The Cobra F45-D is the no-frills entry level marine VHF radio, officially designated the MR F45-D, that can handle all your VHF communication needs for under $100.
This Cobra marine radio set ships with the radio, a front panel mounted detachable microphone, GPS interface cable, microphone mount, owner’s manual, plastic mounting bracket suitable for dashboard or overhead use, mounting hardware, and a fused power cord.
Like all marine VHF radios, the F45 requires mounting, a power supply and a hook up to a VHF antenna prior to use.
To mount the F45 flush in a panel you would need to either improvise your own mounting system or purchase the optional Cobra Marine CM 210-001 flush mounting kit.
If you decide to flush mount this radio you may want to add some sort of gasket material between the panel and the radio to prevent water from seeping through the seam.
Individual back panel connections will let you connect this radio to an external speaker and GPS device. This radio will display vessel position information supplied through a NMEA0183 connection.
The radio face measures 6.2-inches wide by 2.4-inches high. The radio’s die cast metal chassis and plastic housing extend back just 5.1-inches from the front panel back.
Controls and Operation
Operational tasks on the F45 are handled by using the six dedicated pushbuttons, up/down arrow keys, a pair of rotary knobs and onscreen menus. Of course, the radio front panel also have a red DSC distress call button located under a switch guard.
The F45 has dedicated pushbuttons for operation of a number of key features including: making a DSC distress call, quick selecting channel 16 or 9, turning scan mode on or off, setting transmitter power to high or low, setting channel the group, using Dual Watch scan, and opening the menu page.
Channel selection is made with up/down arrow buttons located on the radio front panel and microphone. The microphone also has a quick 16 or 9 selection button.
Other functions are controlled via a set menu which is accessed by pressing and holding the Call/Set key. These functions include: display back light and contrast adjustment, key beep, time offset, weather alert, and DSC calling and information entry.
The pair of rotary knobs located on the right side of the radio front panel provide volume and squelch control as well as turning the radio on or off.
Digital Selective Calling
The Cobra MR F45-D meets the current FCC regulations, put in place on March 25, 2011, that requires all marine VHF radios to have two internal receivers and be designated a class D radio for DSC operations. That means the pair of receivers listen to voice communications and DSC digital data coming in over channel 70 at the same time.
While transmitting at full power I measured an initial draw of about 5 amps, which settled back to about 4.4 amps in a couple seconds. At the 1-watt power setting the draw started at 1.2 amps and settled in at 1.0 amp. The receiver sensitivity and the channel separation both rated good based on the factory specifications listed in the manual.
Audio output was a fairly respectable 88 dBA with volume at maximum while listening to a weather broadcast. As expected, noticeable voice distortion was evident at high volume settings. Overall performance of the Cobra F45-D was good.
The Cobra F45-D uses a 2.3-inch monochrome display screen that is .75-inches high and 2.1-inches wide. The selected channel number is displayed in large segmented numbers on the right side of the screen. Other displayed data includes position information, channel group and transmitter power setting. The screen backlight can be set to high, medium, low or off. Contrast is also adjustable. I rated the screen good.
Odds and Ends
The F45-D can use any U.S., Canadian or International channel as well as receive all NOAA weather channels. This radio will provide weather alerts and scan in Dual Watch or all channel modes.
Microphone controls on the F45-D let the user change channels or quick select 16 or 9. The push-to-talk switch is located in the usual position on the side within easy reach of your index finger.
The F45-D marine VHF radio carries a 3-year warranty. This radio is waterproof to the tough JIS7 standard which means it will survive submersion to one meter for 30 minutes without sustaining any damage whatsoever.
The Cobra F45-D is the latest entry level marine VHF radio from this well respected Midwest based marine electronics maker. It offers a basic feature set and good overall performance in a reasonably priced package.