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Old 27-03-2013, 10:43   #31
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The internal antenna tuner is available on the 450 also. But it's a joke. You need a real tuner. The radio is fine with the internal tuner, just dont use it. In a real $ pinch, you can buy Kenwood manual tuners that sit beside the radio. You may be only using a couple of freq's anyway. But I would recommend the SG-230. Wow... are they really $450 now?
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Old 27-03-2013, 10:48   #32
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
..... But I would recommend the SG-230. Wow... are they really $450 now?
Would that they were!

But, alas, they're still $499 at HRO or online. SGC hasn't run their "special" on the SG230 in quite a few years now.

Still, they're worth it. Take care of them, and they'll last a long time. The one on my boat was installed in 1991 and is still going strong.

And, as I said before, beware of used ones unless you absolutely trust the seller (both as a person and to know what he/she is selling).

There are quite a few busted SG-230's on the used market which were damaged by lightning, high voltages, incorrect installations, user error, etc. SGC has a flat $250 repair fee on these tuners -- plus shipping cost -- from which they won't budge.

Ask me how I know :-((

Bill
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Old 27-03-2013, 12:24   #33
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Jared,
1) First and foremost:
Your choice of HF transceiver (ham or maritime) will have no effect on your rigging matters....
Or, even a better way to look at it is, what you do with your rigging will have no effect on your transceiver choice...

Your rigging "refresh", as it pertains to HF radio, boils down to basically these points:
a) Do you desire to spend (or can you afford) the $$$ for rigging insulators, in order to use your backstay as an antenna???
b) Do you desire to construct an "alternative backstay antenna" (an inexpensive alternative)???
c) Do you desire to construct/assemble a 1/2-wave dipole (or a couple of them) for use on one specific band/freq???

If you choose "a", then you need to tell your rigger (or order the insulators yourself, if you're a DIY'er), now...
Hydn Hi-Mod are insulators to use, but they're pricey!!

If you choose "b" or "c", then you'll need to account for either of these antennas' necessity to be strung up from the mast, so you'd need to use a spare halyard or rig another small halyard to use to support these antennas....(some have just attached a block on a bail on the masthead, and run a line thru that, but I'd recommend something a bit better thought out..)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I'm dropping my mast in a few weeks to replace my standing rigging and want to upgrade my communications equipment while i'm at it......
.....I wish I had a little more time to research this and get my ham license first but i'm a little rushed with the rigging refresh.
You'll notice that I've made no mention of radios, remote tuners, grounds/counterpoises, etc. as these have no real effect on your rigging choices....
So, in my opinion, you DO have the time to learn a bit more about what radio, tuner, ground/counterpoise, etc. would be best for your application....
You do NOT need to rush these specific decisions because of your mast/rigging work....


2) Secondly, I would however encourage you to look closely at your in-mast wiring/cables and decide on what you'll be replacing (VHF Antenna Cable??) and what you may wish to add....perhaps you wish a spreader-mounted capability for either VHF/AIS or Wi-Fi....spreader/deck lights....etc...
These are the parts of your communications system that ARE effected by your mast, as these cables run inside it, and it is much easier to do these changes with the mast on the ground....







3) Getting your Ham license is a great idea....and I wish you all the best....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I'm currently in the process of trying to get my HAM license and buy my first transceiver. I'm going to be cruising from Seattle to Mexico and heard that the "nets" are a great part of cruising for many different reasons. While the mast is down I'd like to get one installed.
I assume you've looked at www.arrl.org for lots of great training / licensing info...at the very least buy an ARRL Handbook (aka the "bible" of ham radio...)






4) You goals for a radio ARE actually attainable....as long as you can "compromise" or "adapt" the specifics (such as what constitutes "small size" and "not overly complex", as these mean different things to different people....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
My goals.
1. transceiver that can stay in touch with most popular cruising nets
2. Under $500 (not including antenna or wiring)
3. relatively small in size
4. get weather info within few hundred miles from shore
5. not overly complex. That tends to mess with goal #2. I dont mind paying for decent equipment but I dont want to pay for stuff I wont use
6. Ham and not SSB due to costs and I've heard there's more people on HAM to chat with. It would be nice to have a transceiver that could do both but see goal #2 again
Taking them one-at-time, and then wrapping it up with a few recommendations....
1- I read this to mean RELIABLE...(buy new or use caution when buying used..)

