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Old 24-10-2008, 13:00   #1
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Thoughts on new SSB/Ham installation

We are posting this on the board here as well as the SSCA discussion board for those of you that visit both. I know I will get everyones individual opinions on this but that is what we need. For many years on our sail boat we have used Icom radios with very good success. But we have just recently gotten out of the sailing business, selling out Mariner 40 after 17 years. So what did we do? Turned around and bought a trawler. She is very sparse on equipment, which is a good thing, and we are in the process of installing what we want. Our travels will now take us along the eastern US, the Bahamas, and at some point the great loop. We want SSB capabilities for communications, running weather fax to the computer, email through our Pactor and of course Ham communications. Our antenna will probably be a whip but again are open to suggestion, The boat is a great little Marine Trader 34. So any input will be greatly appreciated. I have done a bit of installing so that won't be an issue. We are just not up to speed on dealing with this on a power boat. Thanks, Chuck
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Old 24-10-2008, 14:36   #2
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I have been a satisfied ICOM user for years now.

If I were to buy a new rig, I would go with the IC-802 SSB. Marine and Ham coverage as well as handy features for digital comms. Seems it has been getting really good reviews.
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Old 24-10-2008, 15:30   #3
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that is what we are considering but also want to look at alternatives.
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Old 24-10-2008, 18:17   #4
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Chuck,

We outfitted our cat 2 years ago and also used the ICOM M802. The ICOM is rated for continuous operation at full power and digital e-mail can be hard on a transceiver. (I know from experience. I burned out an old ICOM that I converted to do digital email.)

I used a 24' whip made by Digital Antenna. It was a little more expensive than the Shakespeare, but had a longer warranty and appears to be good quality. It comes in 3 pieces with nice stainless ferrules for screwing the sections together. I had the top section try to unscrew itself once so now I wrap some rigging tape around the joints.

I did a non-conventional bonding between the tuner and the dynaplate outside the hull. Instead of using copper ribbon, I bundled together 5 lengths of duplex 14 AWG marine wire with zip ties about every 6 inches. I stripped the insulation on all 10 wires at each end and twisted them together and crimped on a battery connector (I think #6) on each end. One end connects to bolt on dynaplate and other goes to the tuner. This is simpler, cheaper and more effective than the copper ribbon solution and not as susceptible to corrosion. I got this idea from a guys who installed HF systems for the Air Force. I don't remember the science, but he said this bundle of wire simulates a "large wire pipe" rather than 10 small wires. The number of duplex wires you put in the bundle depends on the distance between tuner and "ocean ground." Longer distance equals larger bundle. There is a formula for this and I will try to find it if your interested.

I've been very happy with this whole rig. We have done better sending/receiving Pactor e-mail (Winlink) than we did on our monohull with a backstay antenna and copper ribbon to the keelboats. During a Bahamas trip we seemed to do as well or better than our friends with more conventional rigs on getting through with e-mail, weather or cruiser nets.
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Old 24-10-2008, 18:33   #5
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Some good thoughts, thanks. Did you not tie into tanks, or anything other than the dynaplate?
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Old 24-10-2008, 20:08   #6
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Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
Some good thoughts, thanks. Did you not tie into tanks, or anything other than the dynaplate?
No other connections, just tuner to dyna plate (about 5 ft apart). As you know, there are lots of opinions on ground plane setup, but the guy that "tutored" me said the best ground is the ocean and the shortest and most direct path to it is the most effective. I know this goes against the commonly accepted theory about tying everything together, but it works. You might want to jury rig this setup and try it before you commit to a permanent solution. I tried it with some house wire first and it worked great, so I bought the good tinned wire and made the permanant connections.
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Old 24-10-2008, 20:15   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions
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Old 24-10-2008, 23:52   #8
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Chuck, I have used Icom radios for a number of years whilst at sea - mostly with a small IC706MkIIG temp installation whilst doing deliveries. Read the (quite old) page on the Sailmail re radios compatible to do digital transmissions (Radios).

My setup on a temp installation on a boat with no Dynaplate is to simply attach a 13 metre length of wire to the ground terminal of the tuner and trail it behind the boat. This has never let me down and I have talked from the Pacific back to South Africa with no problem. You just need to do it at the right time of day.

I would stick to an Icom (M802) as it is one of the most robust radios out there that comes ready to do digital - no "optional extras" needed to be purchased.

JohnT - ZS1JNT
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Old 25-10-2008, 02:27   #9
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Hi Chuck,
We to have the 802 via a whip but after one season waiting waiting waiting, would suggest you also consider a sat phone for digital.
Good luck
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Old 25-10-2008, 06:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svcattales View Post
I did a non-conventional bonding between the tuner and the dynaplate outside the hull. Instead of using copper ribbon, I bundled together 5 lengths of duplex 14 AWG marine wire with zip ties about every 6 inches. I stripped the insulation on all 10 wires at each end and twisted them together and crimped on a battery connector (I think #6) on each end. One end connects to bolt on dynaplate and other goes to the tuner.

The number of duplex wires you put in the bundle depends on the distance between tuner and "ocean ground." Longer distance equals larger bundle. There is a formula for this and I will try to find it if your interested.
Interested, so if you could find it I would appreciate it.
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Old 25-10-2008, 10:09   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svcattales View Post
No other connections, just tuner to dyna plate (about 5 ft apart). As you know, there are lots of opinions on ground plane setup, but the guy that "tutored" me said the best ground is the ocean and the shortest and most direct path to it is the most effective. I know this goes against the commonly accepted theory about tying everything together, but it works. You might want to jury rig this setup and try it before you commit to a permanent solution. I tried it with some house wire first and it worked great, so I bought the good tinned wire and made the permanant connections.
Interesting arrangement, why didn't I think of it .

Standard RF practice has the lowest impedance possible to ground (hence short and direct). RF current travels principally on the surface of the conductor hence the copper strip. Large diameter copper pipe is even better but much harder to bend and shape. This seems a reasonable compromise.

Perhaps you could cable tie the conductors around the outside of say some plastic conduit to simulate a copper tube.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:04   #12
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SSB antenna

How do I make an antenna out of my backstay for a SSB radio
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:12   #13
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How do I make an antenna out of my backstay for a SSB radio
If you mean using your backstay AS an antenna, it usually invloves splicing special rigging insulators near the top and bottom (out of hands reach for safety) of the backstay then wiring the center section to the autotuner.

Of course, since we are talking electricity, your back stay must be conductive. Meaning wire-rope. If you have synthetic rigging (unlikely) then forget what I just said .
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:33   #14
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I used a 24' whip made by Digital Antenna. It was a little more expensive than the Shakespeare, but had a longer warranty and appears to be good quality. It comes in 3 pieces with nice stainless ferrules for screwing the sections together. I had the top section try to unscrew itself once so now I wrap some rigging tape around the joints.

Where would one mount the 24' whip? If not on top of the mast, do the mast and rigging create 'dead' spots in the radiating pattern?
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Old 09-11-2008, 20:38   #15
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How do I make an antenna out of my backstay for a SSB radio
Quote:
Originally Posted by westsail42 View Post
If you mean using your backstay AS an antenna, it usually invloves splicing special rigging insulators near the top and bottom (out of hands reach for safety) of the backstay then wiring the center section to the autotuner.

Of course, since we are talking electricity, your back stay must be conductive. Meaning wire-rope. If you have synthetic rigging (unlikely) then forget what I just said .
Most backstay anteena are end feed rather than centre feed.
Not really practical to centre feed a backstay. End feeding works fine and is much easier to achieve.
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