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Old 26-01-2013, 14:46   #31
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Re: Ham License

Dockhead almost got it right. Sailmail is an excellent commercial service which operates on the marine SSB bands.

However, it is not "ultra low bandwidth". And, these days, most SAILMAIL PMBO's are Pactor 4 equipped. P4 uses about the same bandwidth as SSB voice, but is three times faster than P3.

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Old 26-01-2013, 14:59   #32
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Dockhead almost got it right. Sailmail is an excellent commercial service which operates on the marine SSB bands.

However, it is not "ultra low bandwidth". And, these days, most SAILMAIL PMBO's are Pactor 4 equipped. P4 uses about the same bandwidth as SSB voice, but is three times faster than P3.

Bill
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The word "bandwidth" has a different meaning, in Internet parlance, than it does, in radio parlance. I was using it in the former sense - the use of very small quanta of data to accomplish a particular task, using a very small part of the available capacity of the system (the "pipe", as it's often called in Internet parlance). As a future ham, I guess I should be more careful in my use of terminology!
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Old 27-01-2013, 06:26   #33
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Re: Ham License

Everyone has covered Dockheads questions pretty well here, but I have a couple things to add or clarify.

1. Business conducted on Ham Bands - you aren't to conduct business meant to profit you or your employer. It does not mean you cannot use the ham bands, with SSB voice or Pactor email, to arrange for a boat part or haul-out at your next port, or a pizza - you can do these things legally.

2. CW and Morse code activity on the ham bands has been on the increase since the Morse code requirement was dropped as a licensing requirement. Many hams now view it as a challenging skill and badge of accomplishment rather than obstacle to becoming a ham. Something like you and me wishing we could go back and take those classes in history over again that we hated so much being forced to take as kids in school. For my own part, although I recognize the digital modes as useful means of communicating information, they rapidly became a bit boring in and of themselves. CW being such a challenge to my older brain has become the mode that is of biggest interest to me as a ham. Having said all that, the Ham population average age is very high. I do wonder what it will look like in 20 years!

Getting the General class license is easy these days, and as others have also alluded, it is only the start. Passing the test does not make you a good operator, nor does it ensure a thorough working knowledge of everything a ham should really know. It is just a starting point.

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Old 27-01-2013, 07:08   #34
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Re: Ham License

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I'm in the process of installing an Icom M802 and have been reading everything I can get my hands on about HF radio. I'm really looking forward to learning new skills in this entirely new area.

I have never really been interested in ham radio - collecting QSOs has never seemed like a good way to spend my time, despite the appeal of playing with technological tools. But the more I read, the more fascinated I have become with digital communication over HF radio. Our options with marine SSB are pretty much limited to sail mail, but hams do pretty much what they want, and there are lots more options. I own an SCS TNC with Pactor III, but I am intrigued by Winmor and other interesting means of digital comms.

I looked through the license materials and it doesn't look daunting. I think I might just try to pass the technician license in February when I'm in Boston. I know that gives me very limited rights in the radio spectrum, but if that goes ok then I'll follow up with a general exam soon.

Anyone have any helpful hints? Recommended reading?

I got mine about two years ago, haven't done beans with it. I can't seem to find a radio or ham shop around. Got too much going on. I passed the MROP and Technician's test. It gives you some options to use that should be good enough for what you need it for. I would think your MROP would fare better out at sea. That test is very easy. The other license test questions become much harder, don't know if I feel like putting myself through that kinda stuff now. I was a field radio operator in the USMC. I tried taking MROP and FCC license test at the same time, but only passed the MROP. The FCC test was much harder.
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Old 27-01-2013, 07:14   #35
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Re: Ham License

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
Everyone has covered Dockheads questions pretty well here, but I have a couple things to add or clarify.

1. Business conducted on Ham Bands - you aren't to conduct business meant to profit you or your employer. It does not mean you cannot use the ham bands, with SSB voice or Pactor email, to arrange for a boat part or haul-out at your next port, or a pizza - you can do these things legally.

2. CW and Morse code activity on the ham bands has been on the increase since the Morse code requirement was dropped as a licensing requirement. Many hams now view it as a challenging skill and badge of accomplishment rather than obstacle to becoming a ham. Something like you and me wishing we could go back and take those classes in history over again that we hated so much being forced to take as kids in school. For my own part, although I recognize the digital modes as useful means of communicating information, they rapidly became a bit boring in and of themselves. CW being such a challenge to my older brain has become the mode that is of biggest interest to me as a ham. Having said all that, the Ham population average age is very high. I do wonder what it will look like in 20 years!

