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  #1  
Old 10-26-2009
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Need Ham Radio Installation Advice

I've purchased a used Kenwood TS-430S radio and a Kenwood AT 250 tuner for my Newport 41 sailboat. I'll be using a single wire antenna.

My questions to any xperts out there:

I need to keep the tuner in the boat so that I can see the SWR meter and turn on the tuner. What wire do I use to go from the tuner to the antenna? The wire is passing through the boat near my refer, gps, radar, solar controller. (about 4' from these items)

Can i run copper foil about 10' from my tuner to my strut for a ground/counterpoise?

Could I pull the wire antenna up near the shrouds to avoid the long run to the stern (where I plan to pull the antenna wire up to the masthead)?

Could someone out there just tell me what to do? This is a black art to me.

Thanks soooooooo much for any and all help.

Craig
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Old 10-26-2009
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Check out Cruising Companion Publications.
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2009
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Craig,

The TS430S is a nice radio, but the AT250 isn't particularly well suited to marine applications. The tuner was designed to be operated close to the transceiver, connected by a control cable and a length of coax. In most marine applications, the tuner is best located right at the base of the (normally, backstay) antenna, while the radio is remotely located at any distance away from the tuner.

The idea is to keep the tuner as close to the base of the antenna as practicable, and to connect it to the antenna with a length of GTO-15 wire. The antenna actually starts AT THE TUNER, so the wire from the tuner to the backstay is a radiating part of the antenna. This is why you want to keep it as short as possible and try to route it away from other onboard wiring.

If you're going to use the AT250 tuner, then it would be best to find a location for the antenna which isn't too far away from the tuner. Location near a shroud would work, but there would likely be some detuning.

Another option would be to put the AT-250 on eBay or Craig's List, and buy another automatic tuner better suited for marine use, like the SGC SG-230. These are designed for marine and other heavy use, and can be used with ANY transceiver. They're pricey, though...about $499 new. Once in a while they show up on the used market.

My strong preference also is to have a power/swr meter installed near the radio, to monitor power output and antenna system performance. This is easy to do with the SG-230, and could even be done with the AT-250 if you had a control cable long enough to mount it remotely (in other words, forget the SWR meter in the tuner....just install another one close to the radio).

BTW, automatic operation of the AT-250 tuner (like band changing) is only possible with the TS430, so if you change radios the tuner would have to be operated manually.

Not sure what you mean by "strut"....are you referring a radar arch?

Bill
WA6CCA

Last edited by btrayfors; 10-26-2009 at 11:19 PM.
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Use GTO-15 to go from the tuner to the antenna. The refer motor will cause interference, so I usually turn mine off when using the radio. So will any inverter or charger you may have on the boat. I shut those off too. As for the GPS, you will have to keep the antenna and lines at least 4' from the GPS receiver/antenna. I used a thru hull for my counterpoise. I ran foil from both the tuner and transceiver to the same thru hull and used a hose clamp to hold it in place. Works great for me.
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Bill,

Thanks for the reply.

A new tuner may be an option in the future, but we're leaving for a season in mexico in a few weeks. This rig was a last minute purchase ($400.00 for both...too good to pass up). I'd like to make this equipment work, even if it's not 100%.

I could mount the whole rig in my main salon and have a very short run directly through the deck to the base of the shrouds. Then, install a long wire up to the masthead. What kind of performance loss can I expect by having the antenna wire that close to the mast/shrouds?

By strut, I meant the underwater bronze fitting that supports the prop shaft. However, if I go with the "near shroud" antenna, I would like to ground to a thruhull in the head. This would be about 6' of copper foil between the tuner and the underwater thruhull.

The other option (you're going to hate this) is to use the whole rig as an antenna, and keep my wife and dog down below while transmitting. Exactly how bad is an RF burn? I have to wonder how good an antenna the entire rig would make?

Again, ty very much for your advice. I may be a good diesel mechanic, but this HF radio stuff seems very complicated. However, it is very interesting, and with people like yourself out there to teach me, seems like a ton of fun!!!

