Shakespeare Electronic Products Group-European Operations

Marine rule the waves

FAQ - General Questions

Do I lose anything by using a Combination antenna?

A: Yes, usually - depending on the type and quality of combination antenna. Generally reception performance for the VHF side is somewhat sacrificed. Shakespeare recommends using separate antennas if space is available for them.

Is it better to use a dedicated AM/FM antenna or a band separator?

A: Shakespeare recommends using a separate antenna for this purpose, if possible. Band separators were designed for boats that don't have room for two antennas.

Be sure the antennas are mounted at least three feet apart.

What is antenna gain, and how is it measured?

A: Gain is an increase in effective radiated power (ERP) from an antenna, usually stated in dB (deciBels).

As a rule of thumb, you can multiply the radio's output power by 4 for 6dB antennas and by 8 for 9dB antennas. A 3dB antenna gain gives an ERP of 2 times the radio's output power. A Unity Gain antenna provides no increase in ERP.

Can I paint the antenna, and with what?

A: Yes. Shakespeare's antennas can be painted any color you wish. Be sure not to use any paint containing metallic chips or lead bases.

To prepare the surface, wash the antenna with soap and water and allow it to dry completely. Paint the antenna with polyurethane or a lead free, non-metallic paint.

Can I repair the antenna if the fiberglass becomes frayed?

A: Yes. Wash the antenna with soap and water first and allow it to dry completely. Next, paint the antenna with polyurethane or a lead free, non-metallic paint. Then lightly sand the surface with 400-grit sandpaper. Additional coats of paint may be added, but are usually not really necessary.

What is the transmission line loss for coax?

A: This depends on the amount, as well as the type of coax used. On the average, 50 feet of RG-58 coax will have about 3dB loss, 50 feet of RG-8X coax will have about 2dB loss, and 50 feet of RG-213 (RG-8U) will have about 1dB loss.

What antenna should I use with what radio?

A: It depends on your needs and the amount of space that is available to mount the antenna. Some considerations are: the height at which you can mount the antenna; whether you have to raise and lower it to fit under bridges, boathouses or other obstructions; and how far you need the transmitted signal to reach.

The longer the antenna, the better coverage you can expect, generally speaking, if a larger antenna will fit on your boat.

Always purchase the best antenna you can afford, since the antenna is the most important part of any VHF installation.

Can I use two radios with one antenna?

A: Yes, Shakespeare offers the CS-2 and AS-2 switches, which allow for hook-ups of this nature.

The CS-2 switch permits using two antennas with one radio, or two radios with one antenna. The AS-2 is an automatic switch for two radios connecting to one antenna. It electronically senses which transceiver is used and switches the antenna.

Further instructions are on the packages.

What is meant by DC ground?

A: Some antennas are DC grounded and will indicate a short circuit when tested with an ohm meter. Antennas which do not use DC Grounding generally read as Open circuit on an Ohm meter

Do I need a license from the FCC? If so, how do I get one?

A: For non-commercial boaters using vessels which are not required to have ship's radio stations, no FCC license is required for local cruising. "Local" means USA waters only. If you cruise and sail into foreign waters of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, you must have an FCC issued license and callsign. Also, mariners who operate a marine SSB and/or INMARSAT phone must have an FCC issued callsign. The FCC callsign is also required for a marine "Sailmail" e-mail address.

If you have marine single sideband (SSB) radio onboard, or plan to have one installed soon, the law requires an FCC ship station license. If you cruise to foreign ports, any radio onboard must be licensed.

Even so, you may obtain an FCC license and callsign if you want one.

Since 1999, DSC (Digital Selective Calling) capability has been required for all VHF marine radios sold in the United States. If your radio has this feature, you must obtain a nine-digit maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) and install it into the unit before you transmit. The MMSI is unique, like a phone number, and can assist the Coast Guard in finding your vessel in an emergency, among other uses. If you're not required to have a license, the MMSI is obtained from private companies.

To obtain a license, if you need or want one, contact the FCC at The information in this answer is located here.

What FCC license do I need?

A: Currently, an FCC license application does not need to be filled out unless your boat is over 65' or unless you're applying for a DSC number.

See this link for further information.

Do I need a different FCC license for a base station?

A: Yes, contact your local FCC office for particular license requirements, of visit the FCC at

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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