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Old 24-10-2013, 09:53   #1
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SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

VALIS will be running a marine-band SSB test and practice exercise this coming Sunday, Oct 27. Starting at 12:00 Noon PDT I will be working a local (Seattle) boat, and I anticipate that we will be using simplex channels 4A and/or 6A (here is a good list of the SSB channels: http://www.docksideradio.com/PDF%20Files/HF%20SSB%20Simplex%20Channels.pdf)

Then I will work my way up the spectrum:
12:00 PDT: channels 4A (4.146 MHz) and 6A (6.224 MHz)
12:30 PDT : channel 6A (6.224 MHz)
12:45 PDT : channel 8A (8.294 MHz)
13:00 PDT : channel 12A (12.353 MHz)
13:15 PDT : channel 16A (16.528 MHz)
13:30 PDT : channel 18A (18.825 MHz)

VALIS will be in Friday Harbor, WA (lat 48deg, 30min N, lon 123deg 00min W), near Seattle. Our call sign is WDB2898. Typically the lower frequencies will be useful for nearby stations, and the higher frequencies will work for more distant contacts. I will also be monitoring VHF #68.

Use this test an an opportunity to check out your radio gear. Even if it worked last year, we all know what salt air does to electronics! Please do join in on the air, it helps if we have multiple stations transmitting and receiving. I will try to keep it running smoothly, but if you can't hear me go ahead and jump in. If you can, keep a log of signal reports for stations heard and share that here after the test. This helps those stations know if their signal is clean, or if they have a problem. I will post my radio log here.

If you are new to SSB and boat communications technology, you might be interested in a presentation I made to the Singlehanded Sailing Society in 2012: Comms Presentation

I will also probably be running one or two more SSB radio Test Nets leading up the the 2013 Pacific Cup race. These nets should have designated SSB net control stations up and down the west coast (from Seattle to San Diego). I will announce these here when they are scheduled.

I look forward to hearing you on the radio!
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Old 24-10-2013, 14:35   #2
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Paul,
Sounds great - I'm in S. California (1160 miles from Seattle), I'll look to participate on 8A,12A and 16A Sunday. Thanks for coordinating this.
Don
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Old 26-10-2013, 14:11   #3
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Bump. The SSB Test is happening tomorrow, Sunday Oct 27.
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Old 26-10-2013, 16:44   #4
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Paul - I will be there and ready to go.
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Old 27-10-2013, 10:21   #5
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

One last bump -- today at Noon PDT!
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Old 27-10-2013, 16:29   #6
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

The test net was almost a washout. S/V Rapture could just barely hear me on 4A, and not at all on any other frequency. I could never hear him, and he only heard me once. This was over a distance of about 70 miles.

Capt. Don (in Long Beach, CA -- about 900 miles) and I had a weak contact on channel 16A. His signal was good quality, but my local noise level was pretty high.

So why couldn't Rapture and VALIS communicate? I think it was due to high noise levels and poor propagation. We were both in our slips, which never helps. I think the marina noise level is higher here in Friday Harbor than I have been used to in San Francisco. There are more boats connected to shore power here, and that can make a big difference. We're going to try again from quieter locations. I will also try to monitor Rapture from my home, where I have several receivers, good antennas, and a quiet location.
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Old 27-10-2013, 17:15   #7
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Paul,
Thanks for coordinating the radio check test earlier. I was pleased that we connected on 16A, though I didn't hear you on the other frequencies. Due to the distance, I didn't expect to hear you on 4A, 6A, or 8A. Perhaps we should try this again early morning or late afternoon next time?
Don
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Old 27-10-2013, 17:58   #8
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I'm not surprised if you were in your slips
Noise level on 40m in my slip is S5+
Noise level anchored 200m away is S1

Marinas just have too much noise for HF radio in most cases, especially with marine rigs with limited filters, preamps, and antenna options

Good luck next time
Scott
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Old 27-10-2013, 18:23   #9
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

It was a great idea. For tests like this, a conference call by phone or a Skype conference gives a great back channel.

dave
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Old 27-10-2013, 18:44   #10
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

We were not able to participate, our ham is not set up for SSB. We are looking for a used ssb so hope you do this again.( and we will be ready next time )
Thanks
Erika
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Old 27-10-2013, 18:55   #11
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Berg View Post
I'm not surprised if you were in your slips
Noise level on 40m in my slip is S5+
Noise level anchored 200m away is S1

Marinas just have too much noise for HF radio in most cases, especially with marine rigs with limited filters, preamps, and antenna options

Good luck next time
Scott
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I believe you're right about the noise, especially at the lower frequencies. I guess my previous slip in San Francisco was less noisy than is typical.

