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Old 28-04-2013, 22:51   #1
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My SSB Install Was a Breeze

Just wanted to put this out there for anyone who's gotten the twenty page threads about how to install an SSB. I:

- used a KISS ssb counterpoise. Screws on, took a minute.
- used crappy rg8 coax i picked up in a radioshak in mexico because the "real" gto15 doesn't exist in banderas bay.
- bought a used icom m700 pro with tuner for $1000
- wired it. negative to the negative bus bar, positive to the positive house bus.
- attached the antenna feed wire (crappy coax) to my backstay (insulated) with a zip tie


Was on the AmigoNet earlier this morning, probably got a good 600 miles. Not bad for a crumbcake install. I'll noodle with it and get it better over time but this stuff isn't a nuclear reactor.
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Old 28-04-2013, 23:11   #2
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Good deal Eric.

Can you operate the HAM bands or just marine SSB? I'm in the middle of getting a delta loop up and if you have your Ham license that would be incentive for me to finish the install.
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Old 28-04-2013, 23:45   #3
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Just wanted to put this out there for anyone who's gotten the twenty page threads about how to install an SSB. I:

- used a KISS ssb counterpoise. Screws on, took a minute.
- used crappy rg8 coax i picked up in a radioshak in mexico because the "real" gto15 doesn't exist in banderas bay.
- bought a used icom m700 pro with tuner for $1000
- wired it. negative to the negative bus bar, positive to the positive house bus.
- attached the antenna feed wire (crappy coax) to my backstay (insulated) with a zip tie


Was on the AmigoNet earlier this morning, probably got a good 600 miles. Not bad for a crumbcake install. I'll noodle with it and get it better over time but this stuff isn't a nuclear reactor.
You should replace the coax between tuner and backstay with a regular, non-shielded wire. This wire is part of your antenna and thus should not be shielded. Some regular DC cable will do, AWG8-AWG16 or so, doesn't matter much.
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Old 28-04-2013, 23:49   #4
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
You should replace the coax between tuner and backstay with a regular, non-shielded wire. This wire is part of your antenna and thus should not be shielded. Some regular DC cable will do, AWG8-AWG16 or so, doesn't matter much.
I worked in radio in college and we always ran really shielded stuff up until the aerial itself. I'd think I'd want to concentrate that signal to the backstay rather than having it transmit near metal and other obvious interference sources as it works its way out of the boat.

?
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Old 28-04-2013, 23:51   #5
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

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Originally Posted by deckofficer View Post
Good deal Eric.

Can you operate the HAM bands or just marine SSB? I'm in the middle of getting a delta loop up and if you have your Ham license that would be incentive for me to finish the install.
Well the radio works on HAM but no call sign for me (or Charlotte). We've got the book and are going to do the test in La Paz. Yeah for sure man, figure another few months and I should be a real no-kidding HAM guy and hopefully my install will be tweaked enough.
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Old 29-04-2013, 00:01   #6
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

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Well the radio works on HAM but no call sign for me (or Charlotte). We've got the book and are going to do the test in La Paz. Yeah for sure man, figure another few months and I should be a real no-kidding HAM guy and hopefully my install will be tweaked enough.
Cool, that way I'll get to hear yours, Charlotte's, and the little surfer girl's voice in real time.
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Old 29-04-2013, 00:01   #7
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
You should replace the coax between tuner and backstay with a regular, non-shielded wire. This wire is part of your antenna and thus should not be shielded. Some regular DC cable will do, AWG8-AWG16 or so, doesn't matter much.
Not necessarily true. The backstay is usually pre-measured between the insulators and used as a random wire. To use an unshielded wire would almost be a di-pole. I say almost because you probably would not match the random length.
I use shielded so the tuner only see's the random wire and like the OP, works great.
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Old 29-04-2013, 00:04   #8
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Just wanted to put this out there for anyone who's gotten the twenty page threads about how to install an SSB. I:

- used a KISS ssb counterpoise. Screws on, took a minute.
- used crappy rg8 coax i picked up in a radioshak in mexico because the "real" gto15 doesn't exist in banderas bay.
- bought a used icom m700 pro with tuner for $1000
- wired it. negative to the negative bus bar, positive to the positive house bus.
- attached the antenna feed wire (crappy coax) to my backstay (insulated) with a zip tie


Was on the AmigoNet earlier this morning, probably got a good 600 miles. Not bad for a crumbcake install. I'll noodle with it and get it better over time but this stuff isn't a nuclear reactor.
Hi eric...If I could make one suggestion which would be a quick addition would be to maybe try and couple to the ground plane, a copper ribbon to a thru-hull. You may find an additional boost to your signal...Good job!
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Old 29-04-2013, 00:13   #9
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Sure, shielded it must be. How did I get so crazy to suggest unshielded is beyond me. Only on CF...

You may want to check what kind of wire GTO is though...
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Old 29-04-2013, 12:37   #10
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Congratulations!!!!
The Ham exam was mostly memory for me but if you keep going through the hundreds of questions/answers you'll do ok. Take the Technician and General at the same time so you can talk long distance and use your 700. Lots of very experienced Ham folks on here which I'm not one of. Just a newbie to radio myself.
kind regards,
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Old 29-04-2013, 12:55   #11
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You DO NOT want to use coax from the output terminal of the tuner to the base of the random wire for good reason. If you look at the specifications of any coax it will tell you it's capacitance in pF per foot. By using coax from the tuner to the random wire you are adding capacitive resistance to the antenna which the tuner must overcome at the cost of efficiency and heat.

There is a reason GTO is used and not coax because coax is just one big capacitor.

