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Range of Hand held VHF

Old 07-25-2006, 12:21 PM
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Default Range of Hand held VHF

What is the effective range of a 6watt handheld VHf (ICOM)?

Thanks
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:48 PM
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Default RE: Range of Hand held VHF

It all depends, but I wouldn't gamble on any more than 3-5 miles.

Having said that, I have personally RX/DX with a USCG radio room 15 miles away. It was at night, and there may have been some atmospheric conditions that lent themselves to this distance. I certainly would not count on reliably RX/DX at those distances.
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

About 5 Miles...
 
Old 07-26-2006, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

Unfortunately, there is a wide range of transmission power from handheld VHF's....manufacturers all measure differently and the only proof is testing them. DO NOT BELIEVE THE SPECS. I get 10 miles + with my standard handheld (emergency backup). There have been a couple of independent tests done. As I recall ICOM and Standard always manage to come out on top. If you buy a "cheap/house" brand, you may get what you pay for.
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Old 07-26-2006, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

Thanks for the info guys. I did buy the $200.00 ICOM, Which the guy @ west told me it was their most popular/powerful model. I just bought it as a backup to my console unit which works about 90% of the time. I have yet to isolate the problem so I at least have a backup.
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Old 07-26-2006, 01:51 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

If you're going to use it only as a backup, buy the appropriate antenna plug adapter so you can use it with your fixed boat antenna. The rubber duckies are poor antennas, at best. As discussed here on many other threads, the range will depend on the height of the antenna on the boat and the height of the antenna on the other end.

AGAIN, The formula is: Range in statute miles = 1.42 X the square root of the height of the tip of the antenna for eash station. Add the 2 results together. Antenna height is much more important than transmitter power.
So, if you're standing on deck with a hand held VHF, and you're holding it to your face, and the tip of the antenna is 6 feet above the water line, the distance the signal will travel from your radio to the horizon is about 3.5 miles. Perform the same calculation for the other station, add the 2 together, and you have the range of 2-way VHF comms between THOSE TWO STATIONS only.
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Old 07-26-2006, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

TT -

Good memory, but the Standard Horizon HX370S came out on top of the 'Real World' tests which were on the web, but have disappeared. Basically, the popular fixed mount brands fared best - those being ICOM and Standard Horizon.

Owning 2 SH handhelds, I have no trouble believing that they can transmit/receive at distances over 5 miles or so. After all, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to talk to USCG Station St Petersburg at Bayboro from Garrison Channel in Tampa Bay. About 15 miles as the crow flies.

Would I bet my life on getting that range in an emergency? No way. Imagine the worst situation - you're in the water calling Mayday. Think you'll get 10-15 miles while that antenna is at water level? Not a chance - you'd be lucky to get 3 miles. Thank heavens for my McTurdo EPIRB, courtesy of the USCG.
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

Check out the Coast Guard coverage charts. Coverage plots assume a mobile transmitter power of 1 watt at sea level over water, and of 25 watts over land.

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/cgcomms/nds.htm

Here in Southern California the Coast Guard antennas are up high on mountains so we get good coverage. The range looks good on the chart... What they don't indicate is that the antennas are also receiving all transmissions in a 50 mile radius. Your transmission would most likely be stepped on as others stronger signals transmit as they are out of range to receive you. If the Coast Guard does here you, I assume they would instruct all others to standby as they are receiving emergency communication.
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Old 07-29-2006, 12:41 PM
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Default Re: Range of Hand held VHF

Most VHF Marine Handhelds should get around 4 to 6 miles range on open water, to another uint on open water, both being at 4 to 10 ft off the water.
One has to remember most Coast Guard radio antennae are on tower up at or around 300 to 500ft up and have high gain directional antennae which gives them much more range, than what one can expect from being only a few feet above sea level with an omni antenna.
Yrs ago I put in a radio system for a well blowout, the repeater antenna was at 300ft, and the handhelds we in the swamp, the handhelds hit the repeater and at 18 miles and was rebroadcast back out.
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