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Old 18-04-2020, 20:51   #16
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

So far haven't been able to pick up the time signals that Brian suggested/hoped, but thanks for the channel guides on pdf. They clear up some of the mystery.

I do have my ham ticket (VA7PWP), but have really not put it to use and don't have any equipment. This radio was a bit of a flyer, and came with a Pactor and a good price. I was looking for a ham radio, but my wife was keen because it might be something she can use without getting a ham ticket, or at least use when I'm not around. Still watching for a small ham radio.

I know a few hams through a local club where I took my test, so will put out a query to borrow a SWR meter once social distancing is lifted. Also will send an email to a few sailors we know at other marinas in Victoria, see who has a radio and try to set up a possible chat time.

Matt, is that what you did with your 802?

John, not getting a whisper from any of the suggested channels, just noise of different sorts. Not sure where the "hi power" setting is, though perhaps my radio did not come with one. I did whistle across the mic and the power LED did jump a ways, ditto when keying in FSK mode.

My wife is making a cookies so radio explorations must cease for the day.
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Old 18-04-2020, 22:16   #17
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

Okay, sounds like you made some great progress!

I'm serious, you did great!

1) Your radio transmits! (although it would be great if you included how many of the segments illuminated when whistling and in FSK transmit, but I'm assuming quite a few?)

And, also assuming you did this on several channels / bands? (assuming you did, this shows the tuner is working too!)

So, no need for you to buy an SWR meter....although having an experienced ham on-board who can listen to the noises you have would be great! (and if he has a power/swr meter, coax jumper, and dummy load, that would be okay, but probably not necessary....so, if getting a ham buddy over is easier if all you ask him ti do is listen, then that's okay...)




2) As for only hearing noises of various sorts, that is not surprising! If you cannot hear WWV or WWVH, nor NMC (USCG), but hear lots of noises, can you look and see how many segments of your M-710's S-meter display are illuminated with these noises, on a few different channels / bands....and let us know....(any more than two segments is not good / too much noise....but this depends on what channel / frequency / band, so please provide that info for us)

I suspect that you, your boat, and your marina are filled with RFI generating devices....and these are all causing your inability to hear even strong signals!

Fyi, I do have a video showing some noises and discussing some mitigation....have a look at video #5 (and #4) in this playlist...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y




3) FYI, please be aware that neither these noises, nor being in a marina / at a dock, will prevent you from transmitting well....no matter what "everyone" says, this will not adversely effect your transmit signal! (heck, even the masts of other sailboats have little effect....yes, I know that's not what "everyone" else will tell you....but, it is a fact nonetheless...)

The problem is, if you can't hear anything / anyone, how do you know if you're transmitter is working well? And, therefore many assume it isn't. But, in most cases the transmitter is working fine....you just can't hear anything!




4) I understand wanting to see the M-710 work....and I actually think yours IS working!

I assume you have the manual, or downloaded from the link I posted?

Also, please know that using the M-710 on the ham bands (except for occasional nets) is a pain in the butt! (be sure to read the CCA pdf that I linked to)


Further, if you want a radio that you both can use, easily? Make it a MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio...hands down, you don't get any easier HF comms than DSC (except for military ALE)....of course no ham radio will do that, so you need a marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio, like the M-802...

And, if you want a good marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio, that works well on the ham bands, that is easy-peasy an M-802!


If you want details on various ham radios, along with their reliabilities and quirks, as well as their suitability for ham use on-board....I made an entire list, with all those details!
Have a look at item #5 in this post:
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post2961064





5) As for the cookies? Seriously? That's not fair....I'm alone (social distancing on shore) and you didn't even offer me a cookie? And, I went through all the trouble of trying to help, and I don't get a cookie?

Oh well, maybe if I wasn't an entire continent away?


Fair winds....and proceed when you have the time (after your cookie break)!

John


P.S. I know those stickies have a LOT of stuff in them and that can make weeding thru 'em to find the detailed answer you need, but if you do an "advanced search" with a few keywords and ka4wja as the user name, you'll find the posts easier, so then all you need to do is scroll thru until you see your keywords in bold red type...
(yeah, I know this sounds a bit arrogant....but, I'm just trying to help you all find the info you need... )
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Old 19-04-2020, 06:59   #18
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

Just an add-on to John's recommendation to scan the frequencies for noise levels. Make sure you press the "TUNE" button that is between the two main dials. This way the antenna/tuner will be tuned to that frequency. Might be a reason you did not hear WWV (time signal). If you can't tune on the frequency, then select the channel that is the closest to that frequency.

