VHF; some shopping

This weekend’s big accomplishment: spending kind of a lot of money.

But first: Saturday morning I spent a little time pulling wires and components out of the nav table shelf in an attempt to understand what’s going on back there.  There are essentially only two pieces of electronics there: the VHF radio, which is an old Icom something-or-other, and the GPS.  But as with the electrical cavity behind the breaker panel, the nav shelf is a tangle of unlabeled wires and random bus bars.  Here’s a photo:

This shows the nav table itself more than the shelf, which is along the top, but you can get a sense of the mess from some of the various wires I pulled out.  On the left is the Icom radio.  On the right is this mystery box:

The label is a little washed out in the photo but it says “VHF”.  Frankly I have no idea what this thing is.  It is clearly powered on when the radio’s circuit is turned on, but turning the dials doesn’t seem to do much other than switch the LEDs and doesn’t noticeably affect the RX functionality of the VHF.  (Maybe it affects TX somehow, e.g., adjusting the power?  But the radio itself has that functionality built in, so I doubt it.)  From what I can tell the box doesn’t interact with any antennas.  I guess I just need to spend a little more time investigating.

I sorted out both GPS antenna cables (there are two antennas).  There also appear to be either two or three VHF antenna cables.  (One might be for an SSB, but sticking it into the radio’s ANT jack, the radio worked fine.)  I have no idea if there is more than one actual antenna though; I don’t think so.  What all the cables are for I’m not sure.  Also needs more investigation.

So after that little adventure it was time to do some cleaning of the decks.  I have been through a few soft-ish mop type things but in general they fall apart fairly quickly.  I tromped up to the marina’s chandlery shop to see what they had and ended up buying the most expensive brush ever, for something like US$100:

It’s specifically for use on yachts and is soft-bristled to avoid damaging the gelcoat or deck paint.  The handle is stainless so it won’t rust like all the other mop type things I’ve bought.  And it darn well better last forever, for that price.

Of course by the time I stopped having my internal debate about whether to spend that much on a deck brush and just did it, it was too late to actually do any cleaning.  So I’ll have to try it out some evening this week.

Instead I trekked over to SimLim and finally bit the bullet on an AIS Class B transponder, the Comar CSB-200, and a VHF antenna splitter, the Comar AST-200 (although I’m not completely certain I actually need the latter).  The transponder seems pretty solid:

The antenna splitter is quite a bit bigger than I was expecting, almost as big as the transponder itself:

It’ll probably take a little bit of planning to get everything wired up.  At the very least I need to add a new bus bar to bring power to everything.  There’s no huge rush since I can’t actually use the transponder until I get an MMSI from the Malaysian telecommunications authority, which is of course proving to be a challenge.

Finally, while I was at SimLim I picked up a relatively cheap Standard Horizon HX751 handheld VHF radio, which works well:

I was actually surprised to find that all of these electronics were a bit cheaper than the prices I’ve seen in the US.  Finally, something is less expensive (and easier to find) in Singapore than back home!

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