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Old 29-10-2014, 16:19   #1
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SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

Starting this afternoon, Wed Oct. 29, 2014....and continuing for the next week to 10 days, we are trying an HF Single-SideBand (SSB) Radio Check Net, for purpose of checking operation of SSB Radios on boats getting ready to head offshore, and getting new SSB users familiar with HF radio / SSB communications...

Exact times and specific freqs are subject to change, as input is received from users on-air and on-line....(and times will most probably change to one hour Zulu later starting Sunday)

Initial planning is for US East Coast and Caribbean afternoon times, on:
12.359mhz (12359khz) ITU ch. 12-3 (12C)...

16.528mhz (16528khz) ITU ch. 16-1 (16A)...

8.294mhz (8294khz) ITU ch. 8-1 (8A)....


Today, active net times are:
2000z - 2020z on 12.359mhz....
2020z - 2040z on 16.528mhz.....
2040z-2100z on 8.294mhz....

(with s/v Annie Laurie calling "all stations" every couple minutes...)

And, standing-by only, from 2100z - 2120z, on 8.152mhz....

Then from 2120z to 2140z, returning to 12.359mhz, for active net, with s/v Annie Laurie calling "all stations" every couple minutes....

Again, times subject to change, depending on input for Net participants...


Also, DSC calls will be responded to as well...
s/v Annie Laurie is monitoring all six Intn'l GMDSS DSC freqs at all times during the Net....

My MMSI# is 366933110


If anyone is interested, turn on your radio and join in...


Also, if anyone is interested in learning more about their SSB radio and radio operations, please have a look at these Youtube videos and their descriptions here...

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=16779



Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 29-10-2014, 17:11   #2
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

BTW, just an FYI, notwithstanding this week's recent high solar activity and geomagnetic storms, long-haul propagation is actually excellent today....as at the top of the hour (2000z), as usual I was hearing Maritime Weather Broadcasts out of VMC and VMW (Charleville Radio + Wiluna Radio) from Australia, on 12362 and 12365....and these stations are 9,500 and 11,000 miles from me!!

And, while I only had two vessels respond today during the Net, I made many contacts on 20m (14mhz), form a few hundred to a few thousand miles away....and some on 40m (7mhz) as well.....immediately before (and a couple during) the Net...

So, don't let any talk of "solar flares" keep you off the air!!!
Yes, during times like this conditions do vary....but contacts are still being made!!!


Fair winds to all...


John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 31-10-2014, 11:35   #3
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

UPDATE....Changes.....(due to requests, I've changed the times to US Eastern Times, rather than Zulu....and have changed some freqs around...)

Afternoon Net....(from Friday Oct 31th to approx. Friday Nov 7th)
Active net times are:
4pm to 5pm US Eastern Time, on 12.359mhz...


With s/v Annie Laurie calling "all stations" every couple minutes...

With 16.528mhz, and 8.294mhz, and 8.152mhz, checked every few minutes (and available for radio checks / testing, upon request)


And, standing-by only, from 2100z - 2115z, on 8.152mhz....

Then from 2115z to 2130z, returning to 12.359mhz, for active net, with s/v Annie Laurie calling "all stations" every couple minutes....





Requested Morning Net.....(from Sat Nov 1st and Sunday Nov 2nd only)
10am - 10:30am Eastern Time on 12.359mhz (12359khz), 12C...

10:30am - 10:45am Eastern Time on 8.152mhz (8152khz), a shared fixed/land-mobile freq...

10:45am - 11am Eastern Time on 6.227mhz (6227khz), 6B...


11am - 11:15am Eastern Time on 16.528mhz (16528khz), 16A....

And, other times/freqs on request....




I hope some find this helpful....

Fair winds...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110

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Old 31-10-2014, 12:35   #4
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

John,

I truly sorry I am missing this. I just returned from VA after putting my boat to bed for the winter. I spent a week there doing various maintenance tasks in addition to winterizing and in the evenings would listen to the SSB. Battery charger followed by the frig were the biggest RFI culprits. Could get WLO broadcasts w/o trouble. USCG weather most of the time, but I'm not sure they broadcast every hour. Heard a lot on the Ham Channels (140-160 of the ICOM programmed channels) and broke in once when a net asked for listeners to chime in. The net was in Hawaii. I had great reception and the NCS said my signal was clear and strong.

