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Old 06-05-2015, 15:45   #16
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
SM6WEZ,

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, the problem is not as you described it. You are, of course, correct that I would need to retune my antenna as I move between frequencies. In my case, the antenna will not tune at all. Sporadically, I will get lucky and it will tune up.
I'm certainly not an expert, never have figured out SSBs lack of a carrier?

To go back, not being able to tune at all sounds like a ground problem or equipment took a dump? What about simply a piece of coax corrosion? Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to find.
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Old 06-05-2015, 16:12   #17
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Coutret-
Perhaps you could clarify things a bit in order to help us focus on the exact issue.
You have a ham radio, and a ham radio ONLY, there is no marine SSB here.
The mention of "ham or SSB" was only because the two fields are similar, NOT because there are two radios.


You have an EXTERNAL antenna tuner, presumably installed by the backstay, which is connected to your ham radio.


By a proprietary control cable? Or simply by a coax and power leads?


And the only CHANGE you made was to move a control panel, a "face plate", on your ham radio?


Which presumably only connects to the ham radio with something like an RJ45 Ethernet cable? Or another proprietary cable?


I'm suspecting the power leads to the antenna tuner, or the control cable, or something equally similar just got knocked out when accidentally dislodged during the work, but it would sure help to know the answers to all the above, so we could all quickly focus on what is or is not relevant and possible.
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Old 06-05-2015, 16:17   #18
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

John,

I appreciate your willingness to help me with this. You are correct that I did not give a detailed description of my equipment and my problem. I was really just interested in getting referrals for someone in my area that could help me. I got those references and thanked everyone for their help. I did provide some additional information in response to specific questions.

Unfortunately my boat is 4 1/2 hours from where I live. I can only get to it about once every two weeks. Radio issues have been frustrating for me because I am not an expert in this field. I try to come up with a solution and then I have to wait for my next trip to the boat to try it out. When it fails, it is another two weeks before I can try something else. At this point, I am ready to pay an expert to get my system working.

That said, my radio is a Kenwood TS 480SAT (ham, not a marine SSB). I have an ICOM AT-140 antenna tuner. My backstay is the antenna. My boat is bonded with a dyna plate as part of the grounding system. My antenna tuner is grounded to the dyna plate using the same type of wiring as the rest of the bonding (it is not a copper strap which I am sure would be better).

When I bought the boat, the main box for the radio and the separate control panel were both housed in a cabinet next to the nav station and the distribution panel. To use the radio, I would take the separate control panel out of the cabinet, set it on the nav station and use it. It worked fine that way.

I decided to permanently mount the control panel at my nav station and ran the connecting wire through some cabinetry below the distribution panel. This also caused the wire to run parallel to the antenna feed line for about three feet. Once installed, the antenna wouldn't tune. A ham friend in my home town suggested that I might be getting RFI from the antenna feed line. He suggested putting ferrite beads on the wire to the control panel. I tried that. It didn't help. Maybe I installed them wrong. Maybe I put them in the wrong place. Maybe I needed more of them. I have no idea. So, I undid my whole installation thinking everything would return to normal. No such luck.

So now I don't know what is wrong. Is it RFI? Did my antenna tuner bite the dust and it is just coincidence that it occurred about the time I permanently installed the remote control panel?

It would be great I I could fix it on my own with your guidance, but there are a lot of variables. With only one day every two weeks to try a new solution, it could take me a while. If you and the rest of the forum will have patience with me, we can try to work this out. Otherwise, I could contact the people who have been referred to me and maybe they can get it fixed faster than I will probably be able to.

Thank you very much for your interest in this project.
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Old 06-05-2015, 16:17   #19
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

This is EXACTLY my thought....
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I'm suspecting the power leads to the antenna tuner, or the control cable, or something equally similar just got knocked out when accidentally dislodged during the work, but it would sure help to know the answers to all the above, so we could all quickly focus on what is or is not relevant and possible.
Problem is, we get LOTS of "I need help" requests (and I get many PM's with these requests as well), and instead of "guessing" what is wrong, I've decided to save myself the time/effort and just answer briefly and ask politely for more info....if more info is not forthcoming, then there is little more I can do, except "guess"....
And, Coutret did get the answers he was after, the referrals to some folks local to him....so, I suspect that's all we can do for him here...
(and I suspect he is perfectly happy, as am I...)






