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Old 11-28-2015, 08:14 AM   #21
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We have two identical radios so we don't have to think about how to work which at any given time, both the same...
great idea...too bad radios don't come in a 2 or 3 per pack deal with good enough savings to make swapping all at once a smart move versus worrying about the money.

Working commercial boats and jumping around between different brands and models certainly taxes your sanity in a pinch just trying to find the backlighting at night let alone other important features. For occasional boaters remembering those kind of details is tough too.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:40 AM   #22
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My charter boat has two of the same model Icoms which is very nice for the previously mentioned reasons. Have to admit I was drawn in by the new features of the Icom M506 such as the NMEA 2000 network over the old 0183 and the additional AIS display. Will see how I like the new radio this winter. May have to upgrade the other this coming summer.

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Old 11-28-2015, 08:56 AM   #23
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We have 2 VHF radios with separate antennas. One radio is hardmounted at the lower station (AIS feed), and the other is hardmounted on the flybridge. Both connect to the other station via remote handset.
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Old 11-28-2015, 11:14 AM   #24
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3 VHFs seems to be about right for running the ICW. 2 will work, until you need to talk to a bridge, a lock and a tow at the same time.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:21 PM   #25
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one fixed mount with a handheld would be fine for the intracoastal...heck just a handheld would "do".....some people seem to "like" using the radio.


Really it's about what you are trying to do with your radios and what range you would like may alter your antenna selection thus number of radios aboard.
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Old 11-28-2015, 06:56 PM   #26
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Anyone consider the "scan" function so one monitors multiple channels at the same time?
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Old 11-28-2015, 06:59 PM   #27
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Anyone consider the "scan" function so one monitors multiple channels at the same time?
use scan all the time...depending on the radio. dual watch or tri watch can be more useful...

I couldnt live without it in the commercial world.
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Old 11-28-2015, 07:45 PM   #28
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Anyone consider the "scan" function so one monitors multiple channels at the same time?
Sure. In a lot of places, I may want to be monitoring 9, 13, 16 and say, 68. But: 1) you have to have your eye on the radio, not the water, to know which channel is being spoken on, since few boaters identify which channel they are calling on. 2) there are times when you have conversations going on both (see Kulas' scenarios). I like having one radio devoted to 16 and the other on or scanning the pertinent-to-locale working channel(s). Not to mention the redundancy factor.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:25 PM   #29
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Anyone consider the "scan" function so one monitors multiple channels at the same time?
It sort of works i find. THe priority is 16. So if someone calls you on another channel and then 16 sqauwks, the other channel will be overridden and you may miss the first call. In fact in the busier season the scan becomes absolutely useless since 16 is blabber heaven so NO scan call can be read.
If someone you are not travelling with calls then they likely will do so on 16 so the scan is superfluous.
When trying to maintain contact with a travel buddy I prefer the two radios on separate channels.
Even the handheld is better than the scan function, for at least the listen function.

Of course space and budget enter into all of this. I had the handheld for other uses and then started using it as a second radio. When running the main vhf and using the handheld I also use a headset as the volume is poor enough that it is difficult to hear otherwise. Actually, on my now dead Icom M11, i was actually able to directly plug in a remote speaker so for listen it was as good as the main vhf.

But once I got the second main radio I use both the old and new radios. The new on 16, the old on whatever other channel I want to monitor.
And yes last year even as a third radio, the H.H. served well for VTS channels for listening. If I had a need to go to VTS and talk to them I would then have used one of the main radios, the old. Didn't need to call VTS though.

For what it's worth.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:59 PM   #30
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Have a boat-installed VHF as well as a handheld. Normally, use the boat's VHF to scan 16, 14 (most important/informative as it gives information concerning the operations of commercial vessels as in ships, tug/barge, and ferry movements) 13, 9, and 22 (your local frequencies will vary). If focusing on a particular channel as in coordinating with specific boaters, I usually use the boat's VHF for that channel and use the hand-held for 16. On virtually all "emergency" calls on 16 with the boat's VHF antenna some 30 feet above water level, I only hear the Coast Guard's side of the conversation, so I don't consider monitoring 16 a using short range handheld to be a downside in my local waters.
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Old 11-28-2015, 09:44 PM   #31
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Couple of comments:

Bay Pelican has two fixed mount VHF radios at her helm. Both have separate antennas.

