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Old 02-05-2014, 04:06   #1
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Tinned coax or not for VHF?

Tinned coax is about twice the price as bare copper core. I sail in fresh water, would you suggest tinned coax?

Can I tin the end anyway with solder?


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Old 02-05-2014, 18:55   #2
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Re: Tinned coax or not for VHF?

You didn't mention how long your run is, and how much savings you are talking about. Personally I quit using untinned wire of all sorts on boats, freshwater, or salt...and not just coax. So I'd vote for the good stuff. Don't forget to use coax seal wrap on your finished PL-259 connection at the masthead. Also, and you may know this already, do not forget to solder the coax braid to the PL-259 coax plug. When I was in the business I used to get more than a few "intermittent" VHF radio complaints, where the problem was not the radio at all, but the fact that the owner had installed the PL-259 coax connector and only soldered the center conductor! The braid eventually corrodes and there you go---intermittent.

Lastly, you probably don't want to hear this part. If you are considering saving money by using the skinny cheap coax (like 52 ohm RG-58), you'll find the signal attenuation on longer runs could cut your effective radiated power back quite a bit when compared to say RG-213x (the large diameter silver double braided coax). So it's possible you think you're getting 25 watts out of your VHF antenna, but your effective radiated power ends up being much less because of the loss in the skinny transmission line. There are attenuation specs listed for all the different coax types you are considering so you should look those up. They will be listed as so many db loss per 100 feet and also at certain frequencies. Marine VHF is around 156 MHz. Of course as you've already found, the better stuff is a bit more pricey. Good luck. Maybe someone else will chime in with some actual numbers vs. price, but I've been away from this stuff for a long time now. Good luck...

s/v "Bamboleo" - Freedom 32 (Hoyt)
Farrier Trimaran -- Morgan 41 Classic,
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:36   #3
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Re: Tinned coax or not for VHF?

Wireless1 is exactly right. He hasn't forgotten the basics.

I AM in the business, and I've been an active ham for almost 50 years. Bottom line: DO NOT SKIMP ON VHF COAX

We're talking about very small differences in price, a very small expenditure overall, and a very important part of your boat. VHF is arguably the most important safety device aboard.

Here are current prices of coax which would be appropriate for your VHF installation:

The Thin Stuff (price per foot)

RG-8X Marine (white jacket, tinned conductor & shield).... $ 0.38
LMR-240 .................................................. ................. 0.66

Not all RG-8X is created equal. Beware. A good one is the double-shielded one manufactured in the U.S. by Davis Orion's marine division.

The Thick Stuff (price per foot)

RG-213U .................................................. ............... $0.78
RG-214 .................................................. .................. 1.25
LMR-400 .................................................. ................. 1.01

Here's a good source for coax:

RF Connection Coaxial Cable

As Wireless1 said, terminating (putting the ends on) is extremely important and where the most screw-ups occur. Have this done professionally and check the results with a multimeter before installation.

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Old 03-05-2014, 17:25   #4
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Re: Tinned coax or not for VHF?

Thanks for the link. Those are great prices! My mast is 37 feet and boat is 32. Rg58 was on the busy so I m going to go one larger with the new stuff.

Tinned as well, your right that the savings are minimal.
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Old 03-05-2014, 18:35   #5
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Re: Tinned coax or not for VHF?

Low attenuation/loss is what you want check the spec for Belden 8267. It is mil spec rated and will hold up. I worked there for many years. You get what you pay for. I always got special wire for the mast, made a reel difference. Solder all connections.
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