Anyway, good service you are providing.

Michael
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WDH2357 and KM4DWN
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Old 31-10-2014, 14:13   #5
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

This was very helpful. Thanks!
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Old 31-10-2014, 15:35   #6
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

Ka4wjc, Your videos are excellent. I am a beginner and have talked with you while using the marine mobile net on my trip back for St Martin this Spring. I will try to listen in 11/7 and 11/8 when I will be on my boat winterizing.
kj4rpz
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Old 31-10-2014, 15:51   #7
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

SVNeko, in Panama, I heard you well here in Florida...sorry you had so much noise in the marina though, and didn't hear me well...

s/v Reach, in the San Blas islands, I heard you well here in S. Florida...

I have also worked a few others, s/v Silhouette (yesterday) and s/v Salt Water Taffy (this morning), both in the Hampton, VA area, and both loud and clear on 12.359mhz, here in S. Florida....
And, got an e-mail reception report from a station in Long Island, NY, that I was 59 in NY (loud and clear)...

And, s/v Country Dancer, in Jacksonville, FL was surprisingly clear on 12.359mhz (even though only 250 miles away)...


But after a couple hours this morning and this afternoon, still no DSC calls....



I want to say that you are all very welcome...
BUT...
But, I actually want to say Thank You...since it gets a bit boring sitting there calling if there is no response....so, Thanks!!
Looking forward to tomorrow...


Fair winds to all...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 31-10-2014, 16:44   #8
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

Thanks John, it is always good to know how one is being received at a distance. We don't use our SSB much right now except for occasional local nets - which are all within line of site distances or short hop at most - so getting a longer range report lets us know nothing has gone wrong or needs maintenance in the interim.

Neko is ~70nm away from us in a marina located amid a military base surrounded by the Panama Canal and its operations and 100 large ships. While we were there a couple of years ago, several times a day the military would do some type of broadcast from the large radio tower looming over the marina that was actually knocking out GPS reception. I have never heard anything on the SSB in that marina, so if Neko heard you at all, his radio is working well

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Old 01-11-2014, 13:59   #9
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

I plan on tuning in tonight... I am trying to get my SSB radio working and learn more about it.

David
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Old 01-11-2014, 14:11   #10
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

David,
Your radio is souding good....
You're loud 'n clear in S. Florida, on both 12.359mhz and 16.528mhz...

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 01-11-2014, 15:08   #11
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

John,
Thanks again for the radio help!! Glad to know it's working properly. I'll probably catch up with you tomorrow for some more experience.

David
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Old 02-11-2014, 16:03   #12
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

UPDATE....Changes..... (due to requests, I've changed the times to US Eastern Times, rather than Zulu....and have changed some freqs around...)

~~~
Due to family matters I will only be on-the-air one more afternoon (Monday, Nov 3rd), and then after that, only upon request, as time allows...
~~~


Afternoon Net....(to Monday, Nov 3rd)

Active net times are:
4pm to 5pm US Eastern Time, on 12.359mhz...

With s/v Annie Laurie calling "all stations" every few minutes...

With 16.528mhz, and 8.294mhz, and 8.152mhz, available for radio checks / testing, upon request...




I hope some find this helpful....

Fair winds...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:34   #13
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Icom M-802 "Open Mode" (Open/Ham/Dial vs. Standard "marine mode")

Earlier this year, I heard that new Icom M-802's are being delivered to retailers in the "Standard Marine Mode" (which does not allow for user programming of various frequencies into your user channel list, nor use of "VFO Mode", etc.) rather than the "Open Mode" (which is what is described in the manual, and allows you to not only use the M-802 on the ham radio bands / in "vfo mode", but also allows front panel programming of the "user channels"), but unfortunately this info just went in one ear and out the other....

Then yesterday, I had a gentleman on-the-air ask me how to program his "user channels", and a second sailor popped-up right then and asked the same thing...(both were new M-802's and both sounded good on-the-air)

After a few minutes of on-air discussion, it became apparent that both of these guys' radios were not set up the same way (different software versions?) as earlier M-802's....

