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Old 17-11-2006, 15:54   #1
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Communication Licensing Requirements

Aloha All,

I received the below message from Bill and thought I'd pass it on to all who are interested. I've been on the water for more than 40 years and didn't know it so maybe there might be someone else out there who is a sailor who also doesn't know it.

The only license I ever received was an FCC license to operate a marine VHF on a sailboat I purchased in the early 80s. Then I took a HAM Technician exam a few months ago. Neither one of those covers transmission on marine bands of the SSB.

I've still got a lot to learn. Please help.

Who uses what for communications at sea?

Kind regards,

JohnL

"John,

You're not old and confused. It's just all that hooch you've been mixing with the coconut and pineapple juice out there in Hawaii :-))

A ham license allows you to transmit on the ham bands. Period.

A marine license allows you to transmit on the marine bands. Period.

An aircraft license allows you to transmit on the aircraft bands. Period.

There....that's not so difficult, is it?

Bill"
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Old 18-11-2006, 04:11   #2
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Quote:
A ham license allows you to transmit on the ham bands. Period.
A marine license allows you to transmit on the marine bands. Period.
An aircraft license allows you to transmit on the aircraft bands. Period.
The ship at sea needs a station license for an SSB and the person operating the SSB radio needs a license too for one of multiple bands. The EPIRB needs a license. For VHF in US water you don't need either. But almost every place else you do and the VHF license you get in the US is what you need if you are US and travel beyond the US.

GMRS radios need a license in the US. FRS radios do not. VHF Marine radios are not licnesed for use on land. Broadcasting on TV bands is prohibited as well as a host of other frequencies.

OK so it's not that easy

You use what you need for the purpose you expect. Range of transmission usually drives the need.
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Old 18-11-2006, 06:13   #3
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FCC rules and regs are covered under CFR 47, here is a link:

http://wireless.fcc.gov/rules.html

Alternatively, you can read all of Title 47 of the CFR at another govt site (if you have insomnia).

You need a license from the FCC in order to operate any radio emitting device on your boat. This lic can be obtained by completing an online form and submitting $160. There is no other requirement to operate an marine type certified SSB (such as an ICOM M-700 SSB) aboard your vessal on any marine SSB freq. It is that simple. Marine SSB freqs can be found in REED'S marine almanac and elsewhere.

A single license from the FCC covers ALL MARINE radio emitting devices on your boat (this obviously excludes HAM radios): radar, EPIRB, VHF, SSB.

Obviously, HAM radio's and HAM freq's are a completely different matter and are covered under separate FCC rules (see the link above).

Further, if you do not intend to leave US waters or communicate with a foreign station, the reqirement for an FCC license can be waived (see the license application). The online license app takes about 5 min to fill out (and then you write the check).

See the FCC for specific info. The net is not always accurate, I would urge you to get first hand info, as in the link above. Alternatively, just go through their online license application (you do not have to complete it).

Hope this helps

My best regards,

J
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Old 18-11-2006, 08:24   #4
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http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form605/605main.pdf

I believe this site is the exact form that is needed to get a Marine Radio License. I'm ign;rant on this subject so please let me know if it is not.
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Old 18-11-2006, 11:40   #5
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Thanks for your informative comments.

While at sea and when communicating what do you use most? VHF, Marine Band or HAM Bands?

I'm not much of a talker and not interested in talking with strangers worldwide but it would be nice to be able to reach someone in an emergency while you are out of sight of another station. I have used VHF frequently and know it is line of sight. I will have a VHF onboard. What else would be recommended?

Is this in another thread.

JohnL
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:19   #6
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Using a ham radio on marine frequencies?

Is it possible to buy a ham radio (which should transmit on most frequencies) and restrict its use to marine frequencies under a marine radio licence?
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:24   #7
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Quote:
Is it possible to buy a ham radio (which should transmit on most frequencies) and restrict its use to marine frequencies under a marine radio licence?
You don't need a license to listen on any frequency. You need the license to transmit. You need the FCC station licnese to have a radio on the ship and the license to transmit is by person and each person needs one if they want to transmit.

Actually HAM channels can be a valuable tool for information. The marine band will handle email and weather just fine though. There are also various nets that broadcast at various times with cruiser information and news.

As noted above everything is now handled with the FCC form 605 but in order that it not be totally simple you need a lot of schedules to actually do something.
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:27   #8
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Chris31415,

The answer to your question is technically and operationally YES, but legally NO.

It is illegal to use a ham radio in any other service, including the marine service.

Many people do, though, at their own risk.

Bill
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:37   #9
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Bill, could you use a radio normally used for ham operations on marine frequencies if you personally have both ham and marine licenses? Do you need two different station licenses too.

I guess I'm just being lazy and not reading the regs but it might be very easy for you to answer the above rather than me pouring over reading material I probably won't understand anyway.

Thanks for your time and guidance.

JohnL
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:52   #10
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Looks like i'm going to have to get HF radio for the next boat seeing as I won't have an aerial 50' above the water anymore. Also Australias VHF monitoring facilities have gone backwards over the years with the closing of Brisbane Radio and Telstra seaphone facilities and others.

So we were wanting to investigate getting HAM radio and fitting the marine channels for transmitting and recieving.

Is this even possible? seems you can get a second hand HAM radio for a fraction of the cost of a marine HF.

