Tag Archives for " NMEA 2000 "

a couple of months ago

Lowrance Link 8 Fixed Mount VHF Radio Review

Lowrance Link 8 VHF marine radio review
Lowrance Link 8 VHF marine radio review

The Lowrance Link-8 VHF Radio is a High-res Flush Mountable Class D Fixed-Mount VHF Radio built with a Dual Channel AIS receiver and NMEA 2000 Connectivity. It has a total of 25 watts of transmission power, a full-waterproof design, and an easy-to-use interface. Considered a top contender for its high-resolution display among VHF radios,  the Lowrance Link-8 boasts a  large screen and an overall item weight of 6 pounds.

Reliable and complete with all the best safety features, the Lowrance Link-8 VHF is a must-have VHF radio for boaters. Because of its rugged, waterproof design, and reasonable price this marine radio is a great communication tool for mariners on the water regularly.

Main Features

The Lowrance Link-8 comes with some great features that make it one of the highest-quality entry-level VHF marine radios out there. Here are some of its main features:

  • Waterproof - The Lowrance Link-8 has a waterproof rating of JIS-7 (immersion-resistant) which means water cannot enter the unit when its submerged. It’s also well constructued and able to withstand everyday use in harsh ocean conditions. 
  • High-Resolution Dot-Matrix Display- No more squinting or finding a good light in order to read the display. The Link 8 comes with its own high-quality LCD with 128x256 resolution. You can easily see your current position and also read and receive messages conveniently. A handy feature for emergency situations.
  • Dual Channel, AIS receiver, and AIS plotting functionality - this enables you to send AIS target information like your ship name, sign, distance, and bearing to your chartplotter. 
  • 25 W / 1 W transmission power - allows you to change transmission power from 25 watts to 1 watt.
  • User-Friendly Interface - Link-8 is designed with a very easy to use interface that allows you to set controls, change menu, and scan through channels quickly. 
  • High-Quality Mic with built-in speaker and easy-grip rubber overmolding - Clear quality audio that isolates background noise and enables you to receive and send high-quality audio messages.  
  • Log Distress Calls - It can save up to 10 distress calls and 20 individual DSC calls which is very useful for search and rescue operations.
  • The Lowrance also includes a hailer horn output listen back feature and a dedicated MOB button.
  • Track Your Buddy Technology - allows you to connect your VHF device with DSC position polling with your chartplotter to show location of up to 3 friendly vessels on your chart. 
  • 2-Year warranty and includes an LVR880 Suncover and a VHF Radio Mic Clip.

What Does it Mean when a Device is NMEA 0183 & 2000 compatible?

For boat owners with no background or knowledge about marine electronics, the NMEA standards can be confusing. For starters, every time you buy electronic equipment, you must first check the functionality of each piece. While some pieces can work in a stand-alone fashion, others need to be equipped with a network connection in order to be used with other on board devices like chartplotters etc.

NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 are today’s communication language for marine electronics. NMEA 2000 supersedes NMEA 0183 and is currently the protocol used when creating new electronics. Also, NMEA 0183 is near being phased out due to the rise of equipment with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, when your device has both, it makes the device even more versatile, compatible and able to connect to almost all existing marine networks.

Comparing The Lowrance Link 8 With The Simrad RS35:

Let’s compare The Simrad RS35 to the Lowrance Link-8. The Simrad RS35 is one of the premium VHF marine radios today and like the Lowrance Link 8 it also features its own integrated AIS receiver. This is a unique feature that’s very valuable for marine radios today. Today, the successful GX2200 is the leading marine radio with this feature. 

simrad rs35 VHF radio

The Link-8 and Simrad RS35 are both AIS receiving. However, unlike the Lowrance Link, the Simrad RS35 allows connection to wireless handsets making radio calling available from anywhere on board. This is very useful when you’re in a larger vessel and have several crew members on-board. The Simrad also looks better compared to Link-8 in our opinion. Cheaper than the Simrad RS35, the Link 8 is a great option for a VHF radio with an integrated AIS receiver if you have no need for a wireless handset and looks are not important to you.

Standard Horizon GX2200 VS Lowrance Link 8

Next, let’s compare the Standard Horizon GX2200 and the Lowrance Link 8. The GX2200 is a VHF marine radio complete with an Integrated 66 Channel GPS receiver and AIS receivers, overall, it has better connectivity than the Lowrance Link 8. When it comes to the interface, the Link 8 is arguably more user-friendly and easy-to-setup compared to the GX2200. If you’re looking for a cheaper and cleaner designer, the Lowrance link outshines the Standard Horizon GX2200 in our opinion. 

