New Helm-mounted VHF Radio
One of the problems we encountered during our month-long sailing trip involved radio communications with marinas--several times we could not hail them on our handheld VHF from the cockpit because it is limited to only 1 and 5 watts of power. (Our primary VHF is located in the navigation station below and not accessible from the helm.)
We purchased a new 25-watt ICOM IC-M412 Waterproof VHF transceiver for mounting at the helm--this is the same model we have below at the navigation station (but in black). Since we occasionally get splashed with salt water in the cockpit, this "waterproof" feature is very important.
|I've always had a preference for ICOM-brand radio equipment and |
this model in white is very attractive as radios go.
I mounted the radio on the underside of the instrument pod on the starboard side. (The chart plotter is in the same position on the port side.)
We decided to use a very small antenna made by GAM Electronics (Model SS-2) and mount it near the helm and very close to the radio. We purchased this locally--at Fawcett Boat Supplies.
|Forespar's Railfast Nylon Antenna Mount is a handy way |
to mount the antenna on the pedestal.
|The antenna assembly, with nylon plug adaptor, nylon coupling and part of antenna mount.|
The Completely Installed System
The most time-consuming part of this project was feeding the power cables through the starboard leg of the pedestal--it is already well populated with other cables. To finally accomplish this task, I stripped the cable covering off of the 14-2 cable so that I could just feed the two wires and not a full cable. I then pushed a 1/4-inch polyethylene tube down the one leg of the pedestal--it got hung up on something (maybe the turn in the other cables) at the bottom. So, I purchased some small diameter braided stainless steel rope and fed this through the polyethylene tubing--this allowed me to move the bottom of the tubing to avoid the obstruction. I drilled a small hole in the end of the tubing so that I could fasten the two wires and pull them back up through the pedestal. It worked!!!
|To make a neatly finished installation, I covered all the |
cables with corrugated plastic cable covers and
fastened them in place with black cable ties.
|Having up to 25 watts of power at the helm should eliminate any communications |
problems and treaty enhance our radio communication with the many bridge
tenders and other snowbirds as we go down the Intracoastal Waterway.
|A one-eyed Jack?|
After installing the radio and antenna, the radio would work fine for awhile then quit working--I couldn't even receive NOAA weather broadcasts. I noticed when I tapped on the base of the antenna mount it would work momentarily. After making a new antenna cable and having the problem repeated, I realized that the twisting of the antenna cable as I assembled the Railfast antenna mount may have caused the cable to short out.
|Having the antenna cable come through one of the intermediate |
couplings (and not through the base of the Railfast mount) completely
solved the problem of the cable twisting during assembly.
Addendum - September 12
|I already have an 8-foot long (Shakespeare-brand) VHF antenna mounted on |
the stern rail--I use it for the HF receiver. I decided to use this antenna
for the helm-mounted VHF and get a more suitable
(longer) antenna for the HF receiver.
|Looking inside of the instrument pod with the instruments removed, we had to feed the new |
antenna cable through a hole (shown on left center of image) which already had
four cables coming through it.