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Old 29-10-2013, 20:24   #1
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SSB HELP

I am a total noob to SSB and HF Radio. I recently bought an ICOM 718 SSB and am figuring out the best way to set things up. I have KISS for grounding. and a rope antenna. What I am having a hard time with is the tuner.

I was going to buy a basic automatic tuner (an LDG 100 or similar) but a friend recently gave me a MAXCOM automatic "Antenna Matcher" and said it is all I need. This has no independent power source, just a ground post, antenna post and hook up to the radio. I googled antenna matchers and they are much less expensive than tuners... but I can tell the difference...

Can anyone tell me what the difference is? He said this worked for years with no problem talking or receiving without a tuner. Any thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old 29-10-2013, 21:01   #2
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Re: SSB HELP

The quick Google searching I just did indicates that the MAXCOM is essentially a transformer and a resistor. The resistor acts as kind of a "dummy load" or resistive matching network.

This is an extremely bad design. It provides a "match" by throwing away probably half of the power you are trying to transmit. Your radio might be happy, thinking it is connected to a properly-matched antenna, but your transmitted and received signal will be much weaker than they could be. You will probably be able to make radio contacts with it, but you would do much better with a real tuner.

I would call it snake-oil. There's a reason that true antenna tuners are designed as they are. Get a real tuner.
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Old 29-10-2013, 21:21   #3
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Re: SSB HELP

The Maxcom was a joke in the ham radio circles for quite some time.

You will get better performance if you can locate the LDG or other tuner close to the antenna, rather than at the radio. Of course that presents its own set of problems.
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Old 30-10-2013, 08:10   #4
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Re: SSB HELP

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Originally Posted by cptratbag View Post
The Maxcom was a joke in the ham radio circles for quite some time.

You will get better performance if you can locate the LDG or other tuner close to the antenna, rather than at the radio. Of course that presents its own set of problems.
i had planned to put my tuner/matcher/whatever directly under where the antenna comes in, about 5-6 feet from the radio... is that bad?

I've read about maxcom being a joke as well... but I've also read that "they just work..." as a noob, who's only real goal is to listen to chris parker and other nets, maybe check in etc.... is a matcher really a bad way to go?
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Old 30-10-2013, 08:29   #5
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Re: SSB HELP

Keeping the tuner close to the antenna is a good idea. The downsides are that you have to provide power and ground to the tuner, and possibly a control cable from the tuner to the radio.
On my boat I use the lifelines as a ground plane. It works surprisingly well.
The rig is an Icom 706 with LDG tuner.
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Old 30-10-2013, 08:32   #6
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Re: SSB HELP

Okay, you probably don't want to hear this, but it has to be said...

Do you have a ham radio license? If not, it is illegal for you to transmit with that radio, except in an emergency. In any case, it is illegal to transmit with that radio on the Marine SSB channels (again, except in an emergency), because the radio is not type-certified for Marine SSB use.

And, yes, if you intend to transmit, then the Maxcom is worse than a joke and you really do need to get a "real" antenna tuner.
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Old 30-10-2013, 08:40   #7
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Re: SSB HELP

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingChance View Post
[...]
I've read about maxcom being a joke as well... but I've also read that "they just work..." as a noob, who's only real goal is to listen to chris parker and other nets, maybe check in etc.... is a matcher really a bad way to go?
From what I've read, "they just work" means "my transmitter sees a match, and I can make some contacts". This is probably true. But you could say the same thing about a dummy load and coathanger combination. Yes, you will make some contacts, but you could do so much better, more reliably, with a proper tuner/antenna.

We hear many complaints about SSB, and most of them have to do with weak signals or not being able to communicate at all. Most of those are probably because of propagation issues, but why start out with one arm tied behind your back? Trust me, you want a good antenna system. It makes a real difference.

SSB is also an emergency communications system, and a good antenna system can make a critical difference.

I am repeating myself, but this is important. Don't install the MAXCOM. You will regret it.
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Old 30-10-2013, 08:49   #8
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Re: SSB HELP

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
[...]
Do you have a ham radio license? If not, it is illegal for you to transmit with that radio, except in an emergency. In any case, it is illegal to transmit with that radio on the Marine SSB channels (again, except in an emergency), because the radio is not type-certified for Marine SSB use.
Wow, I didn't even catch that this was a ham radio.

denverd0n is 100% correct. Has your radio been modified to let it transmit on the marine bands? Some people do this, and get away with it, but this not legal, and not really a good idea for sound technical reasons. If your radio has not been modified, it will not be able to transmit in the marine bands.

If you don't have a ham license, do not even try to use the ham bands -- you will get caught.

In an emergency you are allowed to use any bands you like. Of course you are allowed to listen to all frequencies, and your radio will let you do that right out of the box.
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