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Old 02-05-2016, 04:57   #1
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Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Ok so I bought a groovy wifi antenna and 25m of cat6 cable to fit it. Has anyone run a wire up the mast, or down, and any advice on how to do it? One option would be fit it at the spreaders or even on the cabin top but I'm guessing the top of the mast would be best reception. Any tips on what might be inside the mast and how to run the cable would be greatly appreciated. Obviously just dropping it in carelessly might cause it to tangle with halyards and slap around...
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Old 02-05-2016, 05:39   #2
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Monte,

You've got conduit in there to keep those pesky electrical wires from interfering with the business lines... Mine has four conduit runs... A few ideas on how to get the Cat6 started in the end of the conduit...

Step 1: Pull the mast...
I kid...

You're likely not to have an electrical fish tape on board, so it makes things harder... So more than likely you're going to have to break the connection of whatever it is electrical wise on the stick where you want your antenna at the mast base...

Take your cat6 and a mouse line (some small cord or wire), tape them to the wire already run with a nice taper. Stagger them so you don't have 1 big bump in the tape... pull all from above, separate your cat6, and pull your original wires back down...

You can do the whole operation from the top end too if you want...
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Old 02-05-2016, 05:45   #3
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Pic of the conduit runs so you can see what I'm talking about...
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:19   #4
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

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Originally Posted by monte View Post
Ok so I bought a groovy wifi antenna and 25m of cat6 cable to fit it. Has anyone run a wire up the mast, or down, and any advice on how to do it? One option would be fit it at the spreaders or even on the cabin top but I'm guessing the top of the mast would be best reception. Any tips on what might be inside the mast and how to run the cable would be greatly appreciated. Obviously just dropping it in carelessly might cause it to tangle with halyards and slap around...
Did this job a year ago, so details a bit scetchy due to repressed memory. It's a bit of a mission!

Firstly, i was advised to get coaxial cable crimpted on to antenna, as this is best weatherproof. Electronic gurus who supplied antenna did maths on RMS gain, cable length losses and other electro-techno stuff that I didn't comprehend. Short story is that there is not a lot to be gained, signal wise by placement at mast top over the signal from the second spreader. I was happy with this advice as its easier to mount the antenna base on the top spreader than mast top (my knees shake less) and the cable run is shorter and easier.

I screwed an antenna base to middle of the upper side of a top spreader. A friend on another L400 used a bracket to mount in front of mast at top spreader level, and this looks a bit neater than mine. From here we ran the cable along rig wires with many cable ties, to the lower spreader level of the mast. The cable enters the mast through the hole for the radar cables. It then shares the in mast conduit with these cables down to the mast base.

Now, the fun starts! There is a plasic plate at the mast base that had a few inches of water on top of it when we removed the access flap near the bottom of the mast. Wires pass through this in an "S " bend fashion. No matter how many tricks and clever wire threading tools we borrowed, we couldn't get the cable to follow other cabling installed before the mast was stepped.

Plan "B" was to push a length of metal rod up from the anchor locker through the conduit running down from the mast base. Push it up hard to mark the right place on the plastic mast plate for a straight cable run. Then with a long bit, drill a hole through the access panel near mast base to run the cable through. Seal up with lots of Sika. The cable now runs through the main bulkhead junction box, up inside the cabin to a plug socket near the nav station.

It did improve our coverage! Good luck.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:31   #5
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

cotton ball on a light string... vacuum cleaner... will pull the string right through the conduit.
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Old 02-05-2016, 16:06   #6
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

If the antenna is on the top of the mast it may not see a marina wifi signal, which if it is a high gain omnidirectional antenna might have a vertical radiation angle of something inadequate, maybe 20 deg, so if you are berthed very near the transmitter you won't receive the signal. Most of the time it will be fine.

For threading the wire, to add to what has been said you can make up a snake. A mouse line with a few dozen small nuts on the end. They work to flow over obstacles when dropping down a conduit.

Alternatively I would consider to pull out the spreader light cable and pull a mouse line through on its end, then pull it back with both the spreader cable and the cat 6 cable.
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Old 02-05-2016, 16:22   #7
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

I would Disconnect an existing wire (deck light, radar) and use it to route a mouse line. Otherwise it may be hard to get into the conduit runs.