2- < $500....(entry-level new radio, or decent-quality used radio)

3- It will fit on-board....(slightly larger than a shoe box??)

4- decent receiver (most working radios will have a decent receiver) and easy to use/program (stay away from "small"/"mobile" radios, and/or those with multiple menus to wade thru...)

5- easy to use...(actually the simpler ham radios are less expensive)

6- a used Maritime HF Radio (i.e. "SSB"), such as a used Icom M-710 or used Icom M-700pro (either opened up for ham use) can be had near your budget, and this would be my first two choices... ("a" and "b")...

But, if you insist on a "ham-only" radio and/or need to keep < $500, then I'd recommend (in order of preference)

c- a new Icom IC-718
d- a used Kenwood TS-480HX
e- a used Icom IC-735 (although an older radio, if you find one in good shape, it's still a great little rig)


~~~~

Remote antenna tuner choices are even simpler....
If you've decided on the M-710 or M-700pro, then the Icom AT-130 matches them well....(or an SGC-230)

If you can afford the SGC-230, go for it....it will work with any radio...

If you've decided on a "ham-only" radio (such as the IC-718 or IC-735) the Icom AH-4 mates well with them, but if going with a Kenwood TS-480HX, then the SGC is the one to get....

I think you see where things go around 'n round a bit....
If the SGC is a budget-buster, then you should make your radio and remote antenna choice together as one package.....


~~~~~~~~~

And, we've been round 'n round on the RF Ground / Counterpoise issue a lot lately....
So, suffice to say that you can use < $50 worth of copper strapping from the remote antenna tuner to your closest bronze thru-hull / shaft strut / etc. (make a clean/shinny connection), and have a great antenna counterpoise (the sea water).....







5) Bill T's advice is good here, about looking at some used gear and/or making your own antennas, etc....but we disagree (respectfully) on the IC-706 series radios, as I am not a fan of them....they're not too horrible, but not to my liking....

In general, I'm not a fan of small knobs/buttons, nor menu-driven features, especially on a boat that may be pitching/rolling in a seaway....(and the IC-706 series radios have these)
Secondarily, I've used an IC-706MkIIG at a "Field Day" set-up, and was very disappointed in its receiver....while this type of operating is NOT likely to occur on-board you boat, I'd feel I'd be doing a disservice to you if I didn't mention that the 706 series radio's don't have as good of receive specs/results as other radios do....(they try to "do-it-all", and compromise a bit too much in my opinion...)
However, these negatives have NOT stopped the 706 series radios from being one of the most (if not THE most) successful series of ham radios ever made!!! (there are lots of them out there...)

My recommendation is to steer away from the 706 series (and the IC-7000), and look more at the IC-718....or even better, look for a used M-710 or used M-700pro!!!!





6) I recommend against Ebay purchases for new / inexperienced hams, etc....as the pitfalls are many....and the prices aren't that great either!!!
Yes, have a look at www.eham.net and www.qrz.com but also look at HRO and AES used equipment stocks....
(and even post here and on the SSCA disc board, that you're looking to buy a used M-710 or M-700pro....)





7) You can't go wrong with the recommendations I wrote here, and what Bill T. wrote.....
No need to throw darts anymore...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I'm really throwing darts against the board. I wish I had a little more time to research this and get my ham license first but i'm a little rushed with the rigging refresh.
And, as you can see, you do NOT need to make a radio / antenna tuner decision before/during your rigging refresh, so you DO have the time to research further....




I hope this helps...

John
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Old 27-03-2013, 13:03   #34
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Peter,
This is NOT directed specifically to you, but rather to everyone...(so please take no offense..


Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, do NOT do this....and please try not to tell others about these horrific modifications/adjustments....
Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Understand that you can easily increase the output of the 718 to 200 watts if you want the most powerful signal out there. Haven't done it so only reporting what I've heard. Peter O.
First, doing this will cause VERY high levels of transmit IMD products ("splatter" and "distortions") to come out of your radio, ruining communications for others, and most probably also cause increased RFI on your own boat...

And my guess is the signal would be so distorted that PACTOR signals would unusable or seriously degraded.....

This problem/issue is further exasperated/influenced negatively by the relatively low supply voltages available to the radio's PA, from our boat's house battery banks vs. a high-current 14vdc source...making it even worse on-board than it would be on a shore-power supply.....


Secondly, doing this mod/adjustment will most certainly cause a transmitter failure in short order....(although possible, probably not in the first few minutes, but I suspect within a few days/weeks)....
And, here again this transmitter failure issue is even further exasperated / quickened by the relatively low supply voltages available to the radio's PA....where the radio / PA will draw more current as the supply voltage drops, thereby exceeding the transistor's max current rating even sooner....


Thirdly....
This radio, and almost all other modern ham transceivers, are designed to output 100watts MAX (the Kenwood TS-480HX discussed here has TWO final PA's working in parallel, to accomplish its 200 watts MAX output), if they would work properly outputting more power, you can be assured that the marketing team would not allow them to be sold as "100 watt" radios!!!


And, finally....
With most modern ham transceivers already having pretty poor transmit IMD specs, the thought of some guys twiddling the "golden screwdriver" to see the meter deflect farther, make me cringe....


So, please I beg all of you, leave your radio's internal power/apc/alc controls alone....and do not cut some trace, or clip some diode, etc. to get more power....it will NOT help you, but it WILL add distortion products to your signal!!!
(oh, and if you have a mic gain or speech proc adjustment, please turn that down some, as well...)


If you need more signal:
a) Use a better antenna (Bill's vertical dipole, comes to mind)
b) Learn more about radiowave propagation and chose your band/freq better...
c) Buy/install a radio which is specifically designed with a higher power output....(TS-480HX, M-710/M-700pro/M-802, etc. or even a 250 watt / 500 watt Furuno, Sailor/Thrane&Thrane, etc...)



Sorry for the rant....just wanted to get the point across emphatically...

John
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Old 27-03-2013, 13:19   #35
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The 718 is a bit of a chameleon. Understand it is or was marketed as a marine radio under a different ID. The radio was supposedly designed to output more than the standard Ham output of 100 watts for it's other brethren but detuned. Yes, maybe for a radio that was designed to max out at 100 watts, upping the output will create all the problems you say. That is apparently not the case with the 718 though. I'm not a radio expert, far from it. It is just information that I've picked up on the web from supposedly reliable sources. I don't know how to make the modifications other than it is supposedly easy to do and doesn't hurt the quality of the RF output. One big caveat, is it takes a lot more amps going into the radio to get the extra wattage out. I just stumbled across this supposed unadvertised advantage of the 718 looking for something else. Since I didn't plan on making the mod, didn't bookmark it and can't remember where I saw it. Anyone interested could probably find information via Google search.
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Old 27-03-2013, 14:22   #36
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Peter,
I'm probably drifting Jared's thread way too much...but...
But the IC-718 does have a similar looking (not a twin, but it looks like it from the outside) associated radio, the IC-78.....but it is also a 100-watt transmit radio (although I believe it does have a different PA, the IC-78 is a 100-watt radio...) and even at that "100-watt" level it apparently does not meet the Part 80 transmit specs....
The IC-718 is not a "de-tuned" IC-78, it is a different radio...maybe only "slightly", depending on your definitions....but it IS a different radio....and even at that they are both only 100-watt radios....

I'm aware of the "internet" mods/fixes and rumors regarding many radios, including the 718, but the facts are what I posted above....
And, "upping the output" (as you wrote) of a IC-718 WILL have the effects that I wrote about....(so, yes, this IS the case with the 718..)
You can confirm this with Icom engineering department if you wish, but "them's the facts, man!"
Further, the 718, like many other modern ham transceivers has a leading-edge ALC spike that can also add to problems with splatter, etc...


