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Old 03-10-2018, 17:05   #61
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Evan,
You're welcome!

1) And, as I reread things a bit...I'm going to recommend you actually try an inexpensive portable shortwave receiver (such as Sangean 909 or Sony 7400, Katio, etc.)....as long as it covers the HF bands from 2mhz thru 17mhz, and has a "BFO" or "SSB switch"...
This will allow you get a good feeling for things without spending much $$$...


...

Oh, and for fun....have a look here too...
Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY



I hope this helps you with your homework...

Fair winds..

John

Thanks again,


I enjoyed the Fun videos... (If I could convince my better half, we would sell everything and go offshore. I haven't been convincing enough though...)



I think that 'receive only' would be a big step as I don't really expect to need the transmit functions.



Would something like this need an external antenna to receive?



https://www.ebay.ca/itm/EXPRESS-NEW-...QAAOSwnN9brOta


I presume it would only give us audio broadcasts in real-time but would certainly be a welcome adjunct - akin to the VHF broadcasts we use when we can get them?








As you can see our boat does not lend itself to particularly tall aerials / antennae. We keep the boat in a boathouse so anything we mount would have to be able to be lowered below the level of our masthead light.






-evan
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Old 03-10-2018, 17:08   #62
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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While an 8-ft whip is pretty short for a marine SSB transmitter (the typical autotuner may not be able to find a match on the lower frequencies), it should do OK as a receive-only antenna.

You will need to find a good grounding point as well. There are a few threads here about ground systems. For a receive antenna the ground can also be non-ideal and still be perfectly serviceable, but you should try to keep the ground away from sources of on-board interference. This is what usually causes problems with reception, not a less-than-perfect antenna system.

Thanks Paul,


Lots to investigate here and any info like this is most appreciated.


-evan
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:49   #63
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

The Sangean ATS-909 is a good unit, and should work well for you...

FYI, I've seen them as low as $159...but now seem 'em on ebay for $180 (new) and on Amazon for $203 (new)...
I wouldn't pay much more than that...

The 3 most important things to get the system working well:
a) your antenna and its distance away from interference-producing (RFI) devices
b) understanding HF radiowave propagation
c) eliminating your on-board RFI
{since you'll be out in remote areas, you won't have to worry about RFI from shore or other boats...except when tied to a dock / in a marina...but you'll be amazed how much of our consumer crap radiates RFI....so, if you're diligent in removing these things (or unplugging them when using the radio), you'll be a much happier HF radio user!}

Please understand that when it comes to HF receiving, it is all about the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), and the actual raw signal level is not even close to being primary...
So, getting rid of the RFI producing devices, and/or moving them as far away from your antenna as possible, is always going to be the primary way of getting good results from compromise antennas that we use on-board, and this is especially the case for those using small portable receivers...

{You could, of course, just try the radio and its built-in 3' telescopic whip, sitting on the deck of your boat, and see what you get!!!}



As for your antenna...every boat is different...
And, in your case, if you cannot have anything higher than your radar mast / light mast, that's fine...

Without knowing the exact dimensions of things on your boat, I will make general recommends based on the photo...
1- Install a higher flagstaff on your bow pulpit....if you can get the top of that flagstaff 6' to 8' above the deck, that would be okay...
This would not be too high for you to get your boat into the boat house, nor would it be unsightly...

2- Antenna:
a) Run an antenna wire, from the top of your radar / light mast, to the top of the new / higher bow pulpit flag staff....I recommend Davis RF flex-weave wire, but you can use any scrap wire as a test...
You can use just about any insulator that will stand up to the environment....actually I'd recommend just using a piece of 3/8" Sta-Set (Dacron/Polyester) line for a permanent install (so you can tension the wire a bit), but use any scrap line for your test...
End the wire about 6" before the flagstaff if it is metallic...if wood, no worries...

You can just feed the top end of this antenna with a piece of coax (RG-58 is fine), connect only the center conductor of the coax to the this wire....

I suspect from the photo, that this would give you an approx 16' long sloping / horizontal wire antenna???
It would be okay....
And, assuming that most of your RFI generating devices (battery chargers, inverters, power supplies, computers, plasma TV, etc. etc.) are aft, this would be a good start for a HF receive antenna...

b) My second choice would be to do as above, but also add a flagstaff aft, above your stern rail...at whatever height you can fit that would allow a wire to run aft from the top of your radar/light mast, and not be in the way of you using the aft cabin top (such as for your kayak, etc.)

