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  Recommended Products for VHF Marine Band Radio, VHF Marine Band Antenna, SONAR, Audio Amplifier, and AM-FM-VHF Marine Band Antenna Couplers and Splitters

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Author Topic:   Recommended Products for VHF Marine Band Radio, VHF Marine Band Antenna, SONAR, Audio Amplifier, and AM-FM-VHF Marine Band Antenna Couplers and Splitters
hc803 posted 07-23-2010 09:48 AM ET (US)   Profile for hc803   Send Email to hc803  
Just bought an '87 Montauk this past Tuesday. Previous owner took all the electronics off before selling it. I'm going to be installing (at least) a VHF w/ antenna, stereo, and depth finder. I was seeing if anyone had opinions on what brands I should be looking to put in. I have a handheld Icom VHF, so I was looking at fixed-mount VHF radios in that brand, but am open to suggestions. Also, has anyone had experience with those AM/FM/VHF splitters?
K Albus posted 07-23-2010 10:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I have an AM/FM - VHF antenna splitter on my Dauntless 180 and it works fine. I have a Clarion stereo, an Icom VHF, and three-foot Shakespeare whip antenna.

My only recommendation regarding electronics is make sure that whichever VHF radio and depth-finder you eventually choose can easily be connected to a GPS/chartplotter if you decide to buy one of those later.

andygere posted 07-23-2010 02:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have a Shakespeare antenna splitter and it works great. Prices varied widely on this unit, shop around.
SJUAE posted 07-23-2010 05:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

It depends on your budget and intended use as there are some bargains to be had on old stock and some great all in one combo units


acseatsri posted 07-23-2010 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
I would opt for a combo GPS/Fishfinder unit. The 2 work hand in hand for doing precise drifts once you find the fish.
glen e posted 07-23-2010 10:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
My company installs marine stuff. We do about 2-3 whalers a month. A very nice combo is a Garmin 546S w/ transom mount transducer or a 740s. Couple that with an Icom 304 or 422 with a digital 4 or 8 foot antenna and you have a great package.
davej14 posted 07-23-2010 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I put in the GAM antenna recommended in this review:

I found that a 1' stainless steel mast extension mounted to a stainless ratchet clamped to my railing worked well for me. That way I can lower it to get into the garage and to put up the bimini. The Stainless mast extensions are actually less costly than the fiberglass extensions. I also use the Shakespeare splitter and it works well.

For the radio I went with a Polyplanar because it does not require a weather shield.

I think the Lowrance GPS/ combos offer the best value. I have a 5" screen but if the budget allows I would go for a 7". Mounted it with a RAM mount so I can easily adjust for seated or standing position.

davej14 posted 07-23-2010 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I should say that the pic of the antenna was before I replaced my original Shakespeare antenna with a GAM antenna and added the 1' extension. I didn't have a recent pic. It does show the position and the SS ratchet mount. When it is vertical it passes just in front of the Bimini.
jimh posted 07-24-2010 11:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For a VHF Marine Band radio I recommend a Class-D DSC radio. I recommend the Standard Horizon brand, unless you need a radio with a NMEA-2000 network connection. If you need a radio with a NMEA-2000 network connection I recommend the Garmin brand.

For a VHF Marine Band antenna I recommend the installation I described in detail in an article at

unless your boat has a mounting point where you can mount the antenna over your head on a cabin top or arch. In that case you could use a wider variety of antennas. If you explain more about the mounting point of the VHF Marine Band antenna I can give more advice on what to use.

For a SONAR, I cannot make a recommendation until you give more information about the intended use and water depths. The cost of SONAR devices varies from about $150 to several thousand dollars. It is not possible to make a recommendation unless a general price range is known.

For audio amplifiers for marine use I have no recommendations.

For VHF Marine Band Antenna couplers and splitters, I recommend against them. The VHF Marine Band radio and antenna are important safety equipment and their operation should not be combined with or affected by integration with an AM or FM broadcast band receiver. If you want an FM broadcast band receiver that is integrated with a VHF Marine Band radio, some Lowrance VHF Marine Band radios have this feature. AM radio reception is often quite satisfactory from a portable radio with a integral whip antenna. If you wish for enhanced AM-FM Broadcast Band radio reception, I recommend a separate antenna. Again, this is to keep the VHF Marine Band radio system isolated from the broadcast radio system due to concerns for safety.

