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Old 18-02-2009, 14:58   #1
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Help with SSB

I have an ICOM 710 (with 130 tuner) which has never worked very well (can hear a little sometimes and have never tried to transmit), but I'm now trying to get it up and running. Based on some "expert" opinions and some research, I'm going to try to correct some installation problems, but would like to hear more opinions.

The tuner is mounted direrctly under the radio and a looong way from the antenna. This seems to be exactly the opposite of how it should be? I'm thinking relocation of the tuner is a must?

I don't see any copper strapping anyhwere, so am going to add some. I've seen a recommendation of at least 100 square feet, which would be 400 lineal feet of 3 inch strapping? That would be fine, except then I couldn't carry any food, water, spares, clothes, wife, etc. I understand that with strapping "more is better", but what is realistic, i.e. how much have others used with acceptable results?

I've also read that it helps to attach the strapping to metal objects like metal tanks and keels. One source, though, said these object should be below the waterline. Is that necessary? Most of my larger metal objects are above the waterline (and I don't have a keel).

I do have a ground plate on the outside of the hull, to which several wires are attached for grounding. Can this boat ground also be used for the SSB ground and should/can the copper strapping be attached to this?

Thanks all for your help.
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Old 21-02-2009, 19:08   #2
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hey catsailor....

probably could do a search here and get a bunch of opinions on grounding ssb's....it's been flogged on numerous threads I believe...when we brought our prout cat down from boston to charleston, I put a temporary ground under one of the stern bunks, about 15 feet of 12" wide alumninum flashing, connected to the tuner, which I put in the stern near the feed for the insulated backstay, connected up some big supply wires to the transceiver...worked great for the trip down!!...for a more permanent installation I think I am just going to put more of it under the bunk and maybe on the cabin sole near the nav area where the radio is located...if you have an underwater ground plate that should work pretty good also... I am in charleston at mariners cay, folly beach. where do you berth your boat?? maybe we could compare notes over a cold one...

fair winds,

George
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Old 21-02-2009, 19:33   #3
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SCCatSailor,

Yes, you need to move the tuner to a location as close to the base of the antenna as you can get it. From there, run a length of GTO-15 hi-tension wire to the antenna.

The easiest thing for an RF ground is to run a short length of wide copper from the ground lug on the tuner to the nearest bronze thru-hull. It's not a good idea to connect the RF ground to the rest of your boat's DC ground system, and it sounds like that's what the external plate is being used for.

There are other ways to effect an RF ground if there's no nearby bronze thru-hull. You could use radials, and possibly other things depending on the configuration of your cat. Forget the "100 sq. feet of copper"; that's plain nonsense as has been discussed elsewhere on this Board and others. See, e.g., my post: http://ssca.org/DiscBoard/viewtopic....grounds+marine

Connect the tuner to the M710 with good quality coax. And, you'll have to connect the control cable as well; hopefully, it's long enough to reach.

The radio may not tune until you try to transmit (or push the tune button to transmit at low power), and with the tuner in an untuned condition your reception won't be optimal.

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 21-02-2009, 20:34   #4
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For years I would line the bilges with 50-100 sq. ft. with marginal radio reception. I was told by many and more so recently to use a ground plate which I will soon. I did connect a short piece of 3" wide copper sheeting to a through-hull with very good reception. So I am convinced a water connection is the way to go. This was backed up with Ham Radio Guru Gorden West. It sure is simpler to ground the tuner to a through-hull or ground plate than 100 sq. ft, in the bilge.
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Old 23-04-2009, 07:56   #5
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SSB

Hi folks, sorry I don't have an answer to your question, rather I'm struggling with my own difficulties deciphering the misteries of SSB.
SSB is new to me and after many frustrating hours of receiving only undecipherable noise, I'm left with even more questions...
To begin, what license do I need to operate SSB?
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Old 23-04-2009, 08:31   #6
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No license needed to receive marine and ham SSB signals.

To transmit on the marine SSB bands, you need: (1) a station license; and (2) an operators license (at minimum a Restricted Marine Operators License). Neither requires an exam. Info on the FCC website.

To transmit on the ham SSB bands, you need an amateur radio license...at least a General Class license. These require study and passing an exam, administered by fellow ham's who are licensed examiners. Info online at arrl.org and at any local amateur radio club.

In bonafide emergencies (and I take that to mean "life-threatening"), you can transmit anywhere -- ham or marine.

For legal operation on the marine SSB bands, you also must have a "type-accepted" marine radio (not a ham radio which has been "modified"). Many people ignore this, and do so at their own risk.

For legal operation on the ham bands, you can use any radio at all, even one you've constructed, so long as you have a ham license authorizing operation on those bands.

Bill
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Old 23-04-2009, 09:59   #7
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Just to clarify on Bill's remarks. If you install a certified marine SSB transceiver on a vessel, it becomes a ship station and you must have a station license for it even if you have no intention of transmitting on the marine bands. Otherwise we could all just forgo the expensive license and if ever confronted about it, just say "oh, I never transmit on the marine bands, I just use it to receive on them".

