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VHF handheld radio w/ GPS

1simplemann1simplemann Posts: 200 Deckhand
I asked this on the paddle craft forum. I probably should have asked it here. The wife asked me what I wanted for X-mas. Several ideas came to mind. Fish finder for my yak?. Possibly a Go Pro camera ? and then I thought about it some more. A good quality hand held marine radio would be nice safety item to have. Lorrance, Standard Horizon come to mind. I have little experience w/ either. Any suggestions w/ these brands or any others?

Replies

  • BobberBobber Posts: 943 Officer
    Handheld VHF transmitting from 3' above water level will have a very limited range, what distance are the potential receivers to your usual fishing grounds? What is the height of their reception towers? Nothing worse than a false sense of security when actually no one can hear you.
  • Split ShotSplit Shot Posts: 6,190 Admiral
    I grew up never hearing anyone in the back country. ZIP for electronics.

    We were lucky to have a Q beam with a battery that worked.

    Used to see a lot of scared people. Now mostly just stupid. :grin
  • JIMinPBJIMinPB Posts: 1,875 Captain
    If you get a GPS/DSC/Handheld:

    1) get one that floats
    2) try to find one that doesn't cut out the radio reception every few seconds when it reads GPS data. My Uniden has this problem unless I shut down the GPS/DSC function. Its irritating.
    3) Get one that is 6Watt. When you are low to the water & have a small antenna, you want all the help you can get if you do need to make an emergency transmission.
    4) when you register the MMSI number for the DSC function, register it with Boat US, not the FCC. A boat US number can be edited if you change boats & want to keep the radio. An FCC number is registered to one boat & one boat only. You only need a FCC number if you go international with the radio.
    5) The MMSI number can only be entered in a radio once, then it is locked in. You can't just change MMSI numbers at will. Be careful to enter it correctly the first time.
    6) Go to 26, or whatever the local auto-response frequency is in your area, & do a radio check when you get as far from shore as you plan to go, so that you know what you do & don't have for communications abilities. The coast guard has a test MMSI that you can ping to check DSC reception too. Usually, that number is listed in the paperwork that comes with a new radio.

    I like having the VHF, even on a yack. It lets me get weather forecast updates & it lets me hear what is going on with other boats in the area. I've gotten reports on everything from floating derelict naval mines to operation of experimental submersibles in my area on VHF 16.
  • 1simplemann1simplemann Posts: 200 Deckhand
    JIMinPB wrote: »
    If you get a GPS/DSC/Handheld:

    1) get one that floats
    2) try to find one that doesn't cut out the radio reception every few seconds when it reads GPS data. My Uniden has this problem unless I shut down the GPS/DSC function. Its irritating.
    3) Get one that is 6Watt. When you are low to the water & have a small antenna, you want all the help you can get if you do need to make an emergency transmission.
    4) when you register the MMSI number for the DSC function, register it with Boat US, not the FCC. A boat US number can be edited if you change boats & want to keep the radio. An FCC number is registered to one boat & one boat only. You only need a FCC number if you go international with the radio.
    5) The MMSI number can only be entered in a radio once, then it is locked in. You can't just change MMSI numbers at will. Be careful to enter it correctly the first time.
    6) Go to 26, or whatever the local auto-response frequency is in your area, & do a radio check when you get as far from shore as you plan to go, so that you know what you do & don't have for communications abilities. The coast guard has a test MMSI that you can ping to check DSC reception too. Usually, that number is listed in the paperwork that comes with a new radio.

    I like having the VHF, even on a yack. It lets me get weather forecast updates & it lets me hear what is going on with other boats in the area. I've gotten reports on everything from floating derelict naval mines to operation of experimental submersibles in my area on VHF 16.
    Thanks for the useful info. That's the kinda info I was looking for. Honestly, some of the stuff your talking about I have no idea what it is. DCS? I just need a floating radio w/ a GPS. I may have need to contact the Coast guard when I fish your waters but mostly I just wanna keep in contact with my fishing partner for safety sake plus a GPS to help find that deep hole or underwater structure that I/we found on our last trip etc. One thing I do know is that I want a good one. I have a set of $50 walkie talkies I'm pretty sure they won't hold up especially to salt water.
  • JIMinPBJIMinPB Posts: 1,875 Captain
    DSC is digital selective calling. It is a system that lets 2 VHF radios tell each other where they are using GPS coordinates. It basically means that you can let your buddy know your position by pressing a few buttons. A DSC radio also has a red button for distress. If you press the red button, the coast guard gets a message that you are in distress & they also get your GPS position instantly, assuming that everything is working correctly & you have signal reception.

    In order for DSC to work you need to register an MMSI number. That number identifies who you are when the distress signal goes out & also when you communicate with other boats via DSC.

