View Full Version : VHF Radios and antennas

06-12-2010, 03:16 PM
I want to purchase a VHF Marine band Radio, what are options that are must haves and which brands do you all reccomend and or would stay away from? Also on the same note, an 8' or 4' antenna, brands and why? I don't quite understand these 1/4 wave, 1/2 wave and 5/8 wave antenna's? Does that have any thing to do with the transmit/ receive distance? Any good sites for information?
Thank All ............................ Rockezra

06-13-2010, 12:56 PM
When it comes to radios it's like Dodge, Ford and Chevy so you'll get plenty of responses on the radio. Many use Icom. I use Uniden because I like the wireless remote. I suggest thatyou should consider a full Class D VHF radio, one with two recievers. One for the emergency channel and the other the working channel.

Use a 8' antenna if you can mount it and store it. A 4' antenna would work well if installed on a T-Top or arch. VHF is line of sight so the higher the antenna the better. For antenna, I've used Shakespeare but I'm changing to a Digital 529. The Shakespeare antennas work well for a time then it fades or goes bad. I've gone through two Shakespeare antennas in 3 years. I've spent some time on various forums and found some of the guys that go out on the ocean recommend the Morad, Comrod, and Digital antennas due to their rugged construction and reliability. Morad is used by the Coast Guard but as I understand it requires a special mount and both the antenna and mount are pricy. One of the qualities of the Digital is that it uses a mini connector that's adapted to the standard connector. The advantage of this is that the antenna is tuned at the factory and requires no soldering. The mini connector is about the same size as the cable so it routes through the small holes. As for a website, I don't have one right off hand. I think West Marine has some info you can read online.

06-14-2010, 05:43 AM
Well Dennis pretty much covered the antennas, although I am using a Shakespeare that I have had for more than 6 years and the Shakespeare that's on the houseboat is about 10 years old. And don't confuse Digital as being a digital antenna...it is ONLY the brand name.

Radios are radios. Fixed mount all have a 1W/25W switch. One feature that I really appreciate is a 'rotary channel knob' instead of push button, because it's easier to select channels in rough waters. If you're going to work in open water, the DSC feature on some radios will be nice to have and for this reason you may want a radio with a larger viewing screen. Setting up some of these radios to work with GPS and SONAR can be challenging and I have found that mixing brands makes some harder to get working on the network. I've read lots of praise on ICOM radios, but I have fished on many boats with ICOM and I could never see or hear anything that would put that brand ahead of my West Marine which is made by Uniden.
The big tip is; You can keep some cost down by getting a radio that has the features you like and doesn't have a bunch of features you will never use.
Feel free to ask specific questions as you narrow down your search.


06-17-2010, 09:35 PM
Edd, Dennis
Thanks for the reply. I went to West Marine and checked things out. They had a Icom M504, Rotary dial, large screen, looked to be very user friendly and way to many bells and whistles but with tax it was almost $350, it was nice! So I was looking at the others including the West Marine Brand but I couldn't make up my mind. I then was looking at thier antennas, all they have are Shakespheare from about $40 to $200 there are a lot of quality differences between them. I had already went to the Shakespheare website trying to read up on the "whys and hows" as this all seems so confusing to me. And I noticed that all the Shakespheare Antennas at West Marine are "Mariner" models and the Shakespheare website doesn't even list the "Marnier" models? I asked 2 different sales people at the store if maybe they were made by Shakespheare for West Marine, but neither one knew. So I left the store with out purchasing a VHF, they still got me for over $100 of other cool stuff. Very nice store! At home I look in my latest "Overtons" marine catalog and they had the Icom M504 on sale for $279 along with the email 2 day special of an additional 15% off it was a no brainer, for $237 plus shipping I am now a proud owner of a VHF. Googled Shakespheare Mariner and got a blog on www.thehulltruth.com (http://www.thehulltruth.com) that said that the "Mariner" models were in fact made by Shakespheare for West Marine. They also said on the blog to ONLY purchase an antenna that uses the RG8X coax, never any with one of the RG58 series of coax's. Still looking at antennas, everyone! says to get an 8' one though. Does anyone make a 2 piece 8' antenna? 8' is just seems so long and in the way when it comes time to store/ transport it. Again thanks for your help.
Tight lines! ........................ Rockezra

06-17-2010, 10:23 PM
I'm not aware of a 2 piece 8' VHF antenna. You might be able to get a 4' antenna with a 4' extender. I just noticed that the Digital Brand makes a 4' extender. It looks like it screws together so I don't think it would be something that can be taken apart readily. It would be best to check to see if it would work with a VHF antenna. It might be meant for some other application.

If you have the boat length get the 8' antenna you won't be sorry. If there's no other way then get the best 4' antenna you can afford/

06-18-2010, 06:07 AM
The 'Mariner' is a private brand made by Shakespeare for West Marine. That's why you won't find it on the Shakespeare site. I have had nothing but excellent service from my Galaxy series antenna, but I see they have gone up in $ a bit. Depending on your boating location, you could be just fine with the Mariner series even though I'm sure it is not built to the same specs as the 'Classic' or 'Galaxy' antennas simply because of the specs offered on the WM site. It is half the price!


06-27-2010, 08:52 PM
Dennis & Edd,

Thanks again for your information, I just purchased a Shakespeare 5225XP 8 foot antenna, when EVERY one I talked to that has a radio tells me to get an 8 foot one then I get an 8 foot one! It just seems to long and it will get in my way. As EVERYBODY says you will get used to the length and you will not regret the extra performance! From my research, thanks guys!, the "pattern " from both a 4 footer and an 8 footer are the same shape. Something like a 4 or 8 foot high, miles long bow-tie but the 8 footer is twice as high and also is spread out a lot further, maybe not twice but much better. Also the range depends on the height of the antennae from the water, an 8 footer is going to be higher, as these radios pretty much operate on line of sight, the higher the better! Again thank all for your help. ........................ Tight Lines ...................... Rockezra