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VHF Radios

Old 01-23-2003, 09:01 AM
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I am looking to buy a VHF radio. Most of my boating is on small lakes where a VHF is not needed. We are going to make some trips to Norris Dam,Kentucky Lake and Lake Erie this year. I'm most worried about Lake Erie. Will a hand held VHF be OK, or do I need a mounted one with antenna. We will stay around the islands so I hope that a hand held will do. How far will the hand held get out, and will the econo model do the job?
Mike
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Old 01-23-2003, 12:25 PM
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Don't skimp on the price of a VHF - it is quite possibly the most valuable piece of safety equipment you can have (beside a life jacket). I would put a fixed mount VHF (25 watts) in the boat with the best antenna you can afford. A handheld is great as a back-up. They will only transmit between 4-8 miles, depending on the terrain. and conditions. I would not advise venturing out with just the handheld, but is is definately better than nothing! God luck!
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:54 PM
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wjay, I only plan to be 2 to 4 miles out from mainland and within2 miles from the islands. I have a 20" bowrider with very little room to mount anything perminent. I was hoping to hear that the handheld would do. Some others also think that I need a 25w unit, so I have a tough desision to make. Thanks for the insite.
Mike
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Old 01-23-2003, 09:30 PM
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My very unscientific trials with my Standard Horizon HX260S get about 3 miles with my handheld, maybe 5 if the conditions are right. I would think you're OK with a quality handheld for the distances you mention. Though I wouldn't let this talk me out of a fixed unit, it might give you a little peace of mind with a handheld...you don't always have to reach the mainland to get help, contacting another boat who can assist or relay a message can work as well.
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Old 01-24-2003, 04:52 AM
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What on earth is tough about this decision? If you have enough room to carry a 6-pack, or a bag with three ham sandwiches in it, on that boat you have enough room for a fixed mount VHF. To say that a hand held is better than nothing is not an accurate statement. If it can't reach out with enough range to contact anyone its is exactly as worthless as having nothing. Just because you will be near some island doesn't mean that there is anyone on that island listening. You need enough power to reach out to the next island, and the next one after that if the need be.

On any boat that has an engine that has a charging system there is simply no excuse, other than negligence on the part of the owner, for not having a Fixed mount VHF. It is that simple.

I hate to have to be so blunt about this, but all this pussyfooting around does no one any good.

A hand held radio, as the main or only means of communications (and cell phones do not count) is just fine if you only ever operate the boat on a lake you could swim across or yell for help and know you would be heard every time.

Thom

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[This message was edited by Thom on 01-24-03 at 08:01 AM.]
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Old 01-24-2003, 07:14 AM
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Good point Thom,
I have a hummingbird handheld, its range is about the same as SHOUTING at the top of your my lungs. Get a fixed mount and a good antenea.
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Old 01-24-2003, 09:06 AM
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Right now guys, I'm trying to figure out where to mount the antenna. Mounting the radio is not the problem, just the antenna. I have no real free space for a permenent antenna.
Mike
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Old 01-24-2003, 01:08 PM
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Mike,

Now you're talkin'. The mounting of an antenna can be a real hassel on a lot of boats. Some of us, with some sort of cabin, have it easy, guys with Center Consoles sometimes have difficulity but eventually find a way, but on open boats it can be a problem.

Some folks find they can put a ratchet mount up at the bow and angle it so that a laid down antenna runs right along side the gunwale and is out of the way. So they can put it up when they need it and do OK. Ther are also all sorts of rail mounts available and they can be a life saver for a difficult mount if you have any sort of canvas over your head or railing around the boat.

There are other possibilites too, and a magnetic mount or even a suction mount for a short antenna might be a possiblity.

Its also good to keep in mind that you really won't loose all t hat much range using a 4' antenna instead of the more common 8' stick. The lower weight of the 4' can open up new mounting possibilitys for you.

What would be nice is if you might have a picture of your boat you could post. Lots of times when a bunch of people see a boat's picture it brings to mind innovative mountings they have seen in the past and just might be what sparks a comment that would go a long way towards helping you find the best mount for your own application.

No matter which way you choose to go though it really is best that you start with a fixed mount radio. It really is more a matter of safety than anything else, as you clearly know, and with the quite small sizes of some of the radios that are out there these days you should be able to come up with something workable.

I can tell you this, a few years back when I spent several winter nights taking the local Power Squadron's Safe Boating Course one of the instructors brought in his VHF rig just to show what could be done for safety's sake. He had a fixed mount radio and a motor-cycle battery mounted in a small wooden box, with a handel, and a 4' antenna mounted on the side of the box. He told us he took it out on the river (Mongahelia River in northern West Virginia) when he used his 16 foot john boat for fishing. He understood very well how important it might be for him to get hold of people if the need be - which included the locks and dams as well as barge traffic.

