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Old 19-01-2008, 19:02   #16
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Love the lifeline antenna idea

I will definately use that as an antenna. I can rig that up, no problem. I been reading some of the links for installation and have some questions.

Question 1: How long do I need the antenna portion to be? I have no idea what frequency(s) I will be using out there. With a auto tuner does the length matter? A min/max range would be great info.

Question 2: Can I connect the tuner ground to my transmission? I heard something about its ok if the tranny is connected with the green common wire.. My engine? But does create a grounding loop as batteries are grounded there? My mast? This grounding issue is complicated as I read the copper plates that are outside the hull are not sufficent at lower frequencies. I would like to go without the copper plates if possible. hfradio.com wants 500 for two.

I'm willing to drop the 4.5k to get the 802 email system. Sorry if these are mundane questions, but I'm really trying to get my brain up to speed.

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Old 19-01-2008, 19:26   #17
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Good! You're beginning to think outside the box. You're halfway there :-)

Now, let's be sure we're talking about the same thing(s).

The antenna starts right at the antenna terminal on the tuner. Normally, you use heavily insulated wire to run from the tuner lug to the base of the s/s lifeline wire used for the antenna. This wire is called GTO-15, and it is a radiating part of the antenna. Thus the calculation of antenna length must also include the GTO-15 feedwire.

How long should the s/s portion be? It's generally not critical, but about 40-45' is a good compromise. Longer portions tend to favor the lower-frequency bands (e.g., 8mHz and below), while shorter lengths favor the higher bands (above 8 mHz).

You don't need ground plates. Save your money. Run a length of copper stripping, 3-4" wide, to the nearest bronze thruhull. This thruhull should not be otherwise connected to your boat's DC ground system. The idea is to provide a bleedoff point to seawater for static electricity and NOT to attach to the rest of the boat's DC system where you might pick up noise and/or interfere with instruments when you transmit.

The main portion of your RF ground can then be any number of things: lots of copper strips running inside the hull or under the decks, the pushpit/pulpit/lifeline system, aluminum toerails, wire radials, etc. See my postings re: RF grounds.

To be perfectly clear: from the ground lug of the tuner you want two types of things: (1) a connection to a nearby thruhull to provide for bleedoff; and (2) a much larger RF ground which serves as "the other half of the antenna system". The purpose of the RF ground is to collect RF energy as efficiently as possible and route it back to the feedpoint, so it can be regenerated in a slightly different phase, thereby setting up an antenna system which is an effective radiator of RF energy.

The 802 is a popular radio, but others are just as capable of email operation (Pactor III). Expect to pay $1,800 for the 802, about $550 for a tuner, and about $1,100 for a Pactor usb modem with the Pactor III license. Say about $3,500 in all. Plus cables. Plus any accessories, etc. Plus installation.

If you have a ham license you can use WinLink and save a bundle over that figure. Example: a new Icom 718 ($550), Pactor III modem ($1,100), SG230 tuner ($550)...about $2,200 total. Plus cables, accessories, installation.

Either way, you'll be a long, long way from the original $9.5K estimate!

Bill
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Old 19-01-2008, 19:58   #18
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SSB Email for next to nothing.

Hi Mike,

My Kam Plus TNC (HF Pactor 1 modem) cost $100 on Ebay.
My Icom 735 Ham HF SSB transceiver cost $150 on Ebay.
My manual HF antenna tuner cost $30 on Ebay.
Bill's lifeline dipole antenna can be built for almost free.

I have used the above arrangement to send and receive emails over a thousand NM with 5/9 signals.

John Titherton, a Moorings Catamaran international delivery captain, uses a portable half wave dipole antenna for 20 meters by hauling one leg up to the masthead from the pullpit, and dragging the other half behind the boat as the ground. This was built from cheap insulated wire only.

This has worked very well for him on numerous international deliveries from Cape Town, SA, and he has the Winlink Position Reporter track history to prove the concept. I followed him once all the way to Tahiti through Panama, this way.

