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Old 05-10-2016, 15:45   #1
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SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

I have a very old SEA 322 SSB unit that came with my boat. I haven't had need to use it but have been playing around with it this year as I'll start some global crusing next spring. It seems to receive just fine. I can tune into weather forecasts and nets just fine. It will not transmit. When I push the trigger on the mic the screen shows the xmit icon as it should, but not a power output like it should. Also my boat amp meter doesn't show an immediate spike which it should. So nothing is happening, except the head unit knows I pressed the button.

The fact it receives makes me believe my antenna, ground system, etc., are all fine.

The brand is out of business so this might be a lost cause. But I thought I'd check here first for any advice or things to check that might get it transmitting again.

Thanks,

JR
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Old 05-10-2016, 17:10   #2
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

When you do your transmit test, are you speaking into the mike? With SSB radios, just keying the mike does not result in significant power output... you need some audio input to do so. If the radio has a CW mode then with the key down you should have full output.

Also, what sort of tuner do you have, and does it seem to work?

I'm not familiar with the SEA models, but the above is true regardless of brand and model.

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Old 05-10-2016, 23:09   #3
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

because it's RX good does not rule anything out. it's easy to rx with a bad antenna or ground. but it won't TX.

also as above the signal is by voice. yell into the mic and see if the bars go up. and current. also there is probably power settings for low / med / high.
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Old 06-10-2016, 15:30   #4
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

Thanks for the inputs.

I have spoken into the mic and tried to make a call. No change in the screen or amp usage. I got pretty loud, but short of yelling.

I don't know if I have CW mode (I'm not on the boat at moment or have the manual). What is it?

There is an auto-tune box in the lazarette just below the antenna, but I don't know the brand. The manual says I should see the word "Tune" on the screen once a station is tuned in, but I never see that. This could be a clue.

I was afraid of the issue that successfully receiving stations is not an indicator of good health through the system.

JR
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Old 06-10-2016, 15:54   #5
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

Could very well be the tuner. There are ways to try it without a tuner. Too long for this post though.
Let's see... check sires to and from the tuner, for corrosion or just being broken or disconnected...
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Old 06-10-2016, 20:45   #6
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

JR,

That sounds like your tuner is not working. Cheekako's suggestion is a good one, moisture and motion often lead to green and broken wires.

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Old 07-10-2016, 06:12   #7
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

I'll take a good look. My lasarette is in need of good re-org anyway.
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:04   #8
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

You need a power/swr meter and a dummy load for initial, definitive tests on your system. Without these essential tools, and the knowledge of how to use them, you're just shooting in the dark.

There's nothing in your description to implicate the tuner. Could be lots of things.

Get a friendly ham or, better, a marine electronics technician to come and check out your system before jumping to conclusions.

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Old 11-10-2016, 17:39   #9
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

JR,
First off, I'm pretty much with Bill on this....we don't have much to go on, so it could be anything...but..
But, yes cleaning out your lazarette and looking at the tuner to see what's up is a good idea!

Secondly, SEA is not out-of-business...
SEA Single Sideband Radios


Third...here are some specifics in red....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jr_spyder View Post
I have a very old SEA 322 SSB unit that came with my boat. I haven't had need to use it but have been playing around with it this year as I'll start some global crusing next spring. It seems to receive just fine. I can tune into weather forecasts and nets just fine.
This is all good!

It will not transmit. When I push the trigger on the mic the screen shows the xmit icon as it should, but not a power output like it should.
Could be transmitting at a very low power level (possibly due to tuner being inoperative, and causing a high SWR / transmitter power fold-back). If you have someone near you (within a 1/2mile, or closer) that can listen on their radio, if they hear you then it IS transmiting something!
If they don't hear anything, then you most probably have a serious problem with the 322...


Also my boat amp meter doesn't show an immediate spike which it should.
Actually if the radio is installed properly (most older marine SSB radios were done properly), you would not see any current draw thru your panel amp meter, as the radio would be wired directly to the batteries or busbar...
Also, understand that even if the radio is wired thru the panel and amp meter (not a good thing), then you would almost certainly see only a few amps of average current draw on usually human speech...
So, while you may have thought that not seeing any current draw, is an important piece of the puzzle, this all depends on how the radio is wired up and how sensitive it is to quick peaks...


So nothing is happening, except the head unit knows I pressed the button.

The fact it receives makes me believe my antenna, ground system, etc., are all fine.
Could be the tuner, tuner power/control wires and connections, could be antenna connection as well....but very doubtful it's the ground system....
(understand that you may in fact have a deteriorated / inferior ground system, but this is doubtful to cause this problem!!)


The brand is out of business so this might be a lost cause.
SEA is in business...
SEA Single Sideband Radios


But I thought I'd check here first for any advice or things to check that might get it transmitting again.
We need a lot more info in order to help you out....but we're trying...

If you look over the system critically, tell us how it's all wired up, and tell us what channels/freqs you've tried, who you've tried to talk to, where they were at, etc...etc., etc...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 11-10-2016, 21:33   #10
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

Thanks for all this. As I'm sure you've guessed I'm a rookie when it comes to this system, but I'm also always excited to learn something new. I'm very good with electrical and mechanical stuff overall, and through reading I understand the theory of all the pieces of an SSB installation. Now with a problem there is no better way to really dive in and get to know it. I'm back on the boat tomorrow with this mission.

All these pointers will help a lot, and hopefully I'll have more info for you tomorrow.

JR
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Old 12-10-2016, 21:10   #11
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

Well it's been an interesting day today. I started in the lazarette and found that all the connections to the tuner were very clean and solid. There was no physical evidence of a problem. The guts looked as good as new. Then I chased the ground strap and wires and found some green/corroded junctions. Before I cleaned them I check continuity across grounds which all checked fine. Nonetheless I cleaned them up. With each new changed I checked the radio and nothing changed.

