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Old 17-11-2014, 03:35   #16
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
If you don't already have a wifi antenna installed, if you are going thru all the trouble to run new VHF antenna cable you might as well run CAT-5 Wifi cable at the same time. You can always install the antenna and router at a later date but at least the hard part is done.
I did that, and installed a Ubiquiti Bullet and antenna on the first spreader. I also ran a second run of CAT-5 (actually CAT-6) to another mount point for a mobile phone terminal (had my eyes on one made by WIBE). All wasted effort! I never use the Bullet, as I am virtually 100% mobile broadband now. And the WIBE is 3G only; no LTE!

So I have an LTE router with external antenna and external battery pack, which I just haul up the mast on a halyard, when I need more range.

Good thing I didn't put coax for a mobile phone antenna up there, as I had originally planned! That's because LTE needs two antennae -- one is not enough! That would have been a real waste!
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Old 17-11-2014, 05:00   #17
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I did that, and installed a Ubiquiti Bullet and antenna on the first spreader. I also ran a second run of CAT-5 (actually CAT-6) to another mount point for a mobile phone terminal (had my eyes on one made by WIBE). All wasted effort! I never use the Bullet, as I am virtually 100% mobile broadband now. And the WIBE is 3G only; no LTE!

So I have an LTE router with external antenna and external battery pack, which I just haul up the mast on a halyard, when I need more range.

Good thing I didn't put coax for a mobile phone antenna up there, as I had originally planned! That's because LTE needs two antennae -- one is not enough! That would have been a real waste!
Hi Dockhead,

Not familiar with the LTE router so may be asking a dumb question or so. Is the router the bit that actually receives and transmits the cellular signal? If yes, is the transmit power any more than a regular cell phone?

Main question, what kind of range do you get when offshore? When I sailed down the US coast none of us could connect more than about 4-6 miles offshore. I would see 5 bars on the signal strength on the phone but could not make or receive a call. I'm guessing the reason is the small transmitter in the cell couldn't make it that far although I've read that the cell antennas on land are focused toward land and may not be seeing a weaker signal from seaward.
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Old 17-11-2014, 05:47   #18
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Hi Dockhead,

Not familiar with the LTE router so may be asking a dumb question or so. Is the router the bit that actually receives and transmits the cellular signal? If yes, is the transmit power any more than a regular cell phone?

Main question, what kind of range do you get when offshore? When I sailed down the US coast none of us could connect more than about 4-6 miles offshore. I would see 5 bars on the signal strength on the phone but could not make or receive a call. I'm guessing the reason is the small transmitter in the cell couldn't make it that far although I've read that the cell antennas on land are focused toward land and may not be seeing a weaker signal from seaward.
A mobile broadband router is kind of like a mobile phone, except you can't make or receive calls on it. Combined with a WIFI router. So you put a SIM card into it, it connects to a mobile phone tower, and you can connect computers and other devices to it by WIFI. That's all there is to it.

I used to use a Globesurfer III, which worked great, even without an external antenna. It is obsolete since it does not do LTE (true 4G), and besides that, it broke this summer. With the Globesurfer, even without an external antenna, I would get much better range than with a regular mobile phone. Up to maybe 20 miles offshore, although at that distance you're not getting a 3G signal anymore -- it is a much slower EDGE or GPRS signal.

My new router, a Huawei B593, is similar to the Globesurfer, except somewhat larger. It does LTE. I bought an external antenna for it. But the external antenna doesn't seem to improve the signal at all. I will try another one, from respected maker Poynting. And the router itself is not very stable -- crashes sometimes every 15 minutes. I will try a firmware update, or toss it and try another.

I get incredible data speeds on the B593 even on a fairly week signal on my mooring (two bars) -- 14 Mbs download and 4 or 5 up. Latency is higher than a home broadband connection -- 50ms. But VOIP still works really well, as does Skype videocalling.

VOIP was one of my main reasons for going to LTE -- I do a huge amount of international calling for my work, and VOIP calls cost a fraction of normal circuit switched calls. For that I am using Zoiper for Android and Windows, and Freelycall as the service provider.

It does not always work perfectly, but when it's good, the audio is superior to regular phone calls. The cost is ridiculous -- usually 1 cent or 2 cents a minute to most countries' land lines. Usually not more than 5c or 6c a minute to mobiles.

As an alternative to a regular mobile broadband router, you can use a MIFI device -- the same thing, but in a format like a mobile phone, and with battery power like a mobile phone. I also have one of these for LTE -- an Alcatel One Touch. When I'm travelling, I just stick this in my briefcase, and I'm always connected.

