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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 11-23-2009
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SSB Radio

We bought a used boat, which has a SSB radio and tuner. We're just trying to start it up, but don't seem to be able to send or receive voice. Haven't tried data yet.

Could the problem be that the boat is in a big marina (Shilshole in Seattle). Do nearby masts and other boats interfere with the antenna?
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Old 11-23-2009
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A lot of things can affect it. They can be complicated systems and difficult to troubleshoot. I'm sure that people much more knowledgeable than I will join in here shortly. If you end up needing help with it there is a very good guy in Anacortes, at Anacortes Marine Electronics. He got ours going for us and really know his stuff. I can't remember his name but they will know who you are talking about if you call.
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Old 11-23-2009
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Does your SSB work in marinas?
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Old 11-23-2009
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the ssb should work fine in the marina...

How are you determining that it does not send or receive voice...?

Other masts may interfere to a very small degree, but not noticebale to the casual user..

What type of radio is it? Are you familiar with the S-meter and the tuner ? YOu MUST have a reliable antenna and a "mach" with the tuner. If there is any doubt that the antenna is not working, you may be better off not "testing" as damage can be done to the unit, if the SWR is too high or the antenna shorted...

More info will be needed...type of SSB, type of tuner, type of antenna, etc...
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Old 11-23-2009
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Your SSB should work in your marina. Receive will be better than the transmit, but you should be able to hear something. The fact that you can't hear anything would indicate an issue with your antenna. Have you tried tuning in WWV and listen to the time signal? I can pick that up with just the antenna lead and no real antenna.

Also, I'm hoping you have your proper license before you try the transmit!

Ps. Which radio came with your boat?
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Old 11-23-2009
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Thanks, I'm grasping at straws.

My radio is an ICOM M710. The tuner is ICOM AT130. Using the backstay as an antenna. The ground plane is a copper strip connected to a sintered bronze piece outside the hull.

I've looked at and cleaned the connections from the tuner to ground, tuner to antenna and at the backstay. They all look good.

I've listened for the time and get a garbled signal on one station (can't remember which right now).

A local repairman looked at it and said it receives and sends fine, but I wasn't there to see what he did and at $75 per hour, I'm hoping not to have to call him back.
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Old 11-23-2009
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There are a couple of WWV signals, and depending on conditions, you might not receive all of them. If the 710 is programmed as the factory set it up, channels 13 through 20 are time signals. The first 5 are WWV, the last 3 are CHU from Canada. Usually channel 15 and 16 (10 and 15 MHz) seem to have the strongest signal.

The 710 is also set up for auto tune, so it should tune up when you key. You can try it manually by selecting a working channel like 4A (#77) and hit the tune button. You should see your ammeter move by about 10 amps. Then try saying FOURRRRRRR into the mic. The radio won't transmit without input from the mic. The ammeter should move a lot and the bar graph on the front should go almost all the way. Also, when using the mic, most of the ICOM mics need to be driven by getting your lips right up on the mic.
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The learning curve on SSB operation is a bit steep in the beginning. It helps to have a practiced operator show you the ropes.

Try to find another sailor with an M710. This is a VERY GOOD and very solid radio, but it's a bit difficult to operate, especially for newbies.

If you can't find another sailor, try a local ham.

By the way, $75 an hour is a very fair price for a qualified radio technician aboard your boat. You might consider springing for an hour of paid tutelage (with you present this time)...it could save you a lot of grief and keep you from going down blind alleys!

Bill
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Last edited by btrayfors; 11-23-2009 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 12-08-2009
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As a radio tech. for many years I must agree with most that operation of your SSB is compromised in a marina full of masts. However not to the lessor degree than some are saying, the radiated signal is very diminished when you are sitting in a sea of masts. There has been many times that I couldn't "hardly" receive or transmit a decent signal, but once I went a mile offshore signal improved substantially. You need to have a technician come out when you are there and show you the ropes, and show you the "radiated" signal strengths. If your going offshore this is imparitive. Your SSB is a very important part of your safety at sea. I personally have installed or serviced hundreds of marine installations, and it is a rare find to come across a system that is working at it's best. The maintenance on SSB systems is too commonly over looked, and should be part of your monthly inspections. Above all, keep an eye on your SWR ratings, keep them below 1.5 to 1. Carl
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