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Old 06-03-2014, 16:19   #31
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

I dont know the TS480 specifically, but the TS450 it's predecessor was a very good radio. People used to come to my boat to get a message out, or to interact on weather nets even though they had ham rigs too.
They've made it so easy to get ham license now I would do it. BTW, the TS450 was capable of the SSB freq's. No problem. Many are Duplex freqs so you do have to program in different send and receive freqs though.
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Old 06-03-2014, 16:27   #32
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Yikes!!

Maybe I can just work out a convenient way to move the antenna coax from one radio to the other.

Thank you all for your comments. I think that I should definitely keep my ham radio and get the ham license. It's like chicken soup when your sick--It couldn't hurt. I can try to learn how to use it and Winmail while I save my money for the marine SSB. In the meantime, for the immediate future, I will mostly be sailing in the Texas gulf coast area. If I get into trouble and I am outside of range for the VHF radio, hopefully my ham radio will be sufficient. If not, I can always fall back on my Spot Messenger or my EPIRB. Whenever I retire and really head out, I will make sure to add the marine SSB if I haven't already done so.

I guess it is time to start studying.
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Old 06-03-2014, 17:09   #33
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

I've got a GMDSS GOC licence (is this a way of gaining credibility here? Everyone lists this :-) , and also a commercial mariner.

1. HF DSC is a must on all vessels regardless of size, because commercial vessels (read: guys who will come to your aid) does monitor these frequencies. Commercial ships HAVE TO monitor these frequencies, no exceptions.
Normally you're on watch and the HF goes beeping, standing order on all vessels I've worked on to inform the captain. Your call will not be unanswered.

2. An Icom 802 at 2000 dollars is a VERY basic model, with 150 watts still perfectly useable. A proper Furuno unit is 5-6 times more expensive, for ten grand you can leave it on 24/7/365 and it will work. I've never seen a Furuno fail.

3. A Yaesu 857 (ham radio) for 1000 dollars offers the same features, legality on marine channels is a question, plus you do not have ease of use as the Icom.

4. Press the big red button for 3 seconds on an Icom and everyone within a few thousand miles will know you're in trouble. It is not uncommon to receive DSC maydays in the middle of the Atlantic, with the vessel in trouble located in the Pacific.

It is funny to see that people, who on land will not leave the house without communications in the form of a phone, venture out at sea without proper safety / communication equipment. Often on 100,000 dollar plus yachts, yet 4-5 grand for an icom as primary, ham gear as secondary, and Iridium / Inmarsat as backups is viewed as unnecessary.
Safety = peace of mind!
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Old 06-03-2014, 17:50   #34
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdrformariners View Post
I've got a GMDSS GOC licence (is this a way of gaining credibility here? Everyone lists this :-) , and also a commercial mariner.

1. HF DSC is a must on all vessels regardless of size, because commercial vessels (read: guys who will come to your aid) does monitor these frequencies. Commercial ships HAVE TO monitor these frequencies, no exceptions.
Normally you're on watch and the HF goes beeping, standing order on all vessels I've worked on to inform the captain. Your call will not be unanswered.

2. An Icom 802 at 2000 dollars is a VERY basic model, with 150 watts still perfectly useable. A proper Furuno unit is 5-6 times more expensive, for ten grand you can leave it on 24/7/365 and it will work. I've never seen a Furuno fail.

3. A Yaesu 857 (ham radio) for 1000 dollars offers the same features, legality on marine channels is a question, plus you do not have ease of use as the Icom.

4. Press the big red button for 3 seconds on an Icom and everyone within a few thousand miles will know you're in trouble. It is not uncommon to receive DSC maydays in the middle of the Atlantic, with the vessel in trouble located in the Pacific.

It is funny to see that people, who on land will not leave the house without communications in the form of a phone, venture out at sea without proper safety / communication equipment. Often on 100,000 dollar plus yachts, yet 4-5 grand for an icom as primary, ham gear as secondary, and Iridium / Inmarsat as backups is viewed as unnecessary.
Safety = peace of mind!
I understand that HF DSC sends a precoded distress message on multiple frequencies. The problem I have is with HF propagation.

Since HF bounces off of the ionosphere, there are going to be "rings" of areas where the signal bounced back down, and rings where the signal is not being received. So a vessel 75 mi away might not receive the signal, while a vessel 1,000 mi away might receive it.

