Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Thanked 218 Times in 166 Posts
Rep Power: 16
Re: VHF AIS radios
Hi RC - Sorry I missed you in Annapolis. I fell working on a customer boat and was a little busted up.
SWR testing is good but only shows an impedance match. It doesn't show the effectiveness of radiation. You can get a pretty good match into a light bulb (literally) but that doesn't mean the signal is getting out. There are objective means of measuring that but realistically talking to someone outside of the near field (see Near and far field - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
) is a good measure. Talking to a number of stations is better yet. The SeaTow automated radio check system is one of the best things to happen for installers. I'm sure you do radio checks (off 16 *grin*) after testing SWR, right? You are one of the icons of doing the right thing so I'm sure you do.
Yes I also physically test the transmission using the Sea Tow automated system. Don't even get me going on VHF 16 "radio check on one-six"
I do both solder and crimp/solder and since adding crimp/solder to my arsenal I have had absolute zero issues with it. Course it means more money in tools but crimping the braid properly works very well. If I can solder the braid I do....
Problem with soldering is that I am often called on to "fix" poorly soldered or worse yet the Shakespere connections at the top of a spar with barely a 6" pigtail to work with. There is no solderer I know of that can do a good job in 15 knots of wind 50' in the air swinging from a chair.....
I would love a way to test the VHF/AIS radios compared to others. The bottom line for me is that our Matrix 2100AIS works extremely well and physically performs better than just about any boat I step on. Hell I work on some boats that can't even hail the Sea Tow tower from 1/2 mile across the bay..... Good cable, good connections, good antenna seem to make a big difference....
I once got reprimanded (sarcastically of course) by our clubs launch driver because apparently I left our VHF on High Power, something I am VERY careful about not doing and I felt badly. We were in the Sheepscot River hailing another boat... He heard us loud and clear in Falmouth, ME approx 21 miles away as the crow flies.....
-Maine Sail / CS-36T
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