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  #31  
Old 10-24-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

All this talk of splitters and antenna makes me think I should drop my mast this winter. I have a factory installed splitter feeding my AIS-B and VHF. I really want to install TV, Sirius/XM, and maybe an external WIFI(ideally it needs a pair) antenna. It could get busy up there and that would be a lot of work for a rigger.
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  #32  
Old 10-25-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

I personally don't have much of an issue with the VHF / AIS factory made radios and don't tend to see any measurable performance differences between standard fixed mount and VHF/AIS combos. I do test them on every install with an SWR....

The problems I see most with VHF performance.....

Main VHF unit wired with too small of a power wire (18GA etc)

Piss poor Shakespere "pinch through the jacket" PL-259's (personally I think there should be a class action against these absolute POS connectors.)



This one was just 9 weeks old and failing to do its job. But hey its gold plated so it must be good:



Piss poor DIY and pro soldering of PL-259's (the #1 failure)



Kite string VHF cable:



The wrong antenna for a sailboat (even seen auto CB antennas used..)

Lack of any SWR testing once installed and newly wired. Simply putting out a radio check really does very little to tell you what your actual performance may be over a long distance in an emergency.

I would argue that worrying about a potential performance difference between an AIS/VHF and a standard VHF, in the real world of installed VHF systems on boats, is the least of our worries when it comes to VHF radios.....
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 10-25-2013 at 07:19 AM.
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  #33  
Old 10-25-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Well darn. I seem to have stirred the pot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classic30 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
The place for an AIS receiver to be integrated is in a chartplotter. Many units, especially smaller ones, have already integrated GPS receivers. An AIS receiver would be an easy addition and avoid all the problems of integration with a fixed VHF. If you find one on the market next year remember you heard it here first.
Wouldn't that mean a PL-259 antenna connection on the chartplotter? To (most likely) an external splitter?? Coupled with the RF issues somehow I don't think any chartplotter manufacturer will be going down that path soon.
Good question. No. There shouldn't be a splitter. A PL-259 (or better a BNC) to an independent antenna would be better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classic30 View Post
Perhaps we can agree to disagree, but to my mind, the only sensible place for an AIS receiver to be integrated is within the radio - VHF+DSC/GPS/AIS together with a single data stream to a non-GPS chartplotter or VHF+DSC/AIS with a data stream to/from a GPS-enabled chartplotter.
Lots of people disagree with me. *grin*

GPS chipsets are so inexpensive to the manufacturer these days that it is easy to build them into anything. Add a GPS to a VHF and DSC just works. Add a GPS and a small VHF receiver to a chartplotter and AIS just works. Admittedly we get back to the issue of whether a splitter is fundamentally bad as I maintain or not, but it becomes so easy to put a 19" antenna directly on the plotter that the issue becomes moot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Missingyou View Post
All this talk of splitters and antenna makes me think I should drop my mast this winter. I have a factory installed splitter feeding my AIS-B and VHF. I really want to install TV, Sirius/XM, and maybe an external WIFI(ideally it needs a pair) antenna. It could get busy up there and that would be a lot of work for a rigger.
So you have two transmitters and two receivers now and would like to add three more receivers and a transmitter. Do you have radar?

Without seeing your boat I'd say masthead VHF, spreader mounted AIS/VHF on one side and WiFi on the other (talk to Bob Stewart at IslandTimePC). TV can be stacked above the radar (presumably above your steaming light). Sirius/XM can be mounted on the pushpit or in a dorade box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I personally don't have much of an issue with the VHF / AIS factory made radios and don't tend to see any measurable performance differences between standard fixed mount and VHF/AIS combos. I do test them on every install with an SWR....
Hi RC - Sorry I missed you in Annapolis. I fell working on a customer boat and was a little busted up.