The purpose is to get the antenna/tuner combination as close to resonant as possible on your working frequency. This gives you the best chance to hearing signals. The farther you move away from that resonance the more the signals will be attenuated.

If all you hear is noise does the noise sound like it has a pattern? Maybe a noise like a motorboat, or maybe a noise like a running car? If so these are man made and may very will be local to your boat. Fridge's, solar controller, inverters, all these make tremendous amounts of RFI (noise). So you might want to turn those off.

One more thought, if you have a spare, small battery, like a motorcycle battery, you can shut down your boat and connect the radio to just that battery and listen. If your noise goes away then you need to search for the source. Just an idea if possible.
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Old 19-04-2020, 07:43   #19
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

John,

Thanks for the clarifications and the references. The CCA document looks like it will be a good start for me.

Jack
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Old 19-04-2020, 18:28   #20
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

John,

1) Basically every channel and mode I tried, except CW, was able to get lots of segments, almost always eight, when a blew across the mic. I'm a terrible whistler. FSK got eight as well,

Talked to another boat a few docks over on 12c and 6b. They said I was transmitting fine. Strange thing is on 12c the other crew came in clear when they began speaking, then faded or was overwhelmed by noise after a few seconds. Then we went to 6b and he was clear. I asked what he thought was the problem, but he just figured it was the way he was talking in the mic. He rarely uses his SSB for voice, just data (amazing voyagers in their 70s, have done the northwest passage, last year sailed to Australia non-stop, then to Chile non-stop, then a big loop up to Victoria, again non-stop), so thought he was speaking too far away from the mic.

2) My reception was much better on 6b. Not as much radio noise. Then again the wiring is all now exposed and crudely clamped together with no ferrites, etc. so noise is to be expected, I guess. Funny, when transmitting on some channels or modes, my windlass breaker light came on or my propane system turned off. We have lots of LEDs which shudder/flicker when transmitting or make a lot of radio noise when turned on.

Did a little window shopping online for SWR meters so glad that's not necessary.

OOPS, neglected to keep track of which channels or modes had segments displaying while receiving, a few had as many as four. Will make note when my mate again lets me spread wiring across her galley.

Anyway, will check out your videos that you recommend.

4) Have downloaded the manual and will load it on a tablet to read. Will also read the CCA pdf. Have also joined the M710 Yahoo group which has tuner programs that you can use with the M710 that make it able to tune like a ham radio. No, I don't know how it works, but members say it turns a laptop and a M710 into a ham radio.

I like the idea of the M802, but suspect my much much better half would be happy with the M710 and I would maybe use it for data, GRIBS, maybe email. I would like a ham radio, so maybe something like a used IC-718 which would be much cheaper than dumping what I now have for an M802.

5) Not a cookie aficionado, but was assured that they were amazing.
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Old 19-04-2020, 18:47   #21
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

Brian,

Have been pressing the tune button, but wondered if I should be. Every time I change a channel, after a few seconds it "tunes". Thought it might be redundant or make the tuner work too hard to press it again.

The noise is different on different channels, often with a pattern. Also it clears up pretty good when I transmit to another boat (in my reply above to John I discuss being in radio contact with a boat nearby), though that depends on the channel. Electrical appliances and lights definitely make a difference.

Don't have a spare battery, but the experiment does sound interesting.
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Old 20-04-2020, 00:27   #22
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

foojin, the easiest way to check the noise issue is to leave the marina and go anchor somewhere distant from shore based noise sources. I suppose that you may be under some lockdown rules and getting away is difficult... but that is how you will be operating in anger: away from the marina! And marinas are terrible noise generators... evil places for hams!

Keep trying... it really sounds like your gear is OK and your QTH isn't!

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Old 20-04-2020, 11:37   #23
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

foojin,

This is all great news! Most importantly, you yourself have verified that your M-710 transmits and receives, and that your AT-130 tuner is working as well!!

