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Old 05-09-2010, 16:15   #1
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Question SSB Radio and Pactor Modem

Ok we have two weeks to go before we start our journey south. I just installed the Pactor modem on my Icom 700 pro and it seems like it is working, when I tried sending an email it would call the station but I get a message, no answer. I tried all the frequencies that were listed on the East coast but none have answer. So I asume that there needs some work done on the transmitting end of my Icom. Also I really don't have a handle on how to use the SSB.
We should be down by Newport R.I in the next two weekes and was wondering if any listers can put me in touch with somebody or some company, who could go through my system and maybe show me how tp get my feet wet using this radio.Any help would be great.
Also are there any cruisers starting to make their trek south within the next two weeks maybe we can meet along the way and have some fun.

Dennis & Carole
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Old 05-09-2010, 16:23   #2
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Are you using SailMail? If so this might help...

Quote:
SailMail Frequencies:
The frequencies listed below are the Designated Center Frequencies from SailMail's stations. These are the frequencies that should be visible in the right-hand window on the top of your terminal window in AirMail. If you are using regular old USB mode (same as for voice) then you need to subtract 1.5 kHz* from the frequencies below in order to calculate the frequencies to enter into your radio. As mentioned, AirMail can do the subtraction for you, look at the bottom of your terminal window.
* This assumes that you have your modem tones set to a center frequency of 1500 Hz (recommended). If under tools/options/connection you have center frequency set to 1700, then you need to subtract 1.7 kHz to calculate the dial frequency to set your radio to in USB mode.
from SailMail Primer
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Old 05-09-2010, 17:13   #3
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Thanks Hud as always nice find
Dennis
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Old 05-09-2010, 17:22   #4
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G'day, mate. You didn't indicate if you have been routinely using your SSB for typical verbal communications. If not, you may want to try a few contacts on the normal marine freqeuncies to make sure your rig and antenna system is functioning properly. Cheers.
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Old 06-09-2010, 14:59   #5
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Dennis - sounds like you are nearly there. As you suggest yourself, the transmit modulation may be at fault assuming the basic SSB/antenna is working ok.

It might help if you give us a bit more background info on your setup, i.e. which Pactor TNC? which antenna tuner? do you have the radio connection for auto tuning? (makes life a lot easier)

Please also ensure the following:

1)You can make regular reliable voice contact - as suggested above.
2)The antenna tuner is working properly & indicating such.
3)The modulation level is correct or at least showing good level on ICOM display whilst trying to connect.
4)You are using latest version of Airmail v3.4.034 or beta v3.4.055
5)Your Pactor modem has latest v4.0 firmware (this is displayed every time you open terminal window).
6)Maybe most important of all, ensure you are trying to connect on correct freq allowing for propagation & using correct centre freq offset.

If you are unsure about your Airmail configuration, select Tools>Setup Wizard - this will take you through your hardware configuration, putting in correct values were applicable, & saves a lot of time.

If you have IcePack plug-in to Airmail installed you can bring up the propagation window by pressing F8 key with terminal window open. Note Icepack is packaged with latest versions of Airmail & installs with it - just ensure you enter your location for it to work. Stations will be listed according to distance from your location.
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Old 06-09-2010, 15:40   #6
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Hi Richard, thanks for the reply. I have the Icom M 700 PRO with the a130 tuner, the antenna is the split back stay with three insulators on the main mast. I just ran the copper foil from the tuner to a single bronze thru hull that is no more than 5' from the tuner. I haven't transmitted on this system as I have never used a ssb before. I did hear Herb on Southbound II when I was just sitting on my mooring last year, but really not a lot of other traffic but I haven't spent much time on it. I thought if I install the modem, a Pactor III for the Icom brand new and the sailmail software that came with it I could tell if I was putting anything out from the radio. It does change the frequency on my radio and it seems to be transmitting as I do get the bar graph move to the left side more than half way. After about twenty tries I get the message can not connect.
So I'm GUESSING I need to do some more work on either my antenna or counterpoise. I was hoping to find someone who does this for a living I can hire and get them on the boat and go through it. I'll be heading out of Boston some time next week ( weather permitting} and my fisrt major port of call would be New Port R.I. and try to set something up there before heading further south.
Thanks again for the help, I"ll try to keep all informed what I find out hopfully by sailmail
Dennis & Carole
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Old 06-09-2010, 16:53   #7
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Quote:
I thought if I install the modem, a Pactor III for the Icom brand new and the sailmail software that came with it I could tell if I was putting anything out from the radio. It does change the frequency on my radio and it seems to be transmitting as I do get the bar graph move to the left side more than half way. After about twenty tries I get the message can not connect.
You are using a Sailmail connection to determine the ability of your radio to transmit? Did you, um, er, sign up with the Sailmail service?

Michael
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Old 06-09-2010, 17:04   #8
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You can still connect to Sailmail station without account. It only kicks you off with unrecognised callsign AFTER you have connected.
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Old 06-09-2010, 19:39   #9
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Sounds like you’re SSB skills are like ours when we left Puget Sound 2 years ago. It took time and patience (frustration) to get reasonably competent.
I think you need to forget the Pactor/Sailmail for a minute and test what the receiving (RX) and transmission (TX) with the current setup is like.
RX: The most basic test is to see how you RX both time tic (24 hours a day on MHz: 2.500.0, 5.000.0, 10.000.0, 15.000.0) and weather broadcasts. For weather broadcast frequencies on the East Coast go to the NOAA website. Try listening at different times (often, daytime is the worst for propagation AND when in a larger port with lots of RF noise) to get a sense of what is best. Further, you should be able to find SSB or Ham nets to listen into. If you having trouble with basic receiving, then you’ve got to sort this out before you’ll have any success with Sailmail.
TX: With a station license you can broadcast on marine frequencies. A Ham license will allow broadcasting on more frequencies. Listen in on various “nets” for a few days to get the protocol; some are formal, others less so, but they all tend to have a particular way of doing things. Then check in to the net. Tell them you are a newbie and interested in getting a radio check. This is the best way to understand your TX performance. If you’re weak then go down the counterpoise and connections list.
Hopefully you find your setup is good. If not at least then you can seek out more help know that your RX is good and TX is weak, or whatever you find. Last note is that when you do get to using the Airmail software for Sailmail or Winlink we’ve found one setting rarely mentioned, that makes a difference. With the terminal window opened, under the “Control” menu item, select the “Set PTC Amplitude” setting. A small dialog box open with 2 slide controls. The best way I can explain the controls is: When set lowest (left end) the broadcast is a clear whisper to the station. With close range or good propagation this may work fine. The highest setting is like scream. A station may hear you broadcast better, but the signal can be splattered. I always end up adjusting this to improve the connection quality/speed.
Cheers from Fiji,
Jamie
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