Underway during the day one is set to channel 16 the official hailing channel in the Eastern Caribbean and one is set to channel 68 the cruisers hailing channel in the English speaking Eastern Caribbean. At anchor channel 16 is ignored. Underway at night we switch the second radio to the channel the group traveling together has selected for communication. 68 is usually not used as a security measure.
If you want to monitor 2 channels, why not use the "dual watch" facility most VHFs offer?
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:24 PM   #32
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That would work if the radio traffic were light. However it is not and there are times 68 is busy for 10 minutes at a time with chatter.

Actually, my situation is that I used to have a second radio uninstalled on board as a spare. Figured might as well install it and using a splitter with the upper helm radio I now have two at the helm.

The third reason is an odd ball. My backup emergency battery is under the helm, well above the waterline. The second VHF mounted at the helm uses that battery. The theory is that if the boat is taking on water the batteries will be shorted fairly quickly, but the backup radio will be operable for quite a while.
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Old 11-29-2015, 02:38 AM   #33
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That would work if the radio traffic were light. However it is not and there are times 68 is busy for 10 minutes at a time with chatter.
Makes good sense. We carry a portable VHF with battery, for back up, and "ship to shore/dinghy". It has a housing bracket, the best place to locate it was, at the helm.
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Old 11-29-2015, 08:28 AM   #34
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Anyone consider the "scan" function so one monitors multiple channels at the same time?
Yes, our routine is to monitor 16 and 13 and a WX alert channel on one radio, our local calling channel (9) and a different WX alert channel on the other radio. Modified as necessary...
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:54 AM   #35
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Using any features of a radio is just practice and practicality. What works for some, doesn't for others and even depends on local and traffic sometimes.


The whole system of communicating is predicated on one conversation at a time...so everything else is just gravy like AIS info, etc....
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Old 11-29-2015, 01:45 PM   #36
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Really great advice on this thread! Like others here, I have 2 fixed mounts and a HH. The FB Icom M422 is equipped with a CommandMic that is available at the lower helm. The lower helm Standard Horizon VHF came with the boat when I bought her and is starting to show its age with a weak receiver. I plan to replace it with an Icom 506 with AIS when the budget allows. I agree that having identical or similar radios can alleviate the 'finger confusion' that can occur when moving from radio to radio. Both fixed mount radios have their own dedicated high quality antenna...Shakespeare Galaxy.

I'm also a big proponent of remote speakers. My SH always had a remote speaker and I installed one at the FB when I installed the Icom. Since I seldom drive from the FB anymore, I moved the FB speaker down to the lower helm. I quickly learned that the CommandMic can control the volume at its own built-in speaker, but not the main radio or remote speaker. I needed to install a volume switch at the lower helm to control the remote speaker volume. Now that it's installed, all is well. The clarity of the received transmissions is so much better that I would never go back to the radio speaker.

I use my HH as a 3rd radio when cruising with friends. It monitors the VTS channel while the other VHFs are used for friend coordination and CH16 monitoring. If I'll be speaking to VTS, I normally switch them to one of the VHFs for better receiver clarity and transmitter power.

My radio antennae are separated by the width of my FB, roughly 9-10 ft. When I transmit on one radio, the other radio can pick up the transmitted signal on a nearby channel due to antenna proximity. The greater the frequency separation, the less of a problem. This is why it's important to keep the antennae well spaced. If you plan to use one antenna with two radios, you have a redundant system that is vulnerable to a single point of failure.

The same can be said for an electrical failure. I have both radios wired to the same bus for power, so I'm vulnerable there, but I have the HH for backup. I operate in the relatively protected waters of the SF Bay and CA Delta, so radio range is typically not an issue. If it was, I'd consider an external antenna connection for the HH radio.

