Handheld VHF antenna

A forum for discussing topics relating to MacGregor Powersailor Sailboats

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Catigale
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Post by Catigale » Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:59 pm

I have been sailing inland rivers only, but this year did my first foray onto blue tinged (not quite blue) water..

WIlson NY to Toronto 35 miles across Lake Ontario
Woods Hole to Nantucket via Vineyard Haven (about 45 miles total, but maybe 15 miles open sea)

For this sailing I went with the following combo:

Garmin 76CS as My primary GPS interfaced to the Standard Horizon DSC radio

My Garmin X45 was my back up GPS in my emergency gear.

Both of these units use the same power and interface cords, which was important to me.

For the handhelds, a good mount and lanyards are a must.

I run off house battery on board, but use Radio Shack NiMH batteries inside to prevent leakage and dead battery syndrome.

IMHO I think the GPS 76CS handheld is fine for viewing and sailing, if your vision needs help I would test drive the displays in the store.

I like being able to take the unit off the boat, which also means I can download trip info at home for my log.

Stephen

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dclark
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Post by dclark » Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:28 pm

dennisdl wrote:The Icom M32 does have an external antenna capability - to quote "The screw-on rubber antenna may be removed so an external connection to your ship or boat's marine VHF fixed-mount antenna for extra extended range at any power level." Anybody try this??
To answer your Q, No. To ask one of my own, why bother?

I mean think of it this way...In order to make use of an external antenna, it's going to need to be mounted up high (otherwise, what's the point?) so that probably means a masthead antenna (it makes the most sense by far). So now you are going to have a coax-cable running into the boat somewhere so that you can plug in your handheld when you want to. Then as soon as you do that you in effect have a low powered fix mount radio. Either that or a lot of slack coax. When you are not using it that way, then you have what will probably be cables dangling somewhere. And all that is to what benefit? So you don't have to buy a second radio? But you can get a good fixed mount radio for under $200. If you shop, look for rebates, etc you can get one for about half that. So hence my question, why bother?

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Terry
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Worthless options

Post by Terry » Mon Nov 08, 2004 2:45 pm

Chip wrote:
Get used to it. Built in or portable, the average useful life of a piece of electronics appears to be no better than about four years. By the time you get around to selling the boat, the electronics are all obsolete anyway. They in fact are worth very little when you can pick them up on eBay for next to nothing.
So Chip, what about that luxurious 22" wheel or that 90 Hp engine, the extra large gas tanks, everything from that tiny little mod to the drawn out expensive ones. Some of the mods people do to their boats are nothing short of awsome, not to mention the cost and labor involved. I still have a problem with those who have no appreciation for the love and labor that owners put in to their pride & joy (Boat)
Moe wrote:
You might not recoup significant money from the accessories, but they CAN help your boat to sell faster.
Yes, it may sell faster & hopefully to the highest bidder, I want at least a partial return on my investment, over and above the use enjoyment.

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:39 pm

Terry wrote:So Chip, what about that luxurious 22" wheel or that 90 Hp engine...
You seem to want to turn this into a general rant, while I was talking about electronics specifically. I stand by my claim that four year old electronics are, in most cases, obsolete and worth little or nothing.

Not so for some other "improvements". Though, since you brought it up, in general most are in fact not even close to worth what you paid for them.

Truthfully, I haven't once looked at a mod or option I'm planning to add with the idea as to what it's going to do to the resale value of my boat. My mods are for my use and my convenience, period.

I don't now nor have I ever viewed my boat as an investment. If I did, common sense would be telling me to get out and put my money instead in beachfront property in Kansas.

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:09 pm

Here we are today, with DSC being the latest thing in VHF radios. Given the number of new cellphones with e911 GPS chips in them, I suspect the next generation of marine VHFs won't require hookup to a GPS to give your position in a distress call. It will be built-in. While this won't be a big deal for fixed units, which are usually hooked up to a GPS, it will be a major benefit for VHF handhelds, considering their use in life rafts.

I don't think it'll be long in coming.

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Jeff Ritsema
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Post by Jeff Ritsema » Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:43 pm

Dennis,
Regarding VHF:
I note that you are from British Columbia; by that I assume you will be sailing in some open water and need some range for your VHF. If so, I would encourage you to consider a fixed mount VHF with a masthead antenna- the only safe way to go. I started with a new boat this spring and elected to add the WHAM remote to my VHF and have loved it. This is a wireless remote handheld radio that works off the fixed VHF and is
capable of long range via the masthead antenna. I also have a standard handheld VHF as a backup, for use around the marina, and for those times when the wife is ashore and I"m on the boat (serves as good walkie-talkies).
Regarding the GPS issue: I'm with Moe on this- I've had a hand held GPS for years and added a fixed mount GPS/Chartplotter/Fishfinder/depth meter/ knotmeter/ water temp/- you name it all in one instrument, all in a small package that is easily mounted on the pedestal. Mine is the Garmin 188C. Little pricey, but when you consider all the functions that today's electronics offer in one package it might actually be very cost effective to go that route from the onset. I have been very pleased with this setup.
My handled GPS is stowed below and is not being used, though, again, having a backup GPS is great if your offshore at all.
Hope this helps
Jeff

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:04 pm

Moe wrote:Here we are today, with DSC being the latest thing in VHF radios.
Exactly my point. Four years ago when I bought my VHF new with the boat, I didn't even know there was such a thing as DSC and I'm pretty sure it wasn't even an option. My non-DSC VHF is four years old, and at least two years obsolete. Buy a non-DSC radio today and it's obsolete already.

