The Best VHF Marine Radio 2021

The best VHF marine radio is using Digital Selective Calling (DSC) which is a semi-automated method of establishing a radio call, it has been designated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as an international standard for establishing VHF, MF and HF radio calls. It has also been designated as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). It is planned that DSC will eventually replace aural watches on distress frequencies and will be used to announce routine and urgent maritime safety information broadcasts.

This system allows mariners to instantly send a distress call with GPS position (when connected to the transceiver) to the Coast Guard and other vessels within range of the transmission. DSC will also allow mariners to initiate or receive Distress, Urgency, Safety, Routine, Position Request, and Position Report, Automatic Position Polling, and Group calls to or from another vessel equipped with a DSC transceiver.

About The Best Vhf Marine Radio

The radio frequencies used in the best VHF marine radio band lie between 156 and 158 MHz with some shore stations available between 161 and 163 MHz. The marine VHF band provides communications over distances that are essentially “line of sight” (VHF signals do not travel well through objects such as buildings, hills or trees).

Actual transmission range depends much more on antenna type, gain and height than on the power output of the transmitter. On a fixed mount 25W radio transmission expected distances can be greater than 15 miles, for a portable 5W radio transmission the expected distance can be greater than 5 miles in “line of sight”.

Selecting An Antenna For The Best Vhf Marine Radio

The best VHF marine antenna are made to radiate signals equally in all horizontal directions, but not straight up. The objective of a marine antenna is to enhance the signal toward the horizon. The degree to which this is accomplished is called the antenna’s gain. It is measured in decibels (dB) and is one of the major factors in choosing an antenna.

In terms of effective radiated power(ERP), antennas are rated on the basis of how much gain they have over a theoretical antenna with zero gain. A 3-foot, 3dB gain antenna represents twice as much gain over the imaginary antenna. Typically a 3-foot 3dB gain stainless steel whip is used on a sailboat mast. The longer 8-foot 6dB fiberglass whip is primarily used on power boats that require the additional gain.

What Is The Range For Ais Receivers?
Since AIS uses similar frequencies as the best VHF marine radio, it has similar radio reception capabilities – which are basically line of sight. This means that the higher the VHF antenna is mounted, the greater the reception area will be. Reception from Class A vessels that are 20 or even 30 miles away on open water is not uncommon as their antennas are mounted high off the water. Class B transponders use lower power for transmissions; therefore you can expect Class B vessels to be acquired when they are 5 to 10 miles away.

Our Best VHF Marine Radio Selection:

Standard Horizon GX2000 Matrix 

Best VHF Marine Radio

The best VHF marine radio for mariners who already have an AIS Transponder or AIS black box receiver onboard. VHF marine radio with AIS receiver or transponder input, Waypoint navigation and 30W loud hailer. RAM3+ second station compatible.

The Standard Horizon Matrix Series GX2000 Marine VHF/FM Marine transceiver are designed to be used in USA, International, and Canadian Marine bands. The GX2000 can be operated from 11 to 16 VDC and have a switchable RF output power of 1 watt or 25 watts.

For the mariner who already has AIS on-board and desires the best VHF marine radio with the features of the MATRIX AIS, the MATRIX GX2000 has a connection for an AIS receiver or transponder. The MATRIX Series VHFs are capable of DSC (Digital Selective Calling) ITU Class D operation. Class D operation allows continuous receiving of Digital Selective Calling functions on channel 70 even if the best VHF marine radio is receiving a call.

The MATRIX Series VHF’s operate on all currently-allocated marine channels which are switchable for use with USA, International, or Canadian regulations. Emergency channel 16 can be immediately selected from any channel by pressing the red 9/16 key. NOAA weather channel can also be accessed immediately by pressing and holding the CLR WX key.

Other features of the MATRIX Series VHF’s include: Speaker Microphone, 30W PA/Fog, optional RAM3+ second station remote-control microphone with AIS display, intercom between radio and optional RAM3+, scanning, priority scanning, submersible speaker mic, high and low voltage warning, and GPS repeatability.

