FIXED VHF RADIO REPORTS

 


NASA Stingray 5600

By Dave S

I have found this unit to be easy to use and read the channel display.
It has the normal buttons and features of most other sets. Dual watch is one feature I do like, it means I can listen on any channel and also listen in on channel 16. The only thing I forgot was that when using this function you are unable to talk to anyone until this is switched off. I use a stainless steel whip arial and it appears to work satisfactorily with reasonable range.
Would I buy another? Yes but it would be updated version with DSC facility now.


 


NASA 35X DSC VHF radio

Nasa Marine's new full DSC VHF fixed radio is complete, no DSC controllers to add later.

By Jim

The NASA SX35 is an integrated marine VHF DSC radio, this means for all the benefits to be derived you need to get a VHF license for the set along with a MMSI number. Be careful entering the MMSI as the set only allows you to enter it once.
To gain the most benefit from DSC features you should have a GPS and connect the NMEA output from the GPS to the radio. The user guide for the GPS and radio should allow you to do this. Ensure you set up the communication speeds etc to be the same. It took me about an hour in total to wire it up and get it working I'd rate the complexity as being similar to adding a printer to a computer. When all is well the GPS co-ordinates will be displayed on the screen of the radio.

Overall performance as a radio has been fine, no obvious defects on transmission or receiving.
The layout of the dials is OK and whilst the lat and long display could be bigger it is adequate.
The casing is plastic rather than metal and the set is splash proof rather than waterproof so should be mounted in a dry area.
I've seen this set advertised at just under £200 so for what you get it is competitively priced. My one major complaint about the set is that the power cord is not detachable from the back of the set to allow for easy removal of the radio for security purposes.

Its got the usual features of channel scanning, memory scanning and transmit powers 1W and 25W. This was part of a package deal with the boat and to be honest if I was getting a brand new DSC VHF, I'd probably prefer to go for one that is fully waterproof.


 


Swiftech M-168

The VHF has a quirk in that if I'm in dual scan mode, it won't transmit on anything except channel 16. Otherwise, it has survived three seasons on a fast boat without complaint.


 

Raymarine Ray 53

By Bob

I'm new to VHF so I've looked at a lot of different kit and read reviews from all the trade press. Many people I know have hand helds and I watch them get bounced around the bottom of boats and bashed in pockets as well as soaked and lost, so I decided I needed a compact fixed VHF that was easily detached from the boat to take ashore and was completely waterproof. I also realised that it should have DSC as standard for future use and second hand value.

There seemed to be nothing sensible available in the UK under £200.00 even from the mail order houses so I looked at the USA where they are plentiful and less than half the price. I was given loads of conflicting information and scare stories about how they wouldn't work properly in UK and all the channels would be wrong (?) .One dealer even suggested that the current would be wrong for use in the UK (?). At this point I decided I wasn't getting any useful independent advice and went to seek help from a strange old friend who had been using Ham radio since the year dot and the information was quite simple. If its specification stated all international channels then it'll work fine over here. If it doesn't then it can probably be reset to receive all international channels with a bit of cheap of software from the manufacturer that they send out free to their UK dealers.

The only likely channels to be missing would be the M1 and M2 used primarily for yacht racing in The UK. It wouldn't affect the ability to contact marina's as they would all function on standard VHF channels as well.

So I settled for a bargain. The Ray 53 comes with an impressive array of features. The SC-101 DSC (Digital Selective Calling) capability enables you to transmit vital emergency information including your boats identification, position and time the distress call was sent using NMEA data from your GPS or Loran. The Ray 53 also offers popular VHF features such as scan, memory scan, weather channels, dual and tri-watch and 16/9 key plus a new oversized LCD which displays extra-large channel characters, squelch and volume levels, and functional indicators.

