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Anybody have any good suggestions for marine-mounted vhf/uhf antennas?

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by WA7PUG, Mar 23, 2017.

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  1. WA7PUG

    WA7PUG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Been looking for antenna to put on our boat for UHF/VHF operation ... not much out there, methinks? 73 WA7PUG
  2. KD2IAT

    KD2IAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    First big question is salt water or fresh water? If you're strictly a fresh water boater, a lot of the dual band ham antennas can be made to work with a little ingenuity. Ground plane is the issue, of course. You can usually beat that with one of the no ground plane configurations. I am very leery of amateur radio grade antennas in a salt water marine environment.

    You will need to pay attention to rugged construction. Marine installs can be subject to a lot of pounding that isn't found in land mobile installs.

    If you look at the commercial marine radio market, most of the antennas are some kind of fiberglass whips and the mounts are almost always high grade plastic. Vibration and corrosion resistance are the main factors there. But, unfortunately, commercial marine gear is all centered around 156 MHz.

    I have an older 16' runabout that has an enclosed bow. I will be installing a Part 90/2m radio plus a Part 90/95/70cm unit this summer. I'll probably get some metal window screen material and turn the whole underside of the bow deck into a ground plane. That way I can use thick surface NMO's and standard quarter wave spikes. Because of the horizontal proximity to the occupants, I am going to turn the power down in both radios.
  3. KN7S

    KN7S Senior Swapmeet Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Yes, need some specs on your boat such as size, salt/fresh water or both?
  4. KN7S

    KN7S Senior Swapmeet Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Back when I ran a 25' Saratoga Bayliner express cabin. It was moored in fresh water but most of the cruising was over saltwater. At first I put up a Comet dual band mobile antenna on the cabin roof. It worked just fine using the water as a counterpoise. However, the antenna and mount was subject to some rather severe pitting primarily due to the saltwater environment. I switched to a similar Diamond antenna with no pitting problems to speak of.
    Now I have a 34' Uniflite with a command bridge. I have a 12' aluminum drop down mast mounted to the starboard side of the saloon and on top is a Diamond X-50A dual band antenna. This puts the base of the Diamond about 17' above the waterline. The water environment plus the antenna counterpoises do a far better than average job. Since the X-50A has fiberglass Radome, corrosion is not a problem. In the spring I simply clean it with soap and apply some wax. This setup has served me very well now for almost 15 years. Now, time to look at an HF antenna and where the heck to mount it!
    If you have a thick wallet look at Morad out of Bellingham WA. They make antennas for most any band you can think of. VERY high quality. They can't spin you a dual band antenna, but most anything else you could want.
  5. AA7QQ

    AA7QQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    A discone would work well. No real gain, but wideband operation & usually stainless steel.

  6. WA7PUG

    WA7PUG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sorry I am a little slow on the draw - work is being a little nutz - will be in PA all next week.
    I have a Campion wheelhouse 22' and it will be used in the Grays Harbor/Twin Harbors so the answer is saltwater.
    I will try to attach a pix of the boat to give you some idea. Am in process of installing new radar, marine VHF and FT-7900 ...
    I appreciate whatever input you have the time for ... as said, sorry I am slow to respond - I have to go to PA all next week but it pays the bills ...
    Thanks again - 73 2.jpg
  7. W1AEK

    W1AEK Ham Member QRZ Page


    Hi Dave. I appreciated your conclusions about the X50A on your Uniflite. How large of a diameter is the aluminum mast your mounted the antenna on? Do you have any photos of the clamp mounting arrangement? I have had a "Tram" piece of garbage up on my flybridge for less than 90-days. It was an experiment... and failed miserably. The thing is a mass of rust after less than 3 months. I wanted a quad-band antenna for a TYT-8900... now I'll simply settle for diplexers and multiple antennas. The fiberglass approach is the only acceptable one in my estimation.

    Are you using ground radials? I'll consider the X200 with a few extra dB of gain if you think there is any real benefit, but I am worried about wind load and fiberglass stress from the mount with 3 pounds of antenna aloft. I was trying to engineer an adapter for a solid shakespeare mount for the diamond, but in the end the unsophisticated side clamp method will have to do if I can obtain good quality stainless steel clamps, and the smaller weight and diameter of the X50 will probably win.

    I have a 9dB 23 Foot vertical for the main shipboard marine radio telephone, and another on order for a second marine VHF, a necessity here in the busy shipping lanes of San Francisco where we often must actively monitor multiple channels simultaneously (VTS on 14 and bridge-to-bridge on 13 for example). The 9dB Shakespeare is an incredible performer on VHF Marine- I am definately the channel-master and our yacht club outings. I wish that Shakespeare would consider entering the amateur or even commercial VHF/UHF antenna market, but the diamond will have to suffice.

    Again, thanks for posting about the X50A.

    Captain Chuck Bullett; W1AEK/MM6
    m/v Chartmaker 1979 Hatteras 53MY
    Berkeley, CA 94710
  8. W1AEK

    W1AEK Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Tram Quad band whip can be seen here mounted on the starboard side of the radar arch...[​IMG]

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