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Advice on marine band radios???


Hoffer

Question

Hey all-

I know nothing about electronics - but was looking at the hand held marine band radios. The ones that are 5 Watts and have like maybe 10 weather channels - and have AC/DC capability. What is the range with the 5W - vs the permanent mounted boat radios that have higher wattage?? Is the hand held worth it - could I get 5 miles of range with someone that had a similar unit?? Or are they just a more expensive "walkie-talkie" where I would only get say 2 miles of range at best?? i want to pick up one for Canada - and like the idea of the handheld/portable - because you could take it in the cabin etc....but dont want to sacrifice alot of range I guess. Any advice would be appreciated.

Hoffer

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The biggest limiting factor - bar none - of hand held radios is the antenna. Handheld radio antennas are a compromise between good performance and size. While they may receive OK, their efficiency at transmitting is not optimum.

A 5 watt unit with a fully charged battery should allow you 2-3 miles in most cases. Sometimes you'll do better, sometimes worse. As batteries get weaker, the transmission distance will go down.

VHF is line of sight, so if there are a lot of islands or obstructions in the way, that will further limit your range.

If range is your most important consideration, go with the dash mounted unit and a good quality antenna.

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Gissert-

Hey thanks for the reply!! is there such a thing with the hand held units where you could mount a nice antenae in theboat and then have the handheld unit somehow function or connect with the boat antenae?? Or dont they make anything like that? I think last year when we went up with our regular walkie talkies we were getting close to 2 miles - so a 100.00 to 150.00 handheld unit wouldnt offer much better results for the money - has anyone experienced longer distance?? - maybe there are handheld models that come with a good antenae compared to other brands...thanks again.

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Yes, you could mount a good antenna on your boat, and then use an adapter to hook your handheld into it. This is actually done on light aircraft frequently.

That may help you reach out a bit more, but 5 watts in a plane will go a LOT farther than 5 watts on the ground.

Regardless if you go with a handheld or a dashmount radio, make sure you do a good VSWR check of the antenna system to get the most out of your radio.

Speaking for myself, I would go with the dashmount. 25 watts will punch through a lot of interferance that will swamp out weaker signals from a handheld.

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Gisert - what is a vsrw check?? Can any handheld unit be able to convert to the antenae mounted in the boat?? or do you have to buy a unit especially made to do that? Do you know of any good units in the 100.00 range??

I noticed your location is Underwood - I grew up in Fergus Falls and lived on Pickeral lake each Summer.

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Hey hoffer, do you have any ideas on how to get rid of the the constant buzz when dealing with am radio. Love listening to the twinkies when fishing, but almost impossible.

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VSWR is a measurument of antenna efficiency. It stands for Voltage Standing Wave Ratio.

Not all power goes out the antenna. There are natural losses in the coax, and some power is reflected back to the radio due to impedance mismatches. A VSWR of 1.0:1 is perfect, producing 100% efficiency. A good number to shoot for is 1.5:1, which is still 97% efficient.

Avoid sharp bends and pinches in the coax cable. This will increase your VSWR. You should be able to pick up a VSWR meter at store like Radio Shack.

Most VHF marine antennas have a PL-259 connector on them, and most hand helds have a BNC connector. You should be able to get an adaptor at Radio Shack to be able to hook up a hand held to a permanent antenna, no problem.

Yep, I'm from Underwood. I live just east of town on S. Turtle.

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