Yes you want shielded coax up to the tuner but the dipole starts at the tuner. Just imagine the tuner as in the middle of a dipole hanging in the air. By using that shielded coax your basically adding a capacitor in one leg of your dipole.

Your antenna is still a dipole so to speak its just the random wire is one side and the kiss counter poise radial is the other.
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Old 29-04-2013, 13:05   #12
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

First of all, good job on getting your system up and running. As you say, it's not rocket science.

But I suggest you do use unshielded cable from the tuner to the backstay. The backstay is *not* usually precisely cut to a specific tuned length, and if it was, it would be exactly the wrong length for other frequencies. Using shielded cable between the tuner and the backstay adds a shunt capacitance to the antenna, and probably still radiates due to the open shield at the backstay end. The tuner will probably be still be able to tune with this excess capacitance, but at some frequencies it may make the job tougher and the tuner losses higher.

Instead, use unshielded wire (or don't connect the coax shield at either end, or strip off the shield and use just the center conductor of the coax). Keep the wire away from other cables or metal surfaces as best you can.

You obviously need coax between the radio and the tuner.

This isn't black magic, or internet stupidity. It's R.F. engineering. With radio stuff you can get away with a lot of compromises and still make contacts, but there's no reason to make it harder than necessary.

[edit: Jedi and SeaBuffalo said the same thing, only better]
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Old 29-04-2013, 13:27   #13
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

I took a memory course in Napa, Ca. for 2 1/2 hours where we would memorize the answers for the General and immediately write the test. I didn't pass with flying colors but I did pass.
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Old 29-04-2013, 13:34   #14
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
First of all, good job on getting your system up and running. As you say, it's not rocket science.

But I suggest you do use unshielded cable from the tuner to the backstay. The backstay is *not* usually precisely cut to a specific tuned length, and if it was, it would be exactly the wrong length for other frequencies. Using shielded cable between the tuner and the backstay adds a shunt capacitance to the antenna, and probably still radiates due to the open shield at the backstay end. The tuner will probably be still be able to tune with this excess capacitance, but at some frequencies it may make the job tougher and the tuner losses higher.

Instead, use unshielded wire (or don't connect the coax shield at either end, or strip off the shield and use just the center conductor of the coax). Keep the wire away from other cables or metal surfaces as best you can.

You obviously need coax between the radio and the tuner.

This isn't black magic, or internet stupidity. It's R.F. engineering. With radio stuff you can get away with a lot of compromises and still make contacts, but there's no reason to make it harder than necessary.

[edit: Jedi and SeaBuffalo said the same thing, only better]
There are specific lengths that the back stay should be cut to, so I don't know where "*not* usually precisely cut to a specific tuned length" comes from. By using unshielded cable, you are essentially increasing the length of the antenna. I do agree with you however of using the coax but not the shield. I should have been more explicate. I only meant to use the inner wire of the coax and let the shield act as an RF insulator. Hope this clears it up a little.
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Old 29-04-2013, 14:58   #15
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Re: my ssb install was a breeze

Hey Eric,

I'm about 2 weeks away from installing a marine/ham radio on our boat. We are not cruising Mexico yet (plan is 2014), so I wanted to be able to remove the radio and antenna from the boat. To continue the installation discussion, here's what I'm doing (I think I'm on the right track),

- I'm not ready to cut the backstay and install insulators. Bought about 50' of insulated lifeline wire to use as an antenna. Mounted a small block at the top of the mast and ran a leader line to raise/lower the antenna. I'll probably cut the antenna down to about 38'-40', raise/lower using the leader line, and secure to the taffrail. That way I can remove when not using.

- Run GTO-15 from the antenna to the tuner. GTO-15 is 14 gauge wire with non-conductive insulation, used for high-voltage situations (think neon signs, auto ignitions). For testing, I'll loop through the aft locker. Eventually, I'll install a cable-clam to run the GTO-15 through the deck. The idea is to keep the length of the GTO-15 from tuner to radio as short as possible. Others have said you could just use 14 gauge wire.

- Use the KISS-SSB. Although there's controversy and skeptics, the simplicity and ease of installation make this a no-brainer. As others have suggested, I may run additional copper foil to the strut bolt (my thru-hulls are all marelon).

- I'll run 8 AWG wire from the house batteries, through MRBF 30AMP fuses, both positive and negative to the radio. It seems easier to attach the MRBF holders to the battery than using ANL blocks, fuses, etc. The radio has power plug connectors, so I can attach power as necessary. A lot has been written about connecting the radio power directly to the battery and fusing both positive and negative. I'm still wanting to wire the positive on the switched side of the master switch, though I'll probably just wire to the battery (due to space considerations, it is easier).

- From the radio to the tuner is 4 conductor + ground shielded wire. Wiring was specific to the radio and tuner. This controls the automatic tuning between the radio and tuner.

- For the HF radio output, I'm thinking about 20' RG-213/U and PL-259 connectors. My next challenge is finding a good source for premade cable or try my hand at soldering the ends.

I agree with you, the installation doesn't seem to be "rocket science", though there are a lot of details to consider. My biggest challenge is where to mount the radio and how to secure the tuner in the back of the boat. I'm planning on mounting the radio behind the companionway in the aft cabin. This is usually used for storage, the radio will be safe/dry and easily accessible. If I come across an ICOM 802 with remote panel, I may reconsider moving this to the nav station but the full-size radio doesn't fit nicely. To mount the tuner, I'll probably glue mounting blocks using 5200 inside the stern locker - probably this week.

I want to make sure all this is going to work before drilling holes for wires and mounting the radio. Depending on the RG-213/U cable, I may have this running next week!

If you are interested, perhaps we could setup a time to try to connect (on the ham band). That would be about 1000 miles!

Don
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