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Old 08-08-2018, 17:28   #16
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

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I think it may be directly radiated RFI - the methane detector is a completely stand alone battery unit and is at least 6' away from any other wiring and is mounted on the cabin wall though I'm not sure how I can choke it - there is no external wiring!
It certainly could be caused by radiated RFI. Even with a perfect ground, you are still in the near-field of a backstay antenna, and there's not much you can do about that.

Can you try a different brand methane detector? Or, you could enclose the detector inside a copper screen box. If the edge seams are properly soldered or otherwise made RF-tight, the gas will make it through the screen but the RF won't.

But that seems like a lot of work. Try a different detector -- it might be less sensitive to RFI.
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Old 08-08-2018, 22:09   #17
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

In desperation...I suppose one could test the "direct RFI" theory by simply wrapping the detector in tin foil, to shield it from RFI. In the unlikely event that works, one could then fab up a better shield, using either metal screening or staggered perforated metal, so that the detector was still able to sample the air but it had an effective Faraday cage around it.

Worth the price of the aluminium foil to try it, I'd guess.
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Old 09-08-2018, 00:50   #18
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

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In the unlikely event that works
I'd say it's almost certain that a foil shield will work, as long as the seams are rolled tightly. Any sort of good Faraday cage should block a very large percentage of the RFI. It needs to be a highly-conductive material (copper or aluminum are good),with no gaps in the seams and small holes for the gas to penetrate. And I couldn't guarantee that a screen Faraday cage wouldn't block the air-flow and keep the detector from working properly.

I would still try a different detector first.
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Old 09-08-2018, 11:56   #19
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

I fully agree with you, Paul. Working with an unknown possible RFI source, kludging a temporary Faraday cage of unknown effectiveness, swapping in a new gas sniffer which, of course, is adding another total unknown....

And then of course, whether to use hand perforated copper panels or unobtainable copper window screening is indicated...(G)...

I know, somewhere out there I've seen numbers that let you figure out the minimum "hole" size in screening when using it for RFI shielding but I suspect a fast "tin foil hat" is still the quickest cheapest way to get a "Hot or cold?" answer out of it.

Or perhaps...get rid of the gas sniffer, and buy a proper gilded cage with a couple of canaries in it. Traditions must be respected!
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Old 09-08-2018, 12:50   #20
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

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I know, somewhere out there I've seen numbers that let you figure out the minimum "hole" size in screening when using it for RFI shielding but I suspect a fast "tin foil hat" is still the quickest cheapest way to get a "Hot or cold?" answer out of it.

Or perhaps...get rid of the gas sniffer, and buy a proper gilded cage with a couple of canaries in it. Traditions must be respected!
That gilded cage will also protect the canaries from RFI.

A different problem, but I once had a PLB trigger itself, and got a satphone call from the USCG at 4:00AM (they called my wife at home and she gave them my satphone #). The very nice officer gave me the MMSI # of the offending PLB, and it was mine, belowdeck, stuffed inside my PFD, under my wet piled-up foulies . I couldn't get it to turn off, so I wrapped it in aluminum foil. The USCG officer emailed me after the next satellite pass (we had shared contact info by then), and confirmed that the PLB had gone silent. Of course the power levels and frequencies involved are completely different from the SSB near-field EMI issue.
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Old 09-08-2018, 12:58   #21
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Good ideas.

My inverter also switches on and off when I use the radio at high frequences - would choking the inverter power cables / PC power cable make a difference?
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Old 09-08-2018, 14:26   #22
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

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Good ideas.

My inverter also switches on and off when I use the radio at high frequences - would choking the inverter power cables / PC power cable make a difference?
It's quite likely that proper ferrite clamp/chokes on the cables will improve the situation. With power cables you will want to run the positive and negative leads through the same choke core if you can (this eliminates DC saturation of the cores). I've been using "31" ferrite material (see page 14 of the presentation I gave to the SHTP for more details: http://www.sailvalis.com/presentatio...ons%202012.pdf). There may be better materials out there, but be sure you use something that works well at SSB frequencies.
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Old 10-08-2018, 12:49   #23
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Paul-
I'm guessing the infernal "water contacts" on your EPIRB had been joined by some salty moisture and that tripped it. I can appreciate why they are there but that's why I also prefer "Manual" to mean "It won't do anything until I tell it to."
There was a SAR/SAT false alarm maybe ten years ago when plasma TV's were a big new thing. Apparently someone had just set up a nice big one, and it was transmitting a harmonic that the satellites decided was a distress beacon. The owner got a big knock on his door...sure puzzled everyone for a while.
To cruelly misquote Robert Heinlein, "Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from malevolent spirits."
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Old 10-08-2018, 13:59   #24
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

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Paul-
I'm guessing the infernal "water contacts" on your EPIRB had been joined by some salty moisture and that tripped it.
It was a PLB, manual activation only. I had it inside my PFD (I'm going to call it a lifejacket to avoid TLAO -- Three Letter Acronym Overload), and had apparently leaned too hard on it and had punched something into the PLB near the big red button. There was no visible damage to the lifejacket, but there was a tiny dent in the PLB case. I sent it in to ACR and they replaced it for free, in spite of being out of warranty and with obvious physical abuse.

