Installing an ICOM802 SSB Part 1: Creating and installing an alternative backstay antenna

I’ve been crazy excited about my SSB since I picked it up and WON’T SHUT UP about it as anyone I know can attest. But I had yet to install it.

So, the first part of installing the SSB was to install an antenna.

Since I (stupidly) didn’t get insulators installed on my backstay when I redid the rigging, going with an insulated backstay like a lot of sailboats would cost a bunch of cash to get that done. Which I didn’t really fancy. The other alternatives were:

  • whip antenna
  • rope antenna
  • GAM antenna

The whip was out because it’d get in the way, be pricey and spoil the lines of the boat. The GAM antenna has very mixed reviews – it works well for some people and terribly for others. It also costs $450, which is a lot of money for something that *may* work.

So rope antenna it was (basically a wire led up the center of a line and then hoisted.

Except… then I saw an idea for something called a ‘alternative backstay antenna’ by some guy called Bill on the cruising forum. Basically, you get a length of insulated lifeline, and use that.

Orinignally I was going to create a video of me doing this to cash in on that sweet vlog income but after 10 mins dicking around with camera angles I gave up. Blog with blurry photos it is!

So, first step was to grab the lifeline (this stuffs cheap)

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Next, stripping the wire. Easy right?! Except not. This was awful and took ages and ughhhh. I ended up have to strip an inch at a time, sloooowly

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Next, I crimped one end with a thimble in, this is the end that will attach to my spare halyard.

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Then, time to do the other end. I hoisted the lifeline up and cut it to the correct length with a dremel. Then I stripped a long length, and crimped in a screw, followed by a loop. The screw was then attached to a lug as shown.

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As you can see, I then crimped on a AWG 6 cable to connect the antenna to the tuner. A lot of people use GTO-15, but apparently any decent sized cable will be fine. I also heat shrinked this.

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Next, I tied off a length of line to the loop at the bottom of the wire, and hoisted it on the spare halyard. I then tied this off securely to the pushpit

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Alright, nearly done. Now I had to drill a hole for the cable to go through to reach the tuner below the cockpit. I did this and use a gland from Blue Seas to keep it all snug and water proof.

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And the final step was to ziptie all the lines and general tidy up, while leaving a bit of slack in the antenna cable.

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Done!

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Total cost: ~60 bucks

Matt

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