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Old 20-10-2011, 18:06   #1
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SSB Newbie

We've been to Abaco twice and we're headed further down island for the next trip. One of the changes we need to make is adding SSB. The Sony receiver has worked well enough but it's hard to talk back to Chris Parker that way.

Because of the space constraints in our boat, an Icom 802 seems to be the unit of choice. An AT-140 seems to be the tuner of choice here. The back stay will have insulators added, but the lower one may be raised up somewhat to help the skipper, at the helm, keep from sticking his head into the thing when the mate keys up the radio.

The fun begins with grounding. Dynaplates seem to be recommended but... the "sponge" fills with algae, crud, who knows what, and that, according to the tales I've heard, means the Dynaplate stops working as well as it did. Or does it...?

Past that, the idea is to a) have at least rudimentary e-mail support (aging parents, etc.) and b) have support for GRIB's, etc.

What have I missed? Are there big surprises to watch for? What about e-mail providers?
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Old 20-10-2011, 18:35   #2
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Re: SSB Newbie

Dynaplates are often misused as an RF ground when they were designed as a DC ground. Any decent capacitive bond with the water, e.g, thru hull, grounding strap along the hull, etc. will suffice. Some work better than others and more is not necessarily better. Each boat is unique in some respects, this being one. Try something simple first to see if it works; if not, you can always add more copper or connect more metal thru hulls. Only caution with the more is better theory is the creation of multiple grounds which can promote electrolysis or corrosion.
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Old 20-10-2011, 18:41   #3
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Re: SSB Newbie

I have an M802 and like it a lot. I use it on the ham bands for email on winlink. I have an SGC tuner which I am also pleased with; I bought it to use with my old ham radio, before switching to the Icom. The Icom tuner has the advantage of being integrated, so there is "handshaking" going on between the radio and tuner. The SGC just senses the first transmission and tunes it up, indicating tune on an LED. Some think it is a better tuner. I suspect either would work just fine.

Yes, the Dynaplates I have are a problem. They crud up. One of them is breaking apart. Anecdotal evidence suggests they only work for 6-9 months in the water, then must be removed and soaked in acid. Not impressed...

I wrapped the underwater portion of my transom-hung rudder with roofing copper - it has proven to be an excellent ground. If you are interested I can explain how to do it.

I have an insulated backstay as well. It seems to work well. I have some reason to think that a vertical multiband whip antenna might perform a bit better. With the M802 it is desirable to have two antennas (I don't yet); one for the transceiver and the other for the DSC receiver. So I may add a whip and switch between them to see which works better (don't hold your breath: if I do it, it will be a few years from now).

Winlink works for email, including grib files. It is free, but requires getting a ham license. I recommend doing that. Otherwise stick to the marine bands and paying for the Sailmail service; it uses the same software but has far fewer land stations.

Good luck,

Greg
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Old 20-10-2011, 19:12   #4
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Re: SSB Newbie

Forget the plates.

Get a Kiss SSB and be done with it. Home
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Old 20-10-2011, 21:04   #5
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Re: SSB Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
We've been to Abaco twice and we're headed further down island for the next trip. One of the changes we need to make is adding SSB. The Sony receiver has worked well enough but it's hard to talk back to Chris Parker that way.

Because of the space constraints in our boat, an Icom 802 seems to be the unit of choice. An AT-140 seems to be the tuner of choice here. The back stay will have insulators added, but the lower one may be raised up somewhat to help the skipper, at the helm, keep from sticking his head into the thing when the mate keys up the radio.

The fun begins with grounding. Dynaplates seem to be recommended but... the "sponge" fills with algae, crud, who knows what, and that, according to the tales I've heard, means the Dynaplate stops working as well as it did. Or does it...?

Past that, the idea is to a) have at least rudimentary e-mail support (aging parents, etc.) and b) have support for GRIB's, etc.

