Standard Horizon GX6000 VHF & wireless RAM 4W mics, finally!

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

30 Responses

  1. Head’s up: If you get a new VHF, you may be surprised to see that some channel numbers are shown as four digits starting with “10” like 1007 instead of 07, 1018 instead of 18, etc. The USCG explains here:

  2. I’m glad to finally see SH go wireless with a decent handset. For the last few years I have been using the B&G V50 with the wireless handset, and the handset is not that great from the quality of sound and speaker side of things. I recently replaced it with a good, trusty GX2200 and the wired RAM3 mic, but would have much preferred a wireless one. Unfortunately, all of the ones I’ve tested in the last 6+ years have had their issues.

    Seeing SH use WiFi for the remote gives me hope that the clarity and quality will be good enough. Looking forward to a longer term review around the wireless remote!

  3. Saffy The Pook says:

    I know I’m likely in the minority here but I’m not a big fan of wireless instruments and radios on boats. The functions of these devices are critical, I don’t feel much need to be able to roam while using them, and wires are much more reliable. I do like SH’s trend towards allowing multiple RAM mics off the same head unit and I’m glad they’re finally embracing N2K. Now if they can just get that integrated AIS transceiver issue worked out they’ll have the perfect package.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you regarding wireless equipment.

      The problem is that many manufacturers insist on supplying cables with permanently mounted connectors that are impossible to pull through some of the spaces on boats. I have a wired remote microphone on the fly bridge of my boat and ended up having to cut and splice the cable in order to route it. The manufacturer specifically told me not to do this; yet the connectors on the cable wee not field replaceable.

  4. The main reason that SH is unable to ship their GX6500 VHF/AIS tranceiver is that the internal class B transponder is a Amec CSTDMA type transponder. The patent on this technology is held by their fierce competitor SRT since July 2015. Until SH (Amec) and SRT sort out this issue there will be no product in the shops worldwide. Apart from this legal / commercial issue, preliminary tests appear to show that the GX6500 only just barely complies with some relevant standards. Authorities are not very happy with these results and seem reluctant to clear the GX6500.

  5. Hi Ben,
    The information cited was published on the Dutch Sailors’ forum by a (long known and trustworthy) professional in the VHF / AIS field. He said (Nov ’17) that a Dutch SH representative told him about the patent issue. I cannot verify this in person, but I have no reason to doubt his words given his reputation in the Netherlands.

    The same goes for the troublesome compliance of the AIS transponder. He claims to have thoroughly tested the Amec transponder involved (his company installs and tests VHF and AIS equipment for both industry and government for a living) and reported the ‘meager’ outcome: just barely compliant. He mentioned that ‘jitter’ was particularly an issue and that this seems to be one of the main reasons that SH can’t get the EU approval stamp on the GX6500.

    Let me be clear, I’m not an expert myself, just repeating what information is available. I’m an enthusiastic user of SH equipment and I know many boaters would be interested in a combined VHF/AIS transponder. It would be far better if SH themselves would clear up the mist around the GX6500. But for some reason the mist is very, very persistent.

  6. Jim Hebert says:

    Re the cause of the Standard-Horizon GX6500 lacking approval by the USCG and FCC being due to infringement of a patent (as proposed above by Timo):

    I join Ben in being skeptical that approval of the GX6500 is being withheld due to a patent infringement. The two regulatory agencies involved in granting approval in the USA are the FCC and the USCG. I don’t believe either of those regulatory agencies are concerned with protection of intellectual property. If there were a patent infringement, the owner of the patent would have to seek redress in some other venue than with the FCC or USCG. I am not a lawyer, but I believe that in the USA the federal court has exclusive jurisdiction over patent disputes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Jim, I may have been unclear in my previous posts, but as I have understood there are two separate issues at hand: one is a possible patent infringement, the other an approval issue. These issues are unrelated I guess. As Ben pointed out, the patent issue may be solved or non-existent anymore, but apparently the technical issue(s) seem to remain. This lies with the FCC / USCG in the USA and with a notified body in the EU.