By the way, I misspoke -- you CAN use a mobile broadband router for voice calls. Obviously for VOIP calls. But you can also plug a regular analogue telephone into them. I've never used this function, neither on the old Globesurfer nor on the new router, but if you've got a decent external antenna, I guess it will be much more powerful than a regular mobile phone. Maybe worth a try. The only thing is most data SIM cards don't offer voice service, so you'd need to get an appropriate SIM card.



New Huawei and old Globesurfer routers:

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Connections on the Huawei:

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The crappy external antenna, to be replaced:

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ID:	91804
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Old 17-11-2014, 06:29   #19
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Already got the mast stepping thing figured out. Dave (goboatingnow) is going to sell me a couple of skyhooks.
Oh man!!! Really??? Dave has 'em??? I've been looking everywhere for these and spreader bearings...
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Old 17-11-2014, 06:39   #20
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

Thank you. Very informative. Looks like something to add when I take off in a couple of years. Of course by then the technology will probably be reaching the next plateau. Also good tip on looking for a data SIM that will allow VOIP. I do a bit of international calling myself and save a heap using SKYPE.

So up to 20 miles offshore from the inside antenna. Do you see the same range limitation with the cell phones I experienced in the US? There were three of us, two on Verizon one on ATT so CMDA and GMS systems and virtually identical results on both.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
A mobile broadband router is kind of like a mobile phone, except you can't make or receive calls on it. Combined with a WIFI router. So you put a SIM card into it, it connects to a mobile phone tower, and you can connect computers and other devices to it by WIFI. That's all there is to it.

I used to use a Globesurfer III, which worked great, even without an external antenna. It is obsolete since it does not do LTE (true 4G), and besides that, it broke this summer. With the Globesurfer, even without an external antenna, I would get much better range than with a regular mobile phone. Up to maybe 20 miles offshore, although at that distance you're not getting a 3G signal anymore -- it is a much slower EDGE or GPRS signal.

My new router, a Huawei B593, is similar to the Globesurfer, except somewhat larger. It does LTE. I bought an external antenna for it. But the external antenna doesn't seem to improve the signal at all. I will try another one, from respected maker Poynting. And the router itself is not very stable -- crashes sometimes every 15 minutes. I will try a firmware update, or toss it and try another.

I get incredible data speeds on the B593 even on a fairly week signal on my mooring (two bars) -- 14 Mbs download and 4 or 5 up. Latency is higher than a home broadband connection -- 50ms. But VOIP still works really well, as does Skype videocalling.

VOIP was one of my main reasons for going to LTE -- I do a huge amount of international calling for my work, and VOIP calls cost a fraction of normal circuit switched calls. For that I am using Zoiper for Android and Windows, and Freelycall as the service provider.

It does not always work perfectly, but when it's good, the audio is superior to regular phone calls. The cost is ridiculous -- usually 1 cent or 2 cents a minute to most countries' land lines. Usually not more than 5c or 6c a minute to mobiles.

As an alternative to a regular mobile broadband router, you can use a MIFI device -- the same thing, but in a format like a mobile phone, and with battery power like a mobile phone. I also have one of these for LTE -- an Alcatel One Touch. When I'm travelling, I just stick this in my briefcase, and I'm always connected.

By the way, I misspoke -- you CAN use a mobile broadband router for voice calls. Obviously for VOIP calls. But you can also plug a regular analogue telephone into them. I've never used this function, neither on the old Globesurfer nor on the new router, but if you've got a decent external antenna, I guess it will be much more powerful than a regular mobile phone. Maybe worth a try. The only thing is most data SIM cards don't offer voice service, so you'd need to get an appropriate SIM card.



New Huawei and old Globesurfer routers:

Attachment 91802


Connections on the Huawei:

Attachment 91803

The crappy external antenna, to be replaced:

Attachment 91804
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Old 17-11-2014, 06:52   #21
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

Would the proposed connector at the bottom of the mast be a handy place to put a lightning arrestor?
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Old 24-11-2014, 07:59   #22
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

