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Old 09-03-2013, 07:24   #16
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
I know the paint on my mast is in horrible state... it was struck by lightning twice before I got it

here is the 5400-xt in black of-course:


clearance with windex:


final SWR testing before heatshrink goes on:


Cabling with coax connectors and heatshrink; you have to shorten the cable that comes out the antenna:


Antenna has standard 1" threads so a real sturdy base can be used. Check out corrosion around base: this is where a strobe light used to be...

(and my masthead running backstays are also on this pic I see!)
Very useful; this should be a sticky! Thanks!
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:26   #17
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

Nick, what kind of coax are you using up there?
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:47   #18
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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Nick, what kind of coax are you using up there?
It is Ancor marine grade, either RG-8U or RG213. For new installations you should use RG213. Get one that is tinned like the Ancor. The connectors are gold-plated. Expensive but it has been up there for 8 years now without trouble, which make it worth it. Make sure they are of the soldering kind and use at least a 100W iron to solder the outer braid. The center conductor also needs 60W minimum; this is heavy gauge cable.

About a whip versus fiberglass: I don't hit bridges for the rest it is more sturdy than a whip... bout 100 times as much. The whole idea with the loaded coil and mickey mouse bracket, when you compare that to the simple beauty of a bronze vertical dipole suspended inside a fiberglass rod, mounted with a solid stainless 1" thread; there is no comparison between the two. The difference will be noticed by anyone, it really is that much better.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:01   #19
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The antenna matters a bit
Good feed line at least as much
RG213 is a good start
LMR400 with N connectors will give at least 25% more power to the antenna
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:17   #20
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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Originally Posted by Scott Berg View Post
The antenna matters a bit
Good feed line at least as much
RG213 is a good start
LMR400 with N connectors will give at least 25% more power to the antenna
The difference at 150 MHz is 1dB per 100' of cable 1.8dB instead of 2.8dB so yes more power gets to the antenna, but I doubt it will be noticeable at more than 1% of all VHF conversations one will do. The problem I have with LMR400 is that I don't know of any that is marine grade and I have seen their dielectric foam saturated with moisture a couple of times. This is some time ago so they might have better qualities available today, I simply don't know. It is also very stiff so you often need a joiner to RG8X for connecting the radio which means some extra insertion loss.

At 70cm it will make a difference though so for the spreader mounted dual band antenna I would consider it.
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:31   #21
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

@Dockhead: the reason I don't put a HAM antenna at the masthead is because I don't think the mobile versions are high quality enough for it and the fixed install versions will rust.

So that is why I would use it on the 2nd best position which is the upper spreaders in your case, or my mizzen masthead. The shorter cable also helps on 70cm.

About usefulness of the VHF/UHF bands: even here in Panama I can open both 2m and 70cm repeaters (voice) and a 2m digipeater and also get a phone-patch at no cost because like everywhere, HAMs are very welcoming. Like I wrote before, I don't even use my marine VHF anymore because it annoys me compared to the Kenwood 710.

Now, if you get a couple of Kenwood HT's with that instead of marine VHF (and open them up for everything), you get so many bonuses that I don't remember how I could do without them. Those HT's can even become digipeaters with the push of a button. Think like this: I walk away from the boat into some jungle and have an APRS link with the boat. At some point I get out of range... so I put the HT in digipeater mode, hang it in a tree so that it is in range with the boat again, grab a second HT and continue for a full HT-to-HT range extra. And see waypoints to both the left behind HT and the boat. Fun to do just because you can, it is!
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:39   #22
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We recommend the "ultraflex" with N conns

The insertion loss to a PL 259 is no where the savings and you can make the whole run
Not cheap though

Info
http://www.timesmicrowave.com/produc...oads/62-65.pdf
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:49   #23
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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We recommend the "ultraflex" with N conns

The insertion loss to a PL 259 is no where the savings and you can make the whole run
Not cheap though

Info
http://www.timesmicrowave.com/produc...oads/62-65.pdf
You can put N connectors on the cable but both antenna and radio are PL259 so you would need converters at both ends ending up with worse insertion loss than straight PL-259 connectors.

But the PDF you linked does not have PL259 connectors. This indicates that the cable is not really intended for marine VHF service.
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Old 09-03-2013, 20:11   #24
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

Take a look at the Tenta-11.
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Old 09-03-2013, 22:07   #25
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
@Dockhead: the reason I don't put a HAM antenna at the masthead is because I don't think the mobile versions are high quality enough for it and the fixed install versions will rust.

So that is why I would use it on the 2nd best position which is the upper spreaders in your case, or my mizzen masthead. The shorter cable also helps on 70cm.