I don't really think a vessel 200, 500 or 1,000 mi away is going to be able to render aid in a timely fashion. How far off course would a freighter go to render aid? That's assuming the vessel in distress is somewhere in front of the receiving vessel.
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Old 06-03-2014, 18:13   #35
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

I am a fairly recent Ham and found that the ham hobby is a lot of fun. Here's something to consider: play with the Kenwood you have to see if you like listening to ham conversations. Go to www.arrl.org site and learn about the frequencies that hams broadcast on. Listen especially on 10 meters (28.3-28.5 MHz) because that's the band that you would have priveledges on if you passed the lowest level test, the Technician. Maybe get that licence. A local ham radio club will be very welcoming and can assign you an "Elmer" or person to help you along.
Then, if/once you get hooked, buy the iCom 802 (I wish I had one) and take your Kenwood home and set it up there.

Just a suggestion.
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Old 06-03-2014, 18:29   #36
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

We cruised for two years with an "opened" TS-480SAT. Chances are your is opened up, it is easy to check, just google the MARS mod for the radio on the internet.

It worked very well for us, and I had no issues with the radio. We used it for both Ham and Marine SSB use. We also used Winmor for email and gribs, using an external USB soundcard, with mostly good results. This was from NC to the Bahamas and Maine.



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Old 06-03-2014, 19:15   #37
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
We cruised for two years with an "opened" TS-480SAT. Chances are your is opened up, it is easy to check, just google the MARS mod for the radio on the internet.

It worked very well for us, and I had no issues with the radio. We used it for both Ham and Marine SSB use. We also used Winmor for email and gribs, using an external USB soundcard, with mostly good results. This was from NC to the Bahamas and Maine.



Chris
Further to Witzgall's comment, go to www.winlink.org and read about RMS Express. This is a program that will let you use a $100 external modem to send and receive emails by ham radio. Available only to hams.
Typically cruisers would use Airmail and a Pactor modem to send emails by ham radio. RMS Express will work with a Pactor modem so if you have one all you need is the ham license.
Regarding Sailmail, since this is a paid service the shore station operators are expected to keep their stations in good operating condition. Winlink is completely voluntary so stations may go off the air. I think it is true though that there are more Winlink stations than Sailmail and I don't think connection is an issue from most cruising destinations.
While it is quite simple to add an A/B switch to your system to operate two radios the difficulty comes in with the antenna tuner. You may not be able to get an Icom radio to work with a Kenwood tuner. The way out of this is to use the SGC 230 tuner which works with all HF radios.
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Old 06-03-2014, 20:32   #38
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Gordwedman,

Luckily, my boat came with an SG-230 Smartuner. So I'm good in that respect.
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Old 06-03-2014, 23:03   #39
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
I don't really think a vessel 200, 500 or 1,000 mi away is going to be able to render aid in a timely fashion. How far off course would a freighter go to render aid? That's assuming the vessel in distress is somewhere in front of the receiving vessel.
1000 miles is only two days of steaming @ 13 knots.
The way it works is: vessels forward this information to Marine Rescue Coordination Centres - MRCCs - who, in turn, look up who is the nearest to the stricken vessel.I can personally attest to their effectiveness, once we lost the EPIRB in 100+ knots of wind from the monkey island and Falmouth rang within 5 minutes asking how are we.
Safety at sea is HF, Epirbs, SARTs, AIS and satellite comms.

10-11 metres rig: if you have a ham licence and want something for 10-11 metres, simply buy a cheap "export" model CB rig. Most will have SSB with 10-20 watts, on a 10 W president grant Europe - USA conversations are commonplace with a simple whip.

All in all: do a ham licence or invest in training, most folks assume buying gear is sufficient e.g. radar. It is not, you need to know how to use equipment properly.
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Old 06-03-2014, 23:20   #40
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

I have the Kenwood TS-480HX2 which has the 200W output stage instead of the tuner. It is connected to a SG230 smart tuner and a long wire that I hoist at anchor.

I also have an Icom 710-RT with Icom tuner and vertical whip antenna.

I don't even remember how the 710 works. Don't sell the Kenwood, it's very good.

I also have a Kenwood 710A dual band VHF/UHF radio and hardly use a marine VHF anymore.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:17   #41
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
Gordwedman,

Luckily, my boat came with an SG-230 Smartuner. So I'm good in that respect.
Ah, that makes the whole one tuner/one ant downstream of the switch ( I'd use Diamond... I don't have much time for the MFJ ones) business quite simple.

I was thinking of something like an Icom AT-140 downstream of your radios ( probably because all my transceivers are Icom... ) which needs a separate input from the radio/s...not voice activated down the coax - not sure how you would wire 2 radios into one Icom tuner.