SWR testing is good but only shows an impedance match. It doesn't show the effectiveness of radiation. You can get a pretty good match into a light bulb (literally) but that doesn't mean the signal is getting out. There are objective means of measuring that but realistically talking to someone outside of the near field (see
) is a good measure. Talking to a number of stations is better yet. The SeaTow automated radio check system is one of the best things to happen for installers. I'm sure you do radio checks (off 16 *grin*) after testing SWR, right? You are one of the icons of doing the right thing so I'm sure you do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
The problems I see most with VHF performance.....

Main VHF unit wired with too small of a power wire (18GA etc)

Piss poor Shakespere "pinch through the jacket" PL-259's (personally I think there should be a class action against these absolute POS connectors.)

Piss poor DIY and pro soldering of PL-259's (the #1 failure)

Lack of any SWR testing once installed and newly wired. Simply putting out a radio check really does very little to tell you what your actual performance may be over a long distance in an emergency.
I agree with all your points.

I only use silver-Teflon PL-259s and solder with a high wattage iron.

You have to measure SWR. You also have to do far field radio checks. One is really not enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I would argue that worrying about a potential performance difference between an AIS/VHF and a standard VHF, in the real world of installed VHF systems on boats, is the least of our worries when it comes to VHF radios.....
I'm happy to talk to you about this. I don't have access to a service monitor any more. If you do we can prove this to ourselves one way or the other. If you don't I'll start looking for one down here and we'll set up a Skype so you can watch testing.
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  #34  
Old 10-25-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post


Hi RC - Sorry I missed you in Annapolis. I fell working on a customer boat and was a little busted up.

SWR testing is good but only shows an impedance match. It doesn't show the effectiveness of radiation. You can get a pretty good match into a light bulb (literally) but that doesn't mean the signal is getting out. There are objective means of measuring that but realistically talking to someone outside of the near field (see Near and far field - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) is a good measure. Talking to a number of stations is better yet. The SeaTow automated radio check system is one of the best things to happen for installers. I'm sure you do radio checks (off 16 *grin*) after testing SWR, right? You are one of the icons of doing the right thing so I'm sure you do.


Yes I also physically test the transmission using the Sea Tow automated system. Don't even get me going on VHF 16 "radio check on one-six"......

I do both solder and crimp/solder and since adding crimp/solder to my arsenal I have had absolute zero issues with it. Course it means more money in tools but crimping the braid properly works very well. If I can solder the braid I do....

Problem with soldering is that I am often called on to "fix" poorly soldered or worse yet the Shakespere connections at the top of a spar with barely a 6" pigtail to work with. There is no solderer I know of that can do a good job in 15 knots of wind 50' in the air swinging from a chair.....

I would love a way to test the VHF/AIS radios compared to others. The bottom line for me is that our Matrix 2100AIS works extremely well and physically performs better than just about any boat I step on. Hell I work on some boats that can't even hail the Sea Tow tower from 1/2 mile across the bay..... Good cable, good connections, good antenna seem to make a big difference....

