How to Install a VHF Radio on a Boat

Written by will charpentier
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How to Install a VHF Radio on a Boat
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Your VHF radio is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment on your boat. The VHF radio will give you information on weather, hazards to navigation and a means of communicating with other vessels in your vicinity. You can determine what another boat's intentions are and let other boaters know which way you intend to turn. You can use the radio to communicate with marinas, fuel docks, restaurants and other facilities along your route. Finally, if you have a problem and need serious help, you can use the VHF to call the Coast Guard.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Duct tape

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  1. 1

    Use the antenna mounting bracket to mount your antenna as high as possible on your boat, in a location where it won't impede the movement of your radar scanner. The coaxial cable that leads from the antenna to the radio uses a screw-in connector and should be connected to the antenna before you install the receiver.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole in the dash or control console to accommodate the antenna wire and the power lead. The hole should be at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Route the antenna cable from the antenna to the location you've chosen for your radio by the most direct route. Open the bottom of the console and feed the antenna cable up through the hole you just drilled in the console. Use duct tape to tape the antenna cable to the top of the console until you're ready to connect it to the receiver.

  3. 3

    Take the mounting bracket for the VHF radio and set it on the control console so that the antenna cable can be connected to the back of the radio receiver. Use a screwdriver and the screws supplied with the mounting bracket to secure the bracket to the console.

  4. 4

    Open the fuse connector on the power cord of the radio receiver and check the fuse to ensure that it's not damaged. Replace the fuse and close the fuse connector. Secure the radio receiver in the mounting bracket using the screw knobs that came with the radio.

  5. 5

    Remove the duct tape holding the antenna cable and connect the antenna cable (which is a screw-jack-type connection) to the antenna port on the radio. Drop the power lead and the ground wire (they're usually bundled--the power lead is red, the ground is green or white) down through the hole in the console. Connect the power lead to the common power bus under the console and the ground to the common ground. Turn on the radio and test the unit by calling another boat.

  6. 6

    When the radio is operating satisfactorily, use marine silicone caulk to caulk around the antenna cable and power lead. This protects the watertight integrity of the console.

Tips and warnings

  • Check underneath the location where you want to install your radio to ensure that when you make the holes required for installation, you won't be drilling through the wires for other electronics.
  • Don't mount your radio within three feet of your magnetic compass--the radio will cause it to behave erratically.
  • Do not turn the radio on until the antenna is connected to the unit.

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