Craig
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Bill,

To clarify, when I asked about using the whole rig as an antenna, I meant the boat's standing rigging. Basically, hooking the antenna tuner to a chainplate and using the mast, shrouds, and stays as one big antenna. I know it's not too safe, but I can keep the crew away from the rigging during transmission. I just wonder how well it would work. It would make my installation sooooooooo easy.

Craig
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Old 10-27-2009
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Craig,

The whole rig might work OK, if it's not otherwise grounded. A better solution might be to insulate just one end of a shroud, and feed via the chainplate. I've done several installations this way -- just finished one last week on a big catamaran -- and they sometimes work very well. Pick a shroud that's physically separated from the others as much as possible.

Then, yes, a wide copper strip to the nearest bronze thru-hull will work fine.

RF burns are over-emphasized, IMHO. With only 100 watt transmitters and running SSB on a boat, a really serious burn is highly unlikely. If someone were to be grasping the antenna while you were actually transmitting, they'd likely feel just a tingle, and would surely remove their hand quickly. In more than 40 years of hamming on boats, I've never heard a credible report of an RF burn, but if you're really worried just put a nylon or PVC tube around the lower part of the antenna.

73,

Bill
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Bill,

Thank you! I'm going to try the entire rig to start with and tweak from there. This will be the quickest install and time is a factor. I have rod rigging and adding insulators is not easy.

We'll be taking your advice and buying a more suitable tuner after this cruise. Should we be looking for a new radio, as well, or is ours good? Am I better off with Ham or SSB?

Last question: What wire should I use from the tuner to the chainplate?

Where can I get the power cables for the radio and tuner as well as the "ACC" cable to go from the radio to the tuner? We're in Ventura, California.

I can't thank you enough. Most of the Ham info out there is land based shacks. Nice to get some boat based pro info. If you ever need diesel advice please ask (venturaboatdoctor@yahoo.com). I owe you!!!

Craig
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Originally Posted by VenturaBoatDoctor View Post
Bill,

Thank you! I'm going to try the entire rig to start with and tweak from there. This will be the quickest install and time is a factor. I have rod rigging and adding insulators is not easy.

We'll be taking your advice and buying a more suitable tuner after this cruise. Should we be looking for a new radio, as well, or is ours good? Am I better off with Ham or SSB?

Last question: What wire should I use from the tuner to the chainplate?

Where can I get the power cables for the radio and tuner as well as the "ACC" cable to go from the radio to the tuner? We're in Ventura, California.

I can't thank you enough. Most of the Ham info out there is land based shacks. Nice to get some boat based pro info. If you ever need diesel advice please ask (venturaboatdoctor@yahoo.com). I owe you!!!

Craig
OK. Understood (I used to have rod rigging on my boat, too, which is one reason I went with the "anternate backstay" solution some 20 years ago).

The 430S is a fine radio, but whether you should get a marine radio or not depends on how you plan to use the radio. As you no doubt know, it is illegal to use a ham radio on any frequency other than the ham frequencies for which you are licensed. Except in an extreme emergency.

If you plan to use the marine bands frequently, I'd sure look at getting a marine radio. BTW, there are lots of older marine radios which are available used and are terrific, particularly if you don't have/need/want to do HF email. I have six or seven of them right now, including Icom M600, M700, Ray 152, a couple of TKM-707's, etc.

But, if you're just going to do ham radio, the 430S is fine.

Use GTO-15 wire from the tuner to the chainplate. West Marine, Defender, and others carry it. Not expensive.

Use heavy copper foil from the tuner to the thru-hull, not because the thin stuff won't work, but because it will last MUCH longer in the marine environment. I use 16oz soft copper, available in any roofing supply store.

Re: power cord and control cable, try the Kenwood parts store: Kenwood parts for all Kenwood electronics

Good luck,

Bill
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Hello,

I hope I am not hijacking the thread but rather adding a little. I have Kenwood TS- 480SAT that I purchased from a friend. I have only been using it for RX. I have only been active on 2 meters and I don't have much experience with HF. This particular rig has antenna tuner built-in, which is not really desired for a sailboat installation. Any suggestions on the installation methods for a 30 Foot sailboat? I do not have any room for fiberglass antennas, I wanted to use backstay with ground connected to the coax but I am not sure if that would work? Should I just get the remote tuner?
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