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Old 24-01-2013, 04:07   #1
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Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

The fiber optic cable on my old Icom 800 broke and as there seemed to be no replacement anywhere in the world, I bit the bullet and bought a new Icom 802. The installation was straight-forward enough as there are many similarities between the 800 and the 802. My 10-year old SCS PTC-IIusb modem plugged right into the 802's ACC port. For the first time, though, I was able to connect my PC to the radio, eliminating the chore of entering in Sail Mail/Winlink frequencies manually. Very fancy.

The radio works great. Good, strong signal. On my first attempt to connect to a Sail Mail station, I connected immediately and then a dialog box popped up and said "Communication with PTC-IIusb has been lost (modem-ready signal has gone false, power may be off). Terminal window will be closed." Even though the radio was still communicating with the Sail Mail station, I wasn't getting any email. I did some poking around - everything is connected as it should be. I did some research - I checked in Device Manager to make sure Flow Control was set to 'none' for the appropriate comm port. Tested it again and had the same failure. The only aspect to the system that was different (besides the fact that it was a brand new radio) was that the PC was now connected to the transceiver whereas previously it wasn't. I disconnected the serial cable from the PC to the radio and still had the same failure.

In the last two years, my modem and PC have sent and received over 5,000 emails, so it would surprise me if it were coincidentally a problem with either of those two components. On the other hand, it's hard for me to accept that it's a failure in the radio as the modem is having problems communicating with the PC. By the way, the PC is running XP Pro with SP3 installed and it has a real 9-pin RS232 serial port.

Does anyone have any ideas?
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Old 24-01-2013, 06:50   #2
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You are probably experiencing noise getting into the serial cable causing the data flow to be interrupted. You may have to experiment to find the cause. Here are a few suggestions of things you might try. Try different frequency bands/shore stations to see if it always happens or just on certain bands. Check the installation of the main unit and tuner per Icom's recommendations regarding grounding. Use clamp-on ferrites on the cables between Pactor modem and radio as well as modem to PC. Let the Pactor control radio frequency rather than the PC directly. This may require a new cable.

What you describe is fairly common and it is usually curable with some troubleshooting. If you don't feel like you want to do it there are people that specialize in optimizing SSB systems.

Good luck,
Dan
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Old 24-01-2013, 17:53   #3
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

try turning off other electronics in your boat - My refridg. compressor and the inverter interfere with the ssb. Sure, I should play with ferrites, rerouting cables, replacing connectors or whatever but it is WAY easier just to turn off the offending circuits for the 5-10 minutes it takes to do Sailmail.
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Old 24-01-2013, 17:59   #4
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by sck5 View Post
try turning off other electronics in your boat - My refridg. compressor and the inverter interfere with the ssb. Sure, I should play with ferrites, rerouting cables, replacing connectors or whatever but it is WAY easier just to turn off the offending circuits for the 5-10 minutes it takes to do Sailmail.
I think that this is a different problem than the one you are experiencing. Here RF from the transmitter is getting into some part of the control circuitry and causing the shutdown. I have experienced this as well (with an Icom 746 ham rig) and found it to be frequency dependent as suggested by another poster. His suggestions for correcting the problem are correct.

Cheers,

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Old 24-01-2013, 19:36   #5
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

The first thing you might do is update the firmware for the Pactor. I beleive it's 4.0 now and the 802 might not like the older firmware. Once that is done start troubleshooting if the problem still persists. I'm also a bit confused when you say you disconnected the serial cable but your getting a USB error message. Are you using the USB cable to connect to the Pactor or a USB to Serial adapter? We had a similar problem a while back and it turned out to be a loose connection for one of the cables. We have heard of others having problems with the computer controlled connection to the radio. Chuck
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Old 24-01-2013, 19:45   #6
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

My bet is that you rewired the power supply to the Pactor unit when you put in the new radio or the new radio is dropping your DC voltage more. Try a separate power wire to the modem.
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Old 25-01-2013, 06:26   #7
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Did the rig control work, I couldn't tell from your post? If the modem initializes and and computer can control the rig then it does sound like a power problem to me. First thing I would do is turn the transmit power down - you don't need and shouldn't use 150W for sailmail. I usually run at 50W. I have an Icom 706MKIIG and have heard from friends that the newer version of the radio, the IC7000, is far more susceptible to power drops. The modem is getting power from the radio so I agree with the other poster that trying external power source for the modem might help identify the problem.
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Old 29-01-2013, 08:58   #8
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Sorry I can not help with this problem as I am looking for help myself.

