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Old 10 October 2011, 16:19   #1
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Which VHS handheld radio should I buy ???

Hi,

I am looking at investing in a VHF handheld radio and have reviewed so many. Each review seems to contradict another.

Can anyone please offer any advice or assistance.

Also some have said buy a fixed radio as they are better ???

Look forward to hearing from you.
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Old 10 October 2011, 16:26   #2
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"Better" is subjective, Jonnymac. What's better for you may not suit everyone. It will depend on a number of factors and you could be thinking about where you keep your boat, where (and how far) you go etc.

A fixed radio will output more power. That won't mean a correspondingly greater range (range is more a function of the height of your antenna), but a fixed radio running off your boat's battery will give you greater battery life, a greater range of functions, and controls that most people would find easier to use.

A hand-held has the obvious benefit that you can take it with you when you leave the boat. Until recently you couldn't get a handheld with a DSC Distress function (one button push to make a Mayday call), but now that option is available it makes handhelds more attractive

A good idea is to head to a good local school and do the Short Range Certificate course. You'll need the ticket anyway, and the instructor will be able to talk to you about the advantages and disadvantages of radios
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Old 10 October 2011, 16:47   #3
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Thanks Seaskills

Thanks for the speedy reply,

The majority of times I travel no more than one mile out to sea to wakeboard or to fish.

However during the summer I had a couple of fantastic trips to the Isle of May from North Berwick and would like to start venturing out more like this.

The Isle of May was approx 10 miles away. Would a handheld radio have the range for this.

My rib already has an antenna fitted and the wiring in place.
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Old 10 October 2011, 16:58   #4
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Old 10 October 2011, 17:06   #5
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I can offer some advice having just been in exactly the same situation as yourself.

I already had a handheld which was / is an icom m23. I found it very useful and certainly wouldnt go out without one. in fact there was an article in this months edition of rnli news that stated a chap who only ever went a few hundred yards from shore only ever took a mobile. However long story short he ended up in trouble his phone got wet and he had to resort to flares to have his life saved.

I don't want to scare you but it just shows it can happen even when close to shore.

I now also have a fixed vhf. If im honest this is so much better. Better clarity, better range due to aerial, more functions when out with other ribbers and of course its linked to gps. So if i ever have to hit the "oh shit" button at least they will know where i am roughly.

So in my honest opinion. Get a vhf. Fixed for clarity, handheld for ease and cheaper if you take into account aerials and mounts for a fixed set.

I know have both and always will and looked at it as a safety must rather than a gadget want.

Hope this helps. If you search under my postings you will find lots of talk about it when i asked a similar question.

Matt.

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Old 10 October 2011, 17:42   #6
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I have a fixed vhf & an Icom M71 in the grab bag. In the dim & distant past we found ourselves stuck out at sea with flat boat batteries, hence no VHF, never again. The M71 is a nice bit of kit
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Old 10 October 2011, 17:44   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pikey Dave View Post
I have a fixed vhf & an Icom M71 in the grab bag. In the dim & distant past we found ourselves stuck out at sea with flat boat batteries, hence no VHF, never again. The M71 is a nice bit of kit
I'll second the M71 superb battery life as well
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Old 10 October 2011, 18:30   #8
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Originally Posted by Jonnymac View Post
Thanks for the speedy reply,

The majority of times I travel no more than one mile out to sea to wakeboard or to fish.
In theory that should be no problem with a handheld. But beware that you wont be 1 mile from wherever the CG mast is. That said it would probably be fine.

Quote:
However during the summer I had a couple of fantastic trips to the Isle of May from North Berwick and would like to start venturing out more like this.

The Isle of May was approx 10 miles away. Would a handheld radio have the range for this.
Tricky - as seaskills says a lot to do with transmitter aeriel height.

If you have two handheld radios at 1m height and clear sight then their horizon is both 3miles away so *theoretically* they could transmit 6miles. Stand up to get 2m of height and you might get 8miles (if both are stood up). Sitting down (50cm height) and it drops to 4miles.

But thats handheld to handheld. Handheld to a mast will go further...

You say you are travelling 10miles to Isle of May - but unless my geography is wrong Isle of May is to the Northern side of the Forth Estuary. The transmitters on the Forth are located North of the Forth until the Forth Road Bridge (its on the South Side) Since Fifeness Coastgaurd Station (Forth CG) is not far away and has a trasmitter mast I'd expect you would be working that. Can you see its mast on a clear day from North Berwick?

Fifeness mast is about 60m above the ground from the photo I saw. That would mean it can transmit to 0.5m handheld across about 22miles so you should be OK from an aeriel height. As said before - the aeriel height will be much the same for handheld or fixed unit. You may find WAFIs who say different - but they put their aeriel on top of the big stick. if you have an A Frame you might squeeze a few extra miles but the big difference will be from the CG Mast being as high as it is.

You may also want to monitor for port ops. Not sure where they transmit from? (?Leith ?Mast height).

A handheld radio can typically transmit at 1 and 5W, although some now do 6W. If I remember my physics right as the distance doubles from the transmitter the power quarters. A fixed unit will go to 25W which means its transmission will be the same strength as a 5W double the distance away. Most text books claim hand held to handheld of 5miles - so you *should* be able to get handheld to 25W fixed twice that distance (10m) but you might be able to hear and not receive...

SPR hangs round Ellie and may be able to comment what handheld comms are like locally which is fairly close to May.

As for which radio... ...you were brave to ask. 100 people... ...100 answers?

But I hear good things about Standard Horizons and have had good service from Icom. I know people who use Cobra, Silva etc with no issues. Beware the VERY VERY cheap - there is a reason check what its missing (3W max power?, No 37A/M1, No battery life?)

You want waterproof on a RIB (not water resistant). For HH You may want floating or you need to secure it ALL the time. For HH You need battery - Lithium has advantage of less memory issues and better results - I can run my Icom Euro M1 for 2 days on a fairly heavy transmit / receive ratio and still be showing full power (on d3 it will drop). On the other hand if I loose my battery power I am stuffed where most NiMH cells have a battery pack for AAs instead (but they need them as battery life is poorer!). As you have a 12V supply can you find a dry place that would let you charge from a cigarette type socket if your battery is dead and you need to get some juice for an emergency?

Fixed unit - 12V battery is great unless the reason you want the radio is your battery is flat. Added advantage of GMDSS - but if you don't have GPS then its not that useful, although GMDSS is quoted to send digital call up to 70miles.
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Old 11 October 2011, 06:08   #9
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Standard horizon HX851

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Old 11 October 2011, 06:11   #10
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The one thing about a dead boat battery is that assuming your alternator hasn't packed up, unless the battery has actually exploded the chances are the engine will provide sufficient juice to keep the VHF / GPS alive....
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