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Old 28-11-2012, 16:37   #1
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New SSB Installation

Hello All,
First post to the forum, so be gentile to me.
I recently bought, from a trusted friend, a Icom M700 transceiver and AT120 tuner. Radio had been checked by a shop and declared OK.

I installed a Morad 23' whip antenna with new RTO-15 cable (about 6' long) connecting to the tuner. The tuner is connected to the radio by the original coaxial cable and control wires. The tuner makes "noises" when the tune function is used on the receiver, so I think the control wire is OK and probably the tuner also. The tuner is also connected to a KISS counterpoise. The tuner is not connected to ground as per KISS instructions. The receiver chassis is connected to ground (engine block).

Does it all sound OK? I can't think of anything I missed.

So here is the problem. The noise on most bands is so bad that I can't hear anything. I know that time of day and frequency can be problems, but the other day my friend was listening to Herb's weather on his YachtBoy type portable and I could NOt make out a thing. The situation was repeated several days in a row. Sometimes I can barely hear a voice. Some days I can hear WWV time a little bit, but not clearly.

I thought that there might be RFI from my boat so I "turned off" almost all the things I could think of (computers, phones, chargers, battery condition moniters, inverters). Still no improvement. So what else to try?

All this and I still haven't even tried to send out a message!

Thanks to all who will respond. I think that all my equipment is adequate, so please don't tell me to get a new radio or antenna, etc. I will try dirrerent configurations of my equipment or anything slse that seems reasonable and prudent.
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Old 28-11-2012, 16:50   #2
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Re: New SSB installation

It can be a lot of things. Refrigerators are a big one. If you are in a marina surrounded by sailboat masts that can make a big difference. Try listening when you are away from the marina with everything shut off. i used a small motorcycle battery to power my Ham Radio tokeep all interference out of the system. (disconnected from the boat system when using the radio) Kep tweaking, you'll figure it out.
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Old 28-11-2012, 17:05   #3
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Re: New SSB installation

I agree it's probably ambient noise generated from other electrics or those on nearby boats causing the low signal/noise ratio. I've been a ham for 50 years and have the same problem you described while at the dock.

If EVERYTHING onboard your boat is off and you still have a high noise floor, getting away from the marina would be the first step.
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Old 28-11-2012, 17:59   #4
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Re: New SSB Installation

I would suggest you go to dockside radio online and get a copy of the cruisers nets. Try listening and see if you can hear any of those. On the east coast you should be able to hear the waterway net and cruishimers in the morning. Noise in marinas can be bad as well, so maybe you could try anchoring out and see what you get. I am always amazed at how much better things sound once I am a few miles offshore. It sounds like your set up is ok just keep trying it takes a bit of time and practice but you should hear some of the nets.
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Old 28-11-2012, 18:03   #5
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Re: New SSB Installation

Disconnect the radio chassis from ground and see if that helps.
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Old 28-11-2012, 18:14   #6
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Re: New SSB Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Disconnect the radio chassis from ground and see if that helps.
+1.

If that doesn't do it, grab a small 12V battery and connect the radio directly to the battery (with a fuse for the safety minded). Try the radio thus completely isolated from your electrical system. If it works fine that tells you that the noise is coming in on the power feed. If not, then the noise is coming in as RF through the antenna, wiring, etc.
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Old 28-11-2012, 19:35   #7
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Re: New SSB Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
+1.

If that doesn't do it, grab a small 12V battery and connect the radio directly to the battery (with a fuse for the safety minded). Try the radio thus completely isolated from your electrical system. If it works fine that tells you that the noise is coming in on the power feed. If not, then the noise is coming in as RF through the antenna, wiring, etc.
On my old boat, the noise was coming from the unfiltered inverter .. LL
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Old 28-11-2012, 19:37   #8
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Re: New SSB Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
+1.

