Handheld VHF

I need me a hand held VHF radio for my trip down the Mississippi. Cheap would be nice. Also something that uses easily available batteries as I won’t be able to recharge.


Satndard Horizon HX270S

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 2:39 PM EST –

Bought one this spring, best price we could find on a submersible - works well, came with a tray that lets you use AA batteries - BUT - you can't use AA rechargeables, according to the product docs...

I Second That
I think. I recently bought the HX270S and so far, so good. Haven’t really had it long enough to judge it. I do know the price is way low and the AA battery tray is included with it. (I haven’t used the AA battery tray).

Wow…$88. on sale
and gets great reviews…maybe Santa will come early this year??


Recharging on the Mississippi

– Last Updated: Nov-07-08 10:52 PM EST –

Unless, you're traveling non-stop, you'll have plenty of places to recharge if you have to. I suspect that you'd make the whole trip with only one or two recharges anyway.

I suspect . . .
. . . I won’t see electricity more than a couple of times the whole way. I will be camping the whole time and not in commercial locations.

Price match with westmarine online

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 7:56 PM EST –

I got the HX270s last year. Like it a lot. I got it for $99 I think, price matched at westmarine online. Because it was under $100, 5 yr extended warranty was something like $15. Covers water damage and corrosion damage. I did that and don't use a water proof pouch. If it fails on the exact same day that I have a critical need I'll just consider myself to have been very unlucky ;).


I wonder about NiH AAs

– Last Updated: Oct-22-08 1:35 PM EST –

The user manual states that the reason rechargeables shouldn’t be used is that there’s no over current or over heat protection in the battery tray. I don’t see how NiMH can cause over current but alkaline can't. NiMH batteries run at a pretty constant voltage, 1.2 V dropping only to 1.1 V with discharge. Alkaline voltage is more of a linear slope starting at 1.5V and tapering off from there during discharge. How far the voltage drops on alkaline depends on where the device cuts out, typically 0.7 V, higher for some devices. So if anything I would think there could be a problem with under current during use for NiH compared to fully charged alkaline.

I originally thought maybe the problem was with trying to use the VHF radio and charger to recharge the NiMH batteries, but I don’t think there’s any way to do that. A West Marine salesman told me he’s pretty sure people use the NiH AAs without a problem. I've never used the battery tray so never double checked with SH. My question to them would be; why is over current a concern with NiH but not alkaline?

By the way, the one thing I don't like about the radio is there's no charge indicator except to tell you when the battery is almost empty of charge, and then critically empty. To know when charging is complete, the user manual just says it takes about 10 hrs to charge a fully discharged battery.

Nimh batteries lose their charge over time, so not the best choice as a backup battery. Akalines or maybe lithium would be a better choice. I also found that the battery on the HX270s to last for quite a while. For what I used mine for, it was still going strong after a two week trip.

Some guy on eBay . . .
. . . is sellin’ 'em for 88 something including shipping!

For purely backup purposes, it would probably be best to pack a bunch of alkaline batteries, and still change them out once per year.

For regular consumption though, like in my GPS, I use NiMH. I just make sure and top them off before the trip if it’s been over 30 days since recharge.

I carry extra of both, actually. I use the NiMH but if those ever deplete I have the alkaline.

Also I keep alkaline in my diode headlamp and flashlight. Power usage is so low that I don’t want to have to pull the batteries all the time just to recharge.

Battery life and water tightness

– Last Updated: Oct-22-08 3:21 PM EST –

As others mentioned, the life on the battery pack really is long. As a test I left mine on around the clock to see how long it would last. I don't think I was scanning channels at first. After a couple days I set it to scan. After another day or so I set it to broadcast a weather channel pretty high volume about like I would have it in rough water (had to put it in my car, under a stack of towels, so we couldn't hear it in the house.) After I think about 18 hrs I turned off the boadcast and turned on the display light continuously. Finally in another hour or two it ran out of juice. I wish I had recorded the times and modes (on, scan, boadcast, display light.) It lasted a lot longher than I thought it would though.

I wouldn't go to the battery tray unless you have to. Everytime you change the battery pack/tray in and out there's some wear on the seal.

NiMH self-discharge

– Last Updated: Oct-22-08 3:56 PM EST –

The Sanyo Eneloop batteries have a near-zero self-discharge rate, but a lower capacity than conventional AA NiMH batteries(2000mAh vs. 2700). They still last longer than alkalines in things like flashlights and cameras. I've been happy with them.


Uniden Handheld VHF
I got years of good service from my old Uniden HH978XL (radio still works fine… battery pack died and costs more to replace that it’s worth… and not submersible). About two years ago I bought a MHS550, and it is great. It not only does everything most VHF radio’s do, it is also FRS, AM, FM, and aircraft.

Marine radio
Hi try ebay there are many there to choose from. I got one a midland works great.

I ended up . . .
. . . with the Standard Horizon HX270S for about $89 to my door. Seems to be very well made.

You may

– Last Updated: Nov-07-08 10:53 PM EST –

You won't be using your radio more than two times a day... 1. To check the forecast. 2. To call the lock master to tell 'em you're coming through.

There are plenty of places to plug in a charger along the way. You'll end up using some campgrounds with outlets. Shopping for food, you can plug in if you ask. It's not that remote. I did the section from Jacobson, MN to Dubuque, IA and ate lunch at a diner almost every day!

My guess is you'll recharge twice max for the whole trip.