SJUAE posted 07-24-2010 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
My only gripe with the Standard-Horizon GX2100 I have is it is not supplied with a cover, so all those little ridges fill up with dust and sand even though I have a console cover.

I personally like the Lowrance HDS range of SONAR, GPS receiver, and Plotter combination units; Garmin and others offer similar and equivalent units.

If your budget can afford it then often for a couple of $100 over a standard SONAR unit you can have all the bells and whistles, else a standard unit or a discontinued one are excellent value.

As for playing music on a boat, on the odd occasion my wife wants it we just take an iPod and one of those nice little Bose dedicated speaker pods to use whilst moored. It's also small enough just to sit on the console whilst underway.


jimh posted 07-25-2010 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve--I don't think any of the VHF Marine Band radios I've seen include a cover in the basic radio package. I think you could make that same complaint about all brands of VHF Marine Band Radio. To cite Standard-Horizon as lacking a cover is to point out a drawback of almost all VHF Marine Band radio as sold with included accessories.
contender posted 07-25-2010 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Pretty much any of the new electronics are good, Say you spend $175. on a radio, one brand will have this, the other brand will have that, and not much difference. I would want to purchase/replace units that match what the other owner had so that they would fit in the same holes/places. Jim is correct, I have never seen a marine radio come with a cover unless you are talking about a stereo radio. I would check on line/ebay for prices on the different units...Good luck to you
SJUAE posted 07-25-2010 01:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Here you go my OEM Navman VHF with cover ?action=view¤t=210Outrage006.jpg

Need I say more :)

I was thinking of getting my local tropical fish shop to make me a small cover for my SH GX2100


jimh posted 07-25-2010 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve--Maybe throwing in expensive accessories like a cover is what put NAVMAN out of business.
SJUAE posted 07-26-2010 03:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
Jim, It could be the case :) it cost me an extra USD25 for the flush mount brackets for the GX2100 may be this is how prices are kept low these days. I got the PA horn too just to shout at jet skis.

So it seems I was lucky with getting a cover from navman. A little acrylic fish tank box sprayed white should do the trick and not a major project.


jimh posted 07-26-2010 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Those radios formerly sold under the NAVMAN brand are still being manufactured and sold, but now under the Northstar brand. They do come with covers, too.

hc803 posted 07-26-2010 11:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for hc803  Send Email to hc803     
Unfortunately the owner that installed the previous electronics can't be contacted. I actually bought the boat from a church auction, the Montauk was donated by a member to raise funds for a mission trip. I did ask the church rep about contacting the previous owner, but he kind of balked at the idea. Either way, it's fun measuring drill holes, then going to West Marine (ugh) and seeing the look on the salesman's face when I ask him to pull out a VHF just so I can measure the mounting bracket holes.

On another note, does anyone have close-up photos of their installations? I looked through the Cetacea section and on some other sites for ideas. I'd love to keep the non-visible products in the console (stereo, vhf base) if possible, but I guess I'd have to affix some type of shelf or bracket inside since there's nothing other than the sides and bottom on which to attach.

jimh posted 07-26-2010 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The classic location for a VHF Marine Band radio on a Boston Whaler boat with a center console is show in html#radio

David Pendleton posted 07-26-2010 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Raymarine 55 and 218 VHF radios are supplied with a cover.
contender posted 07-27-2010 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Jim The only thing bad about the radio mount (as shown in your picture) you have to leave the door open otherwise you pinch the mic cable, Needs to mount the mic holder inside. Even the factory makes mistakes....
jimh posted 07-27-2010 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't have a picture in this thread. What are you talking about?
hc803 posted 07-27-2010 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for hc803  Send Email to hc803     
So far I've decided on the Lowrance LVR-250 for vhf. Local outdoors shop had one on display here and I like the rotary knob for channel selection as opposed to up/down buttons. We had Lowrance elec's on our 23' Outrage and they always worked great.
krbernier posted 08-02-2010 11:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for krbernier  Send Email to krbernier     
I have a standard horizon gx2000 mounted inside the console with a ram mic installed on the console. works great and the radio is hidden in the console. only required a small hole through the console for the mic connector.

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