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kent_island_sailor

Cruising comms

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11 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

With the above in mind and America's love of commercial scientific heroes

Explains why the guy who made the super soaker squirt gun (and a woman who invented something to make bras less lumpy in the washing machine!), and others like that, made the list, next to Louis Pasteur, Robert Oppenheimer, James Watt, etc.

(Its also curious why, of the two people who basically contemporaneously invented the IC chip and who each won a Nobel prize for it, Jack Kilby, the “lowly engineer”, but not Robert Noyce, the PhD physicist, is listed...)

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Re: cruising comms, what do the HF cognoscenti here :-) have to say about hoistable antennas?

I’ll eventually (soon) get rid of my backstay insulators (of unknown vintage - probably 20+ yrs old) and replace the backstays with just wire.  (I’d maybe install two new rigging insulators in future when I can afford them, and if cruising full time and wanting a “full time” antenna).

For a hoistable antenna, I have something like this in mind, as in the article below, using the upper part of my (I’m-still-fabricating-it-but-soon-to-be-installed) radar pole as an anchor point for the bottom of the hoisted antenna: http://www.oceannavigator.com/May-June-2018/Fitting-a-new-SSB-antenna/

The only real considerations I can think of are that the antenna be well insulated from the radar pole where it attaches, and be solidly attached.   (I’d run GTO-15 from tuner up the outside of the radar pole, then transition to a piece of 1/8” s.s. rigging wire as the hoisted antenna.  I’d attach the rigging wire (via a snap shackle) to the radar post, and it would all be well insulated (I’ve a plan in mind).

Any other considerations for a hoisted antenna, other than it be strong and insulated from (and reasonably far away from) from grounded metal?

A74A3BB4-EB81-42FA-9191-65B6D19B866E.png

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My insulators are 25 years old. They were quite expensive and I have no plans to replace them. Are these the good ones or the ancient telephone pole guy wire type?

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11 hours ago, kent_island_sailor said:

My insulators are 25 years old. They were quite expensive and I have no plans to replace them. Are these the good ones or the ancient telephone pole guy wire type?

My rigging insulators are Sta-Loks, I think.  Probably 25 yrs old.  Would I trust them 2000 miles offshore...

Here’s my engineering plan for the hoisted antenna...reading patience required :-)

-9’ alu pole with radar magnetron mounted on top plate.  Attached/welded under plate will be a short (6-8”?) length of small alu angle or square tube.

-Running up the pole, evenly spaced, I’ll weld like three or four 3/4” long pieces of 3/4“ alu rod.  On these will fit little 3” long pieces of PVC conduit - standoffs for the GTO wire, ty-wrapped on.  (The GTO exits deck through a Blue Sea cable gland).  3” standoffs seem standard based on what I’ve seen for keeping antenna lead in cable away from the UN-insulated lower part of backstay antennas.  Ok?

-near the end of the short extension arm (square tube or angle), I’ll drill a hole and mount a small piece (1” diameter/1” long) of machined UV stable plastic rod, like UHMW or Delrin, with a hole drilled in it —one of the insulators— to fit the pin of a wide body stainless steel shackle.  Antenna bottom, when hoisted, will attach to shackle.

-antenna: 1/8” s.s. rigging wire of appropriate transmitting length (= ?).  Hoisted end will have eye with s.s. thimble.  Bottom end will have eye with plastic thimble.  Small snap shackle (Wichard spring gate type) will attach plastic eye to shackle on radar post arm.  (Step up on stern rail to clip on/off.) The theory is that the plastic rod piece in radar post extension arm and the (slightly oversized) plastic eye in bottom end of antenna will function as insulators for the bare part of antenna

-Instead of using the piece of bare wire, I could instead use one continuous length of GTO for antenna - but downsides of that are cost is higher and you still have to have a way to mechanically support the wire without directly attaching to it/putting strain on it.  E.g., feed it and secure it inside a length of Spectra, with eyes spliced on each end, which would be hoisted...certainly a viable option.  I think another downside of using a continuous run of GTO is that it can’t really be removed.  Using bare rigging wire, however, I could detach (unscrew) the bulldog clamp/wire rope clip that attaches the GTO lead (with ring terminal on its end) to bare rigging wire antenna, in order to store away.

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9 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Are those insulators life-limited? The fittings are designed to come apart and be used again if you get new wire.