Re Ham/Marine band nets.... I work on two... one ham..one marine.... I thought that the marine band one was the exception that proves the rule...I think it is in the SE Pacific... beware the bold assumption!
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:05   #42
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Coutret,

You're asking some good questions...
Read Bill's (btrayfors) postings and take his learned advice to heart!! (but also understand that a LOT of what is written here in this thread, including what I write, what Bill writes, etc. is subjective...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
My question is this. In the long run, is it worth it, from a cruising perspective, to go to the effort of getting a ham license or should I just try to sell my current radio and apply the proceeds to a new marine SSB?
The exact answers are unfortunately not completely cut-'n-dried....they are subjective and based greatly on YOU and YOUR personal tastes, as well as on what your exact application is....(enough hedging for 'ya??)


Remember that while "ham radio" is used as a "hobby" by many, it is established as a "service" (a free, public service) worldwide....and that makes it unique amongst many human activities....(se below for details..)


The short answer is:
Yes....my advice is, sell the TS-480 (and keep the PACTOR modem, ONLY if you require e-mail connectivity when out at sea), and buy an Icom M-802....you'll not regret it....
The M-802 is the only affordable Mf/HF-DSC-SSB radio on the market, and unfortunately the HF-DSC aspect is misunderstood by a lot of sailors....
Understand that MF/HF-DSC is the ONLY way you can signal other vessels at sea that are beyond your VHF radio range...and has been this way for 15 years now (since Jan 1999)...

Have a look at these threads...
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!

SSCA Forum • View topic - EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

And, watch these videos....especially Video #8....
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

Here's the direct Youtube link, to Video #8...



And, also study for and obtain your ham license!!!


PLEASE do NOT take the advice to "clip" / "open-up" your TS-480 and use it on the marine bands!!!
See below for LOTS of details, charts/graphs (in #5 c, below), as to why....
Sorry to be so blunt about this, but this is a BIG issue for me (and many others who are extremely frustrated by the truly horrible transmit purity and IMD products of these modern ham transceivers...)

Here are just two low-res photos of my Nav Station...




Click here for lots more photos...
C470 Projects by Boat Name





The LONG answer follows:

Including the "services" defined/used/provided by the "Amateur Radio Service" vs. the "Maritime Mobile Radio Service"...

1) For a LOT of cruisers the Amateur Radio Service (aka "ham radio") and sailing has gone hand-in-hand for decades....and I personally think they go very well together...
(but as some peoples' lives revolve more around "text'ing", e-mail, and being "connected" on-line....and, God help me, as more and more people populate Facebook, etc. there are many new cruisers who fail to embrace the joys of ham radio...)



2) Another GREAT aspect of the Amateur Radio Service (and sailing/voyaging) is that it brings many people of the world together....
There are numerous stories of sailors being greeted upon arrival in an unfamiliar port by an unknown friend (whose voice is familiar, but whose face is new), who is a local "ham" who you may have spoken to on-the-air while you were at sea (or even someone you spoke to years ago, etc.)....and he welcomes you into his home, loans you a car to drive around in or gives you a guided tour of his town/country....
Ham radio DOES bring people together...



3) Then there are the 5 basic reasons for the Amateur Radio Service (established in International Law by the UN/ITU, as well as in most countries of the world..)

Quote:
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

So, if you feel that you can fulfill most of these basic purposes/principals, then "ham radio" is probably a great fit for you....
(unfortunately, there are many "cruiser's" out there who got their ham license just to use Winlink and send/rec e-mails for free....that's a pet peeve of mine, but I won't digress!)


