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Old 02-19-2015, 12:26 AM   #1
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VHF and all the different types and cost ??

This question is aimed at boaters in Aussie however any comments are welcomed.
My new boat only has a marine radio ( 27 MHz ) and I have only ever owned a handheld Icom VHF (ICF #S ) due to being a dinghy owner.
I am aware that I need a better VHF.
The question is as I am doing coastal runs in Qld and at the most possibly going to a few offshore Barrier reef islands exactly how good/expensive a VHF do I need?
I see BCF and Whitworths have plenty with good names for around $200 mark.
And what about this HF frequency...is it a must have?
regards Brett
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:46 AM   #2
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Remember that VHF is line-of-sight, so a somewhat more relevant question might be how tall of an antenna do I need?

An HF radio has the advantage (usually) of a longer signal throw, so they may be more popular and useful down there than elsewhere.
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Old 02-19-2015, 01:16 AM   #3
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The local GME brand VHF`s are popular and they make aerials to suit. I doubt output varies between brands, but it might. I think there are radio stations along the coast, talk to Marine Rescue, I believe they hand you on to the next one in your direction of travel.
HF is not common inshore, my boat has one as OEM, I don`t use it, it had a massive long aerial that would not fit under Spit Bridge, Mosman, Sydney, I removed it, but they have much better range. Marin is right, the higher you mount the aerial the better. You could check what the bareboat charter companies use in the Whitsundays, I suspect it is VHF.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:24 AM   #4
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Brett,
From what you have just quoted I would not bother with a HF radio.
Go for a good quality VHF. Scrap the 27 Meg set no one in Qld uses them anymore.
I prefer the Icom or Raymarine VHF sets as they are quality units with good volume (I am a bit deaf)
I am in the process of replacing a couple of Navman sets as the volume was not adequate for me.
A hand held waterproof VHF unit is also a must have as a back up and for dinghy use.
Cheers
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:18 AM   #5
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Thx guys,

to BruceK,
Do the individual VHF manufactours require specific aerials. ie. like their own brand or a particular length? I only ask this as you mentioned GME make aerials to suit ? Would a GME made aerial suit a different rand

to Tidahapah,
What do u think of Lowrance ?? I ask this as the boat has Lowrance elite 7 chartplotter GPS fishfinder and it all may all sync up.
BCF have a model Link5 DSC for $200. What's more interesting is the handmike has a speaker in it and a bunch of control buttons. Thought that might be a bonus as I could stand outside the pilothouse and blabber on.

to Marin
is there a performance limit on height of the actual aerial ? There is a few nice 1.8 metre units that fold down flat available cheaply.

Thanks guys
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:05 AM   #6
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Antennas for vhf are listed (in the USA) in decibels of gain (db), the higher the number, the better they perform. This is useful for comparing antennas of the same size. 3 to 10 is the normal range for vhf antennas in the USA.

Ted
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:35 AM   #7
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I bought a quite cheap Si-Tex VHF and installed the longest practical aerial myself, and from Moreton Bay here off Brisbane I can hear the Mooloolaba Coast guard, and down to northern NSW. I think any decent mainstream make would do, but the Lowrance one is nice, and does match your other gear. GME as Bruce mentioned also fine. Benn's recommendations also good.

So, take your pick, Pat or Mick.

Ok, trivial pursuit question, what book was that saying out of guys..?
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:58 AM   #8
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Ideally you should have 2 radios and 2 antennas....redundancy is good for a variety of reasons.

The one radio should have one of the longer stick 10 dB antennas for max range. I prefer that radio be located at my main helm station. If something goes wrong I want my first call to reach out.

The second radio can either be located say on the flying bridge or somewhere if the main station is more likely to be engulfed early by fire, it is accessible. This one I suggest a 3 dB antenna as range is less of a factor. If talking to rescuers on the way or if already close....the transmission angles of the higher gain antenna can make short range communications difficult if the boat is rolling bad in the seas. The 3 dB antenna is better at short ranges.

The second radio can be a handheld too...which also has the ability to jump ship with you and provide emergency communications from a liferaft, dingy or treading water.

