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Old 07-12-2021, 06:25   #1
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General Amateur Radio question…

I have my general license for HF Amateur radio operation and I was considering installing an Icom M803 in the used Leopard I just bought.

I was curious what radio and antenna configuration you SSB operators are using?
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Old 07-12-2021, 07:23   #2
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Icom IC-M710, Icom AT-140, insulated backstay, copper foil ground in hull installed at its manufacture, and Winlink email with a SignaLink USB.

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Old 07-12-2021, 08:12   #3
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Although not installed yet, I am going with an Icom IC-707 (Ham rig, not a Marine SSB). The auto tuner is an MFJ-939() secured in a water tight box. Ground was to be a thru hull for seawater connectivity and home made KISS. Antenna a 35' (this includes the GTO-15) alternate backstay using a spare halyard installed for that purpose.

My planned operation was ham only, no Marine SSB.
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Old 08-12-2021, 00:10   #4
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Pillard,
1) The short answer is:
I have TWO Icom M-802's on-board (one connected and one spare), using an Icom AT-140 remote auto-tuner, with ~ 60' long backstay antenna....using short run of wide copper strapping to two 18" x 6" bronze Dynaplates, using the sea water as my antenna ground.
All works great....no objectionable RFI....actually except for some RFI birdies from my fridge, which are low-level and cause no issue, I have no on-board RFI....

Please note that NO expensive external modem (No PACTOR modem) is needed at all!
Not needed for any HF Voice Comms, not needed for any offshore / hi-seas weather info/forecasts, not needed for any Distress Signaling, nor for anything at all (unless you desire email connectivity while at sea / on-passage, and in far remote areas.....and, then we can discuss that small niche application)













My current set-up has served me well for years, a few Atlantic crossings, and many heavy-weather passages....with no issues, and always-there 24/7/365 comms!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pillard View Post
I have my general license for HF Amateur radio operation and I was considering installing an Icom M803 in the used Leopard I just bought.

I was curious what radio and antenna configuration you SSB operators are using?
Most Catamaran's use similar (M-802 or M-803, with AT-140 tuner, and some sort of underwater connection for antenna ground [Dynaplate or bronze thru-hull]), but as they typically have no backstay, they use either:
--- a "rope-tenna" (usually home-made), that works well
--- an insulated outer-shroud (that also works well)
--- or a stern-mounted whip (23' - 28' long, which is a disadvantage compared to the other options....but some with a larger 35' whip, find good results)




2) The long answer is....well, it is really long!
But, good news is that it is ALL covered in great detail for you in the stickies above, right here on the Marine Electronics page!

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / properly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...tc-133496.html

HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...tc-198305.html


And, much is covered in the videos on these Youtube Playlists:
Please watch these video playlists (where the videos are laid-out in an easy-to-understand and logical order):

HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Maritime HF Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


Offshore Weather sources
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


VHF-DSC
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...J6QugtO2epizxF


Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY



3) And, my "best" answer (if that's actually possible?) is...well, I'm going to quote myself from just last week:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
I hope you don't mind some blunt / direct advice? 'Cuz, here goes.

As I (and others) have written / preached for decades now, HF communications (whether VOICE, FSK/Teletype, PACTOR/Data, or even Morse Code) is all about received S/N (Signal-to-Noise Ratio)!!!
The higher this ratio, the better....and the more successful your communications will be!
That's what it is all about!
No BS....that's it! Almost nothing else matters!

It's in the "how to maximize the S/N" that the details come out....high on this list is:

a) radiowave propagation expertise....the operator knowing what band/freq to use for a specific time-of-day and specific communications distance...[operator experience / expertise is still tied with "antennas" and "eliminating receive RFI", as the most important parts of the HF communications system, even with modern 21st Century radios]
And, please note the importance here of learning these things, using VOICE COMMUNICATIONS first! Attempting to make a "plug-n-play" digital HF system work, without understanding and gaining experience in HF Voice Comms on-board can be very, very frustrating!!
(Although in the realm of Maritime Distress Comms, operator knowledge of radiowave propagation has been all but eliminated by use of multi-freq HF-DSC signaling...but, that's a whole 'nother discussion.)

b) reducing / eliminating sources of RFI nearby (typically within 1/4 - 1/2 mile of your antenna / radio) On our boats that includes everywhere on-board!
Note it is also important here for you to be using Voice comms, in order to understand what is "noise" versus what is "signal", etc...


