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Thread: Looking for VHF radio suggestions

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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    Default Looking for VHF radio suggestions

    So I currently have an older icom radio installed in my boat that works well yet it lacks a dcs. For safety’s sake I would like to upgrade. Would love to hear everyone’s opinions. I have a nema network so I can hook into that and use my chart plotter or is it prudent to get a unit with internal gps as a failsafe?


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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOCALAK907 View Post
    So I currently have an older icom radio installed in my boat that works well yet it lacks a dcs. For safety’s sake I would like to upgrade. Would love to hear everyone’s opinions. I have a nema network so I can hook into that and use my chart plotter or is it prudent to get a unit with internal gps as a failsafe?


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    You can also buy a newer icom vhf with DSC capability & hook it up to your plotter via nmea 0183 & save a hundred $$ or so on the radio. Nmea 0183 connections come with almost every garmin plotter & the icom manual shows you how to wire it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOCALAK907 View Post
    So I currently have an older icom radio installed in my boat that works well yet it lacks a dcs. For safety’s sake I would like to upgrade. Would love to hear everyone’s opinions. I have a nema network so I can hook into that and use my chart plotter or is it prudent to get a unit with internal gps as a failsafe?


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    Is your NMEA network NMEA0183 or NMEA2K?

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    Member KenaiFly's Avatar
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    For a fixed mount VHF, the absolute best feature value on the market today is the Lowrance Link-8 VHF with AIS, N2K and loud hailer for MARP $299. The same ICOM feature set is MARP $999. I have and use ICOM, install lots of Standard Horizon, avoid Cobra and Uniden, but would consider a Lowrance because of what is included for the price.

    If it's an N2K network, use a smart GPS antenna and that network to feed the chartplotter and radio with location info. The MFD acts as the backup if it has an internal GPS receiver. The radio GPS receiver does add to the cost. Money is better spent on a smart GPS antenna externally because of all of the other things that can be done.

    It has N0183 and NMEA2000 connections, so you are covered either way. Look us up, we'll hook you up....


    • Flush mountable Class D DSC fixed mount VHF transceiver
    • 25 W / 1 W transmission power
    • Built-in dual-channel AIS receiver with AIS plot functionality
    • Extra large, high resolution LCD display
    • NMEA 2000® connectivity plus NMEA0183
    • High quality fist mic with built-in speaker
    • MOB feature
    • Track Your Buddy option
    • Dual Watch / tri watch and all scan functions
    • PA/Hailer horn output with Listen Back Feature
    • 10 weather channel
    • 20 user programmable names with MMSI
    • Fully waterproof
    PolarMarine.net

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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    Sounds like a sweet set up.


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    Um, unless I am getting my terms mixed up, DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is not supported by the Coast Guard in Alaska. This is the little red 'Distress' emergency button. I was told that other vessels will receive the alert, but there is no network supporting this in Alaska. If you want to get Coast Guard emergency support, you have to verbally call them. I hope I am not spreading false information, but I am pretty sure this is true.
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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    Um, unless I am getting my terms mixed up, DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is not supported by the Coast Guard in Alaska. This is the little red 'Distress' emergency button. I was told that other vessels will receive the alert, but there is no network supporting this in Alaska. If you want to get Coast Guard emergency support, you have to verbally call them. I hope I am not spreading false information, but I am pretty sure this is true.
    I believe you are right about the DSC not currently working in Alaska, but I think that your position will still be broadcast with you mayday call to the USCG. If nothing else, once your dsc is registered & an MMSI # assigned, your boat should showup on the screen of any vessel with AIS.

    Not sure if this article from 2016 is on target, but maybe the USCG is catching up with DSC up here. https://www.adn.com/business/article...ss/2016/04/02/
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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    I have the Garmin 200 along with a Digital 529 antenna. It's a great radio. Seems to be very powerful and I haven't had any issues with it so far. Plus it networks easily with you there devices.
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    Every boat with properly configured DSC VHF radio that is in range would alert when a boater in the area activates the distress call button. The USCG continues to develop listening capability in AK. There may not be 100% coverage, but there are high-sites with ch70 listening capability. Simply saying that there is no USCG listing watch on 70 is not a good enough reason to poo-poo DSC capability onboard. Even if they are not listening, every other boater within VHF range is. And, all maritime VHF radios are now sold with class D DSC functions.

    Get an MMSI and connect the VHF radio to your NAV system. DSC works everywhere, even in AK. Good Luck.

