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iffwalleyes

Marine Band Radios

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I have been thinking about getting a Marine Band Radios but I can't decide which one to go with. There are a few in the $99 range and I think that would be just fine but then some of them cost more up to 160 what do I get for that extra 60 bucks. So what do you guys use? The other question how much less range do you get with a portable unit as compared to a permanent mount in the boat?

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I have a Ray 45 in my boat and it does the job well. They have a new model out now and I got this one on closeout a few years ago so it was a bit cheaper at that time.

Range is all dependent on the height of your antenna as well as power. I believe the max is 25 watts that you can run from a permanent unit, but I'm not sure what handheld units are typically rated for. Either way, you'll get more range if you can get an antenna up in the air as the transmitted signal is line-of-sight....just like FM radio.

It all depends on your intended use for this radio.

Took a look at a few portables and it appears they are only good for 5 watts.

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The amount you spend depends on how and where you planning on using a radio. Permanent mounts are typically 25 watt units while handheld are around 5 watts output. I am partial to Icom, they are well built and durable, but expensive and on the higher end of the spectrum. Differences are evident in things like the speaker, they are clearer and much louder than the lower priced units, you can hear them over backround noise that you get if your runnning at 30 knots.I have 2 radios in the boat, one Icom 602 and one Raymarine lower end model, I can't hear the Ray unless I'm sitting still. If you frequent big water where range is a concern the right setup can get you 25-30 miles of range, a handheld maybe 3-5 miles. VHF is line of sight transmission so your signal will be affected by land masses, so antenna height is important, the higher the better. One thing people tend to overlook is the antenna, the best radio out there is only as good as the antenna, spend the extra for the antenna, things like metal ferrules instead of plastic make a difference in durability and performance. The Shakespeare Galaxy series is a good antenna, but you'll pay for it. Digital also makes good ones. These are tough and stand up to bouncing and vibration that create problems with the cheaper models. Don't even think of one under 8' if you want to be heard at longer ranges.

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I got an Icom 402 about a year ago, I found it on closeout and paid a little under $150 for it. I agree with everything Capt Don said about vhfs. I read some reports (Powerboat Reports I think) about vhfs and Icom was the best in the high-priced radios and one of the top 2 in the lower-priced radios.

Things I was looking for in a radio - channel up/down buttons on the mic, hi/lo power button on the mic, large display, good speaker. Icom has them all and I am really, really happy with my radio. There's an Icom 302 model available that you might want to check out.

I have an 8 foot antenna on my boat - on Erie last spring I could communicate crystal-clear with guys 15+ miles away on the other side of the islands, whereas some of the guys around me couldn't talk to them at all. I got a lot of requests from people to relay messages. It's nice having a radio / antenna that works good.

I am probably going to get a 4 or 5 foot antenna for my boat - I don't use the vhf much around here, and don't need that much range. My 8 footer is mounted to a rail and sticks past the end of the rail --- it's not in the way but the kids like to play with it, etc. so I'll probably get a shorter one to leave on the boat. The way my boat is rigged it would be an easy swap to put the 8 footer back on for fishing trips on big water.

I've never used a handheld vhf but have heard lots of stories of range being only a few miles when you actually need to use them.

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We run the little Raymarine jobs in out plow trucks and boats witout any trouble all winter and we talk with other plows and rescue trucks across the lake even in the nasty snowfall. Shakespear makes a shorter attenna with a little booster puck built in that also works well or should I say almost as well as the 8' jobs.

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