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Old 25-11-2010, 11:37   #1
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Beaten-to-Death Subject: SSB and Antenna

Hi everyone just have a few questions with regards my ssb install. I purchased a good used icom 707 and at 130 and have since done the install on my boat.
Boat was already equipped with a rather large dynaplate. I ran 3 inch copper foil from that plate to tuner ground lug and onto radio ground lug. I connected a rather short 3 feet GTO-15 cable from antenna directly to one of my backstay chainplates bolts. How can I make sure the tuner is working properly? I press tune on the radio and hear a click on tuner than the word tune stays on the radio display. I'm yet to listen to any activity over the radio. Expect for annoying chinese stations that bleed thru all my bands specially when tuned at 14.300
I'm in a marina downtown Toronto and have the giant CN tower just a few hundred meters away could that be causing a lot of interference?
I plan on adding a proper antenna that I will run from lazarette to mast head with insulators. What thickness of wire should I be using for that?

Best regards

SV Rodeo

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Old 25-11-2010, 12:06   #2
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If you are getting the "Tune" remaining on the screen then you are tuned to that frequency.
- - However, make sure that your backstay is not connected to your bonding system wire. And also that you have nothing connected to the backstay chainplate and the actual backstay wire. No cross braces to a railing or bimini or anything else metallic. And finally make sure *nobody* is anywhere near the backstay when you are planning to broadcast as the RF can cause a nasty "burn" if they should touch it while you are transmitting.
- - Then you need to get a listing of HF/SSB frequencies for "Nets" and other communications schedules. You can purchase a booklet of all the HF/SSB broadcasts worldwide for news and music and other programing. You can search online for "marine SSB Nets" and get the times and frequencies of cruising/weather nets worldwide.
- - Of course, there might not be too much activity in your current neck of the woods during the winter. You can get an Atlantic and Caribbean list of nets at Caribbean Compass - Caribbean Yachting and Boating News Magazine and work your way to their HF communications page: Caribbean Compass - Caribbean Yachting and Boating News Magazine
and download the PDF file of "Selected Shortwave Weather Reports 2010"
These stations are really far away so you might not be able to receive them.
- - You can connect the sound output of the SSB radio to your computer and use JVCOM32 at: History to get a program to download weather fax charts off the SSB radio. On that site is also listings of HF Fax broadcast stations worldwide. For the Atlantic you can get the NOAA weather fax frequencies and time schedule at Boston at: Radiofax Charts - Boston
go to the bottom of the page and download the schedule.
- - Remember when nothing is scheduled you will only get hash and static.

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Old 25-11-2010, 12:08   #3
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Does the 707's display show the RF current when transmitting as the 710's does? That would give some indication of tuner performance because the power should be greater after tuning. The boat's ammeter will give some indication of performance too as the current draw should be about 30A when you whistle or blow loudly into the mic. A SWR meter would be better. The tuner should click and clack the first time during tuning to a new band.

Yes, city junk will hamper receive and transmit performance.

The uninsulated backstay might be a terrible antenna choice. Try just a boat-length of wire running away from all the other metal stuff. The tuner may refuse to tune the backstay.

#14 wire should be enough. More a strength problem than current. Transmit currents are at most a few amps.
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Old 25-11-2010, 12:12   #4
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G'Day Gabe

I have to disagree a bit with parts of Daddle's post.

First, (assuming that your boat is not steel or ally) using your uninsulated rigging will indeed work. I have been doing this for the last 24 years on two different boats with results quite similar to those using insulated backstays, etc. There are some drawbacks to the system, but ability to communicate isn't one of them. Oh... if the stay that you are using is directly grounded, ya gotta disconnect that ground wire. Having the base of the mast grounded (as in lightning protection) does not seem to matter.

I'm not familiar with the I-707, but many Icom transceivers have a built-in SWR monitor. The purpose of the tuner is to reduce the SWR to a value approaching one. So, if you check the owners manual for your radio and if it has the SWR monitoring capability you can determine if the tuner is functioning without talking to anyone. If the 707 doesn't have such capabilities, a friendly ham or radio tech might lend you an external SWR meter which will accomplish the same measurement. The tuner should get the SWR somewhere below 2:1 or so if it is functioning properly.

Lastly, Daddle is quite correct in saying your results in a marina environment will be poor. It's a combination of many RF noise sources and lots of other masts/rigging nearby. The noise drowns out the signals you wish to receive, and the other rigs tend to absorb some of your emitted signal. The commercial transmitters nearby quite possibly overload the front end of your receiver as well. Not a good place to do HF testing!

Good luck with your efforts.

Cheers and 73

Jim N9GFT/VK4GFT s/v Insatiable II lying Stradbrooke Is Qld Oz southbound
Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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Old 25-11-2010, 12:28   #5
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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
...using your uninsulated rigging will indeed work.
...may indeed work.

It would be worth trying a separate wire in this diagnostic situation. I know my rigging is absolutely worthless as an antenna: I tried it once. There's also many well lubed or corroded fittings along the backstay that may insulate well.
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Old 25-11-2010, 14:10   #6
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One alternative which the parents of my boat neighbor have successfully used all over the world is a braided copper wire (used for ham antennas) held by insulated stand-offs along the sail track on the mast. I think they have a metal mast, I don't so I don't have to worry about that being a problem any way, just make sure that any un-shielded wire is on the other side of the track or in the mast. It is realitively inexpensive, easy to install does the job with out affecting the possible integrity of the rig

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