by Gordon West

Long-time SAIL contributor Gordon West is a nationally recognized expert and educator specializing in radio communications

Double Vision

by Gordon West, Posted October 21, 2010
Rene Etherton of Chicago, Illinois, asks:"When we’re anchored out my audio system works fine, and we get great reception on our HD LCD TV. But back in our marina we get a loud hum on the audio system, and TV reception from several stations is always breaking apart. Why does this happen?"Gordon West replies:I’m almost certain that the hum in

Fine Tuner

by Gordon West, Posted September 21, 2010
Ben Hathaway of Coos Bay, Oregon, asks:"My boat’s VHF and SSB both have the same Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. I’ve recently purchased a new marine VHF handheld with DSC capability. Should this new handheld have the same, or a different MMSI number?" Gordon West replies:This is a great question, and it’s one that is

Antenna Heaven

by Gordon West, Posted August 21, 2010
David Stiller of Miami, Florida, asks:"I’m getting a new Standard Horizon GX2100 marine VHF with integrated AIS receivers, and I’m curious whether it will work with my Shakespeare masthead antenna?"Gordon West replies:AIS frequencies are 4.6 MHz higher than normal VHF ship-to-ship channels. However, I’ve done some tests, and Don Henry at

Wobbly Cells

by Gordon West, Posted July 21, 2010
Chet Sturgis of Chicago, Illinois, asks:"Recently, I installed a cell phone amplifier—I don’t recall the manufacturer’s name—to increase my range when I’m sailing off the coast. Although range has improved, when I’m back in my slip I can’t get good reception from someone who is calling me from just several hundred yards away until I turn off the amplifier. What am I doing

Name Changer

by Gordon West, Posted June 19, 2010
Paul Scott of Coral Gables, Florida, asks:"I just bought a pre-owned boat that came with a fairly new 406 MHz EPIRB. I've checked the date on the battery, and it is fine, but when I contacted the FCC to change the registration information, they told me that they don't handle EPIRB registrations. Where should I go to re-register my unit?"Gordon West

GPS Harmony

by Gordon West, Posted April 19, 2010
Dick Hansen of Norwalk, Connecticut, asks:"My new chartplotter is just great and gives me aerial and radar overlays. But when I transmit on VHF Channel 68, a frequency we use a lot in my area, the GPS hiccups, the chartplotter freezes, and it can take about 30 seconds for the system to recover. Everything works fine when I transmit on other channels; it’s just 68 that is

Call Waiting

by Gordon West, Posted March 19, 2010
Bob Hayes of Coral Gables, Florida, asks:"I’ve just returned from cruising in the Caribbean, and I can’t say enough about my AIS. It was great to be able to see the ships around us and to use their Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) numbers to hail them on the VHF. But when we got closer to Miami on our way home we began having some close calls with foreign vessels,

Speak Easy

by Gordon West, Posted February 19, 2010
Terry Rugg of Santa Barbara, California, asks:"The SSB insulators on my Islander 36 are coming off. Any ideas for a new setup for my straight wire backstay?"Gordon West replies:You have several alternatives. A stern-mounted 18-inch white whip antenna, from either Shakespeare or Digital Antenna, will transmit a good signal down to 12 MHz,

Tracking Cool

by Gordon West, Posted January 19, 2010
Ralph Furman of Newport Beach, California, asks:"I use wireless sensors aboard my Hunter 45DS to monitor temperatures for my refrigerator, freezer, engine compartment, engine-cooling system and air conditioning. My system works fine except for two hours a day when the engine compartment and refrigerator readings go blank. But during the other 22 hours everything is fine.

Mozart Mumbles

by Gordon West, Posted December 15, 2009
Robert Hall of Stuart, Florida, asks:"My stereo system works perfectly, but at a certain time in the afternoon, when the volume is set low, I can hear an annoying tic-tic-tic sound in the speakers when I’m listening to my classical-music station. When I turn the volume up a little the sound goes away. Someone told me it was because I had a cheap audio system so I went out
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