Panbo

Standard Horizon GX1700, finally a fixed VHF w GPS built in

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 20, 2011
Standard_Horizon_GX1700.jpg

It's not slated to go on sale until February, assuming FCC approval, but it's very likely that the Explorer GX1700, press release here, will be the first fixed VHF radio with a GPS built in. Of course that means that this radio will be easier to install so that the automated distress call under that little protective plate at lower right, and many other DSC features, actually work. A professional installer or DIY boater will only have to wire the GX1700 to 12v power and a VHF antenna, and program it with an MMSI number that can be had easily and free from organizations like BoatUS (unless you plan to cruise outside this country or want to base a Group MMSI on your number, in which case you'll need to deal with the FCC). This radio is also housed in a similarly trim case as the current Explorer GX1600 -- with which it shares many interface and calling features -- and it makes use of its internal GPS in ways beyond DSC...

For instance, the GX1700 can save and provide go-to nav data as shown on the Compass Screen below for up to 100 waypoints, which can be entered manually, captured underway, or gleaned from a DSC call...  

Standard_Horizon_GX1700_waypoint_screen.jpg

And the radio can also output GPS info to a chart plotter as illustrated in the install options diagram below. Note that while the internal GPS antenna is designed into the face of radio so it's not masked if the radio is installed flush, it's still possible to wire in an external GPS antenna if needed.
   I'm not sure why it took so long for a manufacturer to put GPS into a VHF, given that it's critical to full DSC functionality and that the little chips must be fairly inexpensive these days, but I understand from SH that "RF shielding and filtering was a challenge so the GPS would not interfere with the VHF receiver." I'll also point out that there's another way to get GPS to a VHF very easily and that's via a plug and play NMEA 2000 port, as demonstrated by Garmin radios like the VHF 200. But then again that set has a suggested retail price of $400 while the GX1700's MSRP will be $230 when it ships. I congratulate Standard Horizon on the GX1700, but I'm hoping that it won't be too long before there are more choices in VHF radios with a GPS, or N2K support, built in.

Standard_Horizon_GX1700_install_option_diagram.jpg

Comments

Very smart idea. I am waiting for a VHF GPS AIS all together.

Posted by: Michael Benabib at December 20, 2011 9:39 PM | Reply

Fantastic product. Love Standard Horizon for their ingenuous, forward thinking products and aggressive prices. I very, very much wish they would embrace NMEA 2000 as their standard I/O port because I've made it a rule for all devices on my boat. I'll have to go with Garmin vhf/ais just for this reason.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 21, 2011 9:41 AM | Reply

I have had a number of SH radios and I am very happy with them. They are inexpensive, innovative, and work well.

Another benefit of the SH radios (at least the higher end models) is that they display navigation info as well as VHF info. Having the SOG, COG, LAT/LON / etc. allows the radio to double as an instrument repeater. I have the Matrix GX2100 mounted below and a RAM mic at the helm.

I have my radio connect to my plotter (Lowrance unit) with NMEA 0183. I would also prefer NMEA 2000, but the older interface is pretty easy to use as well.

I see this radio being useful on smaller boats that don't need a fancy plotter, and where the radio will be mounted by the helm.

Barry

Posted by: Barry Lenoble at December 21, 2011 11:21 AM | Reply

While I am also pleased to see the inclusion of GPS in a fixed VHF, I am starting to worry that the addition of GPS to almost everything (e.g., VHF, AIS receivers, smart phones, tablets, etc.) will create it's own set of problems. If they are all networked they will tend to fight with each other as the positions will be similar but a little different.

I have dealt with this on my boat with a Shipmodul NMEA multiplexer that gives priority to one GPS and blocks the backup sentences as long as the main unit is working.

How would this be handled with NMEA 2000? Adding wireless and Ethernet to the mix will make this even more interesting.

Your thoughts?

Posted by: Bob Hinden at December 21, 2011 12:03 PM | Reply

Hopefully this GPS feature will find itself implemented on a new version of the AIS contained GX 2150. As it stands now, if an MMSI number is entered into the GX2150 and no position data is available such as at night, at anchor etc. when the chart plotter is turned off (we turn our chart plotter off to save amps), an alarm will sound until acknowledged, four hours later the alarm will sound again, requiring a keystroke acknowledgment. This will continue every four hours and there is no way to disable, short of turning off the radio. So essentially the radio can not be left on at night without a GPS Fix from a chart plotter etc. if one wishes to sleep. Raymarine claims this every 4 hour annoying feature to be required by international rules, I believe they have gone way beyond any specific requirements, comments please.


Posted by: Paul Henry at December 21, 2011 1:28 PM | Reply

Seems kind of a day late and dollar short.

What I think we'd all like to see is an open standard for initiating DSC calls so that we can select an AIS target on any AIS display (dedicated, MFD, whatever) and have our VHF initiate the DSC call to the target. Either 183 or N2K interface.

Both AIS and DSC technology are are quite mature, can this really be that hard? I know it's possible within some proprietary product combinations, what's so hard about doing this in an interoperable manner?

Times are tight, nobody can afford to replace all their electronics at once. Interoperability gives us the ability to incrementally upgrade. To the industry this should sound like a revenue opportunity,but it seems to always fall on deaf ears.

Maybe in 2012...

Posted by: Russ at December 21, 2011 7:23 PM | Reply

I am a big fan of Standard-Horizon radios. I own several.

