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Old 17-12-2012, 05:33   #1
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Ham Radio in a Ketch

Hi folks,

encouraged by John (ka4wja) , I am opening this thread hoping to find some more piece of advice.

Need few premises here:

1) I am a total profane about this matter;
2) My vessel is a ketch, and the radio I've got is a Kenwood TS480SAT. Don't want to change either the first, or the second gear;
3) Of course, need advices from who knows what's s/he is talking about. Not looking for pontoon speakers;

Here's what I've got:

the boat



the radio:



Now, giving the fact that I know nothing about this, I need the advisor (expert) to illustrate in DETAIL every single step of a possible installation (including type of antenna, where to place it and how to create a good counterpoise, kiss ssb or other type).

Please, don't take for granted that a techincal lingo will be understood here, unless you explain what you're talking about, like you would talk to a baby.

Of course, I am just asking for help...and any kind of help will be much appreciated, whatever effort you put in this (hard) task.

Many thanks in advance,
fair winds to you all

Ben
s/v Vieux Malin
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Old 17-12-2012, 06:46   #2
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

You need to purchase a book and educate yourself. There is no feasible way to cover off the variables, nor do I feel even the most financially independent radio amateur would have the leisure to write you a primer.

Here's a couple of places to start:

Latitude 38 - Idiot's Guide to Marine SSB

A Guide to Small Boat Radio by Mike Harris: Adlard Coles, London 9780713634365 Trade Paperback - Lazy Letters Books
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Old 17-12-2012, 06:49   #3
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

VieuxMalin, I presume you have the required license. No-one in Ham is a complete neophyte.

dave
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Old 17-12-2012, 06:51   #4
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Here goes... this is a primer, there's a lot to learn here. My best advice is to hire a professional for this installation. It really pays off in performance. DISCLAIMER: I do this for a living; I don't want to do yours <grin>

Ketches present some specific difficulties as well as a few unique opportunities.

Let's deal with the issues that AREN'T unique to ketch (and, for that matter, yawl and schooner rigs).

A good installation has:

--adequate power
--good, tight connections everywhere
--solid mounting
--a proven ground/counterpoise system (trial and error here)
--an antenna that tunes easily and radiates well.

Only the last, the antenna, is unique to multi-masted vessels.

As posted here by Bill Trayfors (WA6CCA, search for his posts) and others, a good, solid power supply is critical. Wires of at least 6awg should run directly to the battery system. Crimps should be very strong and heat shrunk. If you experience a voltage drop at the rig consider a voltage booster such as the outstanding units from TGE (The N8XJK Super Booster).
They are easy to install and will guarantee your radio 13.8 volts even when house batteries are down to 10 or so. They really work well.

Antenna connections should be professionally soldered and heat shrunk as well. For boat installations we recommend either RG-213 or LMR-400 Flex. These are much sturdier and have less loss than the more common RG8X. Where they pass through hull or deck areas Blue Sea Cable Clams work well.

Don't underestimate how much the boat may move; Kenwood sells good mounts for both the rig and remote head; bolt them in with good washers and secure all wires every 18"

You don't mention the tuner you intend to use. I strongly recommend the SG-230 but this advice works for any similar unit.

Counterpoise/RF ground issues are a bit more complex. Search for posts here and you'll have a year of reading material. I've found that every installation is different. As a rule I prefer multiple "radials" cut to 1/4 of the expected operating frequencies. For example, if I'm going to be working on the maritime net (MMSN/14.300 USB), a 20 meter band, I'd have a couple of 20 meter radials, 1/4 of 20 is 5 meters or about 16 feet. Double that for 40 meters, etc. In my case they are strung around insulators on the top of the engine room.

The KISS is a fairly successful attempt to simplify that. It works, while other things may work better. I also like to tie the ground system into above waterline metal such as toe rails and life lines where practical. Connecting to thru hulls and/or "dynaplates" helps also and may reduce the receiver noise. You'll note this is full of "mays" and "mights." While the science is pretty well developed in this area practical installations are largely trial and error to see what works best.

Now for that is unique to ketches...

Multi-mast rigs have issues with detuning that others don't. They have far too many wires in far too many places for a traditional split backstay to work well. What I settled on after three years of testing:

Insulated the STB MIZZEN SPREADER TIP, MIZZEN STB CAP SHROUD, and the TRIATIC STAY, jumped between them with SS wire secured with u-bolt clamps. Bottom fed the "inverted L" antenna via a 4x1 UnUn transformer available from Balun DesignBalun Designs LLC - High quality baluns and ununs at reasonable prices. You could skip the transformer but it really helped keep the radiation on the antenna and not in the "shack;" LINE ISOLATORS such as the T4 from RadioWorks The RADIO WORKS help a great deal also.