SC-101 compliant DSC
25 Watt power ( or optional 1 watt )
Waterproof to US CFR-46 standard
Backlit Keypad/Display
Scans all channels or user selected channels
Quick access to channel 16

Microphone controls for transmit (top and bottom Push-To-Talk switches), channel selection, 16/9 key, and sending of distress calls

I can dual scan channel 16 and 6 if I want to and the unit is less that 6 inches wide and deep. The display is large and clear and the speaker is loud. These units come with a choice of registering in Europe or US regardless of where purchased and apart from a couple of optional features that are US specific (you don't have to set these) I have yet to discover a downside. The unit comes off its mount fairly easily and has a connecter block that lets you disconnect the power lead for removal of the unit.

I'm well pleased with it and will update if any problems occur in future.Shopping around it cost me under £100.00 including carriage.

Update to the Raymarine report

The unit was reasonably easy to connect to the Garmin GPS, the Raymarine email tech support gave me all the deatils I needed for wiring them together.
Entering the MMSI number was a bit of a fiddle as there is no alpha numeric keypad, but the number entered ok and the unit displays the letters NMEA on the display to let me know that it has a signal from the GPS.
You get what you pay for, this unit is fine for my needs now, but consider a unit that has an alpha numeric keypad if your likely to do a lot of intership communication in the future.


 

Silva S10 DSC radio

The new Silva S10, is Silva's entry level DSC VHF .It has all the functionality of a top of the range, fully featured marine DSC VHF receiver, in a waterproof* housing. The large LCD display is able to display up to 8 lines of information, or of course single items of information in a large easy to read format.

Features:
Rugged fully waterproof* construction.
Programmable memory scan - lets you store and scan an unlimited number of your most often used channels.
Large LCD readout - Allows viewing even in direct sunlight.
Channel 16 instant access button.
Security keylock - allowing operation only on channel selected.
25 Watts output power - for clear communication even at maximum range.
Front mounted DISTRESS button with protective cover.
Waterproof* Fist/Microphone with integral numeric keypad, channel select and DSC function buttons.
Meets CE standards EN301-025, EN60945 complies with R & TTE directive for non-compulsory fit handheld VHF radios.

Specifications
General:
Input voltage: 11 - 16VDC
Frequency range: 156.025 - 163.275Mhz
Channels: 1-28, 60-88 (excl CH70).
Ch70 only receiver for DSC distress, urgency and safety (using single antenna).
RF power output: 25 Watts
Low power: 1 Watt

Current drain:
Standby: 0.3A
Receive: 0.9A
Transmit: 5.0A high power

Dimensions(mm): 79(H) X 179(W) X 130(D)

Weight (grms): 1175g

* Silva S10DSC Meets IPX-7 standard and is waterproof to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes.

Urgent Safety Notice - SILVA RECALLS EARLY S10 FIXED DSC VHF RADIOS FOR CRITICAL UPGRADE

(9 December 2005) Silva Ltd has today issued a recall for an early batch of S10 fixed DSC VHF radios. These radios carry the serial numbers 0300001 to 0401060 and were supplied to the market between December 2003 and May 2004.

Very recently Silva received feedback that an S10 DSC radio from this batch had transmitted a distress signal that was received by the coastguard. The latter successfully established contact with the vessel concerned, however the GPS position transmitted by the unit was immediately obvious as erroneous, and it is for this reason that all the units from this batch are being recalled.

The manufacturer responsible for this particular run was replaced in 2004 by a UK-owned and managed company with ISO 9000 accreditation and a reputation for excellent quality control and consistency, and tests of subsequent S10 units have shown them to be working at 100% of specification.

To ensure that the recall process causes the minimum of disruption Silva has put in place a fast and simple returns service that delivers a brand new S10 direct to affected owners while at the same time collecting their original sets for return to the company Ė all at no cost to themselves. Full details can be obtained by calling 01506 406288 or going to http://www.silva.se/vhf

The serial number on each S10 can be found both on the top right of the upper surface of the VHF casing, and on the outside of the box in which the unit was supplied.

Silva apologises unreservedly for any inconvenience caused, but is confident that the recall is the most prudent option in the interests of both customer safety and satisfaction.