The GX1700 with internal GPS receiver is a nice development. As mentioned, by having the GPS receiver internal in the radio any DSC distress call transmitted should contain position information--unlike the 90-percent of current DSC distress calls received by the USCG according to their recent letter to NMEA that do not contain position information.

The internal GPS receiver to DSC radio connection takes care of the linking of GPS position data to the radio. However, many boaters will want to link the radio to a chart plotter, if for nothing else than to get the GPS position data to the chart plotter (if it does not have its own GPS receiver), and perhaps to allow the radio to send data to the chart plotter, such as indicating the position of another boat that has sent that data to the radio. Of course, for that to happen requires a wired connection between the radio and the chart plotter, and now we are back to the familiar problem of interconnecting NMEA-0183 devices.

I hope that Standard-Horizon gets into the NMEA-2000 realm with their radios. A Standard-Horizon premium-quality radio with NMEA-2000 would be on my gift list this Christmas, were one available. With NMEA-2000 we could easily interconnect the radio to the rest of the boat's network devices.

The GX1700 will be a great VHF Marine Band radio for a small boat or a tender which does not usually have a chart plotter with a GPS. In that application it has the market all to itself. It should be a strong seller. Kudos to Standard-Horizon.

Posted by: Jim Hebert at December 21, 2011 11:36 PM | Reply

Is it me or keeping a VHF uncomplicated without gizmo's and added technology a little more appealing?

I want to keep my emergency gear trouble free and as reliable as one can. It's not that SH isn't a good manufacturer, its just that I don't WANT to have to use a warranty on my VHF.

I'm not saying that progress is bad, I just don't feel comfortable with this one.

Posted by: TJ at December 22, 2011 9:37 AM | Reply

Re complexity in VHF Marine Band fixed radios:

The complex part of the radio is the DSC CLASS-D compliance, which is mandatory per the FCC for any fixed mount radio sold in the USA.

Including a GPS receiver is not particularly complex. GPS receivers these days are basically all on one chip. Power goes in, NMEA-0183 comes out. Not that complex.

Maybe you can find an old crystal-controlled Motorola marine radio from the 1970's if you want a good, basic, reliable radio.

Posted by: Jim Hebert at December 22, 2011 10:23 PM | Reply

i too got stung by the 'no position' alarms after entering an mmsi number, but the alarm went off every half hour. i resilved the problem by puchasing a gps module with nmea 0183 output, powering it with a gutted cigarette lighter usb power supply, and sticking the assembly in a small prescription bottle, wired up and fastened to the 1600's power cables.

i jokingly call it my 'brown box cockpit recorder'

total cost was around $40 and a bit of solder

if you'd like to the same here's a link to the unit http://www.expansys-usa.com/globalsat-em-406-a-gps-modules-182135/

wherever i bought it (i forget), a connector cable was included

Posted by: mlydon at December 23, 2011 11:22 AM | Reply

It is great to have an integrated GPS in a VHF - so you have position data included in your Distress alert.
Now is time to understand what a Class D Digital Selective Calling can do for you. Perhaps you can look it up in my Marine VHF Radio Handbook :

http://www.mercator-publishing.com/vhfhandbooken.html

I wish you great pleasure by reading this book.

Posted by: Mercator at December 25, 2011 11:29 AM | Reply

That is a real problem. Standard Horizon believes they are required to do this. How will they get the message it creates a new safety issue when your radio is off all night.

Posted by: chris in reply to Paul Henry at January 3, 2013 3:17 PM | Reply

Finally a sensible DSC device that does not need complicated wiring. Only the connection to a chart plotter I don't understand. These plotters have their own GPS chip inside, haven't they?

Also why not made the handset and loudspeakers wireless? Today bluetooth is everywhere, it is no longer rocket science. Every car radio supports it.

Technology has become so simple and cheap there is no longer need to connect devices, by having stand alone units with each their own GPS wiring is much simpler, it is easier to waterproof the devices and there is redundancy. If we lose our plotter there is still the VHF to guide us home and visa versa.

If for some reason devices need to be connected we have WiFi and bluetooth and what not to do it. It makes you wander when we can replace our power cables by a wireless solution? Each device its own battery and a charging cradle? A battery that lasts a week like my phone?

Again a great new device but there lies more just at the horizon!

BTW, my current VHF that I have been using for the past seven years has DSC, is waterproof, is portable (handheld), fits in my life jacket, has a mapping GPS, has a big LCD and contains all charts for my sailing area. And it runs a day on a single battery charge and charges in a cradle on the chart table.

Posted by: Wayfarer at February 21, 2013 3:04 PM | Reply

mlydon,
I have the same problem. Took a look at the wiring diagram for the GPS antenna.
just a bit curious on wiring looks like
pin 1 & 5 go to -ve ground
pin 2 to 5.5v +ve
pin 3 to gps out on radio
pin 4 to gps in on radio
pin 6 Did you connect it to anything?

Would appreciate your feedback.

Posted by: chris in reply to mlydon at March 27, 2013 8:46 PM | Reply

I like the idea of redundancy while I cruise. So when looking for a replacement for my "kaput" VHF this one looks appealing. I like my systems to be redundant but independent. So having a chartplotter, charts, handheld chartplotter and this VHF with gps sounds great. With remote mic option I won't have to strain to hear the vhf that's mounted in the cabin.

Posted by: Bob at September 18, 2013 11:27 AM | Reply

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