c) improving antennas / antenna system (for us, this is almost all improving the transmit antenna, 'cuz we don't have the room for separate receive antennas, but proper grounding helps both transmit and receive)


d) Proper radio, tuner, antenna, and antenna ground installation / wiring / connections / commissioning!
Something as simple as making sure the radio is powered directly (of course with fuse or breaker) from the main battery bank, and NOT thru a distribution panel / breaker panel / buss bar, etc. can make a world of difference in your signal being heard (as well as you reducing the RFI picked-up by your radio)

e) having a radio that handles noises well (unfortunately, except for some very recent [3rd qrt 2021] advances in a few ham radios, most of our "modern" HF radios, are inferior to those produced 15 - 30 years ago...but we have what we have, so we should go back up to "b", and rid our boats of RFI!!!), and use of headphones (I prefer Kenwood HS-6's or HS-5's, but I'm a radio nut...just about any set of headphones will work well, no need to spend more than $40 - $ 50), etc....and overall operator experience / expertise (the more you get on-the-air and talk to people, the better....just take "on-air-advice" with the same grain of salt as "online advice"!), etc...


If you accept these as absolute facts, watch the videos, eliminate on-board RFI, etc....you should be successful!

John

Pillard, please read the stickies....watch the videos....and accept that if you follow a few basic rules (that have been accepted practice for decades), things will work, it's just not quite like using a smartphone.

I do hope this helps.

Fair winds.

John
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Old 08-12-2021, 06:42   #5
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

I used a centre fed dipole with the length cut to the Maritime net run up alongside my backstay. Worked fine for years.
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Old 08-12-2021, 06:50   #6
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

IC817 with a AH4 Auto tuner and a KISS counterpoise


Not the best setup but it works and is relatively cheap.
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Old 08-12-2021, 07:15   #7
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

I agree with the previous post that the old radios can be better than some of the new. I like the M-710 marine SSB radio because its programming provides easy access to the marine channels through its dial and has 150 Watts of output.

The M-710 can also be used as a general ham radio with some programming or with a hookup to a laptop. If the laptop is running a remote control software for the M-710, you have full Amateur frequency access as well as the ability to receive Wea-FAX to a file on the laptop, decode CW or run any of the digital modes.

Remote control is my preferred method of operation. At any moment, should the need arise, I can flip to a marine channel or press the emergency beacon button. The software also provides memory locations for storing your favorite frequencies for nets or weather fax reception.

The one thing the newer radios have, which makes propagation and frequency selection a breeze is the waterfall panadapter. Of course this can be addressed with the addition of a SDR dongle to your laptop. The SDR will show the frequency spectrum and where the traffic is active.

At some point you need to decide where to draw the line between utility and capability... between hobby and appliance ease of use. I think having HF radios on board provides additional safety and capability, as well as a way to stay in touch with other cruising hams.
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Old 08-12-2021, 09:14   #8
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Here are some low cost installations that do not require modifications of your boat:
I have had good success using an un-insulated back stay for the antenna. I attached the antenna tuner under the deck out of the weather. My simulations show that the mast and side stays and many other things re-radiate your signal and make the patterns from and insulated and un-insulated back stay very unpredictable.

If your hulls are solid glass then you can try lining the inside of one of both hulls with copper. I used 1' wide copper sheet used by builders to cap foundations. I tack soldered adjacent sheets about every foot. This makes a good ground through a capacitor with the CU as one plate and the other the sea water.
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Old 08-12-2021, 09:28   #9
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Pillard,
1) Oppsss...I didn't read between the lines, I guess...as you mentioned you were "considering installing an Icom M-803", and asked "what radio and antenna configuration" we "SSB operators" are using.

I interpreted this as asking about HF Maritime Communications....and, what radio/antenna, and how it's configured...
But, the title of your post is "General Amateur Radio question"....and, I sorta' missed that over all query.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pillard View Post
I have my general license for HF Amateur radio operation and I was considering installing an Icom M803 in the used Leopard I just bought.

I was curious what radio and antenna configuration you SSB operators are using?
2) So, to be clear....in my experience / in my opinion (assisted in my first Marine HF-SSB install, in 1973....and have been an active ham and marine HF user for many decades since) the Icom M-802 is the best overall maritime HF radio / amateur HF radio to have on-board!
The Icom M-803 is a close second place....

