The Cobra F75 has some unique features not found in other marine VHF radios we’ve tested. It couples a display sized for a more expensive radio with a speaker in the microphone handset instead of in the main radio case where it would normally be located.
The F75 has two scan modes, memory scan and Tri-Watch. Tri-Watch monitors channel 16 and channel 9 and whatever channel you were on when you pressed the Tri W key to initiate the scan.
The radio will also scan all memory channels in order by pressing the M Scan button. At least three channels must be entered into memory for the memory scan mode to function.
The Cobra F75 has basic hailer, called Public Address in the manual, it provides voice and radio reception over a public address horn.
The system is operated by going into the set menu and turning the PA on. This will transition the unit to PA mode and annunciate PA onscreen in place of a channel number.
Use the microphone normally and your voice will come out over a connected hailer horn. When the microphone is not being used received incoming radio traffic will come out over the hailer horn.
Performance of the F75 transceiver earned an excellent rating for frequency stability but only a fair rating for transmitter power stability. The output varied somewhat during a number of transmitter tests. Receiver sensitivity was rated good while selectivity carries a specification of 60 dB. Audio output was average at 87 dBA in our audio output testing.
The F75 has a large screen for a radio in this price range, it measures 2.2 inches long and 1.5 inches high. Channel numbers display in large block-style numbers on the right side with the Cobra Marine logo below.
Messages onscreen indicate the channel group selected, transmitter power setting, when the radio is transmitting. There are no channel comments displayed but designated alpha channels are listed. When connected to a GPS unit the radio will display date, time, and position onscreen. We rated the display screen good.
The F75 provides for one-button operation of a number of features including: a DSC distress call, quick selecting channel 16 or 9, memory scan mode on or off, transmitter power to high or low, setting channel group, using Tri-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 handset also has a quick 16 or 9 selection button and up/down pushbuttons to control radio volume.
Other functions are controlled via a set menu which is accessed by pressing and holding the Call/Set key. These functions include: display backlight and contrast adjustment, key beep, time offset, public address or hailer mode, weather alert, and DSC calling and information entry.
Small rotary knobs located on the right side set volume and squelch levels. A push of the volume knob turns the radio on or off. Squelch did not function on weather channels.
The microphone connects the radio front with a 6-pin metal PLT connector. In our opinion, even though this connection has a plastic cover we see it as a corrosion magnet on radios that will be used in the saltwater environment.
Digital Selective Calling
The Cobra MR F75-D has been fitted with two internal receivers so it can listen to voice communications and DSC digital data coming in over channel 70 at the same time. This makes it a class D radio for DSC operations.
This radio will send and receive distress, individual, all ships, and send and receive position data. It can store up to 10 individual MMSI numbers with a maximum of 9 character names.
The Cobra F75 had average performance ratings, carries an IPX7 waterproof rating meaning it can withstand submersion to a meter for 30 minutes, and a 3-year warranty.