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Old 05-08-2009, 12:32   #1
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SSB Receiver Advice / Degen 1103

I just bought one of those Degen 1103 radios so we can check weather reports next year in the Bahamas. I also plan to connect it to our laptop and use SeaTTY or similar to receive weather faxes. . . .

So far in my two days of checking, I can't pick up any of the Bahamas weather reports listed in the Explorer guides. I'm using this from my home in upstate NY, so I wasn't sure if I should expect the signals to propagate to me here . . . but surely Herb Hilgenberg's report originating in Ontario should be clear? Unless I'm in his skip zone. . . .

I'm a newbie at this, so if anyone has any insights into what I can do to pick up these stations, I'd appreciate it. Doesn't matter if they can't be received here, just so long as I can get them reliably once we're in the Bahamas. If anyone else has used a Degen 1103 successfully there, that's all I need to hear. I'm sure the radio is functioning okay, as it pulls in many many FM and AM stations that we don't get on our old house receiver, and it also picks up a smattering of various SW broadcasts.

Here are the sources I've tried to pick up
0630 EST SSB on 4045 Caribbean Weather Center
0700 EST SSB on 4003 BASRA Weather Net
0720 EST LSB on 7096 HAM Weather Net
0900 EST SSB on 6227 Caribbean Weather Center
1530 EST SSB on 12359 Herb Hilgenberg
(His website says 2000 UTC, so I also tuned in at 2:00 EDT)
(I've tried most of these at both the EST and EDT times, just in case.)

Also tried 0745 7268 Waterway Net
And tried to get the USCG weather broadcasts out of Portsmouth VA on 4428.7 and 6506.4.

Also -- any tips on using the Degen 1103? To get these stations I've been manually punching in the numeric, hitting "Band +" then "SSB" then fiddling up and down with the fine tuning. Am I doing anything wrong?

And I've been wondering -- I notice certain stations identified as LSB or USB. Is Upper Sideband simply the numeric frequency > SSB > fine tuning upward? And is Lower Sideband the numeric > SSB > fine tuning lower?

I've tried laying out the long wire antenna flat on the ground, and strung up horizontally off the ground. I don't seem to get any better reception with the long antenna than I do with the built-in telescoping antenna. Do I need to get the long antenna vertical? That can be done on the boat, but not as easily here at home. . . .

Also -- any recommendations for other PC weatherfax programs like SeaTTY?

Sorry for so many questions, and thanks in advance for any advice!


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Old 05-08-2009, 13:10   #2
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Be patient. As you learn the radio, and listen over time, you'll begin to hear things.

Propagation has been pretty lousy for a long time (bottom of the 11-year sunspot cycle), but there are occasional good days like today.

Try to limit your listening to just a few frequencies where you can learn about propagation.

The Waterway Net is a good place to begin. It begins with the weather at 0745 on 7268 lower sideband (LSB). Usually, Carolyn C6AGG in Nassau reads the Bahamas weather, but she's got a very weak signal. After a few minutes, another station will come on and read the offshore weather. This takes up time until about 0800. Whether you can copy the weather or not depends on propagation conditions, and the location of the station reading the weather. After that, the Net takes general traffic. Beginning at 0815, it takes position reports from boats. You'll hear boats all the way from New Brunswick Canada to the Caribbean.

During the day, try the Maritime Mobile net on 14300 USB. It runs from about noon to about 5PM. Reception will vary greatly from day-to-day, and even from hour-to-hour, as propagation conditions vary.

Next, try the Cruizheimer's Net. 8152 USB beginning at 0830, just after the Waterway Net closes. Again, you should hear boats checking in from Maine to Florida, the Bahamas, and beyond.

Finally, try to catch the USCG weather broadcasts from Norfolk VA. They broadcast the High Seas weather and the Offshore weather several times a day on several different frequencies. The schedule is on the Web.

Get your antenna as high as you can. It doesn't have to be horizontal. One end tied to an upper window or chimney will help. Better, get one end up in a tree, and as much in the clear as you can.

USB and LSB: Single-sideband signals can be either Upper Sideband or Lower Sideband. Almost all signals except ham transmissions on the 40m and 80m bands are USB. What does this mean? There's a carrier signal which is transmitted on the designated frequency, like 7268 kHz. Intelligence (voice) is overlaid on this carrier, either above it (USB) or below it (LSB). The carrier itself is suppressed. That's why SSB is properly called Single Sideband Suppressed Carrier. Your radio likely has a switch so you can listen either to USB or LSB signals.

In theory, if there were two stations on the same frequency, e.g., 7268 kHz, one transmitting on the lower sideband (LSB) and the other on the upper sideband (USB), you could listen to either one perfectly intelligibly by switching from LSB to USB, all while leaving the dial on 7268.

Hope this helps...gotta run...wife needs a lift from the Metro :-)


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Old 05-08-2009, 21:49   #3
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Try substracting 1.5 to 1.7 KHz from the listed carrier frequency for USB, add the same for LSB.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:56   #4
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This may be of use
I use jvcomm JVComm32 - FAX SSTV RTTY SYNOP NAVTEX program
Good luck, I“ve found at sea reception is much better than in any harbour.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:25   #5
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Success! I tuned in to the Waterway Net on 7268 this morning and couldn't make out anything in the first 5 minutes, but once Joe came on from North Carolina, re-reading the offshore forecast, I got him loud and clear. I noticed that unplugging the wire antenna DID make a difference once I had a signal.

I'll keep at this, and thanks for the advice about subtracting/adding for USB and LSB.

Next up -- weather faxes. . . . I just need to get the cable to connect my radio and my computer. I'll give JVCom32 a try.
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Old 15-12-2009, 17:47   #6
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Did you ever get the fax via soundcard bit going?
sv Libertalia
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Old 15-12-2009, 17:56   #7
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Yes I did.

I got the mono-mono audio cable on EBay for about $4.

My radio reception was spotty, but JV Comm definitely works. I got to the point where I could see a weather map on the laptop screen. I'm hoping that once I'm out on the water reception will improve. I may need a better antenna.

(I also need to get better at reading weather maps, but that's another story. . . .)
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:12   #8
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WeatherFax / RadioFax

On the subject of weather reception, I'm still quite new to all this, but I've been 'playing' with quite a few pieces of software. WXSat is a great piece of freeware but is a pig to set-up properly, results are quite average with moderate/strong signals. I have also tried WeatherFax 2000 which copes very well even with bad signals and is easy to setup the skew for the image, but is expensive to register! There is also SeaTTY which seems to produce good results again with moderate/strong signals.

I use a NASA Target reciever which is unfortunatly on its last legs, hence why I was given it to experiment with!

As for the USB/LSB advice you should be able tune either about 1.5-2.0Khz up or down for the correct mode of sideband.

I'm looking at getting one of these budget priced SSB/FM/AM recievers of a certain popular auction site!
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Old 13-01-2010, 00:35   #9
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Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
I noticed that unplugging the wire antenna DID make a difference once I had a signal.
Follow bill's advice regarding getting the external antenna as high as possible and away from your dwelling.
Wasn't quite clear if unplugging the "wire" antenna improved or reduced the reception signal? Another test you might to try is to extend the telescopic antenna an tune the radio to a weak station - Then, if the set is battery operated take a walk and find a direction where the signal comes in strongest.

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