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Old 09-25-2016, 08:16 AM   #1
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Got a favorite "black-box" VHF?

We have decided to go with Furuno electronics on the new boat. As Furuno doesn't produce a VHF radio, this leaves us with the task of selecting one. Of course we will need a second microphone for the Flybridge too but it seems every radio manufacturer has this option today.

The theme for the electronics on this boat will be based upon a sort of "glass cockpit" approach. Two 14" displays in the console with the pilot controller in the lower panel alongside the engine controls. This leaves us with the overhead console for various little used electrical panels and we could certainly mount a VHF radio up there but...my wife is 5' tall and thus it would be a stretch for her. Doable but hardly necessary...

This brings me to my actual question. Who has used, seen or knows anything about the new "black-box" radios being made by Icom, Garmin and Simrad?
We have used Icom radios exclusively for 25 years or so now and they have given us zero problems. I know nothing about the Simrad or Garmin offerings but for some reason I am attracted to the Simrad offering especially.

Icom has chosen to introduce their relatively new radio with a NMEA 0183 protocol where both Simrad and Garmin utilize the simpler to install NMEA 2000 protocol.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience?

Thanks,
Bruce
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:40 AM   #2
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This leaves us with the overhead console for various little used electrical panels and we could certainly mount a VHF radio up there but...my wife is 5' tall and thus it would be a stretch for her. Doable but hardly necessary...
Just mount a remote mic controller from the radio of your choice; they have all the visibility and functionality in the palm of your hand.
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:56 AM   #3
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Can't speak to the Black Box VHF. Added an Icom M506 last fall. NMEA 2000 plug and play with AIS interface. Extremely happy with it; it will take the Command Mic.

Ted
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:13 AM   #4
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Can't speak to the Black Box VHF. Added an Icom M506 last fall. NMEA 2000 plug and play with AIS interface. Extremely happy with it; it will take the Command Mic.

Ted
I have seen that radio. It is Icom's only NMEA 2000 device.
It would be on my short list if I didn't want to save the real estate in the overhead that my wife can't reach easily but...

It does however bring up another question. Why do all of these radios incorporate AIS? Is it for boats that don't have AIS or am I missing something about some feature the radios have that I simply don't understand?
If you already have an AIS transceiver, do the radios introduce a different convenience?
Curious...
Bruce
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:01 AM   #5
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Here are some random scars that I have accumulated

Be cautious of the Simrad rs35. After replacing three of them before my boat was even commissioned, I removed them and replaced with icom m506s. They may have fixed the problems, but I would proceed with caution.

As far as being a VHF, the m506 is excellent, as you would expect from icom.

It is actually available in three different models; 0183 only, 0183 & N2k, 0183 & N2k & AIS receive only.

You can also buy it without the front attached mic, and remote mount a full function command mic. I don't know if you can have two command mics, but it might be possible. This arrangement might fit your needs.

Be cautious of the icom N2k implementation. If you have only one 506, it will probably work Ok, but if you have two it will seriously mess up data source selection in your N2k bus. It will appear to other devices that the VHF is a valid data source for all sorts of things like depth, GPS, speed, etc. It takes two 506s to trigger the problem, but I have also seen it triggered by other network devices. I reported this to them along with detailed tracing showing exactly what was happening, but despite following up with them several times, it doesn't appear that they plan to fix it. So I've stopped using anything except the 0183-only model..
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:03 AM   #6
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Raymarine makes a Ray 260, which is also a modular radio.

I am also interested in a "black-box" replacement, as we have one on IRENE. Our current radio recently quit functioning while crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the fog...while the automatic foghorn was functioning. After cycling the power, it works well again but my confidence in it has evaporated. The model we have is a Raymarine 240.

In addition to the random failure, we wish to add AIS receive capability to our new radio. We had this on two previous boats (thank you Standard Horizon). As we have a Raymarine AP, and it looks like we will be going with a Raymarine eS plotter and radar, I am considering the Ray 260 with AIS. We want the AIS capability for the safety benefits in reduced visibility. We may procure a transponder and use a conventional radio instead. Before the radio failure, I thought transponder was the route we would take. Now that my radio needs to be replaced, I am flexible.

We have a small boat, with a small helm, and I prefer the current asthetics of the black-box radio. We have no location to flush mount a radio, making another black-box radio attractive.

The current prices on the Ray 260 AIS will give you a nose bleed, and I own a Volvo Penta power plant. We plan to see what's new in electronics and rebates at the Seattle Boat Show, then move forward.

Jeff

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Old 09-25-2016, 11:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Can't speak to the Black Box VHF. Added an Icom M506 last fall. NMEA 2000 plug and play with AIS interface. Extremely happy with it; it will take the Command Mic.

Ted
I also installed an Icom 506 and the command Mic for my upper station. It's excellent and all controls are available at the remote Mic.

Ken
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:20 PM   #8
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I'm confused over the initial statement of Furuno not having VHF radios. We do have them in other boats. We have no issues with them, work well like all Furuno.

http://www.furuno.com/en/products/radiotelephone/

On the boat we're on right now, we have a Garmin 300i and like it also.
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:34 PM   #9
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We have ICOM 604's. The radio works very well for transmitting and receiving, but the UI, especially on the command mics, leaves a little to be desired, IMO.
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:40 PM   #10
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I'm confused over the initial statement of Furuno not having VHF radios. We do have them in other boats. We have no issues with them, work well like all Furuno.

