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Thread: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

  1. #1
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    Default Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Wondering what folks here recommend for a handheld waterproof radio? Would be primarily for emergency use in SF Bay, inland waters and possibly the Salish Sea. Is the price jump from 5w->7w+ worth it? The big-name products look very similar feature-wise.
    Thanks!
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Get a unit that floats: worth paying more for IMO. Also, compare the estimated standby / transmit/ receive times, which you can find in the specs. Finally, when a speaker gets wet, the audio gets garbled. It's hard to be rescued when you can't understand potential rescuers. One of those ICOM ( or any radio) radios with the "quake" feature that automatically vibrates the speaker dry so calls are audible if the speaker is wet.

    5W v 7W: you won't get more range; it will allow you to punch through other traffic better, but Channel 16 should be reasonably clear of traffic anyway. I would not prioritize this feature, personally.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    I have an Icom my wife bought for me about 20 years ago. The battery still holds a charge! In fact it holds a charge for years. If only rechargeable power tools had such a battery my happiness would be complete.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    I have an Icom my wife bought for me about 20 years ago. The battery still holds a charge! In fact it holds a charge for years. If only rechargeable power tools had such a battery my happiness would be complete.
    I’ve got a radio like this. I misplaced the charger for 2 years. Never even missed it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Keep it in a drybag; get the tray that holds double AA's as well, load it and tuck it away for the longer trips. Keep it in a drybag and it will last for years. Same with hand held GPS.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    I have a Uniden MHS125 that I prefer over my Icom. I wear it on my life jacket so I can monitor 16, plus if things go bad in a hurry (like they tend to do) it's connected to me if I go in the water) It gets soaking wet including the speaker every outing, and still looks brand new... it's at least 6 or 7 years old. I much prefer having the On/Off and Volume/ Squelch control on a knob on top of the radio instead of a button on the front. I can keep it on Channel 16 but adjust the volume down if the broadcast comes in too loud. Buttons are easy to read too, which helps if your glasses get knocked off! Actually, I don't think they still make this model but have similar with same features. Also holds a charge for multiple outings, on all day, has a strong clip to connect to life jacket and it floats. This model also has the charging station for home which is nice, I've heard some don't include that.
    Last edited by Mark O.; 05-30-2018 at 07:08 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    ebay # 173341547263

    check it out!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Not "sub $100", but recommended by the electronics guy on Off Center Harbor. Lot's of features, check the link.

    http://www.standardhorizon.com/index...3&isArchived=0

    For $199.00, (Amazon) you get:


    • Meets ITU-R M493-13 Class D DSC (Digital Selective Calling)
    • Separate Receiver for CH70 (Receiving DSC Calls)
    • Integrated 66 Channel WAAS GPS receiver
    • Oversized full dot matrix display (1.7” (W) x 1.7” (H) or 2.3” diagonal)
    • Easy to Operate Icon/Menu System
    • Navigate to a DSC Distress Call with Compass Page
    • GM (Group Monitor) using DSC Group Position Call
    • DSC Test Call and Auto DSC Channel Change Selection
    • Automatically poll the GPS position of a ship using DSC
    • Enter, Save, and Navigate to a waypoint with Compass Page
    • MOB (Man Over Board) Function
    • Water Activated Emergency Strobe Light
    • 1W, 2W or 6W Transmit Power options
    • Navigation (LAT/LON, SOG, and COG) information shown on display
    • Submersible IPX8 waterproof rating (1.5M or 4.92 feet for 30 minutes)
    • Noise-canceling Function for both transmit and receive audio
    • All USA/International and Canadian Marine Channels
    • USB Data Port – NMEA Output DSC, DSE, GLL, RMC, GSA, GSV and GGA (9600 baud)
    • NOAA Weather Channel with Weather Alert
    • Programmable Scan, Priority Scan, and Dual and Tri Watch
    • Preset key used to recall up to 10 favorite channels
    • Supplied with a 1800 mAh Li-Ion Battery, 110VAC and 12VDC 3-hour quick chargersAlkaline Battery Tray


    It's what I'd get if I needed to replace my current radio.

    Bill

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Do any of these models charge directly via USB? I carry USB chargers for phones, so having that charge the radio would be great.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    The Cobra MR HH350 arrived yesterday and I've been playing with it. Found a remanufactured one on Amazon and saved a bit of money.



    Without using it on the water it is hard to really review it, but here's a few quick responses:

    1. Doesn't charge via USB, which was one of my really strong requirements. It has to be charged through a cradle, but comes with a connector for a powerpoint (us oldtimers calls 'em "cigarette lighter ports") -- and my little (8x5x8 inches) home-made portable battery box has a powerpoint port.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    2. The all-important squelch control ain't on a hardware knob or button! It is at the top of the Menu in software but certainly not the most obvious option for anyone tired or in a rush. (Press and hold the CALL / SETUP button).
    3. Like several others on the low-cost end of the scale, it doesn't have a standard audio-out port -- so you can't use "regular" earbuds with it. The earbud / mike combo that works (apparently) costs $19 on Amazon -
    https://www.amazon.com/Cobra-Electro...bra+audio+jack

    My battery box - cheaper on Amazon but available at West Marine to hold sealed lead-acid motorcycle style batteries, with a powerpoint and separate dual-usb and power readout port added, plus a rocker switch to turn off the power readout as it has a slight drain on these small batteries.
    batterybox1.jpg
    Last edited by Thorne; 11-10-2018 at 10:41 AM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Thanks for the review.

    I'm trying to decide on a handheld VHF and your comments add details to the information I've found.

    I like the battery box as a power source, too.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    I'm late to this party but thought I'd add my handheld is a West Marine 150. I think Standard Horizon builds these for WM. It's about 8 yrs old and been excellent. Fits in a pocket and batt is still keeping charge. Has low, med and high power setting, programs, triple scans, thick rubber armor, etc. Reception is very clear, even on land under my metal roof (which kills my cell reception). Has speaker jack. 12V direct or 110V cradle charging on 1400 MHA batt. Included tray for alkaline batt use. Menu is easy. I think WM upgraded this to a 160 or something and sells around $120ish. Standard has a basic version for sub $100. I'm impressed and had more expensive ones that weren't as good.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    I'm happy with my Standard Horizon. My regular VHF (also SH) got hit by lightning within the warranty period. I sent it back (figuring what the heck) & they returned it 7 days later - with everything inside the case replaced & a note saying the whole thing was totally fried.

    Can't beat that service!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    I've had an Icom M25 for a couple of years. Waterproof, floats, has a USB charger.
    That last was important so that I could recharge it from my small solar panel/Li-on battery setup.
    I keep it in the pocket of my lifejacket.
    Squelch is not a knob but a button you have to cycle on the front to get the up/down buttons to work the squelch and not channel or volume. It is easier than it sounds.
    Been happy with it so far.
    Alex

    "“He was unfamiliar with the sea and did not like it much: it was a place that made you cold and wet and sick” " Nevil Shute, Trustee From the Toolroom

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Recommended sub-$100 VHF handheld for open boats?

    Correction on date and price I posted earlier...I pulled the receipt out for my WM 150 and it was purchased in 2006 and price was $180. My recall just isn't what it used to be!

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