Attach this wire to the shield of the coax that you ran to the top of the radar/light mast...

c) If you can make each of these wires about 16' 3" to 16' 6" long, you'd have a 20m dipole (dipole/inverted-v), mounted at about 1/4-wave high....that's not a great dx antenna!! But, it might be okay as a regional 8mhz and 12mhz receive antenna...
However, please take note that it is possible for the single wire antenna(that I described above in "a"), might actually be a better HF receive antenna as it would be a non-resonant end-fed wire, rather than a 20m dipole being used as a wideband receive antenna...with it that low to the ground (water) it's anyone's guess which set-up would work better...


d) Another option is the ubiquitous "23 foot SSB Whip" antenna....it is pricey ($250 to $400) and big/cumbersome and would need to be lowered to get your boat into your boathouse...
But, unless you can use a fairly tall / large whip, a vertical antenna is not going to be a good idea for you....

I thought about recommending a short 8' whip, such as CB whip, secured to your upper stern rail, using the rail as it's "ground connection", and while this might work okay, you'd be better off with the simple wire antenna I described above in "a"...


3) I could ramble on and on...but think you get the gist...
Read the referenced material, watch the videos, buy the inexpensive radio, try a piece of scrap wire....and have fun!


4) To be clear, just about anything metallic can be used as a receive antenna....what you want to achieve is an antenna that gives you the best S/N....that means one that receives the most signal and the least noise....
And, while you could just use the attached telescopic whip, or just clip a wire to a railing, etc., I describe antennas that will maximize your received S/N...



5) Oh, one last point....forget about any "grounding"....it is completely unnecessary for receiving!!! And, can many times cause issues such as receive RFI, that you don't need to deal with...



Hope this helps...

John
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:17   #64
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
5) Oh, one last point....forget about any "grounding"....it is completely unnecessary for receiving!!! And, can many times cause issues such as receive RFI, that you don't need to deal with...
John, can you clarify that, especially when talking about a whip or other unbalanced antenna? Sure, you don't need a ground with a dipole, but for an end-fed antenna you do need a ground or counterpoise or something like that. Otherwise the radio chassis and any power/audio/etc connections become the "other end" of the antenna and that's a great way to pick up local interference.
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Old 04-10-2018, 13:05   #65
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Paul,
While technically you're correct that end-fed antennas DO need a "ground" / "counterpoise"....
In this application there is a much higher likelihood of receive RFI being picked up by whatever "ground" would be rigged than just the portable radio itself...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
John, can you clarify that, especially when talking about a whip or other unbalanced antenna? Sure, you don't need a ground with a dipole, but for an end-fed antenna you do need a ground or counterpoise or something like that. Otherwise the radio chassis and any power/audio/etc connections become the "other end" of the antenna and that's a great way to pick up local interference.
Now, if Evan was to install a direct sea water ground to a remote tuner, etc...then, yes, having a ground connection would of course be good....
But, in this type of application (which I have done myself, in years past), trying to rig a "ground" is a mistake...

Heck, just clipping a short hunk of wire from the radio's telescopic whip antenna to a shroud (or even a lifeline, or hand rail) is usually all it takes!!
I've done just that, used a short 18" clip-lead-wire to attach the telescopic whip to a shroud, and viola!! You're good to go...
Anyone I've ever heard of that has tried to do it like the book says, has made it worse...

That's the best I can do to clarify things...

Gotta go!

John
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Old 04-10-2018, 19:19   #66
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Paul,
While technically you're correct that end-fed antennas DO need a "ground" / "counterpoise"....
In this application there is a much higher likelihood of receive RFI being picked up by whatever "ground" would be rigged than just the portable radio itself...
OK, a long wire to a through-hull, or any poorly-configured antenna/ground is likely to pick up noise. I suppose the typical attempt could easily make things worse. I do contend that a "proper" setup is usually going to reduce local noise pickup, but admit that most people with a portable radio aren't going to do a proper setup.

Failing that, a cliplead to a shroud is likely to work just fine, especially if you shut down any local noise sources.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:06   #67
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Hmmm, it looks like the SSB setup lends itself to a high masted sailboat much more than our configuration. I don't much fancy antennae interfering with our access to the fore deck or boat deck



If a portable receiver could work +/- an easy boost using onboard hardware, then it might be viable but otherwise, I see us looking to satellite communication as our primary source of weather forecasting.


Interesting discussion. Thank you all...


-evan
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:08   #68
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Evan,
FYI...Please read over what Bill on s/v Denali Rose wrote in post #13...

He is correct about high latitude HF comms, but this is primarily low-angle / long-haul comms....the high angle regional comms (400 to 800 miles) and especially the local NVIS comms (20 to 400 miles) are effected to a lesser degree...

