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Dealing with challenging antenna installs

On most boats the real estate that is available for mounting antennas is limited--even on megayachts like the one pictured here. Today’s boats often have a multitude of antennas in various sizes and shapes along with running lights, horns, spotlights and cameras that are clustered in one central area. The challenges of keeping critical components from interfering with each other and out of the direct path of radar beams while maintaining proper sightlines can be formidable. Often stock radar arches or marine masts are not adequate to accommodate all of the equipment an owner wants.

Custom mounts may be the answer and they come in a variety of configurations. If you’re considering adding an antenna or other equipment that needs to be mounted high up and in clean air, you ought to take a look at the hundreds of mounts, brackets, wedges and adapters made by Seaview. The company has mounts that facilitate installation on virtually any type and size of boat and fit all major marine electronics manufacturers’ equipment.

Below are excerpts from an article written for Marine Electronics Journal by Arnie Hammerman that will introduce you to some of the company’s custom mounts and accessories. We’ll conclude the two-part series next week.

Here’s how it works. Using the Seaview website, the installer selects the type, style and size of the mount to fit the number and types of antennas and other specific requirements of the installation. Modular mounts suit many applications and can be customized with a variety of accessories. Radar base wedges alter the angle of the radar to improve performance while running. Light bars can be added to the mount in order to provide clear and unobstructed visibility for running lights.  Spreader kits allow for additional antennas to be mounted while keeping them clear of each other to reduce interference. Flood light kits can be added to light bars or spreaders to provide additional exterior lighting for fishing or security. 

Modular universal top plates now have only four visible mounting screws to keep the installation clean. They are made from an anodized ¼-inch plate that is predrilled to fit most bolt patterns. The plate is then encased in a UV-stabilized glass-filled ABS white plastic which is templated for each manufacturer. The plastic on the top plate is easily drilled to expose the mounting points for each specific piece of marine electronics, leaving other unused mounting points concealed. For some installations an ABS plastic top plate can be used instead that is also pre-marked with a drill template for simple customization. 

Ducking under obstructions

Boats that have height restrictions can add a hinge adapter that allows the mast to be manually canted for entry into boat garages or to reduce bridge clearance. These modular solutions allow you to match the specific equipment to the configuration of the vessel. Modular dual-mounts allow radar domes and arrays to have a clear horizon away from satcom antennas, cameras and more that are mounted above and out of the radar’s path. Most Seaview mounts are made of powder-coated aluminum for durability, longevity and appearance. Typically, they are white but can be ordered in a variety of colors. Some of the more popular mounts are also available in stainless steel. 

Modular solutions are designed to fit most types of boats and pair them with a variety of electronics in many different configurations. For unique installations Seaview also provides custom solutions. Many vessels have clearance issues and want an easy way to lower antenna arrays without the hassle of manually tilting or lowering them.  Seaview has developed several solutions including an actuated hinge originally constructed for a Sunseeker project that folds back the stainless radar chair at the push of a button to provide needed bridge clearance; some projects include dual actuators. The heavy-duty marine-grade aluminum hinge is finished with chem-film, primed and powder coated. The front cover opens for easy access to actuators, and cable management is through the internal waterproof cable glands. An integrated link inside limits the degree of hinge. The IP66 grade actuator runs on 12-24 VDC and has a load capacity of 3,000 lbs. 

"As the Sunseeker dealer for the Great Lakes, some of our owners in Chicago were having bridge clearance issues,” said Kevin Dettloff, an installation technician with Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales. "A customer with a Sunseeker 66 Manhattan needed to be able to raise and lower their antenna array in order to pass under the bridges. The manufacturer had provided a hinge, but manually moving the antennas was cumbersome and difficult to accomplish while operating the vessel.  

The solution worked so well that Jefferson ordered two more custom actuator-controlled units for other boats. "The first boat had the button located closer to the antenna mount but subsequently we were able to place the controls near the helm, allowing the operator to raise and lower the array single handed,” said Dettloff. 

Next week: Telescoping poles and a typical refit

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