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Thread: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

  1. #1
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    Default Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Bit of a numpty question - but I am a bit of an electronics/electrics numpty - I’m running cables and wiring and am looking at my VHF coax’ cable run (for my H28 rebuild) and what to do after it passes through the deck at the base of the mast. The old antenna was mounted to the pushpit but the new one will be masthead mounted.

    I’m using RG213/U cable and am wondering what everyone uses for a waterproof connection between deck and mast - with the expectation that I’ll be able to slip the connection back inside the mast once made.

    I see a few options via a Google search, mostly for shore based applications, but they still leave me wondering what everyone else uses in a marine environment where salt, heat, spray, movement and UV play a part (albeit UV won’t be such an issue inside the mast). It’s an aluminium mast so the waterproofing will also play an insulation/protection role against corrosion between the aluminium and SS of the connector plugs.

    thanks
    Greg
    Larks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    If you can, slip the un-terminated cable through a waterproof gland on deck and make the connection below.
    Schooner sailors love to get blown offshore!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by SchoonerRat View Post
    If you can, slip the un-terminated cable through a waterproof gland on deck and make the connection below.
    This is the best answer with RF cabling. The connectors are usually large compared to the cable diameter so you don't want to use a pass-through with a hole big enough to put the whole connector through. You pass the coax through a very small opening and then add the connector once the cable is in place. This is admittedly very inconvenient for people who want or need to buy pre-terminated cables, or when you have to pull the cable out and put it back.

    -Neil

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Through deck?
    A big hole is exactly what I did, filled and shaped with epoxy...surprise surprise
    same wire goin on 35 years
    just when does one need to pull it out and re install it?

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    year 36?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    As I have said before, I'm not a sailor, so this might be a dumb question:
    If the mast is keel-stepped, why couldn't the cable stay inside the mast until it is below the partners. Then the cable could exit the mast directly into the cabin.

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Note, new antenna antennae and connectors are " no tools" installation; they simply screw together on the cable that you have pr-stripped to the prescribed dimensions. Furthermore, many antennae used to come hardwired at the antenna end; now you can purchase antennae where the cable disconnects at both the radio and antenna end of the cable. So if you need to replace your antennna, there's no need to run a new cable.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon Bartlett View Post
    As I have said before, I'm not a sailor, so this might be a dumb question:
    If the mast is keel-stepped, why couldn't the cable stay inside the mast until it is below the partners. Then the cable could exit the mast directly into the cabin.


    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Note, new antenna antennae and connectors are " no tools" installation; they simply screw together on the cable that you have pr-stripped to the prescribed dimensions. Furthermore, many antennae used to come hardwired at the antenna end; now you can purchase antennae where the cable disconnects at both the radio and antenna end of the cable. So if you need to replace your antennna, there's no need to run a new cable.

    Kevin

    Mast is deck stepped with a compression post between decks. The mast will be fully fitted out and rigged before being stepped, including the new masthead antenna and coax’ to service it. You are correct Kevin that the antenna and TG213 coax’ cable are connected via PL259 connectors, which reminds me that they will also need to be waterproofed.

    The connection will be above deck to keep the deck penetration to the minimum size of the cable diameter and to be able to hide the connection inside the mast.


    I am thinking that I will use something like self fusing “Tommy tape” but I am interested to know if anyone is aware of other products that might be considered more suited to the purpose.
    Larks

    “It’s impossible”, said pride.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    West Marine sells a PL29 set with a panel mount "female" with a cap (the housing is actually male thread). A short pigtail with a rubber grommet would do the job.

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    I am thinking that I will use something like self fusing “Tommy tape” but I am interested to know if anyone is aware of other products that might be considered more suited to the purpose.
    Up to you. A commercial boot may be available.

    I have SO-259 coax connectors exposed to weather atop my powerboat--and can point to any number of other same installs--without connector failure. They thread together quite tightly. I do have the cable taped where it enters the connector. That said, it is easier to climb on to a powerboat's top than it would be to go up in a bosun chair to service a masthead device, so.....

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Up to you. A commercial boot may be available.

    I have SO-259 coax connectors exposed to weather atop my powerboat--and can point to any number of other same installs--without connector failure. They thread together quite tightly. I do have the cable taped where it enters the connector. That said, it is easier to climb on to a powerboat's top than it would be to go up in a bosun chair to service a masthead device, so.....

