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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #21  
Old 05-20-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
I know many, including Btrayfors, recommend against, "cutting a perfectly good backstay." There are a few options around that..."
I'd probably not be rushing to cut my backstay either, but since it was already done (and done well as far as I can tell), I'm likely going to take advantage of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
I still say if choosing one, in today's age and given your intended cruising area, Sat Phone. But you have to make that decision.
If operating costs were no issue I think I'd go with a good quality HF receiver, and a full-monty Iridium or even a FleetBroadband package. Unfortunately costs are an issue (for me), which leads me back to HF.
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  #22  
Old 07-13-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by fallard View Post
The connection to the antenna was made by clamping the stripped copper from the RF lead directly to the antenna section with a small hose clamp that was then wrapped with rigging tape.
Not your best choice. I put a ring terminal on the end of GTO-15 and run the wire through the structural part of a wire clamp. Loop the end of the GTO-15 back down and under one of the nuts on the wire clamp. I cover with a layer of self amalgamating tape and cover with rigging tape.

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Originally Posted by outbound View Post
think will go with ssb and sailmail for now and study for a ham license as well.
One thing I think many people don't consider is that other than the easy material on regulations every single thing you need to know for a US General class ham license is information that you should have a good command of to go cruising. If you should know it anyway, why not talk advantage of the many resources to learn it, get your ham license, and be more self-sufficient?
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  #23  
Old 07-15-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

I missed this thread earlier - wasn't paying attention.

When I bought my boat I also bought a Icom SSB with a matched antenna tuner coincidentally from two different sellers on e-bay and I paid IIRC US$700 for both and both were virtually brand new (still in original packaging and not a mark on either). This was in 2007.

Then I saw an antenna advertised on the net called a GAM dipole. It is made from a plastic extrusion with three tubes side by side. The centre extrusion is split all the way up and the two outside tracks have an antenna cable running up.

So you open the split and feed it onto the backstay and slide it up until the whole thing is on the backstay. Then it simply feeds into the boat and connects to the tuner/radio setup. Easy as.

I can't find the original website but have a look here:

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: SSB backstay antenna, a new way

I did the whole radio installation myself without any previous experience and in about 6 hours. I sailed from San Diego to New Zealand and at no time did I not get good reception. I spoke on radio with a weather router in California all the way to within 400 miles of NZ. I spoke with other boats in Hawaii and around the Pacific. I still have the same setup and it still works 100%.

I don't know whether these antennae are still available but if they are I would unreservedly recommend one. They work a treat and are a DIY dream.

And no, I have no commercial connection to the product other than I bought one.
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  #24  
Old 07-15-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

The Gam is still available and it works well. It's not a dipole, but rather just a long wire antenna that works just like a traditional backstay antenna. But it does work well. I do caution people though that there is no way to service anything on the antenna. Ours wicked up moisture on the feed line somehow. I had to send the whole antenna back to the manufacturer for repair. Not bad if you're on the coast smewhere, but tough to do away from the dock.
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Old 07-16-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by windward54 View Post
The Gam is still available and it works well. It's not a dipole, but rather just a long wire antenna that works just like a traditional backstay antenna. But it does work well. I do caution people though that there is no way to service anything on the antenna. Ours wicked up moisture on the feed line somehow. I had to send the whole antenna back to the manufacturer for repair. Not bad if you're on the coast smewhere, but tough to do away from the dock.
OK I'm ready to learn. What is a dipole antenna? I thought the GAM was - I'm seemingly wrong.

And how does being on the coast help or alternately how does being away from the dock make it difficult to "service" the GAM antenna? Getting mine up and down is a cinch no matter where I am.

Not arguing, just curious.
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  #26  
Old 07-16-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

A dipole antenna is a center-fed wire, usually with two legs of equal length and the legs extend out in opposite directions. Usually the length of the dipole is cut to match 1/2 wavelength, so there would be a 1/4 wavelength on each leg.

