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Old 12-02-2016, 08:25   #1
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Convert Icom 718 to SSB

I have a new Icom 718 ham radio with a matching Icom AH-4 antenna tuner. I am a full time cruiser in here in Mexico and I would like to be able to receive and transmit on SSB bands as well as ham. I have the information on which diode on the ham radio board to clip in order to allow the radio to handle it but will the Icom AH-4 tuner allow tuning to the SSB bands after I clip the diode on the radio. I don't want to clip the diode if my tuner won't allow the bands. Thanks.

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Old 12-02-2016, 08:32   #2
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Didn't have a problem with mine. HRO did mine 10 yrs ago when I bought it. Still working fine after circumnavigation. I did my dual band hand held with no problem. Good luck!

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Old 12-02-2016, 08:41   #3
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Do you have the Icom AH-4 antenna? Where I bought my ham from, not sure if it was HRO, in the States, said it was not legal for them to clip for SSB.
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Old 12-02-2016, 09:02   #4
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Pretty sure we have an AH-4. Technically it is not legal to transmit from a ham radio on the SSB freq's as they are not "crystal locked" on a freq. That said, I would go for it. I believe the Sailmail freq's are on SSB. I'm sure the serious pros will be here soon and give you more info than you will ever need!

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Old 12-02-2016, 09:08   #5
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Just a few clarifications, please:

1. The OP is talking about the marine SSB bands. Technically, the term, "SSB" does not mean the marine SSB bands, though the term is misused frequently. The IC718 IS a SSB transceiver, though it is NOT a marine SSB transceiver.

2. It is not necessarily illegal to "open up" the IC718 or any other radio. For example, if you're a ham and wish to work the 60 meter frequencies (5mHz), or you participate in the military MARS program, no problem.

3. If you are a mariner and intend to use the radio for emergencies only, then opening up the radio is OK. However, it is illegal to use the 718 to transmit on the marine frequencies -- or any other non-ham frequencies, for that matter -- unless you have a bona fide life-threatening emergency, in which case you may use "any means to attract attention and summon help". You may listen, however, and the 718 requires no modification to listen.

4. The AH-4 and most automatic antenna tuners will work fine on the HF marine bands from 4mHz upwards. No modification is required.

5. Greg, not quite. To be used legally on the marine bands a radio must have been "type certificated" by the FCC. Crystal-controlled is not required. You are correct re: SailMail. That takes place on the marine bands. The ham radio equivalent is WinLink, with several software & hardware ways to reach this network of digital stations on the marine bands.

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Old 12-02-2016, 12:06   #6
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Good info. Thank you!
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Old 12-02-2016, 12:17   #7
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Remember, the marine SSB bands are often Duplex mode....they transmit and receive on different freqs. You will need to program those in on your radio. (if it allows you to) My Kenwood allowed it.


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Old 13-02-2016, 08:51   #8
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Usually one gets a marine ssb radio and then convert it to ham. And since the ham license now is real easy to get, no excuses not to get it.
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Old 13-02-2016, 09:55   #9
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by reed1v View Post
Usually one gets a marine ssb radio and then convert it to ham. And since the ham license now is real easy to get, no excuses not to get it.
These days, if you buy a new radio (really new, not new old-stock) the only practical choice is the Icom M-802 which does the ham radio bands right out of the box.

And, yes, a ham license is easy to get....just takes a bit of study. There are online courses, excellent printed tutorials, and many ham clubs offer study courses. Also, many testing sites give ham exams frequently.

I'd certainly urge every sailor to get a ham license. Go for the General Class; the Technician Class won't help much on the water.

The ham study is a good thing to do even if you don't intend to obtain radio equipment or use a ham license, because the radio and electrical theory portions will come in useful in your maritime wanderings.

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Old 13-02-2016, 13:54   #10
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Concur with WA6CCA. The knowledge you gain from studying for the Ham General License test is very useful especially if you have little knowledge of how HF radio works.

Problem with M-802 is it's so expensive. Have $400 in the 718 vice $2,000 plus for the M-802. Entire cost of getting the 718 on line was almost half M-802 radio alone. Would have been cheaper still if I'd been able to use the AH-4 tuner. If you're short on bucks, ham is the only way to go. Bought the 718 used with it already opened up. It's lived on the boat for a number of years and still works fine. Most any electronics technician can do the modification to transmit on all HF frequencies. Takes more time to open up the box and get at the offending components than to do the mod.

