Which Handheld VHF Marine Radio That Will Accept Commercial Land Mobile Frequencies?

JASII

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I am looking for some handheld VHF marine radios, again. This would be for ATVing, so something that is water-resistant and dust-resistant is a must. It will be used on amateur radio 2 meter frequencies (wife and I are licensed) and MURS, so they must allow programming on the commercial land mobile frequencies.

When I looked in the past, there were a few Icoms and a few Standard Horizons that would do this. Do any of them stand out from the rest or are they all going to be pretty similar in price, features availability of programming software, etc?
 

KEWB-N1EXA

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Read up on the FCC Rules. Marine Radio's are not Legal For Land Use unless you have a Land Waver From the FCC. That would be for the USCG Auxiliary, Boat yards or Tow Boat US.
Jumping off Marine to 2 Meter and Murs. That's another Chapter From The FCC~
 

PACNWDude

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+1 on the legal issues stated above. As for Icom and Standard Horizon radios, the HX-370 series were very rugged, but could not float. Newer HX890BK does float, and is made to be pretty rugged. Icom was the first to have floating versions, but build quality was sacrificed.

I used to work for a corporation that used both Motorola radios with VHF LMR commercial frequencies and was Type accepted for Marine VHF use, but then purchased many Standard Horizon HX-370 and Icom versions for oil spill response, as they were cheaper to Motorola, and easier to use. Programming cables will be extra, as will software for both Standard Horizon and Icom. These were for use on vessels, barges and legal shore stations with the appropriate license.

If used on land near water that is monitored (many places are now remotely monitored with automated listening stations - think emergency response to man-overboard or search and rescue, you will get caught eventually if not legal). These radios stick out like a "sore thumb" RF wise, and do get attention in coastal areas. The Coast Guard used to enjoy coming aboard and asking for our license to use them on LMR frequencies.

If I were to buy this type of radio today, I would get the HX-890BK, as they float, have decent build quality, and the display and user interface is easy to use. The Icom's just did not hold up well to use and abuse, the plastic cracked around the corners on many of them with a few months of use. Some Standard Horizon versions even share accessories with the amateur radio equivalents.
 

AA4TX

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I use the standard Horizon HX400 for kayaking. it will accept up to 40 user programmed frequencies. I have most of the local amateur repeaters programmed into it, which allows me to reach home from the water, and to use the radio legally anywhere I need. Fully submersible, and the battery life is one of the best I have seen!
 

AA4TX

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Doesn't really apply to the OP's situation, but please be aware that the FCC has, with the Report and Order adopted on August 30, 2016, and released on September 1, 2016, expanded the use of Marine radios on shore. In addition to allowing those with a Coast License to use marine radios on shore, the FCC has added the following:

§ 80.115 Operational conditions for use of associated ship units.
(a) Associated ship units may be operated under a ship station authorization. Use of an associated ship unit is restricted as follows;
1) It must only be operated on the safety and calling frequency 156.800 MHz or 156.525 MHz or on commercial or noncommercial VHF intership frequencies appropriate to the class of ship station with which it is associated.
(2) Except for safety purposes, it must only be used to communicate with the ship station with which it is associated or with associated ship units of the same ship station. Such associated ship units may be used from shore only adjacent to the waterway (such as on a dock or beach) where the ship is located. Communications from shore must relate to the operational and business needs of the ship including the transmission of safety information, and must be limited to the minimum practicable transmission time.
(3) It must be equipped to transmit on the frequency 156.800 MHz or 156.525 MHz and at least one appropriate intership frequency.
(4) Calling must occur on the frequency 156.800 MHz or 156.525 MHz unless calling and working on an intership frequency has been prearranged.
(5) Power is limited to one watt.
(6) The station must be identified by the call sign of the ship station with which it is associated and an appropriate unit designator.
 

jwt873

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As stated above, marine radios are for marine use only.. Much like aircraft radios are for air use only. Not meant to be used for anything els

Interesting on the programming.. To be type accepted for marine use, they can only tx on marine channels and can't be programmed for anything else.

§ 80.203 Authorization of transmitters for licensing.

"must provide for selection of only maritime channels for which the maritime station is authorized. Such transmitters must not be capable of being programmed by station operators using external controls to transmit on channels other than those programmed by the manufacturer, service or maintenance personnel".
 
