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Old 28-03-2014, 03:48   #1
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HF Antenna Question

I use an insulated backstay as the antenna for my HF radio. As is typical, there is a wire that connects the antenna to the antenna tuner. That wire goes through a hole in the deck near the backstay chain plate. To keep that wire secure and out of the way, I have used cable ties to hold the wire to the backstay between the lower insulator and the chain plate. Is that setup OK or will it degrade my radio's performance in any way?

With this setup, I seem to be receiving signals just fine. This weekend, however, will be my first time to transmit over the radio (I just got my technician's license). I want to make sure that I don't hurt anything the first time I key my microphone.

Thanks for any input that you can provide.
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Old 28-03-2014, 04:31   #2
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Hi Coutret,

Your install is as we see often and not optimal.

You will normally not "hurt" your equipment, but what happens is that the wire leading down from the base of the isolated portion of your backstay is also part of the antenna. Being run close to the lower part of the backstay, it will couple into it and the effects of this will also depend of the fact if this lower part is bonded to your ships ground or not. Effect on tuning, loss of radiated power, etc, hence: loss of efficiciency.

The optimal correct install is to lead that wire over some isolator standoffs until the through-hull whole.
Those standoffs can be easily made with short stretches of plastic tubes (eg. small section PVC tube) I would recommend about 4 inches long and 1 standoff per 15 to 20 cm.
lead 1 end of a long cable tie through the tube, over the antenna wire, down through the tube again, then fix tight around the lower unisolated part of the backstay.

See on this forum thhere has been a thread recently on those standoffs.

Good luck,

Jan
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Old 28-03-2014, 04:33   #3
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Re: HF Antenna Question

SSB backstay standoffs

Just a bit down the list on the Electronics forum page.

Jan
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Old 28-03-2014, 05:26   #4
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Thank you. That seems easy enough. Both the GTO and the backstay go through a hole in the bimini. At that point, I won't be able to get as much separation as you suggest, but I can keep some separation.

Perhaps I can run it aft of the bimini and then back down through the deck hole. I could anchor it to my wind generator mast (keeping some separation from it) to keep it from chafing anything. This will make the wire longer and it will have a bend in the middle. Would this be a better solution?
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Old 28-03-2014, 05:42   #5
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Sorry to be a pest, but, I have another question. When I bought the boat, the GTO wire was frayed almost completely through. I didn't know what type wire to replace it with. Someone told me to use 8 gauge wire. I did so, however, I have since learned that was incorrect. I have now bought the correct wire and I will install it as described above. Until I get the wire replaced, can I use the radio with the 8 gauge wire?

I bought the boat in November. It took a while to get everything organized and to get my ham license. So far, I have not attempted to transmit on the radio (I just got my call sign yesterday). I don't want to screw anything up, but, I'm eager to see if my radio setup even works.
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Old 28-03-2014, 06:01   #6
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Hi Coultret,

off course you can use the other wire if you are just cautious nobody touches or grabs it since the bottom part of an "random end-fed antenna" can have very high voltage when transmitting.
That is why "GTO-15" cable is used since it has high-voltage insulation.

As for leading the wire away and having a bend: I would have to see the actual situation but that will be most probably preferable to having part of the lower wire cable-tied to the backstay!

Jan
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Old 28-03-2014, 06:36   #7
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Thank you. This is very helpful. I'm about to start my 6- hour drive to the boat. It sounds like I can safely (if not optimally) use the radio this evening. I can redo my wire tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing how my radio works. Before I use the radio this evening, I will remove the cable ties. This will at least allow the wire to hang down away from the backstay.
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Old 29-03-2014, 15:41   #8
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Coutret,

Congratulations on passing your Technician Class exam!

Please remember that the only voice privileges on the HF band for the Technician Class are on the 10-meter band:

28.300-28.500 MHz: CW, Phone--Maximum power 200 watts PEP

Many marine SSB's don't tune that high.

Hope you will study a bit and get the General Class license soon. It really isn't hard to get....just a few hours study will get one for you.

Welcome to Amateur Radio....you're gonna love this life-long hobby.

73,

Bill
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Old 29-03-2014, 15:46   #9
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Bill,

I was able to make my first contact today. It was someone who was contesting so we just made contact and then it was over. He acknowledged that my signal was good. I'm in Gulfport, MS. He was in Nuevo, CA. So I guess my radio is working OK.
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Old 29-03-2014, 15:52   #10
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Welcome to Amateur Radio....you're gonna love this life-long hobby.

73,

Bill
WA6CCA
+1

I've been licensed since '95. I got my Extra before the morse code requirements were reduced/went away.

There's lots to do in the hobby. Have Fun!

W4ABN
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Old 29-03-2014, 16:08   #11
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Congrats on passing!! I am trying to study to get my tech license. Always wanted to be a active ham. I am just struggling on trying to absorb and study on my own. Always a challenge for me and reading.

Always had a scanner going and fiddling with what I can here especially when the first cordless phones were out hehehe. Always had a CB in my vehicle for the long trips and the skip was rolling.

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Old 29-03-2014, 16:25   #12
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
Thank you. That seems easy enough. Both the GTO and the backstay go through a hole in the bimini. At that point, I won't be able to get as much separation as you suggest, but I can keep some separation.

Perhaps I can run it aft of the bimini and then back down through the deck hole. I could anchor it to my wind generator mast (keeping some separation from it) to keep it from chafing anything. This will make the wire longer and it will have a bend in the middle. Would this be a better solution?
Just to add to the already excellent advice given by the other posters, please remember any separation is better than no separation.

So if you only get 6 or 12 mm (0.25 or 0.5 inch), then do so in those areas and increase it wherever you can in other areas.
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Old 29-03-2014, 19:44   #13
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Re: HF Antenna Question

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Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
Bill,

I was able to make my first contact today. It was someone who was contesting so we just made contact and then it was over. He acknowledged that my signal was good. I'm in Gulfport, MS. He was in Nuevo, CA. So I guess my radio is working OK.
Congratulations on your first contact. I assume it was on 10 meters :-)

Actually, the ability to make a contact tells you something, but not as much as you might imagine. It's a common misconception that the ability to make contact over long distances necessarily means your setup is working properly. That's because under the right conditions such contacts are possible even when you're radiating a miniscule amount of power.

The best way to tell that everything is working right is to put a cross-needle power/swr meter in line just after the transceiver and learn to use it. It will tell you at a glance if your transceiver is putting out as much power as it should AND it will tell you if your complete antenna system is working properly, i.e., the coax to the tuner, the tuner itself, the GTO-15 feedline to the backstay antenna, the connection to the antenna, and the connections to the RF ground system.

I believe every HF system should have such a meter in-line all the time (mine do, both on my boat and in my shack and home stations). A good one to go with is the Daiwa CN-101L, about $99 online and worth every penny.

Have fun, and study hard for that General Class license!

73,

Bill
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Old 29-03-2014, 20:40   #14
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Re: HF Antenna Question

That is always exciting to know you are herd. I do agree on having a meter. You don't want to fry anything if anything started to fail. Kinda like a water, amp, or oil pressure guage on your motor.

I got my ranger 2950dx somewhere around here if 10 meter. I'll fire it up one day and if I hear ya ill PM you here. I'm up north in Jersey. If you ever want to attempt when the time is good. Just have to buy a new antenna and coax. It kinda went away in a fire last month.

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Old 29-03-2014, 20:42   #15
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Re: HF Antenna Question

Btrayfors I've been looking at meters for a long time to add to my rig once I get it all together and read so much. You really like that one from Daiwa? It was one of my maybes.

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