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Old 25-11-2019, 04:33   #1
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Vesper Problems

I have a Vesper Marine Watch Mate purchased about two years ago, and installed about 18 months ago. Many users rave about this unit and while it has some great features, particularly the anchor alarm, I have been disappointed with it, but wonder if my unit is defective.

From new, the touch screen has been poor with sometimes no response. Resetting the touch screen calibration seems to help for short time, but at its best I would rate the response as very poor.

So the first question. Is the touch screen as poor as I have indicated or is my unit defective?

The second problem is quite recent. The unit now reports a warning message: High SWR greater than 3:1.

We have two independent Metz 6 aerials, only 18 months old on the mast fed with LMR-400 coaxial cable. One on the masthead and one on the second spreader. Switching the aerials connected to the Vesper makes no difference with a high SWR reported for both. Both aerials and connections have been inspected and look perfect. I purchased a SWR meter and used the VHF to test both aerials on high power the SWR of the aerial on the first aerial was between 1.09 to 1.54. The worst SWR was at the low frequencies. The closest talk channel to the AIS frequencies had a SWR of 1.12. The second aerial was even better with a SWR of between 1.10 and 1.02 with a SWR close to AIS frequencies of 1.02. These tests were done on high power. The meter reads the frequency correctly and indicates a little over 20w transmission power from the VHF so the meter seems to be working correctly.

It seems unlikely both aerials have become defective at the same time (I tested both aerials on installations and there was no report of high SWR from the Vesper for either) and the SWR meter shows good results. The receive performance on AIS is also excellent with targets of 30+miles received. On the internet AIS apps our vessel is shown correctly and when a long way from land the base stations seem to pick up our AIS signal better than most other class B vessels.

So my suspicion is that the high SWR warning from the Vesper is incorrect. Does this seem a reasonable conclusion? Is the recent high SWR warning an indication that the Vesper unit itself is malfunctioning internally?
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Old 25-11-2019, 06:44   #2
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Vesper Problems

My touch screen is crap too. For that reason I use the app because the touch screen on my IPad isnít crap.
I had the high VSWR issue, too, not that high and replaced my antenna and Coax, but they were OLD too, and were most likely bad.
I replaced the antenna with the Vesper one sold to work with their AIS and of course radio, itís supposedly a wider band I believe.

Anyway they seem to post here, but also answer support Emails pretty quickly. Iíd shoot them an Email. But in my opinion the touch screen performance is bad, it helps to use the bar beside of the screen to scroll with or as I said I just go to the App.

Since you tested your SWR, you know itís not bad. So the Vesper must be incorrect, but Iíd suspect that doesnít affect its operation.
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Old 25-11-2019, 10:45   #3
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Re: Vesper Problems

I would contact Vesper. I have found them very responsive and helpful. When I was in NZ, they even came to my boat.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:03   #4
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Re: Vesper Problems

Follow up:

Today the unit stopped working completely.

The unit is now refusing to respond via the touchscreen at all. Turning the power off and on shows no improvement and produced the touchscreen ďtap on cross to calibrateĒ message. This effectively freezes the unit, as it will not respond to any touchscreen input.

So the unit is obviously defective, which likely explains the problems I have experienced. I will see what Vesper can do to fix it.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:51   #5
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Re: Vesper Problems

Vesper Marine replied almost immediately and are trying to sort out the problem, which is nice to see.

It is surprising how soon you miss technology such as AIS. As well as AIS, the Vesper unit has an excellent anchor alarm that also relayed the position in our swing circle to the owners’ cabin.

We are expecting over 40 knots at our anchorage tonight and again over the next couple of days so it is not great timing. We have alternative anchor alarms, but they don’t have some of the useful features such as the displacement from the aerial to the bow position. Also, without an external GPS signal the accuracy compared to the the Vesper suffers.

This relayed information is sent to an old mobile phone via WiFi from the Vesper unit is displayed above our heads while sleeping. As well as the position within the swing circle, we can also see windspeed, heading, depth etc:
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Old 08-12-2019, 13:18   #6
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Re: Vesper Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
I have a Vesper Marine Watch Mate...

...The unit now reports...SWR greater than 3:1.

