Standard Horizon Bluetooth, the scheme so far

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Eh, I’m underwhelmed. I dunno that I really see the value in the wireless headset.
    Honestly I think it would be better on a fixed vhf, and you could walk around a cockpit freely. It seems to me if I have the radio on my belt, a wired headset’s not much burden, plus this is just one more thing to charge.
    What I would like are a good “marriage saver” type duplex headset that’s high quality and not crazy expensive.
    I really like the GPS in the handheld, floating GPS DSC handheld I dig a lot.

  2. rlindblad says:

    One question I do have – anyone know if this will interface with existing BT headsets? I have a Jawbone 2 that works very well for my cell phone even in noise. If I could reuse this with the VOX function it might be well worth it. Especially since I have the SH radios on my sailboats already.

  3. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Now this is my type of toy. No zzzzzzzzz’s today.
    In direct response to Ben, I almost answered … that the bluetooth would be better on the fixed radio, which then makes it needless on the handheld …
    But after giving it some thought this morning I can imagine that if your a coastal or inland cruiser who really wants to take advantage of the handhelds GPS/DSC features in an emergency (e.g. you have no EPIRB), I would think you would want the handheld turned on and working before you needed it (e.g. handheld would have the fix ready when you jam the DSC key), sitting in it’s charging holster (not a ditch bag)… and if your going to listen to traffic on the VHF while underway via bluetooth … you will have to endure a lot less chatter on the limited range of the handheld then with the fixed radio/mast mount antenna combination.
    Even thought the handheld will be more expensive, it will be less expensive then buying a GPS/DSC handheld plus a new bluetooth capable fixed radio.
    I think Ben is right, the combination has value, and an extra $50-$100 should make sense, eh ?
    But … I wouldn’t want to the marketing communications employee at SH who has to figure out a way to communicate the benefit of this scenario.

  4. Norton Rider says:

    In my area marinas often issue handheld VHFs to dockmasters and line handlers. Having hands free while operating a VHF radio might be valuable to them.

  5. Thomas Petersen says:

    I know this posting isn’t directed toward the HX850S, but since it was specifically mentioned in this report I thouht I would comment –
    I have the HX850S and my only complaint is the bulky size and feel. If it could be more like it smaller cousin (and multi-band) it would be a killer radio!
    Otherwise, it is an awesome radio.

  6. Thomas Petersen says:

    Another difference between the fixed and handheld radio with the bluetooth headset is that the fixed unit has a place on the face of the unit to store and charge the bluetooth headset. (very cool)
    The handheld will need to not only have a charging station, but a seperate place to keep and charge the headset.

  7. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Is it me … or is 5 watts, or even 6 watts, just not what it used to be ?
    I used two different handhelds within days of each other, the one above which I purchased but first an ICOM M72 for a week, both 6 watts. In both cases I was surprised how often I could not raise other boats and marina’s just a couple miles away, couldn’t get a radio check at my dock. Yet when I went to my primary boat mounted radio, I would have no problem
    Of the two handhelds, I started with the M72 and just thought maybe either the antenna connection is bad or the squelch control is over done, and stated that it might be broken in that the lowest squelch control setting was too strong (The lowest automatic squelch control setting before turning off the squelch completely on both these handhelds is wicked high )
    When I had the same experience with the 760S, e.g. similiar possibly overdone squelch filter and unable to hail boats unless very close, I was beginning to think I misread somewhere that the range was as good as line of site over several miles.
    In any event … I used the 760S for many weeks, and have much to say about it … but the range of both it and the M72 was really short IMHO.
    Why ?
    Well, I got to thinking about this late last week after Ben had asked me about my 760S experience. After the call I started wondering if maybe the root cause could be a combination of the automatic squelch feature on new radios and for older radios maybe users just generally set the squelch much higher these days so they can enjoy their iPods and entertainment centers. In such an environment 6 watt handhelds are not as effective ?
    Your thoughts ??
    I also noticed this last Wednesday a crew member who doesn’t know anything about VHF’s, showing other crew members how to work my boats main VHF’s squelch control so they “can reduce the static when using their cell phones, but Dan will still here important coast guard calls calls (sic)”. Mind you the instructions to return the radio to the proper squelch setting was not part of the instructions. Maybe this is happening across my entire marina? It’s not the iPods … the VHF radios are a nuisance for cell phone users, so the squelch settings are being bumped up so only “important” hails can be heard ?
    What is the range of handheld when the other VHF radio’s have their squelch turned up? 500 feet?
    … is it the iPod’s, the cellphone’s, or something else ? Your thoughts ?

  8. Dan (b393capt) says:

    VHF Threat: I was hoping to get some feedback on why two quality six watt VHF radios I used this summer seem to have such limited range.
    For all the writing I do … how about a response to this post guys ?

  9. MaineFog says:

    Dan, where r u located? I am in Baltimore at he moment and can either get my cheapo Uniden handheld to you or mail it for you to test alongside the others. I have found antennas make a big difference. I use a short cable adapter for my 2-meter HT to connect it to the external antenna on my Jeep. The same 259 to sma adapter works on the marine HT to the outside marine antenna.
    Obviously the wired antennas can’t be stuck on a hat for walk around but a test may suggest the the factory antenna on the new radios is just not adequate??? Might be interesting to compare a cheap radio with non-auto squelch to the new and improved fancy dancy.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Dan, I have done some preliminary testing with the 760S and have noticed how “high” even minimal squelch is. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, and I don’t yet have much feel for range. I’m working on it!

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    PS I have successfully paired Standard’s BT2 headset with a Motorola Razor cell phone (but couldn’t get it to work with the Palm Centro, which I’m learning is a little dicey Bluetooth wise). I could not get the HX370S to pair with a Bluetooth cell headset, but it seems possible.

  12. John D says:

    I have this exact problem with the M72. Buddy has a throwaway VHF that gets much better range. Even worse, someone I occasionally work for bought a bunch of bubble wrap VHF radio’s. When I’m out on the water they are picking up lots, but mine nothing. I actually had to laugh, because I thought my radio, at about 5x the cost, would work a bit better.
    My impression is that either the squelch is very high or something is wrong on the receive end.
    I’d love to hear a response from ICOM on this.

  13. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Mainefog, There’s a solution for me! … being I am bluetooth connected to my handheld and leave it parked in a cup holder on my helm, I could look into adding a short antenna at my helm and connect that up.
    I had just lost a handheld Uniden I have had for two years, it had the manual knob to control the squelch. Big difference. The Uniden was constantly (and correctly) blasting out bursts of noise since I kept a light hand on the squelch… where as the M72 and Standard Horizon after it, sit frequently sit there in stone cold silence.
    Having used the Uniden so long, I believe I have a realistic expectation of what the range should be on a 5 watt handheld.
    One of the reasons I got the bluetooth /handheld VHF combo was so that I could replace my lost Uniden and simutaneously have a radio I can individually listen to Ch 16 without my crew complaining of interference with their iPods and cellphone’s. The automatic squelch has been good in that I only hear hails that are loud enough to understand … but the downside has been that I can’t respond to anyone by using PTT button on the bluetooth headset (due to my experience that I am not being heard) … and I am not likely to hear someone calling for assistance.

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