Hmm, I assumed they have a limited life.  If it’s an insulator, then there is no metallic connection between the rigging wires on either side of each insulator, right?  Which means that the backstay (fortunately, I have two separate backstays ...still...) is not continuous, right, which means you’re relying on the insulator’s composite material to last, to keep the backstay “whole”?

I need to look into this - I don’t know!  What’s inside an insulator, and are they life-limited or renewable?

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Here’s what Sta-Lok says about their insulators (and doesn’t say).  I’ll email them and see what they’ll commit to telling me about insulator strength vis-a-vis rigging wire strength after 25 years :-)

https://www.stalok.com/product/insulator-body

Description

  • Main body of the Sta-Lok Insulator. 
  • High Strength 316 Stainless steel. Rust Free. 
  • Weather proof nylon moulded body. 
  • Stronger than the wire rope. 
  • Variety of end fittings available.  
  • Wire sizes 6 - 12mm.

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News update :-)

Just talked to a very friendly and helpful British guy at Sta-Lok USA (British company, which I hadn’t known). He said, as you’d expect, that as with all standing rigging, including insulators, a 10-15+ year life span is sort of a rule of thumb (depending, of course, on location/amount of UV exposure and how hard it’s been used: racing vs. cruising)...so, certainly for offshore, a continuous backstay with an alternative type of HF antenna system is preferrable to using the old insulators of unknown/20+ year old vintage...who knows what their ‘sudden MTBF’ is?...I don’t want to find out :-)

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7 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

A ticking time bomb... :-)

But better than most - absent a failure I suspect most of my sisterships have their original 1969-1973 rigging.

EDIT - I called the guy as well. (he must be like no one asks me about insulators for 10 years and now twice in one day). It does not sound like the insulators are any more or less suspect than any other part of the rigging and if I replace ALL of it, the insulators won't be that big a deal. There are a few ways to not use insulators though. Is your boat steel or fiberglass?

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7 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

But better than most - absent a failure I suspect most of my sisterships have their original 1969-1973 rigging.

I read that O.N. article about the backstay rigging failure, which was enough to make me think determinedly about my aging insulators (but having a second backstay is probably good).

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1 minute ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I read that O.N. article about the backstay rigging failure, which was enough to make me think determinedly about my insulators...

Mine are 10 years newer than any other part of the rigging, so they'll be the last to go ;) If I re-rig, I might do the system where you only have one bottom insulator and run a ground line from the tuner to the base of the mast for a big vertical loop/V type antenna. Also there are these things: https://www.sea-tech.com/product/gam-mckim-split-lead-antenna-ssb/

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5 hours ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Mine are 10 years newer than any other part of the rigging, so they'll be the last to go ;)

I can see a good cartoon in this scene - everything, the entire boat has sunk, but the insulators have sunk, they’re floating on the ocean surface... :-)

It’s a bitter and expensive to swallow —rerigging a boat, I mean— but way more fun than, say, dropping $10K for rot repair (etc.) in your house...

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Jud, there's nothing special about a backstay antenna.  You may end up deciding that your "temporary" flag-hoist antenna is just fine for the long-haul.  As long as you have adequate clearance from the existing backstay, and it stays out of the way of your running rigging, it's going to work fine.  In fact, if your antenna is a copper wire run inside some technora braid (or any other UV-resistant line), it might actually be 1/10 (?) dB better than a stainless backstay.  You won't notice the difference, but copper is a better conductor than stainless.

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34 minutes ago, valis said:

Jud, there's nothing special about a backstay antenna.  You may end up deciding that your "temporary" flag-hoist antenna is just fine for the long-haul.  As long as you have adequate clearance from the existing backstay, and it stays out of the way of your running rigging, it's going to work fine.  In fact, if your antenna is a copper wire run inside some technora braid (or any other UV-resistant line), it might actually be 1/10 (?) dB better than a stainless backstay.  You won't notice the difference, but copper is a better conductor than stainless.

Thanks, Paul - I now see that “a backstay antenna is a backstay antenna” - a piece of wire strung up, basically!   I guess I was most concerned, for a hoisted antenna, with (a) properly insulating it from its attachment point (near top of radar post, on extension arm); (b) making sure it’s strong - I can imagine it “winging around” at sea, unlike a backstay antenna (but if built well, it could easily be tensioned more, as needed, with the small halyard used to hoist it). And (c) making sure it it stands up to UV/the weather (hence the thought of using 1/8” s.s. rigging wire.)

