Battery on a VHF radio? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Battery on a VHF radio?

I have a West Marine 500dsc VHF (hard wired) radio. When I key the mic, a message has started to appear on the screen "Battery Low". I looked in the manual, and found nothing about a battery. I called WM and the "tech" said it might have something to do with memory, but he didn't know anything about a battery. He referred me to Uniden (the manufacturer) customer service. The automated service asked me to leave my number so they could contact me. They never did. I went to a WM store, told the clerk the story. He was clueless. I told him that Uniden never contacted me. He laughed and said "they never do" (just what I wanted to hear!). I've taken the radio and mic apart and don't see a battery.
Another issue the radio has (I know...time for a new radio!) is that the on/off switch is defective. If I turn it off, it may take a while (sometimes hours) to turn on. If I turn it off by unplugging the power supply, it turns on instantly. The volume (same switch) works perfectly.

Last edited by L124C; 03-03-2012 at 11:32 AM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-03-2012
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Your radio is telling you that it is getting a low voltage from the 12V battery IN THE BOAT. This could be because it is flat, or because the wiring has an issue.

The fact that this warning appears when you key the mike, which is the only time the radio uses any real power, suggests that you have an issue with a voltage drop in the wiring. Got an inline fuse holder? Check for corrosion in the connections.

Do you have a voltmeter?

PS, got a 9-month-old Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC+, GX1150, here in a box. It just got back from SH, where it was having the MMSI no. deleted. Make me an offer!

PPS, Standard Horizon's customer service has been outstanding.
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Last edited by MarkSF; 03-03-2012 at 12:53 AM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-03-2012
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I agree with Mark. Voltage drop in the power supply wiring somewhere. Check all the connections. Same thing happened to me on my previous boat.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-03-2012 Thread Starter
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Thank you!

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Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Your radio is telling you that it is getting a low voltage from the 12V battery IN THE BOAT. This could be because it is flat, or because the wiring has an issue.
The fact that this warning appears when you key the mike, which is the only time the radio uses any real power, suggests that you have an issue with a voltage drop in the wiring. Got an inline fuse holder? Check for corrosion in the connections.
Do you have a voltmeter?
PS, got a 9-month-old Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC+, GX1150, here in a box. It just got back from SH, where it was having the MMSI no. deleted. Make me an offer!
PPS, Standard Horizon's customer service has been outstanding.
I asked the on line WM guy if that could be the issue. He ruled it out. Should have been in the trouble shooting section, or at least mentioned in the manual anyway! Here I was pulling the radio apart looking for a battery!
Even funnier...when I took the radio into WM, the clerk asked: "Do you want to exchange it?" I said "sure!" (it's probably 8 years old). He offered me a Standard Horizons that would have worked nicely. Even the mounting bracket looked the same, but I wasn't sure, so I asked: "They don't make this model anymore?". He went to check, came back and said "sorry...they discontinued this model, so I can't exchange it." Kicked myself all the way home! Thanks for the info, gotta love this forum!

Last edited by L124C; 03-03-2012 at 11:11 AM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-08-2012 Thread Starter
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Found it!

Traced the wires and found a bad connection at the pos. battery bus. Took me about an hour to trace because I automatically ruled out the wires that in fact, connected the radio to the bus. Both pos and neg were blue, and about 4 times larger than they needed to be. They traveled much farther than they needed to, in order to connect to the factory VHF wires. Another mess I need to clean up. Better now than when I need the radio! I have most of the wiring cleaned up and identified, but if I did it all at once, it would have taken me a week! However, in retrospect, I guess blue wires should have drawn my attention!
Interestingly, the factory wires are red and black, and are not tinned.
Anyway...thanks again Marksf!
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Battery on a VHF radio?

Splendid news!

Now I keep about 50ft of 2 core, red and yellow, with a white sheath, tinned boat cable on board. So if I ever need to do some wiring I can do it properly and won't be tempted to use something that came to hand.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
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