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Old 25-12-2009, 11:35   #1
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Which Dual Station VHF?

The Simrad VHF on our boat died. We received a DSC distress call during a violent storm, which was so loud, that it seems to have blown out the audio amplifier. The radio (an RD68) was not dual station capable so we probably would have replaced it anyway. I do not like using a handheld VHF in the cockpit.

So what to choose? I have not been able to find any decent information. I-Com is always a safe choice, I guess, if somewhat expensive -- about a grand for an M603 including the "command mike" second station. On the other hand, your life can depend on your VHF and this is probably not a good place to economize.

What do you guys use, and why do you like it, or dislike it?
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Old 25-12-2009, 13:00   #2
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I have the ICOM M-504 with the CommandMicIII at the helm. I like it. Now, I can't remember the differences between the 504 & 604, but most likely choose the 504 to save a few $$.
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Old 25-12-2009, 13:24   #3
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Consider, also, installing a second VHF in the cockpit in lieu of the command mic. I have the command mic on mine, but to do it over I'd probably choose a 2nd vHF.

Here's why:

1. VHF's are dirt cheap these days; even a good VHF with Class D DSC can be had for under $200. A good waterproof set for the cockpit is hardly more than the Command Mic itself.

2. Remote mic failures are common. They're not UV-proof, the rubber and seals go bad, etc., etc.

3. A second set gives you total redundancy. In the event of the failure of one. Of a dismasting. etc.

4. A small VHF antenna on the pushpit or radar arch is all you need for communications up to several miles...which you're likely to be doing from the cockpit anyway.

5. The admiral can chat away with other boats on Channel 68, etc., while you still have comms on Channel 16 and 13 in the cockpit :-)

Bill
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Old 25-12-2009, 14:29   #4
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Thanks Bill:

I was thinking of replacing my VHF but your suggestion makes better sense.
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Old 25-12-2009, 17:26   #5
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These 3 are reasonably waterproof - each does no more than the other - Line of sight - black or white - made somewhere in the Far East.
Only real difference appears to be the price , with the Icom M 304 being offered at the biggest mark down discount of 46% (selling at $143)
The least expensive is the Uniden JI57 at $90 - and the Standard Horizon
GX 1000S at $100. (All at Defender)
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Old 25-12-2009, 20:15   #6
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I have the icom with command mike , works great
hey does anybody know where I can find the little plastic cover that goes over the command mic jack when not in use?
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Old 25-12-2009, 20:25   #7
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I have the icom 604 with command mike 3, haven't installed it yet though. Got it for a great price ~400 bucks plus the mike.
I think that this arrangement, with a 2nd hand held vhf, is a better choice for us than 2 seperate lower price units. Just my opinion of course, but that choice allows for more flexability overall.
Also changing out the antennas and the coax. Adds up in price of course. worth it.

Bob
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Old 25-12-2009, 21:50   #8
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Originally Posted by bobfnbw View Post
I have the icom 604 with command mike 3, haven't installed it yet though. Got it for a great price ~400 bucks plus the mike.
I think that this arrangement, with a 2nd hand held vhf, is a better choice for us than 2 seperate lower price units. Just my opinion of course, but that choice allows for more flexability overall.
Also changing out the antennas and the coax. Adds up in price of course. worth it.

Bob
That's kind of what I'm thinking too. Where did you get your 604? At that price it's hard to justify an el-cheapo VHF.
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Old 26-12-2009, 07:27   #9
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Boaters world went out of business here, waited till the end and got a good deal.
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Old 28-12-2009, 20:59   #10
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Boaters world went out of business here, waited till the end and got a good deal.

Well, some net work shows that there are still some good deals out there. I think I'm going with the Icom 604. Plus or minus a couple of hundred dollars is not the deciding factor, on such an important part of the boat.
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Old 28-12-2009, 21:05   #11
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I would install a second VHF in the cockpit and run coax below to the main VHF and link them to the masthead antennae with a coax switch. If you want the capability to use both radios at the same time you can use two coax switches and a second antennae for the cockpit radio. Then you could still switch the cockpit radio to the masthead antennae if you needed the extra range or to the backup antennae for short range.
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Old 28-12-2009, 21:45   #12
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An interesting idea, but I ALWAYS want the extra range. I want to be able to hear what's going on; the weather broadcasts, etc. I don't want to think about switching antennas back and forth -- the VHF is something which should just work on demand without any screwing around with it, in my opinion. Plus I like the intercom of the M-604 with the second station, and the hailer too.

For redundancy I keep a couple of handhelds. A spare antenna is a very good idea. I'll think about that.
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Old 29-12-2009, 07:26   #13
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Your boat must be bigger than mine. My intercom consists of leaning towards the companionway and talking.

To keep the antenna issue simple you can get automatic coax switches so no matter which VHF you use you still access the masthead antennae.
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Old 29-12-2009, 09:09   #14
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VHF

I purchased a ICOM 402 (no longer made) about 10 years ago for our previous boat. When we purchased our current boat with another manufacture VHF (2 years old) I was not happy with it and swapped the other brand with the ICOM. I also purchased the command mic at that time and hardwired it into the cockpit. This system has worked great. I was hit by lighting several years ago and lost the command mic. Sent both main radio and command mic into authorized service center. They were able to repair and am still very happy with system and service. Just giving codos where needed don't have stock in them but service means alot when needed and they seam to be solid. Only draw back is the command mic had to be hardwired in. A lot to new systems today have wireless although I'm not sure if they are as reliable as the hard wired during storms etc. Back up is a you guessed it Icom hand held.

If you contact Icom they will be able to tell you where to get an additional weather cover cap for the command mic.
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Old 29-12-2009, 10:06   #15
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The wireless hand mic I have for a Uniden works well. If my boat were a day cruiser I would be really happy with it. The problem is that when you have it out for night watches etc it does not last the entire night. Nice product but not ready for full time use.
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