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Old 02-12-2009, 07:43   #1
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Handheld VHF as Primary

Anyone love or hate their hand held VHFs. I will be using one as a primary and so want something very reliable.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:56   #2
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lack of range could be a problem
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:03   #3
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Handheld VHF

I would not be without a handheld VHf. Currently have a Uniden, which I have had for five years, and am very pleased with. That being said, I would not use a handheld for a primary radio. The range is just not enough, and it is dependent upon the batteries to operate, which at best is a few hours without a recharge. Get yourself a fixed mount radio. They are not expensive, if you do without all the bells and whistles, such as DSC etc.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:07   #4
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I think you may want to have both a fixed 25 watt and a portable 5-6 watt version for the reason motion30 states. Its mostly for safety reasons but could be a convenience reason at times.

Icom and Standard Horizon both make good VHF's. It depends on the features you want. The maximum power is limited to 25 watts by law.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:11   #5
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toys..
as secondary yes
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:08   #6
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standard horizon HX 850S

I personally use the handheld more often than the fixed one down below.
It's waterproof, 3 settings of power, battery lasts days and charges up fast.
Has GPS and the ship to ship options are awesome, just like speed dial on a phone. It has the distress feature and acts like an EPIRB and is registered to you personally so don't screw up and test it improperly.
Has three different bands in the palm of your hand along with 10 different selectable weather stations.
Yes, I like it.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:17   #7
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What ever you get make sure its DSC
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:42   #8
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I've had a standard horizon for about 8 years now......it's waterproof and came with ni-cad battery and alkaline adapter. I still use it, it has never failed, and would buy it again.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:03   #9
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"The maximum power is limited to 25 watts by law." For a fixed radio. That's cut down to 6 watts for a handheld though.

I'm one of many fans of Standard Horizon. They're generally built to a higher standard (commercial market) and their customer service has really gone beyond what other vendors would do to make things more than just right.

My H/T is my primary radio because it can be with me, and like they say about firearms, if it isn't in your arms, you can't fire it. I think a radio is important enough that there SHOULD be two on board, at least one fixed installation. That's the one I'll use to listen to wx when starting up, and the one I'll use to call the launch when shutting down. But mainly--that's below and I'm not, so even though it may be the better radio it won't be my primary one.

Now with DSC and a permanent tie-in to the GPS...a permanent fixed radio starts to have other uses, and the extra range from higher power and a good antenna factor in as well. The counter-point to that is that the "good antenna" is usually UP THERE where it is quietly taking damage and aging and eventually may fail, where the H/T is...here in my hands.

If I had to budget one first, I'd buy a top quality H/T and a regular battery tray for it, to make sure alkalines could be used in a pinch. Or at least, a spare battery or 12v cable for it. Then a cheap simple used VHF ($25) for the permanent--with money spent on a top quality antenna installation for it. And when the piggy bank felt better, by all means, a nice new permanent on board.

remote mikes and and controls and all that fancy stuff...I don't quite trust them or like their prices yet. Some makers are playing around with bluetooth now, so the "remotes" may become more standard, or just apps that you can use on a Smartphone. (Treo, Blackberry, iPhone, Droid.) That would make more sense to me than the current crop of expensive radios.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:07   #10
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Handheld are great for boat to boat or dingy to dingy when you are close by, but you really need a VHF with a masthead antenna most the time. Handhelds just dont have much range....
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:27   #11
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If by "primary" you mean the radio that you use the most, then a good handheld can serve exceptionally well. If, however, by "primary" you mean the only radio that you have available in case of an emergency, then a handheld is severely lacking.

A fixed-mount VHF has several times the output power of a handheld, and with its antenna at the masthead it has an effective range that is many times farther than the best any handheld can hope for. Unless you never venture beyond sight of land, I consider it dangerously false economy to think that you can get by with ONLY a handheld VHF.
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Old 02-12-2009, 13:12   #12
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Seems like the standard horizon has it folks. It does sound like we will need a real VHF with a real antennae. Just out of curiosity can you hook in an antennae to a handheld Standard Horizon?
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Old 02-12-2009, 14:14   #13
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VHF is line of sight usually. Are you gonna climb up your mast during an emergency? If you never plan to leave sight of land then you will be fine. Installed VHF: $180.00. Need to call the Coast Guard or SeaTow sometime and realize your 5 or 6 Watts isn't gonna cut it: Priceless
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Old 02-12-2009, 15:31   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Unless you never venture beyond sight of land, I consider it dangerously false economy to think that you can get by with ONLY a handheld VHF.
The thing is, I would never really plan on venturing out of sight of land in this boat. It will be strictly a coastal cruiser.

I guess on the off chance that we become disabled and drift offshore it would be best to have a fixed VHF. What is a cheap and reliable fixed unit?
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Old 02-12-2009, 17:05   #15
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Originally Posted by Solitude View Post
What ever you get make sure its DSC
You would be hard pressed to find non DSC radios for sale in the US. IIRC, the FCC required they be manufactured with DSC some time last year.
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