Shakespeare Electronic Products Group-European Operations

Marine rule the waves

FAQ - VHF Marine Antennas

Can I cut the cable on my VHF antenna?

A: Yes, if you need to. However, you should leave at least three feet of coax, measured from where the cable exits the antenna. 
Note: This is NOT true for all antennas. CB antennas' coax generally should NOT be cut. See separate question regarding CB antennas' cable length.
Reasonable lengths of excess cable can be rolled in a coil of at least 8 inch diameter and stowed in an out-of-the-way place.

How can I check the VHF antenna to make sure it is working?

A: You should transmit to a friend's receiver from a range of known distances. Have the friend assess your transmission for quality. Note that the U.S. Coast Guard frowns on radio test calls made to them. 

To measure the efficiency of your antenna/radio system more scientifically, Shakespeare makes an antenna / radio testers - the ART-3 Tester. 
The ART-3 measures transceiver output power, antenna VSWR, and proper receiver sensitivity. 
See the Troubleshooting Video for other information and suggestions.

How do you install the PL-259 connector?

A: An instruction sheet for installing the PL-259 connector is included with the antenna. Follow the instructions and consult the diagrams. 

For true ease of installation without soldering, check out Shakespeare's innovative Centerpin® solderless connectors. The PL-259-CP and PL-258-CP connectors are gold-plated brss construction.
The web pages for the connectors include links to download PDF versions of the instruction sheets, including PL-259. Connectors instruction sheets are available at here (PDF). 
Also see How-To Install a PL-259 Marine Connector, online here and on YouTube.

Will metal or other objects that are close to the antenna affect it?

A: Yes. It is best to locate the antenna at least three feet from any metal objects or other antennas.

Can I mount the antenna beside the radio?

A: No, it must be at least three feet away from the radio, so transmission will not interfere with the radio's reception (usually resulting in a squeal coming out of the speaker).

Do I need a ground plane for a VHF antenna?

A: Not necessarily. Shakespeare VHF and CB Marine Band antennas are designed with independent ground planes built in.

SSB antennas, on the other hand, must be properly grounded.

What is the antenna's wavelength?

A: It can range from 1/4 wave to 5/8 wave, depending on the length and style of antenna. Please see the antennas' specifications section for information on your particular antenna.

How high must the antenna be?

A: There is no particular height requirement. However, the higher the antenna, the better the antenna's range and performance.

Satellite Radio antennas only need a clear view of the Southern sky - for them, height is not as important as the unobstructed view to the satellites.

What range can I expect from the antenna?

A: To determine the range of an antenna, multiply the square root of its height (In feet) above water by 1.42. This gives the range in miles.

Remember to perform the calculation for BOTH vessels, then add the results to get the range between two vessels.

What is the receiving zone for my antenna?

A: On all Shakespeare VHF Marine antennas the receiving zone is 360 degrees - or omni-directional.

What is the half power beam width for my antenna?

A: The beam width for all Shakespeare VHF Marine antennas is between 24 and 26 degrees.

What are the differences among the many styles of antennas?

A: The antennas differ in type and size of their elements, plus the way the antennas' fiberglass is wrapped, and the coax that is used. These factors determine the basic cost of building the antennas. To this, add the relative cost of the finish that is applied.

How much power can I put into the antenna?

A: Maximum power input varies with the model and type of antenna. Please see the antenna specifications pages.

The marine products catalogs contain convenient side-by-side comparison charts for each antenna type.

A comparison chart for Shakespeare European operations is online here.

If you do not see the answer you are looking for, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help you get the answers you need.

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