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Old 08-10-2012, 16:55   #1
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Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

G'day all, I'm purchasing a 21' Longboat and she lacks a VHF set. She already has a chartplotter and a fishfinder. I like things as simple as possible so am thinking from the outset about a handheld radio. Or would I ultimately be happier with the performance of a mounted set with an external antenna? My initial cruising grounds will be the Gold Coast Broadwater: lots of channels between low, wooded islands. I may ultimately venture out into the Pacific, but with a boat this size not very far. Any recommendations for modestly-priced models that perform well in either category? Any thoughts about features to look for in either category? I know, I know...this represents several different questions but thanks in advance for your patience in educating me! All the best...

Don
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Old 08-10-2012, 17:37   #2
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Looks like the survey went ok!

Handhelds mostly transmit at 5 watts, mounted at 25watts. The range of handhelds will be less than mounted.

I have a good quality Icom M88 handheld, and the range is nowhere near my Icom mounted set. I would recommend a mounted set. Handhelds are really for dinghy/shore to mother ship, etc.

Mounted sets are very cheap nowdays. Suggest you look online overseas. I have had good experiences with defender.com, or on ebay. Electronics in Australia are way overpriced.

If you do decide on a handheld, I suggest getting one with provision for external antenna, an external antenna will boost performance quite a bit.

If you want a s/h mounted set, good quality GME, PM me.

Lee
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:02   #3
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

If you telephone Seaway Tower (Southport) they should be able to advise if a handheld will work for your intended area.

You could also ask what protocols they like to follow, and how well they get on with Marine Safety. Nice to know these things in advance.

I did get the impression when trying to call coastguard stations that something that surgically removes their ears may be necessary at times.

Defender has a good range of well priced handheld and fixed VHF radios. The antennas may be cheaper in Oz.
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Old 11-10-2012, 20:27   #4
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Don - I would go "mounted". They are not that much more expensive than handheld and their range is much better (5W vs 25W). One major issue with the handhelds is that they can be heavy on batteries so the battery may not have power when you need it. I use mine infrequently.

I'm not sure if you are aware that one should have a marine radio operator's certificate of proficiency see Marine Radio Operator's VHF Certificate of Proficiency (MROVCP) | Australian Maritime College it is easy to get and the course actually teaches you how to use the radio and simple maintenance - a good place to ask questions too, possibly before you buy. The fine print says that in an emergency you don't need a MROVCP but it is best to use the right protocols etc.
Another option is a 27MHz marine radio(mounted). They have less range than a strong, mounted VHF and possibly fewer people listening but in sheltered waters (eg Broadwater - not outside the seaway) they may be an option.

I would council a mounted VHF. Cheers, Andrew
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Old 11-10-2012, 22:16   #5
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

I'd say mounted VHF. More power, so more range.
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Old 12-10-2012, 00:14   #6
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Another vote for mounted.
The HH have a reasonably short battery life when transmitting and in an emergency situation you are likely to need to transmit a lot.
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Old 12-10-2012, 00:32   #7
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

my vote is for mounted because its going to cover a larger range and you can bet when you want to get a message out you will be out of range, or the battery is flat.

i have the standard horizon GX2150 with a remote microphone RAM3 for use in the cockpit. i am very happy to have all the power of a mounted VHF at the helm like a handheld.

sorry i have just complicated the installation and tried to upsell you, but the use is as simple as it gets, this unit also has built in AIS receiver which is very handy (even better interfaced to your plotter).
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Old 12-10-2012, 00:44   #8
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

i just remebered if you do buy the standard horizon gear you will ned to interface (NMEA) to your chart plottoer for all the functions to work, AIS,GPS,SOG,COG and GMT time (nice to do you log with at the nav table or coskpit). sorry again for trying to temp you with all the extra luxuries! good luck, have fun spending
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:40   #9
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

I would have both. I use the mounted to contact the CG if I need to report a nav hazard, but I use the handheld on a lanyard in the cockpit to monitor 16 and listen to weather bulletins, etc.

I can offer a middle ground: Some handhelds allow the unscrewing of their antennas, revealing a small female port. You could screw into a mast top antenna mount and while you would still have just 5 watts, it would be broadcasting from many metres up as opposed to deck level.

This would effectively triple your range from five to 15 or better NM. I have tested this method, and it works.

The counterpoint in mounted sets are the small "rolled up" metal strip antennas you can screw into the back of your base VHF should your mast top antenna snap off. Again, the 25 watts only goes to the horizon, but it's better than sticking a length of coat hanger in there if your mast is down and the wind is howling.
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Old 12-10-2012, 16:57   #10
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Thanks for all the feedback, guys! I think I'm going to get a handheld set just for starters; the boat has a cigarette lighter-type plug close to the helm station to keep it charged. I'll use the HH as a back up and for mothership-dinghy/beach use later when I install a fixed set. First, though I want to do some work on the boat's electrical system. She only has one battery, no separate batteries and circuits for engine/house. And yes, I'll go ahead and take the training for the radio license. The boat license training is on Wednesday, and the jetty guy is coming by to get everything in shape for the boat so I can take her home!

Again thanx for the advice! This forum is awesome!

Don
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Old 12-10-2012, 17:33   #11
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Did anyone notice the OP has a powerboat? 25 W is going to make some difference, but I think most are assuming that when you put in a fixed mount radio that the antenna will be at the top of a sailboat mast, which will make much more difference.

Marine VHF Radio Range | Boating Magazine

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Old 13-10-2012, 02:42   #12
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbidoninoz View Post
Thanks for all the feedback, guys! I think I'm going to get a handheld set just for starters; the boat has a cigarette lighter-type plug close to the helm station to keep it charged. I'll use the HH as a back up and for mothership-dinghy/beach use later when I install a fixed set. First, though I want to do some work on the boat's electrical system. She only has one battery, no separate batteries and circuits for engine/house. And yes, I'll go ahead and take the training for the radio license. The boat license training is on Wednesday, and the jetty guy is coming by to get everything in shape for the boat so I can take her home!

Again thanx for the advice! This forum is awesome!

Don
Some/most HH cannot be charged while they are on. If your model has this limitation get a spare battery and keep it charged. (Or better a second battery pack that will take dry cells)
Lithium batteries have increased the battery capacity considerably, but talk times are still short.
If you have an emergency after most of the day with your HH on receive (and not getting charged because of the above limitation) you may only have enough battery power for a couple of short transmissions.
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Old 13-10-2012, 04:44   #13
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Another option is a fixed set with a command mike. The command Mike is a second handset you can place in the cockpit. Lots of brands make comparable sets. Standard Horizon are well priced and Icom best quality. You can always buy the set and get the command mike later.
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Old 15-10-2012, 18:55   #14
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Re: Mounted or Handheld VHF in Oz?

Don

I recently went through this exercise with a mate with a 17ft center console RIB. He ended up with a Uniden Voyager because, the Voyager had the best charge cradle (very robust and secure) of the handhelds that we looked at, the Voyager can receive and charge in the cradle at the same time (it can't transmit and charge at the same time) and it has a lithium battery.

I do however agree with advice here that a fix mounted VHF is a better bet, but a handheld is a good starting point and if you do eventually move to a fixed mount then the handheld can go in your emergency grab bag.

Cheers
Dave
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