Standard horizon GX2200 with Ais and GPS

Final Thoughts:

The Lowrance Link-8 is a must-have VHF marine radio for people looking for cheaper and simpler alternatives to the Standard GX2200 and Simrad RS35. With full coverage of USA, Australian, New Zealand, & International Channels, it offers great reliability during emergency situations. Despite lacking in other connectivity and wireless features, the Lowrance Link-8 is complete with all the important basic functions for a reliable and rugged marine radio that you can use regularly. For an entry-level radio, the Link-8 has all the necessary features making it the perfect choice for the cost conscious  sailor. 

ICOM IC-M506 Review – Fixed Mount VHF Radio with NMEA 2000 and AIS

Icom IC-M506 Marine radio
Icom IC-M506 Marine radio

 Just like the Standard Horizon GX2200, this is a full featured VHF two way marine radio with integrated AIS receiver and NMEA 2000 connectivity. Large 3.4" LCD display is great for viewing AIS vessel traffic information, GPS and radio menus. The radio has the NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 network connectivity. Voice communications are top notch with the help of active noise cancelling and you also have the ability to record last 2 minutes of incoming communications.

ICOM M506 has received the NMEA Best VHF Marine Radio Product Award 3 years in a row 2014-2016. You can find our top 3 fixed mount radios here.

Let's Look At The Major Reasons To Get This Radio vs One Of It's Cheaper Alternatives.

Integrated AIS Receiver

First, let's ask the question - what is AIS? AIS is an Automatic Identification System used on boats and ships that transmits position, speed and navigational status via VHF transmitter. It helps to navigate through heavy traffic areas and shows traffic information on the display.

There are 3 display options when you use AIS receiver: Plotter display, Target list and Danger list. Use Plotter display to visually see nearby vessels; Target list shows number of targets and target information (range and bearing); Danger list displays potentially dangerous targets (MMSI - code or name of vessel, CPA - closest point of approach and TCPS - time getting to CPA). 

icon m506 AIS function

25W Two-Way Hailer

ICOM M506 can be connected to an external hailer horn. What does it do? It allows you to talk to people on deck, bridge or even shore if you are not too far away and listen back via the hailer speaker. Built in 25W amplifier is pretty powerful and produces nice clear audio. Some people find this a very useful function, especially if you have a larger boat with closed cabin etc.

ICOM M506 also has built in HORN with four automatic function: UNDERWAY, STOP, SAIL and TOW. 

ICOM M506 vs STANDARD HORIZON GX2200

Icom IC-M506 Marine radio
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    25W and 1W RF output power
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    AIS
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    NMEA 2000
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    25W Hailer
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    Horn
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    NO GPS (only external)
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    Class D DSC (meets ITU-R M493-13)
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    15W audio output
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    Last Call Function
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    AquaQuake
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    IPX8
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    W7" x H4.5" x D4.5"
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    25W and 1W RF output power
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    AIS
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    NMEA 0183
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    30W Hailer
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    Horn
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    66 Channel GPS
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    Class D DSC (meets ITU-R M493-13)
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    4.5W audio output
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    Last Call Function (NOT AVAILABLE)
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    AquaQuake (NOT AVAILABLE)
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    IPX7
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    W7.1" x H3.1" x D6.3"

Some of the features include:

  • Integrated AIS Receiver with Plotter, Target list and Danger list.
  • NMEA 2000 Connectivity plug-and-play plus NMEA 0183 GPS data conversion
  • Last Call Voice Recording 
  • Active Noise Cancelling
  • 25 Watt Two-Way Hailer
  • Built-in Horn (4 horn patters)
  • Built-in DSC with Class D receiver
  • IPX8 Submersible (up to 60 minutes underwater, 1m)
  • 15Watt audio output
  • Weather channels with alerts
  • AquaQuake water draining
  • 3 year waterproof factory warranty

But what do actual users say about this radio? Are they actually happy with their purchase? Let’s find out the pros, cons and what reviewers are saying about this radio. Below are the most common pros and cons that people have stated in their reviews on Amazon.

  • 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Total Customer reviews
  • 100% of Customers Rated the Radio 5 Stars
  • Large Easy to Read Display
  • AIS functionality 
  • User friendly menu
 
  • GPS support only over NMEA 0183 interface