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Old 04-07-2014, 22:30   #16
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Okay, got it.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:35   #17
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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
And standard horizon comes with a battery tray for AA batteries. Load it with lithium batteries and you can store it for maybe ten years.

Sent from my GT-P3113 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
The HX851 doesn't work with lithium batts. I bought the battery tray and a bunch of the expensive lithium AA's, vacuum sealed them, put it all in the ditch bad. Thank God one day I tried to test this setup - doesn't work. You need alkaline batts.

I don't like the HX851 for a lot of reasons. Battery life is terrible (about 10 hours standby on mine), controls poor, extremely bulky. I would like to try the new Icom.
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:14   #18
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
... I am not sure about the connector - I know it's male but don't know what "SMA" is...
“SMA” = "SubMiniature version A" (threaded) co-ax connector
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:52   #19
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Here's a comparative review of handheld DSC VHFs done by Boating Magazine. One radio that gets good scores is the West Marine VHF460, which I hadn't heard of before. [Edit: apparently it's a Uniden MHS235, slightly repackaged. . . ]

Testing and Rating the Best Handheld DSC VHF Radios | Boating Magazine
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:54   #20
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... I bought the battery tray and a bunch of the expensive lithium AA's, vacuum sealed them, put it all in the ditch bad. Thank God one day I tried to test this setup - doesn't work. ...
Be cautious about trying to substitute lithiums because most are 3V whereas most alkalines are 1.5V. Could let the magic smoke out.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:03   #21
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
Here's a comparative review of handheld DSC VHFs done by Boating Magazine. One radio that gets good scores is the West Marine VHF460, which I hadn't heard of before.

Testing and Rating the Best Handheld DSC VHF Radios | Boating Magazine
Very interesting.

The Icom M92 has no battery tray, so that excludes it for the ditch bag as far as I'm concerning

The only other DSC handheld with a battery tray is the West Marine (which is a stencil brand of what??).

This test confirms my perception of the miserable battery life of the HX851, which is about half of that of the best in the test. A little over 10 hours in standby, which is exactly what I get.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:28   #22
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

The West Marine VHF460 is $250.

Its clone, the Uniden MS235, can be had for $185 and free shipping here:
Uniden Mhs235 Vhf/gps Handheld Radio

That's a very expensive WM sticker you get with the VHF460.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:50   #23
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Don't get the cheap low powered [around 3 watt output] You can almost yell as far as they effectively transmit.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:10   #24
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
If SH is the commercial arm of Yaesu and one has an HX751 and Nagoya 771 is the antenna to get (when your standard whip has gone walkabout) then is this the right replacement?

Amazon.com : Hypario® X Nagoya NA-771 DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-M SMA male Antenna For YAESU VERTAX VX-3R VX-5R VX-6R VX-7R : Car Electronics

I am not sure about the connector - I know it's male but don't know what "SMA" is...
No, that would not be a good antenna. That's an amateur radio antenna. Antennas must physically be a certain length and are cut for specific frequencies. That one is cut for 144MHZ & 430MHZ. While it may work at VHF marine frequencies ( 160MHZ), it won't be very efficient. The connector on the antenna is SMA male. You could get an adapter, like an SMA to BNC, which would open up more antenna choices, but in a ditch bag, I would want something as simple and reliable as possible.

In a ditch bag, I would look for something that floats, and has a battery tray that accepts common batteries like AA's. If you really want to improve signal out, and you've got room in the ditch bag, an antenna that can be attached to a small pole with a short piece of coax will be the best practical improvement. Maybe you could use a retractable boat hook or 5-6 one foot lengths of aluminum pipe that interconnect. You could hold it up when transmitting. The added height is what will really increase range. You want multi-tasker items in your ditch bag. If the radio uses AA batt's, get a flashlight that uses the same. If space allows, use the boat-hook as an antenna mast. I'm getting off topic, but the best thing you can do to improve radio range is adding height to the antenna.
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:15   #25
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

I was thinking about what I have in my ham radio go kit. I made a simple antenna from what is called ladder line. It can be rolled up and deployed by hanging it off of something. I would typically use it when testing hanging it from a tree branch. It's very compact and would stow nicely in a ditch bag. Here's a link to assembly instructions if you're interested. The formulas to calculate lengths is at the bottom of the page. Makes a nice emergency antenna that could be hauled up on a halyard. It costs next to nothing and is a decent performer.

2 Meter 1/2 Wave J-Pole Antenna Made From 450-Ohm Ladder Line
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:32   #26
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
If SH is the commercial arm of Yaesu and one has an HX751 and Nagoya 771 is the antenna to get (when your standard whip has gone walkabout) then is this the right replacement?

Amazon.com : Hypario® X Nagoya NA-771 DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-M SMA male Antenna For YAESU VERTAX VX-3R VX-5R VX-6R VX-7R : Car Electronics

I am not sure about the connector - I know it's male but don't know what "SMA" is...
That may or may not be the correct antenna for your radio, I gave that only as an example, it works on my radios.