It was Sunday and I was advising contacting Gary at Dockside Radio in the morning (Monday), and/or Icom tech support.....and even said that Gary probably has something about this on his website...

It was a few minutes later that the first sailor came back on-the-air to tell us that he fixed the problem by placing his radio in "Open Mode" and said that he got the procedure from Dockside Radio's website...
(Thank you Gary!!)

So....
So, if you have an Icom M-802 and cannot program your "user channels", nor use the "VFO Mode" on the ham radio bands, it is because your radio is in "Marine Mode", rather than the "Open Mode" (even though the "Open Mode" is what the Icom manual shows!)
And, the good news is that switching your M-802 to "Open Mode" is VERY easy and takes just 2 seconds, literally!!

Gary Jensen, Dockside Radio, has the exact procedure for programming the M-802 (including placing the radio into "Open Mode"),laid out for you on his website...

Icom M-802 Programming Instructions


But in brief, you're turning the radio OFF...
Then pressing and holding down three different buttons, and then while holding those three buttons down, pressing the power button, turning the radio ON....

And, that's it....
Your M-802 is now in "Open Mode", and you'll be able to program your "user channels" and use the "VFO mode" on the ham bands, etc...

With the radio OFF, the three buttons you press and hold down are:
"Mode", "2", "TXF/TX"
And, while holding those buttons down, turn the radio ON by then pressing the "Power" button...
And, you're done....the radio is now on and in the "Open Mode"


I want to say a big thank you to the skipper/radio op of s/v Corsair, who not only brought this back to my attention, but also provided the solution to us!!!
(and a big thank you to Gary at Dockside, as well...)


I hope some find this useful...

Fair winds...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:32   #14
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

Why did you stop??
Are you still on-the-air??
How about some results/observations??

These are questions I've gotten in the past month....and yes, it's been a month since we did this Net, and I've had many things come up in that month (that kept me off-the-air and away from posting some results/observations)...
But have the time now....so here goes...

First off, I did NOT intend to run a Net, just doing some on-air testing/evaluating for some sailors venturing offshore.....so as such I did not keep detailed logs/info, just some misc. notes...but here's the skinny....
1) Why I stopped???
'Cause it was just a test for a few days...

2) Are you still on the air???
Yes, by request/appointment only....working around my other commitments as best I can....


3) Results / Observations...
A) From my boat in SE Florida, I worked about 35 - 45 boats (and half-dozen home stations), over a period of 4 - 5 days, mostly on 12mhz marine freq (and some on 16mhz, and two on 8mhz), with communications paths of 100 - 250 miles, 500 - 750 miles, 1000 - 1500 miles, 2500 - 3000 miles....
Mostly other sailboats in the Chesapeake Bay area, approx. 725 miles away, and other sailboats (and a few with marine radios at home) in Ft. Myers FL, Jacksonville FL/, Georgia, S. Carolina, N. Carolina, Virgina, Newport RI / Montauk NY, Panama (both Atl and Pac coasts), Aruba, BVI, S. Calif, N. Calif, Seattle WA.....



B) Results were as expected with 12.359mhz and 16.528mhz producing excellent results for both morning and afternoon times...and virtually no communications on 8.152mhz and 8.294mhz during the morning times and little to none past a few hundred miles in late afternoon...
(actual good results from 12.359mhz, from the VERY short distance of ~ 250 miles was a tiny bit surprising, but reliable/repeatable, day after day, most all day....and during afternoon, there was little to no connection possible on 8mhz until very late in the afternoon...)

Take note that the morning times requested were 10am - 11am EDT (1400z - 1500z), and as such 8mhz (and below) were not usable....remember that using our vertical antennas (backstays/whips, etc.) use of 8mhz (and below) during daytime is limited by:
a) the lack of high-angle radiation (needed for NVIS comms) from the vertical antennas...
b) the groundwave absorption....
Which means that if wishing to use these lower frequencies during the day your ranges will be limited to a few hundred miles....BUT...
But, you can make better use of them for longer ranges (up to 800 - 1000 miles, on 8mhz) early in the morning or in late afternoon, typically within an hour or so, of sunrise and sunset....