But, even better for you is the probability that you'll be using a horizontal antenna, which will give you a good high-angle radiation....as opposed to a vertical whip, etc. that has a null overhead.... (verticals are very poor local/NVIS and fairly poor regional antennas....but excellent long-range antennas....it's a credit to how well our signals propagate over sea water that we have such good results on our regional cruising nets....but, there have been some sailors that stay at anchor for weeks at a time, who rig an inverted-V from their mast, etc...to give 'em a 10db to 20db advantage on local/NVIS comms...


But, please have a look at Bill's words too...

Fair winds.

John
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:20   #69
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Evan,
Actually, you could certainly use the ubiquitous 23' SSB Whip (Shakespeare 390)...
They are used on darn near 90% to 95% of offshore powerboats / trawlers...
And, they do work well...

It was just that you said you couldn't have anything sticking up high..
Yes??
So, that's why I recommended what I did...

Quote:
Originally Posted by eheffa View Post
Hmmm, it looks like the SSB setup lends itself to a high masted sailboat much more than our configuration. I don't much fancy antennae interfering with our access to the fore deck or boat deck



If a portable receiver could work +/- an easy boost using onboard hardware, then it might be viable but otherwise, I see us looking to satellite communication as our primary source of weather forecasting.


Interesting discussion. Thank you all...


-evan
I'm not sure what else to do...
But, access to the weather reports you desire can be had via sat comm or HF comms...
The choice is yours...

If you pick sat comm, you'll be limited to an Iridium-based system (of course, you will need an external antenna....passive and fairly small)... and when in steep canyons / fjords, you'll be limited in your actual ability to connect, and then have limited connection time...

If you pick HF comms ("SSB", whether a full-fledged system or receive only), you will get better results with a horizontal wire antenna...but could use a vertical...


Choice is yours...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:43   #70
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Evan,
Actually, you could certainly use the ubiquitous 23' SSB Whip (Shakespeare 390)...
They are used on darn near 90% to 95% of offshore powerboats / trawlers...
And, they do work well...

It was just that you said you couldn't have anything sticking up high..
Yes??
So, that's why I recommended what I did...



...
Choice is yours...

Fair winds..

John

To clarify, If the whip antenna can be lowered on its bracket then it could indeed be much higher. At present I have to lower the 8' VHF & 8' AIS antennae to get into the shed - one more wouldn't add that much trouble - if it would work as decent antenna...


-evan
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Old 05-10-2018, 12:41   #71
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Okay..got it..

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Originally Posted by eheffa View Post
To clarify, If the whip antenna can be lowered on its bracket then it could indeed be much higher. At present I have to lower the 8' VHF & 8' AIS antennae to get into the shed - one more wouldn't add that much trouble - if it would work as decent antenna...

-evan
So, to clarify my stuff further:

1) Just about every 40' to 65' offshore power boat / trawler has a "23 foot Whip" installed as their primary HF ("SSB") Antenna...

Some boats on the larger end of that range, use the larger 28' whip...and some even go for the even larger 35' whip, and this is standard on the mega-yachts that need to meet GMDSS regs...(last time I looked that big 35' whip was > ~ $1200, but if you had a boat big enough to use it, you could afford it..)


2) For transmitting on the lower HF bands (4mhz, 6mhz, 8mhz...and 75m and 40m ham bands) a longer vertical antenna is always better (more efficient) than the 23' whip, hence most mid-sized powerboats/trawlers tend to have weaker transmit signals than similarly-sized sailboats, as the sailboats will have 40' - 45' (or longer) backstay antennas...

For receiving on the lower bands, the 23' whip is fine....as there is usually a significant amount of natural "band noise", and using a larger antenna (which might gather more signal) will gather as much natural band-noise as desired signals, and little to no improvement in received Signal-to-Noise ratio (S/N)...


3) For transmitting on the middle HF bands (12mhz, 16mhz, 18mhz, and the 20m and 17m ham bands) there is little difference experienced between a 23' whip and a longer backstay...(although "technically" the longer backstay antenna is better / more efficient / higher gain, this is rarely measurable in the real world...but, I have personally found my long backstay to better than my 22' stay, on both transmit and receive on 12mhz...)
And, for receiving, there is also little difference...


4) And, with our current solar cycle still on the down-swing, the higher HF bands (above 20mhz) will not be useful for most, for the next 3 to 4 years....but, when solar conditions improve, the shorter 23' whip will end up being superior to the longer backstay antenna....
But, fyi...almost all HF maritime comms takes place between 4mhz and 16mhz.....with probably 50% to 75% on 8mhz alone...


