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Old 25-02-2017, 07:58   #1
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Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

Just dropped the mast for a quick refit on our Hunter 380. While it is down I want to get a new VHF/UHF antenna, a long distance wifi antenna, HD tv, and prep wiring for for anything additional we might want when it goes to the coast.

Looking for suggestions and input. Looking forward to all the upgrades and thanks in advance

Ron
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Old 25-02-2017, 08:39   #2
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

There are whole articles covering what you should consider, upgrade and maintenance wise, when taking down your stick.

I would consider replacing ALL the existing wiring in the mast, depending on the boat's age. I would certainly consider replacing the VHF cable; if you're having reception/transmit issues it's probably the cable and it's fittings, not the antenna.

I'd also replace any nav/deck lights with LED units. Huge energy savings, particularly your anchor light.

It's a good opportunity to inspect every fittings, sheave, etc. on the mast. Deal with corrosion, removing fittings and refastening with Tef-gel after dealing with the corrosion.
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Old 25-02-2017, 08:51   #3
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

That is exactly what I'm wanting to do. I am hoping that I can pass up some of the learning curve with some suggestions on brands and what to look for. It is a 1999 model so I am looking at replacing all the wiring with new. The boat still has the ST60 equipment and wondering if it wouldnt be wise to just upgrade the the instruments and AP. I would want to keep the drive unit if possible.
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Old 25-02-2017, 09:05   #4
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

The antenna wire definitely goes; coax and coax connctors are just too sensitive to corrosion. While you're at it, up grade from RG-58 to RG-8 or RG-213. One possible savings: virtually every incandescent bulb now has an LED replacement, so if your masthead and spreader lights are in good shape, you can simply substitute new bulbs.
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Old 25-02-2017, 09:24   #5
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dallasron View Post
That is exactly what I'm wanting to do. I am hoping that I can pass up some of the learning curve with some suggestions on brands and what to look for. It is a 1999 model so I am looking at replacing all the wiring with new. The boat still has the ST60 equipment and wondering if it wouldnt be wise to just upgrade the the instruments and AP. I would want to keep the drive unit if possible.
- Make sure you buy marine grade wire, of course. If you go with LED fixtures, you can use thinner wire, which is in turn both less expensive and easier to pull through

- Use heat shrink connectors and put heat shrink on top of them. Can't have too much protection

- Take a good look at your mast step when the mast is down. If you see any corrosion, such as around stainless bolts through an aluminum step, pull it and investigate, and address what you find.

- I personally detest Praymarine stuff but if the equipment is working there may be little reason to replace it. However, if you expect to move to N2K in future, now's a good time to start. Can personally recommend the B&G Triton instrument package, $1500 for the whole shebang at Defender. Amazing functionality.
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Old 25-02-2017, 09:35   #6
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

Worth having a read of this thread:

Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

The VHF antenna and coax is just one of those thing worth doing the research and buying quality items, not the cheap and chearful stuff in the chandlers. Its not so much about range but about achieving clear comms at distance.

The thread was started by Dockead and I have since listened to him talk to the coastguard some 80 miles away using low power. The difference was a really good antenna on top of a very tall mast, so it does pay to buy quality.

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Old 25-02-2017, 10:56   #7
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

What the fella's have said so far, plus:
- Run conduit for all of your wiring if there isn't any in the mast already.
- Even if you don't choose to replace your masthead instruments now, take a look at what you have in terms of wiring up there for them now, & ensure that it'll be compatible with the next generation of instruments. That way if you want to swap them 18mos. from now, all you need do is change out the instruments, & not the wire along ith.
- Is your boat wired for spreader lights, & a loudhailer speaker at the spreaders? If not, run sufficient wiring for such anyway.
- Once you've figured out how many, & what types of wires you need to support your current systems. Then add a couple of extra sets of wiring along with. That way when you want to add something up there 6mos or 2yrs from now, the wiring's already in place.

Check every, & all fittings that hold up the mast. Both shrouds, & stays, along with everything that connects to them on both ends. Dye penetrant's your new friend, as is a pencil sized pocket microscope. Such as at www.BrionToss.com Mine's an old 50x job about the size of a cigarette, & damned handy.

Oh, & if you're feeling industrious you can rig some long leads for your multimeter so that you can use it's resistance measuring capability to check for corrosion in wiring.

PS: Blue Loctite, & Tefgel are now your favorite new "cosmetics". And self ectching primer's your new "hair spray". Use it as your base coat where ever you need to touch up your mast's finish.

