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How much VHF signal strength will I lose if I put a coaxial cable disconnect assembly at the base of my mast? I want to eliminate the hassle of having to pull out the cable every time I step or unstep the mast, and this seems like a good solution.

-- Dennis Thompson , Annapolis, Maryland

Gordon West replies : If you can be sure the coax disconnect assembly will stay bone dry when the mast is in the boat, you shouldn’t lose more than 1 decibel transmitting at 156 MHz; you won’t even notice the difference. To be sure the connection remains dry, seal it with vulcanizing waterproof tape. Keep in mind that if the connection is exposed to moisture or, worse, bilge water, your signal will go sour within hours and pull the VHF’s output down to nearly zero. Most VHF transmitter losses occur either when water gets into the masthead antenna connection or when moisture penetrates the cable connection at the base of the mast.

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