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Old 22-10-2006, 06:41 PM   #1
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VHF/DSC - So many choices!!

Dudes - I'm looking for a little VHF/DSC kit for my Ring 18. Need some advice:

Hand held or fixed? I know the arguments for and against both, and my plan so far is a fixed DSC unit and maybe a half-decent hand held (or a Silva M298) in my bag or pocket for emergencies.

As far as fixed units go, most seem to have pretty similar features as regards being submersible and able to connect to a GPS unit, so I'm currently favouring a Navman 7100 (not just because the blue buttons match my boat! ) but because it has a large 4 line display, waterproof casing, and I don't really need the 'weather forecasting and fishing' features of the 7200.
I did my SRC on an Icom 421 unit, but I wasn't impressed by the lack of dedicated buttons - it seemed you had to scroll through a lot of crap to get to what you want. The Navman seems better in this respect. The other one I considered was the Simrad RD68. The Cobra that everyone's punting out for £100 is cheap, but looks a bit plasticky for my tastes.

Any thoughts? And any favoured antenna types and locations? I'm thinking a short rubberised job, probably on the stern quarter by one of the grab handles either side of the splashwell.
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Old 22-10-2006, 07:26 PM   #2
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Most VHF fixed or mobile nowadays do the same job as each other, it is really features that set them appart. Most are loaded with DSC but you need an MMSI number for your boat to hook up DSC. A good fibreglass aerial is hard to beat
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Old 22-10-2006, 09:22 PM   #3
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Country: England
Location: Hertfordshire
Occupation: Airline Operations.
Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
Boat name: Any suggestions?
Boat make: Ring 18
Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hertfordshire
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Thanks Brian.

I'd pretty well decided on a fixed DSC as it won't be so prone to running out of battery. That and the additional range of course.
There are a few good handhelds out there by the looks of things, but being made by people like Raymarine, they cost an arm and a leg.
I'll spend a couple of hundred on a fixed unit and put the rest towards fuel!
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Old 22-10-2006, 09:27 PM   #4
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Chaos got a pair of handhelds for 70 quid.
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Old 22-10-2006, 09:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Burnett
[B]I'm currently favouring a Navman 7100

Screens tend to fog up and unless it's interfaced with a GPS, it starts ringing like a telephone every few minutes to tell you it hasn't got a lat/long. This has to be cancelled manually so it's a pain in the arse.

Best of the fixed sets is the Icom 500 and 600 series. Big buttons which you can use with gloves on and very reliable.

Best of the handhelds are the Icom mV euro or the Standard Horizon (Yaesu) HX 270. The mV euro has been superseded by the M71 which has the quaint little design feature of going flat if left for a couple of weeks.

Silva, Cobra and XM?






Quote:
Originally posted by Wild Thing
you need an MMSI number for your boat to hook up DSC.
Distress function works fine without an MMSI but it doesn't identify your boat details.

As Burnett has got his VHF/DSC operators licence, he can get a free radio licence and MMSI number online as from December.
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Old 22-10-2006, 09:39 PM   #6
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I have a Raymarine 54E - easy to use - nice big screen and buttons and very waterproof - not a bad price either.
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Old 22-10-2006, 11:09 PM   #7
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Country: England
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Occupation: Airline Operations.
Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
Boat name: Any suggestions?
Boat make: Ring 18
Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hertfordshire
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Cheers guys!

The Ray 54e was also on my list. Looks like a good, simple and solid bit of kit. Have to see if I can get any bargains at the boat show.

Free operator's licence and MMSI number?

[homer simpson] WooHoo![/homer simpson]

I was planning to interface it with a handheld GPS (In the boat mount bracket) but I'm not certain of the connection protocols of these things. I've got the data cable for my Garmin hand held, so will investigate. Be useful if it works though.
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Old 24-10-2006, 04:02 AM   #8
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Should work no probs.
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Old 24-10-2006, 09:23 AM   #9
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Country: England
Location: Hertfordshire
Occupation: Airline Operations.
Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
Boat name: Any suggestions?
Boat make: Ring 18
Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hertfordshire
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That's what I figured. The guy I got the cable from was an Ebay shop trading as 'GPS Bitz' and he really seemed to know his stuff, so I'll email the dude again and get some advice.
I was quite surprised to find a cable for my little Etrex, but he had one in stock no problems. If I can use it I will, if not i'll just pick up a better one. They're cheap enough now anyway.
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Old 13-11-2006, 09:54 PM   #10
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I have ICOM hheld and DSC fixed and am very happy.

for other advice try Kevin at www.yachtbits.co.uk great knowledge and doesn't sell crap.

no relationship just satisfied customer.
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Old 15-11-2006, 09:06 PM   #11
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Country: England
Location: Hertfordshire
Occupation: Airline Operations.
Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
Boat name: Any suggestions?
Boat make: Ring 18
Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hertfordshire
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Sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation mate.

Having spoken to Colin Eldridge (t/a GPS Bitz on Ebay) he tells me that he has a cable for a Garmin Etrex that will link to any DSC with a GPS input. For about a tenner! Bargain.
I'll use a fixed DSC and plug the little GPS into it.

Job's a good 'un.
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Old 24-11-2006, 06:43 PM   #12
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worth a wait?

Its always worth a wait till the boat show.
New kit and cheap offers.
Most companies will aslo have "live" radios there for you to "play" with.
I always like to play with all the new kit out and use as a bench mark if I can use it without the hand book its a good start.

Both the Icom and Standard Kit come with three year warranty.
Whilst both make good kit the added peace of mind can be a bonus.

I am aware of a number of new products being launched at London.

