Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Steps 1: I Want Winmor

Ok, I like Icom equipment.  One unit I am looking at is relatively inexpensive and small and with  minimum of small buttons.  However, the most impressive thing is that it has a built in sound card so it will interface with your computer via one USB A to B cable.  That is it!

So what does a IC-7200 look like?  Here it is for one view and a few words as to its market position: The latest IF DSP technology is employed in the IC-7200. While the IC-7200 is an entry-class transceiver, advanced digital features are comparable to higher class transceivers. The rugged design of the IC-7200 means your enjoyment of this rig is not limited to your shack only. Full break-in, selectable CW carrier point (USB or LSB) and adjustable CW pitch are also standard.

ICOM IC-7200ICOM IC-7200
Here is a link to the product website so you can research things a little further if you desire.  Well, what do you do with this radio once it comes on to the boat (or car or home)?   This is the hard part.  You need an antenna and an antenna tuner.  The antenna is a pretty obvious requirement.  So what is the antenna tuner?

The antenna tuner is required since you are going to operate in multiple bands over a wide range of frequencies with a fixed length antenna.  The antenna tuner makes sure the impedance of the antenna matches the 50 ohm transmit impedance of the radio. This link is to the AT-4 .


Now comes the antenna, mounting of the antenna and getting the feedline from the antenna to the antenna tuner described above.  This is one of the real mind twisters for me since my rig is for primary use on a sailboat. You just do not go punching holes willy nilly in an expensive sailboat that are prone to get water in the decks - which makes them lose value real quick.  The antenna which I propose to use is a "rope antenna" which is just a piece of wire inside a line like a halyard.  This piece of wire must be at least 23' but it is better if it is longer.  In my case my mast is 52' tall so I think I will use a halyard to pull the line to the top of the mast and attach it to the backstay about 3 feet or less from the mast. Route the feedline from the antenna tuner to the connector on the rope antenna. Once the antenna feed line is connected to the antenna tuner you must do two things: 1) connect the tuner to the radio via a piece of feedline (easy by this time) and 2) add a counterpoise which adds the "other half" of the antenna system.  The counterpoise is VERY important and relatively artsy in construction.  There are two ways to do it - one easy and one difficult.

Of course the difficult way is probably the best and that consists of running a 2" piece of thin copper sheeting from stern to bow below the waterline on the port side and the same on the starboard side. This sheeting is connected to the ground lug on the antenna tuner via a soldered piece of  2" cooper sheeting (do not use wire to do this even though it is tempting).  Remember this is not a DC or AC ground system so DO NOT connect it to the ship ground buss anywhere.

The easy method is to buy a KISS tuned counterpoise cable for about $150.  A link to the site is given here.  Once this is done you are pretty much ready to fire up the rig and start talking HF.  I conviently left out all the connections of DC Power to the rig and the painful details like mounting the devices somewhere accessible but unobtrusive.

However, you did not buy this HF radio just to talk on it to other amateurs around the world.  No indeed, you bought it to send and receive emails, weather faxes, CW and PSK messages.  So you need a computer, a cable and some software. DO NOT connect the radio and computer at this time or you will regret it.  First download the drivers and control software.  To make this seemingly impossible task easier review the video below and understand it before proceeding with any connections between devices.

In retrospect, I think this entry should be in my blog on Marine Technology but I will leave it here for now since it is easier to add Youtubes to this blog..

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Homebrew 2x4" workbench

Ok, I will not take credit for this device but it would sure be handy on the boat for "those" projects.  Add an 1/4" aluminium top for that small metal vise and you are set for a lot of work that needs to be done on the boat,  Ha, you even have a small stepstool too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day 12 : GCS

Up at 0430, finished packing, lowered the camper top and moved the rig to the parking site and all done by 0545.  Went to the clubhouse to make my porridge with walnuts , cranberries, raisins and honey in the microwave.  We were on the road by 0645 and arrived in Knoxville about 1630 hrs.  We had a nice dinner at Cracker Barrel.  The Tuesday special was good but was disappointed they did not have collards. The day seemed long and I just got out of a hot shower that hit the spot.

