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View Poll Results: HAM, Marine SSB, Other?
HAM only 21 10.66%
Marine SSB only 57 28.93%
Both 88 44.67%
Other (sat phone, etc. please specify) 33 16.75%
No long range communication device 25 12.69%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 197. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 13-02-2007, 06:46   #16
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SSB is a type of transmission that uses a very small band width. Some Ham frequencies are Single Side Band. Boaters tend to refer to Marine Single Side Band as just SSB. There are designated frequencies reserved for marine traffic. In the US, to be completely legal you need to get a station license and a restricted radio telephone license to operate on marine SSB, but it is seldom enforced and if one uses good radio practice, they might not get caught. Both licenses require only an application and a few bucks paid to the FCC. No tests or other qualifications required, so IMHO there is no reason not to operate legally.

Like Marine SSB, some Ham frequencies are reserved for licensed amateurs. Ham High Frequency voice transmissions are also Single Side Band, but an FCC Ham license is required to operate. Visit the AARL web site for more information. http://www.arrl.org/

Hams are self policed and if you violate the rules, someone will report you to the FCC.

Having said that, if you have a Ham capable radio and have a genuine emergency, then it is legal to call for help on Ham frequencies, so even without a license it makes sense to have Ham capability and know what frequencies have probable listeners. If you are in trouble and can reach a Ham, they will respond and do everything possible to get help to you.

High Frequency signals have much greater distance capability than HF or VHF because the signals are reflected back to earth by the ionosphere. VFH & UHF go right on through.

The requirement to know Morse Code to get a General Ham license ends the 23rd of this month so getting a license is easier.

This may be way more info than you wanted.

George
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Old 13-02-2007, 09:04   #17
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4 people have said they use other long range communication equipment but didn't specify what it was.

Would any of you share with us what your are using? Sat phone, satelite systems, etc.
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Old 13-02-2007, 15:26   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspot Baby
4 people have said they use other long range communication equipment but didn't specify what it was.

Would any of you share with us what your are using? Sat phone, satelite systems, etc.
2 can's and a very long string

I had VHF for coastal, and had rented for me Sat phones for offshore work, but was not impressed in their reliability.

That was a couple of year's ago.

This time it'll be HF and VHF for the newie.
But still researching the HF bit.

Dave
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Old 14-02-2007, 02:02   #19
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I voted, but haven't posted (until now). Here is my communications setup:

* VHF at navstation with remote mic at helm
* Two waterproof handheld VHF xceivers, one of these is kept in the ditch bag
* Marine SSB with Ham-band capability - Icom 710 RT, Icom auto-tuner w backstay antenna
* SCS Pactor 3 modem hooked to the SSB for Sailmail, Winlink, Weatherfax, etc.
* Iridium satphone with railmount "mushroom" antenna. I use this a lot for email, through the XGate system. I use it also for phone calls.

I get my weather through the satphone email: gribs, pressure/wind/wave charts, text forecasts. If the satphone stops working I get gribs and text forecasts through Sailmail (Marine HF) or Winlink (Ham), and I use marine HF to pick up weatherfax transmissions.

If all the radios crap out I am forced to poke my head up and look at the sky.

For email Iridium has been faster and more reliable than HF, but it is more expensive. HF Sailmail using Pactor has also worked well for me, but during my last trip I saved time and power my picking up the weather charts through satphone email, rather than via HF weatherfax.

I do use the HF marine bands for voice communications with other boats, and have used the ham "Pacific Seafarer's Net" as well. Even on the high seas I often keep the VHF radio turned on -- especially at night. I only turn on the HF radio for scheduled nets or weatherfax transmissions.
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Old 14-02-2007, 05:31   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspot Baby
SSB is a type of transmission that uses a very small band width. Some Ham frequencies are Single Side Band. Boaters tend to refer to Marine Single Side Band as just SSB. There are designated frequencies reserved for marine traffic. In the US, to be completely legal you need to get a station license and a restricted radio telephone license to operate on marine SSB, but it is seldom enforced and if one uses good radio practice, they might not get caught. Both licenses require only an application and a few bucks paid to the FCC. No tests or other qualifications required, so IMHO there is no reason not to operate legally.

Like Marine SSB, some Ham frequencies are reserved for licensed amateurs. Ham High Frequency voice transmissions are also Single Side Band, but an FCC Ham license is required to operate. Visit the AARL web site for more information. http://www.arrl.org/

Hams are self policed and if you violate the rules, someone will report you to the FCC.

