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Old 11-06-2012, 06:05   #1
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Winlink connections

Hi hoping someone can give me some advice. I am getting ready to head offshore but cannot seem to get my pactor 3 to connect to any station. (unit just back from factory and fully tested and upgraded) I did this once before and did not have trouble but now cannot connect to any station. Everything seems to be working ok but I always get a no answer from station response. I know propagation has been off lately but but I have tried stations I can hear both sides of the transmission. I would really like to get this fixed and working before I go. I am using windows 7 with the latest ver of Airmail on a Icom m710. Voice comms are not a problem and I get good signal reports on the nets. Looking for some advice from those with better knowledge than myself.

Thanks
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:54   #2
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Re: Winlink connections

Couple things:

1. Verify AirMail's PMBO list is up to date. Ground stations come and go and the default list supplied with AirMail is not exactly up-to-date.
2. Are you testing from a marina slip, or on the hook? All my tests from a marina have NEVER worked.
3. Are you manually tuning the M710, or is AirMail controlling it (via COM port)? I highly recommend the latter. It helps remove a lot of guesswork when troubleshooting.
4. When AirMail is "calling" do you (personally) hear *any* faintest response over the air?
5. Too much RFI? Try turning off all onboard devices (refrigeration, generator, inverters, etc).

The 710 is a great radio. Problems most often RFI or bad antenna. But if you are getting out on the nets, antenna may be ok. My guess is RFI.

Got another computer you can try? Laptop? PCs can generate a lot of local RFI, especially if there is a physical wire connection between the PC, Radio and Pactor modem (I switched to wireless Bluetooth control of the modem for this very reason).

Sorry for all the questions, but hopefully this gives you some ideas on things to try.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:16   #3
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Re: Winlink connections

Hi Thanks for the response
1. I did check the list and the stations seem to be up to date and I can hear other stations connecting so I am pretty sure the frequencies are valid.
2. I have tried both marine and at anchor with no joy.
3. manual control, not sure I have time to try and figure out getting the software to control the radio at this point. Not even sure what cables and such I would need.
4. I cannot tell if there is any response. I will listen more carefully.
5. I have tried shutting things down, I just now got a usb to serial that works with laptop so going to try that some. so far no luck there either.

Any thoughts on a station and freq. to try from se nc? propagation has been all over the place lately from here I am mainly trying KQ4ET in Virginia as that is the station i managed to connect to awhile back
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:54   #4
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Re: Winlink connections

I am not familiar with stations on the east coast.
I am in the PNW and I can hit a number of stations from Alaska to San Diego, CA, depending on band and the time of day. I have an ICOM-706 and a backstay antenna with AH-4 autotuner.

If you have a spare COM port on your PC, you can connect it to the M710. You can configure AirMail to control the radio via this COM port. When setup, AirMail will auto dial the M710 to the correct frequency and mode given the PMBO station and frequency selected in the AirMail Terminal Window.

This is VERY handy if you are switching between a number of stations. I highly recommend it.


Here are some articles on the M710 Serial port interface

Icom Com Port control
W7PEA - Conclusion – DIY Icom M710 Remote Control Cable

These guys may have some cables for sale

http://www.farallon.us
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:04   #5
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Re: Winlink connections

Wayne, Are you sure you are tuned to the center frequencies? There is an Airmail Yahoo Group that might help, airmail2000 : Airmail and Winlink user group . Chuck
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:55   #6
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Re: Winlink connections

not sure what you mean tuned to the center freq?
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:48   #7
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Re: Winlink connections

When you open the Terminal window and pick a frequency to try and connect, you will see the offset frequency down in the bottom right hand corner. That is the frequency the radio needs to be tuned to. I believe it is minus 1.5. Chuck
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:59   #8
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Re: Winlink connections

Wayne, Here are a lot of FAQs that might help you. http://home.earthlink.net/~k7bfl/WL2K_FAQ.pdf . Chuck
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:07   #9
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Re: Winlink connections

Or try these...

Does the LSB/USB configuration of your radio match that of your TNC?
Are you on the correct EXACT center (not dial) frequency? The main frequency chart is listed as center frequency. In the lower right hand corner of the Terminal screen on the AirMail Terminal form, you will find the actual dial frequency. The dial frequency varies with modem type and other factors, while the center frequency is always the same, regardless of mode of operation or sideband used.
The TNC to computer baud rate should be set as high as possible, given the specs of your computer and TNC.

Over modulation of the transmit audio? You should barely see any ALC with full output to your transceiver. This can be set up in AirMail. Read the AirMail help files. Reduce the transmit audio gain level. Less is Better.
Turn off all processors, compressors and filters on both the receiver and transmitter.
Is your receive bandwidth filter wide enough for the mode used? Pactor 3 needs 2.4 KHz.; Pactor 2 needs 0.7 KHz; Pactor 1 needs 0.6 KHz.
Some radios do not perform well with both the microphone and the TNC connected
simultaneously to the radio. Disconnect the microphone.
K7BFL 5/14/2012 Page 38 of 95
Maybe you have an “RF or Audio” problem due to RF feedback into your system. A symptom on this problem would be a “better” signal, when using a very low power output. Use ferrite chokes and/or less power output. This feedback can also be reduced by Increasing the audio level from the TNC and decreasing the transmit audio gain at the transmitter.
If you are using a battery for power, is the battery voltage too low? In this case maybe a lower power output setting may work better.
Listen to your transmitted signal with another receiver. Does it sound like that of a public RMS Pactor station? See above.
Maybe you need a better antenna?
Install a better earth ground connection or counterpoise.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:14   #10
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Re: Winlink connections

We'll I'll be damned I never notice that center Freq thing I will try that first. Should that be both send and receive? I am guessing so.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:17   #11
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Re: Winlink connections

Also thinking about it should I be in usb or lsb mode?
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:21   #12
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Re: Winlink connections

yes it should be USB and be sure it is set that way in your options. Chuck
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Old 11-06-2012, 16:20   #13
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Re: Winlink connections

Many thanks Chuck I was just able to send a short email from my slip. The noise in this marina is awful so if I can do it from here it should work great at sea. The problem was the offset, once that was corrected life was good. Always the simple things to trip you up. Your help saved me much screwing around! I leave for Bermuda as soon as these lows clear out hopefully this weekend.

73s KJ4WXF
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Old 11-06-2012, 16:34   #14
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Re: Winlink connections

Excellent, Bermuda is one of my favorite destinations. Have a great trip. We never have good signals while we're in a marina. Once your out, it's amazing how things clear up. Glad it all worked out and stay safe. Drop us a line and let us all know you arrived. Chuck
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