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Old 20-02-2019, 12:37   #1
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Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

Tomorrow evening I am scheduled to take the Technicians Exam and shortly sometime after that the General Licensing exam with the idea being the ability to communicate on Amatuer Bands from the sailboat when at sea.

My thinking is that it should always be possible to raise a ham operator while not always possible to raise contacts with the boats marine SSB in the event of an emergency as well as opening up a whole other avenue of listening and communication enjoyment.

I am interested in possibly installing a Yaesu FT 857D

https://www.yaesu.com/indexVS.cfm?cm...3A4987523Cwith

with a vertical antenna on top of the boats 50' mast with a manual antenna tuner, would also incorporate aswitch to be able to use backstay antenna.

Would appreciate some thoughts if this is sound logic.
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Old 20-02-2019, 13:22   #2
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

A decent HF vertical antenna won't fit on top of your mast. It would have to be a minimum of 20 feet long. Don't look at antennas designed to go on cars. At best they are 10% efficient.

Look into insulated backstay, marine whip or inverted V antennas instead. The biggest issue with marine ham is multiband capability. Marine HF autotuners usually have more tuning range for the higher SWR situations that you will find on short and non resonant antennas.

Don't ignore the ground either. End fed (backstay or whip) antennas need a very good ground and this is often the Achilles heel of marine installations.

Good luck on the test. I just assisted in teaching a Tech class and will be a VE for our club testing on Saturday.

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Old 20-02-2019, 13:25   #3
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

There are a few good threads on this subject on this site, here's one:
HF antenna Back Stay vs. Screwdriver antenna

Regarding the test: in the event that you accidentally transpose some answers and don't pass the people providing the exam probably will let you take another test during the same session. On the other hand you might be able to take the general exam right after you pass the technician exam...if you know the technician stuff well you might surprise yourself passing the general exam.

Good luck!
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Old 20-02-2019, 14:28   #4
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

https://www.yaesu.com/indexVS.cfm?cm...D4253A4987523C
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Old 20-02-2019, 15:39   #5
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by cburger View Post
Tomorrow evening I am scheduled to take the Technicians Exam and shortly sometime after that the General Licensing exam with the idea being the ability to communicate on Amatuer Bands from the sailboat when at sea.

My thinking is that it should always be possible to raise a ham operator while not always possible to raise contacts with the boats marine SSB in the event of an emergency as well as opening up a whole other avenue of listening and communication enjoyment.

I am interested in possibly installing a Yaesu FT 857D


with a vertical antenna on top of the boats 50' mast with a manual antenna tuner, would also incorporate aswitch to be able to use backstay antenna.

Would appreciate some thoughts if this is sound logic.
The preferable alternatives are an end-fed backstay, vertical dipole(s) or inverted V fed thru the tuner which is essential for multi=band operation as most small transceivers can't tolerate an SWR above 3:1.


The rest of your plan sounds very workable and well thought out. Welcome to the world of ham radio. It's much bigger than that of marine HF.
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Old 20-02-2019, 15:57   #6
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

With a 50' mast would a center-feed backstay backstay acting as a dipole work? Would help with the issue of grounding I believe.
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Old 20-02-2019, 16:05   #7
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

Opps, never mind, problems with the feedline.

Maybe an inverted V using both the forestay and backstay.
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Old 20-02-2019, 16:16   #8
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

I have never seen a center fed backstay. That would shorten your elements way too much and getting the feed up there would be an issue. Better off with end fed. Minimum length (from what I have read) is 23 feet. I met one guy - Baldwin on Atom, that used dipoles but he was on a 28 footer. Ran the feedline up the mast.
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Old 20-02-2019, 17:39   #9
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

I'd be curious to see what simply hooking up to the mast or standing rigging would do, which resembles a discone antenna. I'm a long-time sailor just getting into shortwave. I can't wait to take my receiver with me this coming season.
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Old 20-02-2019, 18:27   #10
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

It's been awhile for me, but I just don't see as many HAMs these days with so much technology in boating communications. How many people go HAM these days?



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Old 20-02-2019, 19:53   #11
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
It's been awhile for me, but I just don't see as many HAMs these days with so much technology in boating communications. How many people go HAM these days?



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You just need to listen on the SSB portions of 20 meters daytime and 40 meters evenings. Plenty of activity even with poor solar conditions. Sat comms are certainly replacing many of the former functions of shortwave communications, but not all. And how much fun is satelllite comms? Not really a social endeavor.
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Old 21-02-2019, 04:51   #12
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
It's been awhile for me, but I just don't see as many HAMs these days with so much technology in boating communications. How many people go HAM these days?



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There are more ham radio licensees now than ever before and that growth trend seems to be constant. For offshore communications, there is no better way to keep in contact with lots of people simultaneously.
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Old 21-02-2019, 07:04   #13
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
There are more ham radio licensees now than ever before and that growth trend seems to be constant. For offshore communications, there is no better way to keep in contact with lots of people simultaneously.
This is good to hear. I recently retested because I'd let my license lapse. Hardest thing when I had first got licensed was learning Morse Code, which is no longer a requirement. Ham radio is old technology, but I really like it because it's a great way to "buddy boat" with others in the same body of water when they might be hundreds of miles away.
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Old 21-02-2019, 08:52   #14
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

cburger,
Well, I sorta' skipped over your thread, as I was just going to send you a link to this:
BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

BUT...
But, then I read past the title of your thread and went "opps"...
So...


