New VHF for A25

GPS, Sonor, Radar, Fish Finder, etc. Discuss electronics installation and upgrades.
WillieC
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Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:16 pm

Current radio is getting long in the tooth, due for replacement/upgrade.

We have a West Marine VHF 550 something or other with no weather band.

This is on an A25, used for Puget Sound/Salish Sea cruising, fairweather (ha!), gunk-holing, marina hopping, light duty, until it's not and you need a decent radio. Not exactly sure what features I should be looking for and what is just fluff. Weather band seems helpful, but after our last trip we proved that all weather is local.

Also, can anything be done about the sound quality? Do I need a remote speaker planted near my head? The current unit is mounted on a panel to the right of and just below the helm station.This is on a Volvo Penta powered boat, MD17C, that came from the factory with a certain unmistakable low frequency rumble with various mids and highs thrown in for a full complement of auditory pleasure.

The current setup uses one antenna but I see plenty out there sporting two. Reminder to self: Manually lower the antenna when passing under the Swinomish railroad trestle when it is closed. Fortunately, the quick release released quickly.

Don't need all the bells and whistles, but don't want to simply replace the current squawk box.

Thanks for any and all advice.

WillieC
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Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:40 pm

Upon closer review, this isn't a bad radio and it has wiring for remote speaker and gps antenna. Now to figure out how to maybe interface with Garmin gps188C. Too bad I recycled all those computer speakers.

WillieC
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Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:11 pm

With all the responses I am getting, I might as well dig a little deeper.
Turns out that the installed VHF, West Marine 550, has an options plug for wiring things like external speaker, paging speaker, gps, Vulcan mind meld, the works...

It has a multi-pin connector that plugs into its mate that hangs out the back of the radio. Tiny little wires to splice to whatever option you decide to add. I'll figure out the speaker, 4ohm, 5 watts, but the gps?

I also have installed in the WillieC a Garmin 188C plotter which has its own gps antenna that I have mounted on the roof. Is there any way to use that same gps antenna connected to both the Garmin and the vhf radio? Has anybody done anything like this, or do I need to go another route?

I recently purchase a usb antenna dongle that I am using connected to my laptop for use with the SeaClear raster charts. Works great, but am I headed for three gps antennas on the boat, not counting the two cell phones we carry? When do we need to start wearing tinfoil hats?

More info: (One should always read the owner's manuals. Useful information there.)
The WM 550 also has DSC, channel 70, which I am still deciphering, and I think an assigned MMSI number from a previous owner. (That number is pasted to the helm in the old Dymo Labeler format, so that gives you an idea how old that might be. I will double check the radio to see if it has been coded into it. More reading of manual required.) Having a connected gps might make all that work as designed.

Thanks for reading! Weigh in if you have any insights.

Jeremyvmd
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Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:58 pm

the radio I have on purrrspective has all the bells and whistles and I love it. Not cheap at 300+ but it works great, has a huge range, and is super easy to use! Its the simrad RS35, and it worth every penny
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WillieC
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Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:33 am

Thanks, Jeremy. Will check it out.

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rebuckley
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Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:13 pm

I second the RS35 - got mine off ebay - the guy had changed his system over. I have all Simrad electronics - so they all meld in seamlessly - and the 35 had a AIS receiver built in - which translates over to my chartplotter as well.
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rebuckley
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Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:23 pm

From the manual for your current VHF - it looks like hooking up 2 wires from the output of your Gamin will enable the GPS in the radio - see page 42 in your manual
Reb Buckley
36' 1983 Classic (Au Naturel)
15' Guardian Whaler
Westerly, RI (WYC)

WillieC
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Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:45 pm

rebuckley, I see that. Will give that a try. I was able to program in local weather channels using the local county FIPS numbers. Very helpful, that old manual. Still trying to figure out how to make it scan three selected channels. Not terribly intuitive and time consuming. That and I'm lazy.

Heard a USCG pan-pan a couple days back. Somebody sent out a DSC Alert with no info other than lat/long. Read the manual, don't just push buttons to see what happens.

WillieC
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:01 am

Ok, I found the pinouts for the two devices. Both radio and gps are grounded so I see no reason to connect the bare wire on the radio aux cable, since I also verified that it is already grounded by virtue of being installed and operational. The gps nmea output is the blue wire, and it connects to the green wire on the vhf 550. Allegedly.

And there is no indication that it is working. The vhf manual states that if correctly done a clock will appear in the digital readout showing, of all things, the correct time. Not on mine. Not yet. I thought it would be simple but I must be doing something wrong. Ah, well.

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catalina_mike
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:25 am

Your radio has a N-2K data so if your GPS is older it will be N-0138

From Radio spec sheet:
Lat/Long Display
When integrated with a GPS antenna or a compatible chartplotter via a NMEA2000® network
Silverton 2007 36C
Sold - Albin 1999 28TE
SSI Instructor 13937
SDI / TDI Instructor 18172
USCG 100 Ton near coastal

WillieC
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:20 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Mike. I know it is all there in the specs, but it is foggy in there. Will look closer.

Ah, you reference"N-2K data" and "NMEA2000®". This is two ways of saying the same thing, correct? No wonder I get confused. Gotta keep it simple for us simple folk.

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catalina_mike
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:50 pm

Yes I'm lazy.
Silverton 2007 36C
Sold - Albin 1999 28TE
SSI Instructor 13937
SDI / TDI Instructor 18172
USCG 100 Ton near coastal

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Tree
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:34 pm

I replaced the vhf FP2 came with this year with one of the new Icom units. It's a full DSC/VHF radio with the GPS built in. Only needed to adjust the cut out by a few millimetres and fitted it in about 30 minutes. Nice clear sound and easy to set up.
Fisher Price 2
Hull Number AUL28489L900
Yanmar 6LP-STE
Built in Portsmouth RI, USA - Berthed in Portsmouth Hampshire, United Kingdom.

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Tree
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:36 pm

Fisher Price 2
Hull Number AUL28489L900
Yanmar 6LP-STE
Built in Portsmouth RI, USA - Berthed in Portsmouth Hampshire, United Kingdom.

WillieC
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Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:06 pm

Never throw away the books, or search for them online. Turns out both units use NMEA 0183. The Garmin gps unit needed the NMEA ouput turned on. Viola! Done and done. Now my position is sent out automagically. Don't tell anyone.

On to MMSI. There is a nine digit number dymo-labeled to my helm station with a prefix of TX. There is, however, no number entered into the radio's MMSI data. I'll be poking around some more on that. And how to use the DSC stuff. And how to use anchoring alarms and maybe even shallow water, although the Starfleet Commander lets me know every time we wander into blue shading on the charts and plotter. Coming into and leaving Olympia is a dredged channel that extends out into the Budd Inlet. Several boats with deeper drafts than the mighty A25 were buzzing all over that bay, except for the marked Olympia Shoal area. We stayed in the marked channel to the bitter end. Aye! Aye! SC! (To her credit, that is the only way to handle the entrances to the Swinomish Channel up north.)

Tree, thanks for the recommendation. The best feature is:

IPX7 Submersible Protection (1.0m depth for 30 minutes)
The IC-M323G withstands submersion in up to 1.0m depth of water for 30 minutes.

Fortunately, I don't plan on staying submerged for over 25 minutes, and only to 36" of depth.

Thanks all!

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