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Old 07-11-2013, 16:47   #1
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Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

Any thoughts on best combination on dsc vhf radios.
Os it better to have one unit witj two remote stations or two individual
Units ?
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Old 07-11-2013, 17:20   #2
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I like two independents antennas and even power supplies if possible, but I like redundanncy
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Old 07-11-2013, 23:01   #3
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Good point,any thoughts on radio manifactures.so many on market all se to do same thing but range ftom £89-400 for single radio?
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Old 08-11-2013, 00:38   #4
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

I just purchased two separate units for redundancy. It's nice knowing if the lower helm VHF fails I have a completely separate unit that I can power up and use. GX2150 with built in AIS will be under $225 with rebate! Buying a unit and adding the remote mic cost about the same as two separate units. The only difference is having two antennas does add to the cost. Some might prefer to only have one antenna. I already have two mounted so it makes sense to me.
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:49   #5
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, bshillam.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:32   #6
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

Two separate VHF radios would be great, but how in the world would you manage the two antennae? This would add a very large degree of complication and expense.

You could put a spare antenna on a spreader or better, on the pushpit (so as to survive a dismasting), but you won't get the range from that one.

I suppose you could connect the nav table radio to the masthead antenna (long range comms to be done from there) and connect a pushpit antenna to the cockpit radio, but that's also messy -- I can imagine that not every radio call from the helm will necessarily be short range.

You could put in a Bird switch to switch them over, but egads -- still more complication, on top of complication.

Seems too much trouble to me.

I have one VHF radio (an Icom M604) with the Command Mike remote station for the helm.

I have one really good VHF antenna at the masthead which is really well installed with fat RG213 coax. A well installed good antenna is quite a hell of lot of expense and trouble to install, if you pay for the labor (or value your own) it's more expensive than a top of the line radio like the M604. I just can't imagine doing two of them.

I have a second VHF antenna on the first spreader (about 10 meters or 33 feet above the water). This serves primarily for AIS, but can be switched over for VHF/UHF ham radio work. The VHF/UHF ham radio will be opened up for marine bands, so can be used (legally in a distress situation) as a backup to the main VHF radio and antenna.

I could easily switch the ham radio to the main masthead antenna, if I had a failure of my Icom M604 at sea. The ham radio puts out 50 watts (instead of a regular marine VHF's 25 watts) so would be ideal for emergency purposes, except that it doesn't, obviously, have DSC.

That's about as much redundancy as I think I can afford. I am screwed if I am dismasted, however, and will probably add some kind of emergency VHF antenna to my arsenal for such an (unlikely) case.


One more advantage of using remote mikes instead of separate radios: You get an intercom between helm and nav station, which is extremely useful unless your boat is small enough to shout between those places (mine is not). Besides that, you can operate loudhailer and foghorn from either position.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:46   #7
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

We just went through this thought/decision making process. We settled on a vhf at the nav desk with a remote mic in the cockpit. That one has the antenna at the mast head. We have a second inexpensive ($150) set up with a whip antenna that we can clamp onto the stern rail or the bimini if we have a dismasting or lightening strike. We have the power already run to a small cutout in the cockpit combing that we can plug the backup radio into. Figure if we get into a storm with lightning we can toss the spare vhf into the oven. We found the antenna wire for about a third of the price of WM at a local electrical supply house. Our boat also came with a SSB for our long range emergency communications.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:51   #8
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

Have mother station at nav, and carry a separate handheld out to the helms. Might get one of those RAM mikes to connect to the mother station, but would still have the separate handheld on board
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:04   #9
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Two separate VHF radios would be great, but how in the world would you manage the two antennae? This would add a very large degree of complication and expense.
It appears the poster has a power boat... So placing two antennas on the vessel is not a problem.

On my boat, I have two independent VHF radios with two VHF antennas. One mounted on the masthead and the other mounted on an antenna tree on the stern rail, which puts the base of the antenna about 13 feet off the water. Both radios have Command Mikes (RAM) in the cockpit.



My reasoning was simple... If the mast goes down, unless it hits the antenna tree, I will still have a functioning VHF radio.

Also during my commercial work, all the boats I worked on had two VHF radios operating on different channels, since in San Francisco we had to monitor VTS and Bridge to Bridge.

I like that convenience of two VHFs, especially traveling with buddy boats.

As far as cost I spent $180 for a new ICOM 422 and about $45 for a Shakespeare VHF fiberglass antenna. I am certain you could spend a lot less buying those items used.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:48   #10
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Re: Dual Helm- Two or Combi VHF

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I have one VHF radio (an Icom M604) with the Command Mike remote station for the helm.
Dockhead's points are all good but I have to say (having M603 + command mic at the helm myself) that ICOM remote command mics are not the easiest things to work with beyond the basics. I've never used mine for making a DSC call ("DS call"?) nor would I fancy doing it: Being able to use push buttons for DSC was why I shelled out for the 603 in the first place.

If I had a power boat, places to stick the antennae and sufficient funds (none of which I do have :-), the independent units option would sound appealing
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:23   #11
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Yes i have motor cruiser,so it would make sense and cost to have two single vhf units seperate supplies and there own vhf aerials.
Has anyone split vhf/ais on one aerial or is it three aerials to go?
We already have hand held but if we go to europe canals they use look for atis code from vessel and our hand held doesnt hace this.
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Old 08-11-2013, 17:42   #12
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I'm set up a tad outdated but it makes some sense. Standard horizon at nav station with ram mic in aft cabin . The ram mic can join me easily in the cockpit as it is right near the companion way slider. Has program for fog horn. Put a ais receiver in and seperate antennae on the stern rail. Redundant and no splitter. Old standard that came with the boat went into a sealed bag as spare. Cheap handheld with dsc. . Sure enough the new standard horizon blew 2 filters and failed. Old unit went back in and the handheld worked in the cockpit. Standard is fixing the newer old gx3000. I need to check back with them as to why it failed not just what.. Just a few years old but outside warranty and I am paying shipping 2 ways and 65 bucks. I like the radio but would hope they last and are more reliable then that. Ais on the stern rail is not ideal. Splitters are proving themselves as reliable. That's the outdated part. I love ais and a transponder adds significant sar capability as well as visibility in less then ideal conditions. Going with a vesper Xb 8000 and luxury of the watchmate added at nav station.
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:06   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason

It appears the poster has a power boat... So placing two antennas on the vessel is not a problem.

On my boat, I have two independent VHF radios with two VHF antennas. One mounted on the masthead and the other mounted on an antenna tree on the stern rail, which puts the base of the antenna about 13 feet off the water. Both radios have Command Mikes (RAM) in the cockpit.

My reasoning was simple... If the mast goes down, unless it hits the antenna tree, I will still have a functioning VHF radio.

Also during my commercial work, all the boats I worked on had two VHF radios operating on different channels, since in San Francisco we had to monitor VTS and Bridge to Bridge.

I like that convenience of two VHFs, especially traveling with buddy boats.

As far as cost I spent $180 for a new ICOM 422 and about $45 for a Shakespeare VHF fiberglass antenna. I am certain you could spend a lot less buying those items used.
Sounds like a really good setup.

Dual radios do sound good in the light you put them in.

For monitoring 16 and VTS at the same time, we have dual watch (even tri watch) which works well, but I sure wouldn't mind a second VHF without DSC, or with DSC receive turned off, in order to have one radio which is not immediately taken out of commission by a distress call over in France somewhere (has become a real annoyance after installing a much better antenna).

Still, I think its too much complication for me, on balance.
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