If you look up the antenna connector in the owner's manual, or can find an online pic that identifies it, then you can find an extended range antenna with the correct connector on it.

Another poster mentioned a remote antenna with a cable, attached to a boat hook or other pole. He's correct, that type will give even better performance mostly due to the increased height, but you do need to have some sort of pole or some way to raise the antenna height. I didn't mention that because we do get about double the range with a 14" antenna, and I didn't think about using a remote antenna with a pole in a ditch bag. It depends on the size of your ditch bag, I guess.
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Old 05-07-2014, 16:28   #27
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by El Rubio View Post
No, that would not be a good antenna. That's an amateur radio antenna. Antennas must physically be a certain length and are cut for specific frequencies. That one is cut for 144MHZ & 430MHZ. While it may work at VHF marine frequencies ( 160MHZ), it won't be very efficient. The connector on the antenna is SMA male. You could get an adapter, like an SMA to BNC, which would open up more antenna choices, but in a ditch bag, I would want something as simple and reliable as possible.
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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
That may or may not be the correct antenna for your radio, I gave that only as an example, it works on my radios.

If you look up the antenna connector in the owner's manual, or can find an online pic that identifies it, then you can find an extended range antenna with the correct connector on it.
Well, one thing we do have a fair supply of here is radio shops so I will go get hands on instead of ordering on-line. I think I have even seen these Nagoya's while wandering the electrical shops.

The manual does not state the radio connector type but it is not BNC, 99% sure it's SMA-F

I was a bit skeptical about increased range from the 15 inch antenna and do understand VHF is basically line of sight. I also understand that longer antenna isn't a better antenna.

Sorry for the thread hijack - I'll sort it out...
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Old 05-07-2014, 16:43   #28
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

"The HX851 doesn't work with lithium batts. I bought the battery tray and a bunch of the expensive lithium AA's, vacuum sealed them, put it all in the ditch bad. Thank God one day I tried to test this setup - doesn't work. You need alkaline batts."

Very curious since lithium primary batteries , which are what we are discussing here to use in trays, typically provide the same voltage and higher amperage than any other (i.e. alkaline or carbon zinc) primary battery. In fact I've got gizmos that won't work with anything BUT lithium primaries, nothing else will supply the same amount of current. Except some NiMh cells, only briefly.

Lithium rechargeable batteries are a whole different "lithium".

As to antennas...Mark, you can do some research on ham radio sites about h/t antennas. It all translates over to marine h/t's, you just need to make sure the antenna itself has the right connector and is frequency matched.

Most h/t's use a short helically wound antenna, where the antenna wire is wound in a helix like a ballpoint pen spring, to make it compact. That trades off some performance as compared to a straight quarter-wave antenna, which would be about 18-19" for marine vhf. Think of an 18" long piece of coat hangar sticking out of your radio, trying to poke out an eye, or break off, or flopping around if it is flexy. Which causes problems as well.

So there are always tradeoffs. One simple thing you can do is often to add what ham's call a tiger tail (aka rat tail) to your antenna. This is a 1/4 wave long piece of light wire twisted around (contacting) the antenna base and allowed to hang down, turning the 1/4 wave antenna into a dipole and often significantly boosting performance even when not "exactly" built. Again, you'll find details on the ham sites and it will work with helical antennas as well as whips.
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Old 05-07-2014, 18:11   #29
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

I bought an Icom IC-T90 tri band HT and got an MFJ tri band antenna with it. It was in that 15-18" long range, but the guy who sold it to me called it an "arm tickler" because it reached up to your armpit if you carried it on your belt. I don't find the performance is all that much better than the standard Icom antenna, but I really don't use an HT much.

The Standard HX-751 definitely has an SMA female. If you were to get an SMA male to BNC female, it would open up more ioptions as far as available antennas. The problem is, SMA connectors aren't known for their strength, and do you want an adapter that may break in your ditch bag. I say keep it simple and get the alkaline battery tray.

I live in South La. and preparing for hurricanes is an ongoing adventure here. I buy standard batteries in bulk and use them throughout the year. I typically restock in spring or early summer...I'm overdue. The point is, most people have devices that use batteries. If you plan it, you can narrow it down to a single type and just have a couple of 8 packs in your ditch bag. Then recycle into your GPS,remote controls, and game controllers.
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Old 05-07-2014, 19:00   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"The HX851 doesn't work with lithium batts. I bought the battery tray and a bunch of the expensive lithium AA's, vacuum sealed them, put it all in the ditch bad. Thank God one day I tried to test this setup - doesn't work. You need alkaline batts."

Very curious since lithium primary batteries , which are what we are discussing here to use in trays, typically provide the same voltage and higher amperage than any other (i.e. alkaline or carbon zinc) primary battery. In fact I've got gizmos that won't work with anything BUT lithium primaries, nothing else will supply the same amount of current. Except some NiMh cells, only briefly.
That's what I thought, but apparently the voltage is slightly lower. Standard Horizon tech support told me this, and pointed out that manual specifically warns that lithium batts won't work. When I switched to alkaline, the radio started working, just as they promised.
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