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Thread: SSB Radio Check

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    51

    Default SSB Radio Check

    Would you like to test your marine SSB? While VALIS is sailing from Friday Harbor Washington to San Francisco to prepare for the Pacific Cup we will be conducting a twice-daily SSB radio net. All boats are welcome to participate, especially those in the Pacific Cup, Singlehanded Transpac and Vic-Maui races. Here is the schedule, starting on or around June 2:

    0800 PDT : SSB Channel 4A (4146 KHz USB)
    0810 PDT : SSB Channel 8A (8294 KHz USB)

    2000 PDT : 4A
    2010 PDT : 8A

    At the start of the net VALIS will identify on 4A (our callsign is WDB2898), and see if anyone is on the frequency. We will say hello and give signal reports. Ten minutes later we will switch to channel 8A, identify ourselves, and listen for anybody trying to contact us. We will bounce back and forth between 4A and 8A as needed. Depending on our position, on yours, and the propagation, one frequency may be better than the other.

    It is very likely that in addition to VALIS there will be other boats participating as net control stations. This will be a great opportunity to test your radio system under real-world conditions. If you can't hear VALIS, do try to contact any other boats on the frequency. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves!

    We are planning to start sailing south on June 1, but we will obviously wait if conditions are unfavorable. I expect to be on the water 5-10 days, and will run the Net until we arrive in San Francisco. You will be able to monitor our progress (or lack of same) on the VALIS blog: http://sailvalis.com/wordpress_1/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    119

    Default

    Thank you Paul, we will be 4 days behind you and will try to bang the pipes at appropriate times

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    193

    Default

    Nice. Traveling in Mexico several of us did the same thing. The practice really gave me a feel for tuning my rig, and a sense of the need for patience as conditions changed from day to day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Lightspeed would like to try to listen in if I can figure out the right an antenna for a icom R-75 SSB receiver I picked up used for pennies on the dollar. Maybe you SSB guys (Paul, Brian, Mike & Ben) can help. It has two antenna connections, a 50 ohm with coaxial connection I think can go to a VHF antenna, and a 500 ohm connection with is really funky with two little pinch wire connectors like a speaker wire. I was hoping to connect the 500 ohm to Lightspeed’s insulated backstay (installed for a future SSB). I would like to use the icom R-75 to listen in on the Transpac SSB chatter and back up weather to the sat phone & email. Any suggestion from you SSB guys would be much appreciated…..Thanks…..Rick/Lightspeed

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    51

    Default

    Hi Rick,

    You can try just running a ground wire (from a through-hull, or keel bolt, etc) to the radio's ground terminal, and a wire (any wire) from the backstay to the radio's antenna terminal. This will work, but it might be overly vulnerable to noise pick-up from your nav electronics and other noise sources.

    It might be easier to clip onto one of the shroud chainplates, rather than the backstay. Sure, it's probably grounded through the mast, but for an untuned receiving antenna this may not be such a bad thing. If it's easy, try it.

    Probably a better option is to use the 50 Ohm coax connector and run some coax (RG-58 is fine for this) out to the backstay. Connect the center conductor to the backstay, and the shield to a near-by ground. Without an antenna tuner the impedance match will be bad, but for receiving it will probably be good enough. If you get interference, putting some ferrite chokes on the coax might help.

    Even before the SSB test net you can check your reception by tuning in WWV, WWVH, and the USCG weather broadcasts. Let me know if you need more details.

    A note on receiving vs transmitting antennas. You will usually get a stronger received signal with a tuned antenna, but the atmospheric background noise often dominates the signal/noise equation. If you connect an antenna / wire / etc, and hear the background static get louder, any further antenna improvements may make no difference. I am using "usually" and "may" weasle-words here since there are other factors (directionality, local noise pickup, etc), that can complicate things, but this is usually the case. Also, as you go higher in frequency, the atmospheric noise tends to drop, so what works at 4MHz may not do as well at 16 MHz. For transmitting you want a tuned antenna so the transmitter puts out as much power as it can.
    Last edited by Paul Elliott; 05-16-2014 at 01:28 PM. Reason: more RF geekery

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Much thanks Paul, I will experiment with the 50 ohm & RG-58 to backstay, and the 500 ohm & ground to chain plate, and report back. Just hoping it works better than the Kaito KA1103 we used in the 2012 PacCup where we had to use a human tuner to finding JUST the right place and angle to hold the unit and then FREEZE in place for 20 min to hear the reports...Rick/Lightspeed

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    3,027

    Default

    In addition to the schedule Paul posted above, we'll try to talk w/each other tomorrow night (Friday, 5/30). RAGTIME! be anchored in the Bay off Pt. Richmond and VALIS will be at her dock near Friday Harbor. We'll try the following:

    8A (8.294 mhz) at 2100
    6A (6.224 mhz) at 2105
    12A (12.353 mhz) at 2110

    These are longer-distance frequencies so if you're local you'll probably skip right over RAGTIME! but you may be able to talk w/Paul aboard VALIS. For better results it's best to anchor out away from your marina.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    238

    Default

    Listened in tonight and didn't hear anything. I'm hoping its because the net hasn't started yet! I see Valis is under way however.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    3,027

    Default

    I know his radio works. We had a good chat on all three frequencies Friday night.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    193

    Default

    Rick, did you get an antenna tuner?

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