Recommendations for a VHF radio

Jody

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#1
I installed a new radio and antenna last year and don't have the range I should have. I heard the power output can be checked but don't know anyone that does it. Since I plan on going offshore a lot this year I can't play games and for the price of a new radio it makes no sense to pay someone to say your radio sucks. Thanks in advance.
 

DennisG01

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#2
It "could" be the radio, but it would have to be actually broken. Even the inexpensive radios should provide good range. But the radio is only one variable in the mix. The more likely scenario is a botched install - either connections or cabling - or a cheap antenna (or short antenna). Obviously, I can't say what is the problem from where I am, but it might be best to have a pro look at it for you.
 

journeyman

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#3
How much range are you expecting? VHF depends on antenna height, yours and the receiving end. Higher equals farther. Boat to boat, ten miles maybe...
 

seasick

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#4
Yes, VHF is line of sight and that distance can be quite limited with low antenna heights.
As a simple example, two boats with antennas 10 feet high ( 8 foot antenna two feet above the water line) have a maximum VHF range of just 8 miles.
Here is a link to an online line of sight calculator. http://www.naval.com/sight/index.htm

Note that is some cases, land based towers can be several hundred feet tall.
For a 200 foot tower and a 10 boat antenna height, the max distance ups to 24 miles. Move the boats antenna to 17 feet high ( 8 ft antenna on the hardtop) and you add only 2 miles to the range.

These distances are theoretical maximums, the actual working distance could and usually will be less depending on other factors such as: The quality of the radio, The mounting of the antenna and nearby equipment as well as the quality of the antenna and connections. The quality of the antenna can greatly affect performance. That is one area where it pays to get good equipment.
 

Jody

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#5
I did a barter with the marina they installed all the electronics, I'll check the connections tomorrow and make sure he soldered the antenna connection. I put 8 foot Shakespeare on top of the hardtop so I probably am at 15 feet. But my range seems to be 2 miles sending but I receive much farther.
 

Jody

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#6
I did The calculator I am receiving ship to ship as far as I should be but the sending is way short
 

DennisG01

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#7
Like Seasick mentioned, your "receivability" doesn't really have much to do with your setup - that's up to the sender's setup. 2 miles is way short - a handheld radio pretty much does that. What Shakespeare antenna? There are major differences in the various models. Although even the cheapie 8-footers will transmit further than 2 miles. Soldered, or not, it should go further. "Not" being soldered is actually fine - just the fact of it being soldered doesn't increase the range. Soldered is simply a more durable, longer lasting connection.

Are you sure the antenna cable is plugged into the back of the radio?

There are tests that can be done, but might as well let the installation company check it out. Based on your first post, I thought you did the install. If you want, go to Shake's website and look for their Youtube videos and FAQ's for more info (easier than my typing things!).
 

seasick

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#9
CatTwentyTwo said:
This might be a dumb question but is your radio set to it's higher setting? My radio could be set to either 1 watt or 25 watts of transmit power.
My thought also.
 

SmokyMtnGrady

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#11
It is worth buying one of the top two Shakespeare antennas. The elements are made of higher grade copper and silver and gold connections. They are beefier too in terms of the glass and all the components. Is your life worth $59 or $259. Too many people take the cheap route on the antenna. They may all claim 3 db gain or what ever, but they are not equal in build quality. I like Icom or Standard Horizon. Both these companies have ham radio and aviation divisions. My dad was a ham guy and big fan of Icom and Yeasu (Standard Horizon). I have an 2009 Icom 504 or something. It's the middle of the road without the loud hailer. I might upgrade it to one with AIS. It's the 506.
 

seasick

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#12
One of the better bangs for the buck is the Shakespeare Galaxy 5225-XT. You can find it for 100 dollars or so.
That said, if your boating is inshore/nearshore, you can get away with a less expensive model.
In general and really simple terms, the taller the antenna, the better it will work.
 

Jody

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#13
It was on low but when I put it on high only two channels can be used on it. Not sure if that's normal with other radios. Forgot to look at the #s on the antenna it was pouring rain. The radio is a Ray 54 I bought it new 12 years ago for a different boat and never put it in. Reading the manual now, I have some time to play with it before tuna start. I have looked at the icom and they get great reviews. Rained here 4 days straight not so good when you're trying to Barrier coat and bottom paint it. Three barrier done need to wait for a good day to finish it up with one more then bottom paint immediately. Must say I'm impressed with the interlux barrier coat. Trim tabs and a few small things left after that and I'll be ready for memorial day weekend and week we rent a house in strathmere New Jersey and go for flounder and blues all week. Lucky to have a wife and kids that love it.
 

Jody

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#14
Seasick that's all I did last year because I just got it and it had a tired 200 on it. Just before Striper season I put a fresh 250 on it she's ready to go offshore now. I hold 143gals the canyons are 50 to 60 miles out.
 

seasick

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#15
Jody said:
Seasick that's all I did last year because I just got it and it had a tired 200 on it. Just before Striper season I put a fresh 250 on it she's ready to go offshore now. I hold 143gals the canyons are 50 to 60 miles out.
Wow you learn something new every day!!!

That radio by default transmits high power on channel 13 and 67 only. There is a way to 'force' high power on other channels but it seems like it is a pain.
On a channel, press the PTT (pucs to Talk) button and hold down the Hi/Low button (on the mike)
That will transmit at high power but it seems it reverts to low if you release the H/L button

Here is a link to the Ray 54 user manual

Do all radios act like this? I have to go read my manuals:)
 

DennisG01

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#16
I thought the "by default" on those channels was 1W, not 25W? 13 is for bridges, right? If I'm remembering correctly, then 1W would make sense. However, for most channels you can select EITHER 25W or 1W by pushing the appropriate key/button on the radio... or at least all of the radios I've used were like that.
 
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#17
DennisG01 said:
I thought the "by default" on those channels was 1W, not 25W? 13 is for bridges, right? If I'm remembering correctly, then 1W would make sense. However, for most channels you can select EITHER 25W or 1W by pushing the appropriate key/button on the radio... or at least all of the radios I've used were like that.
That's the way my Standard Horizon worked, you pressed a button to toggle back and forth from 1 to 25 watts.
 

seasick

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#18
DennisG01 said:
I thought the "by default" on those channels was 1W, not 25W? 13 is for bridges, right? If I'm remembering correctly, then 1W would make sense. However, for most channels you can select EITHER 25W or 1W by pushing the appropriate key/button on the radio... or at least all of the radios I've used were like that.
Yes that is true, but some radios allow you to change the power to HI on 13 and 67 by pressing the Hi/LO button only whereas on other channels you have to do two things like PTT AND HI/LO. That is what the manual for the Ray54 says you have to do to change the power to HI for channels other than 13 and 67,

I haven't found any regulations that says that the power has to be limited on certain channels. It must be somewhere since I can't imagine the radio manufactures making those restrictions on their own
 

Jody

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#19
That's what I got out of the directions also, doesn't make much sense to have to push two buttons at once to reach out and the way the mic is laid out you need to use two hands.
 
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#20
Jody said:
That's what I got out of the directions also, doesn't make much sense to have to push two buttons at once to reach out and the way the mic is laid out you need to use two hands.
I can't imagine having to do that in a panic while trying to call out on 16. You've probably already come to this conclusion but a new radio with DSC and AIS would be a good investment since you plan on doing a lot of off shore fishing this year. I had one of the Standard Horizon Matrix series of radios and it worked well.