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Hi,
I realized I have a relative poor quality with my On Board VHF. If I compare to my handheld, the quality seems very poor. Just listening to the weather channels, I can get only One channel, while sitting in the marina, while with my handheld, I get the 3 channels almost perfectly. I can transmit too, as fas as I can tell, locally to at least to my handheld.
I checked all the connectors of the radio cable, and they looked corroded, then I replace them, but it is barely better. Few folks told me that usually the cables themselves do not corrode internally, then the issue must be on the top of the mast.
Before I go up there, is there anything I could do at the sea level to try to troubleshoot this radio system. I thought about buying a radio antenna and a new cable and connect it on deck. I eventually will need it anyway. This is an old boat, obviously, and I suspect the electronics are at least 10 to 20 years old. I wont be surprised if the Antenna and cable connector at the top of the mast are totally corroded.

Question: If the Antenna and connector were badly corroded, would I still get some sort of signal , but with poor quality ?
Could that be the radio itself ? Except the quality of the link itself, everything looks pretty good on it (I think it is a more recent radio than the antenna/cable).

ps: How do you solder at the top of the mast ? is it even possible ?
 

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Great questions.

Yes, the cable does corrode. It has corroded if the inside cabin connectors are corroded.

So it sounds like you need to replace the cable and probably the antenna... Maybe the vhf too. But these are not expensive items. I paid about $150 for a new DSC VHF.

The way you solder the top connection is to do it down below and then take the cable up the mast, cut the old cable, gaffer tape the new cable to the end of it and feed it down the mast... Have someone to be your puller and one person up the mast being your feeder. Easy.

This gear doesnt last forever outside, or even inside, in the salty environment. And its wirth a new setup to know you can be heard properly. :)


Mark
 

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Ask around your dock if somebody has an SWR meter and knows how to use it. This will help pin point your problem.
 
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Few folks told me that usually the cables themselves do not corrode internally, then the issue must be on the top of the mast.
The cables can corrode as noted. More often they flood and the entrained water changes the impedance characteristics.

Before I go up there, is there anything I could do at the sea level to try to troubleshoot this radio system.
An SWR meter would be a start. An antenna analyzer (and knowing what to do with it) even better.

Question: If the Antenna and connector were badly corroded, would I still get some sort of signal , but with poor quality ?
Could that be the radio itself ? Except the quality of the link itself, everything looks pretty good on it (I think it is a more recent radio than the antenna/cable).

ps: How do you solder at the top of the mast ? is it even possible ?
Depending on what is failing and where you might hear something or nothing.

It could be the radio. The first stage in the receiver can fail or be damaged. Given your description I suspect the radio is okay.

I agree with soldering the masthead connector on the deck and taking it up.
 

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Mark beat me to it. Antennas can fail, cables can fail, and putting the new ones in properly, so they don't corrode, is not always an obvious way of doing things.

The quickest simplest way to test all that out is to use the emergency antenna, they're cheap enough and a sensible piece of gear to carry. If the radio works well with that, then you worry about replacing the coax and/or antenna. You'll find plenty of threads discuss how to check that out. If the emergency antenna doesn't help, then the radio needs repair or replacement. Radios often fail as they age too.
 

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Surprisingly, it was the radio. I tried with the emergency antenna, no signal at all. Bought a new radio Icom (150$), and reception is perfect now.
Good to know !
The radio is probably the easiest part to replace.

Glad you found your problem.

I've seen several problem installations where a damaged or improperly installed coax or fitting has let water into the shield where it corroded the shield to dust. That just kills the transmit and reception. Some times the SWR is fine but since the cable is acting as a dummy load, very little gets to the antenna.

Have FUN!
O'
 

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I've seen several problem installations where a damaged or improperly installed coax or fitting has let water into the shield where it corroded the shield to dust... Some times the SWR is fine but since the cable is acting as a dummy load, very little gets to the antenna.
That's the truth about SWR even at 1:1.
 
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