wsmurdoch Yes-a spark gap arrestor is a good idea on a vhf antenna coax.It may help in a non-direct lightning strike & will help to dissipate static build-up that occurs when wx fronts move thru.
Further to my earlier(first) post. RG213U is the correct large coax-not RG 8 (I'm getting old!)
Soldering RG213U or RG8X braid,while up a mast,in sub-zero temps & high winds is near impossible.This is the wx I usually had to work in,because commercial fishing vessels are only in on "blowy" days>25kts+. Hence,my "innovation" of rolling the braid back over the outer sheath,& screwing PL259 (RG213U) or UG175(RG8X) on over the outer sheath/braid,& soldering ctr conductor only.It works well & lasts many years in a commercial fishing N.Atlantic environment.Sadly,we don't all live in the tropics.
As for type N conns-they are best,but expensive & difficult for DIY users,IMO.
I would never use a BNC in a marine/commercial environment-too flimsy-no mechanical conn to outer sheath-easy to pull apart IMO.
I don't like crimped conn. in marine antenna environment due to inevitable corrosion.I saw too much of it.
Crimp is OK for DC branch ckts,as long as the crimps are done right & double checked by visual exam & pulling hard on them.I refuse to use any crimper except one that makes a stake on crimp,even on insulated terminals.Seen too many "flat crimps"(as recommended on insulated conns) pull apart,even on new "out of the box"stuff.
I've never seen a solder joint "go bad",if it was done properly,using rosin core solder only (never use acid core plumbers solder).
I've seen the copper wire or terminals corrode,if tinned wire/terminals weren't used,etc.
Above is all from 30yrs personal experience-not saying I'm always right,or by-the-book--just what worked & lasted in my environment.
Cheers / Len
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Old 24-11-2014, 14:56   #23
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New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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wsmurdoch Yes-a spark gap arrestor is a good idea on a vhf antenna coax.It may help in a non-direct lightning strike & will help to dissipate static build-up that occurs when wx fronts move thru.
Further to my earlier(first) post. RG213U is the correct large coax-not RG 8 (I'm getting old!)
Soldering RG213U or RG8X braid,while up a mast,in sub-zero temps & high winds is near impossible.This is the wx I usually had to work in,because commercial fishing vessels are only in on "blowy" days>25kts+. Hence,my "innovation" of rolling the braid back over the outer sheath,& screwing PL259 (RG213U) or UG175(RG8X) on over the outer sheath/braid,& soldering ctr conductor only.It works well & lasts many years in a commercial fishing N.Atlantic environment.Sadly,we don't all live in the tropics.
As for type N conns-they are best,but expensive & difficult for DIY users,IMO.
I would never use a BNC in a marine/commercial environment-too flimsy-no mechanical conn to outer sheath-easy to pull apart IMO.
I don't like crimped conn. in marine antenna environment due to inevitable corrosion.I saw too much of it.
Crimp is OK for DC branch ckts,as long as the crimps are done right & double checked by visual exam & pulling hard on them.I refuse to use any crimper except one that makes a stake on crimp,even on insulated terminals.Seen too many "flat crimps"(as recommended on insulated conns) pull apart,even on new "out of the box"stuff.
I've never seen a solder joint "go bad",if it was done properly,using rosin core solder only (never use acid core plumbers solder).
I've seen the copper wire or terminals corrode,if tinned wire/terminals weren't used,etc.
Above is all from 30yrs personal experience-not saying I'm always right,or by-the-book--just what worked & lasted in my environment.
Cheers / Len
Wait, just so I understand. It's OK to just twist a pl259 over the braid, but a properly crimped connector is "inevitably" going to corrode?

While it's true that any exposed connector will eventually corrode, crimped on connectors are are no more likely to fail from moisture intrusion ( or any other reason for that matter) than soldered or 'twisted on' connectors. in my 30+ years in communications, i have used crimped connectors 95% of the time. As you said, it's easy to damage the cable trying to solder the braid, but it's also easy to make a perfect crimped on connection with the proper tool.




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Old 24-11-2014, 16:31   #24
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

A spark gap lightening protector, like a Polyphaser, in the coax at the base of the mast would be a good idea. Some folks would also say to disconnect the coax from the radio, at the base of the mast, and then connect the antenna directly to a ground point (i.e. the keel step connection to a lightening ground) so that IF anything comes down the coax, it goes to ground. This is where the phrase "pulling the plugs" comes from, if you physically disconnect the equipment from the aerial wires, it becomes much harder to fry it.


I'd still go with PL259. It is good enough for marine VHF, easy to obtain, and if you're trying to test something in the future? Guess what fittings will be on the emergency antenna, or SWR meter, or spare radio? Right, all same, all standard.