    Kevin

    yes it’s that “commercial boot” idea that I’ve been trying to source Kevin - hence my question here. I assume (assumed) that this must be a fairly standard issue with a readily available boot or weather seal of some sort as the PL259 connector just doesn’t look particularly weatherproof to me:

    Larks

    “It’s impossible”, said pride.
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    “Give it a try”, whispered the heart.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    you might look into the type of silicone you use to seal the coax connector(s).. I've read of fumes from drying si., coating the conductive surfaces.. effecting the signal. there's a type of caulk that's electronics safe, and I'd stick to it..if you elect to use it to seal.
    Last edited by the_gr8t_waldo; 11-17-2021 at 08:20 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Up to you. A commercial boot may be available.

    I have SO-259 coax connectors exposed to weather atop my powerboat--and can point to any number of other same installs--without connector failure. They thread together quite tightly. I do have the cable taped where it enters the connector. That said, it is easier to climb on to a powerboat's top than it would be to go up in a bosun chair to service a masthead device, so.....

    Kevin
    Kevin, would there be any benefit to using some heat-shrink tubing over the connection ?

    Rick
    Charter Member - - Professional Procrastinators Association of America - - putting things off since 1965 " I'll get around to it tomorrow, .... maybe "

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by the_gr8t_waldo View Post
    you might look into the type of silicone you use to seal the coax connector(s).. I've read of fumes from drying si., coating the conductive surfaces.. effecting the signal. there's a type of caulk that's electronics safe, and I'd stick to it..if you elect to use it to seal.

    Thanks for the advice but I wouldn’t use a silicon sealant for anything anywhere on the boat and, even though I’m a self confessed electronics/electrics numpty, I certainly wouldn’t use any sort of “goop” or caulking to seal cable connections (other than perhaps paint on electrical tape as a sort of belts and braces under heat shrink tubing).
    Larks

    “It’s impossible”, said pride.
    “It’s risky”, said experience.
    “It’s pointless”, said reason.
    “Give it a try”, whispered the heart.

    LPBC Beneficiary

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection


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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    It's not submersible ( I don't think) but that's a lot of threads for water to get past.

    Kevin, would there be any benefit to using some heat-shrink tubing over the connection ?

    Rick
    This is what I used where the cable goes into the connector. It also provides strain relief. The radio or antenna end--threaded--I don't tape or cover. But, no harm doing it, or downside.

    If you use the new screw together connectors, a center pin crimps on the end of the center conductor. If using old-style connectors, that is protected with lump of solder. I have never applied silicone or any sealant in making up these connectors, so I cannot comment on that. I did used to install marine electronics for a living, but that was a long time ago.

    Screen Shot 2021-11-17 at 10.50.16 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2021-11-17 at 10.50.16 PM.jpg

    When that screws onto this, its weathertight if not watertight.

    Screen Shot 2021-11-17 at 10.54.24 PM.jpg

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    I think the TNC connector is the smallest for 10mm cable. IP67/68, stainless sometimes available but not critical, just wrap in tape and tuck inside the mast.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Put one of these in your deck.

    Screen Shot 2021-11-18 at 7.11.39 AM.jpg
    Push your coax through and tighten the gland. Waterproof thru-deck with minimal sized hole. Put your connector below deck. Waterproof the connector if you still feel a need. For masthead connectors I used to use rigging tape that is designed to stick to nothing but itself. IIRC the mfr. was Nicro Fico.

    If you wanna get fancy, put the gland on the mast step and drill through the side of your compression post to fish out your cable. This was my goto move when I made a living doing this stuff.
    Schooner sailors love to get blown offshore!

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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Larks View Post
    Thanks for the advice but I wouldn’t use a silicon sealant for anything anywhere on the boat and, even though I’m a self confessed electronics/electrics numpty, I certainly wouldn’t use any sort of “goop” or caulking to seal cable connections (other than perhaps paint on electrical tape as a sort of belts and braces under heat shrink tubing).
    .....I wasn't suggesting you do. just for use on the outside of the coax assembly- augmenting the assembly's rain water shedding ability.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    I haven’t had trouble with exposed coax connectors on deck, but for a really wet location, I’d try sheathing it with heat shrink tubing.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Masthead VHF coax cable deck joiner/connection

    Greg, look up CT1 mastic. Great stuff, remains a little flexible, kind of hard rubber when dry. Sticks like **** to a blanket, I'd have no worries about sealing your connector with it.. it can withstand submersion, and to be honest that is the level you should seal it to. A small wave or splosh on deck and you'll lose comms otherwise. Heat shrink alone will not get you there.

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