As usual, Jim is giving you some quick and concise advice....get away from the dock!
And, I'm also giving you direct advice, disconnect electrical power from everything on-board, except for your M-710/AT-130, and then do these tests (away from the dock, at anchor is best, of course!)

But, if you don't mind, I'll delve a little deeper? (using the bits of info you provide)


I'll be brief here, and just hit the highlights...c)

Quote:
Originally Posted by foojin View Post
John,

1) Basically every channel and mode I tried, except CW, was able to get lots of segments, almost always eight, when a blew across the mic. I'm a terrible whistler. FSK got eight as well,
Fyi, this shows three important things:
a) Your M-710 transmitter is working fine...(although we can't be sure that everything is perfect, I suspect all is well)
b) Your AT-130 tuner is working fine...
c) Your cables connecting the M-710 and AT-130 are working fine...


Talked to another boat a few docks over on 12c and 6b. They said I was transmitting fine.
This is great!
This further confirms that the radio is transmitting AND receiving just fine!!

Strange thing is on 12c the other crew came in clear when they began speaking, then faded or was overwhelmed by noise after a few seconds. Then we went to 6b and he was clear.
This is good info that you made contact, and were able to make clear contact on 6b...
But, the problem and noise, etc., could be due to a variety of factors, but I suspect receive RFI (noise) caused this...and when I factor in another small piece of info
Quote:
Originally Posted by foojin View Post
The noise is different on different channels, often with a pattern. Also it clears up pretty good when I transmit to another boat (in my reply above to John I discuss being in radio contact with a boat nearby), though that depends on the channel.

With this further info, I'm wondering if you have a battery charger (or charger/inverter) running???
You see as you transmit, you're drawing a decent amount of current, drawing off a bit of surface charge from a battery bank, and thereby possibly triggering a battery charger to start charging stronger, and/or even just an increase in load on the charger can change its RFI output, etc...
Of course, it could be just about anything in close proximity (within 1/2-mile) of your boat, but please understand I'm grasping at straws here, 'cuz I have such tiny amounts of info from you, to work with.


I asked what he thought was the problem, but he just figured it was the way he was talking in the mic. He rarely uses his SSB for voice, just data
This is certainly a possibility, and if you both were at anchor / away from shore, then I'd accept is assumption 100%...and even in your present location, he may be correct...(it's a shame that more sailors don't use their radios for voice comms, but that's a whole 'nother issue)
But, without knowing exactly what "then faded or was overwhelmed by noise"...I still suspect your primary issue here is RFI....much of it caused by all the noise generated by cheap / imported devices (with faked-reports / false certifications) that proliferate our lives these days...of course some RFI does come from legit, certified devices (that are just too close to our antennas!)....


(amazing voyagers in their 70s, have done the northwest passage, last year sailed to Australia non-stop, then to Chile non-stop, then a big loop up to Victoria, again non-stop),
How awesome!
They sound like Jim and Ann Cate....or my parents...

so thought he was speaking too far away from the mic.


2) My reception was much better on 6b. Not as much radio noise. Then again the wiring is all now exposed and crudely clamped together with no ferrites, etc. so noise is to be expected, I guess.
Depending on what "wiring" is exposed and crudely clamped together, if you're talking about your M-710 and AT-130 wiring (except for an antenna ground) it's actually unlikely that this has much to do with your receive noise / receive RFI...(although this can make transmit RFI significant!)
Please note here....a lack of antenna ground (a direct sea water antenna ground) can increase both transmit and receive RFI, but usually effects transmit RFI most...


Funny, when transmitting on some channels or modes, my windlass breaker light came on or my propane system turned off. We have lots of LEDs which shudder/flicker when transmitting
This is transmit RFI (your transmitter causing interference to other devices)....and I've covered this in detail in other threads and the stickies, so won't bother to delve deep here...but...
---- when you get things permanently installed things should be better.
---- when you attach an antenna ground (a low-impedance direct sea water ground connection for the AT-130 tuner), things should be much better!
---- when you add a line isolator on the coax line (at the tuner end), things should be much better...
----
After those have been accomplished, then tracking down any remaining transmit RFI issues is usually pretty easy, and many times just a matter of moving some wiring of the other systems/devices, and/or adding ferrites onto those wires...


lots of LEDs which shudder/flicker when transmitting or make a lot of radio noise when turned on.
Ah, modern life!
Well, well-designed / well-made LED lights (that are in fact tested/certified) do not do this....but they cost $$$....so, many have never seen/used them...(I've had good luck with "sensi-bulbs" LED's and Philips 12v LED's, but they're not cheap!)
Btw, it's not technically the LED's themselves, but rather the cheap voltage regulators that are used in the LED assemblies / fixtures...

