Web Surfing at Sea Page 3

Electronics — February 2003
By Ben Ellison

Web Surfing at Sea
Electronics Q&A
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• Part 2: Chart Tricks
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I enjoy your column in PMY. Is there any way I can get a 3W digital and analog bag phone for use afloat and also ashore? C.R., by mail
I've got a buddy who's snowbirding down the East Coast right now with his old bag phone happily at hand. Isn't it odd how "advances" in cellular have left many boaters cherishing this rather clumsy old technology? For those who've never seen one, a bag phone consists of a full-size handset that lives in a soft case along with a separate stubby antenna and a heavy battery able to support its 3-watt transmit power. They were popular in the early days of cellular when antennas were far apart, but they're analog only and long out of manufacture. I've heard boaters crow about buying old bag phones at yard sales or on eBay, but the truth is that some cell companies will no longer register an analog-only phone, and the FCC recently agreed to let analog die altogether in due time.

To my knowledge no one is making the digital equivalent of an all-in-one bag phone, but I understand that even higher performance can be had by hooking your mobile to an amplifier (2-watt maximum for digital), and then to a high-dB marine antenna. Some of this equipment is designed for multimode phones, which roam to analog when necessary, possibly increasing your coverage. Shakespeare and Digital Antenna each market the gear and needed patch cords. Apart from the fixed antenna, all the pieces are portable, even bagable.

Got a marine electronics question? Write to Electronics Q&A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: PMYElectronics@primediamags.com. No phone calls please.

Next page > TeleSea > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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