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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 17-03-2007, 04:12   #31
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Good to see you on the net Strygaldwir. It's been a while.

Yeah, satilite has a lot of promise. We also hear a lot of cruisers cursing their hand held phones in the Bahamas. As the price of service of "dome type" (like Inmarsat) comes down, I expect we'll all have great communications, full internet browsing and the like.

For now, I sit for my General class license this moning. Wish me luck.

George
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Old 17-03-2007, 18:15   #32
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My experience re Ham and sat phone..Just this past Nov, my husband was crew on the way to Bermuda, they had literally lost the rudder and had to be airlifted off to safety. Before the rescue, the only means of communication was on the ham radio., the sat phone did not work. IN fact that is how they arranged the rescue by contacting people at home who then put plans into motion. Also back in 03 about 160 miles of Bermuda we were on a boat that was dismasted , we saved enough to act as an aerial for the ham radio... at that distance out of Bermuda, the ham was the only means of communication. Friends at home stood by all night on the radio in case they had to relay a message for help etc.

We will use our Kenwood TS50 and an SGC Tuner, along with a Pactor 111 and the Winlink service which is offered for free.

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Old 18-03-2007, 13:14   #33
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I too agree that having several options is the best solution. I may yet get a sat phone, but until then, VHF, a HAM capbable SSB and international GSM/GPRS cell phone suffice quite nicely.

I was also a bit apprehensive about installing my SSB. After having read all there was ...and SO many conflicting reports...I found that it was actually very simple and could be done very cheaply. I want to reiterate my installation for those here who might be looking for help. I hasten to add, I was aided by many good folks online and at the marina. I am no expert.

As it turns out, installation can be very simple and cheap. There are really only two things to install, besides the radio itself and the tuner: the counterpoise/ground and the antenna.

Installing the counterpoise/ground can be done using $15 worth of copper flashing you get at Home Depot. You cut it into 3inch wide strips and run it from the tuner ground to 1, 2 or 3 thru hulls and then run the rest though the bilge. Yes, you can run wire radials, but he cost of copper flashing from home depot is simply cheaper and there is nothing to measure. Copper flashing works just as well as the expensive copper tape from WM.

This technology is so robust that an antenna can be anything from an $8 spool of 25ft of 12 or 14g wire to your backstay. Wire worked just fine for most frequencies. I keep a 25ft spool of 12g marine grade wire ready to be put out as an emergency antenna.

I do not use an ICOM tuner. I have one from LDG (AT200Pro, $250) and it works just fine. I came with the two cables needed to connect it to my ICOM SSB: the control cable and a short coax cable to connect to the SSB antenna. Simple. It sits atop my SSB right at the nav sta. I ran a simple wire out to the antenna (either a long wire raised in the rigging or now, my backstay). It tunes up just fine and I am heard loud and clear far far away.

IN my experimenting, I tried many variations of the above, most worked well. The above works like gangbusters and I must be one of the loudest and clearest boats around.

I urge those interested to try it. You will never regret having an SSB aboard. Even the least expensive ($200-600), used ICOM or other can work as well as a new and expensive one. Go ahead and install it yourself...there are many good people here and elsewhere willing to help.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 20-03-2007, 16:18   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Drake
...I was also a bit apprehensive about installing my SSB. After having read all there was ...and SO many conflicting reports...I found that it was actually very simple and could be done very cheaply. ....

Hope this helps

John
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Thanks John, that is very good to know. I will be installing SSB soon and have found the plethora of technical advice quite intimidating.

Chris
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Old 15-11-2007, 09:27   #35
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Sure easy for you to say! You have a backstay! (poetic huh?)

You probably also have metalic through hulls! Before I replaced mine, they were plastic! Okay, somekinda nylon or something. Wouldn't makefor a good ground.
(now, I have titanium. Really cool, still forespar seacocks though!)

My routing and placement of wiring, while not onerous, did require some planning! I really wanted to minimize wiring runs. Very doable, just work.

Portable sat phone! No installation worries.
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Old 15-11-2007, 10:59   #36
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What is the real cost of SSB . I'm reading of cruisers that spend Five thousand, and cruisers that spend five hundred . Some people install back stay insulator, some don't . I'm looking for the simplest SSB radio for my boat, with out spending thousands , and I'm' confused .
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Old 15-11-2007, 12:08   #37
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HenryK,

Like most things involving boats, the answer to your question is....

It all depends!

It depends on, inter alia...

1. You...your knowledge, skills, intentions, licenses
2. Choice of Ham or Marine SSB equipment (or both)
3. Choice of new or used equipment
4. Your boat -- size, configuration, rigging
5. Who's gonna do the installation and testing? You? A professional? Both?
6. Choices you make for antenna(s)
7. Choices you make for an RF ground

etc.

The most popular marine SSB these days seems to be the Icom M-802. It's a very good radio, but it costs about $1,700 street price. Plus about $500 for an automatic antenna tuner. Plus over $800 to $1,100 if you want a Pactor III modem for HF email. Plus installation. Plus parts necessary for installation, including connecting cables, coax, RF chokes and insulators, s/s wire, ground strapping, etc. All that can easily run up to $5,000.

