How to Maximise Your Antenna’s Range
The modern powerboat is fairly reliant on the use of antennae.Boaters and especially fishermen use it to communicate, for equipment such as sonar and GPS devices, and for various other entertainment media onboard. This article, courtesy of NMEA (National Marine Electronics Association), will discussthe different types of antennae, howexactly they function and the best way to get the most out of yours.
Antennae are primarily used for communication, navigation and entertainment but to cover all of these categories will take up more space than this magazine has room. We will therefore focus on communication only, and more specifically on VHF, SSB, satellite and cellular communication aboard boats. Construction Let’s start with how antennae are constructed.
In its most basic form, an antenna is simply a piece of wire cut to length for a given frequency. However, the elements used in the construction can play a significant role in its durability,efficiency and range. For instance, if you opt for a basic, inexpensive fibreglass antenna it’ll perform fine for a while until the weather and marine environment starts to take its toll and you eventually experience something called ‘antenna bloom’ where it basically starts to fall apart. Buying cheap is expensive, as they say.
It is therefore recommended that you rather opt for a more pricey option with a thicker wall and perhaps a high-gloss, polyurethane finish. These will likely have better elements inside which makes for better reception. Simply put, the more expensive the antenna, the fatter the tubing becomes which improves bandwidth and ultimately gives you more efficiency. The best antenna will likely be constructed of silver-plated brass and copper elements.