SSB antenna on a catketch

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Tom V
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by Tom V »

I have also used Globalstar 1600 sat phone between Bermuda, US and Canada. I used to be very happy with them but now some of their satellites are down and service is on and off throughout the day... .you can find out the times for your location from their website and plan accordingly. They are relatively inexpensive, though, and when they are working, they worked fine for me for quick check-ins with the office, with weather people, or brief e-mails, like downloading gribs. If and when they get their satellites up and running properly I will be happy.
Tom
Tom Vesey
Jackrabbit
Freedom 44 Hull #26 1986
Bermuda

Skipper Skip
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by Skipper Skip »

Hello Michel,

I have been out of the loop for a while. I lost my Lady Soul Mate of 20 years to a fatal heart attack. One minute she was here and the next she was gone! One of life’s unpleasant surprises:(

On my F33, as I remember, the balun is on the output of the radio before you enter the coax. I think the rule of thumb is that the balun should be as close to your radio as possible and the tuner needs to be as close as possible to the antenna! The length of your coax between the radio and the tuner does not seem to be a huge problem, but the distance between your tuner and the antenna does!

I had thought of running coax up the inside of the mast and then the antenna down back down at a angle away from, but scraped that idea fairly quickly, as I remember. Too technical to go into my reasons here, besides things like this make my brain hurt!!!!!!!!!

The ideal setup would be to have your radio one foot from your tuner with only the balun between them. Then you mount both immediately under the deck and run the antenna up through the deck and straight up about 35' or so, with NOTHING conductive anywhere near it. Yea RIGHT!

I had wanted to run the antenna up either the inside of the mizzen mast or along its outside. That would have been GREAT! However, I had the same question about wether the carbon in the fiber of the mast would cause problems with the radio’s range. I went to the horses mouth, “Gordon West”! He was my instructor for my General Ham Ticket and is a long time world cruiser himself. The guy is THE absolute authority on radios aboard boats or anything else mobile or mounted in your home!.

Gordon turned me on to the perfect “poor mans” Tester. He told me to use an inexpensive hand held transistor radio, the cheaper the better! After an hour or so of scrambling around my boat with this HIGH TECH device, I concluded that one would do well by staying way from the mast:( You tune the small radio to a very distant (weak) station and start sticking it up your......... where ever it will fit, TEE HEE, like inside the mast and all around the mast and life lines etc. You will soon find that you lose the signal in places that are bad for your antenna to be. This little $5 radio told me all I needed to know about where TO and NOT TO run the antenna! You need to be careful in that these cheep radios are likely to be very directional on their own, so play with the station a bit before starting your testing. You will find as you turn the radio about this way and that, the station will drop out, so watch its orientation to the station as you move about the boat!

I solved my problem of how to and where to mount my antenna by installing my tuner high up inside the anchor locker and as far forward as possible(my tuner is well weather sealed). I ran the antenna below deck, exiting under the bow sprit. I attached a small block to the nose of the sprit and another to the main masthead. I hall the antenna up the mast with a light line and tie it off. I left a little slack in the line to attach a bungee at the base of the mast to give a little stretch for mast bend.

For me, this system works “OK”. It got me a working HF ham setup and solved the problem of where to get the antenna out of harms way. Course if someone were to key the mic while I am forward futzing with an anchor, well............it would be cheaper than a vasectomy!!!!!!!! I remember Gordon telling me about the time he was taking a whizz off the stern of his boat. He was steading himself with the backstay (the antenna), well you get the picture, when the mic was keyed, it was a water stopping, eye opening experience that he has never forgotten! Think about it, we all know that electricity follows the path of least resistance, right? In this case from the antenna to his hand to his @#$%^&* and then to the water! Hey guys, does that make your knees instantly slam together? YEEEEEOOOOW!

Michel, I think you are right, technology is moving pretty fast these days and by the time you are ready to deal with this problem, it will likely be a Non Issue:) However, I would say that besides GPS, I would be leery of systems that rely on today’s satellite state of the art. The Maytag Repairman ain’t making no house calls in Sputnik’s neck of the woods!!!!! The cost of putting up a satellite is STAGGERING, I can’t even imagine what the cost of a service call will be:( Do you think they will charge Portal to Portal?

BTW, I found a couple of old posts from you that I still intend to respond to. I hope you haven’t been holding your breath!

Happy Trails on the Sea to you:)

Skip
"There are those going Somewhere and those going Nowhere!" Which are YOU?

1982 F33 CK, Fixed Shoal Keel
Southern CA.

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Michel
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by Michel »

Hello Skip,

First of all my condoleances with the loss of your mate. I wish you all the strength you need to carry on by yourself.

Then, thanks for your extensive and (as always) funny reply. What I make of it is that an antenna inside a CF mast will not work, right? What I learned by now is that a small active antenna at or near the masthead will work, probably even better than a long wire with balun. Added advantage of an active antenna is that - with the right tuner - it can be used for a much wider range of frequencies. Well anyway, for the next two years I can get by with navtex and email and internet (weather) via GPRS/HSDPA (cell phone). I will be in coastal waters mainly. In stead of an ISAF OSR prescribed epirb I will buy a SPOT beacon for the time being, the good news of the SPOT being that you can use it also for sending GOOD news to friends and family, an not just for distress calls.