I can also imagine, as you say, it becoming my permanent antenna - certainly cheaper than replacing my backstay insulators, and it avoids those extra rigging bits in the backstay. Stay tuned :-)

(B/c I’ve never had a radar post, I’ve now lately been scheming all sorts of things to use the post for, yet want to avoid miscellaneous crap hanging all over the boat  :-). The HF radio antenna seems like a very sensible, easy idea, and it dispenses with backstay insulators. And, while I’m at it, I might as well run a back up VHF cable in the post; easy now, since post isn’t up yet...I can see that’s how it all begins..... :-). It would, in fact, actually make more sense to have my GPS antenna up there to...and, does an Iridium Go require an antenna...in a steel boat, probably...)

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Had 25 year old insulators tested not long ago. Good as new. The concept of plugging in then hoisting an antenna everytime you want to use the radio day or night and in any conditions, emergency or otherwise makes me think why have a SSB at all. 

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17 minutes ago, jack_sparrow said:

Had 25 year old insulators tested not long ago. Good as new. The concept of plugging in then hoisting an antenna everytime you want to use the radio day or night and in any conditions, emergency or otherwise makes me think why have a SSB at all. 

Jack - Antenna is always connected to tuner; basically just need to hoist.  But, yeah, requires some set up.  (They’re commercially made as well, i.e., used by others, but for a hefty price - ropeantenna.com)

Testing insulators - how?  Some type of load test putting tension force on the insulators? Or something else? Who/what type of company did it?  I’m very curious.  

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1 hour ago, jack_sparrow said:

Had 25 year old insulators tested not long ago. Good as new. The concept of plugging in then hoisting an antenna everytime you want to use the radio day or night and in any conditions, emergency or otherwise makes me think why have a SSB at all. 

I wasn't suggesting a "hoist when you want to use the radio" antenna -- I agree, that would be a nuisance if you were using the SSB for regular work, and a disadvantage in an emergency.  Instead, just keep it permanently rigged and hoisted.  Why wouldn't you?.

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35 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Testing insulators - how?  Some type of load test putting tension force on the insulators? Or something else? Who/what type of company did it?  I’m very curious. 

A commercial rigging services company that test hoisting gear. Load test and  x-ray as visual inspection not conclusive. You could probably dye test for cracks instead of x-ray, but not sure that would be conclusive as it would only reveal cracks on surface.

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1 minute ago, valis said:

Instead, just keep it permanently rigged and hoisted.  Why wouldn't you?.

Permanently rigged means adjusting it every time you change back stay settings particularly if not a lot of boom clearance. I don't understand the aversion to it incorporated in backstay be it soft or S/S or a fixed whip if don't mind shit hanging off the back.

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6 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

Permanently rigged means adjusting it every time you change back stay settings particularly if not a lot of boom clearance. I don't understand the aversion to it incorporated in backstay be it soft or S/S or a fixed whip if don't mind shit hanging off the back.

I am not totally getting that either. If you have insulators NOW, just use them. If you are going to re-rig the entire boat and don't trust the old gear, just buy 2 more along with all the other wire and fittings you will need.

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

I am not totally getting that either. If you have insulators NOW, just use them. If you are going to re-rig the entire boat and don't trust the old gear, just buy 2 more along with all the other wire and fittings you will need.

In my case, cost.  I’m not ready to spring the not-inconsiderable money —in addition to the already not inconsiderable sum involved just in re-rigging.  So...I figure if I don’t need insulators now —i.e., I won’t be cruising “full time”—no need to purchase and install with re-rig.  Can use a “permanently hoisted” antenna for now and install insulators at some point later.  That’s my rationale anyway.  (An unintended “side benefit” is that it lets me play around a bit with making a simple antenna, learn about fittings/material, etc. rather than just slapping a wire on the backstay and calling it good  :-) ). 

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38 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

In my case, cost.  I’m not ready to spring the not-inconsiderable money —in addition to the already not inconsiderable sum involved just in re-rigging.  So...I figure if I don’t need insulators now —i.e., I won’t be cruising “full time”—no need to purchase and install with re-rig.  Can use a “permanently hoisted” antenna for now and install insulators at some point later.  That’s my rationale anyway.  (An unintended “side benefit” is that it lets me play around a bit with making a simple antenna, learn about fittings/material, etc. rather than just slapping a wire on the backstay and calling it good  :-) ). 