We have two independent Metz 6 aerials, only 18 months old on the mast fed with LMR-400 coaxial cable. One on the masthead and one on the second spreader. Switching the aerials connected to the Vesper makes no difference with a high SWR reported for both. Both aerials and connections have been inspected and look perfect. I purchased a SWR meter...
I assume that the "SWR meter" needs an external signal source to make a measurement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
...used the VHF to test both aerials on high power...the SWR of the aerial on the first aerial was between 1.09 to 1.54. The worst SWR was at the low frequencies. The closest talk channel to the AIS frequencies had a SWR of 1.12. The second aerial was even better with a SWR of between 1.10 and 1.02 with a SWR close to AIS frequencies of 1.02. These tests were done on high power....

...It seems unlikely both aerials have become defective at the same time...
I agree with that conclusion that the coincidence to two antennas failing simultaneously is unlikely, but your testing really has not tested either antennas at the AIS frequency.


If you were using your 25-Watt VHF Marine Band radio as the transmitter to test the antenna(s) for VSWR there is going to be a fundamental problem.

A ship station transmitter in the VHF Marine Band transmits at the very low end of the band, around 156-MHz. An AIS transmitter transmits at the very high end of the band, 162-MHz. About the highest frequency of transmission from a ship-station radio will be on Channel 28 at 157.4-MHz. That is still quite a way away from 162-MHz.

There is no way to make a valid inference about the VSWR of the antenna at 162-MHz based on just measuring it at 156 to 157-MHz. This is a general problem for testing any AIS antenna: most boaters have no way to measure VSWR at 162-MHz unless they have some specialized gear.

Regarding the METZ MANTA 6 antenna: the VSWR bandwidth of a small-diameter metal whip end-fed half-wavelength antenna with a high-Q matching network is not going to be particularly broad. If you want to use an antenna like that for AIS, you should adjust the antenna length (using the whip cutting chart that is usually provided by the antenna maker) for 162-MHz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
...my suspicion is that the high SWR warning from the Vesper is incorrect. Does this seem a reasonable conclusion?
No. I don't think your SWR meter testing has proven that the Vesper SWR alarm is wrong. A better test to assess the Vesper unit will be to connect it to a good 50-Ohm dummy load. Let the Vesper unit measure the SWR of that load, which should be 1.0-to-1 (assuming a quality 50-Ohm load). In this manner you can be confident that the load connected to the Vesper will have a very low SWR. If the Vesper alarms that the SWR exceeds 3:1 on a dummy load, then you have established that the SWR measurement being reported by the Vesper is in error.

The failure of other components in the Vesper you reported in a follow up post may be related to or perhaps caused by a defect that could have affected the SWR measurement. There may be a bad ground connection in the device involved with the transmitter output. That bad ground could throw off the SWR measurement that the internal SWR circuit was sampling and let RF leak into places it should not be, causing harm to other circuits.
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Old 08-12-2019, 14:45   #7
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Re: Vesper Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by continuouswave View Post
I assume that the "SWR meter" needs an external signal source to make a measurement.

I agree with that conclusion that the coincidence to two antennas failing simultaneously is unlikely, but your testing really has not tested either antennas at the AIS frequency.

If you were using your 25-Watt VHF Marine Band radio as the transmitter to test the antenna(s) for VSWR there is going to be a fundamental problem.

A ship station transmitter in the VHF Marine Band transmits at the very low end of the band, around 156-MHz. An AIS transmitter transmits at the very high end of the band, 162-MHz. About the highest frequency of transmission from a ship-station radio will be on Channel 28 at 157.4-MHz. That is still quite a way away from 162-MHz..
Thanks for the comments, but this is not correct. The closest VHF voice channel is M2/P4 with a frequency of 161.425 MHz. This is a long way above the 157.4 MHZ transmission frequency of channel 28 that you quote. 161.425 MHz is close to AIS frequencies of 161.975 and 162.025.

I have tested the SWR at 161.425 MHz. The SWR for the aerial used for the Vesper on this frequency was an excellent 1.02:1

The tuned frequency of antenna can be estimated by graphing the SWR at various frequencies. I have done this. The SWR of the antenna at the AIS frequencies is low, certainly below 1.10:1. This is long way from the point where the Vesper reports a warning at 3.0:1

This has been tested with two completely independent antennae. Both of these are new (around a year old), professionaly installed with good quality co-axial cable (LMR -400) and a good quality marine 1/2 wavelength stainless steel antenna (Metz). The manufacturer claims a SWR of below 1.2:1 from 156-163 MHz encompassing the AIS frequencies. All connections have been checked on both antenna.

The Vesper unit reports a SWR of above 3.0:1 with both of these antenna despite the SWR meter reporting excellent and much lower results.