Was looking for a solution to the same problem, at least I'm getting the same error message, of course the problem may not be the same.

We have an Icom 802 connected to an SCS PTC Pactor IIex. The modem is connected with a serial cable to COM1 on a Shuttle desktop computer running Windows XP. This setup has worked for years without any problems.

Recently we have sent the 802 to the USA to have the clipping problem fixed. The radio was put back exactly the same way, but since then we are getting
the same message as described above. It may have nothing to do with the clipping fix but as that is the only thing that has happened to the setup we wanted to mention it

The error and message happened intermittently at first, now I have to try many times before I can manage to stay connected long enough to send/receive messages.
Airmail will connect but often after a very short time the following message shows
Communication with the PTC IIex modem have been lost
(modem ready signal has gone false, power may be of)
Terminal window will be closed.
Airmal will then hang and I will have to exit and try again. The modem red led tuning lights will flicker continuously.

Sending a restart to the modem seems to help sometimes.

I have connected the modem to another computer, with a serial to usb cable this time and the problem is the same. So I assume it is not the serial cable.

Have checked all connections including the ground connections on radio and tuner and all seem to be fine.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:21   #9
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaia View Post
Sorry I can not help with this problem as I am looking for help myself.

Was looking for a solution to the same problem, at least I'm getting the same error message, of course the problem may not be the same.

We have an Icom 802 connected to an SCS PTC Pactor IIex. The modem is connected with a serial cable to COM1 on a Shuttle desktop computer running Windows XP. This setup has worked for years without any problems.

Recently we have sent the 802 to the USA to have the clipping problem fixed. The radio was put back exactly the same way, but since then we are getting
the same message as described above. It may have nothing to do with the clipping fix but as that is the only thing that has happened to the setup we wanted to mention it

The error and message happened intermittently at first, now I have to try many times before I can manage to stay connected long enough to send/receive messages.
Airmail will connect but often after a very short time the following message shows
Communication with the PTC IIex modem have been lost
(modem ready signal has gone false, power may be of)
Terminal window will be closed.
Airmal will then hang and I will have to exit and try again. The modem red led tuning lights will flicker continuously.

Sending a restart to the modem seems to help sometimes.

I have connected the modem to another computer, with a serial to usb cable this time and the problem is the same. So I assume it is not the serial cable.

Have checked all connections including the ground connections on radio and tuner and all seem to be fine.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated
Some of the older PTC models have a power supply with temperature issues--they don't like it when they are cold. When I am out of the tropics I have to put a hot tea kettle on top of the modem for a few minutes until the case warms up, then turn it on for at least 5 minutes before I transmit. I don't know how many more are affected, but I do know of 3 or 4 more people with the same problem.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:58   #10
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

As the original poster to this thread, the solution to my problem was simple and embarrassing: The USB cable from my Pactor modem was plugged into a USB hub. When I connected it directly to the PC, the problem disappeared. However, I had also written to Jim Corenman, one of the original developers of Sail Mail and he wrote me this reply:

Neal,

Congratulations on the new radio.

The "communications have been lost" message from Airmail means that it can no longer communicate with the Pactor modem. If this only happens when transmitting then the problem is related to transmitter-- RF interference, radio signal from your transmitter getting back into your computer. The com-port gets scrambled by the radio signal. You may see a "comm's lost" error message from Airmail, or the whole computer might just lock up until it gets powered down and reset. It is also possible for things to get zapped permanently or hard-drives scrambled so this is not a problem that can be safely ignored.