Ah, I almost forgot. You may wish to add a bail or two so that should you want to hang another halyard later without dropping the mast, you'll hve room to attach a block for it with little effort. Ditto on inletting for, & installing a spare sheave box either near the masthead, or where a staysail stay might get attached.
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Old 25-02-2017, 12:57   #8
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

EDIT: I forgot to mention this earlier. But be sure to mask (with waterproof tape), & label everything on the mast, as well as that you remove from it. Even down to organizing your fasteners for each subassembly in their own labelled ziploc bag. It really, really helps later on, or if the project gets interrupted. As do notes & sketches taken during the unstepping, & subsequent disassembly. And take pics, lots of'em!
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Old 26-02-2017, 08:39   #9
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

Putting that many aerials together in one place could run into interference issues. If you check the specs most aerials have a separation requirement (usually 1m or so to avoid this. Would also say that any aerials the do not require max hight should not be on the masthead, It's the most inaccessible place on the boat! You will not be getting 30+ miles from wifi and TV transmission is usually from very high masts so receiver hight is not that critical. I would put the VHF on the masthead and the rest on a stern arch. It is worth temporarily setting aerials up to check reception at different locations if possible. Don't forget that running cables together (especially mixing transmitting and reception) can induce signals in receivers which can cause both interference and damage even on low power transmitters. The losses in mast head wiring can also be a factor if the kit is not designed for remote aerials which could be an issue with the Wifi. Not saying it wont work just wanted to point out some things you may want to check.
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Old 26-02-2017, 08:55   #10
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

Did this two years ago. Replaced all of the rigging, all of the electrical wires in the mast, the steaming light, and put a Stecktronix combo NAV and anchor LED light on top. Also replaced the ST60+ wind wire and base, and the wand. Went with a Vesper combination VHF/AIS antenna to replace the regular VHF antenna at top of mast.

At the time, we were also installing 4G radar on lower spreader. Didn't have room in the OEM conduit, so they added another conduit and a nice mounting plate for the radar dome. Frankly, if you only have one conduit, you might consider adding another for any future wires. The alternative is to have wire slapping in the mast, and nothing is more unnerving when trying to sleep at anchor.

Finally, have the rigger inspect the welds. Especially around mast sheaves, and spreaders. Its difficult to find a good welder for aluminum - its impossible to find one willing to do it from a bosuns chair! If any of your sheaves are plastic, just go ahead and replace them.
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Old 26-02-2017, 10:02   #11
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
One possible savings: virtually every incandescent bulb now has an LED replacement, so if your masthead and spreader lights are in good shape, you can simply substitute new bulbs.
No, No, No, NO, that is the dumbest thing to do. I have had near misses with invisible boats because of those replacement bulbs. They don't work!

Replace the whole lantern and make sure it is no Chinese crap but a lantern with a Wheel-mark or NOA certificate. Lanterns are tested and issued certificates that are valid only if the prescribed bulb is used, and for good reason.

LED replacements are out of the focus of the lens preventing the light to be bundled. That means far less light is emitted, and in dual- or tri-colour lights the colour areas will overlap. Meanwhile test have proven my statements.

Then there is the colour filtering by the lens. The filter build in to the lens often has another centre wavelength as the wavelength emitted by the LED. (LED's are monochromatic!) This is another cause of lower light emissions by LED bulb replacements. Note that a white LED does not exist, it is a combination of three monochromatic colours that we perceive as white. This means that even a white LED's have problems with the conventional filters build in to the lantern lenses.

Purpose build LED lanterns have a different lens construction so that the hart of the LED, where the light is actually emitted, is again in the focal point of the lantern's lens. And the lens has no colour filtering. The LED itself is red, green or white. I am aware of the higher cost of LED lanterns, and I don't understand why they are more expensive, but money is no reason to compromise on safety IMHO.

But if you persist in doing the wrong thing, at least don't advertise it. It is dangerous!
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Old 26-02-2017, 10:25   #12
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

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No, No, No, NO, that is the dumbest thing to do. I have had near misses with invisible boats because of those replacement bulbs. They don't work!
Aye to that. Just a few days ago I pointed out to a neighboring boat that their anchor light was virtually useless. The owner was quite upset, stating that he had just put an LED bulb into an existing fitting.

Also, there have been reports of LED bulbs in masthead fixtures causing VHF reception interference.

