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Old 15-01-2009, 20:40   #16
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Hello

Also a ham and have been living aboard and cruising for the past 3 yrs. I got my ham license after I took off and can honestly tell you that it is one of the best things I ever did. It is something I enjoy tremendously and use for my safety. I sail solo a great deal and keep family and friends updated via Shiptrak.org. If you are a ham, you can call into the Maritime Mobile Service net and have them upload your position along with a brief note into shiptrak. It is a terrific service and one I am very grateful for.

My 'shack' on the boat consists of an ICOM M700PRO marine SSB transciever and a Yaesu FT-857D amateur transciever. Have a switch to switch between them. They run to an SGC-230 tuner at the base of my backstay, inside the boat. My insulated backstay is my antenna. The counterpoise is copper foil obtained from a hardware store, run through the bilge and connected to a couple bronz through hulls. Simple and very effective.

I am very happy with both radio's and happy to have both. The ICOM is first class and can transmit on all amateur HF bands. The Yaesu is also top of the line has many more controls for dsp, gain and filtering, etc ,etc that can be very useful. It also has VHF and UHF bands...I find the 2m VHF band very useful, especially in the FL Keys where there is a repeater system. For 2m VHF operation, I simply use the Metz marine VHF antenna on my masthead...works great.

I started out with an old, used ICOM M700 that I got on Ebay. It looked pretty beat up on the outside, but the inside was pristine. It worked like a champ and was open on ham HF bands. You could easily find one on Ebay these days for $400 or less.

As for use, I check in with the various cruising nets, get weather and update the MMSN with my location, when cruising. I listen to the BBC, Dutch radio and AFRN for news. I have a group of friends that I keep in regular contact with when I am out solo. One friend sends and reads emails for me, if I need to get an urgent note to my family.

I have a simple, wire emergency antenna packed and ready to go, if I ever lost the tuner or backstay. Simple and easy to do.

At any rate, I hope you study and get your amateur license. I think you will be very happy you did.

Hope this helps

73

John
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Old 16-01-2009, 23:55   #17
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KE5QLO,

I have the IC-736 right now. Same rig, but with the AC supply. Have been a Ham for 41 almost 42 years. Mostly a cw op. I've fixed many rigs for many Hams and a few CB radios for the folks that look at Amateur Radio ops as gods. Little do they know all it takes is reading the Q&A a few times anymore. When I operate VHF and up, I mostly use SSB. I really want to figure out how to track the satelites while under way. As for VHF being only line -of-sight, that really isn't true. I have made many contacts over 1,000 miles and on six meters (50 MHz) I can work the world. I do know a few guys that have egg beaters for VHF/UHF satelite work on their pickups and they have done quite well. I'm sure that would be the case while cruising.
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Old 20-01-2009, 08:08   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal View Post
KE5QLO,

I have the IC-736 right now. Same rig, but with the AC supply. Have been a Ham for 41 almost 42 years. Mostly a cw op. I've fixed many rigs for many Hams and a few CB radios for the folks that look at Amateur Radio ops as gods. Little do they know all it takes is reading the Q&A a few times anymore. When I operate VHF and up, I mostly use SSB. I really want to figure out how to track the satelites while under way. As for VHF being only line -of-sight, that really isn't true. I have made many contacts over 1,000 miles and on six meters (50 MHz) I can work the world. I do know a few guys that have egg beaters for VHF/UHF satelite work on their pickups and they have done quite well. I'm sure that would be the case while cruising.
No, actually it IS true that VHF is line of sight.

You said you've made contacts on six meters. Six meters is actually "Low Band VHF" and has properties of both HF frequencies as well as VHF frequencies.

When you make contacts over about 100 miles with 6 meters, typically you're using one of two things... either ionospheric propagation under certain conditions, or something termed "ducting". Ducting can occur if weather conditions are right with thermal inversions or again, using the ionosphere itself.

