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?
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
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.
From: Roger K. Pihlaja
Subject: US Coast Guard Preference For VHF Radio Over Cell Phone In
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.
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.
Here's a link to everything you ever wanted to know about marine vhf:
22 Jun 2001