All the best,
Michel Capel, Freedom 44 #4 1981 'Alabama Queen', NED8188, cat ketch with wishbones, home port Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, 52*42.238'N 005*18.154'E.

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THATBOATGUY
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by THATBOATGUY »

Skip! Welcome back, and what a come back post. Informative *and* entertaining which seems to be your hallmark.

I can't even begin to imagine, or want to imagine, what it would be like to survive Kerri. Our hearts go out to you. Whatever strength and support we can offer, it's yours.

Every time I look for a dodge on the whole HF radio antenna question I always come back to the same reality. This is just one of those few times when not having standing rigging is a small disadvantage.

Somewhere I have a book that's intended as a primer for HF radio aboard small boats. There's an illustration that is clearly a Freedom 40 Cat Ketch with a dipole antenna hoisted up in it's rig. I just need to track town the scan I made of that page. Probably not a mistake that they chose the Freedom 40 for that particular line drawing.

As for Spot, my understanding is that the coverage is good but still a bit, well, spotty! Here's a track of some friends recent cruise out to Hawaii and then on to Alaska. Spot Track All in all for the price and coverage I can't see crossing oceans without one.

George
George and Kerri Huffman S/V Marquesa Freedom 40 CC CK Sail MarquesaImage

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GeoffSchultz
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by GeoffSchultz »

Michel,

Could you use a whip antenna mounted to the stern with some aft rake if needed so that the mizzen clears? That pretty much describes my setup.

While this isn't a very good photo of the installation, you can see it on the stern:

Image

-- Geoff
BlueJacket
1997 Freedom 40/40
http://www.GeoffSchultz.org

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Michel
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by Michel »

Geoff,

Theoretically it would be possible to make a structure on the transom extending some 1' to 1.5' astern to put a whip on it. In a gybe, I would always risk wrapping the mizzen sheet around the whip. Moreover, I would not like the looks of it. I like a clean looking boat with the least amount of Christmas trees on transom, decks, masts, rail, etc., although with all kinds of regulatory requirements it's almost impossible to maintain the clean look.
Michel Capel, Freedom 44 #4 1981 'Alabama Queen', NED8188, cat ketch with wishbones, home port Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, 52*42.238'N 005*18.154'E.

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GeoffSchultz
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by GeoffSchultz »

Michel,

I completely agree that I wouldn't want to build a structure off of the stern to support an antenna. That wouldn't look good. It sounds to me like your only solution is to have an antenna that you roll out and haul up the mast when you need it. However, that's not very useful while underway. Always a trade-off.

You mentioned an "active antenna." I've never heard of one, especially when talking about SSBs. Do you have any references?

-- Geoff
BlueJacket
1997 Freedom 40/40
http://www.GeoffSchultz.org

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Michel
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Re: Active antenna

Post by Michel »

Geoff,

I misunderstood several things I read as an SSb-noob. I reread it and there is no such thing as a small active SSB antenna for transmission. Only for reception.
Michel Capel, Freedom 44 #4 1981 'Alabama Queen', NED8188, cat ketch with wishbones, home port Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, 52*42.238'N 005*18.154'E.

whimsy
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by whimsy »

I think that using the running backstay would complicate things a lot more than it would generate benefits.

Using a coax feed line to the top of the backstay would reduce your transmit and receive performance at least some, due to losses in the coax. (More expensive, thicker, heavier coax has less loss)

For SSB, there really isn't any way to get good results without a long antenna. Antennas just don't work very good unless they have a length as big as the wavelength you are using. (In short, nothing less than ~1/10 of the wavelength will work well at all. Antennas can work pretty well with 1 wavelength, 1/2 wavelength, or 1/4 wavelength as a few examples)

Using some sort of a through-deck insulator and hoisting a dipole antenna with a flag halyard is probably your best bet. FYI, on a boat, a dipole antenna looks like a wire sticking straight up in the air. As an initial test, just hoist any copper wire you have that is long enough, with a terminal crimped on the end of it.

The wire probably won't last too long, so for extensive use, there are better products you could purchase or make. The ones I've seen pretty much look like braided rope with a wire inside where a core would be on a double-braided rope. You just need a seizing at the "top" to make sure the wire stays put when you hoist it up, and the connector at the bottom end.

It can stay up all the time, or you can easily lower it as needed.
s/v Flutterby, Freedom 33 cat ketch, now junk rigged

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Michel
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Re: SSB antenna on a catketch

Post by Michel »

Thanks guys, for all your useful ideas.

I spoke to a couple of specialized companies selling and installing SSB stuff and they think along the same lines. A dedicated antenna with a mild tensioner (shock cord) hanging from a flag halyard and a deck throughput/isolator besides the mizzen near the footrail, above the nav station. An earth plate near the mizzen foot close to the keel.
Michel Capel, Freedom 44 #4 1981 'Alabama Queen', NED8188, cat ketch with wishbones, home port Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, 52*42.238'N 005*18.154'E.

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