Something important here...
Please know that this same issue (LED RFI) is plaguing many with masthead LED tri-color lights!! Some are so bad that they cause RFI up thru the VHF radio spectrum!!
This is such an issue that the USCG has issued a sever warning that many of these devices do not meet USCG (nor FCC) standards and can cause your VHF radio to become almost dead to receiving....a serious safety hazard!
This is one reason why legit USCG (and FCC) approved masthead tri-color lights are so expensive...
[fyi, my OGM masthead tri-color / anchor combo produces NO RFI at all!!]



Did a little window shopping online for SWR meters so glad that's not necessary.
Not necessary for you to do these tests, and verify that all is working well...
But, a nice "cross-needle" power/swr meter is nice to have...
But, at ~ $100 - $150, my recommendation is to spend these funds on some copper strapping (~ < $50) and a line isolator (~$50 - $75)...these will last decades, and now that you understand the M-710's metering, you can use you own brain to assess how things are working!!


OOPS, neglected to keep track of which channels or modes had segments displaying while receiving, a few had as many as four.
Oh boy, this is bad!
This is why you need to anchor out / get away from the dock!

And, when doing these tests, remove power from EVERYTHING on-board, except the M-710....this is actually easy-peasy for most, as all you need to do is anchor out securely in the daytime, and switch off all your battery switches, including any engine/start battery switch, also make sure you switch off / disconnect your solar charge controllers, wind gen, etc...then go around the boat, and check if anything is working / lit up, etc....this means remove batteries from any clocks, toys, etc., as well...
Then turn on your M-710 (since it is wired direct to your house battery bank, it will run even when everything else has no power)

Disconnecting power from everything, using the radio / verifying that it is working well, will probably take you an hour at most....
But, figuring out what devices on-board cause RFI usually takes less time than that, as you switch on and use one thing at a time, and logging what types of noise and at what level on various channels, each one of your devices generates!


Will make note when my mate again lets me spread wiring across her galley.
You shouldn't need to do this??


Anyway, will check out your videos that you recommend.
Go for it!
Fyi, as long as they are for your personal use you can download 'em / store on your computer, and play 'em even when away from internet connectivity...



4) Have downloaded the manual and will load it on a tablet to read. Will also read the CCA pdf. Have also joined the M710 Yahoo group which has tuner programs that you can use with the M710 that make it able to tune like a ham radio. No, I don't know how it works, but members say it turns a laptop and a M710 into a ham radio.
Yes, there are a few software packages that give versatility to radios that weren't designed with it....(I have a local ham friend who does tech support for HRD, and he's on the phone / computer all day long, helping other hams figure out all the intricacies of these programs)
If you (or your better half) are into computers / IT, etc....then go for it.
But, if you looking for an easy-to-use ham radio, I'd be skeptical of a laptop and an M-710 being what you really want...

It's tough to give advice to someone I don't know...so, forgive my directness...
If it were me, I'd spend a few hours testing / verifying your M-710 / AT-130, take some nice pics of it working, etc...then sell it!
You can get $400 or so for just the M-710...you could sell the AT-130 for about $200, but I'd keep it...
Save the $400, and budget for a used M-802....
With an M-802 you get a modern Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone AND a decently-modern IF-DSP ham radio, all in one box!! (fyi, the M-802 in ham radio operations is similar to the IC-756ProIII)


I like the idea of the M802, but suspect my much much better half would be happy with the M710 and I would maybe use it for data, GRIBS, maybe email.
Assume you already have a PACTOR modem?
But, fyi, please understand that if your desire is for weather (you mentioned GRIB's), you don't need a PACTOR modem (nor any modem) at all!

