How to Buy a Good Marine Radio: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Owning and operating a boat comes with a great deal of responsibility. One of the most important safety considerations is having a reliable marine radio, which can serve as your only way to communicate with the shore or to call for help during an emergency. Choosing the right marine radio involves comparing a number of basic qualities and key features.

Steps

  1. 1
    Type: Marine radios may either be mounted to your boat or handheld for portability. Mounted radios connect directly to the boat's electrical system, drawing power from the boat's battery to operate at a maximum 25 watts, and use an external antenna to transmit signals up to 29 miles or more. Aside from the increased power, having a mounted marine radio eliminates the risk of dropping the radio overboard and of misplacing it when you need it most. Handheld marine radios are easier to set up, do not require an external antenna and are best for small boats that lack the battery power to feed a mounted radio.
  2. 2
    Selectivity: In terms of marine radios, selectivity means the ability to focus in on a specific signal while ignoring all others. Higher selectivity translates to being able to deliver a clear signal even during peak times when the airwaves are crowded. Three radio specifications play a role in determining selectivity: adjacent channel selectivity, intermodulation rejection ratio and spurious response rejection. If you operate your boat in a remote area, you can get by with ratings of 60 decibels in all three categories. However, if you're in an area with high boat traffic, you'll want all three categories to be 70 db or higher.
  3. 3
    DSC: Digital Signal Calling, or DSC, is a special alert system that comes built in to all fixed-mount marine radios. DSC is an important safety feature that allows you to signal all radios in the surrounding area with a single button push. Each DSC has its own unique number that instantly identifies the user's identity. Look for marine radios that have DSC paired with a GPS component so rescue boats find you even faster.
  4. 4
    Features: While all marine radios are water resistant, some models come with extra protection that makes them fully submersible in water. Remote operation can be useful for mounted radios on large boats. A hailer feature permits you to connect the radio's microphone to an outside speaker so you can verbally communicate with passing boats.Almost all marine radios also provide some form of a weather alert system.
  5. 5
    Pricing: Manufacturers such as Cobra, Icom, Midland and Uniden produce marine radios ranging in price from approximately $60 for basic handheld models to $600 or more for advanced mounted models. The simplest handheld models operate on AAA batteries, provide threatening weather updates and are ideal as portable backup radios on large vessels. Mid-priced handhelds typically come with rechargeable lithium batteries, selectable RF output, superior water proofing and larger LCD displays. High-end handhelds cost around $250 and have built-in GPS, enhanced power and extra safety features such as emergency strobe lights.

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