The power source does not take a direct-ish route to the battery. It goes from the transceiver box to a 30 amp breaker in a small panel at my nav station that also has switches for pretty much all the electronics systems (plotters, gauges, VHF, AIS, etc). All the breakers share the same bus to the boat's main panel, not to the batts. This could be improved.

The transceiver is nicely tucked away in a clean/dry space so all its connectors were clean and solid.

After all this fussing and no joy I called SEA and got a great support guy. With only a couple symptoms described he knew the system had an internal problem. Could be in the control unit, or in the transceiver. He ran through a bunch of questions and most of the answers just confirmed a problem, but not exactly what. Could be as simple as needing a new mic, or as bad as a melt down in one of the units. My only option is to pull everything out and send it to them for a checkup, and repair if warranted. He recommended including the tuner in the package so they can be sure everything is alright.

In hindsight I wish I called them much earlier, but I learned a lot along the way.

So now here's the dilemma - should I send in the equipment and wait for an estimate for the work, or buy a new ICOM M802 ($2165 w/tuner at Defender), or just rely on my sat phone for offshore comms. Just the evaluation check from SEA is $125 (plus shipping). The work could be minor, but it could also be over $1000 (just a new mic is $250). If I have the work done I'll have a refurbished 20 year old radio which is missing some modern features (like DSC). The rep at SEA was great but of course couldn't give me a solid idea of the cost without the evaluation. I think it's an easy decision if the cost was over $1000 to not do it. But is it worth maybe $175 just to find out?

Morally I hate to throw something out that can be repaired. But in this case I need a reliable, usable, and serviceable comms system when I head out, and the old SEA box may not be it.

Would love to hear opinions here.

Thanks,

JR
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Old 13-10-2016, 10:57   #12
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

JR,
1) First off, if you haven't yet tried to see if the radio is "transmiiting" anything at all (by having another boat near you listen, and/or using a sensitive power/swr meter on a low-wattage scale), then do not yet spend any money at all on the 322...


2) Secondly, since you were able to talk to SEA, did they tell you how to transmit a steady carrier??
Usually by just pressing the mic button when in FSK (RTTY/SITOR) mode, or by shorting out an accessory pin to ground in CW mode???


I highly recommend doing both of these simply (and free) tests, first...before you spend any money!!!



3) Thirdly...
a) Good that the tuner, wiring, ground, etc. check out okay....but, what about your actual antenna connection, I assume it's okay as well??

b) Although, not likely to be the cause of "no transmit at all", you will need to have a better 12vdc connection for the radio....typically running the radio power thru the breaker panel, etc. causes problems with voltage drop on transmit, poor transmit performance, transmit RFI, increases receive RFI, etc...which is why powering the radio directly from the batteries or buss bar is preferred..

c) Surprised you didn't try to transmit in any other mode (see my #1 and #2 above)

d) If you do tests above in #1 and #2, and you DO get some transmit energy, then you'll probably be okay sending it in your repair....and if you get a decent amount of transmit in FSK or CW carrier, then it might just be the mic!!
But, if you don't get any transmit in test #1 and #2, in my opinion it would be a bug waste of money to send it to SEA for repair...
And, I'd recommend you buy a new radio...
(you may find someone willing to look at on a "time and materials" based repair and give 'em a budget....but, I'd still opt for a new radio!)



I hope this helps...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 13-10-2016, 12:28   #13
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

Hi John,

I should have mentioned that in addition to checking all connections (including antenna connection) I did try to transmit. Tried a few different WLO channels and spoke very loudly and slowly into the mic. No joy. I don't have a resource nearby to check with. That said, and more importantly there's a different symptom I didn't realize was happening. There is a bar graph on the screen that in receive mode simply shows where the volume is set, and in transmit shows how much power is going out. Unfortunately the bars are always fully lit up in either mode. Even if I turn the vol all the way down and hear nothing, the bars still show full vol. In transmit mode they don't change, still fully lit. So this alone shows a problem in the control unit. The "mode" button also does nothing, whereas it should let me change modes. I can't get to CW mode. With these very evident problems the unit needs repair, and of course at the same time all other issues would be sorted out, if worth it.

That said I agree with your assessment that a full repair isn't worth it on this old radio and a new one makes more sense.

If I go with a new radio I'll certainly rewire it for better power.

I appreciate the time and thought you've put into helping me here.

JR
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Old 13-10-2016, 12:41   #14
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

JR,
You're very welcome! (or as our friends from downunder would say, "no worries, mate!")

Yep, from your updated info it sounds like the radio is really "broken"....
And, my guess is the repair from SEA wouldn't be worth it (~ $500 - $1000, or more)...but, you might find someone willing to do it on a "time and materials"???



You originally mentioned "global cruising", and for that I highly recommend a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio (such as the M-802)....which you can sometimes find on the used market...
And, I'm loath to recommend buying another used radio / an older, non-DSC marine radio....but, if budget doesn't allow for an M-802 / AT-140 ($2700), then your best bet for dollars spent is probably going to be an excellent condition, used Icom M-700Pro (~ $500) and remote tuner, and a second EPIRB....

You're faced with a tough choice....and you already know my recommendation, but I do understand budgets!


Good luck and Fair winds...

John
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Old 13-10-2016, 13:45   #15
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Re: SSB radio receiving but not transmitting

I'll be shopping for a new one. I'll be hauling the boat out for the winter in a couple weeks and then have all winter to get it right.

Also, John, thanks for all your YouTube videos on radios. I've learned a ton from your very useful demonstrations. You're a great asset to the boating community. I was quite pleased when you joined this thread!

Best,

JR
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