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Old 23-06-2012, 21:23   #16
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It may be that those who still have clipping issues with post-2007 or updated m802 radios do not have a good impedance match to their antennas or ATUs. If the m802 sees an SWR that is too high it will still "clip" ( fold back power on peaks) to protect its output transistors. That is not a bad thing.

A bad ATU or installation, or the wrong one set up in the m802 menu, an antenna the ATU simply can't match at the frequency in question, or even too low a voltage feeding the radio could be the source of "clipping" issues.

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Old 23-06-2012, 21:43   #17
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Re: SSB - any brand preference

We do not have SSB onboard and went more with Iridium sat technology, however, before venturing on our 'round the world cruise' I really researched and looked into which SSB I was going to equip Impi with ... spoke to pals who have circumnavigated the world etc ... I came up with Icom 802E.
In the end we opted to put more into the sat technology.

In our own style and our own time ...
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Old 24-06-2012, 04:43   #18
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Re: SSB - any brand preference

Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
Mark if you hearing two boats with cliping problems maybe you should be a good neighbor and suggest they read the SSCA article or the other 50 or so on the internet indicating there is a fix for the problem... espcially since they are in the same anchorage you are in...

You have offered no explaination of why your neighbors radios have a clipping problem other than they are ICOM M-802's and they are all bad.

Have you asked these boats in your anchorage:
  • Are these radios from the patch listed as defective or are they newer radios?
  • Have the owners attempted to get ICOM to fix them?
  • Are they properly using the radios and are they properly installed?
In the last 3.5 years, my ICOM M-802 has worked without probems... I have talked with HAMs around the world on my M-802 and have been a Net Controller for both the Sonrisa Net and the Baja Net n Mexico and a relay station for the Pacific Seafarers Net. I am constantly receiving comments on how well the unit transmits and the clarity of the signal.

My intention was not to hurt you feelings, but to make a statement like you did claiming that all the radios were bad, is my opinion is based on old information and a lack of understanding on your part...
Carefully reading my posts should have answered almost all of that.

As I mentioned in my post, their radios were less than a year old and should not have the problem. The reason I know the two boats have 802's is that I visited them and explained to them that that radio has a clipping problem that the factory will correct. However, they were not older radios or installs. I also mentioned in a previous post that I visit many of these boats that clip and tell them about the problem. Almost none of them know about the issue.

I don't keep track of all the websites describing the problem, so can't pull out a friendly neighbor list to hand out. I am also not a radio police, so after telling them they are clipping (they almost always know that already), I ask no further questions and leave it up to the owners to track down the problem and resolution. I also don't grill them about their generator or watermaker problems

In a previous post I did offer an explanation that these radios could be more sensitive to power problems or installation design, and that could be causing clipping on newer radios. But I will say that I have heard radios that are operating under low voltage and with poor counterpoise and antennas design and none of them clip. The others have transmission issues to be sure, but the 802 seems to be the only one that manifests these possible issues in clipping.

I am happy yours is working. I am confident there are many others. I never stated that all the 802 radios are bad. In my previous post, I stated that every 802 radio I hear on the air has clipping problems. I have also yet to personally meet a boat with an 802 that does not have clipping problems.


You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
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Old 25-06-2012, 09:18   #19
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

Yes, I believe I can help!!!
Originally Posted by sailamaryllis View Post
I'm currently in the market for an SSB radio. Can anyone draw a comparison between the ICOM 802 and the Furuno 1503EM?
1) These are two completely different animals!!
I personally own (and use) two Icom M-802's and have used the Furuno 1503 as well....

2) The M-802 is a full DSC-capable MF/HF-DSC-SSB transceiver, ultilizing digital signal processing is a similar design to the Icom IC-756 ProII (with a completely different "user-interface" and transmit PA)...
And, is spec'd for 100% duty-cycle transmit at the full 150 watts....