Having said that, if you have a Ham capable radio and have a genuine emergency, then it is legal to call for help on Ham frequencies, so even without a license it makes sense to have Ham capability and know what frequencies have probable listeners. If you are in trouble and can reach a Ham, they will respond and do everything possible to get help to you.

High Frequency signals have much greater distance capability than HF or VHF because the signals are reflected back to earth by the ionosphere. VFH & UHF go right on through.

The requirement to know Morse Code to get a General Ham license ends the 23rd of this month so getting a license is easier.

This may be way more info than you wanted.

George
No, actually I appreiciate the info.

It makes me want to look into getting into HAM.
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Old 14-02-2007, 07:54   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspot Baby
Good top quality stuff:
Icom 706 is fully functional ham and everything but is not "type approved" for marine SSB. It will do it just fine.

Icom M802 is a marine SSB that is ham capable but requires unlocking the software. Icom has a tech bulletin on how to do this. Some of the older model Icom marine units could be “unlocked” by clipping the lead on a diode. You would need a better radio tech than me to know which one.

There is other good stuff out there.

Sunspot Baby
The necessary information to "clip" a radio or make other repairs is made more difficult by manufacturers that don't release schematics and other diagnostic literature to non professionals and some to no one outside their own network. You can find much of this information at mods.dk - Modification for radioamateure

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Old 25-02-2007, 10:23   #22
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M710 mods, Sailmail Winlink or both?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jentine
The necessary information to "clip" a radio or make other repairs is made more difficult by manufacturers that don't release schematics and other diagnostic literature to non professionals and some to no one outside their own network. You can find much of this information at mods.dk - Modification for radioamateure

Yes, there is information on the mods.dk site. I have a M710 which was not open to Ham freqs. There are instructions there for the clipping of several diodes to accomplish this. However I felt it may be a poor option to try this. I'm not affraid to do mods, I worked as an electronics tech (telecommunications) for more than 12 years. Instead I gave my local Icom dealer a call and he tells me to bring it in and they do a software upgrade to the rig. Total cost is about $45 for the operation. It seemed a no brainer to take this route instead. They can do checks on the rig as well while your there. This is in Canada, other areas may have different rules.

On another note, Do sailors who are Ham licensed find it useful to subscribe to Sailmail as well as Winlink?

Peter
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Old 25-02-2007, 10:42   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Songline
Yes, there is information on the mods.dk site. I have a M710 which was not open to Ham freqs. There are instructions there for the clipping of several diodes to accomplish this. However I felt it may be a poor option to try this. I'm not affraid to do mods, I worked as an electronics tech (telecommunications) for more than 12 years. Instead I gave my local Icom dealer a call and he tells me to bring it in and they do a software upgrade to the rig. Total cost is about $45 for the operation. It seemed a no brainer to take this route instead. They can do checks on the rig as well while your there. This is in Canada, other areas may have different rules.

On another note, Do sailors who are Ham licensed find it useful to subscribe to Sailmail as well as Winlink?

Peter
The ICOM M710 ( and M700PRO ) CAN NOT be modified by "Snipping Diodes". These marine SSB radios REQUIRE a software cloning in order to be used on the Ham Bands.
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Old 25-02-2007, 11:52   #24
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Peter,

I have my ham ticket (wb6cxc), and I usually use Sailmail. Winlink can't be used for business purposes (not that this is usually an issue for me), and I have also found it easier for me to get a reliable Sailmail connection than a Winlink one. Other people have had the opposite experience for what it's worth.
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Old 25-02-2007, 15:09   #25
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Its not a stupid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razman23
Time for stupid question:

What is the difference between SSB and HAM?

Is it just differnt frequencys?
The frequency range licensed for each type of user is different, but as most transmitters allow one to adjust the frequency of tranmission and reception - it is perfectly possible for a HAM user to communicate with a marine station user - but strictly speaking illegal unless correctly licensed.

The major difference is that all marine sets sold today are set up with GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. In a nutshell - its a pre-programmed facility / button that when hit sends out a distress transmission which will identify the craft, and the location, and with a few more buttons - whats gone wrong. So whilst SSB radios can appear complex - even a child could use this GMDSS facility with no training at all.

I do not believe many HAM sets are sold with this feature -as HAM trancievers are primarily sold to be used for regular radio communication (as opposed to distress tranmissions).

In the old days most marine users relied upon coastal radio stations intercepting their voice distress message, or perhaps it being picked up by another vessel close by also with someone on listening watch. There was little / no difference in HAM or marine sets.