Silva S15 DSC radio

The Silva S15 dsc radio is a very advanced and complex radio (compared to others in it's class) and needs a good read of the manual several times to take in. I'm sure it could be made easier!


 

Navman 7100

By John S


I bought the navman as a replacement for a swiftech 198.
I chose the navman because of its ease of use as much as anything else.
The instructions are written in English rather than translated so they're that much easier to understand. The radio has performed perfectly in the limited time I've had it,the speaker is more audible than the swiftech.

I've not had chance to use the DSC feature yet as there's not that many people on the system yet but I can see the sending of individual calls will be useful as will the position request.
The installation was easy and with a bit of advice the GPS interface wasn't to difficult to set up.

SPECIFICATION
Supplied with microphone, bracket and flush-mount kit.
Builds on the benefits of DSC-integrated models
Sturdy casing designed for use in extreme conditions.
Simple installation thanks to the flush-mount kit supplied as standard.
Large FTSN display (46 x 26 mm), with amber backlight (display + keys).
4 lines of text display DSC, NMEA and channels data.
Integrated and independent DSC.
DSC to a boat, a group of boats or a shore station.
Dual/Tri watch, All-Scan and Favourite Channel scan modes.
Position polling.
Waterproof microphone, 5 backlit keys.
All international channels, plus ATIS function for inland waterways in Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Local/distant feature eliminates unwanted interference in high traffic areas.
Connects easily to all GPS receivers (via NMEA), to transmit boat position in an emergency.
Saves 20 individual calls, 10 distress calls and up to 30 favourite channels.
DISTRESS button is protected by a flap and Channel 16 key is independent.


REPORT 2

Navman 7100

By Dave


I bought the Navman as a replacement for my old radio which had one segment on the display fail.
The installation was easy although I did not install it flush, it comes with all the fittings to do this, as I remove all my electronics when on the trailer.

I have a Navman 5100 plotter so the connection was simple, however it was made even easier when I looked on the web site and found a wiring diagram on the FAQ. Well worth a look if you have any problems.
Navman FAQ
I agree with John's report and have found it has an improved range/reception over my old unit but I suspect it is mainly due to the fact that it is new and has improved electronics. Well worth the money as well as peice of mind.


 

Icom 421 Euro DSC VHF Radio

If you're looking for a budget DSC/VHF Marine Radio, then the Icom 421 Euro could be just the ticket. At the time of writing, it is on offer at less that £150 and comes feature-packed. In fact, some more expensive models would struggle to match this superb product.

Combined DSC/VHF VHF Marine Transceiver
Compact in size and easy to use, the IC-M421 Combined DSC/VHF Transceiver is ideal for pleasure craft, small commercial fishing boats or any user that require Class D DSC equipped radio for next April's EU rule changes.

JIS Grade 7 waterproof protection
The IC-M421, including the microphone, has waterproof protection, equivalent to JIS waterproof specification grade 7 *. Equivalent to IPX7 of the corresponding international standard IEC 60529 (2001). 1m depth for 30 minutes.

Compact
The IC-M421 is extremely compact measuring only 164(W) x 78(H) x 139.5(D) mm.

Built-in Class D DSC
The IC-M421 has a built-in Ch 70 (DSC channel) receiver, which monitors activity, even while you are receiving another channel. When in an emergency situation, an automated distress call can be sent with a touch of a button.

Digital selective calling features
The DSC uses a unique ID (MMSI code) similar to a telephone number. So you can make a contact with intended ID station or group directly or all ships in the area. When connected to an external GPS receiver, the position request and position report functions allow you to exchange ships position information. The polling (request/reply) function checks whether a specific ship is in communication range. A total of 100 address IDs can be programmed with 10-character address name and up to 40 received DSC messages (20 distress and 20 other calls) can be stored.

Large LCD with Dot-matrix characters
The IC-M421 has full dot-matrix display with up to 168-character capability that allows you to see a host of information such as channel number, channel name, position and DSC data etc. With the backlit display, the large buttons and knobs, the IC-M421 is easy to operate.

