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  #41  
Old 03-15-2008
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Gary:

True 817 story.

A few years ago I was at a lovely Caribbean anchorage, enjoying a couple of sundowners with two sailing friends. Relaxing in the cockpit with a Mt. Gay and Coke in hand, I had my 817 on my chest. Internal batteries only, so 2.5 watts. Antenna was a vertical dipole on the foredeck (my mainstay DX antenna), with coax led back to the 817. Got the picture?

Between delicious sips, I was tuning the tiny rig on 20 meters SSB. I'm not making this up...I have witnesses.

First contact: an EK in Armenia! Gave me a 58 report. I was blown away, so a few more sips put me in the mood.

Second contact: a ZL in New Zealand. Gave me a 57 report.

Who says QRP is for sissies ? :-)

73,

Bill
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  #42  
Old 03-15-2008
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Bill,

Another propagation 'war story' --

One night on the way to Hawaii from Costa Rica -- say we're about 1200 miles east of Hilo and 1200 +/- miles SW of San Diego -- all of a sudden, clear as a bell over the VHF Ch 16 comes "United States Coast Guard San Diego Group" (or something like that) and they're talking to a boat in trouble off a breakwater somewhere. We only heard one side of the conversation, the CG side, but it was loud and clear. Within 15 - 20 minutes whatever atmospheric condition that permitted VHF to 'bend' to our location was over and the VHF again went silent.

I often wondered whether the USCG-San Diego would have heard us if we'd called them with the high power, 25W.

Any idea what was going on in the atmosphere?

Scott (KB1KZH)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Gary:

True 817 story.

A few years ago I was at a lovely Caribbean anchorage, enjoying a couple of sundowners with two sailing friends. Relaxing in the cockpit with a Mt. Gay and Coke in hand, I had my 817 on my chest. Internal batteries only, so 2.5 watts. Antenna was a vertical dipole on the foredeck (my mainstay DX antenna), with coax led back to the 817. Got the picture?

Between delicious sips, I was tuning the tiny rig on 20 meters SSB. I'm not making this up...I have witnesses.
First contact: an EK in Armenia! Gave me a 58 report. I was blown away, so a few more sips put me in the mood.

Second contact: a ZL in New Zealand. Gave me a 57 report.

Who says QRP is for sissies ? :-)

73,

Bill
Good story! It is amazing what a couple watts will do. I always get a rise out of some of the folks I talk to when I tell them I'm running 5 watts. I find it difficult here in the city and mostly use PSK31 but on the water I use voice exclusively and get great results. I like the low power because I don't have to worry about my batteries onboard at all with 5 watts output.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
Bill,

Another propagation 'war story' --

One night on the way to Hawaii from Costa Rica -- say we're about 1200 miles east of Hilo and 1200 +/- miles SW of San Diego -- all of a sudden, clear as a bell over the VHF Ch 16 comes "United States Coast Guard San Diego Group" (or something like that) and they're talking to a boat in trouble off a breakwater somewhere. We only heard one side of the conversation, the CG side, but it was loud and clear. Within 15 - 20 minutes whatever atmospheric condition that permitted VHF to 'bend' to our location was over and the VHF again went silent.

I often wondered whether the USCG-San Diego would have heard us if we'd called them with the high power, 25W.

Any idea what was going on in the atmosphere?

Scott (KB1KZH)
Sounds like ducting. It is an infrequent condition where you get extreme ranges on higher frequencies than normal. I think it happens more often over the poles.
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Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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  #45  
Old 03-16-2008
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Hi, Scott...

Probably it was tropo ducting, a well known phenomenon wherein VHF signals are carried within layers created by strong temperature inversions. It often occurs over water, and is pretty common between California and Hawaii.

While posted in Morocco, we used to work into Portugal and Europe with VHF using tropo.

I believe the distance record is about 3,000 miles for VHF signals via tropo ducting. Great for VHF and TV DX signal chasers!

Bill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Why does this damned Board keep changing URL's?????

