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Old 08 July 2009, 17:17   #1
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How "clear" should VHF reception be at sea?

I've been listening in to VHF occasionally near the coast on a handheld (Standard Horizon), where I often can't pick up weaker signals so sometimes only hear one side of the conversation.

I assumed that when I bought my new RIB with a "proper" VHF setup (Icom 411) reception would be as clear as a very clear bell type type thing.

Quite surprised that things are still quite crackly, and not nearly as clear as I thought things would be.
So far, I've only been between Cowes - Needles sort of area.

So just what type of quality reception is the norm?
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Old 08 July 2009, 18:36   #2
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Tricky. I think if you're getting some good clear RX from local traffic, then your setup is working ok. More distant traffic can sound very crackly and faint. Bear in mind that on Duplex channels, eg. CG working channels, you can only hear one side of the conversation - the CG.

In short, if your squelch is set properly and you get no clear reception at all - ever, then you have a problem.
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Old 08 July 2009, 19:32   #3
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Depends what you mean by clarity. It's never going to sound like Radio 4 in your car, but you should be able to understand what's said (if it's in a language you know).

You'll often hear only one side of the conversation because one sending station is out of range or shadowed by hills etc., or the tx is on a duplex channel (ie the tx and rx frequencies are different. This was great for telephone calls, but since that service stopped the CG took over the channels for general working.)

My recently purchased SH hand held is every bit as clear as my main Raymarine set, and that's good. I've never experienced 'crackling' on VHF. I wonder if you have interference from the engine? Does the crackling remain if the engine is not running?
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Old 09 July 2009, 07:05   #4
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If you've done your VHF course, you'll know about duplex channels already!
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Old 09 July 2009, 08:36   #5
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Also coastguard stations have enormous ariels and repeaters, so it is quite likely you won't hear the other half. You shouldn't listen to other peoples conversations and certainly not from land ..............
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Old 09 July 2009, 09:03   #6
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Listening from land is OK, Transmitting from land a No No!
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Old 09 July 2009, 15:35   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin View Post
If you've done your VHF course, you'll know about duplex channels already!
I'm doing the VHF course as "home study" before I take the exam. And YES, I totally understand that it's illegal to TX until I take the test, so I won't.

As for not listening to other peoples conversations.... That's a silly statement... What does everyone do, cover their ears when anyone transmits?

We've only just got the rib, so will test it again and compare engine running with engine off.

Thanks for all the advice so far!
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Old 09 July 2009, 18:21   #8
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Also coastguard stations have enormous ariels and repeaters, so it is quite likely you won't hear the other half. You shouldn't listen to other peoples conversations and certainly not from land ..............
I've got a scanner for listening to a few VHF channels, can't see a problem in listening to what other people are saying.
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Old 10 July 2009, 03:37   #9
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I've got a scanner for listening to a few VHF channels, can't see a problem in listening to what other people are saying.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm sure when I took my first VHF test (It was after the morse days ) they told me it was technically illegal to eavesdrop.
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Old 10 July 2009, 04:02   #10
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Cookee is correct that the CG have massive aerials, whereas you, and everyone else, has some mass produced poorly made ariel that is almost mounted at sea level, plus you transmit at <25 watts ( signal loss in the cable,poor connections ). Tow your boat up to a cliff and mount a half or full wave length ariel then you'll be the master of the airwaves until your arrested!

Sometimes the atmospheric conditions create a "lift" that allows signals to bounce around and much better reception/transmission distances are possible.
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