GMDSS introduced late 70's removes the need for anyone to listen on watch. If the signal is picked up by either satellite or another station close by the vessel in distress - it immediately fires off an alarm.

As this system spreads globally, so more and more coastal stations will drop any form of listening watch, making any form of non GMDSS set less useful for distress calling from a boat.

Hope this helps clarify the differences.........and why if you can have only one, the marine set makes more sense.

Cheers
JOHN
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Old 14-03-2007, 21:42   #26
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I currently carry only a VHF at the nav-station and a hand-held VHF as a back-up. I do have a marine HF (an old Wagner) and tuner, but I have taekn it off for the time being as it is not really useful for my current coastal cruising. When I set off for loner term / offshore cruising I will either reinstall it or, more likely, buy a newer model.
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Old 15-03-2007, 06:45   #27
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I am a fan of having a marine SSB aboard, even better if it is HAM capable and you are licensed. I got an ICOM M700 marine SSB on ebay some time ago for $600. It is in perfect working order and can send and rec on HAM bands. I also purchased a new LDG 200Pro tuner and am very happy with this combination.

I was able to install the radio easily and cheaply, using $15 worth of copper flashing from Home Depot and $8 worth of marine grade 12g wire. I tried several different antenna configurations and nearly all worked very well. Ultimately, I went to an insulated backstay which works great.

This technology is simple and robust. Being able to communicate with many people thousands of miles away is not only a convenience factor but a large safety factor, as someone mentioned above.

Just wanted to mention that having a marine SSB or HAM radio gives you some other capabilities in addition to the weather, wefax, email and cruiser nets mentioned above.

I was planning a rendervous with two other boats recently. One had only a VHF and one had an SSB. Despite planning locations and calling times, we never got in touch with the people using VHF. SSB, no problem.

I can also get messages to friends and family ashore who only have simple, inexpensive short wave receivers.

One option not mentioned above is SnoozMail. It is an exclusive email service that I use. I have a good friend who lives aboard a boat in FL and has a marine SSB aboard. When I am out cruising, I can arrange a time and freq with Snoozer so that we can chat and trade info. If I need a short email sent to family or friends, Snooz is happy to send it. He will also read a short msg to me if one is sent back. No problem.

Not sure how widely available this service is, but it is quite useful. Perhaps there are other services like it

As for other comms, I use a GSM/GPRS cell phone (EDGE class 10) connected to my computer or PDA via a wireless Bluetooth connection for email in the US and internationally. Also have Wifi. A less expensive solution for sending messages is using an international cell phone (GSM) and sending txt messages...they are 35cents with my service (TMobile).

And...also have a fixed VHF aboard and two waterproof handhelds (one kept in the ditch bag).

Hope this helps

John
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Old 15-03-2007, 08:16   #28
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John,

Let me know if Snoozer ever wants a holiday. DaveMail whenever you want it! Hope you are well and having fun!

dave
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Old 15-03-2007, 12:39   #29
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DAVE!

Hey old bud, it is great to hear from you. Thanks for the offer, I do appreciate it.

You know you are always welcome aboard. Come on down, the good diving season is just about to begin here.

We will have to try another radio check now that I am working off the backstay.

Hope all is well and you have a great season up there. Say hi to folks for me.

Best

John
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Old 16-03-2007, 15:53   #30
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I have the Icom M802 SSB installed. I really like it, but I selected other in poll. I think a handheld Satelite phone is a superior solution over an SSB, in most cases. We used our SSB for weather, but a SW receiver, or VHF probably would have got us the same. There are certainly a LOT of options for getting weather that do not rely on SSB. We could use the Sat phone to download weather. It was fun to listen and sometimes check into the various nets, but, that was for fun. In the event of an emergency VHF or phone would be just as relavent.

The challenge of the SSB is the cost and installation headaches! putting in the counterpoise, mounting the antenna, wiring power, positioning the control head, finding a spot for the SSB box, finding a spot for the antenna tuner, finding the correct coaxes and control cables, trying to find a cost affective HF modem. A BIG headache. Took us over a month to install and I am not going to tell you the cost! A handheld Sat phone would have eliminated all these headaches and been cheaper! Oh, and when the big blow comes, take down your antena. Oh, you have an insulated backstay!? Ever lost a mast? or hear of anyone that has? Isn't that when you probably want long range communication most? how much did the insulated backstay cost?$$$

The benefit of a Sat phone. You want to contact family at home, you dial their number. They need to get ahold of you, they dail your number, leave a voice mail. You need to rent a car when you hit an island, Dial a agency and see if they can come pick you up! Need to email. Connect your phone....
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