The Standard Horizon GX2100 is one of the first marine radios to combine full VHF functionality with an internal marine AIS receiver. It needs only a single standard marine VHF radio antenna for both VHF and AIS communications.
This Standard Horizon radio is also capable of storing and navigating to waypoints when connected to a GPS receiver via a NMEA0183 connection. It also has the ability to couple to the CMP30 remote microphone, CVS2500 voice scrambler, remote speaker, and PA horn.
The most powerful additional feature in the GX2100 marine VHF radio is its ability to function as a standalone AIS receiver and output this data to a compatible chartplotter display. We looked at the AIS feature set using the radio controls and display screen and by connecting the unit to a Garmin 740s display.
The GX2100 is installed like any other marine VHF radio. You’ll need to mount it, connect power, and hook up a VHF antenna. To get the AIS and DSC functions to operate you will need to take a couple additional steps. The radio needs to have a GPS input for AIS functionality and the MMSI number input for DSC to work.
If you wish to display AIS data on your chartplotter you will need to make sure your unit is compatible, it must have two available NMEA0183 ports, one low speed for GPS data and one high speed for AIS data, to get full functionality. The actual wiring is a fairly simple and straightforward affair. You may also need to go into your chartplotter menu to make sure all the port settings are appropriate.
Control of Standard Horizon GX2100 functions are handled using onscreen menus, several designated function keys, or three soft keys. A rotary channel selector also functions as a menu item selector and enter key.
Soft key functions and their respective labels which show onscreen above the button are change in relation to the mode displayed on the screen.
The Normal mode shows radio and position data, AIS a graphic of nearby ships and data, and both Compass and Waypoint show a compass rose with navigation data.
As far as I am concerned, beyond having marine VHF radio capabilities, this is the major reason to have this VHF/AIS combo aboard your boat.
It is the least expensive and easiest to install AIS receiver I’ve seen yet. I would certainly opt to connect it to my chartplotter display too if is was capable.
During our review numerous targets were picked up and tracked over several miles by the AIS receiver.
If a boat or ship gets close enough to trigger either the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) or Time to Closest Approach (TCPA) alarm the radio will sound a warning tone and display data concerning the ship including speed, course, range, and bearing.
If you have a chartplotter connected you’ll see the target ship go active, change from a grey outline to a red filled in target, and show a graphic course and speed indicator for the ship. CPA and TCPA ranges are user adjustable and can be turned off.
Digital Selective Calling
Once an MMSI number is programmed into the GX2100 it will send and receive distress, individual, all ships, group, and send and receive position data calls.
Individual and group directories contain the MMSI numbers of other vessels you wish to call. This radio will even provide navigation data to a received position call. Up to 80 individual numbers can be stored with names up to 11 characters in length.
The Standard Horizon GX2100 uses a 3-inch full dot matrix screen monochrome display screen. In the Normal mode you’ll see the selected channel number displayed in large numbers. Other onscreen data includes position data, channel group, GPS status, and channel comment. The screen has 7 levels of backlight adjustment selectable via the display menu. I rated the screen excellent.
Odds and Ends
Other marineVHF features in this radio include local/distance receiver settings, capability to call an AIS target ship, several channel scan modes, weather alert, and quick select of channel 16 and 9. The radio also has a channel preset function that lets you set up several channels for single button access.
When coupled to a GPS this radio can be used to navigate to a waypoint, store waypoints, and navigate to a DSC call. Navigation data is displayed graphically and with numerical data on both the Compass and Waypoint display pages.
When it is connected to a compatible PA horn the 30-watt hailer built into the GX2100 can be operated manually or in the automatic foghorn mode. The hailer/foghorn menu is selected with the PA/FOG soft key. Powerboat underway, powerboat underway not making way, sailing vessel underway, vessel under tow, vessel aground, and vessel at anchor are the selectable sound patterns.
This Standard Horizon marine VHF radio also has listen-back mode that can provide two-way communications through the PA horn. This can be advantageous when trying to communicate with another vessel.
The Standard Horizon GX2100 carries a 3-year warranty and is waterproof to IPX7 standards. That means it could be submerged to a depth of 1-meter for 30 minutes without suffering any ill effects.
At this time there is no better option for recreational boaters to add AIS to their vessel at a reasonable cost. The GX2100 has excellent overall performance, AIS receiver capability, full DSC functionality all available at a very reasonable price.