    From Wikipedia...
    VHF digital selective calling also has other capabilities beyond those required for the GMDSS. The US Coast Guard uses this system to track vessels in Prince William Sound, Alaska, Vessel Traffic Service. IMO and the USCG also plan to require ships carry a Universal Shipborne automatic identification system, which will be DSC-compatible. Countries having a GMDSS A1 Area should be able to identify and track AIS-equipped vessels in its waters without any additional radio equipment. A DSC-equipped radio cannot be interrogated and tracked unless that option was included by the manufacturer, and unless the user configures it to allow tracking.
    GMDSS telecommunications equipment should not be reserved for emergency use only. The International Maritime Organization encourages mariners to use GMDSS equipment for routine as well as safety telecommunications.
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    Member KenaiFly's Avatar
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    Just wanted to add the most accurate info that I have, from USCG Nav Center, that describes DSC Rescue 21 coverage the USCG watch can hear through the repeaters on this map.

    As mentioned before, all of the other boats on the water with a DSC system connected properly will also show a DSC distress location on the chartplotter. We connect many of these systems together because I believe it increases the safety margin for all who are on the water. Everyone with a capable radio and nav system should go to the effort to enable full functioning of this feature.

    I hope that if I ever had to really get a distress call out, my first go is to initiate a DSC mayday so I can get to other things. Maybe later I would have some time to talk, or repeat because of not getting a location broadcast in the clear. The more boats that are capable of receiving this message, the greater the chances of someone getting the message and not having to write down some coordinates. It's easier to push a red button when needed, instead of going through a long voice comm protocol. Just some thoughts.

    And, there are some texting features that are going to hit the market that will allow texting to another VHF radio. The messages are 150 characters or less. I'm sure there will be a Bluetooth VHF radio with an app on the phone that allows easy messaging without cellular, but within VHF range. In fact, the app based MFD's on the market now could simply have an app to message through the VHF radio. That would be cool for buddy boating.
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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    So unbeknownst to me my father in law ordered me an icom M424g and installed it. I registered an MMSI and set it all up. Worked great and the gps matched my plotter. I still need to pick up the nema connections and all that but so far a great upgrade. Moving my antenna to the roof also awesome. I feel much better about the range it added. Any suggestions on where to pick up the nema connections?


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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOCALAK907 View Post
    So unbeknownst to me my father in law ordered me an icom M424g and installed it. I registered an MMSI and set it all up. Worked great and the gps matched my plotter. I still need to pick up the nema connections and all that but so far a great upgrade. Moving my antenna to the roof also awesome. I feel much better about the range it added. Any suggestions on where to pick up the nema connections?


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    Look at page 82 of your icom manual for dsc data output instructions & page 84 for nmea in/out leads. You're going to need to hookup a talker (white wire) from your vhf to a listener (yellow wire) on your plotter & a talker from your plotter to a listener on your vhf. Not knowing what your plotter is or has for wires, you'll need to look in your plotters manual for wire assignments. Go over to Frigid North & get a handful of 26-28 ga wire press fit connectors - they're cheap & you'll need them. BTW this is all nmea 0183 technology & it will get gps coordinates from other vessels into your plotter.

    Dumb question #1: did you program your MMSI # into your vhf??
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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akdeweyj View Post
    Look at page 82 of your icom manual for dsc data output instructions & page 84 for nmea in/out leads. You're going to need to hookup a talker (white wire) from your vhf to a listener (yellow wire) on your plotter & a talker from your plotter to a listener on your vhf. Not knowing what your plotter is or has for wires, you'll need to look in your plotters manual for wire assignments. Go over to Frigid North & get a handful of 26-28 ga wire press fit connectors - they're cheap & you'll need them. BTW this is all nmea 0183 technology & it will get gps coordinates from other vessels into your plotter.

    Dumb question #1: did you program your MMSI # into your vhf??
    Totally did. First thing still sitting in the driveway.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KenaiFly View Post

    If it's an N2K network, use a smart GPS antenna and that network to feed the chartplotter and radio with location info.
    Are the 'smart' antennas truly capable for optimal VHF -and- AIS functionality? Or are two antennas still the ticket?
    Man technology changes fast these days!

    Morad's 159 is both VHF and AIS

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    buy the Morad !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fuhrerak View Post
    Are the 'smart' antennas truly capable for optimal VHF -and- AIS functionality? Or are two antennas still the ticket?
    Man technology changes fast these days!

    Morad's 159 is both VHF and AIS
    When I bought my AIS transponder, I was told that AIS regulations require the transponder to have its own GPS & antenna. I'm running two separate antennas, Morad #162 for the AIS & Morad #156 for the VHF.
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    Perhaps rules have changed or Morad just has the technology available. I'm all about a single antenna with my small skiff.

    Pretty interesting to zoom around here:

    https://www.marinetraffic.com/

  18. #18

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    I just installed a Standard Horizon GX2200 that has it's own GPS,DCS and AIS for $304 online at the GPS store. It was easy to hook up to my Furuno VX2 plotter with 2 wires via NMEMA port 2. My plotter needed an input of 38400 was the main reason for the purchase. Now I have a backup GPS as well.

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