Eric
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Old 23-04-2009, 18:27   #8
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Is the station license a license belonging to the boat (or station) or does it belong to the operator. If the radio was licensed by the boat's previous owner is it still valid?
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Old 23-04-2009, 18:59   #9
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An excellent question!

Your personal radio operator's permit stays with you. The lowest grade, the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit, is good for life.

Unfortunately, however, the ship's station license cannot be transferred to a new owner.

Here's the language from the FCC website:

Quote
What to Do If Selling Your Ship


If you sell your ship, you must file FCC Form 605 requesting cancellation to:
Federal Communications Commission
1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

You cannot transfer your SHIP STATION LICENSE to another person or ship. The new owner cannot modify your license, but must apply for a NEW license.
If you have a RESTRICTED RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR PERMIT, you should retain it for future use since it is authorized for your lifetime.

Unquote

Bill
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Old 24-04-2009, 15:30   #10
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Originally Posted by oceansong1 View Post
receiving only undecipherable noise,


Hi it the talk is unintelligible you might need to click on or off your SSB / AM button.

(If I am telling you to suck eggs, sorry)

SSB transitions only work on a part of the radio wave that is sent, not the whole band of the wave. Thats why its called Single Side Band. You need to listen into ONLY the correct Side Band. Usually it will be the Upper Side Band (USB). Sometimes Lower Side Band.

AM is DSB, Double Side Band

So even though you are listening to the same frequency, say, 2182 you will only be able to understand the talk if you have selected the correct AM /SSB or USB and LSB.

I hope this helps.


Mark
PS If thats what the probnlem is Bill would be able to explain better than me
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Old 24-04-2009, 17:18   #11
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Your ground plane helps to "push" the signal from the Tuner up your antenna and out. So establishing a large amount of surface area is the best. Kind of like trying to jump off a trampoline vs jumping off the ground.... Some radios are amazing with little help and others need lots... go figure....
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Old 25-04-2009, 02:55   #12
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Thank you all for your responses. Unfortunately I am 1500 miles away from the boat but will attempt your suggestions when I get back to it. In the meantime, I 'll follow your advise with the license application.
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Old 26-04-2009, 08:15   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post

Hi it the talk is unintelligible you might need to click on or off your SSB / AM button.

(If I am telling you to suck eggs, sorry)

SSB transitions only work on a part of the radio wave that is sent, not the whole band of the wave. Thats why its called Single Side Band. You need to listen into ONLY the correct Side Band. Usually it will be the Upper Side Band (USB). Sometimes Lower Side Band.

AM is DSB, Double Side Band

So even though you are listening to the same frequency, say, 2182 you will only be able to understand the talk if you have selected the correct AM /SSB or USB and LSB.

I hope this helps.


Mark
PS If thats what the probnlem is Bill would be able to explain better than me
All type-certified marine SSB radios normally tune to the upper sideband (USB). If the radio hasn't been "opened" for transmissions on ham bands, it defaults to USB. But as MarkJ says, the radio could be inadvertently set to AM or LSB mode. If it sounds like Donald Duck, then that's most likely the problem.

Amateur radio can use any modulation method, though typically on frequencies < 10MHz, lower sideband (LSB) is used, and upper sideband (USB) is used above that. FM is usually used in the VHF and UHF bands, as well as the 6 meter band (50-54MHz), although any method can legally be used, as long as it's not ciphered/encrypted.
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Old 26-04-2009, 20:14   #14
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Another thing - if you're in a marina forget getting good reception. I thought our SSB was on the fritz as we travelled through marinas along the east coast of the US. As soon as we started anchoring out in the Bahamas and getting away from shore power, other boats, etc. we got a very clear transmit and receive.
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Old 27-04-2009, 03:42   #15
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Hey SCC,

There are a couple of issues with your install as I see it.

1) The lead wire that runs from your coupler to the antenna is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. You have to remember that the wire from you coupler to the antenna and the length of the antenna itself add up to be the total length of your antenna. Most SSB trasmit antenna are 28ft long. The couplers job is to match signals. If the lead wire is 25 feet long and the antenna is another 28 feet long, then the coupler is trying to match the RF to a 52 foot long antenna. That just isn't ever going to happen. Move the coupler as close to the antenna as you can.

2) You may or may not have grounding issues. There are a couple of things to remember about MF/HF grounding:
  • High frequency RF exibits what is called the skin effect. This means that it will ride the ver outter edges of a conductor. This is why radar waveguide is a hollow copper tube and the same reason why we used ground strap and not ground wire. MF/HF can't really "see" multistrand copper wire as a ground. This is why you must use copper strap. 2-3" strap is fine, however, the ground plate for your coupler should be AT LEAST as wide as the coupler itself. There is no hard fast rule that states this, but I have been working side bands for over 15 years and it's how I run my rigs.
  • If your vessel has cathodic protection, grounding may be tricky. You would need to isolate a ground at that point.
  • Grounds do not have to be under the water line becasue the water is the ground and the the hull touches the water. Case closed on that one....
It gets a lot more envolved when we start talking about tuning power, exciter level adjustments and PA biasing.

Start with the simple stuff and let us know if you need more help.
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