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handheld vs fixed VHF

Old 05-14-2008, 07:07 AM
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Default handheld vs fixed VHF

i am looking at buying a VHF but kinda unsure if i want a handheld or fixed...i am currently looking at the STANDARD HORIZON HX850S Floating 6W Handheld VHF with integral GPS..i like the built in GPS so i can know my location in case of an emergency....What i wonder about is the range of handhelds...the one i am looking at is 6w but is that enough power? ;?
Old 05-14-2008, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

No - unless you *never* go beyond the bays. Handhelds are really made for harbor use. 5 or so miles is all you can count on under good conditions and even then, your voice will be weak at that 5 miles. Its not just that the power is 6W vs the 25W of a fixed unit, its also the antenna. VHF transmission is line of sight. So the height of the antenna is crucial. In addition, larger antennas can focus the beam a bit which is what the "3db" or "6db gain" is that you see listed with antennas.

You have to seriously consider what you have it for and where you will be going. If its for emergencies, the *last* thing you want is have a critical piece of emergency gear that isn't up to the task.

Ken

Old 05-14-2008, 07:29 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

first choice should be a fixed 25 watt vhf with at least a 5 foot whip, preferably a decent 8 foot whip. That way you have dealt yourself the best hand in doing your part to have the maximum range. Handhelds are great for backup, but their limited range is a tradeoff. Stick with a Standard or Icom and go fixed first.
Old 05-14-2008, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

thanks!!!... i am not going that far off shore mainly in the bays...maybe a mile or 2 off shore..thats it...
Old 05-14-2008, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

LONGANDDEEP - 5/14/2008 7:43 AM

thanks!!!... i am not going that far off shore mainly in the bays...maybe a mile or 2 off shore..thats it...
A handheld is fine for that !
Old 05-14-2008, 08:52 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

A suitable fixed mount VHF and the cheapest 8' antenna will cost less than a handheld, and provide you with DSC if you'll take the time to connect two wires, and get your MMSI (VHF "telephone number") on line. That way, if something happens to you, anyone, even a child, can tell the Coast Guard exactly where you are!
Old 05-14-2008, 12:22 PM
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Default RE: handheld vs fixed VHF

That's how it starts; one day a 17' Whaler and a few years later you own a much larger wealth distributor. Seriously, get a decent fixed mount with as high an antenna mount as you can accommodate. I’d venture to say the more you run the bay the more you will become comfortable covering greater distances. A good fix mount with a good speaker will be so much better for you and your crew. I use handhelds only for close in tender work.
Old 05-14-2008, 12:46 PM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

you must have fix mount first and STANDARD HORIZON HX850S Floating 6W Handheld VHF with integral GPS for back up ( this is a best back up )
Old 05-14-2008, 10:59 PM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

First of all, who do you want to talk to?

If you just want to talk to the USCG in an emergency, then the hand held is probably OK. Coast Guard towers are high sights with excellent coverage.

If you want to talk to other boats more than a mile or so away, you need a fixed mount with a real antenna.

By the way, that 6 watt thing is just marketing propaganda. There is no difference in a 5 watt and 6 watt hand held. They both have the same crappy antenna.

The HX850 is a great choice. I would like to get one myself, but I bought the Icom M-72 a while ago and it is a good radio and I do not need 2 hand held.

What I suggest to people is to get both. Radios are not really that expensive compared to all the other things boats require.
Old 05-15-2008, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

I think its best to have both but if you have to pick I'd go fixed...
Old 05-15-2008, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

I'll go along with the recommendations to install a fixed VHF and 8' antenna.
Old 05-15-2008, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

i just ordered the STANDARD HORIZON HX850S Floating 6W Handheld VHF with integral GPS...it will be here Friday....i figured it will do for what i need but i will get a fixed next then i will use the handheld as back up...maybe the wrong order but i think it works..
Old 05-15-2008, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

Most handheld still can be connected to external antennas.
Old 05-15-2008, 01:11 PM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

Yes, you can connect a hand held to an external antenna. But be VERY CAREFUL! I did that with a ham hand held radio and managed to break off a pin in the SMA connector on the radio.

Back to Yaesu it went, where the nice people there fixed it without charging my dumb ass anything.

So now I do not use external antennas on my hand helds if I do not have to.

You made an excellent choice with the HX850S. Like I said, I would like to get one myself and I would if I did not already have the Icom M-72!

If you have not already done so, you need to get a MMSI number. Go to www.boatus.com/mmsi and register for one. It is free. The mmsi number needs to be programmed into the radio for the DSC functions to work. And since you are paying for the DSC functions you might as well get the number.

When you get your fixed mount radio, use the same mmsi number.
Old 05-16-2008, 10:33 AM
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Default Re: handheld vs fixed VHF

DSC will effectively extend the range of your handheld for emergency use: the digital burp can be understood by a receiving station through other noise, from a weaker signal over a longer distance. Not much longer, but some!

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