I think the only logical conclusion is that the reported SWR of over 3.0 from the Vesper unit is in error.
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Old 08-12-2019, 15:05   #8
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Re: Vesper Problems

Itís swallowed itís behind.
Question I guess is it software or hardware?
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:15   #9
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Re: Vesper Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
I have a Vesper Marine Watch Mate purchased about two years ago, and installed about 18 months ago. Many users rave about this unit and while it has some great features, particularly the anchor alarm, I have been disappointed with it, but wonder if my unit is defective.
Pretty clear, as your following posts indicate, the unit is defective. My experience, mostly with the Vesper 8000B, is that the touch screen is as good as any other.

From your description it sounds like the SWR detection is faulty. I don't see commonality in failure modes for a bad screen and bad SWR detection but I don't have the circuit diagram to look at.

Your testing pretty well eliminates coax and connectors. That said, for the record LMR-400 is really good coax as long as you don't let water get into the foam insulation. That means good connectors properly installed. Crimp-ons are a bad answer. Good solder-solder silver-Teflon connectors with adhesive-lined heat shrink covered with a self-amalgamating tape. Belt and suspenders. You don't want water in the coax. I don't think that's your problem.

Metz 6 antennas are good stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by continuouswave View Post
If you were using your 25-Watt VHF Marine Band radio as the transmitter to test the antenna(s) for VSWR there is going to be a fundamental problem.
The marine VHF band runs from 156 MHz to a bit over 162 MHz. That's only 6 MHz. It's not hard to design an antenna with 8 or 10 MHz of bandwidth with SWR less than 1.5:1. One of my 2m ham antennas is less then 1.2:1 across the 4 MHz wide band. I think you are off base citing frequency as the issue here.

I think the Metz 6 Manta is a 5/8 end-fed which means a lower launch angle. Lots of wide bandwidth applications on the market.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:41   #10
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Re: Vesper Problems

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Thanks for the comments, but this is not correct. The closest VHF voice channel is M2/P4 with a frequency of 161.425 MHz.
My USA/FCC bias was showing. I have never heard of the M2/P4 channel in the VHF Marine Band. Transmitting on 161.425 MHz is not available for use in the VHF Marine Band on radios in the USA. Also, and more important, as a practical matter that channel is not available on a typical VHF Marine Band radio sold in the USA, even if set to the Canadian or International band plans.

Can you give the manufacturer and model of the VHF Marine Band radio that can be set to transmit on 161.425 MHz?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
The tuned frequency of antenna can be estimated by graphing the SWR at various frequencies.
An estimate can be made with a linear extrapolation, but there is no guarantee the VSWR curve of the antenna will be strictly linear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
The manufacturer claims a SWR of below 1.2:1 from 156-163 MHz encompassing the AIS frequencies.
That is an impressive VSWR bandwidth for an antenna with such a small diameter radiator with end-feed matching to the transmission line, and also a very small tolerance for a mis-match. Usually 2:1 VSWR is the specified limit for VSWR bandwidth.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:24   #11
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Re: Vesper Problems

Regarding measurement of VSWR with a directional coupler:

In making measurement of VSWR with an in-line directional coupler, the coupler itself affects the accuracy of the measurements, with the directivity of the coupler being the main influence. As the VSWR becomes closer to 1:1. the influence of the coupler's directivity becomes more significant. A VSWR of 1.2-to-1 requires that the incident power and the reflected power be in a ratio of 100:1. For example, a forward power of 20-Watts and a reflected power of 0.2-Watts are a VSWR of 1.22:1.

In terms of dBm those power levels are +43 dBm and +23 dBm. This means the directivity of the directional coupler must be greater than 20 dB to be able to accurately measure a VSWR this low. Usually a professional grade directional wattmeter is necessary, such as a BIRD Model 43. The Model 43 is specified to have a directivity of greater than 25 dB, so it can actually provide useful measurements of VSWR in the vicinity of 1.2-to-1. Lack of directivity in the direction coupler tends to enhance the measured VSWR, that is, make it lower than actual.

