Handheld VHF antenna

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dennisdl
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Handheld VHF antenna

Post by dennisdl » Sun Nov 07, 2004 9:08 pm

Looking at buying a "new" boat that is pretty much "bare"...
I am convinced that a handheld GPS like Garmin GPSMap 76 CS is more than adequate for what I need. If I'm wrong please tell me now, before I buy one... And I believe that it really doesn't need an external antenna. Again, am I right?? But handheld VHS searching has shown that Standard's HX350S is the top-rated waterproof radio but I can't seem to find an external antenna for it ??? Is one really necessary??
And while I am looking for "electronics" for this 'virgin', is a built-in AM/FM/CD really necessary - as compared to 'boom box' MP3, or IPOD's?

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Post by Rolf » Sun Nov 07, 2004 10:39 pm

GPSMap76 handheld is fine -- for backup. Get a Garmin 168 sounder/GPS for less than $500. As a backup radio, the icom m32 handheld can't be beat. I'm sure no-one will challenge my opinions.
Rolf

waternwaves
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Post by waternwaves » Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:02 am

Boom box, ipod, walkman, mp3 and every other portable device have one serious detriment to them.....

there is no guaranteed horizontal (at all times) surface on the boat where they will remain without series addition of velco, clamps, bungees, brackets etc to hold them in place. A panel mounted CD/radio, and panel and bracket mounted VHF tend to reside fairly well in there intended locations. during all aspects of seas.

I have notice that with my foulies on, life vest, whistle, strobe and an Icom lanyard tied into my life vest, even the small Icom pops off......occasionally.

An inside the cabin mounted radio is just one less thing to worry about ....

and I need to get up once an hour to change mess with the radios anyway. lol/

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norbert
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Post by norbert » Mon Nov 08, 2004 2:48 am

handheld gps is ok, no external antenna needed, but don't forget to purchase an adaptor to mount the gps on your pedestal or bulkhread. i have an old garmin 2+ which works fine in the cabin with the internal antenna. underway i clip it to the grip on the back of my sliding top.

vhf is different: a handheld will be enough if you sail on inshore lakes. it has 5w max power. if you are on the open sea you should consider a 25w fixed mount vhf with masthead mount antenna. i have a small handheld as well as backup. when singlehanding i attach it inside my pfd cover.

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:50 am

ww wrote:An inside the cabin mounted radio is just one less thing to worry about ....
Agree; however, you probably don't need to spring for the "marine" grade version as I did. It's waterproof; even the CD slot has a door that's sealed when closed, and designed so it could be mounted out in the rain. For that you pay a whole bunch extra.

I would say get an automotive stereo, and mount it in an intellgent location where it's unilikely to be splashed (or of course, immersed).

You probably want to go with the marine speakers though, at least for the cockpit.

My Garmin GPS 176C does not work inside the cabin, nor does the backup Geko 201. That tiny thickness of fiberglass attenuates the signal just enough to cause it to loose the satellites. Makes it a little iffy when the anchor alarm is set; I've heard it every time it's gone off (so far all false alarms) but someday I'll probably sleep through it. Guess a GPS antenna ought to be on "The List".

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:06 am

That's pretty amazing. The internal antenna on our Garmin 178C picks up a minimum of 7 satellites in the garage. That's with a drywall ceiling and two layers of shingles on the roof. The big door and small doors are all 2" insulated with steel on the inside and outside. However, because the WAAS satellites are low on the southern horizon, and the garage faces north, with part of the house behind it, the GPS can't pick up the WAAS signal.

For music, for starters we're just going to get a pair of those folding battery-powered speakers for the iPod.
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Moe

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Pouw Geuzebroek
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Post by Pouw Geuzebroek » Mon Nov 08, 2004 8:33 am

What is the difference between Marine speakers and normal Car speakers? Is it just an extra weather proof front cover or are the speakers themself also extra protected. So are the cones made of a special water resistant material or is it just the normal paper type?