  8. Chris Cumming says:

    Hi Ben,
    I am considering purchasing a GX6000 and have attempted – unsuccessfully – to get answers from SH to the following question. Perhaps you know the answer.

    If the unit is connected to only one antenna via the “VHF” port, and the radio is connected to a NMEA2000 network on which I’m operating a separate AIS transceiver (Simrad NAIS-500), will AIS target data be made available on the radio?

  9. Martin TMartin T says:

    Hi Ben,

    I would like to see the new handheld HX890 tested if you have possibility to do so:

    Thanks for a great site and bog!


  10. Thanks, Martin! I didn’t even know about the new HX890. And while I don’t know if we’ll get to test it, it does look like a nice update on what already seemed like a great feature set in the HX870:

    I particularly like the addition of an FM receiver. I still have a working SH HX471S multiband handheld — no longer made but still listed here: — and have found its FM band quite nice to have on many occasions. And I see that SH has new compact HX40 handheld also with FM (but no GPS or DSC):

    Incidentally, the HX890 (and 870) have the “Easy to Operate Menu system” similar to what I’ve testing on the GX6000 and which I like a lot. It really is fairly easy to find your way around and I especially like how you can customize the interface for quick access to the features you use a lot.

    You can even setup the GX6000 interface (and update firmware) with a Yaezu PC program and a USB cable to the radio. I’ve done it and plan to write about how well it works. And if you look in the Files list at SH for the HX890 and 870, you’ll see that they have the same capability.

  11. Rick Vicik says:

    Has anyone tried to display AIS target information from a GX6000 on a chartplotter via NMEA2000?
    A friend of mine has been unable to get this to work using Coastal Explorer. Another friend who is associated with Coastal Explorer put a sniffer on the NMEA2000 bus and found that the longitude in the PGN 129039 was off by about 21 degrees east. Latitude was correct. Lat/Long on the GX6000 display was correct for the target.

    • Yup, SH messed up the NMEA 2000 AIS translation in the original GX6000 firmware (which is hard to understand given how long it took to market). But they fixed it with the AIS Firmware Update V1.00.02 that you’ll see in the Files section of their GX6000 page, (though they should probably be more proactive about the issue, and maybe I should have been too.)

      I reported the problem some time back, not completely sure if it was the radio or something wacky on my N2K network, and they got the update out on 8/1. I used the YCE08 PC software to do the updates and can confirm that it works. AIS targets now show the correct location on the Garmin and Raymarine plotters that are on the same network. But I do have MFD screenshots showing vessels in my harbor as 3,508 miles away though the radio correctly showed them at 0.1nm away.

      The good news here is that the radio can be updated fairly easily, and the PC software can also be used to customize the interface easily, like which soft keys to show where and local channel descriptions.

  12. Rick Vicik says:

    Thanks very much for the fast reply and detailed information. I was going crazy trying to get it to work for my friend. I’ll help him with the update next time we can get out to his boat.

    • Rick Vicik says:

      We finally updated the AIS firmware on my friend’s GX6000. The process appeared successful and the version displayed afterward was v1.00.02. We did not update the “Radio” firmware because it was 2.00.04 which seems to be current. The end result is that it now puts nothing on the NMEA2000 bus. My NMEA sniffer shows it doesn’t even negotiate for a bus address. It’s acting like a parameter is set to disable NMEA2000, but I couldn’t find one. The NMEA2000 setup options only allow setting device and system “number”. The “Search” selection in that sub-section seems to be intended to list other devices on the NMEA2000 bus, but nothing appears. The AIS and GPS position info output via 0183 works OK. The SH support person who has been working with us agreed to let my friend send the unit back. The serial number was 7T020098 and it was purchased in May2018.


