by Gordon West

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

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

Clear Eyes

by Gordon West, Posted October 14, 2009
Robert Miller of Port Isabelle, Texas, asks:"If I don’t bother to clean my radome when it gets covered with dried salt spray, dirt and dust, will that have any effect on the efficiency of my marine radar antenna?" Gordon West replies:It could be significant, which is why you should always keep your radome as clean as possible. Soot, dust,

Clear Channel

by Gordon West, Posted September 20, 2009
Henry Meyer of Chicago, Illinois asks:"I'm thinking about getting a satellite radio receiver so I can download all the marine weather products that are available these days. But I'm curious: Will I have to mount one of those softball-sized antennas above my deck?"Gordon West replies:Before you do anything about mounting the antenna, first

VHF Alarm System

by Gordon West, Posted July 20, 2009
D.B. of Marina del Rey, California, asks:"Not long ago I received a phone call from my dockmaster telling me a loud alarm was coming from my boat. I told him I’d be right down, and to keep an eye on things until I arrived. When I went aboard I found the sound was coming from my RayMarine Ray 240 marine VHF. How could it possibly go into an alert mode after being turned

Wet and Worried

by Gordon West, Posted June 20, 2009
J. Hillier of Sausalito, California, asks:"I bought what I thought was a waterproof handheld VHF radio, but when I dropped it in some water in the bottom of my inflatable it died. It was only in the water for a few seconds before I picked it up, and even though it did work for about two hours it went dead after that. What do those specifications really mean?"

See Dog

by Gordon West, Posted May 20, 2009
Jack Hammond of North Carolina, asks:"Reception was good on my analog TV using a Shakespeare SeaWatch 2025 amplified omni-directional masthead antenna. But I’ve been told the new digital converter box won’t work with this antenna and that I should get a new TV. Is this right?"Gordon West replies:The antenna is fine but make sure the converter

Spot on

by Gordon West, Posted April 14, 2009
R. Staats, of Neha Bay, Washington, asks:"Have you tested the new SPOT portable position transponder? If so, is it living up to all the hype it has received?"Gordon West replies: Yes, I have tested it, and so far it has worked well for me. This $150 transponder provides reliable status signaling through 48 Globalstar low-earth-orbit

Come in, Calcutta

by Gordon West, Posted March 11, 2009
Don Arnold of Chattanooga, Tennessee, asks:"My local marine-electronics dealer tells me that marine SSB and ham radio are outdated and that I should use a satellite phone. What do you think?"Gordon West replies: There’s no question that a sat phone is a very handy device. But the advantage of radio is that since SSB signals bounce off the

Wireless Mousetrap

by Gordon West, Posted January 20, 2009
Tom Gilbert of Jensen Beach, Florida, asks:"I'm about to install Wi-Fi on my boat so I can use my laptop when I'm in the harbor. I think a 14-element YAGI, such as the RL/WAVRVMAR or the RL/14ele2.4wp, would be good units I can aim, set, and receive. However, other people tell me that an omnidirectional antenna is the answer. Which is the better

VHF Echoes

by Gordon West, Posted December 22, 2008
Warren Updike of Towson, Maryland, asks:"My Simrad RS8300 VHF has two full-function handsets. The VHF is a black-box type with a DSC class-C transceiver that is about 15 years old; it’s mounted behind a panel in the main saloon. The receiver is very sensitive and very easy to use. The transceiver interfaces with my Raymarine ST-50 GPS, which is mounted nearby. My AM/FM
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