesterday. After the front we should have N winds at around 20 knots which should give us good sailing tonight. Tomorrow they in turn are expected to fade away. The North Atlantic keeps one on one's toes!

Long range radio propagation continues to be excellent. We can hear Radio Australia for an hour or so in the evening. Later in the evening Radio New Zealand booms in for several hours. The BBC World Service is there too but I haven't yet found the optimal time for us. They are targeting Africa and their dinner (radio listening) time doesn't match our good propagation times.

Trust all's well where you are. Send news!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 5

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 28N 054 13W, saillng at 3 knots on a course of 090M. The wind is NNE at 4-6 knots with calm sea and 1m swell.  We are sailing under full sail.  Clear sunny sky with a few small cumulus.  Our day's run was 117nm, our DMG was 101nm and we have 1237nm to go.

Yesterday was a very pleasant day indeed.  The wind gradually eased from 15-18 down to around 5 knots at midnight but we kept the boat moving under sail.  As it eased the wind veered from NW to NE which allowed us to keep the apparent wind well forward as it decreased in strength.

Dawn this morning

By dawn the wind was back up to about 10 knots but it has eased back to 4-6 since then and is now coming from the NNE.  We're now on a close reach.  Very pleasant sailing, but if it gets any lighter the motor will have to come on.

The weather outlook is for a low pressure system to pass NE of us on Sunday night.  This will bring boisterous conditions to boats ahead of us but should just give us a good sailng breeze.  We've had our eye on this system for some days and its deepening appears to have slowed.  Doesn't look like we need to slow down for it to pass ahead.

GRIB wind for Sunday night (with recommended route)

We expect to have quite light winds for the next 24 hours or so.  Then winds will build at the system comes by.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 4

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 14N 056 18W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 100M. The wind is NW at 15-18 knots with 1.5m sea and 1m swell.  We are sailing under single-reefed main and single-furled yankee.  Clear sunny sky with a few small cumulus.  Our day's run was 115nm, our DMG was 102nm and we have 1338nm to go.

Yesterday afternoon we continued motoring until the early evening.  For much of the afternoon the sea was "glassed out" with no wind at all.  We motored past Dutch yacht Le Blue's and spoke with them on VHF.  Their autopilot had failed so they had decided to wait for wind which would allow their wind vane to function.

Motoring Yesterday

Velella "by the wind sailor" on a glassed-out sea

In the early evening a new 5 knot breeze arrived and filled in enough for us to sail.  Initially we were sailing NNE at 3 knots but gradually we got a little more pressure and could bear away to 080M.  It was very pleasant sailing along over a calm sea and under a clear starry sky.  Mars is amazingly bright - go out tonight and you'll find it easily!

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is the amazing radio propagation we've been experiencing.  On Thursday night I noticed we could hear VMC's (Charleville, Queensland) weather broadcasts.  In the early hours of the morning I scanned the ham 40m band (7MHz) and heard Australian hams chatting to US hams.  Both ends were very clear.  I called them and amazingly they could all hear me, including two Australian stations - from literally the other side of the world.  We had a good chat and I think they were impressed with our little radio setup.  Theirs featured 400W power and steerable directional antennas, vice our 50W omnidirectional setup.  Although our radio is capable of over 100W it actually struggles to put out 50W when transmitting voice.

Long distance HF propagation (white line)

We are keeping a close eye on the weather.  We always do but North Atlantic weather is particularly dynamic.  Low pressure systems spin off the E coast of the US and head across towards Europe.  Our aim is to stay south of them to keep following winds.  It's also the start of the hurricane season and a tropical low is forming way off to our SW and may develop into a hurricane.  We don't want to be anywhere near that!  Happily it should head up the east coast, either going ashore or along the gulf stream towards Europe (as an ex-hurricane by then).

Weather is often the main topic of HF/SSB nets at sea.  We're talking with a range of yachts, most of which are heading for the Azores.  There are about a dozen yachts we know of, and probably a similar number we don't, all heading east.  Most of us plan to stay between 33N and 35N over the next week as a low moves past to our north.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 3

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 34 18N 058 04W, motorlng at 5 knots on a course of 080M. The wind is WNW at 2-4 knots with calm sea and 1m swell. We have been motoring since 0900. Broken high cloud with scattered cumulus Our day's run was 116nm, our DMG was 98nm and we have 1440nm to go.