The Furuno 1503 is a older design MF/HF-SSB transceiver, with the "EM" version having a 500hz "narrow" filter added (for SITOR operations), and while not a "bad" radio, it IS outdated, and I agree with Bill T. it is a bit of a poor design and poor build ("flimsy")....and not rated for 100% duty-cycle modes (such as PACTOR), and not well-liked among sailmail/winlink users (nor hardly anyone else)

In order to "compare" Furuno to Icom, you'd need to compare the Furuno FS-1570 (at $8000+) to the Icom M-802 (at about $1800)....and even then I'd say the M-802 is a better unit....easier to use, and more versatile....

3) As MF/HF-DSC Signaling is the only way to directly contact / raise other vessels at sea, when you are beyond VHF-DSC range (since the GMDSS radio watch rules became effective in Jan 1999), in my opinion any vessel venturing far offshore should be equipped with this capability....and if you wish to spend less than $8k - $10k, (minimum) for a Furuno FS-1570 or a Sailor / Thrane & Thrane MF/HF-DSC-SSB, that means the Icom M-802 or M-801e....

4) As for your unfortunate experiences with Icom....I understand...
Originally Posted by sailamaryllis View Post
We've been around ICOM's on our last 3 or 4 boats. We sent an 802 back to Seattle with a problem and they wouldn't recognize the radio having a problem. We spent a lot of time shipping the radio to a lot of different locations before we could get it fixed. It was never conclusive what the problem was. It was a very reputable dealer. It seemed to be a complex issue that no one could identify. We had another issue with another 802 and Radio Holland (Curacao) said ICOM service center was very difficult to deal with. Having two experiences with radio technicians having problems with ICOM and an unsatisfactory experience with ICOM service, it dampens my enthusiasm for ICOM. But, at the same time, it's hard not to recognize their prominence.
This appears to be similar to the run-around I got on the phone in late 2004 and throughout 2005, from Icom, regarding my M-802!!! (way too long of a stroy to post here, now...)
This was when they had many M-802 owners reporting "issues", and Icom had no way of replicating these issues "in house".....(2004 thru 2006)
It wasn't until some cruisers (in Panama, I think) convinced the Icom Serv Manager (Rodney Grimm) to travel down there and see for himself what was happening, did Icom finally figure out what was wrong!!!!
Yes, it did take them a while, and yes that was frustrating....
But, once they identified the issue, they had a fix....
And, they continue to offer FREE fixes/modifications to all affected M-802's, regardless of age...

And, FYI, all M-802's manufcatured after spring of 2007 have this change made at the factory before being shipped.....this started with S/N 0108261.....
But, this does NOT mean that all M-802's sold after that date are "okay", as there were many in the distrubtion chain, and that meant that some who purchased M-802's over the past few years, have purchased "new old stock".....this is especially true for those purchased from dealers with low sales volumes....

I wrote about this all before (M-802 "clipping issues"), and more recently updated the information, and posted details about how so many "in the business", so many reputable marine electronics dealers, have NO CLUE that there actually IS a problem....and many of those few that recognize a problem, are ignorant of the easy fix!!!

As, Tom pointed out already, all the details are there for you in my SSCA Thread, "Icom M-802 "Clipping Issue" - Revisited...."
Follow this link, read the info, and you'll be better informed than many "reputabel dealers" are!!!
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 "Clipping Issue" - Revisited....

5) And, while the M-802 isn't the "best" hf rig ever made, in my 40 years of operating hf I place in my "top 10 list".....yes, it is not as versatile as some ham rigs...and yes the dsp isn't as good as some more modern rigs....and will never sound as good (transmit or receive) as my old Drake TR-7's, etc.....
But, it is a GOOD radio, works every time, etc... and you'll be happy with it!!!
(but the Icom manual SUCKS!!!)

6) Specifically to Mark, colemj.....
THANK YOU for updating us....(we all have more work to do, educating folfs with the M0802 "clipping issue" that there is an easy and cheap fix!!!)

