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Need a new VHF Antenna.

Discussion in 'SSB and Ham Operators' started by pateco, Apr 9, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    So I sent my son up the mast yesterday to do some work on the masthead light and halyard car for my furler. I had him take some picture while up there, and noticed that my VHF antenna has disintegrated. All of the labels have pealed off, but from his photo it looks like one of the Shakespeare's with the can on the bottom and the stainless whip. All that is left is the can. the whip is gone maybe after the last hurricane here. What would you recommend as an inexpensive replacement? I use my handheld for most things, but want the built in radio to function correctly.

    I am not apposed to the cheap Amazon/E-bay stuff, as long as it works well.
     


  2. Simon Sexton

    Simon Sexton

    Joined Nov 1, 2017
    202 posts, 68 likes
    Catalina 25 Tall Rig
    Valiant US Watergate Marina, Kemah, TX
    @pateco ,

    Good morning! That's unfortunate :( I had a similar problem with my boat; I didn't even have a VHF! I ended up installing the antenna inside the port laserette in the cockpit, as I don't plan to make any long distance calls. The antenna costed me a good $50, but works beautifully! I, too, utilize my handheld most, though, so I installed my mounted VHF to listen in on Notice to Mariners and channel 16. I would look on Ebay and Amazon just for grins and pricing, but I'd also read reviews. If there aren't any reviews, I wouldn't buy the product, because...ya never know. Here on SBO, there are a variety of options for antenna, so I'd start here! I hope this helps!

    God Bless,
    S.S.
     


    pateco likes this.
  3. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    4,930 posts, 218 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    I guess you could simply replace the whip which fits in the coil (can) but two considerations come to mind:
    1. Water may have entered the empty hole destroying the coil. A simple continuity test is useless to determine that as the coil would normally show continuity), and

    2. Given we don't know the model, it's impossible to calculate the correct whip length which is a function of the coil size.

    If it were me, I'd replace the whole thing and the coax fitting as well after ensuring no water in the coax.

    I'll leave recommendations for replacement out of my post as it's subjective and usually biased based on past experience
     


    Alansails likes this.
  4. SFS

    SFS

    Joined Aug 18, 2015
    1,354 posts, 368 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Tampa Bay
    Chip, I bought and returned a standard Shakespeare sailboat whip at West Marine last year for half price. I think it was 80 bucks on sale for 40. I returned it after I proved my current setup was working correctly. Keep an eye out for such a sale.

    Also, I'm not used to this yet, but find the lowest price you can, then take that to WM so they can match it.

    I also got in touch with my local ham radio club for help in troubleshooting. Found a sailor that came out with gear to test the whole system. Wouldn't take any money, or beer, saying he was happy to help a fellow sailor. Might be a good resource if you need it.
     


  5. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    But that bias is exactly what I am looking for. I take Amazon/E-bay reviews with a grain of salt. LOL

    I agree it will be better to replace the entire antenna especially since the top of the can was completely open to the elements for some period of time. If you wish to PM me your recommendations based upon past experience, in private rather than in a public post I would still appreciate it.
     


  6. SFS

    SFS

    Joined Aug 18, 2015
    1,354 posts, 368 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Tampa Bay
    One more thing Chip. When we took the TV antenna down last week, I cut the cable above the deck so Karen could lower it to me. I was stunned at the amount of water that flowed out of that 40 feet of coax, so you are right to be concerned about water ingress.
     


    pateco likes this.
  7. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    I don't think I can replace the cable at this time as it is inside the mast with no access ports. If the termination is bad, I will re-terminate.
     


  8. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    4,930 posts, 218 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    My reluctance to recommend a brand is due to unfamiliarity, not anonymity. I dont like any of the generic marine VHF antennas so I typically make mine from spare parts collected over 50 years of ham radio antenna experimentation so I have all the 'stuff' already to test.

    Having said that, if I were to purchase one, I would avoid purchasing anything with a loading coil because of the inherent loss they create. Given they save little on overall length, it never seemed worth it to me.
     


