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Old 10-05-2008, 07:33   #16
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Thanks Chuck,

I've looked on the forum for more info about dyna plates from people that have them but can't find anything. Could you please elaborate some on their use? I'm still trying to conquer this Ham thing before I figure out the best installation. Do they totally eliminate a counter poise?
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Old 15-06-2008, 07:43   #17
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Hi ,
maybe this helpīs .
Grounding is as important as the antenna itself since it is the antipole to the antenna. The performance of your SSBequipment - reception and transmission - will be insufficient without good grounding. Steel- and aluminium - vessels bring about optimum grounding properties as for their metal characteristics. Even when an antifouling coating is applied, grounding is realised by capacitive coupling to seawater (capacitive grounding). It is a much greater challenge to properly ground a GRP – yacht. This can only be realised when allowing for a short cable connection from the tuner to a maximum sized ground plane.
Using dynaplates / sea ground is only a short-term solution to this problem as they start to corrode after a while. Shells and algae add to the problem of loosing effectiveness.
SSB-ground-paint should be applied inside the vessel below the waterline near the antenna – tuner. This also allows for capacitive coupling to seawater. A surface area of about 3qm should be painted for good results. This installation has three major advantages: Firstly, the tuner can be located close to the ground plane. Secondly, we can couple a rather huge area to seawater, and thirdly, the coated area is not susceptible for environmental effects that would lead to corrosion, hence it is maintenance free.
SSB-ground-paint is solvent-free and can easily be applied in the abaft area under the bunks in the bilge. Over coating with conventional spar varnish for conservation is unproblematic. The antenna – tuner is connected to SSB-ground-paint with the help of a broad embedded copper strap. SSB-ground-paint is no lightning protection.



Best regards Joerg SV-Harrier
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Old 15-06-2008, 08:06   #18
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Thanks for the advice.

I just came back from a trip, and I'm close to giving up on SSB. I simply can't get rid of the static (4-5 bars out of 10 on virtually every channel). I tested this in a quiet anchorage, far away from all possible HF interference. I shut down everything on my boat before testing this, including generator, inverter, etc.

The only thing I still don't have is good grounding. However, I'm hesitant to spend more time and money on this. Does the grounding really have any impact on all the static I get? I don't want to install a dynaplate or paint my boat's interior with a special SSB paint, only to later discover that I still get lots of static...
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Old 15-06-2008, 10:02   #19
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DeepSeaNine:

Disclaimer...I do this for a living.

The easiest way to set up a decent, if not ideal, ground is to connect a wide copper strap from the tuner ground lug to the nearest bronze thru hull, which is not otherwise connected to the boat's DC ground system (i.e., not bonded). Keep this run as short as is humanly possible.

If you can't connect to an unbonded thru-hull for some reason, another approach is to use 1/4-wave radials. For temporary checking, cut yourself one or two such radials, using any kind of insulated wire, and run them along your decks or somewhere belowdecks. Insulate the ends...they are HOT when transmitting. Figure the lengths by the formula Length in feet = 234/freq in MHz. E.g., for the Cruisheimers net on 6.227 mHz, the radial should be 234/6.227 = 37.6 feet long. Length isn't critical, but should be close. With a single such radial for the band in use, the radio should tune up immediately.

Your radio should be able to tune up on all marine bands with this setup. I believe you mentioned earlier you had a rather short antenna. A 23' whip is better.

As for the static, if you still get it at anchor you can bet that the problem is being internally generated on your boat. This can be fairly simple to fix -- switch everything off, both AC and DC (I'm assuming your radio is connected directly to the house battery bank as it should be).

See if there's a noticeable reduction in static. If so, then start switching things on, one by one, and checking static levels. The usual culprits are digital voltmeters, frig compressors, computers, alternators (if the engine is running), and other computer-run devices.

Remember, too, that the 802 needs to be tuned to the frequency you're listening to. Check that it is.

Unfortunately, static caused by local interference on your boat can also be much more complicated than the above. In fact, it can be a real bitch to find and correct. You may have ground loops, grounding problems, poor connections, and all sorts of other things going on -- not pleasant at all to track down.