To refresh everyone's memory....Mark, as you wrote last July....
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
colemj wrote:There are many radios on the nets here in Panama who have severe clipping problems. All of them are 802's and most of them were bought in the past 1-3 years. I am surprised at the number of 802's exhibiting this behavior. Some clip so bad as to be completely unintelligible. There certainly could be installation issues, but this would mean that it is only 802's which are improperly installed.

Many stations using all different gear have stronger or weaker signals than others, but it is only the 802's that exhibit clipping problems. Again, most of these 802's are recent purchases.

And, ss I pointed out and asked, that same day, last July...
Just to be clear it isn't when they purchased the M-802, but rather when it was made / what serial number it has....


And, with some dealers having dust-covered boxes of new gears sitting around for's not surprising that some who've bought M-802's within the past few years, have in fact bought old called NOS (New Old Stock).....


What I do find surprising is that few sailors are aware of an "official M-802 clipping problem", and the easy and FREE fix / modification that is available to them....
So, Mark if you could please pass along the info in my post above to all those boats out there that you hear the "clipping problem" from, maybe we (the sailing community) can get the word out once again..

Mark, thanks again!!!!
So, as you can see as far back as the last couple years I was pointing out that there are differences between "newly manufactured" and "newly purchased"....(and, there has been plenty of "new old stock" M-802's sold in the past few years..)
And, asking others for help in spreading the word to every M-802 owner, that there is a fix to the "clipping" problem....

But, until today I haven't heard anything from Mark, colemj, regarding whether he's been successful in spreading the word that there is a an easy and cheap fix....
So, along with my recent (this summer's) hearing of only a couple of M-802's clipping, we apparently all have a little more work to do...

So, everyone please spread the word to all M-802 owners, IF they have any "clipping issues", there IS a easy and cheap fix....
And, point them to the SSCA Disc thread for all the details...
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 "Clipping Issue" - Revisited....

{ And, here again it is when the unit was manufactured, read the serial numbers!!!
All M-802's manufcatured after spring of 2007 have this change made at the factory before being shipped.....this started with S/N 0108261.....
But, this does NOT mean that all M-802's sold after that date are "okay", as there were many in the distrubtion chain, and that meant that some who purchased M-802's over the past few years, have purchased "new old stock".....this is especially true for those purchased from dealers with low sales volumes...}

Thanks to all for helping!!!

So, sailamaryllis, in a nutshell, if you're equipping for offshore sailing and/or ocean crossing, then you're going to want an M-802 (properly "fixed" / "modified")!!!!

I do hope this helps you out.....

s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 25-06-2012, 09:28   #20
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

As John pointed out the ICOM M-802 Manual sucks!

I met Captain Marti Brown a couple of years ago and bought her book "ICOM 802 for Idi-Yachts". Before reading it, I thought is was just another how to book, but was frustrated how bad the orginal manual was...

Marti is a great writter and at least for me, it did clear up some of the mud the original ICOM 802 manual put in my head...

Marti's book explains clearly how to do thigs like program the radio, use it various functions and all the other basic care and feeding of the ICOM M-802.
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:47   #21
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I have to say that I am kind of glad I never saw this thread before I bought our M802. I took my time and read up on different models and makes and came to buy an Icom M802. I have owned many Icom vhf's and loved them. Never having a SSB before I took and installed my own. I chose a spilt back stay with a sinterd bronze ground plane. When we left the great lakes I had no idea how to use it but along our trip south I learned. As not sure how well I was transmiting I had the chance to have it checked with a see meter and to my supprise the guy asked who installed the radio. He days the reading was very good and now after 2 years of use I can say I am very happy with the unit and have talked thousands of miles with it. I give the 802 a thumbs up
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:57   #22
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

We have an Icom M802 - one of the originals. We lived through the clipping for several years and it didn't interfere with my ability to be a NW Caribbean Net controller or a Panama Connection Net controller. It wasn't perfect, but it was not unintelligible by far. The last year before we returned to the US (after having the radio for 6 years), the clipping became more pronounced and a problem. We bought it from Don Melcher at HF Radio Onboard, who unfortunately is no longer taking on new clients or selling SSB radio systems. Don told me to send the M802 back to him, he coordinated with ICOM to get the fix and returned it to me. No problems since, but I haven't used it daily like we did in the NW Caribbean and Panama.