On the other hand, there are ways to go cheap. You can get a ham license, buy a used ham rig, learn how to use it with a manual tuner or make up some dipole antennas, etc. This would come in at less than $1000, maybe even less than $500 depending on your choices. Some time ago I posted on the SSCA Board info on how you might do this. This was also published in the SSCA Bulletin. See postings at: SSCA Discussion Board :: View topic - SERIOUS HAM SSB SETUP ON THE CHEAP

Bottom line: it all depends :-)

Bill
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Old 15-11-2007, 12:23   #38
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One further thought. Here's a way to get on the air for $200 or so:

1. Get your ham license;
2. Buy an older used rig in good condition (e.g., an Atlas 210X or 215X, or one of several other small transistorized rigs); cost should be less than $200. Get a set of big alligator clips and clamp them onto your house battery to power the radio.
3. Build a monoband vertical dipole for the amateur 20-meter band. This is the most useful band for long distance communications, day in and day out. You can build a dipole for pennies from scrap materials or you can build a really robust one which will stand up to heavy use in the marine environment for less than $50 or so.
4. Get on the air and use your radio. Check into the MM Net on 14300 kHz USB...it runs most of the day. Learn to use the radio well on this one band...learn its quirks, etc. Mostly, be amazed that you can make long-distance contacts any time you wish, including jumping the big pond.

Here's a little secret: the guy you're talking to at the other end will absolutely not be able to tell whether you're using a $200 used ham radio or one of the slick new all-frills ones that cost 10 to 20 times that amount! In fact, with the vertical dipole you'll have a signal so strong most folks will swear you've got a beam antenna and/or are running high power.

How do I know? Well, I've used vertical dipoles on sailboats since 1970, both domestically and in some exotic locations abroad. And, I've chartered a bunch of sailboats beginning in the 70's. I'd carry my Atlas 215X and a 20m dipole with me on the airplane, clamp the alligator clips onto the battery of the chartered sailboat, run the dipole up on a spare halyard, and be making solid long-distance contacts less than 20 minutes after stepping aboard.

For those who aren't yet convinced, go ahead and spring for the $200 and try it. Later, when you KNOW it works and when you hanker for something a bit more sophisticated and versatile -- and when your wallet is a bit fatter -- think about more expensive alternatives.

Bill
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Old 15-11-2007, 13:15   #39
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Question for Dana-Tenacity, How do you get around the Cat 1 regs for leaving NZ without an SSB, or do you have one but don't use it?
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Old 15-11-2007, 15:54   #40
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Thanks everybody for such a good advice . I go for HAM . That $5000 price tag for SSB did convince me . Last Year me and my wife took a weather course, here in Kelowna , and our teacher was retired weather man , or actually weather freak . So passionate about it . He also is a Ham maniac too . He said if I will get a licence and be Ham outfitted, he'll be my weather adviser .
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Old 16-11-2007, 05:49   #41
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Read some of the earlier posts on this thread about the difference between the two. Many HAM and/or SSB radios can operate on the other system. They are both high frequency, just different bands. If you buy the older HAM rig mentioned above, it will probably operate on Marine SSB, you just need to be able to tune it and select upper sideband.

There are used marine SSB out there as well. Installation, antenna, and grounding will probably have as much to do with performance as the type or age of the rig.

George
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Old 16-11-2007, 07:23   #42
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If you buy the older HAM rig mentioned above, it will probably operate on Marine SSB, you just need to be able to tune it and select upper sideband.
George
The problem with that is, it is illegal to transmit a ham rig on the marine bands except in a dire emergency. (in the U.S.)

Eric
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Old 16-11-2007, 08:10   #43
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All one must do (at least in the US) is get a marine ssb station license. Granted the rig is not "type certified" but I think you get the license. I know those who have. Discussion on getting a station license is offered in this and other threads on this forum.

George
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Old 16-11-2007, 08:21   #44
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Well, if your going to break the law and transmit your ham rig on the marine bands, why go thru the trouble and great expense of getting the marine station license?

Eric
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Old 16-11-2007, 08:25   #45
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All one must do (at least in the US) is get a marine ssb station license. Granted the rig is not "type certified" but I think you get the license. I know those who have. Discussion on getting a station license is offered in this and other threads on this forum.

George
Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated than that, at least in the U.S.!

Re: marine SSB licenses, you need BOTH a station license and an operators license (at least the lowest one, the Restricted Marine Operators Permit).

And, it's true...except in a dire emergency, it is ILLEGAL to use a ham radio on ANY frequency other than ham frequencies for which you are licensed. Similarly, a Marine radio license does not authorize you to transmit on ANY frequency other than those designated in the marine bands.

Lots of sailors routinely break the law by using ham rigs on the marine bands. Thus far, mostly they get away with it -- especially since the USCG gave up their enforcement role on SSB radios -- but there's always the chance that may change in the future.

It's really pretty easy to understand:

For operation on the Ham bands: you must be a licensed ham and you can use ANY radio

For operation on the Marine bands: you must be a licensed marine operator AND you must have a valid station license AND you must have a FCC type-accepted marine radio.

Bill
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