4) If you do not find all (or most) of the above aspects of ham radio appealing, then it's probably not a great fit for you, and the Maritime Mobile Radio Service (aka "Marine SSB") is probably a much better choice...
(but, I STILL think studying for and obtaining your ham license, is a good idea....the knowledge gained in the process will help you in using the Marine SSB Radio, as well as give you the opportunity to "try" ham radio out in the real-world and see if you like it...)


~~~~~~


5) As for equipment differences....
a) MOST HF ham radio operations are conducted without the need/use of lots of fancy/complicated adjustments....but most ham operators LOVE all the knobs, buttons, switches, etc....
A contradiction, yes....but it's a fact nonetheless!!!


b) A modern, well-designed HF Marine Radio (like the Icom M-802) will serve you VERY well on both the marine bands and ham bands...

Have a look at this thread (and watch the videos)....
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

And, read what I wrote in these postings regarding ham radio operations on the M-802...
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

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

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



c)....and of the horrible aspects of trying to use a ham radio on the marine bands...
Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB




6) For info regarding NOT needing a PACTOR modem, have a look at these threads...
In a nutshell, if you NEED e-mail connectivity such as for business reasons, when out at sea, and/or in remote areas away from wi-fi, and away from cellular/3G/4G, then a PACTOR modem and Sailmail is a great idea!!!
But, if all you need when at sea or in those remote areas is weather info/forecasts (and some voice connectivity), then a PACTOR modem is NOT needed at all!!!

(BTW, Sailmail subscription is only $250/yr...and Sailmail DOES have PACTORIV on their stations, yes even in the US....it is the US Winlink stations that currently do not have P4, as arcane FCC rules regarding the "symbol rate" prevent this on the Amateur Radio freqs below 29mhz....although I think a NOI has be issued, so those rules may be changed in the next year or two....but that does NOT mean that many Winlink station owners will spend the $1800 to change out their PACTOR modem to a P4...but you can hope 'n pray!!!)


SSCA Forum • View topic - Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea

Favorite Nav/WX Websites?

Best Price on icom 802and/or pactor 4

Best Price on icom 802and/or pactor 4

Best Price on icom 802and/or pactor 4





7) Yes, "antenna switches" can be used "backwards", and many (including me at home) have been doing that for decades!!!
KA4WJA - Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM







I hope this helps....and doesn't confuse much...

Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:29   #43
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

sdr,
Thanks for contributing!!!
It's nice to see another experienced soul around here!!!
(btw, I've found it best to NOT write "qualifications" / "licenses" / etc....as this does tend to put people off a bit....just let your knowledge speak for itself...)



I couldn't agree more here!!! (but, you'll find we are in the minority!!)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdrformariners View Post
1. HF DSC is a must on all vessels regardless of size, because commercial vessels (read: guys who will come to your aid) does monitor these frequencies. Commercial ships HAVE TO monitor these frequencies, no exceptions.
Normally you're on watch and the HF goes beeping, standing order on all vessels I've worked on to inform the captain. Your call will not be unanswered.

It is funny to see that people, who on land will not leave the house without communications in the form of a phone, venture out at sea without proper safety / communication equipment. Often on 100,000 dollar plus yachts, yet 4-5 grand for an icom as primary, ham gear as secondary, and Iridium / Inmarsat as backups is viewed as unnecessary.

Just a few clarifications....
--- The M-802 sells for < $2000... (and I've never been able to convince any pleasure boat owner to buy/install an FS-1570 / FS-1575 or FS-2575, etc....even the guys with 24vdc boats, buy a M-802 and either install a 12vdc system or a DC-DC converter!!)

--- I try to discourage any discussion of using a ham transceiver on the marine freqs, as the horrible transmit purity and IMD products are just too much to even think about it, unless in an emergency!!!
Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB

Icom 725, switch to SSB


--- It's actually a "press and hold for 5-seconds" to activate the M-802's DSC-Distress signal....


BTW, have a look at this thread and watch the videos...
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

Especially this Video #8...





sdr, Thanks again for posting!!!
Fair winds..


John
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:44   #44
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post

--- I try to discourage any discussion of using a ham transceiver on the marine freqs, as the horrible transmit purity and IMD products are just too much to even think about it, unless in an emergency!!!
While I believe that this is true for some radios, especially older designs, I don't think this holds true for all ham radios. Have you tested a Kenwood 480 for these issues? If not, how can you use a blanket statement to describe it's performance? I fully understand what the FCC rule is there for, but a rule does not make a radio bad.

Before I took off cruising, I spoke to several life-long hams, guys who were radio and communication engineers by trade, about this very issue. They both agreed that while they had not done any specific testing on the TS-480 radios (one had one in their shack/repeater/emergency comms center at their place of work), they felt confident that it would not be an issue with that specific radio.

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Old 07-03-2014, 12:47   #45
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

ka4wja,

Thanks for your comments. I think I am going to keep the TS-480 and eventually add a marine SSB. I am all set to take my technician license next weekend.

I don't know if the TS-480 has been opened up or not. Regardless, I don't plan to transmit on the marine frequencies on that radio anyway. Since this was the only hf radio on the boat, it is easy to assume that the radio has been opened up. However, no ship's station license was ever issued for this boat. Therefore, the prior owner may have never bothered with the marine frequencies.

Once I can start transmitting on ham, I hope to meet other boaters to talk to. That's what will make this interesting. When I tune in, I mostly hear contesters and people talking about their antennas. Oh, and also the weather. I hope to hear about peoples' sailing experiences.

Maybe I will pass the test next weekend and soon thereafter get on the air.
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