Dave
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Old 18-11-2006, 16:14   #11
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JohnL,

You don't need a station license for ham radio. Your ham license permits you to operate a ham radio just about anywhere you like (in the licensed country or on the high seas). When you enter foreign waters, you need to have a license from that country; some countries have semi-automatic licensing, based on your U.S. license. See ARRL site for details.

Your marine radio licenses (you need two: your operators license and your station license) DO NOT allow you to use just any old radio on the marine bands. Ham radios are ILLEGAL for use on the marine bands. Some folks do it, anyway, but at their own risk as noted above.

For legal marine band use you need a radio which has been type-accepted for use in the marine radio service. Yes, they're more expensive. They're also built to higher tolerances, especially with regard to transmitter splatter (spurious emission repression), lower voltage tolerance, higher frequency stability than most ham radios without special crystal ovens, etc., etc. Some, like the Icom M-802 are also rated for continuous output; many marine radios are rated at 150 watts PEP vs. the 100 watts PEP which is the norm for ham radios.

Dave: yes, it's possible and cheaper. But, it's not legal. Different authorities treat this with different degrees of enforcement.

Bill
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Old 18-11-2006, 16:48   #12
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Some radios do both HAM and SSB

Quote:
A full key pad, over 1300 channels, wide band RX, Ham band TX (license required) and RX included, one-touch e-mail access (a SSB first!) with no optional filters required, front panel headset jack (to keep from waking up the crew), and many more thoughtful features make this remoteable control head SSB Icom’s most advanced ever.
This quote is from the ICOM literature for the IC-M802. Two radios in one. Just keep in mind that two licenses are required.
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Old 18-11-2006, 20:08   #13
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Thanks again Bill for the good info. It sounds like I need two radios if I want HAM and Marine unless I get a unit as Jim is describing. Probably pretty costly.
Bill, I can now understand why I'm not the only person confused by this. It really is good that I started asking questions on this thread. I've learned a lot.
It sounds like what a person needs to know for licensing on SSB marine bands is how to pay money for two licenses and how pick out an expensive marine band radio and install it. Ham is cheaper with only the individual being licensed but requires some knowledge that you prove through passing tests. Am I getting close?
Please don't take this as criticism of the marine band SSB users, I'm just trying to get a perspective on this that I can wrap my mind around.
Regards, JohnL
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Old 19-11-2006, 00:42   #14
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Originally Posted by SkiprJohn
Bill, I can now understand why I'm not the only person confused by this. It really is good that I started asking questions on this thread. I've learned a lot.
It sounds like what a person needs to know for licensing on SSB marine bands is how to pay money for two licenses and how pick out an expensive marine band radio and install it. Ham is cheaper with only the individual being licensed but requires some knowledge that you prove through passing tests. Am I getting close?
Various bits that may be helpful:

There is a book with some clever name like "Using Marine SSB" that is a nice instructional book. The edition I read was printed in the UK, so some of the regulatory things were different, but it was mostly useful. You might find it useful.


If you are staying within the US and do not need a shortwave transmitter, you do not need a radio license for your boat -- you can use your marine band VHF and radar without a license. In fact, when you apply for the license, you must assert that you NEED it, e.g. because you plan international travel.


The FCC forms for getting a "Ship's Station License" (for the boat) and the "Restricted Radiotelephone Operator License" (for each radio operator) are a masterpiece of twisted and confusing bureacracy. For example, form 605 says "pay $200" (for the ship's license), but you have to send the check AND a "Payment Advice Form" that says you are paying $200 for a ship's license. Apparently, the license application form alone isn't enough of a clue for them to know why you are sending money...

IIRC, I used 7 forms getting my boat, my self, and my wife licensed.

It is not possible to fill out the forms correctly without paying careful attention to the instructions. The FCC warns you that if you screw up the form, they may reject your application and keep your money. I knew what I wanted and still spent several hours figuring out which forms to fill out and which options to select. I also suggest DO NOT attempt to use the online filing.


I note that some vendors will sell you a marine HF radio and also file your license paperwork for you. (They do it all the time, so they have already figured out all the details.) I remember one was www.hfradio.com. They sell install-it-yourself packages. I don't recall their prices being out of line from other sources. (I planned to buy a radio from them, but I put off making that purchase.)


If you will use Sailmail for short email messages at sea, you can use your marine HF radio. Sailmail's license covers you. You also need a computer and a particular type of modem. See sailmail.com.


There are various "nets" on amateur radio frequencies that are interesting to boaters. A net is a coordinated discussion among several stations.

If you also want ham radio, buy the marine SSB unit and have the vendor "open up" the radio so it can transmit on the ham bands too. (It is legal to use pretty much anything to transmit on the ham bands, including stuff you build yourself.) In the US, you need "General" or "Extra" license to TRANSMIT on HF amateur bands but do not need a license to possess the radio. (Technician license is only good for VHF.)

There is a written test for the amateur licenses, but it is not that hard. Books are available, e.g. from arrl.org. You may hear about a book called "Now You're Talking", but that has been superceded by a new book. I forget the name.

Presently, you must pass a morse code test to get a General or Extra ham license, but last year, the FCC proposed to drop that requirement. Rumors have been "real soon now" for quite some time, which could mean a few months or could mean another year. (This is a very emotional issue for some people - if you read any amateur radio forums online, try to ignore the whole morse code debate. There is much animosity, but little useful discussion.)


b.t.w. I notice I used "HF" and "SSB" in this message. HF actually refers to frequencies between 2 and 30 MHz. SSB is a type of signal. For our purposes "marine HF" and "marine SSB" are the same thing.
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