For many, many years now, I have been "preaching" that when choosing the frequency / channel for your communications, you should choose based on the expected distance of the communications path, time-of-day, etc., NOT based on what is the channel that "everyone else uses", nor "what some guy told 'ya"!!!
And, maybe someday I'll actually get this point thru here....
But...
But, the good news is that those that I actually got on-the-air experienced this themselves, and learned this quickly....maybe they'll pass it on???
Whatever the case, at least some have seen the light....

For more detailed info, have a look here...
HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..

Re: KISS-SSB Counterpoise

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13490&start=75 )

But, I did get some rather helpful results and observations....

I have NO scientific proof, but every boat that had a weak signal (near other boats with strong signals at the same time), when I asked them what ground system they were using reported using the KISS....and every boat near them with s strong signal, when asked, reported a direct sea water ground connection (mostly Dynplates).....yes, EVERYONE....
And a few even volunteered that they knew that had a weak signal and they knew it was most probably because of their KISS-SSB-Ground...

Understand that there were a few dozen boats checking on from one location (Chesapeake Bay areas / Virgina) and a few boats from S. Cal, and a few from Panama, and a few from the Caribbean.....and when hearing strong signals vs. weak signals, the weak ones were all using the KISS and the strong ones were using a direct sea water ground...

Yes, these are anecdotal reports from only a few dozen boats.....and no, there was no "double-blind" scientific tests done in the past two week....

But, when every single boat that is "weak" is using the KISS, and every single boat that is "strong" is using a direct sea water ground......combined with my own earlier tests (from 2012), combined with Gordon West's tests (not comparing the KISS, but the KISS is known to be even worse than a capacity-couple ground).....combined with the scientific / engineering facts that have been well known/understood for decades before I was even born....etc. etc....
Sooner or later, even laypersons who have a radio on-board will understand that while ANYTHING can work (even NO ground system at all works!), the fact is the KISS is inferior to a direct sea water ground....


Here is part of an e-mail I sent a couple weeks ago, to some layperson sailors trying to figure out HF radio on a 36' sloop...
It is ALL the time that the KISS-SSB Ground will be inferior to a direct sea water connection....but...

But, also it is a matter of degree....(meaning that "anything" works....it is all a matter of degree....although I would caution anyone to NOT publish conclusions based on anecdotal tests, whether they are "positive" or "negative" in relation to the KISS...)
{Fact is, when NO rf ground / antenna ground at all, works....it is difficult to explain in layperson's terms why one type of rf/antenna ground is better than another....but it IS a fact that a direct sea water RF Ground / Antenna Ground IS better....proved both by the math/science (ground return currents are calculated to be significantly higher with a direct sea water ground), and by real-world tests (Gordon West's, my two series of tests over the past two years, and other's tests)....and the manufacturer's marketing hype has been debunked both by my spectral sweeps and the math / science of basic RF circuitry, etc....
So, sooner or later, the hefty bulk of data that shows the inferiority of the KISS should make people understand.....BUT...
But, as I continue to stress, when the fact that NO rf/antenna ground at all, also works to some extent.....AND, factor in the vagaries and variables of radiowave propagation to the confused mix....and what you get is more confusion!!!

So, to understand the facts thru the confusion, a bit of "faith" is needed....}




Okay, I think that's enough for now....

I hope this helps you all out, and answers some of your questions...
(for more info on HF Radio, etc. please have a look at the "index"...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use/properly-install SSB)

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

and follow the links there....)



Fair winds...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:58   #15
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Re: SSB Radio Check & On-Air Evaluation Net (and DSC test calls)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Understand that there were a few dozen boats checking on from one location (Chesapeake Bay areas / Virgina) and a few boats from S. Cal, and a few from Panama, and a few from the Caribbean.....and when hearing strong signals vs. weak signals, the weak ones were all using the KISS and the strong ones were using a direct sea water ground...
Hi John,

I contacted you from Panama using 20W, and you relayed that we had a strong signal. For your records, we have neither a KISS nor a direct sea water ground system. We have a 28' free-standing whip on top of our aluminum tube bimini/arch structure with the coupler located at the base of the whip. The coupler ground is attached directly to the structure, which provides the counterpoise. Seems to work very well - the antenna lead wire from the coupler is 15" long and the coupler is connected to the arch with a 2" piece of foil.

Mark
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