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 8:49 am

Truthfully I don't know what's the difference; they have plastic grilles rather than metal, but that's all I know. The white painted metal grilles on my interior speakers are rusting right through the paint.

I do know that where mine are located, on the sides of the cockpit footwell just forward of the fuel lockers, that they have been doused any number of times without ill effect.

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Terry
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Toys

Post by Terry » Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:04 am

As far as having all your toys hand held, you have to weigh the pros & cons. It's like WaternWaves says, the more portable it is, the greater the likelyhood of loosing it overboard or to theft. Most of my toys are portable handheld, compass included.
I had the little bracket for my compass mounted on the starboard bulkhead beside the companionway door where I could read it from the helm. One day when I tacked from a reach to reach the mainsheet pulled the compass off it's little bracket and it went overboard ($170.00). I had to turn around and fish for it, it floats. Luckily there was a lanyard on it, I was able to get my boat hook into the lanyard after several attempts and retrieved it. Now I have a lanyard and carabiner attached to everything, and have them attached to fittings on the boat with the carabiners.
I also have the GPSMap 76CS and a handheld VHF both with carabiners. The 76CS is a very nice little unit, color display with 115 megs of internal memory, every whisle & bell you could wish for, the display is a might small though, but you can hook a cable to your notebook PC and have the maps displayed on the larger PC screen as well as the handheld unit. You will need an external antenna though, I have found that as soon as I take it below I loose some sattelite reception and if you use a notebook then you have to take it into the cabin unless you have a 20 ft cable connection. I have no idea how Moe gets any reception in the environment he descibes, mine won't even work properly near the house window, I have to go out onto the sundeck.
There is an upside to handheld portability though, I can take all my toys with me in the dinghy, on another boat, or in the car. More importantly though, and this is going to sound pretty chintsy, when the time comes to sell the boat, as long as it isn't attached to the boat, it doesn't have to be sold with it. I personally have a problem with people telling me all the options aren't worth anything when it comes time to sell, and since they don't think they are worth anything, then they can't have them. Portability allows me to keep all those worthless options for my next boat.
As far as the handheld VHF is concerned it looks likee I will have to eat the loss on the 25 watt installed version. The little handheld is okay if the other receive/sender is close by and in your line of sight, or in the dinghy, but that little 1 watt to 5 watt toy doesn't cut it when distance is great, For saftey reasons I plan to get an inside mounted 25 watt system with a mast top antenna installed next season, a worthless option..

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Post by Moe » Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:36 am

You might not recoup significant money from the accessories, but they CAN help your boat to sell faster.

The problem I have with handheld GPS/chartplotters is the small screen in rough water. I certainly can't hold it steady enough to read. Even with it mounted on a RAM mount, in rough water, your head is moving around in all directions, and I have to get close to the screen to read the small, high-resolution print, which causes two problems. One, the screen is moving through a wider part of your field of vision, so your eyes are moving more trying to follow it. Two, when you're up close, your eyes depth of field is decreased, so they're constantly having to refocus as the distance from them to the screen changes. This can be very fatiguing, plus it means my eyes are off the water longer trying to read the screen. A bigger screen lets you sit back further from it, with the associated advantages of doing so, and still read it. If you only boat on calm waters, these aren't problems.

If we ever sell either boat, I'm keeping the fixed mount GPS, because of its expense, and the expense of the BlueCharts that are tied to its serial number. I WILL leave the cabling I've installed AND the transducer (it's also a sounder) with the boat. All the next owner has to do is buy a similar unit and they won't have to buy and install a transducer. You could always do the same with a fixed mount VHF.

We DO pop the GPS off the mount and take it with us when leaving the boat. Disconnect one connector and loosen the mount knob.

We do leave the Icom 402S fixed VHF on board the open Whaler, without any anti-theft screws or anything that would make someone have to cause damage stealing it. Haven't lost it yet, and it's a lot cheaper to replace than the GPS/sounder.