Getting the General class license is easy these days, and as others have also alluded, it is only the start. Passing the test does not make you a good operator, nor does it ensure a thorough working knowledge of everything a ham should really know. It is just a starting point.

73
Chip
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I like the idea of Morse and CW, and think I could pick it up without too much torture (I play several musical instruments). I didn't know there was anyone to talk to. It's an elegant form of communication, very small streams of data passed very slowly, but as I said before I think most things worth saying can be said in 50 characters or so at a time.

Morse can be synthesized,too, can't it? I would think that computers could easily send and receive Morse messages, although I guess they have better operating modes.
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Old 27-01-2013, 07:43   #36
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The computer sends Morse very well. It reads computer generated Morse well if the signal is strong. If the signal is not strong, or the sender's "fist" is "unique" then the brain can do better.

Musicians reportedly learn Morse more quickly, so you may have a head start!

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Old 27-01-2013, 08:00   #37
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Re: Ham License

I always thought the code was fun to learn. I learned it in high school and got my first license in '95. I joined the Army as a Morse Code operator so I could get my speed up for the 20wpm code test right before they took the code requirements away.

I like building little CW only QRP (low power) radios, just for fun.
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:08   #38
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Morse can be synthesized,too, can't it? I would think that computers could easily send and receive Morse messages, although I guess they have better operating modes.
There are many programs that can send and decode Morse. When I was learning new computer languages and hardware platforms one of the first tasks I would give myself was to write a Morse code generator, and then a decoder. It's a nice exercise.

However, Morse, and On/Off keying is far from being the most efficient way to send data, at least not from the perspective of signal information theory (see Claude Shannon). Modern methods can do more with less power and less bandwidth, and over noisier channels. Still, Morse is a code for human beings to use. It can be a lot of fun.
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:20   #39
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Re: Ham License

Here is a list of Worldwide Maritime HAM and SSB Nets I put together over the last couple of years.

It lists the Name of the Net, Freq., UTC Time and web link, if available.

I distribute this list free in the hopes that if someone finds a error or additional information they will forward it to me, thus making hte list more accurate....

Attached Files
File Type: pdf Ham Nets.pdf (518.7 KB, 44 views)
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:45   #40
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Re: Ham License

Why don't you suggest a frequency and see what happens. I have a ham radio on board, but would have to dig through some lockers to see if I have a way to connect my laptop to the radio. I had some trouble with PSK previously, trying to do it without a dedicated external sound card such as the one made by Signal Link. Can PSK be used with just the normal sound cards built in to laptops?

Paul, KD7QAL, maritime mobile in the Bahamas
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:59   #41
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Re: Ham License

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Why don't you suggest a frequency and see what happens. I have a ham radio on board, but would have to dig through some lockers to see if I have a way to connect my laptop to the radio. I had some trouble with PSK previously, trying to do it without a dedicated external sound card such as the one made by Signal Link. Can PSK be used with just the normal sound cards built in to laptops?

Paul, KD7QAL, maritime mobile in the Bahamas
You should be able to use/make simple cable setup. I would suggest setting the radio VOX on for when you want to transmit but also disable all other audio on the computer, like Windows sounds or anything else that may trigger the radio to transmit accidentally.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:05   #42
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Re: Ham License

I'm finding that even though I'm passing the tests, I will still have no clue wth I'm doing.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:31   #43
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Re: Ham License

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I'm finding that even though I'm passing the tests, I will still have no clue wth I'm doing.

Chin up! Nobody was born with technical expertise. Take your time, you will learn.
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Old 27-01-2013, 10:06   #44
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Re: Ham License

You really need to understand the functions of electronic components that make a circuit work; resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors among other components. You also need a basic understanding of radio circuits. Radio Shack has hobby electronics books and simple projects to build, that will teach you the very basic of electronics. Most people just want to start communicating without taking the time to understand what is inside a transceiver, how a wave propagate or why antennas have different lengths and designs. You don't need an EE degree to understand the basics. Mauritz
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Old 27-01-2013, 17:28   #45
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Re: Ham License

True. I can see people beating on their radios or thinking they have comm issues when in reality, there is just bad reception due to where the antenna is placed or facing, or just bad unfavorable weather or obstructions. Even solar burst.
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