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Author Topic:   VHF Radio: Color Choice
jimh posted 04-05-2007 10:51 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I plan to buy a new VHF Marine Band radio soon. I am in two minds about which color to order: white or black. Here are my thoughts:

A white radio may make more sense if mounted out in the open. It won't get as hot in the sun as a black radio. The white color blends somewhat with the boat's color, although a pure white radio is something of a clash with the nice Desert Tan gel coat color of my classic Boston Whaler boat. But white shows the dirt more, and often the display is harder to read because of the glare from the white surround.

A black radio looks a bit "cooler" to me, but I worry about it getting really warm in direct sunlight. If the radio is bracket mounted, a black radio really makes a big hunk of stuff sitting on a light colored console.

My current radio is mounted in the cabinet below the helm console, so it is not really visible or in the sun. I do miss being able to see the radio display more clearly. For this reason I am thinking of mounting the radio atop the console or in some position where it is more visible. It is very unlikely I will flush-mount the radio, as I am very averse to cutting a large opening into the console laminate.

I would be interested in reading your thoughts on the choice of color for a radio. The model I plan to buy is available only in white or black (which is a very dark gray, actually, I think).

SpongeBob posted 04-05-2007 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for SpongeBob  Send Email to SpongeBob     
Jim I like white because it's easier to see in low light or darkness (trying to find a lose black mike in the dark could be a challenge). The glare really dosen't bother me. The black and heat build up would worry me also, not to mention grabing a black mike that had been sitting in the sun. I would like to go to a black box radio and a RAM mike (in white).


Tom W Clark posted 04-05-2007 11:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I really think you should buy the color that strikes your fancy. I have to believe that either color of radio will perform to your expectations and endure at least until you have identified a newer and fancier model that you just can't live without.

David Pendleton posted 04-06-2007 12:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I'd go with black (although my radios are grey).

White is okay, but is better suited to kitchen appliances I think.

I seem to remember you saying once that you were an iCOM fan, Jim. Many dealers are currently selling the (discoutinued?) M602 with Commandmic at very attractive prices.

I seriously considered upgrading when I saw that, but I need weather curtains next...

WT posted 04-06-2007 12:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
I have a white ICOM radio but I'd get black or gray next time. White shows the dirt more and glare from the sun is a bummer.

The 2006 NEMA award winner was the ICOM M504 which comes in black or gray.


Peter posted 04-06-2007 07:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I just bought a Standard Horizon Spectrum-X (GX1500S) Class D VHF radio last weekend and went through the same "painful" decision making -- black or white. After much deliberation, I chose black for two reasons: 1) the old Standard Horizon radio was white and I wanted a change and 2) black hides the dirt better. The radio is mounted in the cabinet below the helm so it is never in sunlight. Unlike the Revenge 22, the door on the cabinet on the 27 Whaler is a plexiglass slider which can be left open while underway.

With respect to the desire to see the display, I suggest that you consider a radio model that can accept a second station RAM microphone and mount the RAM microphone somewhere on the helm. I did exactly that with my Revenge 22 a few years ago. See photo here ==> 294928803711123144/1 . This will eliminate the need for a separate speaker. Of course this will lead to another difficult decision -- black or white.

bluewaterpirate posted 04-06-2007 08:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Black .........
jimh posted 04-06-2007 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
While still in bed this morning I was thinking over the radio color decision. It occurred to me that most of the other recreational boat electronic devices like a SONAR or a GPS are in dark gray or black enclosures. The radios are about the only device offered in a white enclosure. I think I will go with the dark gray or black choice.

Peter---very interesting that you mention the Standard-Horizon GX1500S radio, as that is the one I (currrently) plan to get.

Peter posted 04-06-2007 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Jim -- I have and have had both Standard Horizon and ICOM VHF radios over the years. Both are good but I like the Standard Horizon line better. I was sold on this model for three reasons -- Class D, a rotary knob for channel selection and menu control, and it was cheap ($137). The nearest equivalent in the ICOM brand is the 504 and its much more money. I would characterize the black as a charcoal black, not dark gray.

In hindsight, if choosing again, I would have gone with a black CommandMic on my Revenge 22.

Bella con23 posted 04-06-2007 09:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
I chose the black Icom 422 for it's ability to "hide" behind the smoke glass console cover of my hardtop. It had a outdated white Standard Horizon that was quite visual from the dock.
jimp posted 04-06-2007 10:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
jimh -

My iCom is black... but I keep it covered with a Pacific Blue Sunbrella cover that I made. All my electronics get covered when not underway as it protects them from prying eyes, moisture, dirt, etc.


jimh posted 04-06-2007 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The VH-310 microphone option is a good choice. You get a full keypad to enter MMSI numbers.
Livingwater posted 04-06-2007 08:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Livingwater  Send Email to Livingwater     
I bought black. It hides the dirt better and usually won't discolor from the ultraviolet rays

Black also shows better on an all white, off white console

Frank O posted 04-07-2007 12:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
For what it's worth, I went with black when I installed a Standard Horizon GX1500S a few months ago:

On the other hand, the boat's previous owner went with white for the older Standard Horizon model that this replaced.

