VHF radio battery life

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jeremyduncombe14
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VHF radio battery life

Post by jeremyduncombe14 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:08 pm

I thought I would add my tuppence worth to the DSC or not DSC radio debate. I wanted a DSC radio because of the extra functionality over a standard VFH radio, but I was worried about battery life. In the end I took a deep breath and bought a Standard Horizon HX870E DSC radio.

I have used it on a number of day trips. If I leave it switched on all the time ( I always do if paddling solo ), but do not transmit, there is still plenty of battery life left after 10 hours - that is pretty impressive, and I think better than the manufacturers claim. Of course battery life will soon drop off if you make lots of transmissions, but with care it should last for a long weekend away.

The radio charges from mains or 12V, but unfortunately not via USB. You can swap out the lithium battery for a set of AAAs, but transmissions are then restricted to 1W, not much use if you are paddling in a remote area. It is therefore not much good for extended trips - I would take a cheap non-DSC radio, and back it up with a PLB.

Other pros and cons ? The radio is easy and intuitive to use, I simply worked through the menu screens and pretty well ignored the very thick instruction manual. Transmissions are impressively clear at all times. The only major downside is the size - this thing is huge ! I can still fit it in the front pocket of my buoyancy aid, it just leaves no space for Mars bars and other essentials. I can't think of any other major issues, I am really pleased with it ( and I am not sponsored by Standard Horizon, more's the pity ).

So to sum up - great for day trips and weekends, battery life more than adequate, but get something else for longer expeditions.

Happy paddling everyone.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: VHF radio battery life

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:52 pm

Hi Jeremy that is pretty good battery life for a DSC set but you might not get the same in winter. I have tested the Standard Horizon HX870E DSC and the Icom M91D DSC in winter and they both died after about 6 hours with DSC enabled though I did make a few calls and listened to the MSI broadcasts and left them on ch 16/72 dual watch which is my usual use pattern. We normally paddle for about 8 hours a day in winter

In comparison my Icom M71 lasted six 8 hour days this winter and still had plenty of juice left. At the moment I am using a SH HX750E and it has been used for 10 trips of about 3-5 hours since its last charge and it still has has plenty charge.

In Scotland there is not a great deal of VHF traffic. If I paddled in the Solent I might get less time out of each charge due to the greater VHF traffic.

Douglas

jeremyduncombe14
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Re: VHF radio battery life

Post by jeremyduncombe14 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:11 pm

Thanks for the warning Douglas, I must admit I have only used it in fairly warm conditions so far. Will be extra careful in winter to conserve battery life.

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GrahamC
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Re: VHF radio battery life

Post by GrahamC » Sat Aug 27, 2016 4:32 pm

Just a note on battery care. For Li-Ion or LiPo typical of modern electronics, the battery is damaged by being left in a deep discharge or a full charge state. Ideally it should cycle between about 80% and 25% in order to preserve its capacity (but we would obviously want 100% at the start of the trip!). So the best protocol is to charge to 100% immediately before use and then to store after the trip at 50 to 60%. The second worst thing to do is to recharge to 100% before storage and the worse thing is to keep it in the charging cradle continually being topped up.

Graham
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robhorton
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Re: VHF radio battery life

Post by robhorton » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:45 pm

At the risk of stating the obvious it's mostly the built in GPS rather than the DSC-ness which increases the battery consumption. You can turn the GPS off or reduce the frequency of updates (to say every 5 minutes) which would still be useful for a distress call but save a bit of battery life. It's also worth noting that you can get a spare battery for about £30 which is probably what I'd do if I was doing a longer trip and wouldn't be able to charge it.

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