SSB Install: Tuner to antenna

We use one of the big wires on that run from the deck to the top of our mast as an antenna for our single sideband radio. This wire is called a backstay, and thus the antenna is called a backstay antenna. In order to use the wire that way you have to also have a tuner to tune your wire during SSB usage.

Below, images from an install that I never blogged about. In order to connect the back stay to the tuner I had to cut the co-ax and reinstall it on the tuner. In order to do that I had to solder a PL-259 connector.

Rrrright. So, I don't know how to solder. Many youtube videos and a borrowed solder gun later, I had a not pretty but the good news is that the ugly solder is so far effective because our signal is good. Let's hope it lasts... The work stations, old & new connectors:

I was then able to open our AH-4 tuner and connect the new cord:

The wire was threaded through the ceiling of the aft cabin to the aft port section of the lazarette space and the tuner was installed there. The antenna wire then went from the tuner, through the cockpit combing to the backstay which serves as our antenna.

I used some nylon rod to keep the GTO-15 wire from touching the backstay. I had the brilliant idea to drill holes prior to cutting it so there would be a notch for the wire to sit into. Alas, it turns out the hole I drilled wasn’t really big enough or necessary. Just cutting the rod into 2” sections would have been plenty.

The installation with stainless still wire nut, nylon spacers connected with zip ties, and although you can’t see it the wire terminates in a ring terminal that has been double shrink wrapped at the connection:


  1. Interesting...It's exactly stuff like this that I scour the sailing blogs for. Thank you....Allan

  2. Does your backstay antenna have an insulator on it?

    We still need to try to chat on our radios.

  3. Hi Livia

    Is your back stay insulated?

    I ask because I do not see an insulator, and your signal was often pretty weak compared to others this summer.

    I didn't see a back stay insulator in the picture, and most backstay installations for antenna use have insulators top and bottom.


  4. The backstay is insulated (two insulators) - the cotter pin in the bottom of the photo is for the bottom insulater, meaning that the wire nut is connected just above it.

    A friend emailed me the good advice to create a drip loop on that connection if possible which we'll do on our standing rigging project this Spring.

    @Allan - Thanks!
    @Mike - Yes we do. We have terrible interference in Victoria Harbor so it is better to do when we are out sailing. We'll schedule something though
    @Phil - Thanks for the feedback. We do have them. We also had on and off, strong and then weak copy on you. I assumed it was because we were yo-yo ing down the coast and sometimes in a bad distance/mountain configuration from each other.



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