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Thread: VHF radio Tx/Rx Distance?

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Default VHF radio Tx/Rx Distance?

    So, I just installed a new SH 1600 VHF and Shakespeare Galaxy 5225 XT antenna on the boat and was having trouble (or I think so) with talking to other boaters at a distance. Antenna is mounting on the roof. A friend of mine was only a few miles away before I could finally talk to him. I have the new connector installed properly and soldered the end good. What kind of distance should a VHF radio get out on the open water?
    Rob
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    I would think 20 miles should be easy. Check for any stray wires from the shielding grounding out on something. When i gillnetted we had "group radios" that were 45 watt vhf's and i could talk with guys on the copper river flats from main bay and ester. We had Morad antena's on those rigs.

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    Just how far is a few miles, and was there any mountains in the way? When you first heard your friend was that the same time he heard you? How do you know the problem is not you friend radio were he or you on one watt not 25 watts? They may sound like a lot silly questions but it all matters in order to try and answer your question.

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    OK. Just checked the connector again and it looked pretty good. I cleaned it up and made sure there weren't any stray wires from the shielding this time. That may have been the issue.

    A few miles as in 3 at the most. I did a radio check with another boat and it was fine. Just he was only about 3 or 4 miles away. I did have another boat that was anchored up about 10 miles away, while I could hear him, he could not hear me. Maybe the stray strands was the issue. I'll give it another try this weekend. Thanks for the info Steve.
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    When it comes to VHF radios and antennas quality or money spent makes a difference.
    It is all line of sight, so mount the antenna as high as possible.
    My 8-ft antennas are mounted on top of my hardtop. The top of the antennas are about 15-ft above the water line on a 24-ft boat.
    I spent about 25 years fishing for albacore and bluefin in small boats out of Half Moon Bay, CA.
    Now I live and fish out of Anchor Point. I do not need to transmit a long way and there are a lot of islands in the way here.
    My friends and I went thru different radios and antennas trying to get the longest distance from our radios.
    We fished between 40-120 miles offshore. We would leave the harbor and each would go out at a differnce course when trying to locate the tuna.
    Until the schools were located we could be 20-60 miles apart. So having a radio that would work at those distances was important.
    I have 2 different VHF radios in my boat that I am happy with. Now my equipment is over 10 years old. These models may be outdated now.
    I use the same model antenna for each radio.
    Only one time I was able to talk to someone that was just over 60 miles from me.
    Almost all the time I can talk to boats about 40+ miles.
    Sometimes I can reach boats about 50+ miles.
    To reach these distances the boats you are talking to needs to have good equipment also.
    I have a Standard Horizion GX5000x and a Icom M127 VHF radios.
    I have 2 Digital VFH antennas on my boat.
    Be sure and check out each radio with a Radio Wave Meter.

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    Rob
    I think I have the same gear as you because nobody can hear me also. I wish I knew what to get and if I did that it would work.

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    You could have a radio tech look at your system and fix the problem, it would be cheaper than buying new equipment and then you will know everything is working correctly.

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    Who does this kind of stuff,,,a radio tech that's good at it.

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    I sometimes wonder if its my setup or the other guys. I called the Whittier harbor master for a radio check the other day while in the harbor and could hear them on my hand held but not my dash mount, but other times I can hear them on both. Sometimes I can hear people that are 20-30 miles away and sometimes I could be parked next to them and not hear.
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    Can the radio and antenna be checked while it's installed in the boat? Cause if it can't, it's pointless because I'd have to resolder the connector on again and possibly back to the same situation. But after pulling it apart yesterday, I think I did have some stray wires in there. It's a pretty clean connection now. We will see how it works this weekend.

    As for equipment, my radio is pretty darn good and the antenna is Shakespeare best (so they say) I don't buy cheap crap anymore. Just not worth it. Although it's not a Morad. LOL
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    I am retired now but I used to do that sort of thing. I would have replied a little earlier but I was looking for my vswr meter before I replied. Marine radio antenna's have the ground plane built into the antenna as a form of coil so the longer the antenna the less of a coil inside and better radiation from the radio and thus more range in both transmit and receive. Look for any cut on the outer sheathing as it will corrode the shield and the return path for the transmitted and received signal.

    If you guys or gals ever come near Homer give me a jingle and I can look at your antenna setup and offer solutions or fix your connector.
    dennis

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot Dennis. I'll be sure to look you up next time we head down there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR2 View Post
    I sometimes wonder if its my setup or the other guys. I called the Whittier harbor master for a radio check the other day while in the harbor and could hear them on my hand held but not my dash mount, but other times I can hear them on both. Sometimes I can hear people that are 20-30 miles away and sometimes I could be parked next to them and not hear.
    I may have an explanation as to why you could not hear the boat right next to you. If he was on full power (25w) it could have overloaded the front end of your receiver so nothing could be heard.

    Why the hand held heard the H.M. and your marine radio did not, It does not make sense unless it was on the wrong channel.

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    OK. I quit. Radio com sucks.

    Who in Anchorage/Eagle River has a meter to test VHF radios? It has to be tested in the boat because the wire is ran thru a small hole and the connector is put on afterwards. Any ideas?
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    I will be going up to anch after the 4th and could look at it. It is probably your connector. Is the antenna new? Just a reminder if you shorted out the connector it could blow the transmitter. Is the center pin soldered ?

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    Ok. Thanks. I might be down there for the 4th. Still not sure yet.
    I did solder the center pretty good.
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    Oh yeah. Both the radio and antenna are brand new
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    Oh yeah. Both the radio and antenna are brand new
    I'm a HAM radio operator, and just so you know, just because an antenna is brand new doesn't mean it's ok. Many antennas have been known to be bad right out of the box. More times than not, when you are having problems, it's at the antenna......weather it be a coax connector or actually a break within the antenna stinger itself.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Over the years I have bought several different make and models VHF antennas.
    Form the low end Shakespeare to their best models. I was never happy with their antennas out tuna fishing.
    Our local marine electronics store started to sell the Commander VHF antenna.
    This worked better than any Shakespeare antenna out to the 50 mile range.
    I forgot to lower the antenna after a long trip and it hit a tree and broke.
    I tried the Digital VHF antenna. It cost less and it worked out to the 40 mile range.
    http://www.commandertechnologies.com/vhf8-6.php
    http://www.digitalantenna.com/prods/vhfantenna_8.html

    There was a time when we could get cell phone boosters that worked at sea. After a few years they stopped working and we could not get replacements.

    Does anyone know if there are cell phone boosters that work at sea?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Does anyone know if there are cell phone boosters that work at sea?[/COLOR
    [/SIZE][/FONT]
    Frigid North has them.

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