I once got reprimanded (sarcastically of course) by our clubs launch driver because apparently I left our VHF on High Power, something I am VERY careful about not doing and I felt badly. We were in the Sheepscot River hailing another boat... He heard us loud and clear in Falmouth, ME approx 21 miles away as the crow flies.....
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  #35  
Old 10-26-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I do both solder and crimp/solder and since adding crimp/solder to my arsenal I have had absolute zero issues with it. Course it means more money in tools but crimping the braid properly works very well. If I can solder the braid I do....
No issue. I still have several hundred silver-teflon PL-259s and reducers for 58 and 8X in stock. When I get down to a couple dozen I'll think about crimp/solder. For now it isn't an issue. *grin*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Problem with soldering is that I am often called on to "fix" poorly soldered or worse yet the Shakespere connections at the top of a spar with barely a 6" pigtail to work with. There is no solderer I know of that can do a good job in 15 knots of wind 50' in the air swinging from a chair...
Agreed. I've done with a propane torch in light air and from a cherry picker. Often it's cheaper for the customer to put the connector on new cable on the ground and pull the new cable through. I won't go up the stick if it's blowing or the boat is where a wake can bounce me around. I've been badly hurt that way and won't do it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I would love a way to test the VHF/AIS radios compared to others.
I'll give a test protocol some thought and get back to you. I think we should throw some external splitters into the mix also.
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  #36  
Old 10-27-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Yes I also physically test the transmission using the Sea Tow automated system. Don't even get me going on VHF 16 "radio check on one-six"......
Hey, don't knock it.. "radio check on one-six" is all we have available over here. You guys don't know how lucky you are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
Agreed. I've done with a propane torch in light air and from a cherry picker. Often it's cheaper for the customer to put the connector on new cable on the ground and pull the new cable through. I won't go up the stick if it's blowing or the boat is where a wake can bounce me around. I've been badly hurt that way and won't do it again.
I had to replace a perfectly good antenna cable last time the stick was out. This bonehead moment doesn't really fit in the sailing category, but let's just say I will be more careful in future when cutting mast wires to triple-check there is nothing hidden at the back of the loom. "Oh, sh!t" doesn't help afterward..

...anyways, it was a lot easier to make-up the masthead end on the ground and pull it through as you suggest.
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
A question: Why the need for the industrial version with 100 meters range? My boat isn't that big! Do you think one of these would work instead??

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  #38  
Old 10-27-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classic30 View Post
A question: Why the need for the industrial version with 100 meters range? My boat isn't that big! Do you think one of these would work instead??

So for $4.50 difference you're going to take a chance?

Remember, a smaller boat also means you have fewer options for placing the thing away from other devices that might interfere with it.

The range that they quote is the absolute maximum best-case, with straight line-of-sight and no electrical interference. I wanted to put the adapter down below in the cabin, a few inches behind the radio (so I wouldn't have to splice a wire onto the radio's pigtail). The potential for electrical noise in that location, and the industrial adapter's greater resistance to noise and adjustable antenna, made this a no-brainer for me. At the time I purchased it, the industrial version also came with a gender changer which I needed for use with my USB-serial adapter that I used for configuring the thing.

By the way, I wired my Bluetooth adapter up to receive 12vDC through pin 9, so no separate power wire was needed. Check this out for yourself - I don't want your frying anything if they've changed the design.
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  #39  
Old 10-28-2013
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Re: VHF AIS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
So for $4.50 difference you're going to take a chance?
No.. Just asking the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
Remember, a smaller boat also means you have fewer options for placing the thing away from other devices that might interfere with it.

The range that they quote is the absolute maximum best-case, with straight line-of-sight and no electrical interference. I wanted to put the adapter down below in the cabin, a few inches behind the radio (so I wouldn't have to splice a wire onto the radio's pigtail). The potential for electrical noise in that location, and the industrial adapter's greater resistance to noise and adjustable antenna, made this a no-brainer for me. At the time I purchased it, the industrial version also came with a gender changer which I needed for use with my USB-serial adapter that I used for configuring the thing.

By the way, I wired my Bluetooth adapter up to receive 12vDC through pin 9, so no separate power wire was needed. Check this out for yourself - I don't want your frying anything if they've changed the design.
Neat! Yes, I plan to mount mine a few inches behind the radio also - under the deck and not really in line-of-sight of anything that isn't going to interfere with the signal.

12V on pin 9 is a neat trick.. Thanks for your help on this - all good info. Now, to get installing..
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Re: VHF AIS radios

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No.. Just asking the question.



Neat! Yes, I plan to mount mine a few inches behind the radio also - under the deck and not really in line-of-sight of anything that isn't going to interfere with the signal.

12V on pin 9 is a neat trick.. Thanks for your help on this - all good info. Now, to get installing..
Warning: It's 5V on pin 9, not 12V. Like I said, check this out for yourself, since it might have changed on your adapter.

Here are some things I posted a few years ago about my installation. I can't remember whether I linked this already on this thread.
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