Further, please remember that GRIB charts are just the raw computer model data (from one model, as most sailors don't have the meteorological expertise to interpret/compare multiple models), and has no human input at all....versus a synoptic weather chart (from WeFax) drawn by an experienced maritime meteorologist using their years/decades of expertise, and they are taking into account as many as 6 to 12 different computer models (usually 6 to 8), balloon data, ship data. buoy data, satellite data, aircraft data, etc., as well as their knowledge of historical info, etc...

Just saying, I've never understood why some sailors spend $1000 to $2000 on a modem to get inferior weather forecasts, when they can get the "gold standard" for free?? Oh well..

Now, here, I assume you have some need (other than weather forecasts) for email connectivity when away from cellular / wi-fi...so no worries....guess I was just in the mood to ramble.


I would like a ham radio, so maybe something like a used IC-718
Please do not buy a IC-718....it's not a good choice at all....your M-710 is a much better radio!
Now, if you want a ham rig, and need a recommend, I posted a very extensive list in a recent post in one of those stickies, so please have a look...but, 'til then...
If want a quick recommend, have a look at the IC-746Pro....it's a nice radio for the price, has a reputation of long life, decent IF-DSP, etc...
MUCH better than the IC-718!

which would be much cheaper than dumping what I now have for an M802.
I understand being on a budget, no worries!

Some quick advice....before you go any further, determine exact what you "need" on-board (probably reliable comms, safety comms, reliable weather forecasts, but probably not a PACTOR modem)?, versus what you "want" (all the "needs" plus a ham radio?)....

Look carefully, and make your own decisions...
Quote:
Originally Posted by foojin View Post
Brian,

Have been pressing the tune button, but wondered if I should be. Every time I change a channel, after a few seconds it "tunes".
This is the correct procedure when receiving, as it tunes the tuner for the freq that you wish to receive (and/or transmit) on....although having the antenna tuned for receiving is not necessary (it can be "THRU" / bypassed), what is important is that the antenna is not tuned to another freq a significant ways away, as this can severely reduce your receive signal strength (not always a bad thing, and can be a good thing, but not with the tuner...LOL)
So, what you're doing IS the proper procedure...

Fyi, in the M-710's Set Mode, you can select "auto-tune" which allows the tuner to activate/tune as you press the microphone Push-To-Talk button....(you might already have this enabled?)...this makes operation easier, as you can select channel then just click the mic for a sec and you're good-to-go!
Please read the M-710 manual...


Thought it might be redundant or make the tuner work too hard to press it again.
No worries about the tuner working too hard... LOL it will be fine...
You're doing it correctly!


The noise is different on different channels, often with a pattern. Also it clears up pretty good when I transmit to another boat (in my reply above to John I discuss being in radio contact with a boat nearby), though that depends on the channel.
As I wrote above, this is understandable....and this (along with some other words of yours) does point to you possibly having a battery charger or inverter/charger running??
(see my comments / recommends above)


Electrical appliances and lights definitely make a difference.
Yes, in your situation, it seems they do...
But, please be aware that they shouldn't!! (see my comments / recommends above)


Don't have a spare battery, but the experiment does sound interesting.
There is no need to run your radio off a spare battery....so, don't worry about that...

Fyi, this is common recommend for those hams on shore, 99.9999% of whom run their radios from AC power supplies, from AC Mains / shore power, and when tracking down their RFI issues, they shut off all AC Mains power to their house and then need to run their HF radio....you already have a 12vdc battery bank to run the radio from....all you need to do is wire the radio properly (directly to the battery bank, not thru breaker panel, nor distribution panel, nor buss bar), and disconnect everything else from power...(see my details above).
I hope this helps...gotta go.

John
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Old 20-04-2020, 12:24   #24
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

Thats good news! I have a similar set up: a 710-RT with AT130 tuner. As mentioned, its not the most convenient rig if you are really into HAM (Im not), but its fine for routine marine use.

Its also a very reliable rig. My RT is over 20 years old and has never had any issues.
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Old 20-04-2020, 16:13   #25
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Re: Testing an IC-M710 to see if it works

Use of the TUNE button is controlled by an Option in the SETUP menus. IIRC, the default for Autotune is OFF. That means you need to push the TUNE button when you change frequencies. If you set Autotune to ON, the radio should tune automatically when you first press the Mike button on a new frequency.
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