What is your backstay wire size?

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32 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

What is your backstay wire size?

I’ll have to check - was on board last night in the cold dark with stiff cold fingers doing a pre-welding rough fit of aluminum gusset pieces I cut for assembling the radar pole base, and was RIGHT next to the starboard back stay and don’t recall :-)

I want to say some weird number like 11/32” (I sort of recall a conversation with rigger last year), but I’d have to check to be sure. It’s right around 9-10mm/3/8”. (Why?)

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9/32s are on sale. Speaking of rigging, I was doing some digging and the Sta-Lok pieces are the LAST things that are going to fail. The wire itself or a swage fitting is much more likely to go. One of the selling points of Sta-Lok is their fittings are reusable, so trashing them every 15 years seems to be counter to that. Anyway, are your insulators connected with Sta-Loks or swaged on. They make both kinds.

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8 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

Permanently rigged means adjusting it every time you change back stay settings particularly if not a lot of boom clearance. I don't understand the aversion to it incorporated in backstay be it soft or S/S or a fixed whip if don't mind shit hanging off the back.

Strong bungee at the base of the hoisted antenna, to keep the slack out when adjusting the backstay? (Does Jud even have an adjustable backstay?)

I do like the standard backstay antenna with the insulators, and I'm not particularly worried about the insulators failing.  As comms boat during multiple Pacific Cup races I heard about plenty of rigging failures, and none of them involved the backstay insulators.  And most of these boats had backstay insulators.

Speaking of adjustable backstay antennas, has anyone seen an elegant solution to the feedline slack issue?  I've tried a few methods to control the slack, and ended up with (when the backstay is tight) just having the excess hanging free between the standoffs on either side of the hydraulic ram.  Ugly and an occasional problem.

 

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10 minutes ago, valis said:

Speaking of adjustable backstay antennas, has anyone seen an elegant solution to the feedline slack issue

If someone ever comes up with that solution they should patent it.

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That is actually an excellent question because I am about to install a Ronstan wheel-type backstay adjuster.    All I’ve got is run it up the pushpit on stand-offs and jump across to the backstay above the adjuster, with plenty of slack.  Could run it up a Bimini frame, but don’t especially want one...

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Continuing the cruising comms topic, but on sat comms - relevant to me as I’m currently fabricating and soon mounting a radar post, and any wires that I could/should run up the post should be planned now, before erecting, as well as at least figuring out mounting details for any possible future antennas —all *way* easier to do now rather than later.  (At very least I’d pull in a string in for future wires.)

So - not knowing a thing about Iridium Go, except that it requires an external antenna (radar post seems great place for it), what are pros/cons of the actual system (I’m aware of BJ’s scathing critique here of the unit’s clunky mounting/cabling :-) ).  

Why not just go with a standard handheld sat phone type device?  From what I’ve read, they’re (traditional handsets) much simpler to use (especially in an emergency...vs. booting up the Go...then use a cell phone in an emergency at sea?!?) Pro: great data plan.  

In short - traditional handset vs. Go.  Have at it!

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I’ve got a feeling that a new wave of satellite products ought to be coming out soon, so I’d be loath to invest much in, or modify my boat much for the current stuff.  Unless I needed it, like, next week. Maybe that’s a vote for a handset? 

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32 minutes ago, toddster said:

I’ve got a feeling that a new wave of satellite products ought to be coming out soon, so I’d be loath to invest much in, or modify my boat much for the current stuff.  Unless I needed it, like, next week. Maybe that’s a vote for a handset? 

I agree - no one can see the future and know what technology is coming (well, except for that visionary guy: “I think nobody knows much more about technology, this kind of technology certainly, than I do...I’m a professional at technology.” [name that brilliant techno-visionary...first name “Donald”.. :-) ].  

Anyway, since I’m putting the bloody radar thing up, I’ll probably at least put a pull string in for future, just in case.  And for now, yeah, seems like a simple, robust handset is adequate.

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Just to be difficult... BTDT.  When I wired this house, I went to a lot of time and expense to pull a network of A/V, telephone, and data cables. Even a bunch of cables for an antenna farm up on the roof.  All that stuff is obsolete and rotting in the walls now, and lots of it was never used.  When I wired my friends house a couple of years later, we did the same thing, but were already using completely different cables for half of that stuff.  