The VHF band technically extends from 30 Mhz (top of HF) to 300 Mhz. As I said before the lower end has properties of both HF and VHF. If you go much about 70 or 80 Mhz, the properties of the RF signals become more like VHF and you aren't going to find VHF signals bouncing off the ionosphere very often as you go up in frequencies.

The band that the VHF marine band operates in is 150-160 or so - and those frequencies are definitely line of sight only.

The 2 meter Amateur Band is 140-148. Again, LOS.

The 70 CM band (or 440) is 420-450 (similar for Canada, US and some other countries, but the band ends vary depending on locations and this is a secondary use band for Amateurs) - the band is UHF and it is certainly ONLY LOS.

About tracking satellites, there are actually several good programs. W1AW sends out keplerian elements daily or weekly (sign up for them at the ARRL web site) and download a good tracking program, figure out which satellite you want to track (or satellites) and then check their modes of operation.

Make sure your rig can operate on those modes (some can receive CW on 2 meters and downlink on HF - at least I think those are still there... been a few years since I messed with it myself).

ARRL has a couple good books on the subject of tracking - and you don't NEED a computer program, and can track manually if you are patient.

ARRLWeb: ARRL Product Catalog
ARRLWeb: ARRL Product Catalog

There's several books listed there for weather satellites as well. Hope that helps.
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Old 20-01-2009, 09:03   #19
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Old 20-01-2009, 09:39   #20
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Ducting does indeed occur on the amateur 2-meter band as well as the marine VHF channels. There's a 2-meter repeater here in MD that has a very active morning traffic net that experiences this several times during the year with stations coming in loud and clear from hundreds of miles away. I monitor both 2-meter and marine channels in my shop during the day and have heard this on marine as well but not nearly as often as 2-meter.

Eric
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Old 20-01-2009, 10:02   #21
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If you want to see marine band VHF ducting, put up an AIS receiver! I have one at home (elevation about 1000 ft, using a marine vertical whip). My visual horizon is about 40 miles, and assuming the ship's antenna is 200ft off the water that gives us visual LOS of about 60 miles. We are about five miles from the coast.

I regularly receive AIS signals at a distance of 200 NM, often see them from 1000 NM, and on occasion have received them from over 2000 NM distance. This is certainly ducting propagation. The nice thing about AIS is that the AIS messages contain the lat/lon of the ship, so it is easy to see when extra-LOS conditions are present.
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Old 20-01-2009, 10:40   #22
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Yes, ducting on VHF ham and marine frequencies is more common than most folks realize. It is more common over water paths, too.

When posted in Morocco, I used to frequently work hams in Portugal on VHF...about 300 miles distant.

And, here in the Washington, DC area I often hear USCG stations in the Norfolk area (130 nm distant), as well as the Eastern Shore and elsewhere.

You can't depend on communication over these distances, of course, but they are possible under conditions which occur with some frequency.

By the way, no one should take these remarks as meaning that a VHF radio is a suitable means of communication for boats venturing far offshore. Dependable communication with VHF is only possible over "line of sight" distances, plus a little....say 20-30 miles, depending on antenna heights at each end.

Bill
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Old 20-01-2009, 13:56   #23
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A quickie on long range marine VHF peopogation: Two years ago whilst anchored in Baie de St. Vincent New Caledonia, on two successive nights we heard the Tin Can Bay VMR station (southern Queensland coast) doing their evening hand-off of the watch to Brisbane Harbour Control. Q-5 copy both times, no fancy gear or antennas, not even a masthead VHF whip on our boat. I assume that this was an example of the oft mentioned "ducting"

Interesting, but not very useful!