And the officer at the USCG who called my wife was a real pro. He had to wake her up in the early AM hours to ask if I was at sea, and then made sure to let her know that most of these events were false alarms. After I spoke with the USCG officer I called my wife to let her know we were OK.

It was a good thing that I had a list at my navstation of all the MMSI and serial numbers for my PLBs and EPIRBs -- that way I could quickly confirm that the beacon was one of mine, and who had it (me!). After that, I installed a 121.5 MHz beacon receiver on the boat. That frequency isn't being used for initial notification anymore, but the EPIRBs and PLBs still transmit it for close-in radiolocation. With my receiver I can tell instantly if any nearby beacons are triggered, on purpose, or by accident. I don't want to start a SAR operation should we again accidentally trigger a beacon.

Quote:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from malevolent spirits."
That was an Arthur C. Clarke quote -- "indistinguishable from magic". Your version is pretty appropriate.
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Old 03-09-2018, 15:04   #25
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Hello to all,
I just recently uploaded a couple new videos, showing LIVE, real-world Ship-to-Ship HF-DSC calls...

I've added them to my HF-DSC Playlist...please have a look....(and, please watch the playlist in order, so that it all will make sense)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX



And, for those completely familiar with their radio and with HF-DSC, here are the videos:

"Live, Ship-to-Ship HF-DSC Calling, on GMDSS HF-DSC Calling Freqs"
And, "LIVE, Routine Ship-to-Ship HF-DSC Calling, on ALTERNATIVE HF-DSC Freqs"

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Old 14-11-2018, 04:37   #26
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Great write up John.
Do you have recommendations for connecting the ground of my SGC230 tuner to my aluminium hull.
I know the hull should provide a good earth and you do mention that in the article, but I'd like to stop any corrosion associated with bonding copper foil to aluminium

garry
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Old 14-11-2018, 07:05   #27
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Gary,
1) First off to everyone, to be clear never use "foil"....it is way too fragile for our applications...

2) Secondly (also for everyone), please understand the use / recommendation for use of a wide copper strap is to allow a low-impedance (low RF resistance) connection / path to your antenna ground / RF ground, which is the sea water....
The copper strap (as long as it is fairly short) is actually not intended to be your antenna ground, but just the connection between your tuner and your antenna ground (sea water)...
Although, it does of course have some action as part of your antenna ground, and this is also a secondary reason to use a wide copper strap...

3) Please note that all the talk about "ground", "antenna ground", "rf ground", "counterpoise", etc., is driven by the fact that almost everyone in the past few decades is sailing on non-metallic boat (i.e. fiberglass / GRP)...
Those on steel or aluminum hulled vessels have NO worries here, and their hulls themselves operate as their "antenna ground"....(and also allow an excellent path for the antenna return currents from the sea water, back to the tuner)
So...

So, those with steel or aluminum hulls, do not need any "wide copper strap" at all...
All that is needed is a nice clean (and short) connection from the tuner ground lug, to the hull!!
But, be aware that the should take into account corrosion possibilities!!

Some good news here, for Garry, is that SGC has its tuner's ground lug DC-bypassed (at least they are supposed to be DC-bypassed....so, Garry please confirm this by looking in the manual / schematic, or with SGC directly)....so, stray DC voltages / galvanic corrosion should not be an issue here...


4) As for your direct question....
I will defer to your own expertise in owning an aluminum-hulled vessel....meaning I don't own one, and will not give advice in opposition of that from those that do...so, use your own knowledge here..

Just attach as you would anything else metallic, use a tinned copper terminal / lug (and some tinned copper, insulated marine wire, of appropriate size...12ga is good, but if the length is longer than one foot, use larger wire), to an appropriate bolt / stud, etc...
It is your boat, I've never seen it....so, I don't know where your tuner will be installed (although it should be very near your backstay, and can be screwed to any location that is convenient, as the mounting screws are not a "ground connection", just the "ground terminal" is)
I also recommend a conductive grease here...this is designed for joining dissimilar metals that need to have good electrical contact...
I recommend (and have been using for decades) Penatrox-A....it is messy and is a pain to clean up, so have some paper towels handy....but, it works well and lasts years!


