Diagnose VHF radio

PascalG

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I would not rely on a hand held. As a back up, as a dinghy radio, yes. Not as a primary. Most handheld are 5 watts vs 25 and the low tiny antenna won’t get you very far
 

Bt Doctur

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even the lowest price radio works like a high priced one when a quality ant is used and the ant is tuned to the radio to take advantage of the full 25 watts
 

ddurand

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Where do you boat? Most likely you can get by with a decent hand held radio - and you can get one with gps, dsc, all the bells and whistles.
Well my boat is stored on Delaware Bay at Cedar Creek. I always have a handheld regardless of my fixed VHF radio. I am not a fisherman but my grandson is. I have boated in lakes and rivers but this my first time in salt water.
 

ddurand

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boatbum

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If you can run the antenna cable and ensure it is intact and without pinches etc. that may be the case.
 

sugilbert

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Shakespeare makes some great antennas, but also cheap ones. If it has a chrome base, it's a goon one, if plastic, cheapo.
As above, if the entire run ov the cable looks ok, just cut off a few inches & solder a new PL259 plug. Caution, do not shorten the long cable more than a few inches--it'll throw off the signal.
 

ddurand

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Shakespeare makes some great antennas, but also cheap ones. If it has a chrome base, it's a goon one, if plastic, cheapo.
As above, if the entire run ov the cable looks ok, just cut off a few inches & solder a new PL259 plug. Caution, do not shorten the long cable more than a few inches--it'll throw off the signal.
What if you buy a better Shakespeare antenna without a supplied cable. You buy a length of cable to connect it to your VHF. Maybe the directions say how many feet of cable to use?
 

Radioactive

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Maybe the directions say how many feet of cable to use?
IIRC: they state a minimum length.

fwiw: a handheld feeding a fixed, mounted antenna at 5w is very competitive with a fixed mount radio at 5 watts.

The main difference is the interface, quality of the receiver and ability for higher power for the fixed mount unit.

HH is nice, convenient, and "at hand". The fixed mount should perform better under poor conditions.

Note that the antenna is a major component for performance. While the HH is handy, that little pointy thing on the HH is no competition to even a 3ft fixed mont antenna, mounted on the hart top. My personal "limit" for a HH is "a mile or so". Can it do better? likely, but since antenna length ( signal capture ), antenna gain ( some is desirable ), and antenna height above water all mean that a fixed mount unit will, in the field, outperform even a quality HH.

Examine your personal use case. My preference is a fixed mount as a primary, with a HH as a convenient backup.

Yes, I know, if you are in a raft, a HH is useful...

As for fixing them, in general there are "no user serviceable parts" in the radio. You might get is running, but it would be a challenge to tune the performance.

Conclusion: Treat the radio as a brick. If it works, good; if not replace. As for antenna, make sure all connections ( there should only be two: at the radio and at the antenna feed ) should be completely corrosion free and mechanically sound., wire should not be ( or have been ) pinched anywhere along it's entire length.


Note these are simply how I handle my radios. Your opinions may differ. But the VHF radio(s) are a basic safety item and deserve careful attention.

( You also have to turn them ON! :D )
 

sugilbert

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All, to the best of my knowledge, 6' VHF antennas come with the cable already hardwired, but without a plug attached due to feeding cable into boat and then to the VHF radio. (6', IMHO,is the minimum size. 3' would work, but limit your range, which is what you want!)

Radioactive mentioned a fixed mount 5W radio. I've never heard of such.
All are approx. 25w, whereas hand helds can range from 1-3-5 watts! Do the math. W equals strength. While we're discussing differences, VHF is basically line of sight radio. That is why 6' is far superior to 3', and a handheld--no matter the wattage. Big boats use 9' and occasionally 12'.

All boiled down---please don't scrimp. The VHF is a safety device. It is NOT a play toy like a CB radio for chit-chat.
 
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Radioactive

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slightly off topic:

The FCC promotes ( in some/all cases ) using "the minimum power required" to allow communications.

Most folks ignore this <sigh>, however, using less than max power ( and ant height ) may have advantages:

If "everyone did it" all would have much better short distance communications.

The barge train 12 miles away need not be a party to the exchange betwixt the helm and linesman.

If you are exchanging dinner plans with a boat at the adjoining mooring, low power might avoid having 100 "drop-ins" for dinner. Or at your "secret fishing hole".

If all used min pwr except for emergencies, then emergency calls could "over power" discussions regarding the pretty anchor wench sunbathing... and get through to possible needed assistance.

( In a fantasy world, I know, but it has to start somewhere, and low power does work. saves HH batteries, too )
 
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