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I installed this system last winter on the boat and it never worked as I have been busy with other systems. I haven't fooled with it since because I won't be offshore until June. I hooked this same system in my basement with 50 feet of copper wire for an antenna and the copper pipe in my house for a ground plate, and everything worked fine (although I didn't transmit). I even received weather fax from Boston in my house.

Saturday I couldn't hear anything on the boat, even 2500 WWV. 

I had the antenna lead warped around the AT 130 so Sunday I unwrapped it and heard the Coast Guard on 4.4260 USB. The transmission was barely readable with only 2 bars of signal strength. Should I cut the extra 2 feet off the antenna lead? Would this help enough?

During tuning, sometimes I get the third bar to appear for an instant, but after tuning, I never get more than 2 bars.

System consists of ICOM 710 transceiver, AT 130 antenna tuner. GAM Backstay sleeve antenna, KISS Ground plate.

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You have fallen for a couple of hyped products of dubious design: The GAM and the KISS. [Flame suit zipped up] They may sometimes work for some people. I think you have proven this with your description of home vs. boat. The A-130 tuner is be able to tune the ICOM specified plain insulated backstay and ground designs to full (or nearly full) bars. It always has on mine.

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For starters where is the boat?  I perfectly installed SSB will not hear anything in a super noisy marina.  I have a kiss ground plane and sort of am sort of in the same canp as boracho, I know boats who use both the gam and kiss and it works but... even a abosolute crap instal will usually hear something as last ng as it's away from alot of noise.  

Things to consider, marina with lots of ac units going super bad.  Transformers in the vicinity bad.  Radar instillation anywhere close bad.

 

A good test is dusk and dawn.  Before people wake up or after they go to bed most of the noisy crap is shut off.  Give it a try then.  14.300 maritime mobile is a good test as they are always up.

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We did a direct comparison of the KISS system on a boat with a minimal "normal" style ground plane (copper strap to all large metal bits) NO discernable difference on any freq's. So my take is - it's OK as a minimal/cheap set up, just don't expect much from the rest of the system. I've laid in more copper straps on  5 -8 boats, in a grid pattern, & the operators have always reported better receive/transmit. Even Gordon West, the west coast self labeled master guru of SSB, will grudgingly agree that for full long range reach nothing beats the old classic ground plane.

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Also don't post on your phone when it's downpouring.... Or you look like your drunk.....

You should be able to make that setup functional even if not ideal.  Focus on receiving first, as above you need to be outside of a noisy area, on the hook is best. Being able to listen doesn't have anything to do with your ground plane.  Once you are able to hear fine you can move on to verifying your transmitting.  Even if you are putting out a light signal if you can hear well you can get a back and forth going to sort it out.

Verify all of your connections, even slight corrosion is enough to put the breaks on.  If you have GTO for the transmission line make sure it hasn't wicked any water in that will kill it.  SSB and HF are very voltage sensitive.  They want 13.8v. Make sure you don't get a significant voltage drop when transmitting you may need to upside the feeder.  Generally it's suggested to size a 30amp feed.

When testing turn everything else off on the boat.  All DC and AC consumers.  Once you get setup you can go thru individual items and listen for noise.

Should be noted the Kiss is tuned radials, you can't cut or shorten the lead and if it ever saw anything bad spikes etc it could be toast.

However unlikely also make sure your radio is in the correct mode.  Upper side band, lower side band etc.  Have seen more than one boat pulling there hair out over that.

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 Lots of great ideas here, yesterday I checked all my connections and headed out to the river in the late afternoon to test everything. 

I still couldn't get any WWV on any of the 500,1000, etc. frequencies. I did get a fax from Boston, and some AM station at 10 MHZ

Sassafrass said "However unlikely also make sure your radio is in the correct mode.  Upper side band, lower side band etc.  Have seen more than one boat pulling there hair out over that."

What is the correct mode? The ICOM 710 Manual lists modes, but doesn't explain what each is for. I just ordered Marti Brown's Guide for using marine SSB radio, maybe that can explain all these things.u

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I have a gam antennae with an ICOM 700. I can receive and transmit just fine. It was much cheaper than buying new insulators when I re-rigged the boat. I was able to talk with someone in Florida from NJ mid day.  I have another friend with one and it works just fine.

 

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9 hours ago, rmgeis said:

 Lots of great ideas here, yesterday I checked all my connections and headed out to the river in the late afternoon to test everything. 

I still couldn't get any WWV on any of the 500,1000, etc. frequencies. I did get a fax from Boston, and some AM station at 10 MHZ

Sassafrass said "However unlikely also make sure your radio is in the correct mode.  Upper side band, lower side band etc.  Have seen more than one boat pulling there hair out over that."

What is the correct mode? The ICOM 710 Manual lists modes, but doesn't explain what each is for. I just ordered Marti Brown's Guide for using marine SSB radio, maybe that can explain all these things.u

I would have to look at the manual, sorry don't have it, just Google amateur band plan or something similar.  The mode issue is usually someone pushing the wrong button after the radio tunes.  After dusk try listening into 3.968LSB and roll up and down a bit.  All the good old boys in the south are yacking somewhere close to that.  You should be able to hear someone on 14.300 USB as well try at the top of the hr.  Right before dawn and right after the sun goes down you should hear someone.  The 20 meter 40 meter and 80 meter amateur general class bands are very active.

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