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Old 09-21-2017, 10:16 PM   #1
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Marine Radio options

When you have two steering wheels on a boat (top deck, main deck), what's typically done for the marine radio? I currently just have one downstairs, and if I'm piloting the boat from upstairs, I can barely hear it - certainly not well enough to respond if somebody is hailing me.

I've run a couple of scenarios, but I'm also interested in current setups that other people have.

Idea 1: One radio downstairs, and one radio upstairs. Each with their own antenna, or sharing the antenna by use of a multiplexer/duplexer or something.

Idea 2: Single radio, but with an external speaker/microphone that runs upstairs.

Other ideas?
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:25 PM   #2
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I have one Standard Horizon downstair with a ram mike upstairs and another small VHF radio upstairs, each on its our antenna. This gives me two radios upstairs and one downstairs, love this setup as we are on the command bridge 95% of the time. One radio is always on 16 and the other on a working channel.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:41 PM   #3
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We also have a Standard Horizon upstairs at the helm, with a remote access mic in the salon downstairs. Like this:

Standard Horizon RAM3+ Remote Mic

(I have no connection to the vendor, that's just the first result that came up in my Google search to show you what I mean.) And then we also have a handheld radio as a back-up, and to take with us on dingy rides. We chartered a 50' sailboat last year and it had one radio at the nav station below. Couldn't hear it in the cockpit at all. I don't know how you get by on any larger boat with just one radio.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:47 PM   #4
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I have two radios with two antennas. On my sailboat I have the radio inside the cabin (as is typical) and then use a RAM in the cockpit. It works just fine. If it is easy for you you add a RAM for your radio, I would do that as it would be simpler, cheaper, and easier to install.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:52 PM   #5
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GME Australia make a VHF which has the main radio at the helm of your choice and a slave unit at the other, wired together. You also get an intercom button. Reputable manufacturer, not much help if you are in USA but good in Oz. Maybe there is a similar product across the Pacific.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:57 PM   #6
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Yep, that's how the Standard Horizon RAM mics work too, slave to the base unit with an intercom function. I would imagine there are other brands out there too with the same remote option.
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Old 09-21-2017, 11:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jovial_cynic View Post
When you have two steering wheels on a boat (top deck, main deck), what's typically done for the marine radio? I currently just have one downstairs, and if I'm piloting the boat from upstairs, I can barely hear it - certainly not well enough to respond if somebody is hailing me.

I've run a couple of scenarios, but I'm also interested in current setups that other people have.

Idea 1: One radio downstairs, and one radio upstairs. Each with their own antenna, or sharing the antenna by use of a multiplexer/duplexer or something.

Idea 2: Single radio, but with an external speaker/microphone that runs upstairs.

Other ideas?
The more, the better. Absolutely one up and one down is the minimum. Plus I'd recommend a spare portable that you can use if either has problems. By not sharing an antenna you pick up a little redundancy. Just don't even think of only having the downstairs radio.
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Old 09-21-2017, 11:02 PM   #8
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We have two ICOMs, one below and one on the flybridge, plus an iCOM handheld.
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Old 09-21-2017, 11:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BandB View Post
The more, the better. Absolutely one up and one down is the minimum. Plus I'd recommend a spare portable that you can use if either has problems. By not sharing an antenna you pick up a little redundancy. Just don't even think of only having the downstairs radio.
Agree 100%.
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Old 09-21-2017, 11:28 PM   #10
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As well as one at each helm, we have a handheld too. A fixed unit at one, a handheld at the other could work too, especially if managing expenses with a "new" boat.
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Old 09-22-2017, 12:37 AM   #11
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I run with two separate free standing systems: radio, antenna., etc. Did not run the numbers but expect it might ultimately be less expense - and mainly appeals to my KISS predisposition. Redundancy and all that. (plus two handhelds thrown in for good meaure)
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:05 AM   #12
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I have two base vhf totally separate from each other, both in cabin.
Usee handheld when up which is not often.
Both mains have auxiliary speakers mounted si I can detect which is yapping otherwise if both do the result is unintelligible. One speaker behind me, one fwd and way off to side.
can monitor 16 and another channel or talk to another vessel without interfering with primary unit.
Redunancy is important also as vhf and antenna can goof up without warning g. Happened to me twice and friends also.
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:12 AM   #13
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We only have a helm on the flybridge. We have 2 VHFs on the flybridge both with seperate antennas. Also have a seperate antenna for the AIS transciever. I don't like sharing antennas between radios.
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Old 09-22-2017, 06:25 AM   #14
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S/H 2200 with AIS receiver on the FB which feeds AIS to my chartplotter and also feeds a PA/Fog horn speaker. Icom M-127 at lower station. Each radio has their own independant antenna.
Sharing antenna is unnecessarily complex and expensive.
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Old 09-22-2017, 06:34 AM   #15
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The cost and ease of installation of an independent, 2nd radio on the flying bridge, makes this a no brainer to me. You should have a back up anyway, even if only a handheld, again IMO.
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:00 AM   #16
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I have a single radio at the lower helm and an extension microphone at the upper helm. This is how the PO set it up. I may replace the radio with one with a built in AIS system and if I do, I will install the new radio at the upper helm and the extension microphone at the lower helm. I operate mostly from the upper helm and the extension microphone doesn't include all the controls.

On the other hand, I may buy a separate AIS and continue using my current VHF.
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:08 AM   #17
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Two fixed radios, two independent antennas. (Need a "long-distance" back-up on board anyway.)

And add a handheld.

We only have one helm, but have two fixed radios there anyway... plus a handheld. I can use each fixed VHF to monitor a different set of channels, 13/16 on one, 9 and others on the second.

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Old 09-22-2017, 09:21 AM   #18
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We have three independent systems. Two on the bridge as we steer from there 95% of the time and one at the lower station. Plus a handheld and the dingy has its own vhf and gps. Safety.
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:24 AM   #19
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Thanks, everybody. I'm going to go ahead and pick up a second antenna so I can hook up this extra radio up top. The safety-by-redundancy system appeals to me.
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:17 AM   #20
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One internally mounted Standard Horizon mounted in the bridge cabinet, and 2 RAM mike controllers, one up, one down. Just upgraded my antenna and ran direct to the radio rather than through a duplexer for AM/FM. Signal improved nicely. One handheld for whatever. Happy with the simplicity of this set-up..
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