Much cheaper and perhaps just as effective to leave a messenger line or two in accessible conduits & chases so you can pull through whatever you need when you need it.  Or fish tape works pretty well too.  

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54 minutes ago, toddster said:

Just to be difficult... BTDT.  When I wired this house, I went to a lot of time and expense to pull a network of A/V, telephone, and data cables. Even a bunch of cables for an antenna farm up on the roof.  All that stuff is obsolete and rotting in the walls now, and lots of it was never used.  When I wired my friends house a couple of years later, we did the same thing, but were already using completely different cables for half of that stuff.  

Much cheaper and perhaps just as effective to leave a messenger line or two in accessible conduits & chases so you can pull through whatever you need when you need it.  Or fish tape works pretty well too.  

Yes - that’s what I meant by “pull string” (for future, i.e., messenger line).

(Trust me, though, you haven’t seen wires “rotting in the walls” until you’ve gone into municipal subsidized low-income housing to do an electrical job...)

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3 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Why not just go with a standard handheld sat phone type device?  From what I’ve read, they’re (traditional handsets) much simpler to use (especially in an emergency...vs. booting up the Go...then use a cell phone in an emergency at sea?!?) Pro: great data plan.  

In short - traditional handset vs. Go.  Have at it!

If you think you might want data access (gribs, email, ... ) with a traditional handset, then I would highly recommend you put in a dock for it with an external antenna connected. So either way you have the external antenna to mount.

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I will repeat this as well - there is a way you can use just one insulator for some $$$ savings. Also you can just stick a 23 foot whip on the stern. I did that for a couple racing boats that wanted nothing to do with cutting up their rod backstays and also wanted to take the whip off for inshore racing ;)

Here ya go: $250 or so.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/SHAKESPEARE-393-23SSB-ANTENNA-3PC-Model-393/282846131518?hash=item41daf1753e:g:mQAAAOSw0UdXsH5u:rk:1:pf:0

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4 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Anyway, since I’m putting the bloody radar thing up, I’ll probably at least put a pull string in for future, just in case.  And for now, yeah, seems like a simple, robust handset is adequate.

Conduit/some sort of cable support. Sat phone without external antenna is a PIA. 

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Jack, Jack, Jack ... you can't test rigging components in a meaningful way that isn't destructive. All you did was spend money.

 

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2 hours ago, Moonduster said:

Jack, Jack, Jack ... you can't test rigging components in a meaningful way that isn't destructive. All you did was spend money.

 

Nonsense Moon. Quality control proof testing involving no deformation is done every day of the week in industry. Would I recommend it for sailboat rigging no I wouldn't .This case of old insulators was an exception as normal rigging testing techniques were not appropriate.

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On 3/1/2019 at 6:58 AM, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I agree - no one can see the future and know what technology is coming (well, except for that visionary guy: “I think nobody knows much more about technology, this kind of technology certainly, than I do...I’m a professional at technology.” [name that brilliant techno-visionary...first name “Donald”.. :-) ].  

Anyway, since I’m putting the bloody radar thing up, I’ll probably at least put a pull string in for future, just in case.  And for now, yeah, seems like a simple, robust handset is adequate.

 

On 3/1/2019 at 11:15 AM, jack_sparrow said:

Conduit/some sort of cable support. Sat phone without external antenna is a PIA. 

"Simple, Robust Handset" = Shouting to be heard over the wind on a crappy, laggy connection while you sit on the edge of the cockpit for a clear sky.

At least with an external antenna, you are shouting to be heard over a crappy, laggy connection from a comfortable seat down below, out of the wind.

 

PASSAGE NOTES:

With the Go, I had all the weather and email updated twice a day.

Not ONCE, not one single time, could I establish a digitial connection over SSB, nor could I get a voice call to a shore station. Now, it could be with all the new antennas I put on I've killed my HF capability, but I DID test it all after installing the Iridium GO and the Vesper GPS antenna, and I did make a digital connection and get a DSC test through. But it did not work once on passage.

If I'd been relying on HF for weather updates I would have been flying blind.

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5 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

Not ONCE, not one single time, could I establish a digitial connection over SSB, 

 If I'd been relying on HF for weather updates I would have been flying blind.

As you tested OK before going in probably a urban environment with interference something happened. You can talk to Charleville Radio after contacting them with a DSC ping. Having redundancy is a wonderful thing. 

