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  #1  
Old 01-30-2008
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Need advice on aging SSB equipment

I've started looking into our cruising communications set up a little more. The boat came with an IC-m700 with an A-130 tuner but that's where my understanding ends. Taped to the M700 is a Kantronics KAM plus. I looked this up on the internet but still have no idea what it is. There is also a proctor-II which I understand is some sort of modem. Now, having tried to understand this myself through other threads and a little internet surfing I gather that the M700 isn't well suited for e-mail use due to the lack of an "accessory jack with the necessary AF input, AF output, and PTT signals"(sailmail website). The website goes on to talk about limited continuous output. However, it also mentions the possibility of modifying the radio for this use. Is this what my KAM plus that is so neatly taped to the Transceiver is for? I'm at a loss because there are no associated cables to connect any of this. So, I know the equipment is old but does it make sense to buy a unit like a m700 pro or is this system viable?
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Assuming everything is functional, replacing it will still require connection of the pactor modem, tuner and antenna to a new transceiver so buying a new one won't serve any purpose. The AF in, out and PTT are required as well with anything you purchase new although some of the contemporary equipment will allow direct connection to accessory jacks.

Interconnecting everything is more complicated to explain than it is to do. I recognize you probably don't intend to use this for ham communications but there are a few elementary books explaining the setup and operations including lots of drawings which can be found on the ham radio web site, ARRL.org where you can buy them
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Old 01-30-2008
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The Kantronics device is interface with a computer to send digital communications over the radio, kind of like email. It utilizes several different modes and will likely receive wefax as well. You can look at kantronics.com or search on amateur radio sites like eham.com for more information. I'm not very adept at digital modes, other than morse code, so I can't offer much more than generalities.

The Icom M700 Pro is still being produced By Icom. You can look at icomamerica.com and search the products for marine SSB. I am more familiar with Yaesu radios since that is what I have, but if the Icom is working I would keep it; though you may want to have it aligned. They have a good reputation and produce quality radios.

The AT-130 is a device which matches the impedance of the radio to the antenna so you don't burn up the transistor amplifiers RF amplifiers. You can download the manuals for both of these from their website. Again ham radio sites such as eham.com could be a big help with more information. Look at their product reviews pages.

Another possible route is to get in touch with local amateur radio operators. You could start with eham.com or try arrl.org. I don't know where you are located in the world but even though the ARRL is in the USA they can still help you get in touch with hams world wide. Ham operators may not use marine SSB frequencies but the equipment is essentially the same. Also, a license probably required to use this legally and safely.

Hope this helps, Michael
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Old 01-30-2008
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Where are you? I would find a local Amateur Radio buff (Ham) and ask him for help. I am a relatively new Ham (VE7GJD) and I have found that Hams are extremely friendly and helpful. When I was setting up the radio on my boat they were very helpful. Everywhere I go boating Hams appear at my boat and want to talk. It is a really friendly group. After all, that is what Hams do, talk!

The equipment you have will probably do everything except the lastest Pactor III email. You just need a little help (like most people) getting it interconnected and on the air.

Gaz
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Kantonrics "TNC"s are still very much used by ham radio operators. You can find information about them on the web, try some ham radio sites like eham.net and ask.

The "proctor" is a PACTOR modem, used for digital communications. Pactor-II is one step back form the current and fa$ter Pactor-III devices, some can be upgraded. If you call Farallon in CA, they'll be glad to tell you what the device is, how it is used, and your options if you choose to upgrade to Pactor-III.
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The Icom radio is just as good as any newer model, you can contact ICOM-US to find out what the differences are between it and the latest model, or to have it checked over and tuned if necessary. (Not a bad idea, since radios do "age out" over time.) You'll find the new ones ain't cheap, it is probably wirth keeping yours. Ditto the antenna tuner, the same model would be used today.

If the system was working reliably for the last owner--it probably still will. If you take anything apart for service, make sure to label the connectors and wires, or color code them, for re-assembly.

If you browse on "ham radio sailing" and the like, you'll find plenty of information. Probably the trickiest part is setting up an antenna on a boat, because while many things work--every boat is different and what works well on one boat, may be only mediocre on the next. Boat antennas are something that if you really want them to work well, you've got to experiment a bit with them. And the antenna IS the final word in whether your system works well, or not.
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The advice on Farallon is right on...they are great at providing support and the parts and pieces you may need. Also suggest you visit sailmail.com as this is the e-mail service that those with pactor modems will typically use. They have several excellent and simple articles to read that will bring you up to speed on the options.
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Old 01-31-2008
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I'm getting the sense that this is as complicated as it sounds. So I will take everyones advice and find local help. New standing rig going up in March so I'll wait until the new antenna is operational, that will give me some time to find someone who can help me get on the air. Thanks
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It only seems complicated but is no more so than hooking up a TV, stereo, cable, and a DVD. I have a Yaesu FT-817 and have hooked everything up and used it out in the field many times. The big issue is just having the right cables, connecting them properly, and understanding that you MUST properly match the radio to the antenna. It sounds like you have the right stuff but just need a little more knowledge. Rocket science may be involved in producing the semiconductors and connecting them to make a working device, but beyond that it is simply hooking it up, turning a few knobs, and watching a couple of dials. I think navigation is far more difficult than operating a transceiver.
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Old 02-06-2008
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Kantronics tnc

Your whole setup was most likely used for Email and wx fax. Problem today is that few email xmissions are sent via this tnc or modem. Very few stations are now accepting emails sent by packtor 1. Pactor 2 & 3 are the modes now accepted. Pactor 1 is very slow and uses more recieve and xmitter time.Winlink station (ham) still have a few stations that will take pactor 1 messages, but very few. Purchase a CSC radio modem and it has the above modes and many more. Earl
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