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Old 03-19-2013
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Lightbulb Ham antenna for sailboat

Hello;

I recently bought a small fiberglass sailboat that I sail in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of southern California. It has a 29 ft aluminum mast. I have not yet tried it, but I understand that HF radio transmissions propagate very well over salt water. I am thinking that it might be fun to take my FT-817ND radio with me and try some low power 20m contacting from a mile or two off shore. How do you think that would work?

With very little trouble, I could put a small vertical 20m mobile antenna atop the mast. Would that work better (over salt water) than the same antenna mounted at deck level? In either case, what can I do about grounding? I don’t have a large metal mass (car) under the antenna and counterpoises for 20m are pretty long. I could trail a couple of buoyant radials off the stern of the boat in the water – or instead of using a vertical, I could run a Par EndFedz wire antenna to the top of the mast. Any other ideas? What do you think might work the best?

Richard
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Old 03-19-2013
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Re: Ham antenna for sailboat

I am thinking about wrapping the 30' wire antenna that came with my cheap SSB receiver around the backstay, but I have not yet figured out how...
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Old 03-19-2013
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Re: Ham antenna for sailboat

Here are some choices for marine antennas:

Marine Antennas

Click twice on each pic for full resolution. Start with the multi-color table on the upper left corner.

FYI, the best antenna you can put aboard for DX on 20m is a single-band VERTICAL dipole. Fed at the center with RG8X coax, you just hoist one end and tie the lower end off near the deck.

TRUE STORY: in the Virgin Islands a few years back I had my FT817 on my chest while relaxing in the cockpit at anchor. It was attached to a 20m vertical dipole on the bow. I made 2 DX contacts with 2.5watts (internal batteries) on SSB: a station in Armenia (gave me a 59 report) and a ZL in Aukland NZ (gave me a 57 report).

For QRP, especially, the antenna is EVERYTHING.

Yes, you can rig all manner of whips and such, but with only 5 watts you won't be very happy.

It makes no sense to put a vertical atop the mast. For HF verticals -- as contrasted with VHF verticals -- you want them mounted low down, close to deck in order to get the best low-angle radiation.

A radial for 20 meters is only 16' long. Use any kind of insulated wire.

With the dipole, you don't need radials or any ground at all.

Good luck,

Bill
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Last edited by btrayfors; 03-19-2013 at 12:26 PM.
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Re: Ham antenna for sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
I am thinking about wrapping the 30' wire antenna that came with my cheap SSB receiver around the backstay, but I have not yet figured out how...
No need to. Just clip it onto a shroud or the backstay. That's fine for reception.

Bill
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Old 03-22-2013
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Re: Ham antenna for sailboat

We used to use dipole antennas for my ham rig and though only a few pennies to make, they are absolutely the most efficient antenna you could use.
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Old 03-22-2013
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Re: Ham antenna for sailboat

I'm thinking either a dipole, maybe 1/4 wave, raised on the mast at the center with the ends toward the bow and stern, or, a verticle raised up the mast and have a couple wires as counterpoise with one going to bow and other stern.

with the limited space availble on the boat, sometimes you have to be creative. Using a coil/trap on a dipole may help too.
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