So, I picked up an Icom IC27A from eBay a while back, hoping to just keep it on the garage workbench and monitor the local repeaters. When it arrived and I powered it up, I was disappointed. All I could hear on it was background white noise, even when I knew there should be activity. Transmit wasn’t any better. I thought maybe the tuner was just completely out of whack, but I was overlooking the obvious.
I took it to the W7DK clubhouse one Saturday and asked if anyone had any ideas. Tim and Harry hooked it up, and wouldn’t you know the crazy thing worked. It’s kind of like taking your car to the mechanic. It always runs perfectly for them, right? Tim had mentioned that the antenna connector looked like it might be the culprit, but when the radio worked, I didn’t give it a second thought. I brought it home and hooked it up, hoping that the problems I had experienced were all in my head, but no such luck. I still couldn’t hear squat on it. I had my HT fired up so I could test it, and when I heard a long conversation happening, I played with the Icom. I found that if I turned the squelch all the way down I could actually hear the QSO buried in the white noise. It seemed like the signal just wasn’t very strong… Hmm… Remember when Tim mentioned the antenna pigtail? I took a closer look at it, and after a bit of disassembly and testingwith a meter, I found that the center coax conductor was broken. Thankfully, the pigtail was much longer than necessary, so I shortened it up and stripped the jacket back to some fresh cable. After a few minutes with a soldering iron and a few more reassembling the case, I fired it up and was thrilled to hear nice clean audio! Apparently it had worked fine at the clubhouse because we were so close to the repeater that it was able to get reception even with a broken antenna lead.
What’s the moral of the story? I’ll let you be the judge. I was never very good at that. =) I will say, though, that it’s always a good idea to check all the basics before you assume it’s something more complicated.