We've had great success with this set up. I notice that your rig picture doesn't show a triatic stay but I'd say an "antenna stay" between the main mast and mizzen jumped to a mizzen cap is the best antenna for a ketch. It keeps most of the radiated energy outside the other rigging.

Again, this is really a job for a professional in my opinion.

Contact me directly for more info,

Scott
WA0LSS
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:08   #5
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
VieuxMalin, I presume you have the required license. No-one in Ham is a complete neophyte.

dave
Negative. I am a pirate, sorry

However, 'tis not illegal to set up a complete system and just listen or download weather faxes....am I wrong ?
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:10   #6
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

I appreciate the difference between Ground and Counterpoise. However, here's what's stated in the radio manual :

"GROUND CONNECTION
At the minimum, a good DC ground is required to prevent such dangers as electric shock. For superior
communications results, a good RF ground is required against which the antenna system can operate. Both of
these conditions can be met by providing a good earth ground for your station. Bury one or more ground rods or
a large copper plate under the ground, then connect this to the transceiver GND terminal. Use heavy gauge wire
or a copper strap, cut as short as possible, for this connection. Do not use a gas pipe, an electrical conduit, or a
plastic water pipe as a ground."

Does it mean that GROUND + RF Ground comes from the same radio output ?
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:11   #7
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by VieuxMalin View Post
Negative. I am a pirate, sorry

Youll find nobody will talk to you I'm afraid.

Dave
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:14   #8
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Berg View Post
Here goes... this is a primer, there's a lot to learn here. My best advice is to hire a professional for this installation. It really pays off in performance. DISCLAIMER: I do this for a living; I don't want to do yours <grin>

Ketches present some specific difficulties as well as a few unique opportunities.

Let's deal with the issues that AREN'T unique to ketch (and, for that matter, yawl and schooner rigs).

A good installation has:

--adequate power
--good, tight connections everywhere
--solid mounting
--a proven ground/counterpoise system (trial and error here)
--an antenna that tunes easily and radiates well.

Only the last, the antenna, is unique to multi-masted vessels.

As posted here by Bill Trayfors (WA6CCA, search for his posts) and others, a good, solid power supply is critical. Wires of at least 6awg should run directly to the battery system. Crimps should be very strong and heat shrunk. If you experience a voltage drop at the rig consider a voltage booster such as the outstanding units from TGE (The N8XJK Super Booster).
They are easy to install and will guarantee your radio 13.8 volts even when house batteries are down to 10 or so. They really work well.

Antenna connections should be professionally soldered and heat shrunk as well. For boat installations we recommend either RG-213 or LMR-400 Flex. These are much sturdier and have less loss than the more common RG8X. Where they pass through hull or deck areas Blue Sea Cable Clams work well.

Don't underestimate how much the boat may move; Kenwood sells good mounts for both the rig and remote head; bolt them in with good washers and secure all wires every 18"

You don't mention the tuner you intend to use. I strongly recommend the SG-230 but this advice works for any similar unit.

Counterpoise/RF ground issues are a bit more complex. Search for posts here and you'll have a year of reading material. I've found that every installation is different. As a rule I prefer multiple "radials" cut to 1/4 of the expected operating frequencies. For example, if I'm going to be working on the maritime net (MMSN/14.300 USB), a 20 meter band, I'd have a couple of 20 meter radials, 1/4 of 20 is 5 meters or about 16 feet. Double that for 40 meters, etc. In my case they are strung around insulators on the top of the engine room.

The KISS is a fairly successful attempt to simplify that. It works, while other things may work better. I also like to tie the ground system into above waterline metal such as toe rails and life lines where practical. Connecting to thru hulls and/or "dynaplates" helps also and may reduce the receiver noise. You'll note this is full of "mays" and "mights." While the science is pretty well developed in this area practical installations are largely trial and error to see what works best.

Now for that is unique to ketches...

