vhf radio

Ok trying to educate myself on a good vhf radio. I would suppose that ideally you would want the thing close to your shoulder so you could hear well and minimize effort to transmit, that it should be waterproog (ideally) or in a bag, and that it has sufficeient range and power to get the job done.

I would like suggestions as I really don’t know anything about all this.

I saw this one and was wondering why it is so cheap?


(it does not say it is waterproof…)


VHF radio
That one certainly is cheap. It is not much more than an souped up FRS/GMRS radio with a bigger antenna. Keep it away from water. I am in the market for one and have decided on the ICOM M88. About $300. It is small, submersible, has 1, 3 or 5 watt setting, has LIon batteries for Loooooooonnnng life, built like a tank, plus a ton of accessories.

clos to the last ring of defense

– Last Updated: Aug-16-05 6:23 AM EST –

If I ever have to use one to Call the CG for myself I might well never paddle again, If I live. Bottom line: get the best!

You may even use them for communication between groups etc, but for me it's the emergency function that counts.

I don’t get it.
I don’t get it. Isn’t this a VHF radio? doesn’t it transmit and receive on chanel 16? doesn’t it give weather information?

what am I missing here? what is lacking ?

The ability to work after being
immersed and abused. If the stuff hits the fan and you need this thing you will really need it. Waterproof Bags will not work 100% all the time, even if they did, the humidity and temperatures will get to the electronics gear inside, unless it’s very well made and waterproof already, in which case the bag is not necesary.

That’s my two cents. If that does not make sense, I’ve got some really cheap old climbing rope to sell

making sense
Now that you explained yourself with some detail your opinion would make sense to some. having photographed professionally for over 20 years, I have seen underwater housings and $3000 underwater cameras admit water more times than I care to talk about. And I am not even an underwater photographer.

No guarantee that a waterproof radio will not fail the same way that a bag might. You would probably be correct to put a waterproof radio inside a bag and then you would double your chances of successfully keeping it dry.

I dunno. is there a reason why an underwater o seal around the casing of a vhf radio would cause it to be around 100 dollars higher? that’s what really doesn’t make sense.


You’re not paying $100 for the o-ring…
…you’re paying for the guarantee.

Just like when I pay $30 to Snap-On for a wrench, I’m really buying a ten dollar wrench, and the two more they’re betting I’ll break.

It’s a lot more than an o ring

– Last Updated: Aug-13-05 9:21 PM EST –

it's a better design, a better grade of electronics, perhaps SMD's, it's different design from the ground up. A cheap chassis vs an expensive die cast one. Cheap plastic case vs tough plastic case or die cast aluminum.

If you need an education about the difference between mil-spec electronics and the cheapest of consumer gear then that is what you need. Again I doubt my radio will ever be needed to save a life but I would not buy russian ice screws (except leave behind as an anchor point for rapelling, and I would not buy a cheap marine radio).

Do you think a 15th century japanese sword is the equivalent of what you can find on QVC? Heck the new one is even stainless. It's the design, materials, degree of resistance to abuse that makes the difference.

here I go again…
I guess what I am trying to say is this.

A toyota echo will get you to and from work (I know I have one)

I could just as easily have increased my payments 50 bucks a month and driven a much “nicer” car.

both get me there.

so, again, the nicer car will have better chassis, better electronics, etc etc, but the basic function is to get you from point a to point b

I need a radio that gets me from point a (me) to point b (the rescuer). It does not need leather seats or a sunroof.

I am just trying to get to the basics here, and if it turns out that the best “basic” is in fact a $300 radio, then I will cheerfully spend the money on it.


In easy to understand terms…
You’ve just broken out of jail and you’re being actively pursued by the cops. If they catch you, you’re getting sent to the electric-chair tomorrow, and you didn’t do what you were convicted of. You need a good get-away car to get you from point A (the jail) to point B (Mexico).

Would you rather use a Yugo or a Ferrari as your get-away vehicle? Which would offer you the best chances of escape and less headache?

(let’s say there are lots of Ferrari’s out there for all you smart-asses who will say, “I’d take the Yugo because the cops will notice the Ferrari more.”)