That's not to say that the M-802 is not worth the money it's just that a $1,000 is a couple months cruising if you are frugal.
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Old 13-02-2016, 15:20   #11
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Yes, but lets be sure we're comparing apples with apples, not oranges.

The M802 is NOT the only game in town, unless we're talking about brand spanking new, in which case you'll need $1,800 for the radio alone.

However, there are LOTS of radios, both ham and marine, which can be had used in excellent condition from about $200 on up. The IC718 is a very nice ham radio which these days fetches about $500-600 used: more than its new price was just a few years ago. But there are many others in that price range and below.

Depends what features you want. If you just want to be able to talk and listen on the ham and marine bands, then just about any used SSB radio will work for you. If you want to be able to work the digital modes and send/receive email, then a little more money is involved. If you want really fast email, comparatively, then the Pactor 4 modem alone will cost upwards of $1,600.

If you're a ham and you want to work the ham bands mostly, then you'll need a radio with a real VFO. Most all ham radios have this feature, and most marine radios do not -- excepting the M802.

If you want to work several frequency bands -- ham and/or marine -- then you'll need some sort of antenna tuner, manual or automatic.

If you want HF/DSC, then you're pretty well stuck with the M-802 unless you're a billionaire and want to buy the incredibly expensive high-end marine radios.

So what if you're a ham and you want a bare-bones low-cost setup, but one which will cover thousands of miles. Is that possible? Sure is. I did it for years on chartered boats. My very portable and very low-cost station consisted of:

- an Atlas 215X ham transceiver;
- a pre-made 20-meter vertical dipole antenna; and
- a small manual antenna tuner

Total cost for this setup these days: well under $500.

What will it do?

Well, I regularly worked from the Virgin Islands back to my then home in Morocco, and ran phone patches with my family back in the mainland U.S.

The trick? The 20-meter vertical dipole antenna. This antenna has absolutely spectacular performance on a boat. I've posted and written about them for years.

How did I do it on a charter boat?

1. Found a place for the small transceiver and tuner;
2. Attached the power cord's big alligator clips to the house battery bank;
3. Hoisted one end of the vertical dipole with a spare halyard; tied off the lower end to the pushpit; and
4. Ran the coax feedline back to the tuner/transceiver.

That's it. Total setup time about 15 minutes.

The tuner was just to trim the already-tuned 20-meter dipole antenna. Not strictly necessary, but I like to keep SWR down to 1:1 if possible.

Success with HF radio depends on what you want to do, and on how knowledgeable and experienced you are.

Bottom line: a SSB setup on a boat needn't cost $3,000 or more, though it can easily reach $5.000 or more if you go the M-802/AT-140/Pactor4 route and have it professionally installed. However, it CAN cost as little as $500 and still be quite workable.

Bill
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Old 13-02-2016, 21:05   #12
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

It is worth remembering that 'marine' also implies 'built for the marine environment'. If the radio is a factor in you emergency set up are build quality and robustness acceptable in a ham radio. - I am not a Ham, no license, never handled a ham set so don't know the answer, just suggesting the question should be part of the thinking.
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Old 15-02-2016, 01:11   #13
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Bottom line: a SSB setup on a boat needn't cost $3,000 or more, though it can easily reach $5.000 or more if you go the M-802/AT-140/Pactor4 route and have it professionally installed. However, it CAN cost as little as $500 and still be quite workable.

Bill
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Great info Bill,

Would you have a link to a similar antenna that I could rig permanently on my 34ft sloop?

Thanks, Dave
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Old 15-02-2016, 05:59   #14
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olddave View Post
Bottom line: a SSB setup on a boat needn't cost $3,000 or more, though it can easily reach $5.000 or more if you go the M-802/AT-140/Pactor4 route and have it professionally installed. However, it CAN cost as little as $500 and still be quite workable.

Bill
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Great info Bill,

Would you have a link to a similar antenna that I could rig permanently on my 34ft sloop?

Thanks, Dave[/QUOTE]

Hi, Dave...

Sorry I don't have anything online at the moment, but if you send me an email I can send you some pix and info.

My email is bill at wdsg dot com

Bill
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Old 16-02-2016, 15:45   #15
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Re: Convert Icom 718 to SSB

Well, thank goodness for Bill!
He gave you guys some great info!

Sorry, I've been busy with family matters, but I'm here now....and hopefully I can add a bit of clarification to some points that might be helpful...


