Now that television has gone HD digital, many boaters are considering the addition of an antenna. Many more channels are available on the air too. And, once the antenna is installed, your TV viewing is free, free, free! If you already have a marine antenna, chances are you’ll get fine digital programming through it. Should you not have one, now is the time to consider it.
Skill Level: 2/5
Finish Time: 5 Hours
Tools and Supplies
Drill plus 1/8″, 5/16″ and 3/8″ bits
Watertight deck fitting
Locate your antenna as far away from your VHF antenna as possible and on a different level from your radar array. Choose a spot on the radar arch or hardtop near an access plate that allows you access to the mounting nuts from inside the arch or other bulkhead.
Select one or two of the circular leveling wedges and position them under the mounting base to make the mast plumb or vertical from all angles. Put a pencil mark through the screw holes to mark the points you’ll drill.
Temporarily screw or clamp the antenna onto the mast to position the spot to drill for the watertight clamshell deck fitting. Using the rubber bushing as a template, mark the cable hole and the screw holes.
Now drill the holes taking care not to go through the bottom panel of the arch, if that is where you located the antenna. If your antenna is mounted on a cabin roof, make sure you can remove the ceiling panel to pull the wire to its location.
Mount the antenna mast and snug down the nuts and lock washers gently to avoid crushing the fiberglass. The leveling wedges serve effectively as seals.
Feed the cable through the deck fitting first, then the supplied rubber boot. Pull the other end down through the arch to the cabin below, removing access plates to assist in pulling the wire. If your cable must be mounted along an exterior bulkhead, loop the cable so rainwater drips off instead of penetrating the cabin along the wire.
If you’re replacing cable TV, pull the antenna cable to the coaxial fitting behind your TV. If it’s a new installation, you’ll need a throughwall coaxial plate from a local electronics store. Using the 3/8″ bit, drill a hole large enough to bring the cable through the bulkhead with the connector in place.
At the antenna and the TV end, fit the screw-on coax connector to the cable. Screw the connector to the back of the plate and screw the plate to the wall.
Mount the antenna by screwing it onto the threads or clamping it to the pipe mount — depending on your antenna. Attach the cable to it, securing the rubber boot. Pull enough cable through to comfortably reach the antenna coax fitting, then screw down the deck fitting, snugging the cable in place.
Connect the amplifier to a power source. Some amps use 110 and 12 volts. Hook the 12-volt power to your panel while the 110 plug is unplugged. It is best to put it on a switch.
Run a coax wire from it to the TV. Or, if you plan to split the signal to an FM radio, connect a splitter and run the radio feed to the radio.
Enjoy! Your antenna is omnidirectional — you’ll never need to rotate it.