    The VHFs that have built in GPS function are generally not very user friendly when it comes to using the GPS to navigate. If you are not interested in ever using DSC, you may find it easier to get a regular VHF & a separate GPS. The price difference usually isn't that much.

    Either way, if you get a VHF, floating is a nice feature. Standard Horizon is making some nice ones these days for relatively reasonable money.

    These days:
    Dead cheap VHF, low power, non-floating: $50
    OK VHF that floats: $100
    Basic hand held GPS: $100
    Better hand held GPS: $200
    Good VHF with GPS/DSC: $250
    Basic color bottom finder $100
    Basic color bottom finder with chart plotter (mapping GPS) $200

    If it were me & I only planned to call my buddy on the VHF & he was not likely to be more than 2 miles away, I would probably go for the bottom finder with chart plotter & dead cheap VHF, rather than spend the same money on a VHF with GPS. I would then put a lanyard on the non-floating VHF. A combo bottom finder and chart plotter is really a pretty nice asset, even if it is only a cheezy little 3" type. Even the $50 VHF is basically waterproof & holds up pretty well at sea.

    Also, these days, you don't need to apply for a radio station license for the VHF. All recreational boats on navigable waterways are now automatically licensed by rule. You should try to learn the appropriate jargon & you should learn which frequencies are allowed for which purposes. The radio should come with paperwork that explains all that.
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 21,070 AG
    JIMinPB gave you a very good and comprehensive reply.

    Since this is for a Yak I would guess that most of the time you will have cell phone reception.... so I would opt for the fish finder.

    If you do want the extra security of the VHF (can never be TOO safe)...I would look at ICOM...very high quality...and IMHO..quality is important in safety gear...It *MUST* work if you need it.
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 1,024 Officer
    Standard Horizon HX851
  • tijeretatijereta Posts: 231 Deckhand
    Years ago, before I had a cell phone( hard to imagine ), I had an external antenna with a long cable that could be attached to the handheld VHF. If needed I could strap the antenna to the push pole and hold it high, to get more range. Fortunately I never had to use it !
    Probably not practical for a yak.
  • Settin_HooksSettin_Hooks Posts: 237 Deckhand
    FusionZ06 wrote: »
    Standard Horizon HX851

    I will second this, I've had it on my flats boat for the last year or so and it works great. I picked up another battery just incase the main one dies. Has a bunch of features, I did quite a bit of research when I was looking and ended up with this.
    2006 Maverick Master Angler SOLD
    2016 Sea Hunt Gamefish 25
  • Bite 1Bite 1 Posts: 489 Deckhand
    Did that also thank God for 20 ft pushpoles back in the day. actually had to use mine in chocksville.
  • 1simplemann1simplemann Posts: 200 Deckhand
    JIMinPB wrote: »
    DSC is digital selective calling. It is a system that lets 2 VHF radios tell each other where they are using GPS coordinates. It basically means that you can let your buddy know your position by pressing a few buttons. A DSC radio also has a red button for distress. If you press the red button, the coast guard gets a message that you are in distress & they also get your GPS position instantly, assuming that everything is working correctly & you have signal reception.

    In order for DSC to work you need to register an MMSI number. That number identifies who you are when the distress signal goes out & also when you communicate with other boats via DSC.

    The VHFs that have built in GPS function are generally not very user friendly when it comes to using the GPS to navigate. If you are not interested in ever using DSC, you may find it easier to get a regular VHF & a separate GPS. The price difference usually isn't that much.

    Either way, if you get a VHF, floating is a nice feature. Standard Horizon is making some nice ones these days for relatively reasonable money.

    These days:
    Dead cheap VHF, low power, non-floating: $50
    OK VHF that floats: $100
    Basic hand held GPS: $100
    Better hand held GPS: $200
    Good VHF with GPS/DSC: $250
    Basic color bottom finder $100
    Basic color bottom finder with chart plotter (mapping GPS) $200

    If it were me & I only planned to call my buddy on the VHF & he was not likely to be more than 2 miles away, I would probably go for the bottom finder with chart plotter & dead cheap VHF, rather than spend the same money on a VHF with GPS. I would then put a lanyard on the non-floating VHF. A combo bottom finder and chart plotter is really a pretty nice asset, even if it is only a cheezy little 3" type. Even the $50 VHF is basically waterproof & holds up pretty well at sea.

    Also, these days, you don't need to apply for a radio station license for the VHF. All recreational boats on navigable waterways are now automatically licensed by rule. You should try to learn the appropriate jargon & you should learn which frequencies are allowed for which purposes. The radio should come with paperwork that explains all that.
    This is good info! Thanks. Are they easy to use? Any other brands to look at?
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