Loud Speaker Audio
The IC-M421 has a large speaker grille, which gives excellent audio quality from the front-mounted speaker. This results in clear reception, even over wind or engine noise.

Specifications:
Powerful, compact, combined fixed VHF/DSC at a competitive price.
Durable, stylish and compact design allows for flexible installation and long product life.
JIS7 equivalent waterproof construction. *1m depth for 30 minutes;
Simple to use operation with a large, user-friendly key layout.
Built in Class D DSC capability. Separate Ch.70 receiver built in. One push distress call operation.
NMEA Input for GPS receiver connection. NMEA 0183 version.: 2.0 or 3.01. Sentence formats: RMC, GGA, GNS, GLL.
Programmable channel comment. Automatically scrolls when more than 8 characters are programmed.
Dual/Tri watch plus multiple scans as in the rest of the Icom marine range.
Large backlit LCD with easy to read characters. Full dot LCD allows up to 126 (6 lines x 21 characters) to be displayed.
Improved standard hand-mic and speaker performance for clear voice transmission and audio.
Large front mounted speaker for crisp and clear audio.
External speaker connection possible.
Optional 3 year warranty
2-step power saver function
Supplied remote function microphone for convenient channel and transmit power selection
Up to 70 programmable channels
Simple and easy tag scanning system
Dual watch and Tri-watch functions
Low voltage indicator for low battery alert
UK marina channels included
25W or 1W output power


Standard Horizon VM-3500E

The Standard Horizon VM-3500E Fixed VHF radio sports a host of special features, plus has been designed to withstand the harsh reality of life at sea.

Measuring 90mm high x 230mm wide x 150mm deep and weighing just 1.45kgs, the design includes over sized knobs for easier adjustment of Volume, Squelch, channel selection, and when searching through radio and Digital Selective Calling functions.

The main function knobs are easy to identify with the main emergency DSC Channel 16/9 selector highlighted in red with white numbers, and the High/Low frequency button in grey with white letters.

Itís rated DSC Format Class D and can transmit, when activated, an automated MAYDAY transmission that includes your current GPS position, the date and time when connected to a GPS, plus will also send and receive DSC emergency, Safety, Group and Individual calls.

Output is 25-watt high and 1-watt low, the latter for close range transmission to nearby vessels. Current drain during transmit is 5.0A at 25-Watt output and 1.5A at 1-Watt output. Standby takes just 0.5A drain.

The VM-3500E sports one of the largest available LCD screens with 4 lines of Alpha-Numeric characters giving easy reading of display channel names and DSC call information. The LCD is backlit in orange with bold black characters that really stand out in all light levels.

There are Programmable Scan, Dual Watch and Channel 16 priority scan options so you can listen in to any number of channels, or combinations of channels to give maximum coverage of all calls.
The 5.6cm sized front projecting waterproof speaker provides an ultra loud audio to make sure transmissions are heard over engine noise.

The Mic is a waterproof Clear Voice microphone to reduce wind noise and back ground noise levels for maximum clarity of transmission. This sports independent function keys and has its own LCD screen to remotely control the radio.
You can also purchase an additional one of these which can be linked up as a second station microphone housed on a fly bridge for example, and work the radio via the remote Micís function keys.

Also featured is a 30-watt Loud Hailer with 4 pre-programmed Fog signals, bells, whistles and even a listen back option. You can also self select the fog horn frequency to use.
The on board PA system can also still operate whilst listening in to a pre-selected VHF channel so no transmissions are missed.

When connected to a Standard Horizon Chart Plotter you can privately poll and display another vessels position that has transmitted a DSC Distress call making navigation to that vessel simple.
You can also use this function to locate and track long range buddy boats.

The set is also waterproof and said to be capable of withstanding direct waves washing over the unit and even full submersal, so itís ideal for larger centre console craft as well as cabin craft putting it in the widest audience market possible.


 

Disclaimer: Everything written in these reports are based on personal experience and the individual's opinion only. I have tried my best to present the facts correctly, but I/we take no responsibility for any mistakes or omissions.

Return to Index Page