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Author Topic:   Standard Horizon v. Icom
Graphiterod posted 02-20-2009 10:01 AM ET (US)   Profile for Graphiterod   Send Email to Graphiterod  
I need to replace my fixed mount VHF this Spring. I don't need anything special. Just a basic VHF, with DSC.

Based on a number of threads, and even used boats for sale, a lot of owners install Icom. I have read a number of threads that Standard Horizon radios work well, durable and are a good value.

I leaning towards SH because they are $40 to $50 less expensive Is Icom that much better, and worth the extra money?

20dauntless posted 02-20-2009 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
I believe class D DSC is only available on the higher end (above the 422) Icom radios and Standard Horizon offers it on some much less expensive models.
Chuck Tribolet posted 02-20-2009 11:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Maybe they've fixed it now, but the Icom human factors sucked
a while back. To answer a DSC call you had to do a bunch of
stuff. With SH, you just pick up the mike and talk.

And the Icom required human intervention to answer a position
request call. The SH could be programmed to just answer
without intervention (or it could be programmed to require
the approval of the human if you don't want your buds knowing
where you are fishing today).


jimh posted 02-20-2009 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Compare the Standard Horizon GX1500S radio to others. It has Class-D DSC features. It has a better receiver than the low-end radios. It supports remote microphones. It has excellent transmit audio. It usually can be purchased for less than $150. I don't know of another Class-D radio in that price range. The closest ICOM radio with comparable features is about $75 more.
20dauntless posted 02-20-2009 07:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Just to add to what Chuck said...

I have an Icom IC-M422 on one boat. As a VHF it works great, although I think they all work just fine for basic functions. I have it interfaced with my Raymarine C80 for position data so I can push the distress button and have help on its way (I also carry a SPOT and will probably add a PLB this season). As far as using DSC functions...I've never tried. I did read the manual about it and nothing seemed easy.

Perhaps the Standard Horizon models are simpler to use, it wouldn't surprise me. I will add a class D radio sometime soon, and am inclined to go with the Icom IC-M504, but for no good reason. Perhaps it's because I've found Icom radios to be reliable over the years, but I'm sure SH are as well.

One last thing. I think we will see much better DSC integration with chartplotters in the next couple years. I think companies will start to take a systems approach so that you can control many of the DSC and advanced radio functions from your plotter, assuming you have their latest and greatest plotter. I'm keeping my eye on Garmin for this...

jimh posted 02-20-2009 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Standard Horizon has already taken the "integration" of a VHF Marine Band radio and a chart plotter about as far as one can: they make a device which combines both a radio and a chart plotter into a single instrument.

As far as being able to control functions on the radio via the screen of a chart plotter, I have to wonder how that will be possible. In general, interaction between devices such as a radio and a chart plotter are accomplished by the NMEA-0183 serial data connection between them. It is common now for there to be both a send and receive connection between a radio and a chart plotter. So it is possible for each device to send data to the other device. This provides a framework for the radio to accept data from the chart plotter and vice versa. However, there are limits to this communication.

In general, when marine devices are connected using NMEA-0183 serial data connections, the data passed between them usually is in the form of NMEA sentences. In order for a device like a chart plotter to exert control over a device like a radio, the two devices would have to be able to generate, recognize, and respond to commands. For example, to tell a radio to tune to the frequency corresponding to VHF Marine Band Channel Six, the radio would have to be willing to listen for that command on its NMEA-0183 input. And the chart plotter would have to know how to send it. At the moment, I do not believe that there are any commands of that sort included in the NMEA-0183 standard sentences.

While the idea that one could control their radio via the chart plotter screen, perhaps even via a touch screen, is an interesting concept, in order to make it happen the two connected devices would have to be able to agree on a lot of new NMEA-0183-type communications and function. That might be likely if one company develops a proprietary approach to this. It may take longer if we wait for NMEA to develop a standardized data structure to be used.