The proper one is this...I hope:

SSCA Discussion Board :: View topic - SERIOUS HAM SSB SETUP ON THE CHEAP
Bill, clicking on the word "ssb" above worked fine. It's an interesting thread. I have a steel boat (one giant ground plane) and am leaning toward the "stock solution" of a Icom M-802 plus AT-140 tuner plus Pactor III modem, because a lot of people know how to deal with it, and because I intend to rely heavily on SailMail for work and dealing with my child's school while we're away. Mind you, I did seriously look at a Kenwood TS-50S at a friend's recommendation (Ken Goodings, a veteran radio guy about to head south...don't recall his call sign).

The antenna I haven't quite sussed out. I figured I would put the rig and the tuner in the aft cabin "office", and put the antenna through a gland in the deck, and then I would hoist an antenna between the two stern quarter backstays using the topping lift or a new rigged line to the mast top. A vertical dipole would work as well.

Frankly, I haven't thought much about this stuff since I played with CBs as a teenager 30 years ago and erected my own directional antenna tower, but I think I still grasp the concepts.

Good thread. We will definitely have the SSB for the community aspect and for the very simple reason that I can work the ship from the pilothouse while talking and listening on SSB... I can't do that while typing on a keyboard. Also, I find the economy of getting weatherfaxes and GRIB files and other radio-received data appealing. Naturally, when in the anchorage or when running coastal, it might be possible to use cell phones, but in my mind they are differently purposed technologies.

Lastly, having a sat phone/cell phone/WiFi card plus an SSB follows the same logic that rejects a single screen radar/chartplotter/AIS/depthfinder, etc. You want, to a degree, options on a boat, and if I dropped the satphone...that would be it until I got within 15 miles of land and could use VHF...assuming I have international frequencies!
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Btrayfors,
What kind of vertical dipole do you use? I have an FT817 as well and usually use a 40m wire dipole with a BLT tuner. Works well in the field but not a good idea for a boat. I'll probably use a tuner and the backstay and keep a Buddipole for a backup. You may be interested in these:
HF Packer-Amp
N4MJR here, liscensed in 1992 as KD4JSG. I imagine there are quite a few hams on this board.
Michael
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  #48  
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Originally Posted by mjrogers View Post
I imagine there are quite a few hams on this board.
We have a member here, Sailhog -- a real swine and quite a ham too.



P.S. Great, informative thread! Thanks to all that shared their knowledge.
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  #49  
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Valiente,

In general, I like your thinking, especially the part about redundancy. Always a good idea on a seagoing vessel.

The 802/140 tuner with a backstay isn't a bad choice. It wouldn't be mine because I really don't like the 802 and the 140 tuner is a meagre implementation of what a real marine tuner ought to be. It's capable as far as it goes, but IMHO it just doesn't go far enough (only 45 'time limited' memories, for one thing).

I'm not bashing Icom; I just think they could have done better. And, the 700Pro and 710 are terrific bullet-proof radios.

Along with redundancy, I believe flexibility is important. Why buy a tuner which will only work well with one line of radios? What if you decide to add a second, maybe ham radio later on? Why not pick a tuner which will work with ANY HF radio? And which has lots of non-volatile memories for near instant return to favorite frequencies?

The TS-50S is a great little rig, but it's not a 1st choice for packet; a bit awkward.

With a steel vessel, you won't have to worry about an RF ground :-)

Happy sailing.

Bill
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Hi, Michael...

Understand that the vertical dipoles I'm talking about are single-band, tuned dipoles fed with coax. I carry aboard single-band marinized dipoles for 15m, 20m, 30m, and 8mHz. This spring, I intend to experiment with a 40m dipole with the lower leg bent back just above the deck.

You may be interested in this info re: constructing a marine dipole, and the ideas for connecting GTO-15 feedline to a backstay antenna. There's also a spreadsheet comparing options for marine antennas. Click twice on each pic for full resolution: Gallery :: Constructing a Marine Dipole Antenna

Thanks for the reference to the backpacker amp...I hadn't seen one of these before. I have a commercial version of a QRP amp...the Tokyo Hy-Power...which also works very well.

73,

Bill
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