Personally, I've known many people with M802's without clipping problems and all I can report is personal experience.

Cheers -- Jan, sv Winterlude
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Old 25-06-2012, 20:33   #23
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

As I understand it, even an older unmodified M-802 will not clip if the radio sees a good match to the antenna with a low SWR - either with a resonant antenna or one that is matched via an antenna "tuner".

The factory modification simply allows the radio to transmit at full power into a higher SWR without fold-back of power, one that is presumably still safe for the radio.

Its quite possible for someone with an older radio to have no "clipping" problems, just as its possible for someone with a newer or modified radio to still have "clipping" problems. And if that older radio that was fine before starts to see a poorer match to the antenna as a result of many possible factors, it might begin to "clip".

I'm pretty sure John covers this in detail in his posts as linked above.
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Old 25-06-2012, 20:52   #24
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

Anybody know anything about a ICOM M 707 SSB radio ? I may have gotten one on a boat Connie and I are trying to buy ! don't mean to jump the thread but Im wondering
Bob and Connie
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Old 25-06-2012, 21:14   #25
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

VALIS has been the communications boat for the last two Pacific Cup races (San Francisco to Hawaii, and we race while working the radio). I've got an Icom M710-RT, which, as has been pointed out, is no longer made. This, and the regular M710 are built like a tank and work very well. They are difficult to use on the ham bands, because of they are designed for channelized operations and it is complicated to tune them to an arbitrary frequency. There are mods available which help, but it's still a chore to tune the ham bands.

As the radio boat, we communicate with many racers who have Icom 802 radios. I'm just not hearing the clipping problem, but perhaps our racers have had the older radios properly modified, and antennas properly matched. I do occasionally hear very distorted signals, but in every case this has been due to low batteries (which tends to happen when you are sailing for a couple thousand miles, only starting the engine to charge batteries). The 802 is much easier to operate on the ham bands.
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Old 25-06-2012, 22:05   #26
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

I have had an M802 for many years - more than a decade - and have not had any problems that I know of. Perhaps it helps that I have been using an SGC SG-230 tuner, since the clipping problem only manifests itself with an SWR>1.8:1 and the SGC is known to do a good job of matching. Also the sheet of roofing copper on the rudder may have helped...

The strengths of the M802 have been mentioned, so no need to repeat. Most if not all marine SSBs are awkward at working the ham bands, and the M802 is also, although better than most. One big plus is the ease with which the radio can be opened to all frequencies - just power up once with 2-Mode-TX pressed and it will remain opened. I personally like the radio, but agree that the user interface is not entirely obvious and the manual a bit difficult. Once learned there is no problem.

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Old 26-06-2012, 12:42   #27
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

I have a M802 for a couple of months purchased new. Before installing on the boat, I spent a couple weeks getting to know the radio, reprogramming the user and email channels. Extensive testing on the bench, checking the transmitter specs (for the fun of it and because I can). It meets and exceeds all publicized specs.

The one thing I did learn is when using with Pactor SCS modem, need to adjust the FSK and PSK modulation level settings in Airmail or RMS Express to get proper drive for proper power out when using the SCS modem. I have not seen this discussed anywhere and Icom tech support was not even aware. Thanks to Gary and Eric at Farralon for this valuable information.

Need to set FSK to 250 and PSK to 330 in the Airmail / RMS Express TNC setup menu. This will give you full output when using the SCS modem.


Note- As stated in previous posts, audio clipping is a pre 2007 issue which Icom will repair for free.
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Old 26-06-2012, 13:59   #28
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Re: SSB - Any Brand Preference

SailMail does have a utility built in for automatically setting SCS Pactor modem FSK and PSK levels with the M802 specifically, and a couple of other radios. Beyond those radios you have to set the levels manually and it varies from model to model - better a little low than too high though.


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