      • Thanks for the followup, Rick, but sorry about the outcome. The AIS update did work fine for me and I wrote about it here:

        Also, I used that N2K “Search” function to select a GPS source for the radio and that worked fine too, though the screen instructions certainly could be better.

      • Roy Buddle says:

        Rick – I got exactly the same. Raymarine e & a series system and bought the correct cable but it’s not reading any GPS data, either before or after the same firmware updates. At the same time, when I run a “Device scan” on my Raymarine master MFD, it shows a GX6000 with serial #7L020231. Very frustrating. Haven’t tried the 0183 “alternative” and frankly I don’ t want to as that’s going backwards.

        • Rick Vicik says:

          Sorry I didn’t see your message sooner. In our case, the GX6000 sent AIS target information correctly via 0183. We used a Furuno IF-NMEA2K converter in AIS mode to get the info to NMEA2000 so his Coastal Explorer PC chartplotter could display it. Here is another reason to avoid 0183/2000 combinations unless you are aware of all the details. We had hoped to use the internal GPS receiver in the GX6000 to provide position information to Coastal Explorer, but the IF-NMEA2K doesn’t convert 0183 GNSS info in AIS mode and doesn’t convert 0183 AIS info in normal mode.

  13. davidurelldavidurell says:

    Hi Ben – Thanks for the early notes. I am curious how the RAM 4W is working out. A good solution or better to wait? I have a sail boat so I am looking for something not as intrusive as the iCOM 605 down below, and I love the idea of a wireless unit for the cockpit. Thinking this might be my best solution if it works well. Your thoughts? Thanks

    • Hi David, I think that the RAM 4W wireless mic is great. The battery life, range, and audio quality are all excellent, and the screen/button interface works very nicely, especially if you customize the soft keys for your favorite commands, as I mentioned here:

      There is a weirdness, though. The mic has contacts for a charging holster, but SH doesn’t include or offer one as an option, and apparently has no plans to (and I asked recently). It’s not terrible to use the USB port to charge one but I can so picture one or more RAM 4W’s neatly stowed and fully charged in simple wall cradles mounted on a companionway bulkhead, or flybridge, etc.

      I will eventually write a comparison of the GX6000 and Icom 605, but the short story is that I wish the latter had the former’s interface or that the latter had the former’s stunning color screen. They’re both excellent VHF radios, but if a wireless mic is important, the 6000 will likely make you happy. There are other radios with decent wireless remotes, but not on this level of RX/TX quality and feature sets (in my experience).

  14. samir elbaguer says:

    I had my my GX6000 for about 3 month now and frankly not impressed. It’s hooked up to my EVO2 MFDs and it has trouble getting a GPS fix. Sometimes it takes hours. When I search “device list” it randomly shows what’s on the network. Sometimes it shows both EVOs, sometimes just one, other times it can’t find anything at all. Even when it reads the fix it randomly drops it and I get “no gps” alarm and then It takes forever to acquire it back. And then, yesterday, when I turned it off it wouldn’t power back. Power and all the connections are fine, I’ll be talking to standard horizon tomorrow, see what thy say.

  15. chuck dahill says:

    I am about to put two of these on my boat (pilot house and bridge) with remote mics which will provide access to two radios at two locations. Anyone have any insight/issues with doing this, ie interference with dual AIS/GPS, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      All I can say is this. I have both GX 6000 and Icom M 605. Both hooked up to Ais transponder and my Simrad EVO2 MFDs on Y2K buss. ICOM works like a charm, gets position in less than a minute on power up shows my AIS targets from the transponder and gives me the option to call them direct DSC. My experience with GX6000 you can read on post above. I can only add that when I called SH they asked me to pay for shipping to their repair facility. That for a unit that’s barely 4 months old. I haven’t received it back yet so don’t know if those issues are fixable. I had SH radios before and they were excellent.

  1. August 22, 2018

    […] the GX6000 I began testing in June photographed at the same time I grabbed the Garmin 742 screen at top. Note the realistic bearings […]

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