Connecting via SSB

With AirMail open, go to the terminal window by pressing the button with the blue globe in it.     Check that your “clarifier” on your SSB is centered.  Check all of the frequencies by scrolling through the stations and frequencies in the pull down menus.  Your radio should be remotely tuned by the PC/modem to a frequency that is 1.5 kHz below the frequency that you select via AirMail, if you hear a periodic “chip, chirp” or a periodic “rasping” sound at 2-4 second intervals, that’s somebody else using that station.    Listen carefully, and when the station is idle then click the left-most green button (from the Terminal Window).  The HF modem will call for about a minute before timing out, that is usually plenty if the propagation is good and the station is not busy on another frequency. If there is no answer then try another frequency or try some other time – it may be busy on a another frequency or there may be no propagation.  While calling, if your radio is not clicking to transmit mode at 2-4 second intervals, then your Pactor-modem and radio are not talking to one another.  Check the cable from your Pactor-modem to your radio.

If your radio is clicking between transmit and receive when calling, check that your radio is drawing an additional 10-15 amps from your 12 volt system when it is transmitting.   If the radio isn’t drawing an additional 10-15 amps when transmitting, then your modulation levels are not set correctly or your tuner/antenna/ground system is faulty and your radio can’t transmit at a reasonable power level because the tuner is unable to provide a good “match” to your radio.

When you get connected you will see the welcome message. If things are working correctly then your computer will respond with your callsign and exchange any email that is ready to go in either direction, and then disconnect. If you got this far, then all of the technical stuff is working, the wires are all hooked right and you figured out the frequencies correctly, congratulations.

If the Pactor-modem is not working properly, your problem is likely either with communications between your laptop and Pactor-modem, or with the connection and configuration between the Pactor-modem and your radio.    If the Pactor-modem did not initialize properly when you opened the Terminal Window in AirMail (i.e. its lights flashed etc), then the Pactor-modem may be configured in a way that is incompatible with AirMail, or your com port may not set up correctly.

If the Pactor-modem IS responding to commands from the computer,  but the radio isn’t responding and transmitting when you try to connect, then your radio interface is probably the problem.  If you cannot fix the problem by carefully reading these instructions, or comparing notes with another SailMail user with a similar configuration, then you should track down a marine radio dealer and pay for some professional help.

If the modem is responding to the computer, and radio is switching between transmit and receive, check that your radio is drawing 10-15 amps more on transmit than on receive when calling on SailMail.  If it doesn’t, try your radio on voice.  If you give a brief whistle into the mic when using your radio on voice (on a clear channel after identifying yourself and announcing that you are testing), your radio should draw 15-20 amps from your 12 volt electrical system.  If it doesn’t you likely have a tuner/ground/antenna connection problem.  If the radio draws 15-20 amps when you whistle into the mic, but doesn’t draw 10-15 amps when transmitting via Sailmail, then you likely have a connection problem to the modem, or your modulation levels are set incorrectly.

If you got this far then try composing a couple of test messages. Do this by going back to the main window (F6 to switch or close the Terminal Window by clicking the “X” in the upper right corner) and click the “Format a New Message” button (all the buttons have “hints” if you pause the cursor over the button for a moment). For the first, choose “sysop” from the address book and click “OK.”  In the To: field should be “ “.  In the Subject: line type “first test message.”.   The lines below the subject make up the body of the message. Send a message to SailMail sysop saying that you figured it out and can now send and receive messages via SailMail.   Click “Post Via” if necessary to set the adjacent box to SAILMAIL.  (If a “dialog box” appears, check the box to “always use this path for Email.”)  Finally, click the “post the current message” button  to post the message for sending (the button looks like a postbox). That will save the message and mark it for sending, and return you to the index.  Your new message should be in the index with a “postbox” icon next to it indicating that it is posted waiting to be sent.

Now go back to the Terminal Window (F6 or globe button).  Check that the  the clarifier is set to center.   Listen, and if the frequency is clear, reconnect to the station as before, and this time your messages should be uploaded to the SailMail station.  SailMail will disconnect automatically when done.

If all that works then your HF modem is wired right and your transceiver is working.