Ask SAIL: A Low Cost AIS Test

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Switch out an AIS antenna as a means of checking it

Switch out an AIS antenna as a means of checking it

Q: Do I need to buy an expensive VHF test meter to check my AIS antenna, which is separate from my normal VHF antenna?

T. Rabie, Norfolk, VA

GORDON WEST REPLIES

First of all, VHF antenna test meters are not all that expensive. Check out the Shakespeare ART-3, which I’ve seen on sale for under $100. Beyond that, a simple no-cost VHF antenna check is to tune in some VHF (wx) channels, and find one of the stations coming in weak with noise. Now remove your normal VHF antenna connector and attach the AIS antenna lead-in connector. If that same weak weather station is no longer received and you aren’t even picking up your usually strong normal weather station, then you do, indeed, have a problematic AIS antenna system. Most likely, the AIS antenna is fine, but it has a bad connection in the coaxial cable.

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April 2016

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