Well, considering my words here are a "supposedly reliable source" as well...
Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
It is just information that I've picked up on the web from supposedly reliable sources.
It just shows you how "reliable" the internet is...


But, seriously, the supposedly reliable source of this info is wrong....please check this out with Icom engineering if you'd like....
But, even if you just look at the transmit IMD specs of the 718 in the product review/tests, you can simply interpolate the horrific IMD products at 200 watts output....(at least as long as the transistors hang in there!!!)
Quote:
Worst-case spectral display of the IC-718 transmitter during two-tone intermodulation distortion (IMD) testing. The worst-case third-order product is approximately 25 dB below PEP output, and the worst-case fifth-order is approximately 39 dB down. The transmitter was being operated at 100 W output at 7.200 MHz.
{And that's with the two tones at only 25 watts (6db below PEP), making the 3rd order products only 19db below the carrier/tone...}



I'm simply asking a favor for me and everyone else who uses HF radio (hams, maritime, aviation, civil defense, etc. etc.), PLEASE do not promote this....
It is VERY bad practice, and especially on our boats with relatively low supply voltage, will lead to both lots of distortion products and fairly quick transmitter failure.....

PLEASE don't do this....


And, please remember that I'm NOT panning the IC-718.....for the $$$ it's a good radio, but please do NOT modify it, nor make internal adjustments....



Fair winds...

John
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Old 27-03-2013, 15:10   #37
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

"I'm dropping my mast in a few weeks to replace my standing rigging and want to upgrade my communications equipment while i'm at it"
As only John seems to have noticed, your choice of radios and antennas will have nothing to do with the mast and rigging, so there's absolutely no rush on this.
If you were going to install a backstay insulator (and you COULD still install just one, in the backstay itself clear above the split) that's the only thing that might be needed "now".
The choice of radio, other antenna configurations, all that stuff? Take your sweet time about it. For instance, the Icom 706 series had a great reputation. Except, especially if you mess up the autotuner, it is easy to blow out the final power transistors on them, and both the original and replacement series are long out of production. Would you really want to buy something that could be easily damaged and impossible to repair?
You might want to join the ARRL arrl.org ask for the new ham rate, and then look at the reviews in their archives as well as the reviews online at eham.net to get some different opinions.
I'd agree with the folks who say not to buy used gear from private parties right now. You just don't know if it is working properly, fully properly, and by the time you do find out? Better to pay the bit extra, get something from a store with a warranty, whether that's new or used.
If there's a ham radio STORE within a hour or two drive from you, better yet, go visit. Listen and play. The controls and the way menus are buried or organized will be veyr different from one to the next. Audio may also sound very different to you. And who knows, you might wind up buying the whole setup while you're there.<G>
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Old 28-03-2013, 00:47   #38
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Well I was thinking of doing it with the mast down as i figured wires need to be run up the mast.

This has been a great thread of information for me. I didnt realize how much stuff would be needed for it even buying used gear with the tunners and grounding plate counterpoise. Lot more stuff that I really wanted to take on while also dealing with my standing rigging.

I did however buy a si-tex nav fax ssb receiver to meet some of my goals for weather and possibly listen to some nets. I obviously cant transmit which makes it a lot simpler to install. Its at least something to get me introduced to radio's and something to tinker with while i learn more.

thanks again for all the great info!
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Old 28-03-2013, 05:06   #39
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The Icom706 is agood radio HOWEVER, it cannot be programmed with a PC. It is a pia if you have more than a few freqs to store in memory.

All the following radios can be programmed with a PC
The Kenwood TS480HX is a 200W radio with modern DSP receiver, I use one in my ham shack....great little radio. It only covers HF & 6 meters.

The Yaesu FT-857d is my favorite for both boat and car. It is very small, covers HF 6+2meters and 440mhz.
Both interface with SCS P3 modem or run with a PC + signal link for WINMOR Winlink email.

Combine these with a good tuner and ground, you will be pleased.

