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Author Topic:   VHF for a Dauntless 16
Marlin posted 04-06-2003 01:15 PM ET (US)   Profile for Marlin   Send Email to Marlin  
I'll be getting a new Dauntless 16 within the next few weeks, and I'm debating what to do for a VHF. Originally, I was planning on getting a handheld, mostly for the convenience of not having to do an installation (I *hate* drilling holes in a new boat!), but now I'm having second thoughts. I've settled on either the Standard Horizon HX350S or Quest, because of good experiences in the past with Standard radios.

I'm interested in opinions of a handheld vs. a fixed-mount radio. The boat will mostly be used for cruising and watersports on the Potomac River and Chesapeake bay, with occasional trips to the Outer Banks and some mid-Atlantic inland lakes. I don't expect to be offshore very frequently or very far.

And while I'm thinking about the fixed-mount topic, where's the best place to mount the antenna on a boat like this? The options I can think of (considering I'll have a sun top) are:
- 8' whip on aft port quarter
- 3' or 4' base-load on console rail

Of the two, the console mount seems like it would be less likely to get broken.


prm1177 posted 04-06-2003 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for prm1177  Send Email to prm1177     
The issues of handheld vs fixed mount would be based on range. A fixed mount will give you higher power (1w-25w vs 1w-5w) and a mounted antenna a higher radiation source. Higher location of the antenna and more power equals greater range. The loss of 6.98 dB of output can be important if you're planning to go off shore.
Perry posted 04-06-2003 03:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
I own a 2002 Dauntless 160 and am shopping around for a fixed mount VHF. I have a handheld with cig lighter adapter but would like the extra range that a fixed mount VHF provides. I am going to mount the 8' antenna on the t-top to make it as high as I can. I am also looking at the Standard Horizon brand but the Ray Marine looks pretty good too.
chaimemet posted 04-06-2003 05:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for chaimemet  Send Email to chaimemet     
I was debating the handheld/fixed issue till I read the posts on floridasportsman. Did not know of the DSC capability, that pushed ne over to fixed, plus the possibility of overboard loss and range. Dealer installing an ICOM502 VHF . The problem with the bimini is a problem... for a proper 8' antenna either a Shakespeare or Digital brand. He is installing a stainless steel 3' Metz antenna attached to the starboard vertical side of the console.
Marlin posted 04-06-2003 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Perry, how much range to you get with the handheld? And your D160 has a t-top????

Chaimemet, sounds like you just settled the exact same questions I have. If I recall, you have a new M170, right? I'm thinking the console mount is the way to go. My old 26' sailboat (yes, yet another former sailor) had an 8' whip on the transom, but with a smaller boat like the D160 I'm concerned that a transom or gunwale mounted antenna wouldn't live too long.

I'll check out your reference to floridasportsman.

Perry posted 04-06-2003 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Marlin, the range of my handheld vhf dependes on who is on the recieving end. If it is another handheld, maybe 3 miles. If it is a fixed mounted vhf with a high antenna on the recieving end, usually around 5 miles. I had a custom T-Top built for my D160 because I like to strap surfboards on to surf the outer reefs here in Hawaii. I can also put a kayak or one-man canoe up there. Not to mention it's a good platform for an antenna. I'll take a photo of the boat with the t-top when I get a chance, it really looks nice :-)
JohnJ80 posted 04-08-2003 12:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnJ80  Send Email to JohnJ80     
in VHF radios, height of the antenna is a more important factor in range than power. For example, it would be better to have an antenna on top of a sailboat mast with 1W than at deck height with 25W.

It would also help to have an antenna that is better than that on the handheld. So, using a fixed mount antenna with the handheld, properly installed, would be much better than the handheld alone.

If there is interference on the channel, power helps to punch through it.


jaccoserv posted 04-08-2003 12:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for jaccoserv  Send Email to jaccoserv     
In your case, I think a handheld would be fine. You can't beat it for convenience or aesthetics. If your inland it most definately would not be a problem. Even when you're offshore,(not too far offshore)if you got in a problem, the Coast Guard would be able to hear you. You can tell from the previous replies why certain people like fixed mount radios, however, looking at your situation, it's hard to deny a handheld.
Marlin posted 04-08-2003 09:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Thanks all for your thoughts. I'm leaning toward the fixed-mount radio, probably with the console-mounted 3' or 4' antenna. Mostly I like the higher power and greater range, as well as the DSC feature coupled with my GPS. As was discussed in another recent post, I think I'll mount the radio on the console at the right knee. Need to check how much clearance is there.

Perry, I'd love to see your D160 with the t-top! Drop me an email or post when you have some pics.


cmarques posted 04-16-2003 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
I mounted an 8' antenna on the rear of the bow rail on my dauntless 16. I used a ratcheting rail mountand put it just forward of the bimini top and it works great! Only bad part was cable is zip tied approx 16" on rail before going in through a w/proof fitting on the gunwale. The radio is mounted on the right side of the console behind the windshield. Also this weekend just mounted an Eagle 320df seacharter gps/sonar combo- worked great the 1st time out the St. john's river this weekend.
JohnJ80 posted 04-24-2003 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnJ80  Send Email to JohnJ80     
Many handhelds have the ability to remove the rubber ducky antenna and connect a larger one (or external). They also have the ability to add a speaker mike.

adding a larger antenna has a very limited impact on the distance. Power also has a limited impact on the distance. The main benefit to a larger antenna woudl be the 'cool' factor.

In a whaler style boat, being this low to the water and adding a larger antenna is not going to make much - if any - difference. If you must have an external antenna, get a smallish wire whip style one. Some of the larger ones will be far to attractive for some to grab onto when the boat pitches and that will cause them to break.

Leaving a fixed mount out, even though alledgedly waterproof, is an iffy proposition. When (not if) the fixed mount unit dies you will have a hole in the dash that may or may not fit the then currently available radios. Also, If you need to count on it, get a handheld anyhow for backup. .

In general, electronics and marine envirnoment just are not all that compatible.

So, bottom line, it you are better off with the handheld anyhow. It performance will be the same, it will be more replaceable, it will probably be more reliable. If you add one of those rubber VHF handheld holders just under the left side of your steeering wheel and have a speaker mike, you have pretty much the same benefits as a mounted unit but without all the hassles and unreliability.

just my $0.02.


Perry posted 04-24-2003 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
John, vhf radios operate on a line of sight principle between stations meaning that the signals do not bend over the horizon. This means that antenna height, more than any other factor, is responsible for determining how far you can transmit or recieve a signal. An antenna mounted up high can "see" further over the horizon. I have both handheld and fixed mounted vhf radios on my boat. Handheld to handheld distance is around 3 miles. My fixed mount antenna is 8' high mounted on my t-top which is another 7' high. The range for my fixed mount to another fixed mount with 15' high antenna is around 10 miles. That is over 3 times the distance over handheld. Sailboats with antennas mounted on top of their masts can communicate via vhf at distances over 20 miles. So the performance is not the same and adding a taller antenna does have an impact over distance.
JohnJ80 posted 04-28-2003 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnJ80  Send Email to JohnJ80     
You said exactly what I was trying to say (but was not clear as I re-read it) - the height of the antenna is the most important thing. Adding the antenna on top of the T-Top is more important that playing with which antenna it is. The handheld and the fixed mount radio will have about the same performance once connected to the same antenna.


jimh posted 05-03-2003 11:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The range of a radio circuit is dependent on the range of both stations involved. The height of the antenna of the station you are trying to contact will have as much impact as the height of your antenna.

Fortunately, the Coast Guard radio stations have very tall antennas. This will extend the range of your signal when trying to contact them.

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