Radiotelephone | Products | FURUNO

On the boat we're on right now, we have a Garmin 300i and like it also.
Well! Now I am confused...
I've been looking at the Furuno site for 5 months now and the only vhf radio I could find was a 24 volt model more appropriate for a ship!
I'm in the middle of a bunch of projects now but I will certainly investigate further.
Thanks for the link!
Bruce
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Old 09-25-2016, 03:16 PM   #11
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Well! Now I am confused...
I've been looking at the Furuno site for 5 months now and the only vhf radio I could find was a 24 volt model more appropriate for a ship!
I'm in the middle of a bunch of projects now but I will certainly investigate further.
Thanks for the link!
Bruce
Well, you confused me so only fair to confuse you back.
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:29 PM   #12
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Furuno is not currently marketing a "consumer" VHF. Courtesy of the PO I was a Standard Horizon guy myself, and a happy one. Adding the RAM mikes to give dual station capability at each helm was one of my very favorite upgrades I made. Very user friendly UI in my opinion, but UI's are a personal taste thing.
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:56 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
I have seen that radio. It is Icom's only NMEA 2000 device.
It would be on my short list if I didn't want to save the real estate in the overhead that my wife can't reach easily but...

It does however bring up another question. Why do all of these radios incorporate AIS? Is it for boats that don't have AIS or am I missing something about some feature the radios have that I simply don't understand?
If you already have an AIS transceiver, do the radios introduce a different convenience?
Curious...
Bruce
The AIS in mine is display only from info transmitted over nmea 2000. The little display screen will show AIS targets and give you target information. While I would normally look to my plotter screen for this, sometimes you're on the wrong scale or different function and can't see it. Have the scale set to the guard zone range for my AIS. When I get a guard zone violation, I can look at the display to see where they are relative to me and have a name to hail. It's rare that I would do this, but if I'm zoomed in for tight navigation it gives me another option.

Ted
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Old 09-25-2016, 05:04 PM   #14
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Furuno is not currently marketing a "consumer" VHF. .
Could you clarify what you mean by that please?
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Old 09-25-2016, 05:06 PM   #15
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Could you clarify what you mean by that please?
If you look at the Furuno USA site you will find that the only VHF offered is a 24 volt unit designed for commercial use. This is why I was so confused!
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Old 09-25-2016, 05:20 PM   #16
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Could you clarify what you mean by that please?
Something in 3 digits vs 4( or $3,000 to be precise).
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Old 09-25-2016, 05:33 PM   #17
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Something in 3 digits vs 4( or $3,000 to be precise).
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If you look at the Furuno USA site you will find that the only VHF offered is a 24 volt unit designed for commercial use. This is why I was so confused!
Bruce
I'm with you both now. On their furuno.com vs. furunousa.com, they show more units and do indicate recreational but don't show prices. The one that is shown as recreational only, the FM 4721, is shown on sail360 for 890 euro, which is $999, so barely squeaks into 3 digits. I have no idea why it's shown on the full site and not the usa site. Strange things going on. I have no idea the model number but our Furuno VHF is almost four years old and came on a European boat.
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Old 09-25-2016, 05:47 PM   #18
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I'm with you both now. On their furuno.com vs. furunousa.com, they show more units and do indicate recreational but don't show prices. The one that is shown as recreational only, the FM 4721, is shown on sail360 for 890 euro, which is $999, so barely squeaks into 3 digits. I have no idea why it's shown on the full site and not the usa site. Strange things going on. I have no idea the model number but our Furuno VHF is almost four years old and came on a European boat.
As I've done my research on electronics, I noticed that FurunoUSA was not the most up to date website I've run across. Thankfully the website had little to do with my decision!
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:12 PM   #19
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As I've done my research on electronics, I noticed that FurunoUSA was not the most up to date website I've run across. Thankfully the website had little to do with my decision!
Bruce
Still might make sense to talk to Furuno. They're very responsive generally. If you do, and learn anything, would love to hear what you learn. I've had a feeling for a while that Furuno was transitioning somehow and I had no idea where they were headed. Perhaps it's Caltex's observation and they're focusing on commercial and large yachts rather than wanting to compete for the consumer with Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad. I see things like Medical Equipment, Coastal Monitoring Equipment and Meteorologist Monitoring and Analyzing equipment.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:05 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=BandB;483167]Still might make sense to talk to Furuno. They're very responsive generally. If you do, and learn anything, would love to hear what you learn. I've had a feeling for a while that Furuno was transitioning somehow and I had no idea where they were headed. Perhaps it's Caltex's observation and they're focusing on commercial and large yachts rather than wanting to compete for the consumer with Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad. I see things like Medical Equipment, Coastal Monitoring Equipment and Meteorologist Monitoring and Analyzing equipment.[/QUOTE

I was going to call them a call soon anyway as I now have what I refer to as my "second tier" questions about our system-to-be. If I can learn anything I will report back.
One difficulty I will have is that I know very little about the company. We have been so wrapped up in Raytheon/Raymarine in the past 20 years that I'm simply out of the loop. I get the feeling that the sales manager I have been referred to is a fairly straight shooter though and I will ask.

My personal assessment of Furuno is that it is a classic Japanese company in that they are not exactly on the bleeding edge of technolodgy but rather they bring 100% of what technolodgy offers to bear that is reliable.
In the automotive world you see it in European vs Japanese design all the time.
I remember the first CAN bus systems introduced by BMW and Jaguar in the mid 1980's. Clearly a first step in the way of future auto design but nowhere near as reliable as old school systems offered by Toyota/Lexus or Honda Accura.
I believe it was 2002 or so before Accura introduced the technolodgy to their cars. By then it was thoroughly de-bugged!

i see the same thing in my amateur radio hobby. The bleeding edge of the design seems to begin in Europe and the United States only to be introduced on a large scale after a through vetting by the Japanese.

I have spent my life repairing "leading edge" tech in autos and although I love it when it works...for our boat, I want it to work all of the time for a long time. Think Toyota Camry...

Anyway, I will report back with anything I find and I will likely just ask what Furuno is up to, or what direction they are heading...
Bruce
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