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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking about installing a vhf radio on my 17ft XPRESS aluminum boat. The question is to go with a 3ft whip or an 8ft fiberglass antena and where to mount it so as not to interfere with equipment or persons on the boat? I have a hand held vhf (Uniden Atlantis 250) that works ok but out on the Susquehana Flats it seems to peter out in certain spots and the other boat is right around the corner that I'm trying to converse with. I've seen smaller antenas on the Ranger boats for the RedFish tours but I'm not sure how it'll work on aluminum? Any body install one on theirs and if so, what set up did ya go with?
 

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Talk to someone in the biz and see what THEY reccomend. There may be other factors to consider with an aluminumn boat. Mid-shore Electronics is a great place to deal with. The problem is they are located in Cambridge. They do have an "800" number. If you'd like to have it here it is:

1-877-477-7232 Open M-F 8-4:30
 

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I would recommend an 8 foot antenna with no higher gain than 6 db. The higher the gain the more "squooshed" the radiation pattern from your antenna. If you had no gain then your radiation pattern would be a hemispherical one (picture half a circle). When gain increases the top of the circle gets pushed down into a donut shape and thus the radiation pattern gets pushed out farther. The drawback to a gain higher then 6 db is that when the boat is rocking, the pattern is so squashed that when the boat is heeled over the signal goes out into the sky on one side of the boat and into the water on the other side of the boat and very little signal is getting to your intended target. (This explanation is the best I can give a layman.)

The radiation area along the antenna is important also and therefore, the more area (length) there is the better the signal will radiate and will be received by stations away from you. This is the reason for the recommendation for an 8 foot antenna.

Also, being VHF (Very High Frequency) the signal is a line of sight thing, therefore, the higher the antenna the farther your signal will go. The signal must clear the curvature of the earth. If the antenna is at the same level as the water then you might get 6 to 8 miles reliably. If the antenna is up in the air say ten feet off the water then you might get 10 to 15 miles reliably. (Mileages are estimates only and a lot of folks will argue distances, but I would use these numbers for a realistic scenario).

The USCG can be heard long distances because their antennas are on high radio towers that are sometimes as high as 300 feet. This being the case you will almost always be able to reach the USCG more reliably than another boat on the water when a ways off. Offshore it is recommended that an HF sideband radio be used if operating more than 40 miles offshore.

Hope this helps. Get a 3 db gain or a 6 db gain antenna that's 8 feet long and mount it as high as possible. I do not recommend (and I don't use them) compression fit antenna connectors. Solder type cionnectors are almost corrosion free compared to compression fit connectors.
 

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If mounting the 8' fiberglass antenna is a major problem on your boat (that seems to be the gist of your post), I had one of the short, base loaded, stainless steel Shakespeare antennas mounted on a metallic object and it worked very well.
 

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Most smaller boats would benefit from the 3' whip antenna.
I'm about to put one on my boat. I personally don't want an 8' antenna that gets in my way. One big advantage of the steel whip antenna is it will not break. Fiberglass can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replys. Good suggestions all. I'll probably go w/8ft,6db gain antena and mount it along the side rail. The hand vhf is just too unpredictable. And when it comes right down to it, $99 vs $225 isn't all that much difference when you're talkin the possibility of having to rely on it for safety/saving your life! The best hand helds are atleast that much anyway.[smile]
 
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