If that doesn't do it, grab a small 12V battery and connect the radio directly to the battery (with a fuse for the safety minded). Try the radio thus completely isolated from your electrical system. If it works fine that tells you that the noise is coming in on the power feed. If not, then the noise is coming in as RF through the antenna, wiring, etc.
And disconnect the boats batteries by actually taking the connector(s) off at the battery terminal - this is only way you know that everything is really disconnected.
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Old 29-11-2012, 15:53   #9
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Re: New SSB Installation

Thanks to all who have posted.
I will try to get to try some of the items mentioned ASAP. Will try a seperate battery to the receiver with the other batteries and shore power disconnected.
I will post the results when I get them. Hopefully the items mentioned will fix me up. If not, I hope for more suggestions. I am currently in a place where I can't fully raise the antenna and am near other boats, so I may have to wait for a while to give it a good test.
Thanks again,
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Old 30-11-2012, 20:30   #10
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Re: New SSB Installation

Bill,
You are not alone in your frustrations, as many have had "can't hear-itis"....
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarbourReach View Post
The noise on most bands is so bad that I can't hear anything. I know that time of day and frequency can be problems, but the other day my friend was listening to Herb's weather on his YachtBoy type portable and I could NOt make out a thing. The situation was repeated several days in a row. Sometimes I can barely hear a voice. Some days I can hear WWV time a little bit, but not clearly.
1) Aside from those new to HF radio, needing to learn more about radio wave propagation, the NUMBER 1 cause for "can't hear itis" on-board is local RF noise / interference from many things on your boat, boats near you, and from nearby (< 1 mile) shoreside systems!!!!



2) Bill, please tell us where you are located....as you should be able to hear me on Herb's weather net (2030z - 2130z, daily)


3) And, remember your antenna starts at the AT-120.....so anything that the GTO-15 is close to, or anything that runs parallel to the GTO-15, can be a VERY close source of RFI....


4) To determin if the "noise" is coming in from your antenna (or ingress into your radio thru other wiring), simply unplug the coax at the back of the M-700....if the "noise" goes away, it's coming in from the antenna....
(if, in the unlikely event that it does not go away, then it's ingress from other wiring/connections....)





Quote:
Originally Posted by HarbourReach View Post
I thought that there might be RFI from my boat so I "turned off" almost all the things I could think of (computers, phones, chargers, battery condition moniters, inverters). Still no improvement. So what else to try?
All this and I still haven't even tried to send out a message!
Will try a seperate battery to the receiver with the other batteries and shore power disconnected.
I am currently in a place where I can't fully raise the antenna and am near other boats, so I may have to wait for a while to give it a good test.
5) Do NOT give up!!!!
a) But, you do NOT need to spend $$$ / time wiring up a seperate battery.....(just make sure your M-700 is wired directly to your house battery bank...)
b) "Turning off" items/systems does NOT necessarily mean they aren't producing RFI.... You MUST remove the power from them!!!!
(and yes, unplug the shore power!!)
c) Get your antenna up and away from the dock (and get your boat away from the dock, as well!!!) and disconnect all power from everything except the M-700 and give it a go....

d) READ, READ, READ the following threads!!!!
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Testing a SSB/Ham radio - poor reception
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - and the SSB saga continues
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - kiss-ssb grounding system and ham rig
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - RFI on ICOM 802 install

SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Tips for using an HF-SSB Radio (mostly for newcomers)

SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - RFI from freezer - gone!
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - RFI from Mastervolt Masterbus network
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - RFI Scare

SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Help!! SSB Issues



e) There is usually NO need for any "ground connection" on the radio chassis....and many times connecting such "ground" will cause many issues (although VERY rarely could it cause significant received RFI...)
So, disconnect this "ground"....



6) If your "noise" is wideband (lots of hash / static, that sounds mostly the same on various channles/frequencies), it is probably:
a) "switch-mode" power supplies, chargers, inverters, solar charge controllers.....(on your boat, other boats, and on-shore...)
b) Plasma-screen TV's....(on boats and/or on-shore...)
c) AC powerline / outdoor lighting, transformers, insulators, controls, etc.

(And, all three of the above probably being within 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile of your boat....)