Thom

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Old 01-25-2003, 05:48 AM
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Thom, I like the idea about the box. Never gave that idea a thought. That would fit my bill. I will only go to the big lake 1 or 2 times, that is why I was looking for a hand held. But now you have givin me a new avenue to pursue. I could easily make that work and keep it portable.
Thanks
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Old 01-25-2003, 06:28 AM
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Mike,

It was a good idea, I thought. He made it out of plywood with a large diameter wooden dowell for a handel. As I recall he padded the section of it that held the battery with foam to hold it in place firmly but made it easily removable for recharging (why I don't know, it would be no problem to carry the box to the charger).

If you are in the market for a radio, and particularly at this time of year in your part of the country, let me suggest this to you. Go to E-Bay and do a search on this string ICOM +marine Then keep your eyes opened for a used M-59. You should be able to find one for a hundred bucks or less and I have to tell you, its as good a radio as ever was made. It has virtually every feature a VHF can have (except you have to add an optional module to get DSC) and what is much more important is that it is SMALL. Its an extremely compact unit, completely waterproof, of the highest quality and it has something going for it that radios by a lot of other manufacturer's don't have. It will not drop off power with prolonged transmission. Very good feature.

Let me suggest this to you as well. When you make up your box, if you decide to do that, make up your own set of small wire (mabye #10 or so) "jumper cables" with alligator clips on each end. Make them so that if you have to you could jump between the small boxed battery and your main boat battery. Keep it in your box. That way if you were to break down out on the big water and have to make repeated calls for help, or stay in communications while help was on the way, you would have a large reserve source of power. Just a thoght. Good luck with it, and if you do it remember, PICTURES WHEN FINISHED!!!!

Thom

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Old 01-25-2003, 09:14 AM
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Wouldn't a plug to the 12v outlet be easier? Monty
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Old 01-25-2003, 12:56 PM
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monty245, That is another very good idea, along with the little jumper cables.
MY MIND IS WORKING!!!!!! I SEE A PLAN!!!!!
Mike
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Old 01-25-2003, 05:51 PM
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Does anyone sell something like a telescopic vhf antenna with a sma connector so I could screw it onto my hand held (ICOM M1V)? Hand Helds are good as back up but I think a 4 foot antenna or so on them would really improve range, and you could just push it down when not in use.
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Old 01-25-2003, 07:28 PM
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Do you have any railings? There are antenna mounts that clamp on to railings. Otherwise, look for a flat surface next to your windshield.

What boat do you have? That might help with coming up with suggestions.

A 4' Digital antenna is a very good short antenna. It is made very well and has 4.5 db of gain as opposed to the 3db of most short antennas.

If you don't want the Digital, Shakespeare makes some nice small antennas.
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Old 01-27-2003, 07:07 AM
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Classic,

To answer your quetion, there is a nice emergency telescoping antenna available to fit your needs. It is made by Raytheon and is supplied with both BNC and TNC connectors.

To get a look at the antenna....

http://www.sailnet.com/store/item.cfm?pid=22681

For the price .... it is unbeatable.

SMA Connector

http://www.shakespeare-marine.com/el...es/sma-239.htm

-dowop
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Old 01-27-2003, 11:02 AM
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Mike, I traded a VHF to a friend with an 18' Chaparral runabout who wanted a VHF but didn't want a mounted antenna (for both appearence and functional reasons).

What he ended up doing was to mount the radio under the dash (and connected to the boat battery), but he used a 4' long fiberglass antenna unmounted, stowed up under the gunwale. He routed the coax cable such that in an emergency, the antenna could be carefully removed from its storage location and held aloft (or lashed to a boat hook or paddle, etc.) for maximum effectiveness. One of the "squatty body" antennas such as the Shakespeare 5215 or 5240 could be used in the same way - make sure that the stainless steel whip doesn't contact anything conductive under the gunwale.

I'll second Thom's recommendation of an Icom M59.
I've use one for about six years now.

[This message was edited by Overcurrent on 01-27-03 at 02:10 PM.]
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Old 01-27-2003, 11:38 AM
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Folks - I have one of those antennas that Dowop gave a link to. I bought mine on E-Bay a couple of years ago for about what the link is selling them for. When it came and I had a chance to really get a good look at it I tried to talke everyone I knew into buying one of the things. They are extremely well made and compact to store. If you ever had even the first hint of a notion that some sort of emergency antenna might be a good thing to carry on you boat this is the one you should be looking at. It has two straps that will allow you to connect it to anything you can find to get it up in the air, it is well made, it is contained in a nice little plastic holder. They are inexpensive. You owe it to yourself to buy one.

Thom

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Old 01-27-2003, 12:17 PM
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I love all the experence and info coming from you guys. Thanks for all the input. Mike
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Old 01-27-2003, 12:23 PM
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Can tell you from experience they work. We lost an antenna last year in weather. Didn't look at the link but the one we had could also be mounted with a suction cup, which I did on top of the bridge.

Thing worked like a champ, stayed fast and served its purpose just like it claimed. Distance was obviously severely limited but there were enough boats around that relays worked for what we needed.
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Old 01-31-2003, 08:46 AM
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Just thought this might interest you:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...category=31275

Thom

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