I will be running the radio check nets this spring leading up to the Pacific Cup (and Vic-Maui and Singlehanded Transpac) races. For those I will definitely be out on the water.

For what its worth, from my house I was able to hear S/V Rapture on 4A, 6A, and 8A. At home I've got a quiet location, a big antenna, and my ham gear. Also, it was later in the day, which might have helped.
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Old 27-10-2013, 19:01   #12
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Paul - thank you for all of your help!

We were eventually able to connect. Paul called me later in the day when he was at home with his test rig. I was still tied up (it's blowing like snot here today, finally!) and Paul had no way to transmit to me. Paul heard nothing on 4A but saw my signal on the monitor, heard me faintly on 6A, and heard loud and clear on 8A. So I am feeling much better about my rig than I was this morning. We are going to test again on another day when the wind calms a bit and it is a bit safer to leave the harbor.

Thank you Paul!
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Old 28-10-2013, 10:05   #13
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Re: SSB Test / Practice Net - Sunday Oct 27

Paul,
Thanks for the valiant effort..

1) But you couldn't have picked a worse time over the past year or so...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
The test net was almost a washout. S/V Rapture could just barely hear me on 4A, and not at all on any other frequency. I could never hear him, and he only heard me once. This was over a distance of about 70 miles.
Yesterday's HF propagation was truly horrible with R3 grade radio black-outs...
Quote:
Issued: 2013 Oct 28 1205 UTC
# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center

Space weather for the past 24 hours has been strong.
Radio blackouts reaching the R3 level occurred.
I've been busy at the hospital taking care of family (sitting here right now, actually), but should you wish to do this again next weekend, etc. let me know....(I may be available)



2) As for the especially disappointing results on 4, 6, and 8mhz from your boat (at midday) and better results from your house (in late afternoon)...
This is very understandable and normal...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
So why couldn't Rapture and VALIS communicate? I think it was due to high noise levels and poor propagation. We were both in our slips, which never helps. I think the marina noise level is higher here in Friday Harbor than I have been used to in San Francisco. There are more boats connected to shore power here, and that can make a big difference. We're going to try again from quieter locations. I will also try to monitor Rapture from my home, where I have several receivers, good antennas, and a quiet location.

For what its worth, from my house I was able to hear S/V Rapture on 4A, 6A, and 8A. At home I've got a quiet location, a big antenna, and my ham gear. Also, it was later in the day, which might have helped.
a) D-layer absorption is highest when the sun is the highest (at the path mid-point)....and drops off quite a bit in late afternoon this time of year...
(the difference here can be amazing...as much as 20 - 30db...)
b) And, if you were using horizontal antennas at home, this alone could be a "make-or-break" situation!!!
As the "mode" of communication that you'd be using is Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS), and since horizontal antennas of 1/4 wave height or below (and even as high as 3/8-wave) have the maximum radiation straight-up, they are perfect for NVIS comms....and vertical antennas, having a null straight-up are horrible NVIS antennas...
(the difference here between these two antenna systems can be as much as 30 db or more..)



c) Further, in addition to the high noise levels in marinas, etc. this does back up what I (and countless others) have been saying for years....use the highest freqs that will allow comms for the path/distance you have....this typically gives the strongest signals and lowest noise levels...


For those interested in an explanation of how-to-choose the right freqs, etc. (mainly targeted at those without HF radio experience, but useful to all!!)
Please have a look!!
SSCA Forum • View topic - HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..
SSCA Forum • View topic - Tips for using an HF-SSB Radio (mostly for newcomers)


Fair winds to all....(maybe you should try it again when propagation isn't the worst it's been in a year!!)

John
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