1) First off, the ONLY time you'll need "duplex" mode is when contacting some public Maritime Coast Stations, such as WLO/KLB, etc...
But remember, many public coast stations do not monitor any voice channels at all, rather maintain a MF/HF-DSC watch and then listen for your call or call you on the associated SSB Voice channel, only after you've made your initial contact via MF/HF-DSC, so without this DSC capability, the only "need" for marine duplex freqs would be to contact WLO/KLB (in the US)...
http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html

And for use of the USCG HF "working channels" (AFTER initial contact is made either via one of the GMDSS SSB Voice Simplex channels, or via HF-DSC)...
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Remember, the marine SSB bands are often Duplex mode....they transmit and receive on different freqs. You will need to program those in on your radio. (if it allows you to) My Kenwood allowed it.


I wouldn’t worry about anything else. No one is watching.
2) Secondly, the horrible performance (both "on-channel" and "off-channel"/interference) that the typical HF ham radio exhibits when operated at "battery level voltages", must be understood!
Many/Most HF ham radios will simply NOT transmit (shut down completely or simply shut-down the transmitter) if the voltage supplied to them when transmitting is below 12.2 - 12.3vdc....and almost all exhibit distortions ("fm'ing", etc.)even with voltages of 12.3 to 12.6vdc, under transmit...and even if you get lucky, and have 12.6vdc or so at the radio when transmitting, most HF ham rigs will not output their full power or meet the spec's, at that lower voltage....as they are all designed for a clean/regulated 13.8vdc...

Remember that if your panel volt meter is showing 12.6vdc (a fully charged battery bank), and even if you have a direct battery connection for the radio, with correctly sized wire, a standard 3% voltage drop will give you 12.2vdc AT THE RADIO, when transmitting!!!
Ever wonder why you hear some guys running their diesel engines when on-the-radio??
A good rule-of-thumb is: If using an HF ham radio on-board, make sure you have at least 13vdc to 13.2vdc at the batteries, in order to allow the radio to work at all, and preferably 14.2 - 14.4vdc at the batteries, for peak performance!

The above contrasts with the real marine radios ("type-certified" HF maritime radios) such as the Icom's (M-700, M-700Pro, M-710, M-802), Furuno's, Sailor's, JRC's, Thrane, Skanti's, etc., which will work to their designed specs, throughout their specified operating voltage range...
In the case of the M-802, that is from ~ 11.5vdc to 15.5vdc...at the radio...full-power, no distortions, no interference!



3) Third, there are a LOT of people "watching".....if you care about the many 1000's of sailors/mariners (who use HF maritime communications daily), as well as your fellow "cruiser's" (who also use HF comms, daily)....

Please forgive me for the minutia here....I'm not trying to nit-pick, just trying to explain things!

Use of an inferior transmitter, which has significantly worse transmit spectral purity than a "type certified" marine HF transceiver, DOES cause interference to other users of the Maritime HF channels/freqs...even if adjusted and operated "properly" and within the limits of it's "normal" operating parameters....
The IC-718 has, for example a reported 3rd order transmit IMD spec of only -25db from PEP and a 5th order of only -39db....with higher order products continuing on (7th order is -50db)....vs. the M-802's - 47db and -50db and -60db (3rd, 5th, and 7th, respectively), and all higher orders significantly lower...
From the July 2000, ARRL Product Review, of the IC-718:
Quote:
third-order product is approximately 25 dB below PEP output, and the worst-case fifth-order is approximately 39 dB down.
{FYI, the IC-718 is one of the "better" of the modern ham radios in this regard, most are worse....the venerable IC-706 has IMD products that look like a big fat Christmas tree! with its 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th down only -31, -35, -40, -43...}

What this means in the real world is that the (unknowing) user of the inferior transmitter, is causing interference to someone on an adjacent channel 20 to 40 times more severe / stronger than someone using a type certified marine transceiver.

And this can also cause interference to other HF services (such as aviation, amateur, gov't users, etc.)...

Further, in addition to the inferior transmitter, many times it is the user who misunderstands how-to properly adjust the many settings of the typical ham radio (which are NOT able to be adjusted on the type-certified marine HF radio), that ends up causing the radio to seriously interfere with other users....as well as, unknown to the user, adversely effecting the actual performance of this inferior transmitter (in addition to the distorted audio and difficulty in completely comms, this is very common among Winlink users with misadjusted radios)

Anyone ever heard someone complaining they couldn't ckeck into a net, 'cause someone in their anchorage was trying to connect to Sailmail or Winlink??? Or vice-versa, someone connect with Sailmail or Winlink 'cause some yahoo was gabbing away on the radio??
If everyone was using a proper marine radio, AND had their modem drive levels properly adjusted, there would be no interference issues...