For both HF Maritime and HF Ham use, on-board....All other "modern HF maritime radios" (Furuno FS-1575, Sailor 6315, JRC, etc.) are very distance thirds.....(although, if all you wanted was maritime HF comms, the Sailor 6350 is my fav....but, that's not what you want/need)

And, while some sailors that have no use for HF Maritime comms (like coastal or inland water sailors, etc.), but who do desire to play around with ham radio, have a wide variety of choices of ham radios, I'm not certain this is your situation?
So, I'm not going to ramble on and on about "this radio does this", or "try this radio" etc....as, I think that will throw way too much confusion into your simple question.

But, if you do desire this info, it is all right here for you....
I will look for my lengthy posts, where I went thru the myriad of choices for useful/effective ham radios, brand by brand, model by model, etc...

If you REALLY want the question(s) answered in detail, with both the engineering reasons and practical / real world reasons why each is either good, bad, or ugly....have a look at these threads, but be forewarned, you'll leave with more knowledge about various HF radios than 95% of your fellow hams, and > 99% of your fellow sailors!

"What is your favorite radio for marine SSB and Ham?"
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3002757

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3002871


Landlocked sailor, wanting advice on what ham radio to buy (for use on land, and then maybe on-board)
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post2960916

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post2947988




3) I don't wish to sound contrary, but except for occasional "net" operations, the Icom M-710 is not very accommodating for use as a ham radio (unless you use a computer to run the radio?).....yes, it will work, but it isn't an easy-peasy ham rig (like the M-802 is).
[oh, and please don't forget it's an old non-DSC radio...as are all ham radios, non-DSC radios!]

Also, while (as I mentioned above) there a myriad of choices of ham radios out there, the actual facts are:
a) if you don't rid your boat of RFI,
b) make every effort to improve your transmit antenna and ground,
c) properly install / wire-up the radio/tuner/antenna/ground
d) learn about HF rdaiowave propagation
Well, if you don't do those things, the choice of radio is rather moot!

{this is why/how, we have said for decades that an old crappy, rusty radio, in the hands of an experienced operator can "work-the-world" (assuming you have a decent antenna).....but the newest, best, shinnyest, radio, in the hands of an inexperienced operator (and/or a radio that isn't installed/wired properly), can't talk-across-town"!}


Pillard, I do hope this helps?

Fair winds

John
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Old 08-12-2021, 09:43   #10
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

ICOM 802, AT-140 on the backstay, copper foil throughout the bilge, self-installed and a major pain. But the system works very well.

73's
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Old 08-12-2021, 10:20   #11
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

I use a single 1/8" dia. plastic covered end fed wire, about 30' long, coming from a tuner, hoisted to the top of the mast with an insulator at the top of the wire, and some rope to continue up to the top of the mast. It works like a charm. I have both SSB and Ham. The SSB tunes the tuner to whatever frequency I want to use the Ham radio on. It's simple, effective and costs practically nothing to install.

The ground is two bronze grounding plates, similar to the setup in the photo above.
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Old 10-12-2021, 18:25   #12
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Re: General Amateur Radio question…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pillard View Post
I have my general license for HF Amateur radio operation and I was considering installing an Icom M803 in the used Leopard I just bought.

I was curious what radio and antenna configuration you SSB operators are using?
IC706 MkIIG tucked behind the saloon seating near the nav desk, with remote head at eye-level on one of the panels.
Then to AT140 tucked just under the port aft deck.
Earth strap to existing bronze plate just back from the keel.

That's as far as I have got. The big cast iron keel is also a possibility for capacitive coupling into the water, but yet to experiment there.

It would be soooo easy to just couple the ATU straight to the back-stay tang under the deck. Fine for Rx, but the thought of potential high voltage points on the mast affecting the active TV antenna, the Radar, the LED lighting etc up there, deters me from doing that. Plus the RF coming back into the cabin with the chainplate rods and compression post is a concern.

Therefore the antenna will be a 'rope antenna' (double braid with the core replaced by insulated multi-strand wire) pulled off to the solar arch, is the way I will go.

May also mount a VHF/UHF antenna (mast or arch) to accommodate that side of the radio.

Hope it all goes well for you.

David
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