5) Now, I realize that all of this is a bit much to grasp right off the pages....so, that's why I recommended watching the videos....
But, even the videos don't mention one point here...




And, it's kind of an abrupt point to make...
Sorry about this, but I'm just going to be honest and direct...(hope that's okay??)

Please understand that I've never heard of anyone buying a $300 whip, plus mount / support bracket, and installing this to use with a $150 portable shortwave receiver!!
It just makes no sense to me at all...
I mean it could be done, sure....but seems like such a waste of time/money to me...

Why not just do what I recommended:
--- buy the receiver
--- use its built-in antenna
--- see how it works for you...

If you have troubles, or have weak signals, etc:
--- take the included external antenna wire (which is pretty flimsy) and string it up above your deck, temporarily
--- see how it works for you...

Then make your decision on what to do...



Again, Evan I'm sorry if my words seem rude....but gosh, quite a few here have given you the options you have (Iridium-based sat comm with its limitations...and HF radio with its requirements), and you've already tried an Iridium-based sat comm device (InReach) and haven't had good luck with it...
So, unless you want to spend the $$$ a fixed sat comm system....or spend the time figuring out if an inexpensive shortwave receiver will work for you (where can you use it and get good reception / where can you install an external antenna), I'm not sure what else to do...
And, that is why I wrote "the choice is yours"....

It is up to you to decide what will "work" for you....

If it were me, I'd rig a horizontal wire up as high as I could, from bow-radar/light mast....it would be very small/lightweight and inobtrusive, and if you placed it high enough, it would never interfere with you / your use of the foredeck....
That approx 15' to 18' antenna would be ideal for your application...
But, I understand that most of my fellow sailors/boaters are not radio nuts like me... And, therefore would rather not have anything that the don't need on their boats....
And, that is perfectly fine!!

But, fyi....it's a pretty simple antenna to rig....might cost you all of $20 and take maybe 30 minutes??
So, if you wish to make it a temporary antenna, go for it!!

Or, for that matter, if you just want to unwind the (temporary) external antenna that is included with the receiver, and use that 'til it breaks, then go for that!!


I think you start to see the gist here??
The choice is yours...

BTW, in my own defense, most questions I get about these matters are from sailors (on sailboats) on a budget....and for them, the answer is easy:
Clip a wire to a shroud / rigging stay, and attach that to the portable radio's, and they're done...


I do hope this helps???
I really do...

Fair winds.

John
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Old 06-10-2018, 01:03   #72
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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We use ssb and have for years - 11 to be exact - everywhere from the western carib across the atlantic to the black sea - have my ham license so I get winlink and forecasts for free - works great for us - we have some long sails coming up next year in the med and again will rely on our ssb


Hi
Tell me what frequency Do you use for your weather reports?
Thanks
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Old 06-10-2018, 01:25   #73
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Hi
Tell me what frequency Do you use for your weather reports?
Thanks
Shane
The winlink system gives access to email via a wide variety of frequencies and stations all over the world. Think of winlink as an email system with a radio interface. It enables the sending and receiving of conventional email without an internet connection. Using winlink to get weather uses a service called saildocs. Saildocs takes a request for information, goes to the internet to retrieve it and sends the requested information back to the requester.

There is a similar system available for non hams called sailmail. Sailmail uses marine SSB to do the same thing that winlink does but with some limitations. Sailmail is a pay for service while winlink is free, Sailmail has fewer radio stations and limits the amount of time you can connect for downloading and uploading email.

Any email access system that you have aboard can use saildocs - it is a free service. The biggest advantage of winlink is that there are hundreds of stations around the world and it is free.
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Old 06-10-2018, 10:25   #74
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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........

There is a similar system available for non hams called sailmail. Sailmail uses marine SSB to do the same thing that winlink does but with some limitations. Sailmail is a pay for service while winlink is free, Sailmail has fewer radio stations and limits the amount of time you can connect for downloading and uploading email.

Any email access system that you have aboard can use saildocs - it is a free service. The biggest advantage of winlink is that there are hundreds of stations around the world and it is free.
Just a few additions to the comments on Sailmail. While there are fewer stations to connect to, they are all dedicated to only Sailmail. The Winlink stations are all volunteer stations setup by Hams. Sailmail supports Pastor 4 speeds which are not permitted on Winlink bands.
Sailmail allows commercial email, while this is prohibited over the Ham bands.
Saildocs is a great resource available to all and paid for by Sailmail.
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