Now I just need a black stereo to sit next to it ...

jimh posted 04-07-2007 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Frank--To change subject slightly, what model of Boston Whaler boat is shown in your photograph? I love that console layout. And with the black dashboard panel, the dark radio is a natural.

My boat, a REVENGE, has a small dashboard panel already crowded with gauges, so there is no way to mount the radio to it. You can see the situation in

where there are some photographs.

Frank O posted 04-07-2007 11:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks for the comment, Jim. This is the 1995 Outrage 21 that I bought last June. Post-classic though it may be, I'm really enjoying it.

Incidentally, to expand on the comment about the stereo. To tell the truth, I'm not a big one for music out on the water, so upgrading the stereo isn't a big priority. The boat came with a unit installed on the console to the left of the marine radio and below the warning light and accessory 12-volt socket. It has a detachable face (detached in the photo), and appears not to work. If I could figure out something else to mount in that space I'd be happy to lose the stereo. The sticking point so far has been to find something with the same or a slightly larger footprint.

jmorgan40 posted 04-07-2007 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
If you remember I went with a white Icom 402 on the old Montauk since it was flush mounted in the console. I think it looked great. On the Outrage 20 I went with the ICOM 422 in black since it was mounted in the elctronics box on the T-top. I have to tell you if I did it over I would now go with the Standard Horizon GX1500S or the GX2360S. I think both are easier to use and the displays seem alittle easier to read. For your setup, I think I would still mount it in the lower compartment or the cabin and go with the Ram Mic. That is a nice setup for the Revenge and will keep the clutter down on the dash. Let us know what you decide.
Moe posted 04-08-2007 10:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Standard Horizon white is white. Icom "white" is pretty close to desert tan.

sternorama posted 04-09-2007 05:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for sternorama  Send Email to sternorama     
I bought the ICOM in white-looks great, but after a winter under cover the minor mildew that grows on everything is showing on the white mike cord. Maybe a black one wouldn't show this as much...
Chuck Tribolet posted 04-09-2007 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Whatever looks good.


ratherwhalering posted 04-11-2007 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for ratherwhalering  Send Email to ratherwhalering     
Jim, I agree with Peter

I suggest that you consider a radio model that can accept a second station RAM microphone and mount the RAM microphone somewhere on the helm.

If you have any old holes, such as lighter plugs, dead man switches, or unused instrument cut-outs, a remote RAM microphone is a great addition to the helm area.

When I repowered my Montauk, the new ignition switch had an engine shut off switch integrated into the ignition switch. The old OMC stand alone mounting plate was unused, so I simply stuck a RAM microphone adapter in it. It looks like it was made for this application!

I selected black because it looked better with the existing instruments and electronics. I can easily remove the mic when not in use by simply unplugging it. ?action=view¤t=100_0504.jpg

Jefecinco posted 04-18-2007 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     

I vote for black. My white Icom is now yellow and has been since it's second year. Perhaps it's the South Alabama heat under the mooring cover. My boat is covered except when in use or being cleaned or otherwise maintained.

The yellow is not very attractive.


BellBoyBob posted 04-22-2007 01:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for BellBoyBob  Send Email to BellBoyBob     
I bought the Icom 402a in black which mounts under the helm box of my 1960 BellBoy 404 Express cruiser. The entire boat including the helm box is an ivory colored gel-coat. All of the instruments are black-cased, switches, ram mount for the GPS - all black. I think it looks great. To have white against off-white, to me, looks unattractive. To each his/her own, though. Since the Icom is mounted under the helm box, it is out of direct sunlight. Is there a way to attach photos to these postings? I would be happy to provide one.
Roswell posted 04-22-2007 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
Is this an electrical question?
contender posted 04-22-2007 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Black or white what ever I get a deal on, and it works
highanddry posted 04-23-2007 12:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for highanddry  Send Email to highanddry     
My radio is gray. Best of both.


towboater posted 04-23-2007 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
I dont know how many VHF radios Ive literally worn out over the years.
Way back I would have said white and white only.

ALL of the radios I own now have lit dials and buttons and same channel return (if turned off or power shut down) even tho they cost a little more than the generic version of the same basic radio.

With that, black or white works.

FYI, channel 16 monitoring;
Most boats set up one radio near the helm/controls that can be easily seen and used while operating the boat.
Sometimes the MONITOR radio is a PAIN to place close and obstructs the instrument cluster.
Mount a same channel return radio out of the way and mount a external speaker somewhere. Put a toggle switch in line with either the monitor power or the ground wire and mount the toggle switch near the place you hang your primary radio mike. When you hear a call for you on the monitor, just shut the power off, switch your primary radio to that channel, reply. When done, flip the monitor back on.

The remote speaker/power switch also works great for boats that have dual helms that would need 4 radios, instead you can get by with 3.


jenkinsph posted 04-30-2007 01:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jenkinsph  Send Email to jenkinsph     

So what color did you pick?

off topic
Reading this thread brought to mind a vhf on a tugboat I used to perform maintenance on in the early 1970's. It was a Collins with a remote panel about 5" square with rolling thumb
wheel numbers and all 55 channels. The radio had slots for cards and was pretty good for its day. Ever see one of these?

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