With a purpose-built LED fixture you avoid both potential problems.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:04   #13
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

My mast is down, I have replaced the VHF with 213 coaxial cable, It has copper cored internal wires, Not a single hard drawn wire, So should be better to handle the movements and flex in use,
New VHF Aerial, Changed from Metz as it has a few bits missing off the top of the pot, Insulation cap,
New one is 150 mhz with one metre stainless whip aerial, Made in Geelong, Australia,
I have had to use the VHF in an emergency, So I want my VHF to be the best I can get,
$62-00 Delivered,

New 360 degree white and tricolour mast head light, I broke it getting the mast down,
It had led bulbs in it, I had no problems seeing the light from a long way off, Original light came with ordinary bulbs,

St 60 wind instruments had been hit by lightning some time in the past, The wind instrument didnt work, It had a burnt earth wire in it,
So new cables for that all the way thru,

Still toying with the idea to get rid of the Radar, Its not working the best or at all, I did have it reset in Qld but a big ship half a mile off my transom was a very small dot on the screen, Maybe its still not set up right,

You will find the prices fluctuate wildly, I finally paid just under $100-00 delivered for the Tri colour light, Comes from the USA, Oh shock horror, Its made in China,
It is a certified light,
The same light starts at $240-00 here and I have seen it listed for over $700-00.
So shop around for all your gear,
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:35   #14
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Putting that many aerials together in one place could run into interference issues. If you check the specs most aerials have a separation requirement (usually 1m or so to avoid this. Would also say that any aerials the do not require max hight should not be on the masthead, It's the most inaccessible place on the boat! You will not be getting 30+ miles from wifi and TV transmission is usually from very high masts so receiver hight is not that critical. I would put the VHF on the masthead and the rest on a stern arch. It is worth temporarily setting aerials up to check reception at different locations if possible. Don't forget that running cables together (especially mixing transmitting and reception) can induce signals in receivers which can cause both interference and damage even on low power transmitters. The losses in mast head wiring can also be a factor if the kit is not designed for remote aerials which could be an issue with the Wifi. Not saying it wont work just wanted to point out some things you may want to check.
This is all excellent information, in particular the parts about wifi.

In my installations on very large super yachts we see wifi antenna on their masts frequently and the controlling device always has trouble connecting to marina / other shore wifi and the engineers are constantly frustrated by it.

There are several problems.

* Loss in wiring - They're running a coax cable some 60' up a mast, not counting any terminations and patching on both ends.

* The ship's antenna is actually ABOVE the shore access point's coverage area - most wireless access points have much stronger signal horizontally out from the antenna, rather than in a dome around it. If the shore antenna is 20' above the ground on a pole, and the access point covers 40' vertical, don't put your antenna 80' above the water and park right next to the access point ...

* Expectation that a stronger antenna will improve connection strength and range - it's only as good as the other side. If the shore access point is a piece of junk, no matter what you do it's not going to get any better.

* The technology is only so tolerant - even if both sides have massive antenna, the technology isn't designed for extremely long range transmissions out of the box. The client and server hardware will need to be configured for the increased latency. We've connected two ships over about 5 miles, but each end had to be specifically tuned in R/F and configured in 802.11g protocol in order for them to link and pass data.

My recommendation from experience is to get some kind of inexpensive wifi bridge and mount it in your salon near a window. That way it's protected from weather, at a reasonable elevation, and you haven't broken the bank setting up a system that's over engineered. If you can, get one that does 2.4Ghz AND 5Ghz. Many of the areas I've been for work recently have had both, and 2.4Ghz is so over saturated that it barely functions, while the 5Ghz seems to be virtually unused, not to mention 2.4Ghz has overlapping channels and 5Ghz does not.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:49   #15
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Re: Mast is down for refit,,,Antenna ???

When I rewired my mast, I fabricated a bracket under my radar to hold a hailer horn. It is part of the radar bracket and the horn is tucked away under the radar where it does not foul lines. So I can use my VHF's fog signal and PA functions. If you do not want a hailer, you might want an electric horn or an electric air horn.
If you do not have foredeck and spreader lights (flood lights), this is a good time to install some. New LEDs use about a tenth as much power as older floodlights and usually do not burn out within our lifetime.

I also installed small blocks and lines for flags under the spreaders.

Even more important, I replaced every sheave with new custom-made sheaves sized for my halyards. Also installed an extra block for a spare spinnaker halyard.
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