And....



4) And, when Bill writes we need to compare apples to apples, and not to oranges....he is talking about a LOT more than just the features of a new modern, high-end, HF-DSC-SSB radio versus a basic, entry-level HF ham radio...
A lot more here than meets the eye!
Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Yes, but lets be sure we're comparing apples with apples, not oranges.
Yes, you can find a nice IC-735, or old Atlas 215x, etc. and equip your boat with them, along with a few simple, tuned/resonant antennas (or an old, basic, manual antenna tuner, etc.), and for a few hundred dollars, have a workable HF communications system on-board....but..
But, that doesn't really compare to what most here-abouts refer to as an "SSB radio"....
Apples and Oranges!

FYI...
The Icom M-802 sells for about $1800, new....and used, for about $1000....
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components
And this compares well with similarly featured ham radios, which sell for about $1500 to $3000, new....and $750 to $1500, used...

All-in, an M-802, AT-140, all cables/connectors, etc. installation parts/pieces, etc. including a self-install guide and telephone tech support, is about $2600...all-in!
(Please remember, to compare the RADIO to another RADIO, the M-802 sells from $1800, new...and about $1000, used....a far cry from the "$5000" cost that bandied about!!)


Although long since out-of-production, and all are "used", the older, NON-DSC Icom M-700pro's or M-710's, sell for about $400 - $500....(and are a MUCH better choice for a "basic" HF comms set-up on-board, than an Icom IC-718....for about the same money!!)




5) It's this strange (and totally unnecessary) push for "e-mail" and "data comms" (typically via Sailmail), that drives up the perceived costs of what many call "Marine SSB"!!
But, in reality also would drive up the cost of the "ham" set-up as well, should you desire to buy a PACTOR modem...
A PACTOR III modem is ~ $1300 and a PACTOR IV is now about $1650 to $1975...
Pactor Modem Kit Contents and Pricing.htm

This is why many offshore sailors, and long-range cruisers, have long ago decided they have no need for e-mail at sea / on-passage....and find e-mail connectivity (and internet access) via Wi-Fi and cellular/3G/4G/LTE solutions, when in port and/or near-shore...

All the weather info you could ever need (including the "gold standard" of offshore/hi-seas marine weather) is available multiple times each day, for FREE...without the need for a PACTOR modem!!
Please see here for some details...
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


I understand being on a budget, and when $1000 savings can allow you to cruise a few more months, I'm loath to tell someone how to spend their hard-earned money!!!
But, please remember, the Icom M-802 sells for about $1800, new....and used, for about $1000....
http://www.docksideradio.com/Icom%20SSB%20Radios.htm
And this compares well with similarly featured ham radios, which sell for about $1500 to $3000, new....and $750 to $1500, used...to try to compare a new M-802 to a IC-718 is unfair comparison...apples-to-oranges!
Try comparing a M-700Pro or M-710 (either selling for about $400 - $500). to a IC-718, and the M-700pro and M-710 win, hands-down!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Problem with M-802 is it's so expensive. Have $400 in the 718 vice $2,000 plus for the M-802. Entire cost of getting the 718 on line was almost half M-802 radio alone.
All-in, an M-802, AT-140, all cables/connectors, etc. installation parts/pieces, etc. including a self-install guide and telephone tech support, is about $2600...all-in!
(Please remember, to compare the RADIO to another RADIO, the M-802 sells from $1800, new...and about $1000, used....a far cry from the "$5000" cost that bandied about!!)



6) And, for much more, please watch the videos and read the "stickies" up on the top of the Marine Electronics page....

For info regarding:

Maritime HF Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)


HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX

New HF-DSC Explanation and LIVE Demonstration Videos


Icom M-802 Specifics / Instruction
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call




7) Bill's words here are good (my blue highlighting added for emphasis):
Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Yes, but lets be sure we're comparing apples with apples, not oranges...


Bottom line: a SSB setup on a boat needn't cost $3,000 or more, though it can easily reach $5.000 or more if you go the M-802/AT-140/Pactor4 route and have it professionally installed. However, it CAN cost as little as $500 and still be quite workable.

Bill
WA6CCA
My "bottom line" is about the same as his....just that I'm a proponent of HF-DSC (and as much of the GMDSS as we can afford to equip with), for all...



Again, I hope my digression into details didn't confuse anyone....I really hope it helped!

Fair winds..

John
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