The wind has been gradually easing since yesterday afternoon. By 1800 yesterday we under full sail and were having a very nice sail under mostly sunny skies. We had full sail up until midnight when the wind freshened and we put in the first reef and a couple of furls. By 0300 we had full sail again.

This morning the wind steadily died. We had expected two days of good wind followed by a day with very light winds so having to motor isn't a surprise. We're motoring because the outlook is for good wind for at least a week once we get through this light patch - so we can spare the fuel. The batteries and all equipment are getting a good charge.

In the sunnier conditions we've been seeing more wildlife. We've seen quite a few "sailing jellyfish", or at least that's what we think they are. They look like a light plastic toy initially but when you pass close you can see they are a jellyfish with an apparently inflated "sail" above the water. They appear to be able to "tack" the sail. Amazing adaptation!

We're also seeing quite a few birds but no passengers yet. Some birds follow close in our wake and pluck treats from our wake. Others fly around ahead of us looking for food. We've seen them diving on fish we probably alarmed. Tropic birds fly around us trying to find a spot to alight but always loose their bottle and "go around" for another try. This morning I saw a pair of birds flying around us in close formation, barely flapping their wings as they surfed the low swell. Beautiful.

Trust all's well where you are.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 2

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 33 32N 059 53W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 080M. The wind is S at 18-20 knots with 1.5m sea and 1.5m swell.  We are sailing under single-reefed main and double-furled yankee.  Scattered high cloud with sunshine!  Our day's run was 121nm, our DMG was 123nm and we have 1538nm to go.

Yesterday afternoon the weather gradually improved with less frequent rain.  By late evening we could actually see some stars and the squalls had gone.  At midnight we shook out the second reef and had a very pleasant sail under one reef and double-furled yankee.

Every 12 hours we download the latest GRIB files from PredictWind.  We also get routing recommendations from them which are based on four weather models. Below is this morning's PWG GRIB with the routes overlaid.  Our position is the white dot.  The GRIB is shaded with predicted rainfall and also shows isobars and wind arrows.  The blue band to our west is the stalled cold front which we sailed through over the last 36 hours or so.  The front is supposed to move slowly east and disperse, hopefully with us still clear of it!

PredictWind GRIB and recommended routes

We are expecting a period of lighter winds over the next day or two.  We're hoping they'll remain over 8-10 knots which is enough to keep the boat moving well.  The high shown in the GRIB above is predicted to move SE and fill in, with moderate W winds appearing in a couple of days.  That will be nice if it happens!

Very nice sailing conditions now and the boat is slowly drying out.  Amazing the difference a little sun makes!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 1

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 32 55N 062 12W, saillng at 5 knots on a course of 100M. The wind is SSW at 20-25 knots with 2m sea and 1m swell. We are sailing under double-reefed main and triple-furled yankee. Broken high cloud with scattered cumulus. Our day's run was 110nm, our DMG was 116nm and we have 1661nm to go.

It's been a pretty dreary and breezy 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon the clouds came back over, bringing rain and 25-30 knots of SSE wind. That put the wind well forward of the beam - a close reach - which made the ride somewhat uncomfortable. Between the heavier rain there was drizzle and lighter winds which really slowed us down.

The conditions persisted all night with squalls of up to 30-35 knots coming through and persistent rain. We kept the double-reefed main and staysail up and during the squalls we were doing 6 knots but only 3 in the lulls. Better safe than sorry. This morning we replaced the staysail with the triple-furled yankee but that only lasted an hour before we had to go back to the staysail. Hopefully the current 20-25 will persist and the rain stay away! The wind has veered to the SSW which puts the apparent wind on our beam.

Last night we spoke on VHF with Allegria, a 150 foot motor yacht. The overtook us doing about 10 knots. I expect they'll burn more weight of fuel on their passage to the Azores than our full displacement!

Despite the weather all's well aboard. We're getting back into "at sea" mode and the boat is performing well.

Bermuda Departure

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 32 26N 064 11W, saillng at 5.5 knots on a course of 090M. The wind is SSE at 16-20 knots with 1m sea and minimal swell. We are sailing under single-reefed main and double-furled yankee. Broken high cloud with occasional sun.

We departed St George, Bermuda at 1030 this morning. It was overcast and raining so a bit of a dreary departure. We cleared customs at about 0900 which was quick and easy. Back aboard we stowed the dinghy which took longer than usual due to an accummulation of weed on the bottom. That's a first!