  9. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    So a 4' full wave fiberglass rather than a 3' half or quarter wave with load/coil? This will add to my bridge clearance and I am not sure how to mount it at the masthead.
     


  10. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    56 posts, 9 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, WA
    For an inexpensive VHF antenna that I have had pretty good luck with, take a look at the TRAM brand on fleabay. Do a search for marine VHF antenna. Can be had with shipping for around $30.00. Yes they are a china company, but I have been using one for ham mobile for several years. I prefer the old Larsen brand, still have one on a mag mount that I have been using continuously for better than 30 years. It does look rough, but still is in spec from the original tuning. Pretty much any of the name brand manufactures will work for the purpose. You may also be able to remove the current antenna and use the existing mount for the new antenna. That is what I am currently going to do on the mast from my Newport that is sitting in my driveway. The question in regards to the coax is valid. Replace if you can is cheap insurance. I will be using Davis Bury flex which is a RG-8 sized coax as it has a tinned braid over a layer of aluminum foil, and some sort of polyfoam for the insulator. The Jacket is polyethylene vs pvc, which is way tougher and supposed to hold up in the weather better. Also rated for direct burial not that it matters. Just make sure whatever you use does not have a solid center conductor! Good luck with it, and let us know what you decide.
     


  11. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    579 posts, 161 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
    It was my understanding that the short antenna with the load coil has a rather spherical radiation pattern, where as the fiberglass mono-structure antenna emits a more pancaked pattern, that gets you better range when the antenna is vertical, but drives the signal into the sea when the boat is on a heel. I thought that this effect & bridge clearance were the two main reasons why so many sailboats use the little base load whips.

    Since MitchK mentioned tuning, that also brings up something that I have been wondering for a while. Can I use a SWR meter that was designed for a CB radio to test a marine VHF antenna? Or are the frequency ranges too different?
     


  12. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,095 posts, 711 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    I was told "no", but there's gotta be a way. Just a matter of interpretation, yes?
     


  13. Apex

    Apex

    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    692 posts, 65 likes
    Oday 28
    US Traverse City
    I have a used antenna, I replaced it when I redid the masthead. I moved the windex, which was previously interfering with the antenna. Full disclosure, the whip was bent, but is in good shape
    Shakespeare 5215 squatty body. PM me if interested.
     


  14. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,755 posts, 518 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    @JimInPB, you can use a CB SWR but there will be a mismatch and your readings will be wrong. However, unless you are building your own antenna, Marine VHF antennas do not need to be tuned. They are pre cut and made to be assembled without need to external tuning equipment. If you are checking to see if you have an issue with your antenna such as high SWR then I would recommend using a VHF SWR meter for a more accurate measurement.
     


    pateco likes this.
  15. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
  16. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,755 posts, 518 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Caveat Emptor! Not saying that this is a bad antenna, but also not saying it is a good antenna. From the image it looks sturdy enough to last several if not a lot of seasons. How well does it perform? If it is a Chinese knock off you can rest assure it was reversed engineered against one of the finest American manufactured antennas. Not to say the Chinese do not make good products, but I am not saying the Chinese make bad products.

    Now that I have spoken in complete circles, buy it and be one of the first to report back here. I did the same for the Boa Feng VHF/UHF radio. It too was a Caveat Emptor moment.
     


    pateco likes this.
  17. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    I ordered it, and it should arrive this Saturday. If it sucks, I am out only $17, and a trip up the mast.
     


  18. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    579 posts, 161 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
    I'll be interested to hear about your results.
     


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  19. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,755 posts, 518 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Good for you, @pateco. I too would be interested in your comments.
     


  20. pateco

    pateco

    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    1,742 posts, 396 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    So I put it up last weekend, and now I think my original Shakespeare was already bad the day we got the boat. This thing works great, and it was easy to install. Even when my old VHF antenna was in one piece, I could not here my closest bridge tender from my dock. Now I am hearing calls from bridge tenders many miles from me.
    2018-04-13 18.30.43.jpg
     



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