I'm not sure if N connections would actually be better, with thick cable they might cause an impedance bump from the physical difference in sizes. (I'm aware of those issues but not at all educated on which goes with what, beyond "stick to the standards, there are reasons for them".)


skip-
I wouldn't expect cellular connections from any type of service 20 miles offshore. In the US, the providers used to intentionally configure their systems so that any signal more than 16 miles from a tower was actually shut out. This based on signal latency measurements that the system itself does. Some of them may have changed this for some systems in some places--but don't bet on it.
Boosters like the Wilsons and a gain antenna (Omni or directional) certainly help, but there are SO many bands and SO many carrier differences, that it will cost a lot of money for a "universal-ish" solution. 2G systems are being shut down in 2016, 3G systems are incompatible across carriers, and the ITU passed a special ruing about two years ago, allowing the US carriers to keep using the term "4G" when what we have in the US isn't the same, isn't as fast, as what 4G is in the rest of the world. 4G-LTE is another case again, it ain't the same as "4G". And, don't you know? The bands we use for4G-LTE in the US vary, and mainly don't match the rest of the world no matter where you are.


If you don't mind taking a tour of the sausage factory, the Wikipedia has all sorts of articles on which types of service are really available, from each carrier in each location. It ain't pretty. If you install a booster and antenna for "your" carrier, or for the carrier that you expect to cruise with? Odds are it will give you a very nice boost, but for your carrier and your service grade only.
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Old 24-11-2014, 17:05   #25
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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I have a RG400 tail from the radio about 1.5 metres long terminated into a bulkhead connector. The RG213 from the mast also terminates at the same connector. This is mounted above the chart table and allows for both testing and also for connecting the handheld radio quickly to the mast antenna or conversely, connecting the fixed radio to an emergency antenna.
Do I understand you have ONE bulkhead coaxial connector with two center conductors terminated on it (one up the mast & the other to the back of the radio)? From a theory standpoint I would expect this to cause all kinds of SWR problems. (I have never seen such an arrangement so I can't address how well it might work in practice). Also wouldn't the handheld RF still be too much for the fixed radio's front end? I can visualize having the fixed radio terminated in a bulkhead connector and another bulkhead connector connected to the mast coax. Then you would need a jumper between them for normal operations, but it would allow much flexibility for troubleshooting or emergency operations. 73 Gil AE5WL
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Old 24-11-2014, 18:12   #26
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Do I understand you have ONE bulkhead coaxial connector with two center conductors terminated on it (one up the mast & the other to the back of the radio)? From a theory standpoint I would expect this to cause all kinds of SWR problems. (I have never seen such an arrangement so I can't address how well it might work in practice). Also wouldn't the handheld RF still be too much for the fixed radio's front end? I can visualize having the fixed radio terminated in a bulkhead connector and another bulkhead connector connected to the mast coax. Then you would need a jumper between them for normal operations, but it would allow much flexibility for troubleshooting or emergency operations. 73 Gil AE5WL
Clearly a poor explanation on my part .

Let's try again:

I have a bulkhead through connector. That is, a female / female connector mounted in the bulkhead. The RG400 tail from the radio is connected to one side with a male connector and the RG213 from the mast is connected to the other side with a male connector. Pretty standard set up where you want a coax to pass through a bulkhead and you want a disconnect point (for whatever reason).

If I need to use the masthead antenna for the handheld, the fixed radio is disconnected at this point and the handheld is connected

The back of the fixed radio has very limited access.
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Old 24-11-2014, 18:55   #27
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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If you're using the RG213, you can use it and a gin pole to step the mast... thereby eliminating the crane expense...

Dang, I was reading through here getting ready to suggest that the OP just replace the whole frikkin mast with a stout bit of hardline Heliax, with a custom VHF tuned Radiax section at the top. Prob solved, no need for a separate antenna, will last almost forever.
Maybe Andrews could start making some yottie market targeted Heliax with a mast/foil cross-section and market an all-in-one pole?

(I've slung a lot of waveguide, coax, and Heliax before, and I'm still amazed at how waveguide works, basically just an effen copper (usually, and rectangular) 'pipe' that those gigahertz merrily zip through)
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Old 24-11-2014, 20:50   #28
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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A spark gap lightening protector, like a Polyphaser, in the coax at the base of the mast would be a good idea. Some folks would also say to disconnect the coax from the radio, at the base of the mast, and then connect the antenna directly to a ground point (i.e. the keel step connection to a lightening ground) so that IF anything comes down the coax, it goes to ground. This is where the phrase "pulling the plugs" comes from, if you physically disconnect the equipment from the aerial wires, it becomes much harder to fry it.


I'd still go with PL259. It is good enough for marine VHF, easy to obtain, and if you're trying to test something in the future? Guess what fittings will be on the emergency antenna, or SWR meter, or spare radio? Right, all same, all standard.
Agree 100%, stay with the accepted standard/convention used in a given environment, boats in this case.