The first thing to check is the tuner: It is possible that your radio is not set up to activate the tuner automatically, or that the tuner is failing to tune on some frequencies, causing high SWR and increased interference on those freq's. An M802 will show "THRU" if the tuner is not tuned, and "SWR" when transmitting with the tuner failed or not tuned. The radio display should show a steady "TUNE" indicator once the radio begins transmitting.

The next check is to dive into the lazarette and check the antenna and ground connections to the tuner, at both ends. If you haven't disassembled and cleaned/inspected each connection for a year or two, then do that first. Don't assume that tape is hiding a good/clean connection.

Also make sure that your ground (counterpoise) system is adequate, that the antenna wire (from tuner to the antenna itself) is spaced well away from other metal and wiring, and that there are clip-on ferrites on the cables from radio to modem, and (especially) modem to computer.

This is related to a new radio, but remember that the difference between working-but-almost-failing, and failing-but-almost -working, is one only one degree.

There should be at least one small ferrite at each end of each of those cables from radio to modem, to computer. Stubborn cases often require multiple ferrites or a larger ferrite with 3-4 loops of cable through the hole, whatever fits comfortably (make sure that the ferrite closes tightly). The serial cable from modem to computer is the chief suspect.

Also, consider adding a ferrite "line isolator" between radio and tuner, if not already fitted. See "RF interference" in the Airmail help file for more info.

It is quite common for this problem to be frequency-selective, it has to do with the radio wavelength and the length of various wires and cables.

I hope this helps. If the problem persists please send some pic's of the radio and tuner installation, maybe we can spot something.

Please use the support@sailmail.com support address.

Jim


Helpful information, I hope.

Good luck, fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:46   #11
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Just wanted to add our solution in case anyone else has the same error message.
Just as a reminder the message was:
Communication with the PTC IIex modem have been lost
(modem ready signal has gone false, power may be of)
Terminal window will be closed.


And the only change in our installation was that we had sent the 802 to the USA to have the clipping problem fixed. The radio was put back exactly the same way

We wrote to SCS and they wrote back with the following solution:

Please add two 470uF/25V capacitors as shown on the picture attached.
This will most probably solve the problem. Watch for the polarity of
the capacitors.


We were away for several months and finally got the capacitors soldered in and the modem seems to work again.

One tip from SCS for the capacitor on the right:
The right cap is attached across the round capacitor you see there, in
parallel, so both ends of the new cap are connected to the installed one.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:53   #12
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Just wanted to thank you belatedly for the suggestion of warming the modem. We remember doing that with our Autohelm ST30 displays when sailing in Canada. We are in the tropics now and temps are above 30 degrees C most of the time so that was not the problem.
Our problem has been resolved with the help of SCS and I have posted the solution.
Thanks again
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Old 09-06-2013, 14:10   #13
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Sounds like caps that big are making up for brief sags in available power supply voltage/current. I wonder if powering the modem separately would have eliminated the problem?
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Old 07-12-2013, 13:11   #14
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Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

Supplying power to the Pactor modem from an external source (i.e., not from the radio accessory socket) can be problematic. SCS used to recommend that if you did this, that you connect ONLY the +12 volt wire to the power socket on the modem and use the radio accessory connection ground for the -12V.

The reason for this is that, when using a separate power feed for the Pactor, if the fuse in the negative lead of the radio power opens, the entire 30 amps will try to ground through the Pactor.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:55   #15
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Question Re: Icom 802 and Pactor Modem Issues

I am also having a problem. We have been in the Rio Dulce for 13 months.Poor HF reception inside of the canyon and river area. So we haven't used the Icom 802 with the Pactor TTC-IIex for Winlink since we were last in the Bay Islands.

Radio reception and transmitting is fine. However when I connect to the Pactor;
I get a pop up message when I click on the Propogation that reads: "No ready signal (CTS) from Com 5 - check controller connection & try again".

I've checked the connections. They seem to be okay. When I connect to a different PC I get the same message, only it's "Com 3".

Any ideas??
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