7) If your "noise" is lots of beeps, sweeps, chirps, etc....then it is probably:
a) Refrigeration units (Danfoss type compressors)....
b) instruments, depth sounders. some microprocessors, etc...




8) Other possible causes:
Quote:
The amount of RFI can be so bad that you'll not be able to hear anything but
the strongest signals....
The plethora of inverters, battery chargers, cell-phone-chargers,
refrigeration units, computers, plasma screen tv's, stereos/sound systems,
digital clocks/voltmeters/etc, touch-lights, photo-sensor lights, digital
security cameras, intercoms, bilge pumps, air cond, fans, vacuums, radars,
other radios, scanners, bugler alarms, welders, drills, saws, misc
machinery, etc. etc. all contribute to what can be high received RFI,
thereby keeping you from hearing all but the strongest signals....even
regular old power lines and street lights, etc....
SO, if you are new to HF communications you really need to get away from the
marinas (and stay 1/2 to 1 mile, or more, away from densely populated and/or
industrial areas), when trying to do some serious operating.....

{FYI, I operate from the dock quite a lot, and while I've had pretty good
luck, occassionaly I do get significant received RFI from nearby
sources....and I just live with it....but I know what it is, and work around
it, those without the experience might just say "I can't hear
anything....SSB doesn't really work....why did I waste my money on all this
stuff...." so getting away from the dock, and anchoring out, is what I
recommend.....}
(in addition to all the various inverters, battery chargers of all types/sizes, refrigeration units, etc. as well as power supplies, in the 100's....)
You have many, many possibilities:
fans, motors of all types, gensets, engine alternators, electric fuel pumps, computers and their power supplies, solar panel charge controllers, wind generators and/or their charge controllers, battery system monitors (Links, etc.), LED lights, fluorescent lights, electronic instruments, watermakers, automatic bilge pumps, electronic/digital clocks and timers, internet routers, etc. etc, etc..





I hope this helps....

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:16   #11
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Re: New SSB Installation

Great thread. Listening on SSB can be frustrating for sure. I had almost wrote my Ham radio off except for Paktor before i left cruising. But once out there, the signal just seemed to be clearer a lot more often. It's a bit of an art tuning and learning to listen thru the junk too. Does your radio have various filters like a Ham radio?
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Old 01-12-2012, 15:34   #12
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Re: New SSB Installation

Hello All,

Today I tries a couple of the things mentioned.
1) Remove the chassis ground----no difference
2) Remove the antenna coax-----voila, no real noise, connect antenna, NOISE!!!!
So, what I am hearing is coming from outside. I know that lots of you have counseled moving to an anchorage away from everything. The thing is....I installed this rig in Tennessee and havr been trying it off and on from Chattanooga down river to the tennTom, down the tennTom to Mobile, across the panhandle of FL. even tried it 60 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Aways noise and very rarely a voice. Granted this rasio has only programmed channels so I can't easily surf around, but I have tried the normal weather reports, various cruising nets, and the WaterWay net.

I do not think that I have to disconnect my batteries as it seems the noise is coming from an external source. Is that correct???

I do appreciate all your comments and thoughts, but now I need some help on just how to isolate what the problem in the tuner/antenna might be. I know you all can come through.

Bill
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Old 01-12-2012, 15:46   #13
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Re: New SSB Installation

I wonder if there's an issue with the tuner?
For reception only you dont need it. You could try a long wire aloft hooked to the antenna connection on the radio and see how the net reception is. any wire works, even gardening steel wire.
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Old 01-12-2012, 15:51   #14
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Re: New SSB Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarbourReach View Post
Hello All,

Today I tries a couple of the things mentioned.
1) Remove the chassis ground----no difference
2) Remove the antenna coax-----voila, no real noise, connect antenna, NOISE!!!!
So, what I am hearing is coming from outside. I know that lots of you have counseled moving to an anchorage away from everything. The thing is....I installed this rig in Tennessee and havr been trying it off and on from Chattanooga down river to the tennTom, down the tennTom to Mobile, across the panhandle of FL. even tried it 60 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Aways noise and very rarely a voice. Granted this rasio has only programmed channels so I can't easily surf around, but I have tried the normal weather reports, various cruising nets, and the WaterWay net.