Personally, I think it is a bit amazing already that chart plotters of different brands can be connected to radios of different brands and the two devices communicate fairly complex data between them. When you see a remote vessel position pop up on your chart plotter from data received via your radio, you are looking at a rather complex data communication event. From what I have seen, about 99-percent of boaters (at least in small boats) have yet to reach that level of inter-device communication between chart plotter and radio.

20dauntless posted 02-21-2009 11:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    

NMEA 2000 is the future, not NMEA 0183. Now, I don't expect control of radios from chartplotters to happen between different manufacturers, at least not at first. I think companies will better integrate products within their own product lines before they begin to do it across NMEA standards.

I think there would be a lot of value in better integration. Many VHF's allow a 'phonebook' of MMSI numbers for other boats. I don't have personal experience with this, but I've heard from others that it's a pain to scroll through all of these on a small VHF screen. If you could look through all of this information on a big, color chartplotter screen it would be a lot easier to use. I'm sure there are many other possibilities for better integration.

jimh posted 02-21-2009 12:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
NMEA-2000 is another standard by which marine devices can be connected and communicate. In MNEA-2000 all devices have to connect to a common bus or network, and because of this it is extremely important that all of the devices be compatible with each other. With NMEA-2000 networking, only certified devices should be connected to the network.

At the moment there are very few VHF Marine Band radios which have been certified for connection to a NMEA-2000 network. LOWRANCE has the only one I am aware of that is actually available, their LVR-880. GARMIN has announced a radio product which they say will be NMEA-2000 certified, but it is not currently available for sale. I believe it is promised for the fall of 2009.

In any case, shifting the interconnection to NMEA-2000 from NMEA-0183 does not substantially ease the problem of getting control of a radio via the screen of a multi-function display or other device. In fact, it makes it more difficult. Since a device on a NMEA-2000 network will be in common with all other devices on that network, any information it sends must not disrupt the other devices. Data on a NMEA-2000 network is provided in a format and referred to by its parameter group number or PGN. Thus using NMEA-2000 networking will require development of appropriate PGN data structures to implement control of one device by another.

I am not an expert on NMEA-2000 protocols, but in general I do not see that so far there are any PGN's which are used for controls. All NMEA-2000 PGN's are for passing information. For example, if there is an engine controller connected to a NMEA-2000 network, the engine can pass along information. It can tell you how fast it is running, for example. However, there are no current PGN's which allow you to control the engine. You cannot tell it via NMEA-2000 to increase its speed, or to decrease its speed, or to shut off entirely. This sort of function is not really in the scope of NMEA-2000 networking instrumentation.

The situation that is being proposed here by which one device, such as a multi-function display, can exert control over another device, such as a radio, when both are attached to a NMEA-2000 network is really outside of the general configuration of NMEA-2000 networking. As far as I can tell, there are no devices for control of other devices via NMEA-2000.

Perhaps there will be more development in this area in the future, and maybe we can expect NMEA-2010 or something like it to be announced.

In any case, all of this speculation about the future of VHF Marine Band radio integration and control by other devices on a network or by attached serial data devices does not really have a great influence on our present discussion about the comparison of ICOM marine radios to those made by STANDARD HORIZON. All of the radios made by ICOM and STANDARD HORIZON offer only NMEA-0183 connections, and support only a few standard NMEA-0183 sentences.

If it is desired to speculate further about future developments in marine electronics in which VHF Marine Band radios will be able to be controlled and manipulated by other devices, let's start a new discussion on that topic.

sternorama posted 02-23-2009 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for sternorama  Send Email to sternorama     
Icom very good. SH better: 3 year warranty, flat repair rate if needed. If there is a better warranty out there I haven't seen it. -G
95Outrage17 posted 02-23-2009 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for 95Outrage17  Send Email to 95Outrage17     
Just bought a Standard Horizon GX1500S yesterday at the Halifax Boat Show for my Outrage. I thought a long time about Standard Horizon vs. ICOM as I like my ICOM M2A handheld. I decided on the SH GX1500S for exactly the reasons Jim mentioned. I would have had to spend quite a bit more to get a comparable ICOM unit. Now I've just got to decide where I want to install it and the antenna setup I want to use.

- Chris

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