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VHF radio won't transmit

Old 08-22-2011, 07:44 AM
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Default VHF radio won't transmit

I sold my boat this summer and bought a different one. One of the things I kept off my old boat was the VHF radio. It is a Uniden Solara. The antenna on the bought I bought was cracked so I bought a new one (Shakespeare 5226-XT 8' VHF). When I first installed the antenna and soldered the connector the way the instructions said I could only hear very close people, but they couldn't hear me at all. I cut off the connector watched a bunch of youtube videos on how to make the connector connection and solder it correctly. I did this and now I can hear everyone on the radio, but it is still not transmitting. The radio was transmitting before I took it off of my old boat connected to the old antenna. If the connection to the connector is bad could that cause no transmission but flawless reception or could I be looking into a malfunctioning antenna or radio? Thanks for any ideas.
Old 08-22-2011, 08:05 AM
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Could be you are set to low power. Check to see if there is a h/l switch or if you have a 5w/25w indicator in the display.

If it isn't that, it could be some corrosion on your connectors. I had that happen once.

What I did was spray electronics contact cleaner on both the male and female connectors for both the antenna and mic, added a liberal amount of dielectric grease, and reconnected. Everything worked fine again.

Or you might have damaged something internally. Start with cleaning the connectors, then go to an SWR meter.
Old 08-22-2011, 08:14 AM
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How many channels did you try to transmit on? I had a similar problem happen with a radio I just installed only to find that the previous installer of the antenna had put the teflan and steel washers in the PL259 connector backwards, so the signal was going all of the place and hardly anyone could hear the radio at close ranges, let alone distant ones. It could be that, or your radio, does your radio say "TX" when you hit the PTT? If not you could have a mic problem. There are many possibilities for this one. A little more information would help to narrow it down, so if there is anything else you've noticed, let us know.

Keith
Old 08-22-2011, 08:46 AM
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I tried to transmit on 4 different channels. I checked the connections and they look completely clean. Its only been installed for a month, freshwater used and the VHF radio is in the electronics box under the hardtop. I made sure that I was transmitting on high power and that when I turned the squelch up/down to static the static silenced when I keyed the mic and TX came on the screen. I will start looking at swr meters. I noticed that most of the meters say they use SO-239 connectors and are for CB radios. Do I need to get a VHF specific swr meter that has PL259 connectors?
Old 08-22-2011, 08:58 AM
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PL259 connectors for VHF bud, and when you put the end on, were there any little washers that came with your PL259? If not your are probably not getting a good ground for the antenna. I have had many calls with that problem, so thats why I am pressing it. Just want to be extra sure that it is not that causing you to not transmit.

Keith
Old 08-22-2011, 09:19 AM
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Yes, the antenna came with the connector and the two tiny washers. One metal one plastic. I am sure i followed the instructions on which way to put them on, but I will check again tonight. I know PL259 are for VHF, but gerg suggested testing with an SWR meter. I can only find SWR meters that have SO-239 connectors which I assume wouldn't fit. I did do a search on this site and found that a lot of the guys use the ART - 3 tester. $140 I may have to see if someone around the area has one since I may only use it once.
Old 08-22-2011, 09:27 AM
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You may have damaged the output power amp by transmitting into an open/shorted connector. Do you have an ammeter on your panel? If not, how about a decent multimeter that can measure up to 10 amps (most do)? On high power you should see about 5 amps and about 1 amp on low power. On receive, about 1/2 amp. You would have to put the multimeter measuring amps inline with one of the power leads to your radio.

SO239 connectors are female connectors that the PL259 plugs into. That's an SO239 on the back of your radio. An swr meter with SO239 connectors (jacks) is what you would want but the current draw test is easier if you don't want to have to buy the swr meter.

Eric
Old 08-22-2011, 10:34 AM
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Not all SWR meters are alike. You need a VHF SWR meter. A CB meter won't cut it. If you know any ham radio operators, ask to see if he has an Antenna Analyzer, which will do a better job of figuring out what's wrong.
Old 08-22-2011, 10:39 AM
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Also, make sure the VHf is set to use USA channels , not CAN or INT., a common mistake.
Old 08-22-2011, 10:48 AM
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This one doesn't have a boat or anchor on it, and it doesn't say "marine", but here's a VHF SWR meter for $40. It also can be used as a "Field Strength" meter, which means that with a wire on the back to act as an antenna, it will show how a radio is transmitting in the near field (that means "close by") with no direct connection to the radio.

You must read the instructions to learn how to use an SWR meter. A PDF of the instructions are on the linked page. Two steps are required to use the meter - tuning for max output and then throwing the switch to read the SWR. The result should be less than 3:1, and closest to 1:1. Any reading higher than 3:1 indicates a serious problem. Channel 16 is dead in the center of the band, so that's where the antenna should be designed for and have the lowest SWR reading. Channels 17, 74 and 77 are very close to 16 so you don't have to test it on 16.

No matter what meter you use, you will also need a short section (3 to 6 feet or so) of 50 Ohm coax (NOT cable TV coax, which is 75 Ohms) with PL-259s on both ends) to go between the radio and the meter. You can buy a pre-assembled piece of cable with crimped connectors at any ham or CB shop or even on eBay.

Last edited by t3rockhall; 08-23-2011 at 07:50 AM.
Old 08-22-2011, 06:18 PM
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A PL-259 connector is a cable-end connector that mates with an SO-239 chassis mount connector. These connectors are part of the UHF-Series, an historical designation. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UHF_connector

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