I agree with what others have said about scan features. When the frequencies get busy, the scan causes dropped or missed calls that might be intended for me. So I find myself regularly switching the feature on and off as the frequency congestion varies.
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Old 11-29-2015, 02:03 PM   #37
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When we bought our PNW cabin cruiser it had a VHF at each helm station. The antenna leads from the radios went to a selector switch that connected one or the other radio to the antenna. Very Bad Idea.

We replaced both of the radios with new Icom units and added a second antenna and got rid of the selector switch. The lower radio is connected to a 24 foot antenna, the upper one to an 8 foot antenna.

When we bought the second antenna the owner of the marine elecronics store we used said the main concern about antenna separation was not to have the two antennas a specific distance or multiples of that distance apart to eliminate the possibility of signal blanking or weakening. It's been many years now since we did this but I seem to recall the distance was 17 inches. If this is correct, that means the antennas should not be 17, 34, 51, etc. inches apart.

I can't remember without measuring the distance between our antennas but they are quite close together, in the neighborhood of three feet. We've never experienced problems with reception or transmission with either radio.

If mounting a second antenna I would recommend checking antenna spacing with a credible source in the industry; don't act on what I've written without confirmng it first.

We have a very nice Furuno Loran-C unit in the insrument console at our lower helm. We used to use it as the backup to the first GPS plotter we put on the boat in 1998. Of course Loran has long since been shut down so we've been debating what to put in its place in the console. The contenders are a second radio for the lower helm, an AIS unit, or a wind speed/direction indicator.

We have a good Icom radio in the console already with programmable scanning, dual and tri watch and MMSI. We almost never communicate on VHF, just with a specific boat that we occasionally cruise with and with VTS when the visibility is poor. Every now and then we'll have need to talk to a ferry or other commercial vessel in or approaching a narrow pass or channel but it's extremely rare. So we're not sure what a second VHS at the lower helm would buy us.

We have a good Icom handheld with an adaptor that lets it be plugged into the lead for the 24' antenna, so we have a backup should the built-in radio fail.

AIS we see no use for whatsoever in these waters other than having another distracting toy to play with. We've never been in a situation, even in heavy fog, where it would have given us information we actually needed, so we've pretty much ruled that out.

The wind indicator could be useful, or at least interesting. Wind is what it is, but it always sounds and acts faster than it really is so knowing the actual speed could be reassuring at tines. Or not. Plus we have a good handheld windspeed indicator if we really want to know.

I can see if one used a VHF a lot a second radio at the helm could be very helpful. Or if one operated in very busy waters-- Vancouver, BC and vicinity could be a good example in this area-- a second radio could eliminate the problem of a scanning radio missing something one wanted to hear.
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:01 PM   #38
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MMSI, we use this all the time as a security measure as the VHF radio is essentially our telephone at anchor. By using MMSI our cocktail hour/dinner plans are not broadcast over the entire anchorage and the few land based characters who use the radio broadcasts to select their targets.
As I understand DSC, the only part of your communications that is somewhat private is the hailing process. Once you start talking, you are on an open channel just like any other communications. So anyone listening to your working channel, or switching to it after picking it up on a scanner, will hear all about your dinner plans.
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Old 11-29-2015, 05:21 PM   #39
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As I understand DSC, the only part of your communications that is somewhat private is the hailing process. Once you start talking, you are on an open channel just like any other communications. So anyone listening to your working channel, or switching to it after picking it up on a scanner, will hear all about your dinner plans.
I believe that is the case, security is added by the fact the bad guys don't know who we are and second I am assuming they are very lazy and just camp on 68 (our social channel) rather than 06 or whatever channel DSC switches us.
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Old 11-29-2015, 05:24 PM   #40
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Blue Sky came with an older Icom VHF which, while non-DSC, works fine. But given that it is quite elderly we felt that we should add a second radio, and while we were at it get the benefit of DSC, if only for emergency calling.

We upgraded to a Standard Horizon GX 1700 c/w separate antenna, and are happy with it, although the older Icom seems to have better sound quality.

The rational for that model was that it has its own GPS antenna built in, so that if the plotter and its GPS failed we would still have GPS positioning available in the event of something nasty happening. And yes, we also follow our tracking via paper charts....
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