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AA4TX

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Key words here are:
" Such transmitters must not be capable of being programmed by station operators using external controls "
These marine radios with programmable channels cannot be programed using external controls. Must be done by software. These radios are also FCC certified for Part 90 in addition to Part 80, which makes them legal for business use as well as marine. By extension, it also makes them legal for amateur use, using amateur frequencies.
 

jwt873

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OK.. My take is that 'external controls' means plugging in a computer running programing software... Something external to the radio... I suppose this is JUST for Part 80 only radios.
 

AA4TX

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Except that § 80.201 (3) specifically states that:

(4) Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(3)
of this section, authorized channels
may be programmed via computerized
remote control by any person, provided
that the remote control operation is
designed to preclude the programming
of channels not authorized to the licensee.


Part 90 has very similar restrictions on programming by the user by external controls, but allows programming by software.

All of this requires that only frequencies authorized to the licensee be programed, whether Part 80, Part 90, or Part 97.
Your original interpretation would mean that this grant would not be possible, as no Part 90 frequencies could be programmed:
 

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mmckenna

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I am looking for some handheld VHF marine radios, again. This would be for ATVing, so something that is water-resistant and dust-resistant is a must. It will be used on amateur radio 2 meter frequencies (wife and I are licensed) and MURS, so they must allow programming on the commercial land mobile frequencies.

I think too many people above focused in on the "VHF marine radios" part and didn't catch the "amateur radio 2 meter frequencies and MURS.."

There were a few hand held marine VHF radios that had Part 90 certification also. They had a bank of channels that could be programmed for business use. I haven't paid much attention to that market in a while, so not sure what is still out there. I know finding the programming software was a real challenge for people that did buy them on the used market.

The MURS rules specifically do not allow type certification with other radio services, so you won't find a MURS/Marine VHF handheld, but you could certainly program it yourself if you chose to. Again, finding the programming software might be your bigger challenge.

Unless you specifically need to have the VHF marine channels pre-programmed, there are better options out there. Many modern hand held radios have IP67 ratings that will do just fine in your application. They'll be easier to get programming software for, and will give you a lot more options. If you still need Marine VHF, most of the modern Kenwood LMR radios have Part 80 certifications on them also.
 

AA4TX

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Again, finding the programming software might be your bigger challenge.
This seems to be the biggest issue. I have access, since I have do contract work for a local shop. (Called in for their marine radio applications since I have my GROL, converted from 2nd phone. Marine and aviation seems to be the only thing it is good for anymore.)
Marine radio with programmable channels is the way to go IF you need a marine radio. IP68 or IP67 Part 90 radios are better if you dont, but need the same enclosure rating. Much less hassle.
 

PACNWDude

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I have an HX370S and it will program anything between about 136 and 174MHz, any offset. I have amateur, Govt, police and fire stuff in mine. I suspect the HX400 is similar.
Same here, the HX370S is a great radio, and uses many of the accessories of the HX-170 amateur band radio. It is a brick though, and does not float like the newer comparable radios. Had mine loaded with corporate freqs. until leaving that job. Great marine VHF/LMR radio.
 

K0RE

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I've been using a Yaesu VX-8 for many years now. It will work on any marine vhf frequency, or business frequency as well as on UHF or just about anything else. It's best to program it with a computer. I am a retired merchant marine radio/electronics officer. The radio was purchased because I used to get on lots of ready reserve fleet (US government owned) ships while they were in a shipyard just prior to being launched for sea trials. Many times there wouldn't be a working ship's radio left over for me to use because other crew members and contractors had already snagged them all. I usually had to look in the files for what frequencies were being used on the ship and would then program up my Yaesu. The normal marine frequencies were already preprogrammed in and then I was set to go. During these busy times prior to launch out of a dry dock just about anything could happen so it was nice to be prepared with all the communications assets I could get my hands on. I still use the VX-8 today on the local ham repeaters. Just recently I volunteered to work at a yearly event and worked with the Coast Guard Aux guys and the capability to go on the marine frequencies was very handy. I have gone thru a couple sets of batteries in the last 10 or 15 years but the radio still is working well. It's equipped with a remote mic and a blue tooth transceiver so I can route the radio's audio to my hearing aids. This has been very handy for me.
 

mmckenna

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I've been using a Yaesu VX-8 for many years now.
True, it'll work with modification, but it does not have the necessary FCC Part 80 certifications to be legal. I know that doesn't stop most, but it is technically a requirement.

Most of the modern Kenwood LMR (not amateur) radios have Part 80 certs, so completely legal to use those.
 
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