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Old 28-02-2016, 10:15   #1
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Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

My cockpit second station ("Command Mic") for my Icom M604 has been out of commission for three years. It just stopped working. I assumed that I nicked the cable when I installed my new plotter. But I couldn't find the nick. I sent away the Command Mic to Icom to check for a fault, but they could not find a problem.


Therefore, I have been dependent on my handheld for different comms which have to be done while I'm at the helm. It doesn't work that well, and I never liked my Standard Horizon HX851 anyway, so when I was in the U.S. last week, I acquired an HX870.

I was eager to see how much improved this radio is, especially since the maker, Yaesu, had found me a couple of years ago to ask me for suggestions on what to improve.

Here are my first impressions:

1. Some people have written that the new radio is more compact than the very bulky HX851. All I can say is not by much. It's slightly thinner but still a hefty beast. I think I might even prefer it to be non-floating, if it could be of a more handy size.

2. Battery life, a big weakness of the HX851, seems to be tremendously improved. I used it all day and only ran it down to about half, and that was with the GPS active. The HX851 couldn't get through a whole day without a recharge, even with the GPS switched off.

3. There is now a normal battery indicator, showing increments of battery life left, rather than the lame binary "low battery" indicator of the HX851.

4. The HX870 has DSP noise suppression on both TX and RX. Can't say whether other people can hear a difference, but RX is noticeably improved.

5. The HX870 has a USB port. The publicly available programming software has limited functions, but you put MMSI numbers into memory (can't program your own, however), program MMSI groups, download logs of DSC calls, upload and download waypoints and tracks, program scan channels. Wish you could program your own channels and change your MMSI.

6. Like the HX851, this unit outputs position and DSC data in NMEA0183. As far as I can tell (?), the HX870 ONLY sends this data via USB. The HX851 had an RS422 connection wired into the charging base, which seems to be missing here. I don't use this function so it doesn't make any difference to me, but if you want to use this data for something, this could be good or bad depending on how you're set up.

7. The GPS unit is updated. Like other recent generation GPS receivers, it is lightning fast compared to the old ones. It looks like it does WAAS; I don't know about GLONASS.

8. The screen is much larger -- about double -- and with many more pixels, than the old one, and the menu and display structure is greatly improved. There are GPS screens which more or less duplicate the functionality of older pre-mapping GPS handhelds, which is great.

9. Control ergonomics are greatly improved. There is now a dedicated squelch button on the side, and a row of three soft keys.

10. An lovely surprise -- the charging base is now suitable for sailboats, holding the radio firmly and being capable of being mounted to a vertical surface. So now you can keep it in the charging base where it will be kept charged up. I kept meaning to rig up some kind of retainer strap for the old radio so that I could keep it in the base, but never got around to it. This combined with the lousy battery life of the old unit meant it was often not charged when I needed it . But this is now really good. This is also a big plus for the radio as an emergency comms device -- always in one place, and always charged, to grab before jumping in the life raft.


That's about it. You can see that a lot of thought has gone into designing this version.


P.S. -- after 3 years, I finally had an inspiration about what was wrong with my Command Mic. I think I saw it in a dream last night, actually. I took out the M604 and took it apart, and lo and behold -- one of the ribbon cables was loose. I put it all back together again and -- now my Command Mic works again. What do you know. So now I will be using the new handheld about 1/10 as much as I have been using the old one.
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Old 28-02-2016, 10:21   #2
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

Thanks Dockhead. I am about to buy one myself so your timing was perfect. I understand Icom will be coming out with a similar model this summer, M93.
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Old 28-02-2016, 12:18   #3
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

A very cool function of this radio!

If you plug the included USB cable into your laptop, and set the radio to output GPS/DSC sentences, OpenCPN finds the port, and gets the data!

An easily accessible source of position data which is completely independent of the boat network. I could get this from the Garmin handheld which I keep in the ditch bag, but this outputs RS422 which would need an adapter.

Cool!
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Old 28-02-2016, 12:53   #4
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

I've had one for awhile now, and I'm real sure I programmed my MMSI number into it.
I couldn't do it from memory, but if I did it, it's easy.