I do not think that I have to disconnect my batteries as it seems the noise is coming from an external source. Is that correct???

I do appreciate all your comments and thoughts, but now I need some help on just how to isolate what the problem in the tuner/antenna might be. I know you all can come through.

Bill
Err... no Bill, incorrect I'm sorry to say.

What it has proved in that the interference is coming into your radio by the way of the antenna rather than by way of the power lead.

However and this the cruncher; you may be generating the interference on board which is being radiated and picked up by your antenna.

You haven't yet proved if the RFI (radio frequency interference) is generated on board or by nearby sources.

The idea of disconnecting the battery leads right the battery ensures that you can't be generating the any RFI at that moment.
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Old 01-12-2012, 16:26   #15
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Re: New SSB Installation

Bill,
Good that you're trying to figure things out...
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarbourReach View Post
2) Remove the antenna coax-----voila, no real noise, connect antenna, NOISE!!!!
So, what I am hearing is coming from outside.
BUT....
1) But, this test shows that the "noise" is coming into the radio from the antenna (as is usually the case), NOT that it is coming from "the outside"...
Meaning that your noise source may be inside your boat....or may be else where, but my guess is that you have (or have had) multiple "noise" sources.....
(although, since you have not described the "noise", it's hard to give more detailed/accurate answers..)





Quote:
Originally Posted by HarbourReach View Post
I know that lots of you have counseled moving to an anchorage away from everything. The thing is....I installed this rig in Tennessee and havr been trying it off and on from Chattanooga down river to the tennTom, down the tennTom to Mobile, across the panhandle of FL. even tried it 60 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Aways noise and very rarely a voice. Granted this rasio has only programmed channels so I can't easily surf around, but I have tried the normal weather reports, various cruising nets, and the WaterWay net.

I do not think that I have to disconnect my batteries as it seems the noise is coming from an external source. Is that correct???

I do appreciate all your comments and thoughts, but now I need some help on just how to isolate what the problem in the tuner/antenna might be. I know you all can come through.
2) Bill, as I wrote earlier (and above), depending on what your "noise" sounds like (and how/where in freq it appears), it is probably a noise source ON YOUR BOAT.....

It is almost certainly NOT your antenna / tuner!!!!

Although, I should hedge a bit, as I still don't know what your "noise" sounds like, nor how/where it presents itself, nor whether you have additional noise sources in your marina.....but...
But, the "noise" coming in on the antenna when you are away from land ("60 miles offshore") is coming from something(s) ON YOUR BOAT.....




3) OR....
Or, as I stated right up front, that many new to HF radio fail to understand what HF band noise (natural atmospheric noise) sounds like and how it presents itself....

.....again as I wrote earlier, lack of HF radio experience can cause some to misunderstand what HF band noise (natural atmospheric noise) sounds like and how it appears....
Please let us know what the noise sounds like, and how/where in freq it occurs, and if it changes or varies.....





4) Read over my earlier post, and do the tests.....and I suspect that you will find the source in short order.....
Remember, removing power from everything is the best way to start...BUT...
But, if you are still tied to a dock in a marina, you may find "noise" from the marina environment.....and when away from the dock, you may find noise from systems/items ON YOUR BOAT....

Without sophistaicted equipment and a great deal of experience in using this equipment, you MUST remove power from everything AND be away from other noise sources (away from the marina!), in order to have an easy time in tracking down the "noise"!!!

It is always amazing how quick most find the "noise" source, when they finally take the advice from those of us who have "been there and done it"!!!!
Please do yourself a favor, and do NOT overthink this....
It is usually a fairlyy easy task.....

Just this afternoon, I talked with a boat on 12.359mhz who had a great transmitted signal but couldn't hear much of anything because of his "automatic bilge pump switch" (his exact words!!!).....
After he switched it off, he heard me and Herb, just fine....






Bill, follow the recommendations in my posts, and I think you'll find the source easily....

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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