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Weak signal reception

Feb 17, 2006
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
While out sailing one day I picked up a very weak and noisy signal on my VHF. I could hear someone actually calling me by my name. I tried to answer but the signal was too weak. Here is how the conversation went.

Distant Station (DS): ..ail...ng ...sel... ...kar...a ca... ...o... ...e...r me?
Sailing Vessel Takara (ST): This is sailing vessel Takara, over.

From this point I will go ahead and relay what I think I was hearing. Remember, there is a lot of noise on the VHF.

DS: Sailing Vessel Takara, can you hear me?
ST: This is Sailing Vessel Takara, over.
DS: Sailing Vessel Takara, I can hear you. Can you hear me?

At this point I was wondering what this guy wanted. A distress call, or maybe a radio check of some type.

ST: Station calling, you are very weak and unreadable. (The US Marine Communicator in me starts to show)

Now I was beginning to think how might I improve my reception of this guy. I looked up at the mast and the antenna and remember that the antenna is about 20 inches from the mast. As a Ham Radio Operator, I quickly used my math skills to determine that we might have a mini 2-element beam.

ST: Station calling, give me a long test count so I can adjust my bearing.
DS: one... two... three...

While he was counting, I quickly swung the boat is a tight circle. At around the count of six, his signal became stronger and I could finally understand him.

ST: Station Calling, how do you copy me now?
DS: Yes, very good, very good.
ST: Station Calling, how can I be of assistance.
DS: Yes, we wanted to talk to you about extending your boat warranty... CLICK!