1) So, first off....Good Luck tonight, on your ham exams!!
I'm sure you'll do well!!
And, welcome to wonderful world of ham radio!!

{BTW, if you don't mind, I'd like to remind everyone of the selfless nature of the Amateur Radio Service ("Ham" radio)....
You see, while most hams do get a lot of fun out of radio communications, we should never forget the real purpose.....by int'l agreement the 5 basic purposes of the Amateur Radio Service....
Quote:
An amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.
}



2) As I wrote above, good luck on your exams....and welcome to ham radio...
Here are some FYI's that should help you (and others)....and a few blunt pieces of advice (please accept my apologies in advance for being so blunt, but I do hope to save you both money and frustration...)

a) Please remember that when in US waters (and Canadian waters) and international waters, you are governed by the US FCC Part 97 Rules and Regs (ham radio rules/regs)....but, when in territorial waters of other countries, you are governed by their radio rules and regs!!
Many nations (most 1st world nations, and those with close traditional ties to the US) have "reciprocal" operating authority / licensing agreements with the US, making it fairly easy for US ham licensees to gain amateur radio operating privileges and/or licenses in their countries...BUT...
BUT, this is almost exclusively for US Extra Class Amateur Radio Licensees....these reciprocal privileges for HF operations are not granted to "Technician Class" nor "General Class" licensees!!
Further, there are countries (without seamless reciprocal license agreements) where you will need to apply for a license and wait and wait, etc....
So, just be forewarned that having a US license is good for US waters and int'l waters, but in any other country, there are other criteria / rules that will need to be followed....and, you'll need to have an Extra Class license to make things work well for you...

Please see these pages for more info...
International Operating
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Regul...0Operating.pdf



b) The use of ham radio, if you have no other options for emergency, is fine....and, in all my years inn ham radio, there is no ham that I've heard of that wouldn't spend 24hours-a-day and any effort they could, to help a mariner at sea in an emergency....and that is unlikely to change any time soon...BUT..
But, please understand that the Maritime Mobile Service (which is another int'l radio communications service) is specifically designed for just this application....and there are both dozens (actually 100's) of Coast Stations and 1000's of ships at sea, that all have trained personnel that are familiar with both general maritime terminology / operations, as well as search-and-rescue, etc....and they are all standing-by waiting for a safety, urgency, or distress call (monitoring DSC....VHF-DSC, MF-DSC, and HF-DSC....)

Definition and purpose of the Maritime Mobile Service:
Quote:
The Maritime Mobile Service is an internationally-allocated radio service providing for safety of life and property at sea and on inland waterways.
Together, shipboard and land stations in the marine services are meant to serve the needs of the entire maritime community.
So, while it might seem like there is "always someone on the air, on the ham bands", and some get the impression that there is nobody on the marine bands.....this is because the marine bands / channels are not used too much these days for chit-chat (and most "ship's business" is now done by sat comm), but rather mostly for weather, safety, and distress communications!!
(which by "coincidence" is just what most sailing offshore need from their radios! )



c) I really don't want to overwhelm you at this point....I want to encourage you!!
So, I won't delve deeply into Marine HF comms, HF-DSC, the GMDSS, etc....
I'll just say Good Luck on your exams tonight....and before you buy ANYTHING, please watch these Playlists...

HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX

Maritime HF Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


And, later some others....
https://www.youtube.com/user/captain...able_polymer=1



d) Finally....please forgive my bluntness...
But, please buy just about any other radio rather than the FT-857....it is not a good choice here, and you will be disappointed...
(I will go into details later, if you desire....but, again, don't wish to discourage you....just save you some $$$ and frustrations!)

And, NO....you do not want an HF vertical antenna on top of your mast!!!

There is a LOT more to all of this, and a LOT more to post....but luckily, I've already posted it (as have others)...
Please read these stickies, and the links there....as well as the Sailmail Primer....
If you follow all of the advice / recommendations in these stickies and links, you'll have a great HF communications set-up, and if you learn more about HF radiowave propagation and HF radio operations (mostly Voice and DSC), you'll be better off than a majority of your fellow sailors!!

HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

https://sailmail.com/wp-content/uplo...2/smprimer.htm



Fair winds, and Good Luck on your exams!!

John
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Old 21-02-2019, 09:39   #15
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Re: Shortwave Radio On My Sailboat

I'm not licensed but do have a SSB/Ham radio on board. Many "experts" will tell you that you need lots of stuff to make it work. For me, simple is better so I, along with many others, raise a 25'+- wire (GTO15 I believe) up a halyard. For a ground plane I originally just dropped some 4 guage wire in the water and it worked fine - signal as strong as almost any other boat. I broke down and got a KISS to replace the wire in the water approach and it also works fine.



Have never had a problem with range. Friends who are hams have talked between California and Russia when they were onboard.


I would agree that an antenna on top of the mast is probably not the way to go. Many boats do use a 22' whip attached on the transom or other location with fine results.


Good luck on the test, and enjoy.


Bill
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