The GX2000 uses NMEA 0183 protocol to communicate to a GPS chart plotter and an AIS device. GPS chart plotter connections are at 4800 baud (default setting) and AIS device signalling is at 38400 baud sometimes called HS (high speed). To connect to a GPS chart plotter which has one NMEA port, the GX2000 may be setup to receive GPS coordinates and send DSC and AIS signals at 38400 baud.

Note: Some GPS chart plotters have a single wire for NMEA signal ground. In such a case connect the NMEA input (–) to the GPS chart plotter’s single NMEA signal ground wire, and leave the NMEA output (–) open. In case the assignment of power supply and ground of a GPS chart plotter to be used is different from that of the radio, connect the signal ground wire of the GPS chart plotter to the ground terminal (GND) on the rear panel of the best VHF marine radio.

The GX2000 will automatically scan channels programmed into the preset channel memory and also the scan channel memory, and the last selected weather channel. When an incoming signal is detected on one of the channels during scan, the best VHF marine radio will pause on that channel, allowing you to listen to the incoming trans- mission. The best VHF marine radio will automatically start scanning again after the transmission stops.

The GX2000 has a 30W hailer built-in and can be used with any 4 Ohm PA horn. Standard Horizon offers two HAIL/PA horns, the 220SW (5” round 30 Watt HAIL/PA horn) and the 240SW (5” x 8” rectangular 40 Watt HAIL/PA horn).

This GX2000 is designed to generate a digital maritime distress and safety call to facilitate search and rescue. To be effective as a safety device, this equipment must be used only within communication range of a shore-based VHF marine channel 70 distress and safety watch system. The range of signal may vary but under normal conditions should be approximately 20 nautical miles.

Individual Call
This feature allows the GX2000 to contact another vessel with a DSC VHF radio and automatically switch the receiving radio to a desired communications channel. This feature is similar to calling a vessel on CH16 and requesting to go to another channel (switching to the channel is private between the two stations). Up to 80 individual contacts may be programmed.

Setting up the Individual / Position Call Directory
The GX2000 has a DSC directory that allows you to store a vessel or person’s name and the MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity Number) number associated with vessels you wish to transmit individual calls, auto polling, position request, position report, and polling transmissions. To transmit an individual call you must program this directory with information of the persons you wish to call, similar to a cellular phones telephone directory.

Group Call
This feature allows the user to contact a group of specific vessels (e.g. members of a yacht club) using DSC radios with group call function to automatically switch to a desired channel for voice communications. This function is very useful for yacht clubs and vessels traveling together that want to collectively make announcements on a predetermined channel. Up to 32 group MMSIs may be programmed.

Position Request
Advancements in DSC have made it possible to poll the location of another vessel and show the position of that vessel on the display of the GX2000. Standard Horizon has taken this feature one step further, if any compatible GPS chart plotter is connected to the GX2000, the polled position of the vessel is shown on the display of the GPS chart plotter making it easy to navigate to the location of the polled vessel.

This is a great feature for anyone wanting to know the position of another vessel. For example your buddy that is catching fish, or finding the location of a person you are cruising with.

NOTE: The other vessel must have an operating GPS receiver connected to its DSC radio and must not have its best VHF marine radio set not to deny position requests.

Position Report
The feature is similar to position request, however instead of requesting a position of another vessel this function allows you to send your position to another vessel. Your vessel must have an operating GPS receiver connected to the GX2000 to send the position.

NOTE: To transmit a position report call, a GPS must be connected to the best VHF marine radio and the GX2000 individual directory must be programmed with stations you wish to send your position to.

Dsc Log Operation
The GX2000 logs transmitted calls, received DSC distress calls, and other calls (individual, group, all ships, etc.). The DSC log feature is similar to an answer machine where calls are recorded for review and a “mail”icon will appear on the best VHF marine radio display. The GX2000 can store up to 24 transmitted calls, up to the latest 27 distress calls, and up to the latest 64 other calls (individual, group, all ships, position report, position request ack, test call ack, and polling calls).