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Old 04-08-2018, 21:15   #1
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Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

Hi all,

I'm looking for a way to get weather and stay in basic communication with a shore contact while offshore. I'm not that concerned about DSC; I already have an EPIRB and a PLB. My boat currently has a really old Icon M-700 marine SSB that barely receives anything. I'm going to replace it - what should I replace it with?

HF ham radios like the IC-7200 are much cheaper than their marine counterparts and can receive marine SSB transmissions (i.e. nets, NOAA, Chris Parker) while providing access to the ham nets, WINMOR email, etc. Is ship-to-ship marine SSB still alive? How about SSB nets? Am I going to miss anything important by not being able to transmit on these bands?

OR... should I just get a satellite-based tool instead? Are they more reliable and/or easier than HF radio for my purposes?

I have a ship's station license, an amateur tech license (taking the general test in a week), and understand that it is illegal to transmit on the marine SSB bands using a ham radio.

Thanks for your suggestions
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Old 04-08-2018, 21:21   #2
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

So whats actually wrong with the M700 you have? That's a pretty decent radio - if it's not working correctly it could be the ground/antenna
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Old 05-08-2018, 06:30   #3
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

The receiving quality is very poor and sporadic. Iíve only barely been able to pick up NOAA a couple times. Itís opened up to rx/tx on the ham bands but I never pick up anything there (not even 14.300).

I donít think it transmits anything. I donít even think it pulls amps when I try.

Itís connected to an AT-120 tuner and an insulated back stay. I know the tuner works and Iíve followed the coax from the radio to the tuner to the backstay.

Iíve followed the ground from the SSB to the panel where it shares the ground for the VHF. The VHF works fine.

It is also lacking in a lot of features that I want as a ham operator, namely digital transmission options. However, that also means that itís very simple to operate. If the M-700 does indeed work, Iím going to set it up on shore for my shore contact to use once she gets her General license. In that case simplier will be better.
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Old 05-08-2018, 07:20   #4
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

Way I see it is from just a pure data perspective, SAT is better.
But if you want to talk to someone and or for entertainment an HF is better.
I have an 802, but am wavering on whether to get a Pactor or not, I'll likely get some form of Sat connection instead.
I understand the Pactor is more money up front, but cheaper from then on, where with a Sat device, you never stop paying, that is the newer business model with electronics.
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:16   #5
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

following...
I"m in the same boat...bought a used 802, planning to head to the Galapagos and beyond, but haven't installed it yet because my wife's sudden cruising range is barely to the islands....
I'm thinking just do a sat-com package $100 mo. The only thing the HF unit does for me is to allow me to do cruiser nets, which are fun, but I go cruising to get away from groups and all that...
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Old 06-08-2018, 05:50   #6
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mediator View Post
Iíve followed the ground from the SSB to the panel where it shares the ground for the VHF. The VHF works fine.
Wrong ground. The antenna needs a "ground plane" to act as a "counterpoise." Search for those terms and you will find enough to make your head spin. I'll leave it for others to try to give a succinct explanation of what sort of ground plane your antenna needs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mediator View Post
It is also lacking in a lot of features that I want as a ham operator, namely digital transmission options.
You can run every digital mode with the M700 that you can with any other radio. It's just not pre-setup for it, so there's a little more work to do, and a few more bits to add into the system.


I have an Icom IC-7200 myself, and it is a very nice radio. On the other hand, when I first got it I connected it to a crap antenna, and I could barely even receive WWV transmissions. The antenna makes all the difference.


Good luck.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:24   #7
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Re: Another SSB/HAM/SAT Thread

You know, since I first read your post - I immediately said corroded cable connectors and bad ground plane.
As I read the others' answers - I say corroded cable connector and bad ground plane.
I had my SSB hooked to a ground plate under the hull and not the copper belt along the hull as some suggest. I believe the porous plate represented 40sqft if my memory serves me right.
Either way - connections have to be spot clean - a bit of carbon from a contact in the mike connector can ruin a connection (we used to use pencil erasers to clean the pins)...
I'd check your connections to your antenna tuner too - make sure that's working correctly as it's in the antenna pathway to the receiver.

Best of luck with it - it's a good radio and will work for many years.
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