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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Installing Older VHF Marine Band Radio
|Author||Topic: Installing Older VHF Marine Band Radio|
posted 11-21-2014 02:55 PM ET (US)
I have a new old stock Standard Horizon PS 2000 VHF radio. This is a discontinued model that has DSC capability, and mounts inside the center console. The microphone has all the controls to operate the radio. Members of this forum seemed to think highly of this model. The question is whether to install this radio, or go with a current model. I don't have a chart plotter. My GPS is an old Garmin 76. We very seldom operate on the ocean. That's my excuse for procrastination. I would appreciate input from members. It's unclear to me whether there is a simple "plug and play" interface for electronics now. I know there are claims of simplicity, but threads here seem to suggest that there's a bit more to it. Thanks
posted 11-21-2014 04:32 PM ET (US)
If it works, I would go with it and use the money you saved toward a chartplotter. I doubt if you'll ever have a need for the DSC capability, but having a decent chartplotter pays dividends as to finding your favorite fishing hole or avoiding rocks.
posted 11-22-2014 10:45 AM ET (US)
The Standard Horizon PS-2000 radio is described here:
As noted above, the PS-2000 is a DSC radio and is qualified to CLASS-D rating. This is a great advantage for you because the FCC has recently required that all VHF Marine Band radios with DSC features must be CLASS-D rated, otherwise they cannot be manufactured, imported, offered for sale, or installed in the USA. See more details in this prior discussion:
So, by all means, you can install and use this fine Standard-Horizon radio. You will want to interface the radio to a GNSS receiver, typically a GPS receiver, and you will need to use a NMEA-0183 interconnection. When you purchase a new chart plotter it will very likely have an internal GNSS receiver. Be certain the chart plotter has a NMEA-0183 interface--just about all chart plotters have such interfaces, but it pays to verify this before buying one.
You will have to interconnect the chart plotter and the radio using NMEA-0183 wiring and protocol. This can be extremely awkward for some boaters who don't attempt to give any thought to the process and often rely on poor advice, but it actually is not particularly difficult to accomplish. And Standard-Horizon radios are easy to interface because of their good design and clear documentation. Here are some details for your radio:
STANDARD-HORIZON PS2000 NMEA-0183 INTERFACE
TALKER A = GRAY
LISTENER A = BLUE
When you interface this radio to a GNSS receiver's NMEA-0183 you will follow the guidelines I have written in
I have reduced all the confusion to these simple rules:
If you need more help, just ask for help here when you buy a new chart plotter.
The notion that these interconnections are hard or difficult is probably an outcome of the endless discussions about them in which BOATER-1 asks for advice, BOATER-2 tells him to connect some certain color wire to a second wire of a different color, then BOATER-3 says that is wrong, and finally BOATERS-4,5,6,7 and so on chime in to offer different advice. No one could make any sense of these things by just talking about wires of one color that connect to wires of another (or sometimes same) color. It is completely unorganized and usually wrong to boot. Just follow the simple method I have described. Anyone can figure this out with a few momments of study.
posted 11-22-2014 10:54 AM ET (US)
Two other important considerations when installing a VHF Marine Band radio:
--good 12-Volt power connection
--good VHF Marine Band antenna and connection
Be sure that you provide the radio with excellent 12-Volt power from a branch circuit of your boat's power distribution that can supply at least 10-Amperes and has very little voltage drop.
Connect the radio to a good VHF Marine Band antenna, located far enough away from the radio itself so there is at least three feet of vertical separation between the radio and the base of the antenna. Make certain that the transmission line between the radio and antenna is in good condition. Make certain that the connector on the coaxial cable of the transmission line for connection to the radio is properly installed. This connection is often a source of problems in radio installation.
If you have not already purchased an antenna, I recommend the antenna and mounting method shown in another article I have written. I am personally using the antenna I describe, and it has worked extremely well. It has been in service for about 7 or 8 years and is very durable. See
posted 11-23-2014 07:05 PM ET (US)
Thanks to acseatsri and jimh for your replies. Jimh, your ability to assemble and clearly present resources is remarkable. The VHF is being installed in a Montauk 170 with circuits that appear to be original. There seem to be several possible mounting locations for the radio chassis in the console. I am planning to buy the antenna you suggest. I do need to think about the best compromise position for the antenna. We often do casting from the boat while fishing, and sometimes use a bimini top. I also found this site, which might be of interest to others. Dave
posted 11-24-2014 06:30 AM ET (US)
Re the MMSI and from which agency to obtain it: if you plan to make international voyages you should get a VHF Marine Band station license for your vessel from the FCC, and at that same time request an MMSI from the FCC. This will cost $160. Otherwise, register for an MMSI with BoatUS or the Power Squardron.
As for making international voyages, this might seem a bit of a stretch for small outboard=powered boats, but in the Great Lakes we do it all the time. Canada is often only a few hundred yards from the boat launch ramp.
posted 11-24-2014 02:47 PM ET (US)
Not a stretch at all to operate in Mexico. Our closest marine launch would be in Puerto Penasco, Sonora. I have friends who dive in the Gulf of California. They usually base out of ports in Baja California (Mexico). I think VHF radios are required on boats operating in Mexican waters.
posted 11-24-2014 11:28 PM ET (US)
Forgot to say that the $160 license is good for ten years, so it is only $16/year. The catch is don't change boats in those ten years.
posted 11-25-2014 07:23 AM ET (US)
ASIDE to AZDave: many thanks for the kind words. They are much appreciated.
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