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Old 08-09-2018, 13:32   #1
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Angry Vesper SP 160 mode of failure

I have a Vesper XB8000 hooked up though a Vesper SP160 antenna splitter.
A while back I noticed we weren't seeing some vessels that should have been transmitting AIS. Sometimes all was well, sometimes, (in hindsight), many vessels weren't showing up. Finally it got to the point that very few were showing up and VHF reception seemed to only be picking up distance high powered stations, CG, vessel assist, and the like.
After checking the XB8000 with the Watchmate iOS application and finding it showing a VSWR of 3+ and then checking the SP160, I found the SP160 illuminating both the VHF and AIS "transmitting LEDs" when the VHF transmitted. After checking the VHF and XB8000 separately on the masthead antenna, and finding they both worked well independently, It was obvious the SP160 had a hardware failure.
Great, the unit is 2.5 years old and perhaps in service for 2 years before acting up. Emailed Vesper Support and received timely responses suggesting various actions to confirm a hardware failure. After trying their suggestions it was determined the unit was bad. Since the retailer doesn't support Vesper repairs/warranty, Vesper's solution is to send the unit to New Zealand for a $100 flat repair, with $54 return charge, and perhaps a $50 cost to ship it to them! So for around $200 (New=$229) I can get this unit repaired in perhaps a month or two
Or Milltech Marine will sell me a new a new for 10% off, which just happens to be the "discount" everyone gets on their website! What a deal!
So the moral of this story is; if you have a SP160, watch your AIS performance and be prepared to have to either replace it or live without it. I have decided, since neither the manufacturer or retailer care to give any real break on a replacement, I'm going back to separate antennas for the VHF and AIS. That'll give me a better level of reliability.

PS: I not trying to dis Vesper equipment, I actually like my XB8000 very much, perhaps I just got stuck in a S***Happens situation

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Old 08-09-2018, 15:32   #2
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Vesper SP 160 mode of failure

Sometimes things fail out of warranty.
It happens, however your the first reported failure of the splitter that I had heard of, Iím surprised itís repairable.

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Old 03-10-2018, 15:14   #3
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Re: Vesper SP 160 mode of failure

Follow up;
Sorry I've been unable to reply or follow up.
On a recent cruise I just hooked up a second AIS antenna on the stern arch and both the VHF and XB8000 worked fine. My point earlier was, the the failure was intermittent and took time to realise the diminished performance and one should be aware if you have this device. As to warranty issues, warranties are of little value when shipping and flat rate repair diagnostics costs more than a new unit, beware.
So fast forward, I removed the unit and was sitting looking at it to decide if I should throw it away or what, so I decided to open it up. At great danger of ignoring the warnings of voiding warranties, I bravely proceeded. I found the internal pigtail connecting the AIS external connector to the PCB to be disconnected at the PCB. It's a small gold plug, it was touching the socket on the PCB, but not plugged in.
Whether or not that cures the issues remains to be seen, as it will be a few weeks before I'm able to test it out. I sent an email to Vesper to ask if that would cause the symptoms I was having, we'll see. I'll report back when I reinstall and test the unit.
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Old 04-10-2018, 05:05   #4
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Re: Vesper SP 160 mode of failure

I purchased XB8000 & S160 about two years ago. The SP160 was not working properly. After 2 months vesper sent a new one. Not working either. Then sent a third one which has been working well till now, or so it seems.

The XB8000 will show a good VSWR (signal to noise ratio ?) even though it's not good enough for proper AIS transmission.

For anyone willing to install a splitter I would stay away from vesper.
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Old 28-10-2018, 20:12   #5
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Angry Re: Vesper SP 160 mode of failure

Just a quick follow up. After opening the SP160 and finding a detached plug on the PCB and reattaching it I finally got around to reinstalling and trying it out. It now apparently works fine, it appears the problem was the plug.
Also I'd note that Vesper never responded to my inquiries. So there you go, that's customer service. Thanks
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