Fair winds to all!!

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Old 06-05-2015, 16:26   #20
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

John,

It took me a while to type a response to one of your previous posts. While I was typing, more responses came in, including a follow up by you. I think I have now fully described the problem as I see it. I have also described my equipment and setup.
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Old 06-05-2015, 16:33   #21
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

OKAY!
Now we're getting somewhere!
(I don't have too much, at the moment....but here's a brief collection of thoughts...)

Seriously, this couple of sentences tells me a LOT!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
That said, my radio is a Kenwood TS 480SAT (ham, not a marine SSB). I have an ICOM AT-140 antenna tuner. My backstay is the antenna. My boat is bonded with a dyna plate as part of the grounding system. My antenna tuner is grounded to the dyna plate using the same type of wiring as the rest of the bonding (it is not a copper strap which I am sure would be better).
The Icom tuners (AT-120, AT-130, AT-140, etc.) require a nominal 12vdc, approx. 10 watts of RF carrier, and a "Start" signal (a signal going "low", I think...I'll check my papers later), in order for the tuner to tune....and the Icom tuners send a "Key" signal to the radio as well...

The reason I'm so specific here, is that you must have some sort of external controller / box / device that connects to the AT-140 tuner in order for this to work properly, and/or interfaces between the TS-480SAT and the AT-140....as the Kenwood TS-480SAT (a nice radio, BTW), will not control the Icom AT-140 tuner....

So, if you do NOT have this external device/interface, or this device has become disconnected, etc., there is your problem!!

{BTW, while there is a possibility that RFI could be a cause....it seems pretty unlikely in this case!!}


As I wrote, I need to be brief at the moment....I will read the rest of your post/info after dinner (w/ elderly Mom), and may have better ideas for you then!

More later!!
Gotta' go!!

John
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Old 06-05-2015, 16:41   #22
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

There is no separate device. I was told to whistle into the keyed mike to tune the antenna tuner. This used to work great. Immediately, the SWR would drop very low.


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Old 06-05-2015, 17:55   #23
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Coutret,
Now that I've got a few minutes...let me start again...

1) This couple of sentences tells me a LOT!!
(FYI, I'm VERY familiar with both the TS-480SAT and the AT-140)...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
That said, my radio is a Kenwood TS 480SAT (ham, not a marine SSB). I have an ICOM AT-140 antenna tuner. My backstay is the antenna. My boat is bonded with a dyna plate as part of the grounding system. My antenna tuner is grounded to the dyna plate using the same type of wiring as the rest of the bonding (it is not a copper strap which I am sure would be better).
a) The Icom tuners (AT-120, AT-130, AT-140, etc.) require a nominal 12vdc, approx. 10 watts of RF carrier, and a "Start" signal (a signal going "low", I think...I'll check my papers later), in order for the tuner to tune....and the Icom tuners send a "Key" signal to the radio as well...

The reason I'm so specific here, is that you must have some sort of external controller / box / device that connects to the AT-140 tuner in order for this to work properly [or an internal modification to either the TS-480SAT or the AT-140] and/or interfaces between the TS-480SAT and the AT-140....as the Kenwood TS-480SAT (a nice radio, BTW), will not control the Icom AT-140 tuner....
[Or you have an SGC or SEA tuner, which only require a nominal 12vdc and an RF signal...]

So, if you do NOT have this external device/interface, or this device has become disconnected, etc., there is your problem!!


b) No worries on the ground system....yes, a copper strap from the AT-140 "grd" lug to your Dynaplate would be better, but having a "round wire" RF ground connection will not, of itself, cause a tuner to not tune, etc....
(although this can allow RFI to be more prevalent, and then that could cause other issues, such as the radio not transmitting properly, power output fold-back, audio distortion, etc....but these would be rather rare, in anycase...)