There is a review in PBO December issue which is to test the budget second station Mics.
They also reveiw the radio's that they work with.
The units on test are Icom M505 and M603, Standard Horizon VM3500, GX1500 and GX3000, Navman 7200.

All I will say is it makes very good reading.

Hope that helps

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Old 24-11-2006, 08:14 PM   #13
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Country: England
Location: Hertfordshire
Occupation: Airline Operations.
Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
Boat name: Any suggestions?
Boat make: Ring 18
Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 369
Thanks Jon!

Looking forward to the boat show already. Must get my Barclaycard on a bit of a diet first so that I can load it up at Excel!
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Old 24-11-2006, 09:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Burnett
Thanks Jon!

Looking forward to the boat show already. Must get my Barclaycard on a bit of a diet first so that I can load it up at Excel!
Be sure to come and say hi.

Best regards
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Old 25-11-2006, 11:14 PM   #15
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Country: England
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Interests: Rum. Pirates. And West Cornwall pasties.
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Engines: Mercury 200 Black Max
Cruising area: The Bay of 'E'

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Thanks Jon! I'll do that.
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Old 25-11-2006, 11:25 PM   #16
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I have a backup handheld /spare I throw to the mates if we are running together its a Uniden Atlantis, nice bite of kit and you can pick them up from about £60
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Old 26-11-2006, 07:16 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=Wild Thing;95988]I have a backup handheld /spare I throw to the mates if we are running together its a Uniden Atlantis, nice bite of kit and you can pick them up from about £60[/QUOTE

Whilst I am aware some Uniden kit is not approved a lot of it is not so......

Be very careful of the temptation to purchase a VHF on the interweb from the USA.
Also be aware of some dodgy dealers in the UK offering this kit.
Whilst a lot of the kit look like the kit you can by here you can fall foul of lower spec's, wrong class of DSC (fixed sets), missing channels, missing features, no service or back in the UK and the law.

All radio kit for the EU market must be CE marked and approved via the R&TTE route.
If not it makes it illeagle to own and or use.

There are two offences here one having the radio ready for use the second is using it.
Both carry a fine of upto £5000, confiscation of the unit, they can inpound you boat and bang you up for about 18 months.

Not saying this is the case with your radio wild thing just throwing in some, I hope, interesting points mot all may be aware of.

If you are in any doubt please don't be affraid to ask.
Always happy to offer advice and help here.

All the best
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Old 26-11-2006, 07:31 PM   #18
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Understand exactly where you are coming from Jon. OK on that score. Sad thing is the law seems to put obstacles before safety. Talk to any RNLI staff off the record and they will tell you as long as a VHF is sensibly used they would prefer to see any seafarer armed with one as backup and sod the law. Maybe you can advise myself and other members, are offcom changing the enforcement laws in the near future to make ships radios more law enforcement friendly.
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Old 26-11-2006, 08:07 PM   #19
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With all due respect to the man from the RNLI he is totally out of order!!!

These kind of throw away comments from them can do so much damage.

Like a few I have met from the MCA they have not a clue.
Or even worse they think they know as they have some of the facts.

The sad thing here is because they are from the MCA or the RNLI people think they are always right.

I had a run in with a high ranking man from the MCA last London Boat Show.
He had gone on to a stand and advised the dealer that they were selling radio's that were not approved as they did not have DSC built in. He told them he was going to bring the house down on them.
As you can imagine the dealer was flapping a tad!!
When they spoke to me I went and dragged this guy to one side and read him his facts of life and explained the "real" sittuation

I followed it up with a call to the head of the Navigation and Communication section of the MCA.
He came and found me later in the show and made a humble apology for the other guy.

His (RNLI man) comments could lead people to think its ok to "grey import" which is fine until they get fined and or they go to use a feature that is not there.

Ofcom will not care if you say "well the man from the RNLI said it was ok, cos you can bet as sure as eggs are eggs they would not back you up.

I am not aware of any changes to enforcement at this time.
There are a number of ideas on the table at the moment but nothing set in stone.

Big things you will notice with a US set over a UK set.
M1 (37a) M2 (P4) will be missing as these are us only channels.
Depending on the make CH80 can be a bit of a drama to.
Most dealers will not be able to or want to programme these in for you.
Warranty from most companies is back to base.
So if you have a US set the UK arm of the company will either not repair or charge for the repair.

Whilst a lot of radio's are comming to market in the US with Class D DSC most out there are Class F or SC101 which is a much lower standard than Class D.

There are more and more radio's appearing on the UK/EU market to meet every budget.
Whilst you would be better to stick to a known or recomended brand there is some cheap stuff out there.

With this in mind IMHO there should be no need to buy the wrong kit.
Thus the comment about the law and obstacales is not relevent but I fully understand why it may seem that way.

10 years ago a non waterproof, non dsc M59 with a years warranty would cost you about £370ish.

You can buy a decent waterproof unit, with DSC, With a Fog Horn, With a Loud Hailer, 3 year warranty and a host of other goodies for £250ish.

Much better value for less money.

Also lots of good free, and sometimes correct advice on here from some friendly companies

All the Best
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Old 26-11-2006, 08:14 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=grInch;92714] The mV euro has been superseded by the M71 which has the quaint little design feature of going flat if left for a couple of weeks.

Silva, Cobra and XM?


Distress function works fine without an MMSI but it doesn't identify your boat details.
QUOTE]

It is the M31 that goes flat after a while is left not the M31 due to the design of its on/off switch.
It still drains current even when the unit looks off.

Only in coming DSC functions will work without the MMSI number.
You will have NO that is NO send functions without the MMSI number.
When you try to send without an MMSI number the unit will flash up "NO MMSI" or something like that and will NOT send
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