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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #1  
Old 06-02-2012
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Short VHF antenna recommendation?

I installed a Standard Horizon 1150 VHF today.

When I connected what I thought was the VHF antenna, I got nothing. I assumed it ran down from the mast, but I traced the wire down and found that it went aft through the port locker in the engine room, then was cut off. I could not find any other wire that it might have been cut from.

So I need an antenna. Demasting and installing on the masthead is not an option right now. I would really like a very short one that I could install in a hidden location in the cabin. I sail on a lake and the longest reception needs possible would be 10 miles, unless I want to pick up barge traffic on the Arkansas river. It would mainly be for race days with the club and casual communication. There is no one with any rescue abilities that monitors VHF on our lake. That is what the phone is for.

I know that handhelds have short antennas, so is there anything of the like that would work?
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Shakespeare 5911 1FT VHF Antenna w/ 12ft Cable Suction Cup Mount
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Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Saw that one too, thanks. Any personal experience?
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Old 06-03-2012
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Shucks, you beat me to it. I have one for an emergency backup. I tried it once for reception, and it seemed to do OK.

I'd expect the 1ft Shakespeare to give you about the same reception as a handheld, which is all lots of people have anyway.

I have one suggestion : pay a rigger to install an antenna for you. I recently had one change the antenna on top of the mast. I think it cost me $80 or so. Probably more for you, as there's feeding a cable down the mast which is more time consuming, unless.....

Have you looked to see if there is a cable emerging from the base of your mast that might be the antenna cable? There is frequently a connection at the mast base, and a separate piece of cable running from radio to mast base. Maybe you just have to install one of those? Can you see an antenna on top of the mast?
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

I also have that same backup antenna, but haven't tried it out. I really should.

While being up higher is better, reception should be fine at 10nm max. It will still transmit better than a handheld, as mounted units can typically put out 25 watts, while handhelds typically 5 watts.

A cell phone for emergency at 10nm, however, seems beyond range. I get pretty excited if I get a signal 5 or 6 nm off shore. 10 nm can happen, but that wouldn't be my emergency plan.

One theory for that wire heading aft would be that it was for an SSB antenna on your backstay. Do you have insulators on your backstay? I'm not electronics guy, but I wonder if you could use a backstay antenna for VHF and splice back in what was cut out. I suspect you could. Someone here will know, several HAMs around.
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
One theory for that wire heading aft would be that it was for an SSB antenna on your backstay. Do you have insulators on your backstay? I'm not electronics guy, but I wonder if you could use a backstay antenna for VHF and splice back in what was cut out. I suspect you could. Someone here will know, several HAMs around.
A backstay antenna on VHF could be made to work -- with a proper tuner, UN-UN, etc., but it's not worth the effort.

Stick a decent size antenna on the stern rail and forget it. A standard 3' VHF antenna would be ideal, but if that's not possible for whatever reason just use a stubby like the one referenced above.

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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
A backstay antenna on VHF could be made to work -- with a proper tuner, UN-UN, etc., but it's not worth the effort.

Stick a decent size antenna on the stern rail and forget it. A standard 3' VHF antenna would be ideal, but if that's not possible for whatever reason just use a stubby like the one referenced above.

Bill
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You need a tuner for VHF reception? I know you do for SSB. I was hoping they could just splice in some wire and clamp it up beyond the insulator. Pretty cheap.

Regardless, you are right that a simple rail antenna may be the way to go, if the OP doesn't have or want to install something at the top of the stick.
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
A backstay antenna on VHF could be made to work -- with a proper tuner, UN-UN, etc., but it's not worth the effort.

Stick a decent size antenna on the stern rail and forget it. A standard 3' VHF antenna would be ideal, but if that's not possible for whatever reason just use a stubby like the one referenced above.

Bill
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Bill has a really good idea. Mount a standard antenna to the stern rail, should work pretty well. Get a 3db one though, not the higher gain ones fitted to power boats.

Here's what I have at the top of the mast. You just need a rail mount adapter.

Shakespeare Style 5215-AIS Masthead Squat Body Antenna
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
You need a tuner for VHF reception? I know you do for SSB. I was hoping they could just splice in some wire and clamp it up beyond the insulator. Pretty cheap.

Regardless, you are right that a simple rail antenna may be the way to go, if the OP doesn't have or want to install something at the top of the stick.
He's talking about both reception and transmission. Sure, you can receive radio signals with just about any kind of antenna. But, if you want to transmit you need to match the impedence output of the transmitter -- usually 50 ohms -- with the impedence of the antenna system -- antenna, coax, ground -- or you will have a high SWR. If you have a high SWR, your transmitter will cut way, way back in its output power. You could even damage some of the older rigs.

Get a marine VHF antenna, put it on the stern rail and, yes, a 3db one is all you need and what you want for a sailboat, and be done with it!

Bill
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Re: Short VHF antenna recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I also have that same backup antenna, but haven't tried it out. I really should.

While being up higher is better, reception should be fine at 10nm max. It will still transmit better than a handheld, as mounted units can typically put out 25 watts, while handhelds typically 5 watts.
I was wondering if, in a real emergency, you could hoist the backup antenna with a halyard. The supplied cable is quite long.
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