2) No problem with hiring a pro....and in that vein, I highly recommend you call Steve Bowden at Sea-Tech....if he cannot get to your boat in a timely fashion, he should be able to put you in touch with someone who can...
But, be aware that even many pros will need to familiarize themselves with your set-up, especially with mixed manufactures of equipment that do not directly interface with each other...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
At this point, I am ready to pay an expert to get my system working.

That said, my radio is a Kenwood TS 480SAT (ham, not a marine SSB). I have an ICOM AT-140 antenna tuner. My backstay is the antenna. My boat is bonded with a dyna plate as part of the grounding system. My also antenna tuner is grounded to the dyna plate using the same type of wiring as the rest of the bonding (it is not a copper strap which I am sure would be better).
But, also be aware that there are many of my fellow hams who will gladly boast of their expertise in so many areas of "radio", but the reality is sometimes disappointing...
(you know that old saying/question: "what do you call the guy that graduated in last place, from Med School? Doctor!"....this applies to so many areas of learned / skilled / professionals.....just 'cause someone passed a test, or has a piece of paper framed on the wall, doesn't mean that they really know what they're doing....and vice versa, there are many "amateurs" that have significant expertize in many areas that many "professionals" could only dream of....)





3) Equipment installed on-board by previous owners, especially electrical/electronic, can be problematic to diagnosis/troubleshoot for many reasons....not the least of which, you may not have any idea about any "internal modifications" that he may have done, etc....and most commonly, you have little idea on how things are wired/connected, and probably only a cursory idea of how it all works / supposed to work...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
When I bought the boat, the main box for the radio and the separate control panel were both housed in a cabinet next to the nav station and the distribution panel. To use the radio, I would take the separate control panel out of the cabinet, set it on the nav station and use it. It worked fine that way.
With this set-up/procedure, I think you are quite on-point when desiring a professional to come on-board and straighten everything out!!!

BTW, being that you are 4.5 hours away from the boat, be sure that whomever you do hire is fully aware that they MUST do a full "proof-of-performance" test afterward, and provide you with both a written report of the repairs/tests, etc. AND a detailed, written, explanation of HOW everything works / HOW you use everything!!
Please understand that this part will take some time, and a professional's time is NOT cheap...so expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this consulting/education!!

Also, you may want to spend some time (30 - 45 minutes) watching some videos that will explain HF Maritime Communications to you, and allow you to see LIVE, REAL-WORLD demonstrations of HF radios actually working, making contacts with others, etc....
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y



And, specific to HF-DSC comms...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


And, specific to the Icom M-802..
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


And, some specific to Offshore Weather...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY






4) My guess is that you accidentally disconnected something, or caused an intermittent connection, in the process of moving the equipment....OR...
Or, depending on what you mean by "antenna feedline", you MAY in fact have an RF Feedback / RFI issue....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
I decided to permanently mount the control panel at my nav station and ran the connecting wire through some cabinetry below the distribution panel. This also caused the wire to run parallel to the antenna feed line for about three feet. Once installed, the antenna wouldn't tune. A ham friend in my home town suggested that I might be getting RFI from the antenna feed line. He suggested putting ferrite beads on the wire to the control panel. I tried that. It didn't help. Maybe I installed them wrong. Maybe I put them in the wrong place. Maybe I needed more of them. I have no idea. So, I undid my whole installation thinking everything would return to normal. No such luck.
If by "antenna feedline" you are referring to the coaxial cable between the TS-480SAT and the Icom AT-140, then this is unlikely to cause any problem at all, and it almost certainly NOT the cause of your troubles...
BUT...
But, if by "antenna feedline" you are referring to the GTO-15 wire (looks a bit like coax) going from the AT-140's output terminal to the backstay, then you have hit upon the most likely cause of your troubles, as this is not your "antenna feedline", but IS your antenna!! (it is the beginning part, the high-current part, one of the most important parts!!!)

So, you'd need to clarify exactly what you're referring to with "antenna feedline", in order for me to know whether this is a problem or not...


FYI, as long as you do not place any ferrites on the GTO-15 wire between the AT-140's output and the backstay (which would be a VERY BAD thing), you cannot install a ferrite "wrong".....any way you do it is "right"!!!







