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  Troubleshooting VHF Marine Band Radio

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Author Topic:   Troubleshooting VHF Marine Band Radio
PeteB88 posted 07-19-2011 10:57 PM ET (US)   Profile for PeteB88   Send Email to PeteB88  
I have a newer Raymarine 55 VHF Marine Band radio on the Outrage 17. We used to use a Shakespeare whip antenna mounted to the console with [a different radio]. We installed a Mills bimini and replaced the whip with a shorter Shakespeare stainless steel whip and the Raymarine 55 about this time last year. Reception performance was not great but it worked for near shore Lake Michigan and to get NOAA weather radio. Now [the RAYMARINE 55 VHF Marine Band radio] does not work. I get plenty of static through all channels but no reception and no confidence it is transmitting. Any recommendations on troubleshooting or information regarding reliability and performance of this radio? Thanks in advance
jimh posted 07-20-2011 08:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A bad antenna will affect both reception and transmission. Check the antenna carefully. Substitute a new antenna temporarily.

Test the radio with a antenna that is known to be good and working properly and in a location where you should have good radio range, and with a source of power that is completely reliable and proper.

If the radio receiver cannot receive NOAA weather radio broadcasts from your local station, usually within 25-miles range, the receiver is suspect. You can also use a local transmitter, perhaps a hand held radio, and transmit to the receiver under test. If you cannot receive a local transmitter, then the test radio's receiver is no good.

To test the transmitter you will need a second radio with a known-good receiver located about a mile away. Make a test transmission from the test radio to the second receiver using the 1-Watt setting. If the transmitter is working you should hear it on the second receiver at a range of 1-mile. To test the 25-watt setting you probably need the second receiver to be farther away.

A simple test of the transmitter at 25-watts can be made by monitoring the current drawn from the 12-Volt power supply. On transmit at 25-watts the current to the radio should increase significantly. Most radios will draw at least 5-Amperes on transmit at the 25-watt setting.

PeteB88 posted 07-20-2011 10:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Thanks Jim - I suspect the radio. Will follow your suggestions soon.
jimh posted 07-23-2011 11:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Problems with the power supplied to a radio will also affect both receive and transmit. Measure the power with a good, accurate, reliable Voltmeter to make sure the radio has proper voltage. With a battery at full charge, 12.8-volts, the voltage at the radio should be at least 12.5-volts.
Phil T posted 07-24-2011 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Phil T  Send Email to Phil T     
Pete--I would check the antenna [coaxial transmission line] connection on the back of the VHF and if run to the stern, the extention connection. My antenna is on the stern rail and there is an coupling that connects the two lengths of [coaxial transmission line]. Shakespeare sells replacement male and female connectors. If yours are old, good idea to change them out.
jimh posted 07-24-2011 04:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Phil makes a good point about the transmission line. That is another component of the system

--power
--radio
--transmission line
--antenna

which could affect both reception and transmission.

PeteB88 posted 07-27-2011 10:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Will get to troubleshooting this weekend and thanks for the help - Jan at Mariner's Centre in Muskegon said it has a three-year warranty and said she'd bench test it for me.
PeteB88 posted 08-13-2011 12:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Thanks for the advice and troubleshooting sequence. I took [the non-working RAYMARINE VHF 55 radio] to Mariner's Centre, Muskegon, the local Raymarine dealer, for bench testing. After the test, Greg sent it to Raymarine for repairs at no charge. He said they will probably replace the circuit board, and I should have it within a week. If RAYMARINE sends evaluation or diagnostic information, I'll let you guys know.

Funny, I wired in the old West Marine VHF that came with the Outrage and it worked great. I might keep it on board wrapped up for back-up.

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