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Old 28-02-2016, 13:38   #5
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

We've had ours since it came out; great handheld and the larger size is fine with me (those who have seen my paws are chuckling!~)
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Old 29-02-2016, 10:58   #6
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

Thanks for the great independent review your HX870.

If anyone on this forum is looking for more info on the HX870, you should join the yahoogroup I have setup, strictly for this radio. To learn more, click on the link below, then the Subscribe link:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HX870/info

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Therefore, I have been dependent on my handheld for different comms which have to be done while I'm at the helm. It doesn't work that well, and I never liked my Standard Horizon HX851 anyway, so when I was in the U.S. last week, I acquired an HX870.

I was eager to see how much improved this radio is, especially since the maker, Yaesu, had found me a couple of years ago to ask me for suggestions on what to improve.
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:43   #7
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

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... If anyone on this forum is looking for more info on the HX870, you should join the yahoogroup I have setup ...
I just got an HX870 and have convinced several others to do the same. Each unit will of course have an individual MMSI programmed into it.

I am wondering if despite the different MMSI numbers I can set up each radio identically using the manufacturer-supplied software and the USB cable. IOW I hope to transfer a saved configuration with all the settings and a particular MMSI, to another unit with a different MMSI. Trying to avoid having to load individual entries in the DSC address book, waypoint lists, group call entries, etc.

Is this possible with the HX870 software?
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:20   #8
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

That's exactly what the software on the standard horizon website does: allows your existing radio settings and directories to be sent to a Windows machine ; has an editor to allow copy/paste of mmsi numbers; allows saving of that configuration to a file; and upload of that configuration to a radio. Then, you would turn that radio off, connect another radio and send configuration to that radio. That would be repeated for each radio. An interesting point, the user mmsi number is not changed. One suggestion, put every mmsi number in the 1st radio, even the user number for that radio. That way, all radios will have all mmsi numbers. Be sure to define a Group, so all radios could be called by 1 dsc call.

I do this all the time, works great. I influenced 16 other friends to get a 870, put my configuration on each of them. Only small issue, I needed to re-upload my newest configuration on the early radios. Another good point, you can email a small data file.to friends, they can upload that file themselves.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:30   #9
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

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That's exactly what the software on the standard horizon website does ...
Thanks, Norm. I understand you to say that the individual MMSI codes for each unit have no effect on a configuration upload from one unit to the next. Good to know in advance.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:52   #10
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

VERY good write up. THX as I am considering one too!

Non programmability of the MMSI is a US specific legal problem.

Units sold elsewhere can be home programmed.


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b.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:30   #11
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

That is correct.

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Originally Posted by kerrydeare View Post
Thanks, Norm. I understand you to say that the individual MMSI codes for each unit have no effect on a configuration upload from one unit to the next. Good to know in advance.
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Old 10-07-2016, 19:28   #12
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

Anyone know what the battery save feature does, for example does it shut off the GPS for x minutes? I assume 90% is the max battery save setting?
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Old 13-07-2016, 12:49   #13
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

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Anyone know what the battery save feature does, for example does it shut off the GPS for x minutes? I assume 90% is the max battery save setting?

Nevermind, it's right in the manual:

GPS Power Save:
Off: GPS receiver always on
50%: Activates the GPS receiver for 3 seconds every 3 seconds
75%: Activates the GPS receiver for 3 seconds every 9 seconds
90%: Activates the GPS receiver for 3 seconds every 27 seconds
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Old 13-07-2016, 13:02   #14
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I think I saw it in a dream last night, actually.
This happens to me regularly.

I think our brains get overloaded with conscious thoughts and are prevented from theorizing and hypothesizing about issues until the quiet if sleep lets things surface.

I have become aware of so many solutions to all kinds of problems during sleep. If I was more disciplined, I would write down more of this stuff.
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Old 22-07-2016, 15:05   #15
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Re: Standard Horizon HX870 - First Impressions

Just unpacked and tested the HX870. The first thing I had to do was increase the display time.

Installed with ships MMSI and set it up to call itself with ship radio off. No response.

Turned ship radio on and tried again. Alarm sounded on both radios.
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