What have I missed? Are there big surprises to watch for? What about e-mail providers?
Hola RBE!
If you have the slightest inclination, get a general ham license - then you can:
get a very small (car stereo sized) Icom 706 out of eBay with an SGC tuner for a few hundred and hopefully a type of Pactor for email. With the ham license you can use Winlink for email and weather - and the occassional web page - for free; w/o the license, you can use almost identical software via SailMail for $250 per year on marine SSB with a ship's license and radiotelephone operator's license (both courtesy of the FCC).
For an antenna, you can if you have the space run an insulated wire (tinned electrical wire, 14 gauge or so) thru a gland in the deck towards the mast head on a halyard, or use the base of your backstay below deck with the ground wire removed, an antenna isolator near the mast, and shroud covers:
Davis Cable Covers - White Vinyl* - *Shroud Covers & Turnbuckle Boots* - *Rigging Accessories* - *Rigging, Spar & Lifeline Hdwr
Grounds: KISS is popular; we use braided grounding strap to the stanchions and a nearby thru-hull, crimping terminals on the ends. For grounding one generally starts simple and gets more convolved only if simple doesn't work...
Not impossible but the installations are somewhere between art and engineering. Good luck...

Michael
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Old 20-10-2011, 21:07   #6
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Re: SSB Newbie

AN alternative is a satellite-based phone system - there is a company competing with Iridium which works in some of the Caribbean and costs much less, and just about everybody you could wish to contact understands phones...

Michael
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Old 21-10-2011, 07:01   #7
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Re: SSB Newbie

Great thanks for all of the very helpful information! ¿Michael, como estas? ¿ ¡Usted tiene email!
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Old 21-10-2011, 07:54   #8
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Re: SSB Newbie

Disclaimer: I do this stuff for a living.

RBE - I've lost track of where OWTW is - HHN or Rock Hall or where?

The 802 is a nice radio. If you have a SeaTalk nav network build an E85001 network interface box into your plan. The AT-140 or SGC 230 are both fine choices for a tuner.

RopeAntenna is a reasonable alternative to insulating the backstay. Choose whichever works better on your boat. Vertical whips have mechanical mounting issues on most sailboats.

Remember that the antenna starts at the output stud of the tuner and includes GTO-15 up to the backstay or other radiator.

Many people continue to confuse grounding with a counterpoise. The KISS-SSB is an excellent counterpoise and demonstrably is a good performer. You still need an adequate grounding system. This is well established in the literature but is often poorly implemented. It is a complex subject. The key terms for the DIYer is "single-point ground."

I've had quite good luck with Dynaplates. Give them a scrub with a 3M pad when you clean the bottom and focus on them with the pressure washer when you haul for paint. As noted above a good connection to a bronze thru-hull is effective also; a hose clamp is NOT a good connection.

GRIBs are a poor choice of weather information. Weather fax is MUCH better. GRIBs don't show fronts and smooth over the wind shifts that happen at fronts. Weather fax is free and doesn't use connect time to Winlink or Sailmail to receive. Oh - it's easy also. If you have the hardware for e-mail over SSB you are set for weather fax. Even if you don't have a Pactor modem you can receive weather fax. If you don't believe me about GRIBs v. weather fax synoptics ask Lee Chesneau or Chris Parker.

Let me know if I can do anything to help you.
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Old 21-10-2011, 08:11   #9
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Re: SSB Newbie

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
Forget the plates.
Get a Kiss SSB and be done with it. Home
You've made the right choice on radio/tuner. The KISS SSB Counterpoise is sweet. The very best solution!
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Old 21-10-2011, 08:43   #10
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Re: SSB Newbie

Richard,

Sorry we didn't get a chance to chat at the Annapolis Gam. Give me a buzz sometime; will be glad to discuss your needs on the Baba 30.

Bill
WA6CCA
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Old 21-10-2011, 21:55   #11
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We have the m802 with the split back stay with the gto15 and the dyna plate and it all works very well. If your just going to stay in the Bahamas as we do. We opted to get a kindle 3g for email and we get passage weather on it all with out needing WiFi. Instead of $$$$ for a pactor modem. Then I downloaded wxsat for weather files to get off our m802




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