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Old 04-09-2015, 05:05 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by RCook View Post
Maybe this has already been mentioned, but:

When our boat was new, our new and excellent Icom 127 radio, with a high-quality 9-foot antenna, would receive well, but transmit very poorly.

It turned out that it had been installed with a poorly-done antenna connection (which is all too easy to do). I re-soldered the connector properly, and voila! Has worked perfectly for 16 years since.
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Originally Posted by eagle419 View Post
A long time ago when I sat for my operator's ticket, a basic "fail" question was
"You can receive clearly but can't transmit - what's the problem?"

Answer: Power supply may be faulty - You may have enough power to receive, but insufficient for transmission.
Both very good points. I've seen unsoldered connectors on the antenna lead that causes poor performance both ways.

I recall learning long ago that transmissions can require up to 5 times more power that that needed for reception. In an airplane with a weak battery after an alternator failure, we were advised to consider keeping our transmissions to a minimum to help the battery last until landing.
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Old 04-09-2015, 06:58 PM   #42
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The points made by Eagle and FlyWright are well made.

As a traffic controller [ roads ] I use V H F every day and if my battery is running low I can still hear clearly all transmissions right up to the point my radio dies but if I try to transmit it kills the two way much quicker, more power required to transmit the recieve.

Second point here, a lot of self installers go overboard with soldering the connections, too much solder actually blocks the power in the line.

Third point, at work we get a lot of interstate truckies calling for a radio check, I always ask them for their location. A radio check is useless if the responder is standing next to your truck. If a location is given then I respond with my location so that the truckie can work out over what range I am recieving his transmission, same should apply on water, if someone in the same marina gives you a radio check it is not value when you venture over the horizon.

David.
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:47 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by eagle419 View Post
A long time ago when I sat for my operator's ticket, a basic "fail" question was
"You can receive clearly but can't transmit - what's the problem?"

Answer: Power supply may be faulty - .
When the Standard Horizon VHF we installed in our fishing boat at the time we bought it in 1987 developed a problem of transmitting okay on low power but not high power, the first thing the owner of the marine electronics store we use said was check the power connections to the radio and the power itself.

We did, they were fine, and it was determined that the fault lay with the radio so we changed it out.

It's easy to assume, "Well, it's plugged in so that can't be the problem."
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:44 PM   #44
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When the Standard Horizon VHF we installed in our fishing boat at the time we bought it in 1987 developed a problem of transmitting okay on low power but not high power, the first thing the owner of the marine electronics store we use said was check the power connections to the radio and the power itself.

We did, they were fine, and it was determined that the fault lay with the radio so we changed it out.

It's easy to assume, "Well, it's plugged in so that can't be the problem."

Hello Marin,

Radios can of course have any number of faults. My only point was that your comment

"We've never done a radio check with the USCG. We figure that if we can hear on the radios they will transmit"

Could, in my opinion, be a dangerous assumption.
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Old 04-09-2015, 10:09 PM   #45
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"We've never done a radio check with the USCG. We figure that if we can hear on the radios they will transmit"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i have had two radios, vhf, fail in transmit yet recieve just fine. In fact one that I still used last year quit transmiting literally after i installed my new radio. It still recieves very well and I use it for recieving only to monitor channels other than 16.

I will continue to use it for that function only untill i get another new one which is on my workbench.

They can often recieve very well but fail to transmit or transmit weakly. Before replacement though check the antenna and main power connections.
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Old 04-09-2015, 10:24 PM   #46
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Hello Marin,

My only point was that your comment

"We've never done a radio check with the USCG. We figure that if we can hear on the radios they will transmit"

Could, in my opinion, be a dangerous assumption.
You're correct, or course. But with the exception of the problem noted with the radio on our fishing boat, and a flat-out "doesn't work period" problem with an earlier Icom on our PNW boat, we've never had a radio malfunction that I can remember.

We use the radio very infrequently. My guess is less than 10-15 times in a typical year. Transmitting, not listening. We occasionally have something to say to the couple we cruise with when we can get together to do that, but that is usually jut one or two calls at most per trip, usually "where are we and when will we get there" as they are considerably faster than we are.

The only other times we use the radio is to call harbors for slip assignments if we're visiting a harbor on a trip. If it's real foggy and we have to cross a shipping channel, we'll talk to the VTS folks.

That's pretty much it, but it's spread out enough throughout the year that we have a pretty good idea if our radios are transmitting or not. And we'll check them when we remember to with our handheld. We only transmit on 25 watts (other than the handheld).

We generally cruise with the radios turned way down unless we're with the aforementioned couple, we're going to use it to call a harbor, or we're working with VTS. We used to use a radio to get the weather but now with our cellular iPads and iPhones we don't need the radios for that anymore, at least in the San Juans and lower BC. We do have to use the radio for weather when we're farther north.

As you can see, we are quite "radio independent."

