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Old 02-15-2018, 12:32 PM   #1
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VHF Radio

I would appreciate any info on VHF Marine radios. What brands are best and what features do I need for ICW and near shore Gulf of Mexico crusing? Dont mind paying more for quality.
Thanks
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:20 PM   #2
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This is sort of like asking what brand of oil is best. All major manufacturers of marine VHF radios are quality units. All current models have the basic features such as DSC (digital selective calling). The various models (and price jumps) up from the basic units include various advanced features, such as:

1. Waterproofing
2. Capability to generate fog horn and other programmed signals
3. Capability to act as a hailer, and to have a listen-back feature
4. Capability to receive or send AIS information
5. Capability to display graphic information such as AIS data
6. Built-in GPS
7. Capability of interfacing with other devices via NMEA 0183 and/or NMEA 2000 protocols
8. Capability of adding remote stations such as remote mics and/or intercoms
9. Capability of dual watch (monitoring multiple channels)

etc.

Another consideration would be whether you want a specific manufacturer to interface with other electronics by the same manufacturer.

Even the most basic units will do what you need for the use you describe. More important that the choice of the radio is selection of the best antenna possible, and ensuring that it's installed correctly.
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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A good summary by Saber. Most all brands will do the basic job for you, it's the features that are different. I have had good service with Icom and Standard Horizon vhfs.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:14 PM   #4
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Vhf

Thanks. I am a retired radio tech, just not familiar with marine radio brands. You are definately correct on the importance of the antenna.
Thanks
Randall
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:30 PM   #5
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ICOM and Standard Horrizon are what my commercial maritime friends recommend.
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Old 02-15-2018, 04:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandallM View Post
I would appreciate any info on VHF Marine radios. What brands are best and what features do I need for ICW and near shore Gulf of Mexico crusing? Dont mind paying more for quality.
Thanks

Practical Sailor mag. usually does a good evaluation of VHF radios. I would stay away from anything by Uniden ....... IMHO

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Old 02-15-2018, 04:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandallM View Post
I would appreciate any info on VHF Marine radios. What brands are best and what features do I need for ICW and near shore Gulf of Mexico crusing? Dont mind paying more for quality.
Thanks
My $0.02
Stay away from Raymarine
I have good reports on ICOM standing behind their products.
Can't speak to features.
See
http://dkloeber.wixsite.com/bacchus/projects-pg-3
For details re above
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:13 PM   #8
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I have both Icom and Standard Horizon and both work well. I like the AIS receive feature on the SH but I prefer the user interface and menus on the Icom.
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Old 02-15-2018, 06:04 PM   #9
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We have had Standard Horizon, Icom and currently have Raymarine. All have been good radios. I would look to a name brand radio that has the features you want. If you have a lot of one brand equipment I would stick to that brand. Easier getting support when you need it.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:29 PM   #10
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For me one important factor has been the quality of the speaker. The small radios have little speakers. Maybe I'm getting old. It can help to add an external speaker.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:47 PM   #11
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I have 2 iComs on my bridge. Good radios when compared to the cheap brands such as uniden, Cobra etc.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:52 PM   #12
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Icom and Standard Horizon are both excellent. Unless you are going to install a full AIS transceive system, get a VHF that has AIS receive and connect it to your GPS. I think Standard Horizon gives you slightly better value per dollar spent. Good luck.

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Old 02-15-2018, 08:01 PM   #13
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I had an older Icom, replaced it with two Simrad VHFs. I am very disappointed. Both Simrad VHFs have been in for service more than twice. I really wish the marine industry would standardize on 2-3 form factors so if a radio needs replaced, the newer models would fit the helm hole.
I believe both of the Simrad radios are OEM versions from Raymarine.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:33 AM   #14
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I agree with the posts on Icom. I never had Standard Horizon but have heard good things about them as well. I have had ICOM on all my boats since an old one many years ago which had a Uniden - learned my lesson - mic went out after a couple years. Never an issue with ICOM. I now have 2 Handheld ICOMs as well - great units.
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Old 02-24-2018, 05:57 AM   #15
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Can't go too far wrong with SH or Icom if you want the best. Choose the radio with the features that you need. SH is Yaesu.
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Old 02-24-2018, 06:56 AM   #16
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Standard Horizon is known for its excellent customer service. Based on my experience, that's what I would buy.
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Old 02-24-2018, 09:32 AM   #17
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I too really like the iCom brand. I have 2 M-504's
For me, a big part of the radio is how "user friendly" it is.
Some of the lower end units seem to be difficult to use. Even the most basic functions are cumbersome.
I like the big display and function buttons or knobs that are easy to use.
just my 2 cents
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Old 02-24-2018, 09:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Standard Horizon is known for its excellent customer service. Based on my experience, that's what I would buy.
Concur. SH has been great for the last few handhelds and 3 boats.
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Old 02-24-2018, 11:34 AM   #19
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My experience with both icon and standard/horizon is: Icom’s cost more and are higher quality. S/H give you more features for the money.

In a commercial application I would go with Icom.

In a recreational application I would go with S/H.

I find on my personal boat that I am changing radios out to get new features long before the radio’s give out.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:28 PM   #20
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Blue Sky came with an old, possibly original to the boat when she was built in 1995, Icom. Not on the boat at the moment so can't tell you the model.
Being a believer in redundancy we went shopping for a second VHF and landed on a Standard Horizon something -1700 I believe. We looked at a higher end SH that had AIS built in but it wouldn't talk to our Simrad NSE12 so didn't feel that was a valuable addon. In the end we went with the 1700 model as it had built in GPS which was completely separate from our primary GPS; again good for redundancy.

The Icom in general seems to have better reception and a better speaker. However, it is larger by about a third from the SH, and has fewer extras such as GPS and DSC so perhaps the SH suffers from having to cram so much more into a smaller space. Current Icoms are about the same size as the SH so they may suffer as well, I don't know.
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