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Old 05-07-2012
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VHF Antenna Mounting: Masthead vs Stern Rail

I'm faced with a decision that must be made before I bring my boat to mooring. I currently have my vhf antenna mounted on the stern rail. I want to mount it on the masthead (25' high from the deck) to increase my range. I have enough coaxial cable to run to the mast, however, it is type RG-58 and inadequate for a 30'-35' run as I understand. My question is a matter of compromise and opinion as to what is the most beneficial trade off given my scenario.

Should I leave my antenna where it is on the stern rail (3'/4' above water level) and sacrifice some range ? Or should I mount it on the mast head, gaining range, but suffering some dB loss ? As I am not well informed on the extremity of each trade off, I'm turning to you. Thanks in advance, I'm always grateful to have a resource like sailnet and its members.
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Old 05-07-2012
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Re: VHF Antenna Mounting: Masthead vs Stern Rail

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Originally Posted by liveincolor View Post
I'm faced with a decision that must be made before I bring my boat to mooring. I currently have my vhf antenna mounted on the stern rail. I want to mount it on the masthead (25' high from the deck) to increase my range. I have enough coaxial cable to run to the mast, however, it is type RG-58 and inadequate for a 30'-35' run as I understand. My question is a matter of compromise and opinion as to what is the most beneficial trade off given my scenario.

Should I leave my antenna where it is on the stern rail (3'/4' above water level) and sacrifice some range ? Or should I mount it on the mast head, gaining range, but suffering some dB loss ? As I am not well informed on the extremity of each trade off, I'm turning to you. Thanks in advance, I'm always grateful to have a resource like sailnet and its members.
You radio range is roughly 1.14 times the square root of the antenna height plus a tad for ducting. When you really, really, want to reach out and touch someone, will you be saying to yourself "Gosh, I'm really glad I saved the cost of moving my antenna higher!", or "How could I have been so dumb!". Low loss cable is relatively cheap in such circumstances so what do you think?
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Old 05-07-2012
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Re: VHF Antenna Mounting: Masthead vs Stern Rail

RG-58 is not all that bad for a 35' run. You'll lose about 2 dB. Of course, better coax would be... well, better.

Personally, I would put it at the masthead with better coax. You can buy RG-213 for less than a dollar per foot. Add the cost of the connectors and you're still talking less than $50. You really can't afford that?
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Old 05-07-2012
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Re: VHF Antenna Mounting: Masthead vs Stern Rail

Get better coax. RG-213 or LMR-400 are good choices. Get it from someplace like therfc.com (hams are cheaper than sailors) and have them put a connector on one end. Fish the cable through with the professionally installed connector at the masthead. Tape the connector to help keep water out. You'll be glad you did.
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Old 05-07-2012
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As high as you can get it installed.
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Old 05-07-2012
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Re: VHF Antenna Mounting: Masthead vs Stern Rail

I didn't realize I could get the RG-213 for less than a dollar a foot, West Marine sells it for $2.99/ft. It isn't as much a question of affordability as much as taking advantage of the equipment I already have. My natural way is to be as efficient as possible without compromising beyond what seems necessary/safe. Thanks for the feedback everyone, so grateful to be able to learn from so many people willing to share.
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