And actually, with the exception of the two-month long summer cruising season up here, radio chatter is very minimal in this area. During the winter we've gone the better part of a day (with the radios turned up) and maybe heard only one or two calls at most on 16.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:57 AM   #47
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Radio checks on channel 16 are a big no-no in my area. I've heard the USCG on 16 several times telling boaters not to use 16 for radio checks. I use an automated Sea-Tow (Boat US?) radio check service, which is available in my area (channels 24, 25, ands 26 I believe).
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Old 04-10-2015, 07:04 AM   #48
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Hello Marin,

Radios can of course have any number of faults. My only point was that your comment

"We've never done a radio check with the USCG. We figure that if we can hear on the radios they will transmit"

Could, in my opinion, be a dangerous assumption.
Absolutely! I am an amateur radio operator and know that you could have a very high SWR but still seem to receive "fine". Then again, SWR should never be a gauge for how well a radio transmits or receives (e.g., dummy loads have low SWR but obviously don't work well as an antenna). The automated radio check services work very well. I know where the transmitters are located and can ascertain the range of my VHF set-up.
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:23 AM   #49
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One of the things that helps clutter up the airwaves is guys transmitting at 25 watts. Completely unnecessary for 99% of coastal cruising.
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Old 04-10-2015, 03:15 PM   #50
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One of the things that helps clutter up the airwaves is guys transmitting at 25 watts. Completely unnecessary for 99% of coastal cruising.
With al the islands up here 25 watts is the only way to be heard unless the boat you want to talk to is within sight of you and fairly close. Everyone I know uses 25 watts exclusively.

Have a friend who used to use 5 watts. He kept complaning that nobody ever seemed to hear him. I suggested he switch to 25 watts. He did, and no more communications problem.

And as I said, people here seem to use their radios very sparsely. So outside of the two tourist months, the radio is mostly silent on 16.
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:39 PM   #51
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What channel(s) did you use to communicate? Several channels (including 17 and 13) are automatically limited to 1 watt output. That would of course limit your range significantly.
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:52 PM   #52
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What channel(s) did you use to communicate? Several channels (including 17 and 13) are automatically limited to 1 watt output. That would of course limit your range significantly.
I'm talking about initial calls on 16.
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Old 04-10-2015, 07:09 PM   #53
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In our several trips through the San Juans and Gulf Islands, I can never recall needing to jack up the power to reach any marina, the CG or anyone else. Sounds like faulty equipment or someone trying to reach people 20 miles away. You end up stepping on a lot more of other people's conversations, including distress calls, something I have heard happen numerous times. The proper etiquette is to keep it on low and only jack up as a last resort.
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Old 04-10-2015, 07:39 PM   #54
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In our several trips through the San Juans and Gulf Islands, I can never recall needing to jack up the power to reach any marina, the CG or anyone else. Sounds like faulty equipment or someone trying to reach people 20 miles away. You end up stepping on a lot more of other people's conversations, including distress calls, something I have heard happen numerous times. The proper etiquette is to keep it on low and only jack up as a last resort.
I have worked hard on that recently.....especially with the 9 dB antennas, I haven't been having an issue and I am sure with the new equipment, 25 watts is really blasting.

Coming up the Chesapeake this week, even with light traffic, 1 watt CH 13 calls were walking all over each other even beyond 10 miles...can't imagine the summer on CH 16.
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:37 PM   #55
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It's frustrating hearing USCG responses to distress calls I cannot hear. This is 99 percent of the time. Only once heard the boater-in-trouble in four years (five hundred hours underway). But then I don't normally cruise in "goofy" boaters' waters.
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Old 04-10-2015, 09:20 PM   #56
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In our several trips through the San Juans and Gulf Islands, I can never recall needing to jack up the power to reach any marina, the CG or anyone else. Sounds like faulty equipment or someone trying to reach people 20 miles away..
Nope, equipment is fine. And we often are needing to reach people 20 miles away or more. 25 watts is the way to go around here, and that's what everyone I have ever talked to about this uses. 5 watts is fine for talking across the bay to someone. But for what we use our radio for, 25 watts is the only way to go.

And we almost never hear people being stepped on. Perhaps this is a problem in other places, but up here radio etiquette seems to be something most people have learned.

For us, 5 watts is totally worthless and doesn't even need to be built into the radio.
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Old 04-10-2015, 09:26 PM   #57
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For us, 5 watts is totally worthless and doesn't even need to be built into the radio.
Five watts will work here.

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Old 04-10-2015, 09:40 PM   #58
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Having the VHF antennae 30 feet or so above sea level helps contribute to range.


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Old 04-10-2015, 09:45 PM   #59
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Five watts will work here.
Very true.

Where we boat lift or draw bridges are not something we deal with. But when I used to crew on a racing sailboat that was kept on Lake Washington, we had to deal with several bridges and a set of locks to get out to the Sound and back. Most of the time we used horn signals but sometimes we'd have to talk to the bridge or lock tenders. We never bothered to switch the radio from 25 watts (it's normal setting) down to 5. We just left it on 25 watts and there were no problems, no complaints.
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Old 04-10-2015, 10:10 PM   #60
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Just a thought but as I read the OP's question one thing came to mind, Is his antenna perfectly vertical? Taller antennas have greater gain (Db's). this does not effect the the total power (25W, 5W, or 1W) but provides more 'punch to the signal. It does this by better focusing the power to a flatter plane. that plane is 90 degrees to the antenna centerline. So unless the antenna is perfectly vertical, you might be sending your signal over or under your target receiver. I see a lot of amateur boaters around me (they are plentiful in Iowa) that think antennas should lean back like a folded in spreader. Makes em look like they are going faster I guess, but I doubt they ever figure out why the people in front and aft of them don't respond when talked to on the radio. Taller antennas provide more gain when attached to a large boat that doesn't rock much, but are a bad idea on a boat smaller than appropriate.
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