We exited through Town Cut as the rain continued then made our way between two huge cruise ships approaching the island. As we sailed east the clouds gradually lifted and the rain stopped. There's still rain about but we seem to have found a nice clear patch for a while at least.

Several other boats departed this morning and one called us to ask our plans. Like us he's heading for the Azores so we'll try to stay in touch with him, especially if his HF/SSB works OK.

We really enjoyed our time in Bermuda. Pity the weather was so wet over the last week, as it was for our last days in the BVIs. Nevertheless it is a marvellous place and we hope we'll return one day.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Bermuda - Week Two

Hi everyone,
We've had a very pleasant second week here in Bermuda with a mix of boat jobs and touring.  We have visited Hamilton twice more and went on several walks.

The boat jobs have included:

  • Collected patched-up yankee headsail and re-hoisted
  • Replaced a cabin fan (the old one was getting very noisy)
  • Checked the Aries vane gear, tightening a couple of bolts and greasing moving parts
  • Another check-over and test run of the engine
  • A swim to wipe clean the rudder, skeg, prop and prop shaft - the hull is quite clean
  • Topped up fresh water supplies for departure

There are a set of walks around the islands which follow the old railway line.  Apparently the railway was the most expensive ever (per mile) when built and was heavily used during WW2.  We walked to the end of St George's island to see the three forts there, one of which is a Martello Tower.

One of many signs along the disused railway - now a walking trail
One of many nice views from the railway trail
Martello tower at W end of St George's island
We visited the capital Hamilton twice this week, once on the ferry (via the dockyard) and once by bus.  The first occasion was mainly to collect a parcel containing our new credit cards - a vital mission! ;)  We took our lunch up to Fort Hamilton which has very nice gardens in addition to the Victorian gun emplacements.

Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Hamilton
Fort Hamilton
Yesterday we visited Hamilton once more to do a final shop at the good supermarket there.  We also visited the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.  The receptionist was welcoming and we were able to stroll around and admire the trophies, yacht half-models (of Newport-Bermuda race winners) and some spectacular paintings.  Strangely however we were not welcome to buy a drink or lunch there.  Shows how one officious staff member can spoil memories of a club.

On the way home from Hamilton yesterday we stopped off at The Swizzle Inn, a well-known English-style pub.

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Unfortunately we've had rainy weather for several days during the week, including one where we had to stay aboard due to high winds.  It's been a showery day today and several boats have departed for the Azores.  We intend to depart tomorrow morning and believe there will be others leaving then too.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Bermuda - Week One

Hi everyone,
We've had a great week in St George, Bermuda.  Tis a very pleasant place indeed - great history, extremely friendly people, very neat and tidy.  As in St Helena, Bermudians "get" sailors.  The supermarket even offers a discount to cruisers.

Masthead view of Zen Again
Masthead view of St George harbour
Usually we set to work on boat jobs on arrival, leaving exploring until after the main jobs are done.  That ensures we find any issues up front and so have time to deal with them.  Here we varied that a little since our friends on Vulcan Spirit and Superted V were only staying for a few days.  We were out and about exploring for much of the week.

On Tuesday we took the bus into Hamilton (the capital) and spent the morning at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Museum.  It has a lot of good displays and interestingly has an excellent display on America's Cup technology.

Divers old and new
America's Cup simulators and information
We had an excellent lunch at the restaurant in the museum complex.  It was very posh and we didn't meet the dress code but they let us in and their lunch prices were good.  We sat looking out over a waterway with fish around 0.5m long cruising by.  Very pleasant.

On Wednesday we went on a guided walking tour of St George.  Very interesting and it gave a good overview of Bermuda's history.  Settled over 150 years before Cook explored Australia.

St George is full of nice little parks and pretty old buildings

100 year old memorial marking 300 years!

Between the exploring and then over the last day or two we've been doing various boat work.  After the big squall we decided a really thorough inspection would be a good idea.  It was.  We found a couple of problems:

  • Lots of small worn areas on the yankee - mostly along original folds in the panels and also where it sits when deeply furled.
  • Fractured s/s mainsail slug on the headboard - all the leach tension is taken by this slug and thankfully we insisted two be fitted

The headsail needed more than a little stickyback so we took it to the local sailmaker (Ocean Sails).  He did a thorough job which basically involved large panels of stickyback over parts of the sail.  Won't be pretty!

