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Handheld VHF range


hcrider

Question

How far can I expect to transmit on a handheld 5-watt VHF? I know there are lots of variables with this, but on a wide open lake with no islands, I was not able to communicate with another guy who was in a boat about 2 miles away. I could hear him, he could not hear me until he got closer.

HC

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The limiting factor is probably the antenna. Handheld antennas are not very efficient at transmission.

Battery condition can play a factor. If your batteries are in less that top condition, the unit will probably receive just fine as the receive operation takes little electrical current. When you go to transmit on weak batteries, the voltage will drop dramatically and not supply sufficient current to transmit.

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I had just charged the battery to full power. So I'm just wondering what the limitations of the antenna might be. Seems like a $100 rig should get better than 2 mile transmission, if you can get that with a $20 FRS radio.

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You are not going to get very good range with a handheld, even the 3-5 foot stainless antennas do not give much range. Shakespeare used to have a formula on their website that would let you calculate how much range you should get under the best conditions - try looking at that. Lots of good info over there the last time I looked.

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