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50 minutes ago, jack_sparrow said:

As you tested OK before going in probably a urban environment with interference something happened. You can talk to Charleville Radio after contacting them with a DSC ping. Having redundancy is a wonderful thing. 

Indeed it is. I figured the middle of Sydney would be shite for MF/HF, and being in the middle of a big bouncy ocean would be easier to connect. Nope. I'll sort it. I may have to go on a ferrite rampage again.

Speaking of redundancy, that backup autopilot drive appeared to shit the bed again while we were putting it through it's paces, fortunately we had the primary working just fine. I'm not sure the Mamba is worth putting another clutch in. We need to check it some more, it remains to be seen whether it just overheated and got pissy, or the clutch actually burned itself out again. Either way...it doesn't look good for it.

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6 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

Indeed it is. I figured the middle of Sydney would be shite for MF/HF, and being in the middle of a big bouncy ocean would be easier to connect. Nope. I'll sort it. I may have to go on a ferrite rampage again.

Speaking of redundancy, that backup autopilot drive appeared to shit the bed again while we were putting it through it's paces, fortunately we had the primary working just fine. I'm not sure the Mamba is worth putting another clutch in. We need to check it some more, it remains to be seen whether it just overheated and got pissy, or the clutch actually burned itself out again. Either way...it doesn't look good for it.

1st off HF propagation has been shit for a few years now with one or two more to go until sunspots pick up, but you should be able to connect to someone or talk to someone. The good side of our low sunspots is better conditions on the lower bands. I would find some hams and do some testing, something sounds wrong with your setup. Were you trying to connect to Winlink or Sailmail stations or just DSC to coast stations? 20 meters and up are dead a lot now, but even in the middle of the day I have been able to do 500-800 miles on 40 meters with S9 signals.

 

On to your other issue, what drive died? Is it hydraulic?

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If you want to check out HF propagation, look at pskreporter (https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html).  This can show you actual recent point-to-point digital-mode ham connections all over the world, on all bands, as reported by the operators.  It doesn't show many mid-ocean connections, because there aren't many mid-ocean stations, but you can still see the general trends.

At sea, to choose time, frequency, and Sailmail station location, I use the propagation predictor built into Airmail.  If you use the current solar flux data it's pretty good.

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5 hours ago, kent_island_sailor said:

1st off HF propagation has been shit for a few years now with one or two more to go until sunspots pick up, but you should be able to connect to someone or talk to someone. The good side of our low sunspots is better conditions on the lower bands. I would find some hams and do some testing, something sounds wrong with your setup. Were you trying to connect to Winlink or Sailmail stations or just DSC to coast stations? 20 meters and up are dead a lot now, but even in the middle of the day I have been able to do 500-800 miles on 40 meters with S9 signals.

 

On to your other issue, what drive died? Is it hydraulic?

It's a Whitlock Mamba. I got a "clutch overload" error on it. That's the same error I got on it crossing the pacific when I wired it in to replace the hydraulic ram that had failed. It needed a new clutch then.

I'll test it some more once I get settled.

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3 hours ago, valis said:

If you want to check out HF propagation, look at pskreporter (https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html).  This can show you actual recent point-to-point digital-mode ham connections all over the world, on all bands, as reported by the operators.  It doesn't show many mid-ocean connections, because there aren't many mid-ocean stations, but you can still see the general trends.

At sea, to choose time, frequency, and Sailmail station location, I use the propagation predictor built into Airmail.  If you use the current solar flux data it's pretty good. 

Offshore a website like that isn't really an option, but I use the propagation tool with Airmail/RMS as well.

I'm thinking that one of the new installs (maybe the GO) is causing some interference since I had to run everything down the same basic raceway area. No choice on that unless I want to string antenna cables across the ceiling of the cabin.

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On 3/5/2019 at 6:00 PM, B.J. Porter said:

“Simple, Robust Handset" = Shouting to be heard over the wind on a crappy, laggy connection while you sit on the edge of the cockpit for a clear sky.

At least with an external antenna, you are shouting to be heard over a crappy, laggy connection from a comfortable seat down below, out of the wind.

Ok - does this mean, then, that one (only one) difference between the Go and a regular handset is that, with a Go, as you use your phone down below, it accesses the boat’s external antenna via the Go’s wifi (or whatever it is: wirelessly) port/docking station — while, by contrast, on a boat with a handset (not a Go) and external antenna, the handset plugs directly into the external antenna?