Ocean Sails also supplied replacement slugs for the mainsail.  I've switched to the same ones we use along the boom for clew and reef clew line attachments.  Whipping them on to the headboard is easy so I did that myself.
Fractured mainsail slug
Other jobs we've done so far have included:

  • General cleanup and locker airing
  • Topped up fuel
  • Topped up water
  • Filled one empty gas cylinder (our most expensive refill ever - US$70 for 9kg)
  • Replaced our masthead tricolour/anchor/strobe light

The masthead anchor light failed half way across the Indian Ocean.  We had a replacement sent to Mauritius but only now decided to replace it since conditions at anchor here have been very quiet.  It also gave me the opportunity to do a very detailed examination of the masthead area and the rig generally.

Over the last three days the ARC Europe and ARC USA fleets have arrived - about 40 boats in total.  That's certainly made the place a lot busier.  We were invited to one of their events and met quite a few of the participants.  They depart on Tuesday, after which the place will seem very quiet!

Yesterday morning both Vulcan Spirit and Superted V departed.  They left with a nice breeze which was expected to pick up.  It certainly did and it is now overcast, windy and rainy.  This weather is expected to pass and it will be sunny again tomorrow and for the next week or so.

We plan to explore Bermuda by bus and ferry (both are cheap) over the next week.  First destination is likely to be the naval dockyard on the other side of the island.  We'll also spend a day in Hamilton and several days walking around various parts of the island.

We expect to depart at the next weather window, probably in a week or so.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Icom IC-M802 Remote Interface

Hi everyone,

This is a technical post!

For several years I've been asking various Icom representatives for information on the M802's Remote Interface.  These enquiries have been met with either no response or a negative response without explanation.

The interface is commonly used by software such as Airmail and RMS Express.  A limited number of commands have been described on the web.  I wish to use the interface for SSB Minder and want to make maximum use of whatever the Remote Interface offers.  Therefore in recent months I have been working to find additional commands.

The work has taken a considerable time but has yielded useful results.  Here is what I found...

Icom IC-M802 Remote Interface
An Unofficial Description

1             Introduction

The Icom IC-M802 transceiver provides a REMOTE interface.  The Icom Instruction Manual says it “connects to a PC via an RS232C cable for remote control in NMEA or RS232 format”.  The manual does not describe the commands available at the interface.  There appears to be no publicly available document which describes the commands.

This document aims to provide some of the missing information.  The information was gathered by research on the web and by simply trying putative commands at the REMOTE Interface.  All single, double and triple character commands were tried.  With commands identified each was tested to establish valid values and the scenarios in which the commands were applicable.

The information provided has only been tested on the IC-M802.  It is highly likely but not proven that the IC-M801E will have an almost identical command set.  The command set may also apply to other Icom marine radios, particularly the IC-M800 and potentially even the IC-M700 series.

The information presented in this document comes with no warranty of any kind. 
It probably contains errors and certainly contains omissions. 
The information presented is simply my opinion!

2             Overview

Research and testing have shown the following to be the case:
·      The SET MODE item REMOTE I/F should be set to NMEA
·      The REMOTE Interface uses RS232 voltages (not NMEA 0 to 5V)
·      The REMOTE Interface RTS/CTS and DTR/DSR signals are used
·      Commands are custom NMEA0183 sentences, all including standard checksum
·      Commands include 20 $PICOA sentences and one $CCFSI/$CTFSI sentence
·      Valid command sentences produce a response sentence
·      The $PICOA sentences support remotely setting and reading most non-DSC settings available manually at the front panel
·      Some commands can write and read settings while others are read-only

