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Discussion Starter #1
In an unexpected act of rationality, the FCC made a last-minute announcement today that they will be issuing a correction to a recent order AND formally dropping the Morse Code requirement for all amateur radio license classes in the immediate future. A formal announcement should be issued in the next couple of weeks with the new rules taking effect 30 days after that, i.e. sometime in February.

This was totally unexpected news, since the order being revised has been in process for almost two years "ahead" of the Morse Code considerations on their agenda, leading many of us to expect it would be two more years before any announcement or change in CW was coming.

Kudos to the FCC, someone must have accidentally been drinking real coffee this week!
 

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I'd rather be sailing
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Is this for the ham certification? So how difficult will it be now? The morse requirement is one reason I haven't gone for mine...
 

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HS-

Do you have a link??
 

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We'll be cruising to the Bahamas next year. Would SSB or Ham be a better choice? Also, what's the best method of rigging an antenna on a boat with no backstay? Thanks.
 

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I think I'm going to get my ham license and get an SSB that is type approved for both Ham and SSB use.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Labatt-
This is for ham licensing--it's not called certification. (Equipment gets certified for use, hams only get certified when two attending psychiatrists commit them.<G>)
The exams remain unchanged, exactly as hard as they were six months ago. The only change is that you will no longer need to take Element1, the Morse Code test, for any/all exams.
Note that you cannot get a license that currently requires Morse, until *after* the change is official. If you take it before then, you will have to hold your proof of passing and then resubmit it after the change goes into effect, or have the examiners submit your test results to the FCC after the rules go into effect.

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-269012A1.pdf
For the official annoucement on the FCC web site.
 

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kavakava...for the bahamas you don't NEED an SSB or HAM rig (for the Abacos, Exumas or major tourist centers)...so you may want to skip the purchase entirely and save the $3k or so. With the VHF nets and internet/wireless available now in so many spots you can get all the info you need about weather and local conditions.
If you do decide you want a HF radio or are going out island or further south and NEED one...then SSB is what most would get....BUT...now with the code being dropped...getting a Ham license will be relatively easy so you don't need to make a choice. Get an SSB with Ham Band capability and get your Ham license when you feel like you want to and use the radio accordingly.
Without a Backstay...you could use Trayfors idea about the antenna/halyard combo he uses OR get a big whip antenna like a lot of the catamarans use.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Bill, there are a limited number of documented antenna designs using two feed lines from one end. And, speaking as a cynic, if your design isn't already documented and known...I'd be surprised if there's anything that performs better than what years of documentation have already shown.

So, what's the mystery and how come you don't simply state what type of antenna design you are using? What kind of antenna is it, really?
 

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Coastal Cruiser
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Not my Design.

I had doubts about cutting the backstay and swedging in insulators, it all seemed a bit to complicated and I didnt want to compomise the integrety of the existing backstay or have to aquire specialty tools. This was a simple solution, just clip it on and connect to the antenna tuner and I was up and running. Please refer to the PDF on the link for more information as I am no Elmer on antenna concepts.

Fair Winds,

Bill
 

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HelloS....what is your question? Bill provided the link to the website for the antenna he uses. Thanks Bill...interesting concept. I kinda still like Bill's idea since it gives you another halyard and is easy to take up and down if there is a problem. Thinking back to our hurricane Ivan experience when we lost our backstay antenna when the mast came down...having a spare that I could rig from any halyard is appealing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Cam, I think we've all seen claims for miracle antennas over the years. And, so far, they've all been disproven.

Now, Bill's not making miracle claims but, unlike many antenna makers, he provides zero technical information about his antenna. Most of the reputable makers can and do provide simple technical information, because there is no magic in a vertical, an end-fed dipole, a long wire. A maker can still make a good antenna without trying to hide what the product is.

Their web site says nothing--zero--about what the product is. Absent that information, all I can guess is that it is a simple design documented elsewhere, easily made or copied, and they're selling "magic" rather than selling the quality of their product.

If there IS something unusual, or simply "good", about the product, I'd like to know about it. Radio is a technical issue, glitz and magic and the latest color are not going to impress a lot of folks. Including me.

I've found that consistantly the best folks to deal with in electronics, are folks who are willing to say up front what technology they are using and what it is really doing, rather than saying "Isn't it pretty? Doesn't it work great?" while ignoring the man behind the curtain.

Whatever his design is, thelaws of physics dictate that it will suffer from running alongside the grounded backstay, which ensures that to some extent anyone using their antenna will be transmitting directly into ground. There's got to be some real good reason to start with that handicap, maybe "I want it to be neat and not to cut my backstay" is enough. Nothing wrong with that--I'd just like to know it up front. I wouldn't waste money on a technical tool (a radio antenna) based on a secret technology. Zip the cover off...and what's inside will be something that already has a name and known performance parameters. There's no reason Bill should be ashamed to say what those are. "Trade secrets" just doesn't cut any slack in the radio community, the only folks who stick to that line are the snake-oil vendors.
 

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Hello

I'm no guru on antenna's, but I'm not sure why you're attacking Bill. It appears he is just recommending an option he purchased and that works well for him. In fact, he stated that the antenna is not his design.

Also, the PDF brochure does show the makeup of the antenna.

Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Charlie, maybe you're not sure why I'm attacking Bill because, as I said pretty clearly up front, I'm NOT ATTACKING BILL. Do I need to make that any clearer?

As to it not being Bill's design, please focus on the point. Whether Bill copied the design from someone else, licensed it from someone else, or invented it himself, "Bill Mc" may be the "McKim" who is one of the parties apparently running the web site selling the antenna. Perhaps that's my misunderstanding, but he appears to be one of the vendors.

IRREGARDLESS of whether he is, you miss my point. The PDF files DOES NOT give any great technical information about the antenna. It apears to show two coax cables being stripped back and used as a simple dipole antenna--with the two elements both tied to the backstay. I say "appear" because I'm not sure the illustration can be read that simply. If this is a simple dipole where the dipole has simply been twinned up that way...that's very unconventional, and not an effective way to use a dipole. A few words to elaborate on that apparent, ah, manglement of a dipole would be nice. Heck, maybe they are the first folks in the world who ever have figured out this is the RIGHT way to use a dipole. Maybe. Or maybe it's just a mangled dipole.

But since you think I'm attacking Bill, despite my express comment that my concern is only a technical one about the antenna he is recommending, let's let Bill reply.

Bill, are you Bill KcKim? Do you have a financial interest or gain from the sales of these antennas? There's nothing wrong with being a vendor--as long as you disclose it before you praise your own product. And a vendor who can back up their claims with objective numbers is even better still! I have nothing against vendors, I even keep a short list of the ones I can refer my friends to--because they are forthright, open, honest, reputable, and deal in good stuff.

So, returning to my original point and question, can Bill or anyone else supply technical information about them? At a minimum, any antenna maker can supply the radiation pattern and dBi gain from their antenna in contrast to a monopole or other known design. All the reputable manufacturers do this, and have done this for many years.

One doesn't need magic to say "Our product is a 1/2 wave dipole with resonant sections...and it is superior because we measure carefully, build with prime materials, and ...etcetera." That's the way antennas are built and sold. At least, the ones that can substantiate their claims are sold that way.

There is also a fairly brisk market in junk antennas sold to the unknowing on the basis of "marketing" claims like "This antenna worked better than anything I've ever used, I worked all 50 states with it!". As a number of folks have proven, you can indeed work all 50 states and most of the globe with an SSB radio connected to a simple LIGHT BULB ON A POLE. That doesn't make it a good antenna--it just proves that even a "dummy load" can function as an antenna. Absent the numbers...there's just no way to tell which one you're about to buy.

Slinkies, tape measures, barb wire fences...all are used effectively as antennas. "Effectively" being the relative word.<G>
 

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Also, to followup with HS's questions... aren't 1/2 wave and 1/4 dipole antenna designs usually only tuned for a specific wavelength?? If so, how can this single design be suitable for the fairly wide range of frequencies used in Marine SSB communications??
 

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HelloS...First...I don't think Bill was making any claims for the antenna other than "it works" and is easier to install than a typical backstay/isolator arrangement. I would be surprised if he has any connection to the NH company since he lives on his boat in NC and "is no Elmer".
That said...You obviously know a heck of a lot more about antennas than most humans <grin> and you are right, the website explains little about the design principles. Nevertheless....the "testimony" of Gordon West that it works well is probably enough to convince the rest of us that is a decent product. At least they are not making outrageous claims and the ease of installation has a lot of appeal.
I'm going to drop them a line and see if someone wants to post the technical details here and then maybe you can comment on whether or not they make sense. Hopefully Bill can clear up the "affilliation" question and we'll get a response from the actual people who design and make the durn thing!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Cam-
Before I blush, let me say most humans don't know much about antennas except "You can poke your eye out" and "Cable has a better picture". OK, I know a *little* bit more than that.<G> I'll confess to having built them longer than I've been sailing, and to reading up on the basics of theory from time to time to make sure I'm building them right. But I'm definitely not an expert on them, just average for anyone who plays with electricity. (Ddzzzzttt!)

SD-
Well, coils, traps, resonant sections, maybe an antenna tuner hiding below?<G> And antennas work fairly well at multiples of a frequency, i.e. an antenna that is 1/2 wave long at 40 meters will be 1/4 wave long and still work well for 80 meters. Or as a full-wave antenna at 20 meters, etc. One of the things that I've never heard explained is why an antenna that is built from "thick" tubing, has a wider bandwidth than one made from "thin" tubing. Literally! Although last week I did hear some speculation that gravity only seems like a weak force (compared to electricity and electromagnetics) because the main force of gravity may be bound to the other eight dimensions, instead of the three we usually deal with.
Witchcraft? Physics? Either one works for me.<G>
 

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HelloS

My appologies for offending you. That was not my intent. I just took Bill's posts as Cam did, a satisfied user who was suggesting an alternative. I know nothing about antennas nor SSB for that matter. I'm just reading this thread to build my knowledge base.

Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter #20
No harm no foul, Charlie.<G>

Its not always obvious but I'm also always looking to learn. Somewhere along the way, after a great many impacts from a great many snake-oil salesman, I just seem to find that I've become a cynic. Although, I suspect my "Honorary Missourian" certificate may be a forgery.<VBG>
 
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