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Author Topic:   Handheld VHF
merc125 posted 07-01-2007 03:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for merc125   Send Email to merc125  
I'm about to purchase a handheld waterproof rechargeable VHF and would like recomendations on the most economical and reliable units. thanks MartyD
oahuwhaler posted 07-01-2007 03:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for oahuwhaler  Send Email to oahuwhaler     
icom m34 $169 from West Marine and it floats!
No battery memory can be charged at anytime.
Over the LINE posted 07-02-2007 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Over the LINE  Send Email to Over the LINE     
Not a recommendation.

I wanted to pass on that I am less than pleased with the Standard Horizon HX270S. I was so happy with my last Standard Handheld I did not investigate the features of this one closely enough.

It does not have an easily adjustable squelch; the old one had a knob. I need to read the book better but the battery condition is not always shown. Lastly, it is easily accidentally turned on when transporting.

swist posted 07-03-2007 08:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
This is a very indirect recommendation but I bought a BOAT-US house brand "Shipwright" handheld VHF 20 years ago. It has seen all manner of use and abuse, and its original battery still holds a charge.

House brands are always made by someone other than the house, usually a well-known manufacturer. If I ever find out who made Shipwright electronics, I'd buy more without hesitation.

Whale1 posted 07-03-2007 09:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whale1    
I bought an Icom IC-M32 (the predecessor to the M34) and am very pleased with it. I also bought the battery tray that holds AA batteries just in case the main battery loses its charge. I have only needed it once but was happy to have it.

I always carry spare AA's in my boat bag for my handheld GPS, etc.

jimh posted 07-03-2007 04:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I bought this radio:

West Marine VHF250 Multiband Handheld AM/FM/Air/FRS/Marine

It is six radios in one:

--VHF Marine Transceiver
--FRS Transceiver
--NOAA Weather Receiver
--AM Broadcast Receiver
--FM Broadcast Receiver
--Aircraft Band Receiver


--JIS7 compliant
--Lithium ion battery
--AC and DC Charger and Cradle

The user interface is very straightforward. I learned how to use the radio without having to read the manual. Controls are well organized and display is good.

I got it at a terrific price in the dead of winter on a Manager's in-store special. I could not resist.

Moe posted 07-03-2007 09:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
We like the Standard Horizon HX270S. For me, a rechargeable VHF handheld has to have the capabilities of using an external antenna, as well as AA batteries as a backup. These are more important to me than DSC and NMEA, since where we boat, we're more likely to get a response to a voice distress call than waiting for an "ACK" with a digital one.

The HX270S came with a waterproof AA battery tray, but the external antenna pigtail was extra cost. It came with both AC and DC chargers, but only one cradle, so I bought a second, one for each charger to leave at home and in the boat. I also bought a nylon carrying case for it, and have never had it accidentally turn on while carrying it back and forth. We don't leave it aboard.

I generally prefer more knobs and dedicated buttons than menus, but don't find the squelch hard to use. Push the squelch button (below the PTT button), use the same up/down arrows you use to select channels to increase or decrease the squelch, then press the squelch button again (or wait until it times out and leaves that mode).

The battery indicator only shows up when the battery is getting low. There's a partially charged cell image, an empty cell image, then a flashing empty cell image when it's really time to charge. I've honestly never got it that low.

In general, I find a direct relationship between my satisfaction with a product and the amount of time I spend reading the owner's manual. In fact, I usually download the manuals of different brands/models of competing products prior to purchase to see which I might like best.


jimh posted 07-03-2007 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re the reliability of any handheld transceiver: it is inversely proportional to

--number of times it is dropped
--distance it falls
--hardness of surface it falls onto

cgaux posted 07-04-2007 01:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for cgaux  Send Email to cgaux     
Not sure the size of your boat and electronics you already carry, but, from the perspective of a main radio, I wouldn't rely on a VHF portable for anything but back up communications tool. If you have the ability to mount a fixed 25 watt radio somewhere on your boat I would explore that.

As a coast guard radio officer for over 14 years I can tell you of several stories of people that rely on portables (kayaks being one) as their primary communications link, they don't have good outcomes in fringe radio coverage areas. The batteries die, the antenna and radio don't have the capability to cut through the often loud chatter on channel 16 in distress situations. They also can suffer the same demise as a cellphone, a dead battery.

If you have limited room, there are units now that you can use a wireless mic and/or a remotely installed radio, both Standard Horizon and Icom manufacture such a product.

Be safe come back alive

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