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Low output on New VHF

Old 12-23-2003, 05:39 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Seems I have a weak outgoing signal on my VHF. I receive fine. Where should I start to look for the trouble? The unit is new and was installed by the dealer, but he's 200 miles away so I'd like to see if I can remedy the situation myself.

Jvalich
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Old 12-23-2003, 05:46 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

What sort of meter did you use to check the power output of the radio?


Just cut off the existing PL-259 (plug on the end of the antenna cable that screws into the back of the radio) and replace it. Shakesepeare makes a replacement that does not require soldering - if you are averse to soldering. If that doesn't cure your problem remove the radio and ship it back to wherever you got it and tell them to fix or replace it.

Thom

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Old 12-23-2003, 06:28 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Just a follow up on Thom's statement on the PL-259 plug....I think you will like the center pin solderless connector. I used them on both my VHF's and have found them easy to use. They have provided good results and if your carefull you can reuse them several times(don't ask why I know this).
Dave

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Old 12-23-2003, 09:12 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

I didn't use a meter. We were boating with a group we belong to and it was noted by a couple of others boaters that as we let some started to get away from the group our transmitions were getting weak. I was able to hear them okay.

I guessed that the cable end was the first "trial and error" part I'd have to replace.

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Old 12-23-2003, 11:47 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Also most radios allow you to transmit @ 1 watt or 25 watts check to see what you radio is set to.
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Old 12-23-2003, 12:45 PM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Yep, gotta check that switch

The thing with radios is that there isn't a lot you can do if they aren't working properly. In fact in a very real sense that connector and cutting back on the coax cable are the only general repair that any of us can make to them (yes, I know there are guys who do radio stuff as a hobby, but most guys don't). So its either that or nothing because there are no special knobs that you can turn, or screws that you can tighten, or anything like that you can really do, other than just replace it or have it fixed. Of course on the upside these radios they are making these days just about never fail. Mikes go bad sometimes but they have tell tale symptoms all their own, and some radios never put out their full power in the first place (one brand I am familiar with was tested by a friend and out of a dozen of them he never found one that put out more than half of what it was rated at), but those are other matters.

The only other thing you should do is find someone with an atenna testor. If you can't find someone just buy one of those little Shakespeare ART-? or whatever they are called, and check your SWR. The closer to 1 the better and if it comes up over 3 then stop and go looking for a new antenna. A lot of the Shakespeare antennas use a wire element held in place with a block of foam - no kidding - and sometimes they litterly fall down inside themselves. Mostly when that happens the radiating element will come in contact with the internal ground plane and it will short itself out, sometimes not. One way or the other you're screwed though and it will show up on the meter. I think the testors cost something Like $30 and I am equally sure you could find one on E-Bay for less. Not a bad thing to have around and if you get one you'll find yourself doing a lot of antenna tests for your buddys too.

Thom

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Old 12-23-2003, 03:16 PM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Modern VHF can detect when the antenna does not have a solid connection to the transmitter and they go to LOW output automatically to avoid damage. I had the same problem and simply soldered the center connector to solve it.

Skipper of Skyuka of Deale,MD
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Old 12-23-2003, 05:38 PM
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Default Low output on New VHF

I had the same performance if on the 1 or 25 watt setting. Just got back from Boater's World with a Shakespeare pl-259 connector. I'll re-do the end tomorrow and see how things go on the next outing. If that doesn't do it it has to be the antenna or the radio.

Thanks for the help.

Jvalich
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Old 12-24-2003, 11:36 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

One point not mentioned; I 'ass u me' your getting 6 amps, plus or minus, to the unit. Usually the 25 watt setting will not work if staving for power, however. Just a thought. I'll bet it's the connector though.

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Old 12-25-2003, 05:13 PM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Jvalich,

You really need to get the Shakespeare ART-2 to test the true wattage output of your radio and the standing wave ratio of your antennae. It is 39bucks at Boater's World and you'll need a coaxial connector for it that you can get from Boaters World or Radioshack.

I found out the hard way when I tried to subjectively test mine. Just bite the bullet and get the tester before you cut or splice anything. Turns out on mine the problem was that someone had cut the manufacturers connector off the coaxial cable and installed one of those solderless Shakespeare connectors mentioned above.

No I'm not bashing Shakespeare, but without the tester I would not have known where to focus on the problem.

I don't work for them, but I can recommend Digital brand VHF antennas both for function and factory service.

Good luck,
Ben
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Old 12-26-2003, 04:56 AM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Well, I replaced the connector on the antenna cable. After I cut it off, it rolled off the helm, hit the floor and the remaining piece of the cable that was soldered into the tip broke lose and fell out with a couple flakes of solder.

I'm guessing that they did a bad job soldering the end on and my problem is solved. We'll see.

Thanks for the help!

Jvalich
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Old 12-29-2003, 06:26 PM
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Default Low output on New VHF

Saturday on the water the radio functioned great.

Thanks again for the help!

Jvalich
2004 Four Winns 288 Vista
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Lakeland, FL
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