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Old 18-06-2014, 09:01   #1
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Location: Cruising the Caribbean
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VHF squelch: static or nothing

Hello cruisers,

A few days ago we noticed there was no traffic on the VHF for a full day, which is quite strange for the Abacos, where we are cruising. We confirmed that our onboard VHF wasn't receiving any transmissions by calling the boat from our handheld.

It tuns out that in order to receive any transmissions we need to turn down the squelch to the point where there's constant static; in that setting we receive voice transmissions and static. If we turn the knob just enough to get rid of the static, nothing gets through.

The radio had performed flawlessly up until that day.

Thinking that there might be some new RF interference on the boat (we haven't added any new electronics, so it seemed unlikely), we tried shutting off every breaker on board except for the VHF. The radio's behaviour did not change; we got static (along with voice when someone was transmitting) or nothing at all.

We've been having constant squalls in the last couple of weeks but haven't been hit by lightning. Every other electronic device on the boat works perfectly fine.

Does anybody have any suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old 18-06-2014, 09:21   #2
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

Could be either desensitization of your radio because of a deteriorated antenna/cable, or some new radio noise source raising the general noise floor.

A quick diagnostic test might be to disconnect the antenna cable at the back of the set and temporarily connect a "rubber ducky" stub antenna. If the problem goes away, the problem was in the original antenna or cable.
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Old 18-06-2014, 09:22   #3
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

When I was having some antenna issues, I found it handy to get one of these for diagnostic purposes. I had lousy reception with my main antenna, but it was fine with this :

SHAKESPEARE Stowaway Emergency VHF Antenna | West Marine

Eventually re-terminating all the connectors between the radio and antenna fixed my problem. I prefer solder able gold plated ones. There's often an inline connector at the base of the mast which is prone to problems, as it gets wet.

It's always handy to have the emergency antenna, anyway.
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Old 18-06-2014, 09:50   #4
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

Thanks a lot guys. I'll check the antenna and its connections.

Sent from my GT-I9100 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 18-06-2014, 10:38   #5
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

We had that exact same problem with our Standard Horizon and spent days troubleshooting the antenna. It was not the antenna and we had to send the radio back for repairs. Turned out to be internal. Other stations could actually hear us, but we could not receive without the squelch all the way down. I suggest you contact the manufacturer and get their suggestions for troubleshooting. Chuck
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Old 18-06-2014, 10:41   #6
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

Thanks AnchorageGuy. It just so happens that this is a Standard Horizon as well. I'll contact them.

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Old 18-06-2014, 12:48   #7
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Re: VHF squelch: static or nothing

I doubt there is a noise problem. The squelch would break with noise at a higher level. If possible, put your handheld on the fixed radio's antenna and call for a radio check. What you describe sounds like it could be a broken antenna/ cable or connector. Trying the other radio may be a simple way to check. If you're staying near other boats or friends, maybe you could swap radios just to see if the trouble follows the radio or antenna.
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