In four years, we'll probably say the same thing about DSC VHF radios without built in GPS.

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Post by Catigale » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:12 pm

Couple of things

VHF with GPS built in is here - its about $400 at BoatUS. Of course, you can buy them separate for 1/2 of this.

All of this DSC stuff is great, but I still dont think anyone is listening for this yet..please correct me if Im wrong on this.

Dont use VHF on land as you can get into trouble with John ("I dont need no steenking Constitution") Ashcroft. Better to use FRS for chit chat, although you can get a VHF and FRS in one unit too.

Catigale

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Post by J Dower » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:15 pm

and what about using the handheld in the car, anybody know the legality of that ?

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:32 pm

If the car ain't on a ferry, then it ain't legal.

Everyone who has a DSC-capable radio within your transmission range is listening. And while that may not yet include your local part of the USCG network, it doesn't preclude the local unit from having DSC on their base station or boats. Newer rigs on SeaTow and TowboatUS could have it as well.

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:12 pm

There are actually quite a number of legailities involved. I'm paraphrasing these from memory so if others can contribute please do so.

You may use your marine VHF only on your boat while in U.S. waters. Licensing is not necessary.

As soon as you set foot ashore, you may no longer use your marine VHF, handheld or otherwise. In order to operate a fixed, shore based VHF you need a license. Not sure but I believe these are a pretty goo sized chunk of change.

I believe but I'm not certain that you technically may not use your marine VHF in your boat, when the boat is docked. I know for certain you may not use it while the boat is ashore (such as as on the trailer).

As soon as your boat leaves U.S. territorial waters, you need an FCC license to operate it. The license costs a few bucks, I believe it's $50, but there's nothing involved other than filling out the appropriate paperwork. To be honest I've never heard of this being enforced.

The license is good for one radio (at a time), on one boat. So you can use either the fixed radio or the handheld, but not both at the same time (though I admit that's a technicality).

The license belongs to the owner and the boat. It is good for the boat you register it for. You can't transfer the license to another boat, so technically you need a separate license to operate the handheld on your dinghy, and you cdertainly can't talk from the fixed radio on your primary boat to the handheld in the dinghy.

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:43 pm

The FCC's Ship Radio Stations page.

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:11 pm

Getting back to the issue of connecting a mast top antenna to a handheld VHF... don't forget cable loss.

Using 50 feet of low-loss RG-8X (Belden 9258), at 162MHz, and assuming a good SWR of 1.2:1, there will only be 3.3 watts out of that handheld's 5 getting to the antenna (1.76db loss).

And yes, that means for 25W, only 16.3 is getting to the antenna with 50' but if you mount the fixed unit in the cabin, that's more like 40' and 17.9W getting through.

[on edit] Corrected some math errors.
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Post by Jeff Ritsema » Tue Nov 09, 2004 10:06 am

Moe,
The WHAM implies remote, so there is no cabling between the base fixed unit and the handheld. You're probably aware of that but I wasn't sure by your post. Thanks to you and Chip for making me aware that the latitude I thought I had of using both the base unit and a handheld "off the boat" was illegal. Why am I not surprised? Another reason to wear my trenchcoat on a hot summer day, I guess.

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Post by Duane Dunn, Allegro » Tue Nov 09, 2004 11:11 am

The WHAM is way cooler than the RAM although as some have mentioned what happens if you drop it over board. West marine now has a less expensive house brand version.

I still think the Standard Horizon HX471S is still the coolest handheld out there but the price is way out of line. It's a VHF, FRS, AM, FM, and Aero radio all in one. It's got full DSC and all the other acronyms. How does one hook a hand held to a GPS and is it still portable then?

I cheaped out and just went with a $79 Uniden handheld at the pedestal. It's the one VHF that get's used mainly to talk to marinas when arriving. We never turn on the fixed station down below any more.

Our most used radios on board are our GMRS/FRS ones. With the upper GMRS channels you don't get near as much traffic and the range is far better than our previous FRS ones. The security codes work great too. Get the highest watage ones you can find for the best range. I see now motorola is now making water resistant GMRS radios but they to are over priced for a few extra rubber gaskets. We have 4 GMRS radios in a nice nautical yellow color. I bought them in pairs at Best Buy for $15 a set. Hard to beat 4 radios for $30.

We used our VHF in Canada with no issues. Just switch to the canadian bands. There don't seem to be any license police out there for visiting boats and I believe there is a 45 day exemption for US boats.

In the Puget Sound / BC inside passage area you actually don't need much power and height at all. Because of all the tall hills and mountains right near shore the coast guard towers are way high. You can reach them easily on low power with a normal hand held from almost anywhere. They easily cover all the areas. The only place so far we have had no reception at all, even of weather channels, was up in Princess Louisa inlet. None of the big boats with masthead antennas had any either. About what you would expect up at the end of a narrow zig zaging 35 mile fiord where we were anchored with mile high vertical cliffs on each side of us.
Last edited by Duane Dunn, Allegro on Tue Nov 09, 2004 11:32 am, edited 4 times in total.

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