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Author Topic:   Standard-Horizon Hand Held HX870
jimh posted 10-30-2014 10:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Just today at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show another hand-held radio from Standard-Horizon, the model HX870, was introduced. The Standard-Horizon HX870 features:

--6-Watt transmitter

--DSC Class D compliance

--GPS receiver with 66-channel and SBAS augmentation with WAAS

--a 1.8-Ampere-hour Lithium-Ion battery

--and it floats!

The user interface includes a large dot-matrix display with 2.3-inch diagonal, and a new menu system said to be easier to learn and operate.

The chassis of the radio is die-cast, and the entire radio is rated as waterproof to the IPX-8 submersible standard (i.e., about 5-feet under water for 30 minutes).

The radio is supplied with both 120-VAC and 12-VDC chargers that can restore full charge in three hours. An alkaline battery tray for five AAA cells is also provided.

Like many Class-D DSC radios, the HX870 also provides some navigation computation functions, and can compute course headings to waypoints and similar navigation computations. The navigation computer can store 200 waypoints and 20 routes.

The GPS receiver has 66-correlators (often called "channels" in marketing literature intended for consumers) which should give improved performance. Time to fix for a cold start is improved with more correlators, and is rated for typically 60-seconds on a cold start. More correlators also permit better tracking and alignment to the GPS navigation code. The GPS receiver also can provide position, course, and speed data to the display.

The radio will output NEMA sentences DSC, DSE, GLL, RMC, GSA, DSV, and GGA sentences at 9600-bps via a USB interface. This is a somewhat unusual interface but may be very handy for use with laptop computers.

The radio actually contains several receivers:

--a VHF Marine Band receiver with scanning in a variety of modes;

--a dedicated DSC channel receiver for continual monitoring; and

--weather band receiver with weather alert decoder.

The Standard-Horizon HX870 radio will be available in mid-November and will have a minimum-advertised-price of $250.

jimh posted 11-01-2014 09:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
View of Standard-Horizon HX870 radio front panel
The new HX870 radio from Standard-Horizon.

The Standard-Horizon HX870 hand-held radio has a three button soft-key user interface. A sophisticated user interface like this began to appear on fixed mount radios only recently. A user interface like this on a hand-held radio is quite unusual.

jimh posted 11-02-2014 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The image (above) does not show the mandatory DISTRESS ALERT transmission button. That button is located on the side panel of the HX870.

I confirmed with Standard-Horizon that there is not a conventional NMEA-0183 RS-422 interface on the radio. Output of data from the radio is via the USB connection, and is sent in NMEA-0183 sentences (as detailed above).

jimh posted 12-23-2014 04:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Standard-Horizon HX870 handheld DSC radio with GPS receiver appears to be in-stock now at many retailers and selling for around $250.
Teak Oil posted 04-29-2015 09:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
Anyone try one of these radios yet?

I am just about to order one and wanted to hear some first hand reports

jimh posted 05-05-2015 02:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I can't give you an endorsement based on my personal experience with t he HX870, as I have none. But based on my experience with Standard-Horizon radios in general, I would expect the HX870 to conform very well with the now-mandatory CLASS D digital selective calling capabilities required in portable radios to be sold after the sunset date of March 25, 2015.
timf posted 05-07-2015 02:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for timf  Send Email to timf     
I have an [HX851] which is quite different than the HX870. I have not used [the HX851] for communications yet, but appears well-built.

At least for [the HX851] there is no indication of a USB interface, but the manual describes a NMEA-0183 /4800 baud interface. There are 3 wires shown to connect to a chart plotter that I have not tried yet. It looks like a fairly standard serial interface with an input, output and signal ground.

The wires for the interface were not obvious and are in the charging base. You remove a couple small screws under the base to expose the interface wires. So, it seems the [HX851] radio needs to be in the base for the interface to be used.

jimh posted 05-08-2015 10:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A thread on PANBO has some first-hand reports about the Standard-Horizon HX870: standard_horizon_hx870_handheld_vhfgpsdsc_powerhouse.html

Read it carefully, as some reports contradict earlier observations.

As I mentioned earlier in the discussion and confirmed with Standard-Horizon, the HX870 does not have a conventional NMEA-0183 RS-422 interface. Output of data from the radio is via the USB connection, and is sent in NMEA-0183 sentences. The owner's manual for the HX870 confirms this.

jimh posted 05-08-2015 12:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Standard-Horizon also appears to have created a computer application that can interface to the HX870 radio to program some features of the radio, for example, an MMSI call directory. The application runs under the Windows-family of operating systems. It can be downloaded from the Standard-Horizon website.

