I'm gearing up for the NCC and need to buy a submersible VHF to replace/augment my existing non-submersible VHF. What is more useful and practical: a radio with a long battery life like the ICOM M72 or a radio with DSC capability (but shorter battery life) like the STANDARD HORIZON HX851? Apparently there is a big power cost in having GPS capability on these radios.
VHF radio advice(9 posts) (7 voices)
It's always nice to have backup/duplicate systems, but .... You're going to have a GPS, yes? (along with appropriate chart) And you'll have a SPOT and a PLB, both of which are required and both of which transmit your GPS position. Do you really need or want another piece of equipment with GPS? Would you ever use the GPS on the VHF? I tend to go on the principle of simplicity; the few parts something has, the less likely it is to break. The fewer functions something has, the less likely it is go kaphloey and affect all functions. I'd prefer longer operating life. YMMV
I now have 2 VHFs. A Uniden Atlantis 250, and a West Marine with DSC.
The Uniden's battery lasts forever, and then there is the battery pack backup. My new West Marine radio almost died this year from 7 am to 9 pm, so I had to start turning it off and monitor channels at the top of the hour.
I carry a 12V charger so I can recharge electronics like my VHF.
I have the Standard Horizon HX3705--had it for six years and no problems--sits in the radio pocket of my Kokatat MsFit PFD; though I don't think the range is particularly strong.
I'm think of upgrading to the ICOM M72, which KneadingWater has, and seems to get better distance, etc.
Get the Icom M72 as a primary and buy a cheapie backup to stick in a drybag. The M72 is waterproof to the IPX8 standard, which means 3 meter immersion for 24 hours versus IPX7 at 1 meter/30 minutes. I've got an ICOM M36 that will become my backup VHF when I finally kick over the coins for an M72.
For what I'm doing with my radios, I don't see the need for DSC. One of these days I'd like to mount a fixed 25 watt VHF on my boat which I'd include DSC and maybe even AIS, but that's not a priority right now.
Thanks for the advice everyone. I am leaning towards the Icom M72 right now. DSC on handhelds is fairly new and I'll see if any manufacturer figures out how to get better battery life with that feature in the future but for now for me it seems the best feature is a battery that lasts a long time. I'll keep my existing non-submersible VHF as a backup in a dry bag stored below and have the M72 in the radio pocket of my PDF.
KB: The M72 does get better distance because max output is 6W. Most VHFs have a max of 5W.
I have the West Marine VHF 255 with all marine VHF channels and weather channels. 9 hour battery life. waterproof to 4.9 feet of water for 30 minutes. Lithium rechargeable battery pack for 9 hours, and then you can use regular batteries. We received weather info continuously during EC 12. We had it connected to our PFD, so it took some heavy weather. As passed in our Coastie saga story, we used it when communicating with the Coast Guard helo. It's range is probably 3 to 5 miles.....not real far....but effective if another boater or rescue unit is nearby. It certainly was durable for our trip, and I just recharged the lithium battery pack.....and it is good to go. Don't leave home without it:)
I also have the West Marine VHF. I bought this for it's dual battery feature.
Cons - not as much battery life as some and max output is 5W.
Pros- nice that it runs on alkaline batteries if your lithium pack dies. However (output is only 2.5W with alkaline batteries) The specs didn't state this but I discovered this in the owners manual, so this will reduce it's range.
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