Good Luck
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Old 28-03-2013, 07:22   #40
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Jared,
I'm glad that we've helped!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
Well I was thinking of doing it with the mast down as i figured wires need to be run up the mast.
1) Now, you know otherwise, so you can proceed with your rigging work, and the only thing to consider there, regarding ham / marine-HF radio, is whether to buy insulator(s) for the backstay....
And, you'll be able to concentrate on radios, etc. when you have the time...





Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I didnt realize how much stuff would be needed for it even buying used gear with the tunners and grounding plate counterpoise. Lot more stuff that I really wanted to take on while also dealing with my standing rigging.
2) Jared, please understand that there really isn't much "stuff" needed at all (just radio, tuner, antenna, RF ground/counterpoise, and the wiring/connections), and NONE of it needs to be done with the mast down....although you can probably save yourself some $$$ by having your rigger install backstay insulators at the same time he's doing the rest of the work, these CAN be done quite easily with the mast up as well...







Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I did however buy a si-tex nav fax ssb receiver to meet some of my goals for weather and possibly listen to some nets. I obviously cant transmit which makes it a lot simpler to install. Its at least something to get me introduced to radio's and something to tinker with while i learn more.
3) Hmmm, I'd have NOT recommended that radio....it is too expensive (~ $400 - $500) for what you get....it isn't much better than a $100 portable SW receiver, actually not even that good....and for less than the $400-$500 Si-Tex, you could've bought an excellent condition used IC-735....

Here are some links to recent discussions on the Si-Tex receiver....
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/si-tex-ssb-reciever-81465.html
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/ssb-receiver-60234.html
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f121/weather-fax-si-tex-nav-fax-200-stand-alone-68317.html

Sorry to be so blunt, but it's really a piece of junk, especially compared to the receiver of even a basic HF ham radio....
If you can cancel your order, or return it, that's what I'd recommend...
(In any case, do yourself a favor and do not take further advice from whomever recommended that Si-Tex receiver for you....you'll have a lot more $$$ in your pocket and be happier with your radios...


Fair winds..

John
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Old 28-03-2013, 07:26   #41
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

I'm afraid I'm with John and agree to try to return that radio. Even a good HF radio is easily outperformed by a transceiver that can tune the antenna. You will have trouble receiving even weatherfax with the si-tex.

Edit: and it needs the same antenna....
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Old 28-03-2013, 08:19   #42
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

I am a HAM and have been for quite some time. The ham stations are a great source of info but there are a limited amt of them. It's better to purchase an SSB with Ham because there are more cruiser nets on SSB than HAM. I just installed a new ICOM 802 with Ham to use on my next circumnavigation. You will get more info on SSB channels than Ham.
Go to Latitude38.com and search for an article titled "Idiot's guide to marine ssb". Tells you why HAM is not needed and why the ssb nets are a better option. What the author says is very correct.
I use my HAM for long distance communications usually 4 to 5 thousand mile range to get a hand off for a phone call. But for what you want in cruising down to Mexico the ssb is all you need. You don't need a HAM license to get the info you need. And you must realize that the tech license does not give you the permissions you need for most of the ham channels.
Now purchasing a used ssb/ham for under $500.00 is not going to be easy. It will be old technology and hard to tune when using ham. I've sailed from the US all the way down to Patagonia and seldom used ham but used ssb daily for the weather net's.
I would suggest you call Steven Bowden at SeaTech Systems ( 1-800-444-2581). He is an expert in communications and weather systems and will set you in the right direction. He also has a back stay antenna that's easy to install and allows you to use all of the hams output. If you are going to sail offshore it's best to spend a little more in a SSB radio with newer technology than to risk your life as well as those on board with you on older poor functioning radios.
Good luck
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Old 28-03-2013, 11:05   #43
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Kingwoodie,

I have a great deal of respect for Gordon West, the author of the article you cited in Latitude 38. His contributions to the radio world are legion.

However, I think you may have misinterpreted some of what he said, or intended to say about ham SSB vs. marine SSB.

And, your statement:

"The ham stations are a great source of info but there are a limited amt of them. It's better to purchase an SSB with Ham because there are more cruiser nets on SSB than HAM. I just installed a new ICOM 802 with Ham to use on my next circumnavigation. You will get more info on SSB channels than Ham."