Being away from the dock and out in the ocean, there is no way to repair the Gam. It goes up and down easily, but one can't replace the feed line without cutting into the casing. When moisture got into my feed line somehow, the entire feed line carbonize. The only way to repair the antenna was to ship it back to the manufacturer. I will give the Gam people credit for their customer service. The antenna was repaired and returned quickly, but it still took about a month. So when you are away from the dock on an extended cruise, hard to get repairs done as you can’t ship the antenna back.

I still have my Gam and keep it for a spare. It really does work very well and I have suggested the Gam to people that were going to be coastal cruising where if there were to be a problem, they could ship the antenna back. The antenna really is a good product.
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Old 07-16-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Do you currently use Globalstar? Do you know someone who does?

I have followed Globalstar for the last few years. They always seem to be in a race to get satellites up to fill in their coverage gaps. Their pricing is incredibly cheap compared to the other sat vendors. Almost to good to be true. Then they have this calculator to use to time the start your calls during time of best coverage. It makes me really skeptical.

If Globalstar really does have a quality solution it would be tough to argue against them, damn cheap. I need to make this same decision in two years time prior to being the Caribbean. We will need quality voice comms back to the states.

I would need some good referrals before I would take a leap with Globalstar.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
I know many, including Btrayfors, recommend against, "cutting a perfectly good backstay." There are a few options around that, but I will stay out of that conversation as he is the expert. He has always been open to help me so you might consider dropping him a PM or asking him to join this conversation.

I agree that they best option is both. However, you may find many of the cruisers nets are run on vhf every morning, not HF. I listen to the one in Marathon everyday on CH 68 for example. And you don't have to have a HF for C Parker.

Marine Weather Center - Bahamas & Caribbean Marine Weather Services

Globalstar, Inc. :: Worldwide Satellite Voice and Data Products and Services for Customers Around the Globe

I still say if choosing one, in today's age and given your intended cruising area, Sat Phone. But you have to make that decision.


Brian

Last edited by kellysails; 07-16-2013 at 05:17 PM.
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  #28  
Old 07-16-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by windward54 View Post
A dipole antenna is a center-fed wire, usually with two legs of equal length and the legs extend out in opposite directions. Usually the length of the dipole is cut to match 1/2 wavelength, so there would be a 1/4 wavelength on each leg.

Being away from the dock and out in the ocean, there is no way to repair the Gam. It goes up and down easily, but one can't replace the feed line without cutting into the casing. When moisture got into my feed line somehow, the entire feed line carbonize. The only way to repair the antenna was to ship it back to the manufacturer. I will give the Gam people credit for their customer service. The antenna was repaired and returned quickly, but it still took about a month. So when you are away from the dock on an extended cruise, hard to get repairs done as you can’t ship the antenna back.

I still have my Gam and keep it for a spare. It really does work very well and I have suggested the Gam to people that were going to be coastal cruising where if there were to be a problem, they could ship the antenna back. The antenna really is a good product.
Thanks for the explanation. I always thought that a dipole was an antenna with two legs (which the GAM has) that are not necessarily spread out in opposite directions. I note that GAM themselves call it a "split-wire" antenna.

Also I believe that fixing a GAM whilst on a voyage would not be too different from repairing any backstay antenna if corrosion set in at any point. The feed line is after all just normal co-ax, or at least I thought it was). I guess you didn't want to mess with the original construction of the GAM but if I did cut-n-splice to get it working at sea, I'm sure that GAM would be able to put my mods right if/when they got it for repair.

Good to know they still offer good support.

Thanks
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  #29  
Old 07-16-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Been playing with a 802 ICOM. Had ham with me and the " idioyachts book. Neither of us could figure out how to tune to frequencies other than the presets
He wanted to go to simplex and duplex ham frequencies. I just wanted to listen to weather not get faxes. The ICOM is hard to figure out and reception lousy close to land.
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Old 07-17-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

I'm not impressed with Marti Brown's books.

The 802 is an easy to operate and effective radio. What does proximity to land have to do with anything? Certainly in marinas with lots of interference and sources of multipath any HF radio will deteriorate, but be close to shore isn't a factor.

If you elaborate on your experience and installation we can surely help.
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