Do not use foil here!
Not only is there no need, it (bare copper) will react with the aluminum....and that will just cause a high-resistance corrosion, etc...
Just use the same type of "ground" connection that anything else in your boat uses to connect to the hull...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gcrothers View Post
Great write up John.
Do you have recommendations for connecting the ground of my SGC230 tuner to my aluminium hull.
I know the hull should provide a good earth and you do mention that in the article, but I'd like to stop any corrosion associated with bonding copper foil to aluminium

garry
Garry, sorry about the confusion....all the talk of using copper strap (never foil, ever!!) is targeted to 99.9% of the rest of cruising boats that are not aluminum or steel...



Fair winds...

John
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Old 14-11-2018, 07:37   #28
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

"Foil"...... My bad, I meant to say strapping.

o.k regarding use of tinned cable and a couple of lugs... I'll go with that then.
Its great to know that the SGC earth is actually isolated, that was a bit of a worry as well, but i didn't want to overload the thread with stuff specific to isolated return electric on aluminium boats.
I'll let you know how I get on when completed.

thanks for the time taken to reply.
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Old 14-11-2018, 13:36   #29
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Hello to all,

I recently got a question from a fellow ham and future cruiser (he's boat shopping now), regarding the Icom M-802 and the Icom IC-7300....and asking my opinion....
So, here is what I sent to him...

~~~~~~~~~



Jeff,
I just saw your message....it was just a profile comment (that I never look at), but then see you are asking a question....and a rather important one at that!!


This might be more than you asked for....but here goes anyway!


Off the top-of-my-head, here are more than 10 things that differentiate the M-802 vs. the IC-7300...




1) First off, while the IC-7300 is becoming the signature ham radio of the decade, let's remember a few things about it, that can be problematic for HF maritime operations, on a boat...especially offshore / in remote locales...



a) It's a ham radio, and of course is not certified for any other radio service....and hence is illegal to use on anything other than the ham radio bands...


b) Being a ham radio (and again not needing to pass any certifications other than harmonic and Part 15) its spectral purity and transmit IMD are not up to the maritime standards, so even if you desired to flaunt the laws and attempt to use the IC-7300 on the marine bands, you'd likely be causing interference to other users..


c) It's an SDR-type radio....which in and of itself isn't a bad thing....but the inherent design means it is a software driven ("defined") radio, and as such can have some rather peculiar problems, as well as the architecture of its design lends itself to be easily updated/improved with new firmware and software....again, not necessarily a bad thing for hams on shore, but for a radio on an offshore boat that is a primary means of safety or distress communications, this is not such a great idea (at least not in my opinion), as it should be designed and built for its purpose not to stroke the egos of hams...


d) The menu-driven approach (especially using a touch screen) isn't very conducive to easy operation on a boat, especially when at sea....and in a tough situation (heavy weather, etc.) trying to use a menu-driven radio is the last thing I would be wanting to try!






2) Of course, the main difference between all "ham" radios and all modern "marine" radios is DSC...Digital Selective Calling...


There are no "ham" radios with DSC....and since DSC (which has been a part of the GMDSS since the 1990's) is the only way you can signal the > 80 HF coast stations and > 450 MF coast stations, and the 10's of thousands of SOLAS-grade ships....and except for signaling the USCG, AMSA, or NZMA (who do still monitor HF-SSB Voice channels) or calling vessels in US waters (who are still required to monitor ch. 16 VHF).....DSC has been the only way to signal anyone on the maritime bands now, for decades!! (of course "SSB Voice communications" is used for two-way communications, to talk/pass traffic, etc., between vessels, ship-to-ship; and ship-to-shore, or shore-to-ship; but this is done after signaling via DSC first, and coordinated via DSC....and then switching to the coordinated SSB Voice channel/frequency)....


Except for the scheduled cruisers' nets (and the aforementioned USCG, AMSA, and NZMA) there is nobody monitoring HF maritime comms with SSB Voice, only HF-DSC....and again this has been the case now for decades (the GMDSS was implemented in the 1990's, being fully operational and required on all SOLAS vessels and all signatory nations Feb, 1st, 1999)...


So, if you want to use the radio for any safety / distress communications, or for most maritime communication, then a MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephone (such as the M-802) is necessary...


Please have a look at these video playlists...where you'll get a good idea of what the GMDSS is and particularly what DSC is and how-it-works...


HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX




Maritime HF Comms (in general)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y




Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2npivDjoFrC-8QKVyMb4tVr




USCG communications page
https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall






