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Does VHF need external antenna?

10723 Views 30 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  hellosailor
I have inherited an old West Marine Zephyer VHF radio from a friend who upgraded on his Cal-27.

He has a mast antenna. I have none on my bare bones Edel 665. I don't even have a battery yet so this "freebie" is going to cost me at least that plus $90 for my VHF license...$200 approx total.

I have read that operating a VHF without the external antenna can damage the VHF. If I have to get some sort of external antenna I may just stay VHF-less. We are never out of reach of cell phone reception where we sail.

Do I need an antenna or not?

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Some people go to a lot of trouble to make this antenna stuff look like magic. Some of it is but a foot and a half (about 457mm) of wire stuck into the center of the antenna connector will work as an antenna. It won't be great and you may get a nasty burn if you touch it while transmitting. Find a "banana plug" at just about any electronics store and solder it to your wire and you have an instant 1/4 wave antenna. This solution uses the case and chassis of the radio as the other half of the antenna so touching any metal part of the radio while transmitting may bite you. It will transmit better than a hand held but may not receive any better.

Here are a couple of links to home made antennas that do not require grounding plates or radials and can be used for 157MHz (Marine Band):


Have FUN!

p.s. The antenna will generally work better if it is sticking straight up. It will more than likely be less better at any other angle. If it is under water, you are already in trouble!
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