....is misleading.

First, there are still lots of maritime nets on the ham bands, as there have been for many decades. Some cover the US East coast and Caribbean, others the West Coast and Mexico. Still others reach deep into the Mediterranean and across oceans worldwide.

Here are some of the East Coast nets, both ham and marine. Green is marine, blue is ham.

http://www.docksideradio.com/PDF%20F...oast%20EDT.pdf

Here are some of the Mexico and West Coast nets, both ham and marine.

http://www.docksideradio.com/PDF%20F...ico%20Nets.pdf

The Waterway Radio and Cruising Club, of which I am Commodore for this 50th Anniversary Year, has a very active Net every morning on 7268kHz LSB. The Waterway Net provides weather and safety information, as well as maritime position reporting and other services for the boating community.

The Maritime Mobile Service Net (14300kHz most of the day) has a longer reach, providing services out into the Atlantic, into Mexico and the Caribbean, and occasionally further.

The Pacific Maritime Mobile Net reaches way out into the Pacific Ocean.

There are many, many other ham nets of interest to boaters, even if their principal purpose is not marine. One extremely useful net here on the east coast is EASTCARS on 7255kHz LSB...it runs most of the day.

One of the principal strengths of ham SSB as contrasted with marine SSB is that there are so many hams (several million worldwide; over 700,000 in the U.S. alone), and the ham bands are almost always alive.

As Gordon West said in his article, you could tune your marine SSB across all the stored (marine) SSB frequencies during the day, and not hear anything. You simply can't do that with ham radio: there is ALWAYS activity on one band or another, and if you know how to operate your radio you can always make solid contacts. This is an important safety feature, IMHO.

One more thing: with very few exceptions there are no "marine SSB/ham" transceivers out there, i.e., those which have received "type approval" or "certification" for use on both the marine bands and the amateur bands. Possible exceptions are the old SG2000 "multipurpose" transceiver, and the Yaesu System 600. The current Icom 802 is NOT one of these. While it was advertised in some places as being "ham ready", it was not type certificated by the FCC for this purpose, and Icom does not advertise it as being such.

Bottom line: both the HF marine bands and the HF ham bands are useful to present-day mariners. Each has its own advantages and limitations. If possible, a well-found cruising vessel should have access to each.

Bill, WA6CCA
Commodore, Waterway Radio and Cruising Club
7268kHz LSB daily @ 0745 Eastern Time
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Old 28-03-2013, 11:13   #44
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post
I wasnt going to insulate my backstay as its split and would require 3 insulators and each one of those puppies were several hundred each!

Hopefully I can make it work another way...


Thanks!
-Jared
Hi Jared and welcome to the forum. I have a Yaesu 840 with an MFJ manual tuner ($50). The 840 is my 2nd. one. The other sold with the boat. I buy then for $500 on the ARRL classified section if they still have it. I have had Icom's and Kenwoods also. The 840 is a no frills radio. I also use to do the insulated back stays and miles of copper foil in the bilge. What a waste of money and time that was. Now I have a piece of vinyl covered 1/8" wire suspended 3ft. below the mast crane to 4ft. off the back deck beside the backstay. I have a copper plate bolted to the hull (4"X10") with it's own dedicated zinc, for a ground. Gorden West is a wealth of knowledge. He experimented with antennas and ground planes. I get very good signal reports. Hope this helps.
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Old 28-03-2013, 20:56   #45
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Location: Singapore
Boat: Carlisle Yachts: 59' Cutter-rigged Deck Saloon
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Originally Posted by matauwhi View Post
G'day, mate. I spent my money on an ICOM-706 and have NEVER regretted it. Works excellent with my Pactor II pro (upgraded to III) for emails and weather fax. With patience you can pick one up in your budget range from the sites given to you above. All the best. Cheers.
I bought an ICOM 706 MkII and have never ever had it work properly

I have insulators on the back stays

Is there anyone in Singapore who can help me sort it out ? Happy to pay for assistance
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