Paul, I have both.
I carry our paddle club’s expensive Uniden Voyager vhf on sanctioned trips, my own Wal-mart Cobra cheapie when solo. The Cobra has all of the features of the Uniden, but I’d be amazed if it still works two years from now considering the pounding I put on my gear. The Uniden is very robust and will no doubt still be chugging along. I think what Peter and I are trying to say is that the extra dollars will buy durability and warranty, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

A couple of guesses

– Last Updated: Aug-14-05 12:26 PM EST –

It does not have a battery save ie transmit with 1 watt. Does not have a battery charger and not waterproof. I picked up a West Marine model for $100 more that came with a waterproof bag ( even though it is JIS7 the most "waterproof rating",) AC and dc chargers for the NICad pack and a tray for alkaline batteries. It also has a 1 watt or 5 watt option. It has been immersed more than a few times and keeps working. I guess why that is more expensive than the Midland model.
I mainly use mine in the Golden Gate to alert vessels of my presence. Fog and large swells mean low visablity. There is lots of small boat traffic outside of the shipping lanes.

I have an ICOM M1V

– Last Updated: Aug-13-05 6:52 PM EST –

This is just as good as the M88, a little larger, $100 cheaper, ICOM reliability.

You can get LOTS of $10, $20, $50 crap at Wal*mart that you can use for paddling the local community pond, but when it comes to life-saving equipment that must stand the conditions of the sea, you had better pony up the dough for the tried and true (consider it an insurance premium).

I got my Icom M88 today. I found the lowest online price ($243), went to the local West Marine and they agreed to match the price. This unit also has a $50 rebate from Icom for a net cost of $193. Part of the difference in cost is the battery. This one has a lithum ion battery offering twice the power up time as standard batteries and better performamce that nicad or nimh cells. There are also many more features. If you have a waterproof box to keep your $50 radio in and promise not to use your while floating in your PFD, you can save $140. I hope to never have to use this, but if I do, I am counting on it working.

Uniden MHS-350 Hand-Held VHF 2-Way Marin
Uniden MHS-350 Hand-Held VHF 2-Way Marine Radio. I just bought this one. It is rated JIS7 and claims to be submerible. Now somebody explain to me how to use the damn thing!

Midland makes CB’s GMRS (walkie-talkies), weather radios, and a few marine VHFs.

Icom makes radios for aviation and the military as well as marine VHF.

West might have the muscle
to produce a decent private label product. Even Icom makes a private label model for them.

I think I made it clear that I don’t mind paying $300 or even 1000 if in fact there is a guarantee that the extra money will cause it to work better. The analogy of spending $30 for a tool because you know that you will break it twice and the warranty covers replacement will do me absolutely no good out on the water.

The same goes for the Yugo and the Ferrari…I want to be rescued. Are you saying that the message will be transmitted faster? Please.

Tsunamichuck mentioned some really good reasons and comparisons that make sense. Thank you. Your responses were based on safety and not consumerism.

Just trying to learn here folks. As you can probably tell, I am not one to fall into the consumer “gotta have the latest” trend. I photographed professionally for over 20 years and believe me, I know a little about marketing and was actively involved in trying to get you to buy stuff. Not the best stuff, but whatever could be manufactured the cheapest, with a nice shiny cover on it. Half the stuff out there sold as “new” is old technology bought at a bargain price in the warehouses all over the world that they were unable to move any other way.

so excuse me if I probe a bit and ask questions designed to find out about quality and features.


The analogy…
that I was going for with the Yugo and the Ferrari was that if you were going to use something to help save your life, would you use a cheap piece of crap that isn’t really designed to be reliable in the situation that you will be using it for, or would you want to use something that was better suited for what you will be betting your life with.

Maybe I should have used the Pinto and Abrams analogy.

My bad.

Where your at now and where you paddle a cell phone will do all you need except get the weather… 911 works well… and with a VHF someone has to be listening. Only time I really use mine is when we get really spread out, like fishing. I may carry a GPS and a VHF but almost never turn them on…

Think ICOM!