Since you are talking about cat6 cable I guess you don't have a wifi antenna but something like a ubiquiti bullet or nano. These are great but as mentioned before you may be unable to see marina networks of you mount too high, depending on the antenna used. Plus if you get too close to the VHF you may see interference. On the spreaders sounds better, with enough room to the radar.

Make sure the Cat6 is of the soft patch cable type. Those cables meant for installation in walls etc will suffer from the constant movement and break.
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Old 02-05-2016, 16:25   #8
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Conduit is a time tested Idea. A cheap and fairly easy solution I did on one boat was pull the wires through the mast with butterfly shaped plastic pieces cut out of milk cartons affixed every foot and a half or so which kept the wires in the middle of the mast. Cut the butterfly pieces slightly larger than the inside of the mast. Not a clank ever from the wires after that. That wouldn't work so well with internal halyards however.

With a wifi extender, I'd personally probably just tie to to a halyard and haul it up as high as needed when needed.
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Old 02-05-2016, 16:56   #9
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Well, if one conduit is empty, use about a 4 oz fishing weight to pull a line down thru, then pull the wire up. If wires are in all conduits, I'm betting it's a bitch!
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Old 02-05-2016, 19:15   #10
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

There is no problem getting the cable down the mast of a Lagoon 400, the problem occurs at the mast base. There is a plastic plate with a "S" shaped path for the cable to route through. This happens with a raised section in the plastic mast base plate being offset to the conduit into the hull below the mast. This is then caulked with sealant. All the cute cabling tricks, tools and clever sages that i could find tred their best on my boat and my mate's sistership. We tried to push though the sealant from above and below. Access from each is very tight.

It would have been easy to install the cabling before the mast was stepped but not after. Drilling a new hole in the mast base plate was the only option remaining.
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Old 02-05-2016, 22:23   #11
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

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Originally Posted by TurninTurtle View Post
cotton ball on a light string... vacuum cleaner... will pull the string right through the conduit.


I use this one all the time very effectively however I use a small piece of Styrofoam instead of a cotton ball.
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Old 02-05-2016, 23:07   #12
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Hi Monte,
I dont know if its the same as our 410 but we jus recently put up a TV aerial and wind instrument cable. We have two conduits in our mast but found that the base of the conduit sat on a sill that is below the level of the cable outlet. After checking with the rigger I was able to increase the size of the outlet making it 12mm wider giving me great access to the conduit. Trying to pull through the base of the conduit is not practical as it causes to much friction and you can only pull a very short section at a time.
Being an old sparky (electrician) it is always better to pull the cable as straight as possible. As I had access one of the conduits I was able to use a multi oscilating took made elongated cut to the conduit at the height of the mast cable entry. This gave me good access to the inside of the conduit and cabling allowing wires to be pulled through with relative ease. The use of a good a good lubricant will on the cable will make a significant difference to drawing the cable through.
The S bend on the 410 is only held on by four self tapping screws. Once the S bend is off its I found that the cable had sufficient bend and strength to push it through the bend. Once again lubricant is highly recommended.
It is far easier to pull a cable down a mast than up so if possible and you can run a rat wire down the mast take the cable up the mast with you and haul down from the base. This method takes a lot of strain off join between rat wire and cable being installed.
Hope this is of some assistance. If using osciallting tool mark care is required not to cut into the conduit to deep. It helps considerably to mark the depth of the cut on the cutting tool with electrical tap to know how deep you need to cut.


Greg and Sue
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Old 03-05-2016, 22:23   #13
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

The trick I really find to work is to find a piece of steel chainthat has enough weight yet is small enough to fit in your conduit. Attach this to a string and then when u drop it to the bottom of the conduit you can use a magnet to retrieve it.
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Old 18-04-2017, 17:54   #14
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

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...It would have been easy to install the cabling before the mast was stepped but not after. Drilling a new hole in the mast base plate was the only option remaining.
Can you better describe where you drilled a hole to make the connection? A picture if you don't mind? I'm now in the midst of the same dilemma.
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Old 18-04-2017, 19:13   #15
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Re: Running a wire up the mast, tips and tricks?

Roll dental floss into a small ball and blow thru conduit with compressed air or a vac cleaner in reverse.
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