I'm not sure if N connections would actually be better, with thick cable they might cause an impedance bump from the physical difference in sizes. (I'm aware of those issues but not at all educated on which goes with what, beyond "stick to the standards, there are reasons for them".)
98% of us run "boats", not Navy vessels (where the "N" designation connector originated, by Mr. Neill of Bell Labs, for microwave band mil apps (mostly radar)- primarily Navy at the time ~'41); some like to throw a perceived uptech item out there, the N conn just isn't common, or have any practical advantage over (more of a disadv as expressed by others), on 'boats'.


skip-
I wouldn't expect cellular connections from any type of service 20 miles offshore. In the US, the providers used to intentionally configure their systems so that any signal more than 16 miles from a tower was actually shut out. This based on signal latency measurements that the system itself does. Some of them may have changed this for some systems in some places--but don't bet on it.
In the early days of cellular (AMPS analog particularly) many cellsites (cell radio base station, called "profit centers" sometimes) were configured to serve cells of up to 30+ miles out (radius, way beyond the design limits, market driven) at higher power (up to 25W/chan base, 6W/handset-- like the Motorola 'Brick').
The channel radios are quite 'interesting', since the beginning (lots of measuring, etc., as you hint). With many cellsites controlled by a central switch unit (MSC, MTC, etc) going to everything else; early AT&T sys was a highly modified "Definity" PBX system at core.
And the system is "cellular" (like a honeycomb plan ideally), each tower designed to serve a "cell" with not too much geographical overlap, yet trying to assure seamless "handoffs" for mobile calls. (by design/definition, a cellsite is mostly just a 'remote' to the central/rate center control unit).
As the network built out, design cell size and power reduced, went digital, to where we now even have 'micro&nano' cells in some locations; complex as all hell.
And yes, cellsites/antennae near the coast are usually biased landward, where the traffic presents, with a likely reduction seaward.

Probably little known, but some of the earliest cellular systems/nets were built offshore, in the GOM and elsewhere, to serve the oil rigs (cellsites/antennae sited on some of the rigs of course).



Boosters like the Wilsons and a gain antenna (Omni or directional) certainly help, but there are SO many bands and SO many carrier differences, that it will cost a lot of money for a "universal-ish" solution. 2G systems are being shut down in 2016, 3G systems are incompatible across carriers, and the ITU passed a special ruing about two years ago, allowing the US carriers to keep using the term "4G" when what we have in the US isn't the same, isn't as fast, as what 4G is in the rest of the world. 4G-LTE is another case again, it ain't the same as "4G". And, don't you know? The bands we use for4G-LTE in the US vary, and mainly don't match the rest of the world no matter where you are.
Exactly, the whole area of 'booster' stuff is mostly marketing hype to sell product.
And don't get me started on that cell mishmashmeshmess we here in the US put up with. We are getting shafted by the telecoms vis-a-vis the rest of the world, who often enjoy much better, 'faster' service (eg: IP/internet) for often much less dinero. The root of the problem is, of course, rooted in politics, who buys who.



If you don't mind taking a tour of the sausage factory, the Wikipedia has all sorts of articles on which types of service are really available, from each carrier in each location. It ain't pretty. If you install a booster and antenna for "your" carrier, or for the carrier that you expect to cruise with? Odds are it will give you a very nice boost, but for your carrier and your service grade only.
(and I was a telcomm industry 'insider', on the technical side, even for BTL)
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Old 24-11-2014, 21:24   #29
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Re: New VHF antenna cable, one piece or two/

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
..............
I'd still go with PL259. It is good enough for marine VHF, easy to obtain, and if you're trying to test something in the future? Guess what fittings will be on the emergency antenna, or SWR meter, or spare radio? Right, all same, all standard.


I'm not sure if N connections would actually be better, with thick cable they might cause an impedance bump from the physical difference in sizes. (I'm aware of those issues but not at all educated on which goes with what, beyond "stick to the standards, there are reasons for them".)
...............
PL259 is the standard....

PL259 is the most common (especially stateside it seems), it's usually the cheapest and often (but not always) manufactured with a low sense of quality control (IMO). Let's just say I've seen more low end PL259s than high end PL259s.

Can't remember when I last saw a poor quality N type but I guess they might exist.

Almost all the high quality commercial radio systems I come across use N type, BNC or TNC.

You won't get an "impedance bump" by using a N type connector - assuming it is suited to the cable size and type.

Professional radio test equipment is far more likely to N type (or BNC) than PL259 - at least IME.

The PL259 connector is only coax connector I've come across that is easy for the careless to incorrectly tighten.

OK I'm biased against the PL259 and I agree that it will work OK for your VHF especially if you hunt down a quality one and fit it correctly but it isn't best practice - not by a long shot - IMO.

YMMV
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