Day 9- troubleshooting the radio

24 hour run: 150 nautical miles
Distance traveled since departing Mexico: 1268
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: about 1700

We're still having some trouble with our radio. The single-sideband is a key safety tool and our essential communications link. We use it to get our weather updates, handle simple email, check in with daily radio "nets"…even update this blog. When it doesn't work properly, the impact is mostly inconvenience but can carry over into our safety on board. We would really like to be pulling down weather files routinely and staying in tune with the activity in the ITCZ (Inter-Tropic Convergence Zone, the band of unsettled weather around the equator).

It was a real low point for me when I couldn't check us into the Pacific Seafarer's Net earlier this week. This net is hands down the best run net for boats crossing. I've said it before, but if things ever go wrong- THESE are the guys you want watching your back! It is run by land-based ham stations, has relays literally across the Pacific. If we couldn't make ourselves heard to one of them, then there were clearly issues. Thank goodness we only missed the net for one night. They post check-ins from their roll call daily, if anyone is curious, look up

We're still trying to understand the problem, but are pretty sure it's a combination of factors:
1. the unit overheating (fix: added a fan to ventilate install area)
2. voltage sensitivity (fix: watch our battery levels)
3. poor propagation (atmospheric, out of our control)

We're generally able to hear well, it's the power of our transmission that is affected. In radio setup, the counterpoise is essential to get your signal out. Ours had been terrific, especially after some additions Jamie made last summer (tying our metal toe rail into the ground plane). We've assumed this isn't an issue, but Jamie did make one change in the weeks before we left La Cruz which could be having an impact. We'll try that next.

The good news is that for now, at least, with attention to the ventilation and power levels we've improved our transmission and are able to accomplish the basics of what we need with the radio. It could still stand improvement, and we don't like having to baby it, so we'll keep working on it. Anyone who has emailed us and wonder why we're slow to reply, now you know!

Posted via radio: we have no internet access

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