The computer application can also extract logged information from the radio, perhaps track points or other data.

jimh posted 05-08-2015 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The data sent by the radio on the USB port is in the NMEA-0183 sentence format, and there should not be a problem with using that data, except for the problem of the physical and electrical and protocol of the USB serial connection.

There are many USB-to-Serial hardware conversion devices, but most of them are intended to be used on the computer side of a connection to a conventional serial data interface that uses RS-232 or RS-422 standards. I don't know if an interface like that would work as a stand-alone device. For example, could a USB-to-Serial hardware device just be connected to the USB port of the HX870, and then produce an RS-232 output of any data sent? I am not very familiar with the details of the USB bus and the usual conventional methods employed. I wonder if the radio has power at the USB connector to power an attached USB device. That would be the first step.

[UPDATE: I doubt that a USB-to-serial device could be employed as I described above. These devices expect to be connected to a host USB port, and the port on the hand held radio is probably a remote port, that is, it also expects to be connected to a host port.--jimh]

timf posted 05-16-2015 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for timf  Send Email to timf     
I got the HX870 last night and played with it a bit. There are no hidden serial wires in the charging base. There are only two contacts for charging.

It is nice the firmware can be updated through the USB port, and I did that.

There is also a configuration utility so you can configure it with a PC, which is somewhat easier than through the radio.

As others have said, compared to the HX851 the display is better and the interface is easier to use.

jimh posted 05-17-2015 07:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
According to some other on-line comments, I believe you can enter the MMSI into the radio using the computer configuration application. It was reported that in some earlier versions of hand held radios from Standard-Horizon the configuration application has the ability to change the MMSI in the radio at will, but in the present radio and application software, I believe that is no longer possible. The MMSI will be a one-time setting function.
timf posted 05-18-2015 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for timf  Send Email to timf     
Yes, I used the computer application to enter an MMSI number in the HX870. Made it easier as it can be pasted in.

After that it showed it grayed out and not changeable. My understanding is that standard Horizon does not publish instructions to change it and it would need to be done by the factory.

I'm guessing it may be the same process, but this is what I was told by customer support when asking about changing the MMSI on the HX851.


"The MMSI numbers in our radios are semi-fixed. If your local dealer is unable to remove the number it will have to be sent in to our service center. If the radio is out of warranty, there is a $14 fee plus the cost of return shipping. If it's in warranty (verified by a copy of the receipt) then your only cost is the cost of shipping it to us. We only cover shipping costs (for radios in warranty) from our facility to addresses in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada only.

Send the radio to the following address:
Standard Horizon
Attn: Marine Repairs
6125 Phyllis Drive
Cypress, Ca 90630

CNorm posted 06-29-2015 07:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for CNorm  Send Email to CNorm     
A few comments after working with the HX870 quite a bit:

Correct, no conventional RS-232 or RS-422 output. The supplied standard mini-usb cable plugs into the radio body (not base, like older HX851). Then you can run a variety of programs including VisualGPS and see in real-time your selections of 7 sentences. That includes DSC & DSE sentences. Or, you can have the 870 store sentences in its memory and download them later (with the PC program).

The Class D feature works great. Can be listening to anything, like the weather, and it will be interrupted if a DSC call comes to you (including distress).

I copy/paste MMSI #'s, boat names and coordinates all the time with the PC program on the web.

I heard the FCC may relax the current requirement of forcing a new owner to send their radio in to have a new MMSI re-entered. We may get lucky, and Standard Horizon may upload such a program (or modify the existing PC program).

I also would like to point out there is new firmware (v1.11) which adds a few good features. That is on the SH website for this radio's files.

I like this radio so much, that I've started up a yahoogroup dedicated to exchange experiences and ideas specifically for this model. Once you join it, you can read the archived messages (but you need a free yahoo account). Click below to check it out and subscribe, if you wish:

jimh posted 06-30-2015 11:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I heard the FCC may relax the current requirement of forcing a new owner to send their radio in to have a new MMSI re-entered.

That would be good fodder for another discussion, perhaps an additional comment to the thread about MMSI assignments. See

MMSI: Where and How to Get One

Perhaps you can post to that thread and tell us your source of information.

rogerblack posted 07-24-2015 05:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for rogerblack    
Hi. Anyone know what the differences are between firmware versions 1.11 and 1.13 which is the latest on the SH website?

Also, is this firmware update OK for the HX870E (UK/European model)?


jimh posted 08-01-2015 08:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I strongly recommend you contact Standard-Horizon technical support. Standard-Horizon has excellent technical support, staffed by very knowledgeable people, and they are very good about providing information to customers. I would rely on Standard-Horizon technical support to provide the answers to your questions in preference to other sources.

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