R 22

Rhodes 22


VHF Radio

How do I check my VHF radio to see if the antenna connection is good & it's transmitting ok? I can listen to the weather channels, but don't hear much traffic on the other channels. I suppose the simple thing is to find someone else in the marina with a radio & try communicating. Anything else to worry about?

Gary Sanford
s/v Raven

I do a "radio check" every other week on channel 9, then 16 if no response (The GC might yell). I am also not happy with the radio's performance. I keep meaning to get a SWR ($39.95 I am cheap) meter to check the antenna and connections. I also double check with the handheld.


Buy or borrow and SWR (standing wave ratio) meter. Make sure it's good for the VHF bands and not just CB. It installs in series with your antenna and measures the amount of power that is reflected back to your radio by a badly tuned antenna or poor connections. SWR should be 1.5:1 or less.

Dave Walker

From: Roger K. Pihlaja Subject: US Coast Guard Preference For VHF Radio Over Cell Phone In An Emergency

Thanks for the comments regarding cell phones vs. hand-held VHF radios vs. fixed mount VHF radios with masthead antennas. I guess I'd never thought about how the US Coast Guard would like to communicate with a boater in an emergency. So I asked them. The US Coast Guard is prepared to use any means of communication available. However, they would prefer to use VHF radio & flares for final pinpointing. It seems cell phones don't always work very well in the noisy environment of a helicopter.

I forgot to mention one other backup that we carry on board Dynamic Equilibrium. Our SeaRanger Pilot International hand-held VHF radio has a removable antenna. The antenna connector is a BNC twist lock type. We carry a female BNC to female VHF coax adaptor. This adaptor allows the hand-held VHF radio to be connected to the ship's masthead antenna. Thus, if something went wrong with the fixed mount VHF radio, I could extend the range of the hand-held VHF radio by giving it a good antenna.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium

I am toying with adding VHF in the form of portable, but want the masthead antenna. Do you know which portables have an adapter that will allow that? I looked at Standard's units and the antennas screw in and form a watertight connection. I looked at ICOM and Apelco, but nobody lists an antenna converter.

Meanwhile, Boat/US has a new model Apelco with all the features I want in a fixed radio for a mere $149. Maybe that is the answer, but I did want to explore the possibility of a portable. After all the 3 to 4 watts that might get up the 26" wire will really radiate to parts unknown, maybe even get the help I might need.

Alex Bell

Here's a link to everything you ever wanted to know about marine vhf:

Brian Jernigan
22 Jun 2001

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