Checking Radio Ariel

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May 22, 2004
Oday 23 Bullock's Cove, RI
The boat is in the water and the mast has been raised. I am now doing all the other things to get the boat ship shape - bending on sails, re-checking systems etc Maybe I'm being anal but I would like to check the condition of the wiring and connectors for the VHF system. I have an installed radio but usually use a hand held and am wondering about the ariel and the wiring in the mast. Is there a way to check the status of this system? I can hear the weather stations on the radio so I know I am receiving - I have not done a radio check yet to check the transmit function. But is there a way to check the "electrical" condition of the wiring and connections? Thanks for your help on this James


Jun 27, 2006
Tartan 27' 1967 Nyack, NY
'Radio Check' on channel 16 or 9 or whatever

Turn on your equipment and try to transmit the message "Radio check. Radio check. This is S/V XYZ, located in (Port name). Over." You can use your handheld to verify the ships radio while doing this. The ships radio antenna should be on top of the mast (and have more broadcasting range than your handheld) or at least at deck level. The higher the antenna is mounted the greater the potential broadcast distance. Your handheld should be your backup radio. Some channels (16/9) are reserved for emergency channels and other channels are for harbor pilots and bridge tenders and such. Get to know your VHF radio and do not be shy about using it when needed. I think that the VHF reception is even better than a cell phone when whithin line of sight. Have fun.


Aug 17, 2005
- - Halifax, Nova Scotia
Try to find a HAM

The quality and number of connections in the path of the antenna wire will affect the range and quality of the signal. HAM radio operators are very knowledgeable about such things, and often have the tools available to test. I intend to find me one this year and have him or her check out my VHF antenna.
Dec 11, 2005
Pearson 30 Wanderer NA
James, buy a cheap SWR meter from Radio

Shack and a short length of coax so that you can connect the SWR meter between the back of your radio and the antenna. The meter will tell you if your transmission line and antenna is reflecting energy back to your transceiver. Reflections degrade the performance of your radio (both xmit and receive). Ideally you would like to see the SWR meter read a 1:1 ratio; however 2:1 is still acceptable.
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