When measuring antenna VSWR, any loss in the transmission line between the VSWR coupler and the antenna being measured will affect the measurement. Loss in the transmission line tends to enhance the measured VSWR, that is, make it lower than actual. For example, if there were 3 dB loss in a transmission line, a VSWR measurement of an open end, that is, no antenna connected at all, but measured at the transmitter end would still indicate a VSWR of 3-to-1. This leads to a general rule in working with VHF antennas that if the VSWR is 3:1 there probably is no antenna connected at all.
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Old 10-12-2019, 10:37   #12
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Re: Vesper Problems

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Your testing pretty well eliminates coax and connectors. That said, for the record LMR-400 is really good coax as long as you don't let water get into the foam insulation. That means good connectors properly installed.
Thanks, I had not heard that before.

Lots of heat-shrink .
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:20   #13
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Re: Vesper Problems

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My USA/FCC bias was showing. I have never heard of the M2/P4 channel in the
Can you give the manufacturer and model of the VHF Marine Band radio that can be set to transmit on 161.425 MHz?
161.425 MHz is a European marine VHF frequency. Confusingly, the channel is given a different designation in different countries. It is known as M2 in UK, P4 in France and I think P1 in some countries. However, they are all the same simplex channel so if asked to switch to M2 you can use P4 and vice versa. Most marine radios sold in Europe will have this frequency. Ours is an ICOM 506.

Quote:
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An estimate can be made with a linear extrapolation, but there is no guarantee the VSWR curve of the antenna will be strictly linear.
The SWR at a particular frequency cannot be precisely measured without transmitting on that frequency. I do have a VHF ham radio that can transmit on the AIS frequencies, but using it in this way would be illegal and for good reason. The AIS system is an important safety sytem so transmitting an anologue non genuine AIS transmission would be a very bad idea. However, with the excellent SWR of 1.02 only at only a slightly different (and legal) frequency there is no doubt that a simple antenna such as this would still have a good SWR at the AIS frequencies. The test shows that the SWR reported by the Vesper unit of greater than 3:1 is not possible and indicate an internal fault of the Vesper unit rather than an aerial problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by continuouswave View Post
That is an impressive VSWR bandwidth for an antenna with such a small diameter radiator with end-feed matching to the transmission line, and also a very small tolerance for a mis-match. Usually 2:1 VSWR is the specified limit for VSWR bandwidth.
I was very pleased with the excellent SWR. The installation was done by the boatbuilder, but I specified seperate antennas for the VHF and AIS (no splitter), good quality Metz antennae, LMR-400 co-ax and N connectors (rather than PL259) at the mast break. These details are a step up from many boats (although there are even higher transmission co-ax options but generally with weight and thickness penalties).

The installation is more important than the radio.
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:37   #14
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Re: Vesper Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
161.425 MHz is a European marine VHF frequency. Confusingly, the channel is given a different designation in different countries. It is known as M2 in UK, P4 in France and I think P1 in some countries. However, they are all the same simplex channel so if asked to switch to M2 you can use P4 and vice versa. Most marine radios sold in Europe will have this frequency. Ours is an ICOM 506.



......
It looks like it is a UK specific channel
Quote:
Additionally, both licences authorise the use of
equipment on the marina Channels ĎMí (157.850 MHz) and ĎM2í (161.425 MHz), which are
not international maritime channels. However, these two channels may not be used
beyond the extent of UK territorial seas.
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__search/s/...&query=161.425
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:23   #15
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Re: Vesper Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
161.425 MHz is a European marine VHF frequency....Most marine radios sold in Europe will have this frequency. Ours is an ICOM 506.
Thanks for that information. There seems to be a recent newly-instituted division in VHF Marine Band radio VERSIONS available:

--a version that is sold globally, with preset band plans for USA, Canada, and International; and,

--a version sold in Europe, with specialized band plans (UK or elsewhere) and usually with ATIS (automatic transmitter identification system).

In the case of the cited ICOM "506" radio, you must have the ICOM IC-M506EURO radio. I don't think that model is available for sale or approved for sale in the USA. I do see that in the owner's manual for the IC M506EURO

Cf.: http://www.icom.co.jp/world/support/...M506EURO_1.pdf

on folio 106 there is a chart showing 162.425-MHz as available in the radio as a simplex channel, but in the owner's manual for the IC-M506 (as available in USA) there is no provision for that channel.

I think you are as parochial as I was (with my USA/FCC bias) because your view of what radios can transmit on 161.425 is specific to certain recent models available only in Europe.

But thanks for mentioning this M2 or P4 channel; I was completely unaware of it.

By the way, in the USA, the FCC has allocated a portion of the VHF Marine Band to other services, principally the railroads. The shore-station transmit frequency of what otherwise would have been duplex ship-to-shore channels is now in use by railroads for their simplex communication.
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