Handheld VHF - What to expect?

Redbeard

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I was planning on a bit of Dinghy Sailing last week and saw a good deal on a handheld VHF. I've never really used a handheld before apart from calling marinas etc from the deck of a yacht in the med. I turned it on expecting to pick up lots of chatter but apart from one call from Teignmouth Lifeboat to Solent Coastguard (and their reply) I didn't hear anything on it. I figured there was a problem so called Solent Coastguard myself for a radio check. They said I was weak but OK.

Is this normal? I was in Teignmouth Harbour and expected to hear something... anything. I was surprised to hear nothing except for the above on Ch16. I know handhelds aren't great at transmitting but I assumed it would receive OK.

Thanks in advance for any info.
 

pmagowan

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Were you line of sight with many boats that would have been broadcasting? A fixed VHF with an antenna up the mast has only limited range and it is not unusual to be able to pick up only the coastguard side of a conversation. If your handheld is at close to sea level and there are any surrounding topographical features between you and a transmitter then you will not pick up much.
 

Sailingsaves

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I was planning on a bit of Dinghy Sailing last week and saw a good deal on a handheld VHF. I've never really used a handheld before apart from calling marinas etc from the deck of a yacht in the med. I turned it on expecting to pick up lots of chatter but apart from one call from Teignmouth Lifeboat to Solent Coastguard (and their reply) I didn't hear anything on it. I figured there was a problem so called Solent Coastguard myself for a radio check. They said I was weak but OK.

Is this normal? I was in Teignmouth Harbour and expected to hear something... anything. I was surprised to hear nothing except for the above on Ch16. I know handhelds aren't great at transmitting but I assumed it would receive OK.

Thanks in advance for any info.

I'd say pretty standard for TX although would expect to hear others with their high aerials.

I was 1 nm from a receiving station in dinghy and tested standard horizon handheld; "weak barely readable" - attached a homemade aerial and held it aloft with oar; "loud and clear"; rubber duck aerials are poor - get and adaptor and emergency aerial and hoist it aloft.
 

Redbeard

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Thanks for the thoughts.

Yes, of course talked about ranges when doing my SRC, but as I was only half a mile away max from lots of boats I was expecting more. I was scanning all the channels too but it didn't find anything. I see what you mean about the DSC being used but I would have thought there was something there.

Good idea about the homemade aerial for emergencies. I'll try that.
 

Momac

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I use a handheld - icom m23 - frequently.
River based so use it to talk to lock keepers. It does have limitations in that it has to be held with the antenna up - laid on the seat may well fail to receive (note to self to get some means to secure it in a handy location and in an upright position ).
Range a couple of km easily even with obstructions such as bends in the river and hills.
http://www.gaelforcemarine.co.uk/en...tm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=UnitedKingdom

.
 

Redbeard

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That's what I bought, the Icom M23. Hmm. More testing required I think. Shame I live about as far as is possible from the sea...
 

JumbleDuck

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I have an Icom M31, bought second hand from a forum site. It works fine, but the squelch is highly unpredictable; sometimes it needs 4/5 bars to shut it up and then can't pickup anything. How's your squelching?
 

William_H

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I use a handheld - icom m23 - frequently.
River based so use it to talk to lock keepers. It does have limitations in that it has to be held with the antenna up - laid on the seat may well fail to receive (note to self to get some means to secure it in a handy location and in an upright position ).
Range a couple of km easily even with obstructions such as bends in the river and hills.
http://www.gaelforcemarine.co.uk/en...tm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=UnitedKingdom

.
Agree. There is quite a lot of loss if the transmit antenna is not in the same plane as the receive antenna. ie all fixed antenna are vertical (vertical polarised) so if receive antenna (HH) is not held vertical much is lost. Similarly even one metre above water is far better than .3 metre above water.
So hold HH high and vertical for best reception and transmission. (or fit an external high antenna) good luck olewill
 

bremar

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Hi,
Following on the responses that talk about extending the aerial on a hand held I have searched the forum before on this issue and didn't find anything. I have an old icom ic-M31. Do you just buy a wire extension aerial that screws into the existing aerial socket or just a longer aerial or is it a home made job??
I used mine this august in salcomb to get harbour taxis but can imagin it wouldn't be to good if I had needed it when we were out at sea in out little 18 ft trailer sailer.
Thanks Bremar.
 

