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Old 05-06-2014, 11:37   #1
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Ham Radio

Hi all,
I was in a class recently about sailing, and the instructor mentioned very briefly: Ham Radio.
I was not clear about it, is it a radio to use on land or on sea?
Do I need to buy one if I want to go off shore?
DO you need a special license to have one?
What kind of price range do they run?

Thanks,
Andy
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:48   #2
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Re: Ham Radio

Ham radio refers to short wave or HF (high frequency) radios for use by amateurs for personal use IE no business allowed. They can be used anywhere you like, land, sea or air. Require taking a test and getting a license to use them.

HAM or shortwave radios are used for long range communication, potentially many thousands of miles.

For marine use there are radios commonly referred to as SSB (single side band) which are also short wave or HF use similar frequencies and give the same range. No technical test is required but a license is.

Neither radio is required to go sailing but are nice to have and add another level of safety and communication for a long distance sailor.

You could find a used HAM radio for a few hundred. Used marine SSB for a bit more. You can spend a few thousand to go top of the line new.

Marine HF radios are built to a higher standard than HAM radios and if I had to choose one I would pick the marine radio. Note that many marine radios can also be legally used to talk on Ham bands but Ham cannot be legally used for marine SSB channels.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:53   #3
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Re: Ham Radio

Quote:
Originally Posted by openseas View Post
Hi all,
I was in a class recently about sailing, and the instructor mentioned very briefly: Ham Radio.
I was not clear about it, is it a radio to use on land or on sea?
Do I need to buy one if I want to go off shore?
DO you need a special license to have one?
What kind of price range do they run?

Thanks,
Andy
A "ham" radio is one which is intended to be use on the designated amateur radio bands by a licensed amateur radio operator.

A licensed amateur (or "ham") can operate any radio -- ham or marine or homebuilt or whatever -- on the designated amateur bands. These bands are in the MF, HF, VHF, UHF ranges.

I believe you are mostly interested in radios for use on a boat for long-distance communication. That would be those which operate in the HF or high frequency bands, from 3mHz to 30mHz. The "ham" bands in the HF range are located near 3.5mHz, 5mHz, 7mHz, 10mHz, 14mHz, 18mHz, 21mHz, 24mHz, and 29mHz.

Note that marine SSB radios operate within the designated marine bands. These are located near 2mHz, 4mHz, 6mHz, 8mHz, 12mHz, 16mHz, 18mHz, 22mHz, and 25mHz.

It is illegal to operate a ham radio on the marine bands, though many people do it.

It is legal for a licensed amateur radio operator to operate ANY radio on the amateur bands, since he/she is supposed to have enough technical savvy to control the transmitted signal.

Marine SSB use involves two licenses: a marine operators permit and a station license for the boat. These are available, without exam, by application and payment to the FCC.

Amateur radio use involves passing a test for one of three classes of license: technician, general, and extra. Each license class comes with certain operating privileges on the various amateur bands.

Hope that helps a bit.

There are MANY good primers available from the ARRL @ arrl.org.

Most radio clubs have lessons and give exams as well.

Bill
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:58   #4
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Re: Ham Radio

You do need a license for an Amateur (Ham) radio transmission. Every country has their own license requirements as put out by their respective communcations agencies. In the US, a license is issued by the FCC. You can find study materials with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to get your first license at

ARRL :: Licensing, Education & Training :: Ham Radio License Manual 3rd Edition
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:15   #5
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Re: Ham Radio

I agree with Spikmac. In my opinion Ham Radio is very usefull in long range navigation. You can connect with a lot of Marine Radio Net and other boats. They can help you in your track, ask for weather meteo, talk with you, send messages
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Old 05-06-2014, 15:33   #6
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Re: Ham Radio

Plus, you can make contact with land based stations in the countries you're going to visit: like having built in friends in unfamiliar places, a really good deal, IME.

Ann
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Old 05-06-2014, 15:53   #7
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Re: Ham Radio

You can easily spend as much time hamming as sailing, but not as much money!

