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Old 28-11-2020, 14:12   #1
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What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

26' cruising sloop, mostly single handed sailing. Preferably something that can overlay AIS data to tablets and laptops. Wireless handset is pretty critical too.
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Old 28-11-2020, 14:32   #2
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

You didn't mention your budget.

The Vesper Cortex has all of that and more, but it is expensive and probably overkill for a 26' boat.
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Old 28-11-2020, 15:28   #3
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

The new Standard Horizon GX2400 has AIS receive only and can be set up w/a wireless remote mic.. We have an older model and we were able to use a usb connector from the radio to our plotter at the nav. station for AIS which then uses wifi send info to a tablet in the cockpit.
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Old 28-11-2020, 17:29   #4
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

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Originally Posted by shimari View Post
You didn't mention your budget.

The Vesper Cortex has all of that and more, but it is expensive and probably overkill for a 26' boat.

I considered a Vesper Cortex but I think there are probably better value options. This radio will be off 95% of the time in favour of my portable radio and keeping a good watch.

I mainly need the AIS transponder for overnight passages and fog

It sure is a nice looking unit though.
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Old 28-11-2020, 18:11   #5
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

There are not many combined VHF-FM radios with AIS transponders. Several with receive only AIS at reasonable prices. I have the Standard Horizon GX2200, costs about $220 but it only receives AIS (all I need). The newer GX2400 supports wireless. To get an AIS transponder with the radio you have to go much more $$. In addition ot the Cortex mentioned, there is the SIMRAD RS40-B. It has an integrated Class B AIS transponder but the costs is over $1000.
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Old 28-11-2020, 20:12   #6
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

The Cortex is very good but quite expensive - really overkill for a 26ft boat.

And for some reason, wireless mikes for VHF radios are also expensive. It's cheaper to get a basic fixed VHF and wire an external microphone/speaker to a plug in the cockpit. Standard Horizon has quite a few options. Or get a fixed VHF for below and a handheld VHF for the cockpit. The two together are still cheaper that a wireless VHF.

For the AIS, it's a bad idea to get just an AIS receiver now that AIS transponders have dropped to $500. The most useful part of AIS is that other boats - especially commercial ships - can see you on their AIS display.

Small fiberglass sailboats never showed up very well on radar or even with binoculars - but if you are transmitting AIS they won't miss you. The name of your boat is also displayed so they can hail you on VHF by name rather than "small white sailboat 2 miles ahead of me".

Milletech Marine can give you good advice and has excellent prices. That's where I've bought several AIS transponders https://www.milltechmarine.com/AIS-T...ders_c_14.html
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Old 29-11-2020, 03:23   #7
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Anything from Standard Horizon , my go-to radios for 30 years
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Old 29-11-2020, 03:52   #8
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heathenly Twins View Post
26' cruising sloop, mostly single handed sailing. Preferably something that can overlay AIS data to tablets and laptops. Wireless handset is pretty critical too.
B&G V60-B Is a VHF with AIS transponder. More pricey than a standard VHF, but cheaper than the Cortex. If you trust Indonesia, Rembulan Fishing has a good price. Shipping is steep, but total price is less than prices here. They take PayPal which should give you some security.
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Old 29-11-2020, 07:41   #9
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Be advised that if you go with the 2400
you will need to build a NMEA network
with a NMEA to WIFI gateway to get it
on a tablet or Ipad//iphone.
Ive just done this on a friends boat and
it was a science project and Im not 100%
convinced of its reliability. The weak point being
the nmea to wifi connection.
I have also installed a Vesper XB 8000
Hands down, No Contest Id go with the Vesper
It just works out of the box
Cheers
Neil
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Old 29-11-2020, 07:56   #10
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Time2Go View Post
I have also installed a Vesper XB 8000
Hands down, No Contest Id go with the Vesper
It just works out of the box
Cheers
Neil
Another vote for the Vesper XB8000. Installed it on our last two boats. Flawless. And you can Wifi the data to a tablet, plus they have a very good anchor drag app.

For VHF, I am a fan of Icom.
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Old 29-11-2020, 08:05   #11
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

B&G V60B with wireless handset + one of the Vulcan plotters on a small NMEA 2K network. The Vulcan will connect to the tablet or phone.
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Old 29-11-2020, 09:07   #12
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Problems with Standard Horizon.

We have an external (separate) AIS transponder. We changed our VHF to a Standard Horizon GX2000 so that we could monitor the AIS on the radio which saves power over using the PC to display the AIS. This is useful on passages.