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Moe

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:38 am

Terry wrote:I personally have a problem with people telling me all the options aren't worth anything when it comes time to sell, and since they don't think they are worth anything, then they can't have them.
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. Even if portable and state of the art when you bought them, by the time you get ready to move up, if the new boat doesn't already come with equal or better obsolete stuff, you'll probably want new stuff for the new boat anyway.

My non RAM or WHAM mike capable, non DSC built-in VHF, fours years old and bought new with the boat, has been marginally obsolete for at least two years, and is slated for replacement.

My Garmin GPS 176C, only two years old, though at least theoretically portable, has recently been discontinued by Garmin, and the newer units offer more capability for less money than I paid for it.

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dclark
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Post by dclark » Mon Nov 08, 2004 10:24 am

Pouw Geuzebroek wrote:What is the difference between Marine speakers and normal Car speakers? Is it just an extra weather proof front cover or are the speakers themself also extra protected. So are the cones made of a special water resistant material or is it just the normal paper type?
The only "true" marine speakers that I know of are the poly-planer speakers. The differance...water proof and a low magnetic field for minimal compass interferance.

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dclark
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Post by dclark » Mon Nov 08, 2004 10:30 am

I have a Garmin handheld and it works inside the cabin. I have a fixed mount that I normally use so it's more of a backup. Although if it was all I had, I think it would be fine. It's a good choice so start with that if you'd like.

I have a fixed mount VHF with a mathead antenna as well as handheld. The fixed mount gives me a lot of range, but it tough to use in the cockpit. If I'm with other boats and I'm actually talking, then the hand held is used...at least until the batteries die. Which brings me to the last point... the handheld stuff is fine as long as it has power. The rechargable stuff only lasts so long and throw-away batteries are a pain. I have a 12v adapter for the handheld GPS. Mount a few of the 12V outlet things, they come in real handy.

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dennisdl
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Post by dennisdl » Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:25 pm

Thanx for all the responses - on further checking around, I have found :
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??
Another nice feature is the built-in speaker - "Above the very large LCD display is the extremely loud waterproof speaker. Both the speaker and the entire radio may be submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes without damage to the radio (also known as a JIS-7 waterproof rating). "

GPS performance in the cabin may be impeded by carbon-fiber in the hull?! - In fact 'line of sight' and obstruction is very important to GPS's. Apparently, when hiking with a hend-held, tree cover above you can be impeding, let alone inside a cave, or grotto (??) - how about underwater??

For 'boombox', MP3, and Ipod's a friend recommended adding auxiliarry speakers through the headphone jack, with external power (battery or 12v. DC) - anybody know of "waterproof" (resistant?) versions of these ??

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Chip Hindes
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Post by Chip Hindes » Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:26 pm

dclark wrote:...the handheld stuff is fine as long as it has power. The rechargable stuff only lasts so long and throw-away batteries are a pain.
Agreed. My Standard Horizon HX250 handheld VHF (BTW, less than two years old and pretty much obsolete) has probably the best of all worlds: A rechargeable battery pack with both 120VAC and 12VDC adapters. The charger can be used with the pack in or out of the radio. There's also a separate battery pack which uses standard AAs. Normally I run it on the rechargeable pack, when that dies I switch over to the AA pack and put the rechargable pack on charge; takes only about 30 seconds to switch over. As soon as the rechargeable pack is ready I switch back to save the "backup" batteries; throwaway batteries can run into serious money over the long run.

The rechargable pack seems to last about 12 hours of continuous normal use (mostly standby), standard alkaline AAs quite a lot longer.

Recently I've done the cost of the standard AAs one better by investing in a handful of Lithium ion rechargable AAs. The charger for those requires 120VAC only, and IMO it would be pretty stupid to run the AC inverter just to charge a few AA batteries, so that's for shore power only. I haven't tried them yet and don't know how long they'll last; I might have been better off just buying another rechargable pack so I had two, but I can use the AA rechargables for other stuff.

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