3             Operational States

The IC-M802 appears to have five operational states.  These do not include configuration states.  The operational states and transitions from each are described below:
·      Off
o   Power not applied (eg breaker switch off)
o   Goes to Standby, Local or DSC Watch when power applied.  Goes to the previously held state except it goes to Local when previously in Remote
·      Standby
o   Radios (transceiver and DSC receiver) not operating
o   Goes to Off when power removed
o   Goes to Local or DSC Watch (whichever was last active) when (A) POWER button pushed or (B) when RTS/DTR are asserted and then a valid command is written
·      Local
o   Radios operating, with transceiver under manual control
o   Goes to Off when power removed
o   Goes to Standby when POWER button pushed
o   Goes to DSC Watch when DSC button pushed
o   Goes to Remote when (1) RTS/DTR asserted, (2) a valid command is written and (3) either the REMOTE parameter is set to ON or any other parameter is written
·      DSC Watch
o   Radios scan DSC scan and emergency frequencies, with DSC transmission accessed via SET/MODE button
o   Goes to Off when power removed
o   Goes to Standby when POWER button pushed
o   Goes to Local when DSC button pushed
o   Goes to Remote when (1) RTS/DTR asserted, (2) a valid command is written and (3) either the REMOTE parameter is set to ON or any other parameter is written
o   Note 1 – the transceiver does not respond reliably to a rapid sequence of parameter reads at the REMOTE Interface while in this mode
·      Remote
o   Radios operating, with main transceiver controlled via the REMOTE Interface
o   Goes to Off when power removed
o   Goes to Standby when POWER button pushed
o   Goes to Local when RTS/DTR negated
o   Goes to Local when the REMOTE parameter is set to OFF
o   Note 1 - entering Remote mode by writing the REMOTE parameter does not change transceiver settings
o   Note 2 - no known command to go to DSC Watch from Remote

4             Sentences

Two main sentences are known to exist:
·      $CCFSI – Write or read frequency/modulation
·      $PICOA – Write and/or read Icom-specific settings, states and meters

4.1        $CCFSI/$CTFSI

The $CCFSI sentence syntax is:
·      $CCFSI,<tx>,<rx>,<mode>,<power>*<checksum>
o   <tx> is six character transmit frequency in 100Hz units
o   <rx> is six character receive frequency in 100Hz units
o   <mode> is ‘m’ for USB, ‘o’ for AM, ‘q’ for AFS, ‘{‘ for CW or null for LSB or FSK
o   <power> is always set to ‘0’
o   <checksum> is identical to that for NMEA0183
·      notes:
o   A $CTFSI response sentence is returned with identical format
o   Entering this command with null <tx>, <rx>, <mode> and <power> produces a $CTFSI response sentence showing current state

4.2        $PICOA

The $PICOA sentence syntax is:
·      $PICOA,<sa>,<da>,<parameter>,<value>,<checksum>
o   <sa> is source address “90”
o   <rx> is destination address “08” for the IC-M802
o   <parameter> is an upper-case string
o   <value> is a parameter-dependent upper-case string
o   <checksum> is identical to that for NMEA0183
·      notes:
o   A $PICOA response sentence is returned with identical format except <sa> and <da> are reversed
o   Entering these commands with null <value> reads current state
o   Entering any of these commands with a valid <value> sets REMOTE=ON
A set of 20 $PICOA commands are known to exist.  Each command has a meaningful parameter name and also a three-character code.  Trying all parameter names with three alphanumeric characters yielded the latter, and their response showed the meaningful parameter name.  The synonyms are “ALL” to “AL4” inclusive, with “ALL” being atypical in that it produces a multiline response.  The meaningful names should normally be used.

The table below describes the sentences.

Table 1.                  $PICOA Command Parameters and Values
Read ALL status

Receive Frequency
Frequency in MHz
Transmit Frequency
Frequency in MHz
Modulation Mode

FSK/AFS Filter Bandwidth
MID valid for AFS only
RF Gain

Transmit Power
1=Lo; 2=Med; 3=Hi
Automatic Gain Control

Noise Blanker

Squelch Control

Audio Volume

Setting ON initiates tune

Squelch State

Rx Signal Meter

Tx Power Meter
20W => 2; 50W => 4
Tx Antenna Current
20W => 2;  50W => 4
AL2 or SP

Display Dimmer
AL3 or DIM

Remote Control

1.  The ALL command actually executes the set of ALM..AL4 commands in sequence, generating a multiline response.
2.  DSC Remote Control mode appears to be intended for use with an external DSC Controller such as an Icom GM-110DSC.  Research ongoing.

5             DSC Watch

No commands have yet been found providing control of DSC Watch operation.

Icom may have simply “merged” the standalone GM-110DSC into the transceiver.  If this is the case the integrated DSC unit may still communicate via a separate NMEA interface inside the M802.  The M802’s apparent slow response to commands at the REMOTE Interface when the M802 is in DSC Watch may support  this suspicion.  If so it may be that communication from the REMOTE Interface to the DSC unit is not possible.

Research is continuing.