3) Next in succession of importance is the design and build reliability of the radio, as well as easy-of-use (even for untrained persons), and simplicity of operation of the M-802 (its crappy manual notwithstanding)....it is an easy radio to use and it performs perfectly on all channels/freqs no matter who is using it....(you really can't screw it up)


See the M-802 Instruction Videos in the playlist above...







4) Then is the fact that it not only works well at "battery voltages" of 12.0dvc (and lower), it actually must maintain its full spec'd performance (meet the FCC Part 80 spec) when operated between 11.5vdc and 15.5vdc....there are no "ham" rigs that can do that....and most ham rigs will shut-down when voltages approach 12vdc....and most will have transmit distortion ("fm'ing") with voltages much below 12.6vdc...and will generally not have proper output at voltages below 13.2vdc...(and remember this is on transmit, at full-power, where you will also have some voltage drop in the DC power wiring....if you use large enough power wiring to keep voltage drop to 3%, at 13volts that is about 0.4 volts....so if your "house voltage is 12.6vdc, at best the voltage at the radio is 12.2vdc, best case scenario...)






5) Of course, "everyone" will say that marine radios are designed for the maritime environment...and they are....but to what extent does that make them "better" than most ham radios?? Well, that's an argument that I haven't solved....but suffice to say that the M-802 is certainly more rugged and better suited for the marine environment that the IC-7300!!


Also, the fact that the M-802 is destined to be used on-board a boat (in close proximity to its antennas and computers, etc.) it is designed to be more RFI protected than most ham rigs, and certainly better than most other consumer electronics....(I cannot compare this aspect directly with the IC-7300, but assume it is at best on par with most ham rigs...)


{understand that I not only have the radio just a dozen feet from the antennas, but that I regularly sit within 1 - 2 feet of the antennas, with the mic (and headphones) on extension cables, and talk on the ham and marine bands, without any interference / RFI / feedback....and while this is a testament to the excellent antenna ground / rf ground I have, it is also a testament to how good the M-802 and AT-140 are....try taking a modern ham rig, place it within 10' of a long (efficient) base-fed vertical wire antenna, and then sit next to the antenna with the mic on a long extension cable as let me know how well it works...}






6) Then you have the "compatibility" of the M-802 to other systems/devices (such as a GPS NMEA input, an external PACTOR modem, etc.)....although these can be used with the IC-7300, they are not as readily plug-n-play as with the M-802...






7) And, while you mentioned the "150 watts" vs."100 watts"....yes, this is only 2db of transmit power difference....but, 2db more power is 2db stronger of a signal....and when signals are marginal, this can make a difference!!



And, please note that the M-802 is rated at 150 watts output, continuous duty, on FSK (100% duty-cycle), as well as SSB/CW, and other digital modes...


And, produces a clean linear signal at 150 watts output....useful for both voice and digital modes...






8) Of course, the M-802 also has the advantage of having its control head (and speaker) remote from the main transceiver unit....this allows mounting the radio (main unit) in a safe location away from salt spray / moisture, and near to the 12vdc power wiring....and still have full 100% control and access to the control head (and speaker, and microphone) where you desire to operate from...
(I actually have a second control head, that I was going to mount out in my cockpit but never did....but, I do have an Icom microphone extension cable and headphone extension cable, that I run up to the cockpit, so I can use the radio while on watch at sea...the mic has "up"/"down" buttons and a separate programmable "control" button you can use to get a lot of functionality of the radio from, while still being 20' away from the control head...)






9) The M-802's built-in IF-DSP-based Speech Compressor is very good....adds significant talk-power and "punch" to your SSB audio, without any distortion at all (and without negatively effecting the radios transmit IMD nor spectral purity!).... Most ham rigs cannot do this...(but, I haven't looked at the IC-7300's speech processor system, but assume it's good??)






10) Although this last item is anecdotal / subjective, I (and others) get unsolicited reports of crisp / clear audio and a very clean signal with the M-802 on the ham bands where so many are used to crappy sounding and dirty signals, the M-802 stands out head-n-shoulders above the ham radios on-the-air!!






I do hope this helps clarify the differences....


Fair winds..


John
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Old 20-11-2018, 13:25   #30
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

The part that helped me the most was the section on getting Wefax on your computer thru HF radio, in video #4 starting at min 12:24 in which John mentions the sources of the programs for your computer.



which is part of this playlist:

Offshore Weather sources
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY

John clued me in (sometimes im clueless ;-) that there are links to all kinds of wefax software programs for any kind of computer here:

NWS Radiofax

No need for a pactor modem :-)

thanks John and blessings

jon ve0xyz
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