Bottom line: You don't have to give someone almost $10000 for a system that will work only as good as the very inexpensive solutions described above.
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Old 20-01-2008, 06:53   #19
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SSB/Ham

I did a 7000 mile two year cruise from California to Maine via Panama Canal without sending SSB/Ham. I had a little receiver and a $1000 Skymate unit that always worked for getting weather and email anywhere, anytime. But if I was going for four years, I would get a full SSB/Ham set and get licensed. It can get lonely out there.
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Old 25-01-2008, 22:20   #20
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pete how did that skymate work?

do you have to pay for weather forcasts?

btw, Don at hfradio. com isnt giving any breaks on his total ssb w/email. Not free shipping or anything. Wouldn't even give me a price break on the licensing service fee. Boooo
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Old 26-01-2008, 06:02   #21
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Cruising W/O SSB

No, you do not pay extra for weather forecasts with Skymate and it is REALLY nice to have the the weather reports all printed out for you (if you have a printer on board). I found that printing out point forecasts for several days ahead was great route planning help--better than I got for big bucks from Commander's Weather. You pay the per character charge, but I am not sure how they calculate that, but it never seemed to go over what was covered in my plan. The equipment seems to me to be ridiculously easy to install and worked very reliably all through Central America (more than I can say for my freaking Satellite phone which never worked after leaving San Diego). It sometimes takes an hour or so to get a satellite download, but that was more reliable than SSB reception. Think that I would have this equipment as a back up to SSB if I were really "out there". I am not sure why more folks are not using it.
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Old 26-01-2008, 06:52   #22
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do you have to pay for weather forcasts?

btw, Don at hfradio. com isnt giving any breaks on his total ssb w/email. Not free shipping or anything. Wouldn't even give me a price break on the licensing service fee. Boooo

I feel compelled to comment about my experience with Don's Service at HF Radio. He certainly gives no deals and is obviously paranoid about folks buying stuff off the internet and bringing it to him to install--and I can see the sense in that. When I consulted with him about putting SSB on my boat his overall price and attitude is what made me consider anything but SSB. He seemed to want to scare the bejezus out of folks who wanted to do any of the work themselves with stories of failure--but, OK, he is a professional and probably has seen a lot of screwups. I have no doubt about his competence. I do have some doubt about his business practices.

I purchased a couple of serial port adapters (Keyspan) from his company just before I left on my two year trip through Central America and to the East Coast. I balked a bit at the fact that he was charging $80 a piece for them, but was told by him that the "others are not the same" and "you don't want to be out there....." I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy (as I think many of us are) and thought, OK I do not want something inferior and untested. These folks are backing this product.

Well, about 94 days later, one of the Keyspan units failed in Mazatlan. I called HF Radio to ask them what to do. The folks there told me that the warranty was 90 days and I was SOL. I was a bit shocked. I had expected, even IF the warranty was just up, that there was an obvious observable failure (no wet, no stray current damage, I could mail the thing in and they could look at it). But they were adamant. I was SOL.

A couple months later, while back home collecting my trunk of repair parts to take to Panama with me, I emailed the Keyspan folks, just to tell them that I did not understand how they could charge more than double the going rate for a serial port adapter and have a 90 day warranty. I got an immediate email back from them telling me that their MSRP for the item was $39.99 and that their warranty was five years. They exchanged my item very quickly with a new one--no questions, no hassle. Hmmmmmmm.

So I sent an email to HF Radio where I had some questions. Did they accidentally overcharge me for the units??? No, they said, they add on charges for the "extra services" they provide for cruisers and the knowledge that they provide. Let's see, they refused to help me when I was in Mazatlan and helpless to follow up. They clearly did not know anything about the product's warranty (turns out it was printed on the packaging I got with the replacement). They said they knew they were charging double what the MSRP is. HUH???

I then recalled that when I was consulting these folks about SSB?Ham they made a big deal about "bench testing" all the equipment before they do an installation--as if the electronic manufacturers might be the cause of a lot of failures of SSB/Ham installations. As a former delivery skipper, I can tell you that most failures of boat systems are clearly the fault of the folks who install and maintain them. I do not blame this guy for wanting to maximize his profit margin, but I really resent his using fear and deception about the services they provide to do that. I would never do business with these folks again, based on my experience.

By the way, HF Radio did not seem very enthusiastic about Skymate, and I could not understand why. Maybe it is because anyone can install the thing. It uses almost no amps to be monitoring email 24/7 (gives you a green LED when you get a new email), can be installed by an idiot, and probably has little profit margin compared to a $7000 SSB/Ham installation.

By the way, Latitude 38 would not print my note that obliquely referred to this disappointment as HF Radio (or my completely non functioning Globalstar sat phone--actually none of the cruisers I met could get theirs to work in Central America) is a major advertiser for them--I guess I do not blame them either.