73, Jim Cate N9GFT/VK4GFT

PS For the geographically challenged, that is a great circle distance of over 800 NMi
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Old 20-01-2009, 14:55   #24
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Hal,

"How many licensed Amateur Radio operators are out there"?
There are a many leisure sailors and also many on the merchant shipping fleets.
"and do you operate from your boat"?
Those who are afloat often take the hobby with them.
"Do you use a separate Ham rig or use your marine HF SSB rig"?
If you want to send and receive over the amateur bands then you need a suitable HF transeiver a marine SSB should not be capable of transmitting other than on marine band frequencies.
"On VHF/UHF do you ever use a high gain beam and how far can you make contacts"?
There are those who seek grid squares etc who could create an entertaining pile up above 30m so if you want to be adventerous when sporadic E is expected, why not give it a shot or even try for E-M-E!
"Do you use amplifiers on HF"?
Any one who has used HF at sea will know that amplifiers are not needed, a good aerial and 100 watts will give you DXCC in a couple of months (it did me).
"or VHF/UHF"?
Again its not required I have known 10W VHF from UK to Cyprus and again Cyprus to Singapore its the tuner and the aerial not the power that gets the message.
"If in a foriegn port, do you get the required permit to operate or just not tell anyone"?
Only a very stupid fool would even consider operating out side of the licence conditions. Many countries have very heavy penalties for using radio equipment in their terrotories without the appropriate authorisation. Read your licence conditions and CEPT recognition and use the correct prefix to the call sign. After all who is going to be intrested in replying to W5GHZ? when they could reply to 3D/W5GHZ/MM and notch a step closer to a DXCC award? Get legal with the country you are visiting and let ARRL or QSL magazine know who you are and where you are going to be operating if you are interested in any form of DX. Remember even just having radio equipment that is not a marine radio onboard the vessel could make for a very interesting one sided conversation.

Salt water makes an excellent ground plane and a tuneable long wire back stay are all that is needed for surprising results. I have had fantastic performance from a High Sierra with the extra long whip and capacity hat (better than my base station) and its easy to put away after use and not clutter the deck.

Martin
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Old 01-03-2009, 18:14   #25
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icom 735

I am looking for automatic antenna tuner but many won't tune to the shortwave bands, I am curious as to how good yours works and how it's set up. I also have a Icom 735 on a no so special antenna tuner I want to replace with something like what you have and at home an Icom at-150 maybe. any information would be greatly appreciated. I am quite the rabid swl'r which I have enjoyed for 46 years. I am also considering a live aboard situation next year.


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Hal,

I operate a modified ICOM IC-735 with an SGC automatic tuner, pactar modem and backstay for antenna. I basicly use the ham for email, weather and nets. Used to enjoy listening to BBC, Voice Of America, etc. but I guess they are beginning to cut back on their broadcasting.

Good Luck, Bill A.
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Old 01-03-2009, 18:22   #26
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I am looking for automatic antenna tuner but many won't tune to the shortwave bands, I am curious as to how good yours works and how it's set up. I also have a Icom 735 on a no so special antenna tuner I want to replace with something like what you have and at home an Icom at-150 maybe. any information would be greatly appreciated. I am quite the rabid swl'r which I have enjoyed for 46 years. I am also considering a live aboard situation next year.
I have never needed, and have always been told, an antenna tuner for general coverage reception. Does it really make a difference?

I have never had a problem with general coverage reception with most of my rigs.

Or are you talking "hardcore" swl?
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Old 01-03-2009, 18:42   #27
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hard core yes

Thanks much, and yes hard core. I started at age 8 when I found out what the SW1 and SW2 meant on my mothers beautiful tube type Blaupunkt table radio, it was a big beautiful beast. Soon I was running wires all over to get better reception and I grounded it and fell in love. I am so hard core I listen at nights to 2.972 USB to air traffic control. here's a tip, tune in to 3.215 late Sundays around 11PM or maybe 1 Am Mondays and you will hear the old radio dramas of the 1940's. WWCR.com | Home - WWCR Shortwave, Nashville, Tennessee, USA still has those on.

Thanks again, I hope I find a suitable and not so expensive used auto tuner. I made an offer on a guys Icom AT-150, are they any good?


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I have never needed, and have always been told, an antenna tuner for general coverage reception. Does it really make a difference?

I have never had a problem with general coverage reception with most of my rigs.

Or are you talking "hardcore" swl?
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