While actual transmission capability is all over the place...my best guess for talking to rescue resources, is that a 3 dB antenna is good out 10 to 15 miles and a 10 dB antenna is good 20 to 30 miles. People will debate that forever and as I said...just what I am used to in my corner on the planet. Obstacles will vary that wildly.
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:59 AM   #9
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I'd go with an Icom and a Digital Antenna (that's the brand name).
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Old 02-19-2015, 03:35 PM   #10
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Brett,
The old adage of "you get what you pay for " is very true in this department.
I used to love the GME radios especially when we still had Rad Phone.
Lowrance are OK , I have an SDS 7 with side scan in my fly fishing boat and a GME VHF but I do prefer the 2 that I mentioned in this day and age and for better reception and volume ,for longer distance work and clarity. Talk to your local radio supplier re Ant. The GME ants are good probably about 1.5 mt length unless you are mounting it on top of a mast.
The other thing with small speakers such as hand mikes is that they are usually not that clear , that may be my poor hearing.
We use all Icom VHFs on our tugs in Port Hedland.
On the ships they were usually either Sailor or Furuno.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 02-19-2015, 03:47 PM   #11
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VHF use is widespread, demonstrated here at a small Turkish port:




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Old 02-19-2015, 06:16 PM   #12
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Marine Rescue seems happy enough using mobile/cell phones as backup. They always want an on boat phone at log on.
Peter`s and Benn`s local knowledge is the best info of all.
I don`t have a back up handheld VHF but it makes sense to have one. Some boats have one as their only VHF, but the aerial is short and low.
If you can connect your VHF and Plotter, a VHF with DSC is good. Mayday at the press of a button with position co-ordinates.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:03 PM   #13
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Thx guys,

to Marin
is there a performance limit on height of the actual aerial ? There is a few nice 1.8 metre units that fold down flat available cheaply.
The hight of the antenna is determined by the rod or pole or structure supporting it. I've attached a photo of our PNW boat. The very tall antenna is not a tall antenna at all. It is basically the same "short" antenna that is located just aft of it. What you are seeing is the standard eight foot VHF antenna on top of a real long pole. The height is all about improving the line-of-sight range. It does nothing for the actual signal strength.

We have a lot of islands here and elevating the antenna can often allow better transmission and reception where it might be blocked or partially blocked with an antenna lower down.

A given radio/antenna combination is going to send out a signal of x-strength. Elevating the antenna isn't going to change the strength of the signal, but it will extend the distance at which the signal can be recieved by another vessel (or you can receive a signal).
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
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So, take your pick, Pat or Mick.

Ok, trivial pursuit question, what book was that saying out of guys..?




This is driving me crazy, the closest i can come up with is one of the Enid Blyton stories. 'The Famous Five'?
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:39 AM   #15
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I have two Standard Horizons, a small simple one (1000) and a snazzy 2150 that receives AIS signals and displays it on the radio and the plotter. Huge display. It has a foghorn that can strip paint at 100 meters and a hailer that can wake the dead in any old burial ground for miles around. Great phone-in tech advice and fairly user-friendly. Has MMSI and makes a great cappuccino. About 3/4 the price of an Icom and a better warranty, plus they have rebates and go on sale. Yaesu is what they used to be called, well-known in commercial boats.

Forgot to mention, if you buy the 2200 it has a built-in GPS for MMSI.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:48 PM   #16
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Brett

Take a look at the post New Curly Cord for VHF - it has some comments re: icom vs Raymarine you may be interested in.
My vote would be icom if they are available in your area - they are stepping up and standing behind their products
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy G View Post
[/B]

This is driving me crazy, the closest i can come up with is one of the Enid Blyton stories. 'The Famous Five'?
It was from "The Terrible Twins, Andy. Actually, not sure if it was a book, a comic strip, or movie short, now.

Cheers,
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:48 PM   #18
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I outrange my boating friends with a higher (30-something-feet above the water) antennae.


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Old 02-22-2015, 09:00 PM   #19
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A 3 dB gain antenna on a 30 foot mast probably will not transmit/receive farther than a 17.5 or 22 foot 10 dB antenna. At least from my experience they don't.
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:02 PM   #20
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Also have to take cable loss into account. I doubt Sea Horse Marine used LMR-400, which is best. but for average user doesn't matter.

The cable and VHF are only as good as the connectors and how well they're soldered.
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