Multi-mast rigs have issues with detuning that others don't. They have far too many wires in far too many places for a traditional split backstay to work well. What I settled on after three years of testing:

Insulated the STB MIZZEN SPREADER TIP, MIZZEN STB CAP SHROUD, and the TRIATIC STAY, jumped between them with SS wire secured with u-bolt clamps. Bottom fed the "inverted L" antenna via a 4x1 UnUn transformer available from Balun DesignBalun Designs LLC - High quality baluns and ununs at reasonable prices. You could skip the transformer but it really helped keep the radiation on the antenna and not in the "shack;" LINE ISOLATORS such as the T4 from RadioWorks The RADIO WORKS help a great deal also.

We've had great success with this set up. I notice that your rig picture doesn't show a triatic stay but I'd say an "antenna stay" between the main mast and mizzen jumped to a mizzen cap is the best antenna for a ketch. It keeps most of the radiated energy outside the other rigging.

Again, this is really a job for a professional in my opinion.

Contact me directly for more info,

Scott
WA0LSS
Thanks Scott,

calling a professional. In any case, you couldn't do it for me...my vessel is in Greece right now
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:15   #9
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Youll find nobody will talk to you I'm afraid.

Dave
That's not totally true.....for example, in the marine nets
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:20   #10
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Nope, the HAM nets as opposed to the Marine SSB nets will not talk to unlicensed HAMs.


Its also piss simple now to do the ticket

Dave ( licensed amateur)
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:23   #11
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Nope, the HAM nets as opposed to the Marine SSB nets will not talk to unlicensed HAMs.


Its also piss simple now to do the ticket

Dave ( licensed amateur)

I'll do it for sure...but first, I want to set up the gear.
Anyway, my radio has been "opened" to all bands (including marine)
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:39   #12
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

It doesn't sound like a legitimate HAM base. As an amateur, he will have a jolly good time if he connects to a copper ground, and with zinc plates for electrolysis protection. Now, that's a battery worth seeing!
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:44   #13
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

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Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
It doesn't sound like a legitimate HAM base. As an amateur, he will have a jolly good time if he connects to a copper ground, and with zinc plates for electrolysis protection. Now, that's a battery worth seeing!

Cool aircraft, the twin-otter. Made my CPL in Forth Worth Meacham field...ages ago.....now flying the A330, missing the ol' times on props
Sorry, off topic
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:25   #14
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Hi Vieuxmalin,

I see no reason at all "not to talk to you"

BTW i'm in Europe so if you invite me over I would be glad to help you with the installation just joking

If you take of the Mike indeed your transceiver will work as a receiver. But unfortunately in that case you are not able to use an automatic antenna tuner (since it needs an RF power signal to start tuning) nor be able to measure out an antenna system with an SWR (standing wave ratio meter which indicates in which way an antenna system is "adapted" to the 50 Ohm out impedance of your transceiver).

Scott already gave you a lot of useful information.

What I would do on a ketch is install a (home-made) vertical wip antenna at the transom, getiing it as far away from all stays, masts etc..

Of course it has to be clear of the movement of the aft boom.

But installing it really behind the transom makes it vulnerable.

Using a cheap 7m long fishing rod (with a wire externally or at the inside) or a dedicated ssb fibreglass rod (like Shakespeare offers) is a rather easy install, avoiding cutting and isolating any stays. But given its 7m length it will need a good solid support at its base.

It will also look migthy impressive

Add a short stretch of high-voltage insulated wire and a good automatic antenna tuner (like SG-230 or Icom or Kenwood) and teh coax from there untill the transceiver.

The only missing vital part will be the RF-ground system, but here there are also a number of low-cost DIY solutions.

Off course you should get a HAM license to transmit. be aware that some countries are very strict about it, even in the Med.
Even with a HAM license you would not be allowed to transmit on marine SSB frequencies. I would just do that in an emergency.

I myself started up (although I was not a complete novice on the matter of antennas and transceivers) installing my rig in my boat using the call of a HAM-friend, only to be able the test the installation. yes...at that time I was pirating...so what.... I quickly obtained my basic license after that.

Glad to help,

Jan
ON3ZTT
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:43   #15
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Re: HAM RADIO IN A KETCH

Dear Jan,

thanks for your sensible words, which sound more comprehensive and cool than a "jealous" minded licenced operator, who is just warning "not to touch his toy, unless you are not licenced".

Of course, it is my intention to get a licence. But, for the sake of initial acquaintance with this kind of gear (new to me), and not to mention the safety issue, I am willing to proceed with the installation-first-then-getting the-licence method.

So, I thank you too for the advices and surely will ask for some help from a professional installer and, of course, you're already invited for a drink onboard :-)

Where are you in the Med?
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