rbmatthews

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Does anyone actually DSC? Putting all those numbers in is tedious with both my fixed and handheld VHFs even if I can see the MMSI on the AIS display. :(

Richard

Starting to use it more and more. We keep all the numbers we need - mostly CGs and a few others - in the memory store. It is only 2-3 button pushes to get through, and it switches automatically to the CG working channel, often Ch67, and we carry on with voice transmission. We have never called anyone else up out of the blue using their MMSI number, though - can't really see the need to do that often (unless we know them or are on a collision course, I suppose), and we don't have AIS anyway.
 

RichardS

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Starting to use it more and more. We keep all the numbers we need - mostly CGs and a few others - in the memory store. It is only 2-3 button pushes to get through, and it switches automatically to the CG working channel, often Ch67, and we carry on with voice transmission. We have never called anyone else up out of the blue using their MMSI number, though - can't really see the need to do that often (unless we know them or are on a collision course, I suppose), and we don't have AIS anyway.

The only number in my fixed VHF is the handheld and the only number in the handheld VHF is the fixed. I can DSC the wife from the supermarket when I forget what I've been sent for!

Yes, I know, not a correct use of VHF but, as the OP says, no-one else is using it. :encouragement:

Richard
 

Fantasie 19

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Hi,
Following on the responses that talk about extending the aerial on a hand held I have searched the forum before on this issue and didn't find anything. I have an old icom ic-M31. Do you just buy a wire extension aerial that screws into the existing aerial socket or just a longer aerial or is it a home made job??
I used mine this august in salcomb to get harbour taxis but can imagin it wouldn't be to good if I had needed it when we were out at sea in out little 18 ft trailer sailer.
Thanks Bremar.

This may help..

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.php?424538-External-aerial-for-Standard-Horizon-HX280E
 

rob2

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I think the chances are that all the traffic you were expecting will be on other channels - 67 for Coastguard and private channels for marinas, clubs, race committee boats, etc. It has certainly got a lot quieter around the Solent since all the CG traffic is no longer on 16.

Your HH is waterproof, but any emergency antenna is unlikely to be so andshould you capsize the dinghy, it most likely won't work until the water has largely drained off. Indeed if immersed, the feeder cable may take up water giving you a long-term mismatch which could also damage the radio due to increased reflectance. With that in mind, it should be possible to seal the antenna and cable, but that will require extra layers of protection.

Rob.
 

Sailingsaves

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William_H

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Hi,
Following on the responses that talk about extending the aerial on a hand held I have searched the forum before on this issue and didn't find anything. I have an old icom ic-M31. Do you just buy a wire extension aerial that screws into the existing aerial socket or just a longer aerial or is it a home made job??
I used mine this august in salcomb to get harbour taxis but can imagin it wouldn't be to good if I had needed it when we were out at sea in out little 18 ft trailer sailer.
Thanks Bremar.

No best bet is to buy an SMA to BNC or PL259 adaptor. Unscrew your existing HH antenna and the adaptor should screw in. You then need a cable and plug to go on the adaptor to an antenna. 17.5 inches of wire connected to the centre of the coax is all you need. Plus wire or mast bulk at least 17,5 inches long connected to the screen of the coax makes a ground plane for the antenna.
On my little boat I use an extended post on the stern rail going about 30cms above the rail. The coax goes through this to under deck. The screen clamps to the top of the post. The ss rod is held in the top of the post by bits of plastc conduit and tubing so that it is held firm but insulated. Works brilliantly.
More details if you PM me. Or just buy a stern rail mounted antenna or fit a mast head antenna. good luck olewill
 
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