Don't give up on SSB. It's a wonderful tool, and thousands of boaters before you have managed to get good installations. Takes a bit of learning, a bit of trial and error, and a lot of patience :-)

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 15-06-2008, 10:31   #20
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As for the static, if you still get it at anchor you can bet that the problem is being internally generated on your boat. This can be fairly simple to fix -- switch everything off, both AC and DC (I'm assuming your radio is connected directly to the house battery bank as it should be).
I switched off everything, but still get static

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See if there's a noticeable reduction in static. If so, then start switching things on, one by one, and checking static levels. The usual culprits are digital voltmeters, frig compressors, computers, alternators (if the engine is running), and other computer-run devices.
No reduction in static, with everything switched off. I have one digital voltmeter which I cannot switch off (except if I would connect the SSB directly to the battery bank), but other than that, there's nothing.

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Remember, too, that the 802 needs to be tuned to the frequency you're listening to. Check that it is.
I'm not sure what you mean here. What do I need to do in particular? I simply select the frequency with the dial, and I use the automatic antenna tuner.

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Unfortunately, static caused by local interference on your boat can also be much more complicated than the above. In fact, it can be a real bitch to find and correct. You may have ground loops, grounding problems, poor connections, and all sorts of other things going on -- not pleasant at all to track down.

Don't give up on SSB. It's a wonderful tool, and thousands of boaters before you have managed to get good installations. Takes a bit of learning, a bit of trial and error, and a lot of patience :-)
Yes, I really would like to use the SSB! But right now I'm stuck. I really don't know what else I could try.

Thanks,
Marc
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Old 15-06-2008, 15:08   #21
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Marc,

1. Power to the radio. It seems from your responses that your radio is not directly connected to the battery bank. It should be. It should not go thru a panel. You should connect it directly to the battery bank, using #8 AWG wire for the average run (or larger if your run is long). Put two fuses in line, one each on the positive and the negative leads, located close to the battery.

2. Connections, both RF and DC. These are the source of much trouble in radio installations on boats. Be absolutely sure your PL-259 plugs are properly installed (without shorts or open circuits), and that everything is clean and tight. If your coax isn't new, replace it. Check all DC connections; make sure they are clean and tight. Check the control circuits between the radio and the tuner, being sure everything is correctly installed and that connections are clean and tight.

3. Remove power to all onboard devices except the radio and bilge pumps. Turn off the digital voltmeter. In fact, when you have the radio wired correctly (directly to the batteries), you can turn off the main power switch to ensure that nothing is on (except the bilge pumps which also should be wired directly to the batteries).

4. Now test for static. Tune your radio to, say, 6227 mHz. Make sure it's not busy. Tune up your 802 on this frequency, by pressing the "Tune Thru" button for few seconds. You should see the "tuned" message go on. If it blinks, there's been a tuning error. (Review the instructions in the Quick Reference section, page iii of the 802 manual.) Now, note the level of static. Turn the main switch on. Note any change in static level. Then, one by one, turn on each of the breakers, and the switches, and note changes in static level.

5. Evaluate results so far. Did you notice any changes in static level? If so, you're on the way to identifying the culprit(s). If you did not notice any difference whatsoever, then you must have some other onboard source of RF interference, and it will likely take an electronics guy to track it down. A talented ham operator with the right equipment (RF sniffer) might be able to help.

6. Compare results. Find someone on a nearby boat with an SSB, and see if you can do a comparison just listening about on different bands. Propagation conditions vary by time of day, sunspot behavior, and other factors. It's perfectly possible with a well-functioning radio to have nothing but static one minute, and a few minutes later to be able to hear stations quite clearly. Give it some time, and be sure of your results.

7. Murphy Lives! It's perfectly possible, though unlikely, that your 802 itself is the problem. If you have another HF radio close at hand, or can borrow one (check with a local ham), you can test that out pretty quickly.

Hang in there. It will get better :-)

Bill
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Old 15-06-2008, 17:29   #22
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You can make a temporary ground by attaching one end of a roll of aluminum foil to the tuner ground point, and throwing the rest in the water--if that doesn't improve things, the ground is not your (only) problem.

One of the worst cases of local noise I ever found was from a Digital voltmeter...you should be able to diconnect the wire to it to check for noise.

Also try disconnecting your antenna while listening to the radio--If you can hear garbled voices, see if disconnecting the antenna makes the voices go away. Try listening to WWV on 5.0, 7.5, or 10 mhz to see if you hear their clock ticking.
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Old 15-06-2008, 17:43   #23
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On the static... it can be generated by things that aren't even electronic in nature. I ran bicycle-mobile HF for a while, back in the day, and I had one wheel bearing that gave me trouble... the constant make-and-break of metal touching metal with a spinning insulated thing was enough to create a headache. On a boat, there could be all sorts of things doing this. Wire in the air (rigging) can develop a static charge, and the steady movement of the boat could be creating noise at toggles and other places where thin oxide layers translate into intermittencies.