Or are you saying that handset sat phones, unlike the Go, don’t use external antennas, so you have no choice (typically) but to go outside to use them for a clear line of sight to satellites. In which case, the advantage of a Go seems clearer - while the handset type phone seems like it would be best for a ditch bag.

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4 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Ok - does this mean, then, that one (only one) difference between the Go and a regular handset is that, with a Go, as you use your phone down below, it accesses the boat’s external antenna via the Go’s wifi (or whatever it is: wirelessly) port/docking station — while, by contrast, on a boat with a handset (not a Go) and external antenna, the handset plugs directly into the external antenna?

Or are you saying that handset sat phones, unlike the Go, don’t use external antennas, so you have no choice (typically) but to go outside to use them for a clear line of sight to satellites. In which case, the advantage of a Go seems clearer - while the handset type phone seems like it would be best for a ditch bag.

Actually the Go uses your cell phone and Wifi, so you could set it upstairs somewhere (in a window is not recommended due to heat) to get a clear sky and talk down below on your cell phone.

With a regular Satphone with an integral antenna, you need to be above decks with a view of the sky. You get a docking station of sorts that plugs into an external antenna, with some means to connect the phone handset to the external cable. Our iSatPhone pro actually came with a tiny little bluetooth handset you could use to control the phone, dial it, speak, plug an earphone in etc. My experience with these is limited, we only had the one and didn't think much of it.

The GO plugs into the external antenna. The GO is a Wifi hotspot. Your cell phone connects to it's Wifi, and you use the Iridium Apps to get to e-mail, etc. You are basically making a VOIP call with your cell phone over the GO from what I can see.

We found the conversation quality to have a LOT of lag and to be difficult to understand people. Especially if you were calling some random person that didn't know you were using a shitty satphone connection. At least my kids know to expect the lag.

 

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What I used to do on my sat phone:

"This is a satellite phone with a long delay don't hang up" started when it was still ringing and repeated until I heard an answer.

Otherwise I would hear "Hello? Hello?" CLICK :rolleyes:

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I just can’t resist (Manry had some sort of WW2 era downed-pilot survival HF emergency signal transmitter on board, if I recall correctly from his book, “Tinkerbelle”.  (Worth reading incidentally; a film using archival footage has also just come out - pic is from festival where it was shown.)

28CA2A2C-6493-4081-9D16-A98E458242C8.png

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My latest “cruising comms” - radar/radar post and HF radio antenna all done.  (The idea for this was in an Ocean Navigator article, link I posted above). 

I’ve got two backstays, and the insulators are on the port side of the boat, from previous owner’s set up - but there was really only room to mount tuner in the starboard lazarette (since fridge compressor now lives in port side, and not under v-berth where your head goes when sleeping - thanks a lot for that, previous owner! :-) !)  So, until I can swap the backstays (and eventually replace the 25 year old insulators), I’ve got a hoisted antenna.  Will report how it works once radio is back onboard.  (Just out of curiosity, I’d like to make a longer antenna and compare its performance to this one [23’/7.2m]).  Many thanks for all the advice along the way, VALIS and K.I.S.

Some notes:

Icom AT-130 tuner; GTO-15 runs from tuner through Blue Sea deck gland/cable clam to “arm” at top of radar post ; 4” PVC standoffs up the post;  I machined an insulator from Delrin for the attachment of the hoisted wire part of the antenna wire on the radar post arm; antenna wire is hoisted by a small (3/16”) halyard run through a small block I mounted near top of mast, secured by a small cleat I installed at bottom of mast. I figure this set up will also allow me to hoist an emergency antenna of some sort, if needed, if the tuner dies.

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9A8F30AF-703A-4CAA-AD6A-DF7C816C9293.jpeg

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24 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Why not run the wire from the radar mast over to the backstay on the other side?

That would’ve been too simple :-).  

Yeah, I could’ve...but I also sorta wanted to make a simple antenna to see how it’ll work. As well, running to the other backstay with insulators would mean the wire from tuner would have to span the maybe 6 ft of free air between the two backstays...which means a support of some kind?  Eventually, I’ll mount a solar panel(s) between wind gen and radar posts, which will I guess give me a means to support/route wire across? (Instead of swapping backstays.)  I probably over-thought the whole project, but it was a first go at it for me...

 

E13C2602-9CA1-4205-9634-D713108A551A.jpeg

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