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Author Topic:   RADIO: Fixed Mount VHF vs Hand Held
SteviLad posted 04-01-2004 06:58 PM ET (US)   Profile for SteviLad   Send Email to SteviLad  
Is there a signifigant difference in range or quality between a fixed mount 25-WATT VHF Marine Service transceiver with a short (3-5 Ft) antenna vs a good handheld? If you're rarely going offshore?
Sal A posted 04-01-2004 07:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
I have both. An SH Quest[a brand?] and a small Uniden. The stated range of the Uniden is 5 miles, but I suspect it is less than that. Boats with the big 8-foot antennas mounted logically probably have a range of 15-20 miles.

If you are never ever going far, I am sure the handheld is fine, provided you have spare batteries. Unless you drop it overboard while hoisting in a nice fish. Or your son drops it and it breaks. You get the picture. I don't see it as a luxury but rather as a safety necessity. Get both in my opinion. Redundancy in electronics in a marine environment is not a bad thing.

craig posted 04-01-2004 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for craig  Send Email to craig     
Another option for smaller boats is to have a handheld VHF and also an external 3 - 6db gain antenna mounted on board for the times you are traveling offshore. The difference in range between a 5 watt handheld and a 25 watt fixed mount vhf is neglible assuming both are using the same antenna. Make sure the VHF you buy is submersible to JIS7 standards. :)
jimh posted 04-01-2004 08:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Moved to this forum]
jimh posted 04-01-2004 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I strongly recommend installing a quality 25-WATT VHF Marine Radio transceiver with a good antenna and an external loudspeaker.

By the way, use of a handheld radio when not on a boat is technically not authorized.

The Coast Guard as an excellent website with good information on radios:

SteviLad posted 04-01-2004 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteviLad  Send Email to SteviLad     
Thanks for all of the replys. Lots of good comments!
Sounds like a fixed mount VHF is cheap insurance for all of the "stuff" that can happen when you're out there.
The handheld probably is a good back up, instead of your primary VHF source.
Sal DiMercurio posted 04-01-2004 11:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
I agree with Jim.
Coming from a commercial fishing back ground, there's absolutly no comparison between a 5 watt hand held & a 25 watt fixed.
If you ever need help & your stuck with a hand held, you just might not be heard.
To put a 3' antenna on a 25 watt radio is nuts.
To do so shows your only interested in looks, not function.
SteviLad posted 04-02-2004 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for SteviLad  Send Email to SteviLad     
The 3-4 Foot antenna was recommended by the dealer, so that it would be able to fit under the Bimini top.
It was more of a practical suggestion, rather then a cosmetic one......& totally understandable, ....even though the range may not be as great as with a large antenna.
Sal A posted 04-02-2004 05:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
Pardon me. Standard Horizon Quest.
SpeedBump posted 04-03-2004 12:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for SpeedBump  Send Email to SpeedBump     
Now I am a bit confused about antenna length. A number of threads have indicated a good antenna length for the 16'7" hull is a 3'- 4' whip antenna mounted on the side rails or the consol crook if the boat is equiped with one.

For years I have used a standard horizon HH and have recently purchased a SH Quest for my Nauset for trips further off shore. WIll ocntinue to carry the hand held Horizon for back up and was going to use a 3'SS Whip on the aft end of the stern rail mounted on a ratchet base for the Quest. The decision for the 3' was not cosmetic but utility as I don't care for an 8'er flapping around and the 3'er can remain raised but still be out of the way while fishing more so than an 8'er.

How much range will I lose using a 3-4'antenna over an 8' antenna?

jimh posted 04-03-2004 01:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
At the distances involved in typical Marine VHF Radio communication, the length of the antenna plays no part in the signal strength. The height of the base of the antenna is the most important factor.

If the base of a 3-foot antenna is the same as the base of a 9-foot antenna, in almost every radio circuit you could anticipate using on a small boat they will work as well.

Antennas do not magically increase transmitted power. They only increase the effective radiated power (ERP) in the main lobe of their pattern. Any antenna that produces gain in the main lobe does so at the expense of reducing strength in other directions.

On a small boat bobbing around in waves, there is no guarantee that the main lobe of a high-gain antenna will be oriented in the direction most favorable to you for a particular radio circuit.

Just about all marine radio antennas in the form of vertical radiators have, or hope to have, a uniform radiation pattern in the horizontal plane, and achieve their gain by altering the pattern in the vertical plane. If their pattern becomes too narrow, the pitching of the boat in the waves results in the main lobe being aimed either into the sky or into the water, instead of at the distant horizon.

Shorter antennas have less gain, but a broader pattern, and are not as likely to produce situations where the main lobe of the pattern is not aimed at the horizon.

In the distances involved in typical marine radio circuits, the transmitter power (25-watts) is more than adequate to provide a good signal to the distant receiver, if the antenna directs the power properly toward the distant receiver.

Also, antennas whose base is mounted near other objects are more likely to have their horizontal pattern distorted and may not transmit equally well in all directions. A shorter antenna whose base is mounted higher and more in the clear will be more likely to produce the desired uniform horizontal pattern of radiation.

Sal A posted 04-07-2004 05:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
I like this idea for a backup, just because we all already bring enough "stuff" to the boat.

Florida15 posted 04-07-2004 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Florida15  Send Email to Florida15     
Sal, that looks like a nice unit but I usually shy away from "combo" products like that with the rapid change in technology these days. If there is a big change in technology in the GPS (like WAAS a few years ago), you are stuck with it unless you want to throw away your radio too.
Reminds me of the combination TV/Radio/Flashlight I saw at
Sam's Club the other day. If the TV and radio go out, you're stuck with a 10 pound flashlight. :)

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