Just a guess, this, but an interesting data point would be the difference in your static observations in perfectly still air/water versus bouncy stuff.

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Old 15-06-2008, 21:21   #24
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Remember that there is *always* static on the air, being generated by distant lightning, etc, etc. If you pick this up, it means your receiver is *working*. Perhaps you are just receiving good old atmospheric noise.

Also, radio receivers generate their own internal noise. If you have no external signals, the radio will increase its gain (AGC, Automatic Gain Control) until the internal noise becomes the limiting factor. All radios have noise, even a resistor has noise, this is just physics. When you plug in the antenna, the atmospheric noise should override the internal noise.

Try disconnecting the antenna cable from the radio. Does the static go away? if so, then it is either locally generated by stuff on or around the boat, or is probably atmospheric noise. Try some of the suggestions here to eliminate the local sources (although it sounds like you've done a pretty good job of this already). Often local interference has a characteristic modulation (hum, click, buzz, beep, etc.) to it that can help you track it down.

If the static doesn't go away, it is possible that you have a broken radio. You could swap in a known-good receiver and see if it picks up signals that your radio can't, or you can take the radio to a service shop and have it tested. You could also have a broken antenna system (tuner, connections, etc).

Finally, different frequencies work better than others, depending on the time of day, the location of the other station, and the sunspot cycle. Do some research or get some advice as to the frequencies to try (apologies if you already know this stuff). This can make a huge difference.
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Old 16-06-2008, 08:02   #25
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My apologies if this is too simple, but MAYBE the squelch to turned off/down etc and it is just receiver noise rather than RFI/EMI.
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Old 16-06-2008, 12:33   #26
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I simply can't get rid of the static (4-5 bars out of 10 on virtually every channel). I tested this in a quiet anchorage, far away from all possible HF interference. I shut down everything on my boat before testing this, including generator, inverter, etc.
...
If you are constantly seeing 4-5 bars of signal strength on the 802, this is not from general atmospheric noise, nor is it from a lack of a ground connection. You've either got interference from something else on board, your gain is turned down, or there's a problem with the rig.

Eric
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Old 17-06-2008, 13:02   #27
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One other suggestion (reinforcing Bill's suggestions above), if you haven't already done it - fully shut down the inverter/charger. My Prosine 2.0 spews RF noise well into UHF, even when not connected to shore power. Coupled with high standby current and occasional fault modes that suck down the battery, its days on my boat are numbered.

Cheers,
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Old 17-06-2008, 14:27   #28
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The easiest way to connect for good SSB radio on a ship is using a dipole antenna. This eliminates all the copper foil/paint/dynaplate problems.

Using a mono-pole backstay for an antenna or any mono-pole the water has to compensate for the missing pole (this is called counterpoise). The SS backstay is also very poor as a receiving/transmitting element.

Using a copper dipole eleminates the need for counterpoise copper grounding system and is a far better receiving/transmitting element.

If you use SSB for weather or mail just cut the dipole to the correct lengths for minimum SWR at that frequency and no antenna tuner is required $$$.

These dipoles are usually installed in an inverted V on the main mast (feed point) and ends tied to pulpit and pushpit but can be tied off anyware to clear sails. Main rcv/xmit is athwartship.

If you want to use entire 3-30 Mhz band then go through the antenna tuner for best SWR across the band.

Dan DiTucci
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Old 17-06-2008, 14:39   #29
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I missed one thing on the dipole. Its made from about 1/2 diameter with a 14 gauge copper center conductor. You don't have to worry about touching the outer cover even when transmitting like the backstay antenna. Anyone having problems with their SSB should make up one for an emergency spare or test antenna. Just tie the antenna from forestay to backstay and plud directly into the radio. Will eliminated alot of where is the problem to look next.

Dan DiTucci
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Old 21-06-2008, 10:59   #30
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Thanks guys for all the advice. Unfortunately, I don't have time to try this out in the next weeks, but I will do more "experiments" later this year. The first thing I'll do is to connect the radio directly to the batteries, so that I can bypass all power distribution panels (and shut those off, too). Then I will also separate the transceiver from the tuner, as I understand that they have to be placed farther away from each other (they are currently placed directly next to each other). If it then still doesn't work (i.e., if there is still a lot of static), then I don't know what I could try next, as I have implemented all the other suggestions already.

-- Marc
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