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)


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



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


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.


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.


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


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.


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




Total cost: ~60 bucks



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