I am researching synthetic teak for the aft seats of the aft deck.  The original teak is cracked and marginally serviceable.  If the prices are too high, I can always glue them in the cracked spots and put cross strips for more support.  Maybe I will do that no matter what.

I am looking online for Stainless Steel 316 name tags to replace the ones below that are aging and cracking:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 11: GCS

This was a wrap-up day. Talked with Tom Holland, Sold the old dingy to Nick and cleaned up the site plus put a bunch of things on the boat.  We also found the missing purse that contained some old documentation and loyalty cards.

We are now in the clubhouse writing this blog and SAM is watching TV and trying to fill in the puzzles.  However, it is time for bed and an early rise for the return trip to Indiana.  We accomplished quite a bit this trip and it was worth it.  Moore later.

Day 10: GCS

Spent day doing stuff. Too numerous to tell. The highlight was that SAM used "The Works" to clean the white waterline rust stains and our boat now looks beautiful again.  FYI - The Works is made near our hometown.  The owner hit upon a million $ secret.  The prime ingredient is 10% hydrogen chloride ( or in other words hydrochloric acid diluted to 10% that is sometimes called Muratic Acid).

I worked inside the boat clearing surveyor punch list items.  I installed smoke dectectors.  The CO detectors just arrived so they will be installed upon our return to GCS.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day 9: GCS

We awoke late but it actually was early since it was Fall back night.  Had my oat meal with berries and nuts then went over to the boat to check on the batteries charging state --> still at 7.5 amps.  Ok, folks I think I have 4 bad house batteries all ater 12VDC and all are West Marine 75 AH for a total of 300 Amp Hours.  I have to stope over as soon as I get through writing this missive and shut the charger off.  No sense in boiling the cells dry.  My old Youngsun had the same issue and it was bad cells for all batteries.  That was a $500 bill right there.  So much for a perfect boat - ha, ha.

I talked with Jerry after I determined this to get the size of a 6 VDC 225Amp Hr battery and it looked as if it might fit but it will be close.  Four golf cart batteries would give me 450 AH for about the same price ( I think).  I am going to go to an automotive place to get the size tomorrow.  This is all in the planning phase and I will need new cables too so read the package as expensive.

Oh, BTW, SAM did the toilet bowl cleaner trick and the white water line is white again not a deep rust color.  SAM has other improvements in store for the viewing eye.  All my stuff costs a lot and you cannot see the results of PM and Repair work so I am the bad guy and she is the white hat.

I cannot go on - Moore later.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 8: GCS

We woke up at 0400 to higher winds.  The winds continued to build until about 1400 hrs and at 2000 hrs it was gone.  the day was brilliant sun but cold and round 58°F.  We worked a lot in the boat and I checked the battery voltage which was very disappointing = about 5.5± VDC.  I put the charger on the start battery and it settled in to about 7.5 A charge current.  Later it was still about the same so I switched to House #1 and about the same thing.  On to House #2 same thing on the amps.  I will check voltage tomorrow to see if the voltage is back to 5 VDC.

In the afternoon, I removed the old house powered CO detector and left the wire to be abandoned later since they are very small current capacity.

Day 7: GCS

Well, this is Friday and we talked with Holland Marine about the total billing hours for the deck repair and it is about 50 so we are on track at the $70/hr labor rate.  Now comes the rework of the fore deck to correct the lousy painting job and blushing that somehow occurred. tom said he would correct it and his staff said it would be done at no charge.  This time it would be done with a bit more nap.

We spent a lot of time going thru lockers and pitching a lot of gear that was too mildewed or rough to keep.  several old life vests with no numbers or legible print on the lable --> out. Lots of line from the old Inspiration made their way to the boat and so did the Fortress 23 and hard laid 100± Ft of Rode.  Judging by some of the dock lines we saw, these new lines will be welcome.

One locker on the Stbd side smelled particularly strong - not too objectionable but definitely like stron polishing wax.  We emptied two hard cases of items and more or less stowed them.  we have a lot of stuff on board now.