By the way, I had a number of manufacturers who went WAY out of their way when I emailed or called them from other countries. The Raymarine technicians were great, the Skymate folks got back very quickly with responses, and there were other folks who freely gave advice and expedited stuff to coincide with my trips back to the States.
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Old 26-01-2008, 15:39   #23
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No, you do not pay extra for weather forecasts with Skymate and it is REALLY nice
Hi Ray,

I always get a bit worried about per character plans like Skymate. Do the weather repots take up many characters? One decent hurricane forcast must weigh in at 1,000 characters. Do they charge for spaces?

did you find you need a high plan to make it effective? I like the idea of the $21 per month plan but USD$70 per month converted into Aussie Sheckles is a bit steep

The skymate 100? or is the 200 necessary?




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Old 26-01-2008, 17:13   #24
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Skymate

I used it for two years, but am in "drydock" now as I have been ashore since June, so I probably do not have the current data on plans and equipment. I had the first hardware and it worked fine, so I do not know why they came out with the 200--perhaps it had extended range or something? They had some software issues when it first came out with Microsoft security fixes, but I had no problems for the last year. I think a weather (text report) did take 1000 characters. If you email the folks at Skymate, they will answer all these questions. I did not use it for "chatty"emails. Rather for postion reporting to my family (automatic and few characters). I used the low level plan and moved to the Gold plan for a bit when I was out of touch with everything else--I never ran out or ran over my allotment at any time. I am sure that does not help. I think you are right to question it. If you are thinking it is like your home computer, it would probably be expensive to use it like most of us use email ashore. But for $1000 and a monthly charge, it was a slick emergency, short and urgent communications solution. I carried a SSB/Ham receiver and that was nice to hear the local net weather. As I said before if I was planning to be out a long time, I would recommend SSB/Ham, but I could not see the thousands of dollars for a competent installation for what was an extended delivery for me.
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Old 26-01-2008, 19:18   #25
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Don't the off shore reg's in the US require a ssb as part of your safety equipment, I know in NZ ,cat 1 ssb is part of your cat 1 requirements before you can go off shore
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Old 26-01-2008, 19:48   #26
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No Requirement

There is no requirement in the US for anything for private, non-commercial vessels to go off shore. The Coast Guard can declare your vessel manifestly unsafe for general seaworthiness and I believe they could impound it, but they rarely do that.
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Old 28-01-2008, 04:54   #27
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There is no requirement in the US for anything for private, non-commercial vessels to go off shore. The Coast Guard can declare your vessel manifestly unsafe for general seaworthiness and I believe they could impound it, but they rarely do that.
U.S. FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR RECREATIONAL BOATS:
FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR RECREATIONAL BOATS

specifically:
Termination of Use: FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR RECREATIONAL BOATS

"A Coast Guard boarding officer who observes a boat being operated in an UNSAFE CONDITION, specifically defined by law or regulation, and who determines that an ESPECIALLY HAZARDOUS CONDITION exists, may direct the operator to take immediate steps to correct the condition, including returning to port.
Termination for unsafe use may be imposed for:


* Insufficient number of C G Approved Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).
* Insufficient fire extinguishers.
* Overloading beyond manufacturer’s recommended safe loading capacity.
* Improper navigation light display.
* Ventilation requirements for tank and engine spaces not met.
* Fuel leakage.
* Fuel in bilges.
* Improper backfire flame control.
* Operating in regulated boating areas during predetermined adverse conditions. (Applies in 13th S G District only).
* Manifestly unsafe voyage.

An operator who refuses to terminate the unsafe use of a vessel can be cited for failure to comply with the directions of a Coast Guard boarding officer, as well as for the specific violations which were the basis for the termination order. Violators may be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both."

USCG: Termination of Use
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Old 28-01-2008, 05:05   #28
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I used it for two years,.
Thanks mate
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Old 28-01-2008, 10:40   #29
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Don't the off shore reg's in the US require a ssb as part of your safety equipment, I know in NZ ,cat 1 ssb is part of your cat 1 requirements before you can go off shore
As noted, there is no legal U.S. requirement to carry SSB on a private non-commercial vessels. However, many ocean race organizers do require SSB for Catagory 1 races. I realize this isn't the issue being discussed here, but it could cause some confusion.
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