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Thread: Transmitting problem with VHF radio

  1. #1
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Transmitting problem with VHF radio

    My VHF radio quit transmitting except at very close range. It is only 2 years old, and in a cab, no corrosion problems. The mike seems to key the transmit OK, using a handheld nearby it works and transmits fine, but not over 100 feet. I checked my antenna connection, it seemed to be disconnected, but that may have happened when I unscrewed the mast, the antennae and connection is supposed to spin inside when you screw/unscrew the mast, but I think it might be twisting the connection. Anyway, I reconnected the leads and taped everything real good (yeah, I did have shrink wrap but had already made the connection so no way to get it on)

    I can hear everyone great, which makes me think the antenna may be working, even people far away over hills and around islands. It is an ICOM brand radio, 5W/25 watt, and yes it is on Hi setting. Is it the antenna connection or something else

  2. #2
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    Depending on the antenna design it could receive ok and not transmit very far.

    Does your radio have a meter? If so when you transmit on 5 w and 25 w does the meter read higher on 25w?

    With out a swr meter it hard to prove your antenna is working.

    You could put your radio on a different boat and see if it works. That would prove your antenna is working or not.

  3. #3
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Thanks moose, but....

    it doesn't have a meter, but supposed to show "TX" on the monitor when it transmits, and I don't see that. Owner's manual is very basic, aren't they all, so no help in the trouble shooting section.

    It is a basic Shakesphere fiberglass antenna with a metal core that the wire hook up to. I am thinking that the wires may be breaking loose when I screw the antenna back into the base, even though the core seems to be spinning to avoid that. I think I will contact the radio and antenna company.

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    Default

    Do you have it on PA?

  5. #5
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I would be looking at the antenna cable and connections at both ends. The easiest check is going to be to borrow another antenna with cable from your buddy and plug it into the radio (without mounting anything) and check to see if it works. If it does, then your cable is bad. If it doesn't your radio is bad.

    Things to consider... Icom radios are generally light duty and break pretty easily. Once they break, toss 'em and buy something else.

    If your antenna connection had come undone and you were repeatedly trying to transmit at 25W without an antenna hooked up, you probably fried the radio. VHF radios can't handle that.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    >It"s your coax cable. Never seen a radio go out. Salt gets in wire then your radio transmits like crispy baccon, then gets worse.

  7. #7
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Thansks everyone...

    I particularly like Joat's suggestion to take another good antenna and hook it up and see if it works. The radio transmits fine at short distances so i think it is still fine, if fried the transmit wouldn't work at all, i think.

    Checked cable both ends, no corrosion evident anywhere. I think the connection at the mast just broke again when I screwed it in. So, I'll try a friends antenna and see if that is it.

  8. #8

    Default Bad mike

    My Icom is only 3 months old and the mike is shot. It recieves great, just wont send. Its in the mail for waranty work now.

  9. #9
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJSan View Post
    ... Never seen a radio go out...
    Should spend more time around radios then. They break quite often and Icom seems to break easier than most other brands I've dealt with. Unless it is an accessory (like the mic), then repairing an Icom is usually cost prohibitive (cheaper to buy new unit).
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  10. #10

    Thumbs up Take it in to Surveyor's Xchange

    They have an excellent radio shop. The technician there (I think his name is John) will check it out for free.
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  11. #11
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    Default

    To me, it sounds like the coax is broken. I'm a ham, and I've seen this ALOT! You get enough connection to get a basic signal out as you are seeing, but nothing beyond that. Check continuity between the ends, if you have good continuity between both ends, then you typically don't have a coax problem. I would go through the process of resoldering on the ends back onto the coax after cutting them off. Use Amphenol before the Rat shack brand.

    It could be in the radio itself, the connector for the antenna's tend to twist and break the internal connection if they are not riveted in well. This is also true at the antenna itself.

    If it is a one piece antenna / coax unit, I'd check the connections at both ends, use plenty of flux & resolder all your connections. Then get out the SWR meter (if available) and check that out as well.

    Hope this helps & good luck

    Bill

  12. #12
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, everyone...

    I sent a couple of PM's to ask some followup questions.

    So, what is a better radio than ICOM, most look similar online and cost about the same, looking in places like Cabelas and online marine stores...I plan to use my boat and radio for a lot of years and it is not something I want to go cheap on, but thought I had bought a good one.

    The mike and radio wouldn't transmit at all if they were the problem, would they? I am still thinking it must be the antenna, is there a better antenna than the fiberglass Shakesphere I have?

  13. #13
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    Default If its not broke

    Ron, I have an ICOM radio in my SeaSport and it works great. I have the feeling that your problem is somewhere other than the radio. Wish I could offer more, but I would really try to borrow another antenna, or even purchase on that you could return if thats not the problem. I have been using a fiberglass Shakesphere antenna on my Almar since 1985 and also have one on the SeaSport. There is an awful lot of other people out there with them too. Gotta be a connection or coax wire problem somewhere. If you can use another antenna to hook up, that will solve 2/3 of your mystery.

  14. #14

    Default

    I've been dealing with Icom radios for a few years and the only reason for any of them being returned was the mic stopped working, probably due to the owner dropping it one too many times. Most of the time is in the connection at the radio. The solder in the connector could possibly rattle loose, the coax itself could be very old and need to be replaced, or something in the antenna whip could go bad. I've just never seen an Icom radio stop transmitting for no reason.

    One other thing, have you taken your antenna off the mount and inspected it? Could be that the whip broke inside of the casing about a foot up or so. VHF works on line of site so the taller your antenna the farther you're going to go. If its an 8' antenna thats broken a foot from the base, that could cause your problem.

    And yes "better" antennas exist, but the majority you see on boats are shakespear 8 foot mariner series antennas. I've ran one on every boat I've owned and had no problems other than when one broke in half due to a low hanging branch. But that was my fault.

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