5) Being 4.5 hours away from your boat, and not too familiar with HF Radio, I think you are on-point seeking a local professional....and lucky for you Steve Bowden is right there!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
So now I don't know what is wrong. Is it RFI? Did my antenna tuner bite the dust and it is just coincidence that it occurred about the time I permanently installed the remote control panel?

It would be great I I could fix it on my own with your guidance, but there are a lot of variables. With only one day every two weeks to try a new solution, it could take me a while. If you and the rest of the forum will have patience with me, we can try to work this out. Otherwise, I could contact the people who have been referred to me and maybe they can get it fixed faster than I will probably be able to.

Thank you very much for your interest in this project.
a) Get a hold of Steve at Sea-Tech....
b) unlikely that the AT-140 has failed...(they're actually one of the best tuners I've had the pleasure of using!)
c) although, I know coincidences do occur....it seems unlikely here...
d) if Steve can't get to you quickly, then you can do this!!! (and yes, we can help!!




I hope all of the above helps....and if you take away only a couple things from all of this, I hope it's this:
a) watch the videos...
b) understand that trying to work on older/previously installed gear is a PAIN!!


fair winds..

John
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Old 06-05-2015, 22:13   #24
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Presumably the TS480SAT's built-in tuner cannot accommodate your antenna?


John, could two antenna tuners in the same radio's output path have a hissy fit and create tis kind of problem?
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Old 06-05-2015, 22:47   #25
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

hellosailor, that is a good question. The TS480SAT's built in tuner should be either switched out or bypassed. Its been quite a few years since I sold my Kenwood txcvr so I don't remember if it had a completely separate output or was just a switched bypass. I don't know what would happen if it and the AT-140 were both trying to tune the antenna. That is a good thing for the OP to check. I'm glad you asked that question.

To answer your first question, no, the TS480 tuner will not tune a long line antenna. Hence the AT tuner. The built is tuner is for an antenna such as a dipole.
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Old 07-05-2015, 06:14   #26
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

HelloSailor and DeepFrz,

You are correct that my radio's internal antenna tuner will not tune the AT-140. It took a while to figure that one out. Eventually I was told to whistle into the keyed mike. That worked until now.

John,

I will start by ensuring that power is getting to the tuner. If that is not the problem, I may need to bring in the professionals. The feed line I mentioned was the coax going from my radio to the antenna tuner. The GTO-15 is probably 20' away.

Thank you all for your input.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:36   #27
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Just wanted to clarify a few details...



With the Icom tuners (AT-140, AT-141, AT-130, AT-130E, AT-120, AH-4, AH-2, etc.), when a "start voltage" (voltage of less than 1 vdc, for a period of more than 50 milliseconds) is received by the tuner, it begins it automatic tuning. Usually this "Start" pin is "high" (~ 7.5vdc for most Icom rigs, or even ~ 12vdc), until a tune sequence is initiated by making this pin "low" (usually just grounding it, but as long as it is below 1vdc for > 50 ms, the tuner will initiate automatic tuning)


Direct quote from the Icom manuals:

Start voltage [STAR]
When a start voltage (less than 1 V) is received, the
AT-140 / AT-130/E begins automatic tuning.

8vdc _______ _____ Approximately 7.5 V


6vdc


4vdc


2vdc

___ less than 1 V to Start tuning
(More than 50ms)
0vdc

____________________________________________ Time



[EDIT: sorry, can't get the graph to post, nor can I draw one here!]


So, it is "technically" possible to use some accessory pin output from a non-Icom radio to trigger an Icom tuner to start tuning (without any external device), you would need to have a pin that had a "high" voltage normally, and then went "low" or went to "ground" upon transmit, and then by whistling you'd get your RF output to allow the tuner to tune....the variable output from the "whistle" would make tuning difficult and VERY erratic!!! Not to mention the tuner's processor would be constantly looking to "re-tune" every single time you transmitted, and many times (all the time?) this would cause transmission intermittents, etc. Further, I suspect that the most radios would also find this difficult and there would be significant power output fold-back, which would further complicate the tuning process, adding to more erratic/sporadic tuning!!