It all works as expected but three software issues in the Standard Horizon make this arrangement less than useful.
  1. The AIS alarm is difficult to turn off. If a ship enters into the alarm zone the Standard Horizon alarm sounds, but it is very difficult to stop it because of all the key strokes needed to keep it silent. A squeeze on the mike switch stops it, for a second or two, then it sounds again before you can complete the silencing sequence and you have to start over, right when you might wish to be on deck looking at the oncoming ship, or talking to it on the radio, you are fiddling with the radio. Very frustrating, even dangerous.
  2. The CPA and TCPA alarms are independent which makes for some illogical alarm settings. CPA for example. You set it to 1 mile and it goes of when any ship is detected which will come within 1 mile, regardless of when. So a ship which will be within 1 mile sounds the alarm even if it won't be there for several hours. TCPA similarly. You set it to sound if any ship will be at its closest point in, say 20 minutes, and it sounds even if that ship's closest point is going to be 10 miles away. These two alarms should work logically together, as they do on Vesper and OpenCPN
  3. Finally, the "no GPS" alarm is totally aggravating. If you leave the radio on at night when anchored you must also leave your GPS on or the radio will wake you up every four hours. Consequently some users, (me for example) now turn of the VHF at night in an anchorage which I feel is a safety issue.

I've discussed these issues with Standard Horizon and they say that a new software version will solve problem #1 but I have yet to see it.

These issues might seem insignificant but if you are doing long distance cruising and expect to use the Standard Horizon VHF to monitor your AIS, you will find them mighty frustrating.
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Old 29-11-2020, 09:29   #13
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heathenly Twins View Post
I considered a Vesper Cortex but I think there are probably better value options. This radio will be off 95% of the time in favour of my portable radio and keeping a good watch.
The Cortex has a portable mike which not only allows you to communicate via your mast-top VHF antenna, but also see AIS plots on the handset. If you tie in boat sensors as well, you can monitor your boat from the handset or repeat the signals to your laptop or tablet over its built in WiFi. Since the AIS and VHF are built into the same unit, you also don't have to decide how to run that AIS antenna or whether to get a splitter.

It is a nicely integrated unit with cross network routing of data signals between WiFi, NMEA0183, NMEA2000.

The price seems high until you compare the cost of buying gear separately to perform the same functions, then the price is quite good. Price up a DSC VHF, a AIS transmitter, display, antenna splitter, GPS, portable mike and portable display. It will be higher than the cost of the Cortex.

Do I wish it was cheaper? Sure, but having a highly integrated unit will save you dollars down the road by not having to patch together various systems trying to achieve the same functionality.

I think being able to transmit your AIS signal is a smart play. All the receive only VHF units are significantly cheaper, but don't you want to be seen? As a small boat your RADAR return will be minimal. You will be visually hard to see. At the very least you should have a footprint electronically by transmitting an AIS signal. It lets other boats know you are there.
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Old 29-11-2020, 09:29   #14
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
Problems with Standard Horizon.

We have an external (separate) AIS transponder. We changed our VHF to a Standard Horizon GX2000 so that we could monitor the AIS on the radio which saves power over using the PC to display the AIS. This is useful on passages.

It all works as expected but three software issues in the Standard Horizon make this arrangement less than useful.
  1. The AIS alarm is difficult to turn off. If a ship enters into the alarm zone the Standard Horizon alarm sounds, but it is very difficult to stop it because of all the key strokes needed to keep it silent. A squeeze on the mike switch stops it, for a second or two, then it sounds again before you can complete the silencing sequence and you have to start over, right when you might wish to be on deck looking at the oncoming ship, or talking to it on the radio, you are fiddling with the radio. Very frustrating, even dangerous.
  2. The CPA and TCPA alarms are independent which makes for some illogical alarm settings. CPA for example. You set it to 1 mile and it goes of when any ship is detected which will come within 1 mile, regardless of when. So a ship which will be within 1 mile sounds the alarm even if it won't be there for several hours. TCPA similarly. You set it to sound if any ship will be at its closest point in, say 20 minutes, and it sounds even if that ship's closest point is going to be 10 miles away. These two alarms should work logically together, as they do on Vesper and OpenCPN
  3. Finally, the "no GPS" alarm is totally aggravating. If you leave the radio on at night when anchored you must also leave your GPS on or the radio will wake you up every four hours. Consequently some users, (me for example) now turn of the VHF at night in an anchorage which I feel is a safety issue.

I've discussed these issues with Standard Horizon and they say that a new software version will solve problem #1 but I have yet to see it.

These issues might seem insignificant but if you are doing long distance cruising and expect to use the Standard Horizon VHF to monitor your AIS, you will find them mighty frustrating.

My comments below are for a GX2200, so maybe they are different than the 2000.
1. At least in the 2200 you can turn off the alarm in the setup menu and not that hard to find. Agree the alarm is annoying if you do not turn it off.

2. No comment on using the little screen on the radio for CPA or TCPA alarms. We have all the AIS info going to the nav staion and 11" tablet in the cockpit via opencpn. Much easier to see on the bigger screen and set alarms via ocpn that on the radio or mic screen.
3. We use the gps from the radio as only a secondary to the other gps we have integrated to the nav. station. It kicks in if the other gps signal drops out. The anchor alarm again is in the ocpn and we leave the computer (Rpi) on. It draws very little power when on 24/7.


If you haven't already maybe switch to a Rpi as your main computer to save power.
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Old 29-11-2020, 10:01   #15
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Re: What VHF/AIS Radio Should I Get?

Standard horizion is a great choice, a good antenna is a must.
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