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Old 05 August 2014, 06:43   #1
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Fixed VHF radio dilemma!

Hi all,

I'm currently looking at getting a fixed VHF (with DSC) for the boat. I have an NMEA2000 only plotter (Raymarine a68), no "backbone" for an NMEA2000 network, and I can't really stretch to much more than around 250 all-in for the solution. I'd need the radio, antenna and possible GPS antenna to come in at less than this, or just fractionally over.

So the options I'm looking at (in order of preference) are:

1. Standard Horizon GX1700E VHF radio (with built in GPS)
2. Any reasonably priced VHF radio with a separate GPS antenna
3. Getting an NMEA2000 backbone and buying an NMEA2000 VHF

I've done a search on here, but not really found an answer to the questions, especially as I have a few extra "issues" (impacting the order of preference above) such as:
  • I only have one power switch available on my master switch unit (4 of 5 are used)
  • I may have to find an uprated trip switch for this switch, and the unit is quite old (haven't checked what rating it is yet)
  • I don't know exactly what I'd need in terms of power requirements and equipment in order to install an NMEA backbone
  • I can't really install any antennas on top of my A-frame, as the bespoke boat cover is tight over it, and only has a cut-out flap where the anchor light pole is
  • I may be able to install a flat mount GPS antenna on the flat metal tie between the two rails at the top of the A-frame, but haven't fully investigated yet
  • I'll need to install a longer VHF antenna on a fold down base to the side of my A-frame rather than the ideal position on top of it in order to fit inside the cover
  • I have a "one4all" giftcard to the value of 250 that only seems to be usable on Amazon (other places too, but nowhere that sells marine electronics)

And there ends my dilemma! Thanks in advance for any advice or comments/suggestions.
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Old 05 August 2014, 06:49   #2
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Nothing wrong with the SH GX1700E, easy way to get DSC with the redundancy of a separate GPS, all be it not a plotter. Wire Radio direct, via a fuse to the buss bars, why have another switch? the radio has is own. Another switch adds another failure point !!
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Old 05 August 2014, 06:53   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ovey View Post
So the options I'm looking at (in order of preference) are:

1. Standard Horizon GX1700E VHF radio (with built in GPS)
2. Any reasonably priced VHF radio with a separate GPS antenna
3. Getting an NMEA2000 backbone and buying an NMEA2000 VHF
Your budget rules out 2 & 3, I think.

I've had some experience with that S-H set - it works well, tidy enough menus and the GPS is very quick to lock on. It's very much a standalone piece of kit, IMO.
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Old 05 August 2014, 17:15   #4
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Third'ed on the gx1700 - it clearly meets all your requirements.

When quoting I budget 100 for a "starter" nmea2000 network to interconnect two devices !
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Old 05 August 2014, 17:54   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ovey View Post
Hi all,
1. Standard Horizon GX1700E VHF radio (with built in GPS)
No-one says anything bad about it so i think u have ur answer.
Quote:
2. Any reasonably priced VHF radio with a separate GPS antenna
Unlike Willk I think this is doable in budget using a GPS Mouse as a feed for 0183 NMEA. But I'd question why when that adds an extra layer of complexity. You'd just mount it in the console with the Radio so effectively it does the same as the GX1700E would. The only reason to do it would be if you already had a radio IMHO.
Quote:
3. Getting an NMEA2000 backbone and buying an NMEA2000 VHF
Two advantages:
- you then have a backbone ready if ever you want an extra feature adding.
- you can communicate back to the plotter from the VHF. So you can do a DSC pos request or receive a DSC distress alert and plot it...? Doable with NMEA 0183 too but your plotter cant output NMEA 0183 so assume cant receive it...
Quote:
[LIST][*]I only have one power switch available on my master switch unit (4 of 5 are used)
If you put a seperate GPS and radio in I'd switch them together - you don't want to hit the red button and discover you forgot to switch on the DSC's GPS. Fuse them with in-line fuses if woried.
Quote:
[*]I may have to find an uprated trip switch for this switch, and the unit is quite old (haven't checked what rating it is yet)
VHF does draw a fair bit of juice when transmitting in my experience.
Quote:
[*]I can't really install any antennas on top of my A-frame, as the bespoke boat cover is tight over it, and only has a cut-out flap where the anchor light pole is
So if you go SH (or mouse) you don't need GPS so just VHF. Struggling to visualise. VHF Aerial on top of anchor light?
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Old 06 August 2014, 08:12   #6
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Thanks everyone. I've just looked at the Raymarine Seatalk NG starter kits and priced up what I'd need - I couldn't do it for the budget even using the cheapest VHF around as the plotter is NMEA2000 only, although the backbone would be useful if I expand.

So I think I'll go for the SH GX1700E option. But Amazon (for where my 250 voucher is) only have it for 400+ I've emailed them with the cheaper links (190 on Cactus marine) to see if they'll come down in price. Otherwise I'll have to buy the radio with cash and spend 250 on stuff I don't need in order to spend the voucher!
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Old 06 August 2014, 08:41   #7
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Forgot to say - S-H don't include a dust cover in the pack (tightwads) - an extra 12 or so from Marine Superstore!
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Old 06 August 2014, 09:47   #8
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Thanks for that, will order that at the same time I order the separate flush mounting kit too!
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Old 09 August 2014, 07:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ovey View Post
Thanks everyone. I've just looked at the Raymarine Seatalk NG starter kits and priced up what I'd need - I couldn't do it for the budget even using the cheapest VHF around as the plotter is NMEA2000 only, although the backbone would be useful if I expand.
Dunno what Raymarine are charging, but it's probably twice as much as it should be if it says Raymarine on it. Look at Maretron kit, better quality & prolly cheaper. You don't need much for a basic backbone. A pair of terminators, power supply, 1 "T" per device & drop cables. Depending on what came supplied with the plotter & radio, you might already have half of it.
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Old 09 August 2014, 09:52   #10
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Fixed VHF radio dilemma!

No, I've not got any of it yet. Have gone away from it really and think I'm just going to get the stand alone GX1700E (which is NMEA 0183). I'm not too worried about seeing other boats on the plotter but want to make sure I'm found if it all goes wrong!

The Raymarine starter set (for 2 gadgets) is around the same as the other starter sets but I'd need a Raymarine to NMEA converter lead somewhere in the system since the plotter is Seatalk NG connections and any NMEA2k radio would be NMEA2k connector or bare wire. So it's either an NMEA backbone with Raymarine adapter lead or Raymarine backbone with NMEA2k adapter lead.

Plus NMEA2k radios are way over budget when I have to add the backbone too.

Sent from my iPhone using RIB Net
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