All-in-all, a pretty poor set-up...


Which is the reason that every body has said for many years, that using an Icom tuner means using an Icom radio....although there are aftermarket interface devices sold that DO work very well, and many have found them to be perfectly reliable...

And, this is also the reason why many have (in the past) recommended SGC tuners, as they do NOT require any "Start" signal at all to initiate tuning, they only require a nominal 12vdc, and rf power to tune....they're designed to only initiate a tune when the VSWR is above 2:1, so they're pretty "automatic"....
Problem now-adays is, they have VERY poor QC, and they're are many SGC tuner failures over the past few years....and they're damned expensive to repair!!






FYI, yes, the internal tuner in the 480SAT should be Off...
But even so, as you can see from the above, this set-up seems like a rather odd "hodge-podge"....perhaps the previous owner originally had an SGC tuner which failed and replaced it with the AT-140 to sell the boat, and never actually used/tested it much??? or maybe he just "accepted" that this was they way it was supposed to work???
I have no idea...


But the facts are as I laid them out above....do with them as you wish...bottom line is, it ain't workin'!!!
So again, we are all willing to help you out....and if you can confirm that you do have a AT-140 (it is grey and has a BIG label on it saying AT-140), we might be able to help you a bit more....
But, with the set-up you describe, your thoughts about hiring a local pro are pretty good!!!


fair winds...

John
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:29   #28
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

OK, John. Now you have me doubting myself. I thought I had an AT-140 tuner, but it now seems unlikely since that setup probably wouldn't work. I am away from my boat right now so I can't look at the tuner to verify. My original post was just asking for referrals so I hadn't anticipated getting this deep into the project. I don't have all my facts together.

It will now be June 6 before I can get to the boat again. I will just have to be patient until I can continue working on this.

Thank you very much for helping me.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:42   #29
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

@Coutret: The AT-140 works great also with non ICOM radios. John gave you a lot of info ... I can only add that if you have a TS480 and the AT-140 I would expect a small external toggle switch to apply the 'Start-Voltage'.

Sure you have not forgotten about this ;-)?

The AT-140 manual is here: http://www.icom-france.com/files/not-AT-140-angl.pdf

If you want to troubleshoot further on your own have a look at the control cable at the AT-140 end and see where it goes ...

Good luck!

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Old 07-05-2015, 08:49   #30
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Re: Need a SSB/Ham Radio Expert

Coutret,
You're very welcome!!

Sorry if I complicated things for you!
But, at least I did give you the recommendation to call Steve, right up front!

And, no worries about confusion....it happens to the pros as well!

As for exactly what tuner you have???
Using the description of the "procedure" used to tune, my original thought was: SGC (an obvious conclusion)....but using what you wrote, I went with what you wrote (the Icom AT-140)...
Understand that you may in fact have an AT-140, and it may in fact be fine....it's just that it won't work properly with this radio, unless it is wired correctly / interfaced correctly (which it probably isn't)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
OK, John. Now you have me doubting myself. I thought I had an AT-140 tuner, but it now seems unlikely since that setup probably wouldn't work. I am away from my boat right now so I can't look at the tuner to verify. My original post was just asking for referrals so I hadn't anticipated getting this deep into the project. I don't have all my facts together.

It will now be June 6 before I can get to the boat again. I will just have to be patient until I can continue working on this.

Thank you very much for helping me.
Bottom line:
1) Call Steve, tell him what you think you have, and refer him to this thread...
Tell him you're going to have a look at things when you get back to the boat june 6th or so, and ask him if he'd be willing (and at what cost) to troubleshoot / fix whatever problems you're having if you cannot fix it on your own...

2) When you get back to the boat, have a look and verify exactly what brand/model tuner you have...
(if an Icom tuner, follow the tuner power and control wires, and see where they go!!)
And, verify if there are any wires coming out of the TS-480SAT (other than the 12vdc power wires, coax cable, and remote-head cable)....if there are, what are these wires exactly and where do they go??

3) Then report back here....and we'll go from there....




Fair winds..

John
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