About usefulness of the VHF/UHF bands: even here in Panama I can open both 2m and 70cm repeaters (voice) and a 2m digipeater and also get a phone-patch at no cost because like everywhere, HAMs are very welcoming. Like I wrote before, I don't even use my marine VHF anymore because it annoys me compared to the Kenwood 710.

Now, if you get a couple of Kenwood HT's with that instead of marine VHF (and open them up for everything), you get so many bonuses that I don't remember how I could do without them. Those HT's can even become digipeaters with the push of a button. Think like this: I walk away from the boat into some jungle and have an APRS link with the boat. At some point I get out of range... so I put the HT in digipeater mode, hang it in a tree so that it is in range with the boat again, grab a second HT and continue for a full HT-to-HT range extra. And see waypoints to both the left behind HT and the boat. Fun to do just because you can, it is!
OK, thanks, that makes sense.

I am not looking for any improvement in my VHF performance -- it's already excellent, and I use my VHF little enough anyway. It's forbidden to use it for casual conversation. That's what ham radio is for. I can reach the Coast Guard from 30 - 40 miles off, and always get excellent signal reports. In case of need, DSC has even more range. So I think a good antenna and good quality (but not oversized) coax will be fine there.

The ham antenna will go on the first, not third spreader, because that's where the first conduit exits inside the mast. I don't want any cables loose inside the mast so I will put nothing on the second or third spreaders. I guess I'll share it with AIS as Nick does. I can't find the particular Diamond Nick uses so I'm plowing through other variants -- there is a bewildering variety of them.

As to transceivers -- I have been reading about D-Star and it seems to be deeply flawed. That's too bad, as surely digital voice modes and TDMA are the way to go and the future of all kinds of radio phone communications. We are living in the steam-punk era, using analogue AM-modulated voice where noise has equal rights with the actual signal. In my reading I have discovered that the military have been using TDMA digital voice modes over HF for a long time already, probably decades. I wonder when this technology will filter down to us?

6 meters mobile maritime is forbidden in Europe, so I could theoretically buy a Kenwood transceiver like Nick's to cover the 2 meter and 70 cm bands. It looks like there is lots of fun to be had on those bands (in port only, obviously). Then use my M802 for HF, although it is pretty crude for ham work with fixed filters etc. I would lack 6 meters (the "magic band") but can't use it on board anyway.

Or I could buy something like the Kenwood TS2000 which covers all the bands from HF to 70cm (you can even buy a board for 23cm). This is a regular full sized transceiver, but you can buy a remote head for it! Wow, that should be just fantastic for use on board. Pricey, though.

I haven't been much intrigued by APRS yet although maybe I'm just not getting something. For regular position polling I use the DSC function for this, which works very well. If I want to know where the dinghy is, or where my crew is, and I'm on board, a couple of key presses suffice. A great advantage of DSC position polling is that nearly every boat is equipped for it, so if you show your pals how to set it up (oddly, almost no one knows how to use it, in my experience), you can poll position not only of your own users, but of other boats as well. For recording your own tracks, any plotter does this.
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Old 09-03-2013, 22:17   #26
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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Take a look at the Tenta-11.
That looks good. Have you used this?
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Old 10-03-2013, 05:46   #27
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Radio use in Holland is very different than in the tropical cruising grounds. I bet UK is same as Holland.

Do you plan to head over this way?
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:04   #28
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

If it's a straight forward VHF antenna then the Metz have a good reputation this side of the pond.

Salty John: fine boat and yacht chandlery products.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:35   #29
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

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If it's a straight forward VHF antenna then the Metz have a good reputation this side of the pond.

Salty John: fine boat and yacht chandlery products.
Yes but the Metz still is a GP based antenna with loading coil. It is probably the best of them though. What I like so much with a dipole is that it is not grounded to the boat which means you often have less noise on the radio.

p.s. I also have one of those simple emergency antenna's, also from Shakespear I believe. Just a piece of coax cable with an 8" antenna or something and it works surprisingly well and is handy with testing things.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:43   #30
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Re: Please Recommend a Quality VHF Masthead Antenna

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
The difference at 150 MHz is 1dB per 100' of cable 1.8dB instead of 2.8dB so yes more power gets to the antenna, but I doubt it will be noticeable at more than 1% of all VHF conversations one will do. The problem I have with LMR400 is that I don't know of any that is marine grade and I have seen their dielectric foam saturated with moisture a couple of times. This is some time ago so they might have better qualities available today, I simply don't know. It is also very stiff so you often need a joiner to RG8X for connecting the radio which means some extra insertion loss.

At 70cm it will make a difference though so for the spreader mounted dual band antenna I would consider it.
OK, so I should use RG213 with PL259 connectors, right? That stuff is quite a bit thicker than what I have now, but I have a nice in-mast conduit so I suppose it won't be too hard to pull
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