That's a good thing. Ham radio can be quite engrossing just on its own merits. There are ham satellites that can be used to relay communications (although probably not from a boat). Some hams communicate by bouncing signals off of the moon, which return far away on earth, at the other communicant's station. Not making that up! Again, probably not from a boat.

There is a shortwave email service that runs on the ham bands, and that is useful for a sailor.

- Ron/WB8LZR
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Old 05-06-2014, 15:59   #8
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Re: Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Plus, you can make contact with land based stations in the countries you're going to visit: like having built in friends in unfamiliar places, a really good deal, IME.

Ann
Ann,

You nailed it on that. When I first cruised it was before sat phones and wi-fi, so my trusty HAM radio was it and I used it a lot. Many years later I was on a break bulk ship heading for Easter Island and had been talking to a HAM there while enroute. I was one of the last off the ship, so the small car rental office was out of cars but upon hearing I planned to visit the HAM op (can't remember his call or name), he rented me his wife's car.

HAM radio is like a big extended family, I've known of many HAMs that swap homes and cars for holidays in other countries with fellow HAMs. Plus the HAMs that run the maritime nets, some have invested in large 20 meter beam antennas and their signals are strong worldwide, kinda reassuring as you transit the world's oceans.

Now that code is no longer required, I would recommend HAM radio for any cruiser.
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:09   #9
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Re: Ham Radio

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Ann,
...
Now that code is no longer required, I would recommend HAM radio for any cruiser.
It's good that the no-code licenses allow for more recruits, and ham radio needs them! Still, CW is my favorite mode, and probably 90 percent of my operation. The bad news is that the ones who know it will eventually all go to the big key in the sky, and I'll have nobody to tap-tap-tap with
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:17   #10
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Re: Ham Radio

... .- -.. / -... ..- - / - .-. ..- . / ... .- .. .-.. --- .-. / .... ..- - -.-. ....
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:20   #11
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Re: Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Sailor_Hutch View Post
It's good that the no-code licenses allow for more recruits, and ham radio needs them! Still, CW is my favorite mode, and probably 90 percent of my operation. The bad news is that the ones who know it will eventually all go to the big key in the sky, and I'll have nobody to tap-tap-tap with
Are you using an old vintage vibroplex or an electronic keyer like a MFJ? I have the 1st MFJ someplace.

I discovered code is like a language, and it is the sound you recognize. For maritime academy graduation you have to pass flashing light, the characters are still the same but it is silent. I had to convert in my head the flashing light into dahs and dits to copy.
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:24   #12
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Re: Ham Radio

With a Ham or SSB radio you can connect a Pactor III and.. you will have email on board!!
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:45   #13
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Re: Ham Radio

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... .- -.. / -... ..- - / - .-. ..- . / ... .- .. .-.. --- .-. / .... ..- - -.-. ....
For the CW challenged, a translation:

"Sad but true, Sailor Hutch"

Indeed it is. Do you pound the brass anymore (outside of CF) ?
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:46   #14
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Re: Ham Radio

I got into ham radio through morse code. I learned to read the code, pretty much how Hud wrote the message above. I then ran into someone who was learning to listen to the code to get a ham license and I figured, "what the heck" and learned to listen and decided to test out on it and kept going. I got 20wpm before the FCC got rid of the code requirements. I am not as active as I used to be but I still enjoy the code and messing around with digital modes. One thing I like about ham radio is much like sailing... There's always something new to learn and there's enough old timers to help you out.

de W4ABN
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Old 05-06-2014, 16:52   #15
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Re: Ham Radio

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Are you using an old vintage vibroplex or an electronic keyer like a MFJ? I have the 1st MFJ someplace.

I discovered code is like a language, and it is the sound you recognize. For maritime academy graduation you have to pass flashing light, the characters are still the same but it is silent. I had to convert in my head the flashing light into dahs and dits to copy.
Well, my (slightly) older ham friends all used bugs. I got licensed at a point where most new hams were going with keyers, so have never used a bug. I use an old bencher keyer (bought about 1982 or so) and an old autek keyer (about same vintage). The paddle has none of the silver left on the contacts anymore, but I just file occasionally and keep going. Works fine! Before I bought the Bencher, I used a only a straight key.
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