Ham radios transmit on different but nearly identical HF SSB
freguencies to the Marine SSB radios. The two types of radios are nearly identical in design, however. Most Marine SSB radios can transmit on the Ham frequencies as well as the Marine frequencies but usually aren't optimized to tune through the bands like a Ham radio is or as easy to use once you are out of the Marine Channelized concept
. The marine radios have some features to make them more immune to the damp salty marine environment
but they aren't sealed or water
proof. Personally, have had no problems with my two different Ham radios after many years on my boats.
Ham radios can be opened up to transmit on all frequencies including the Marine HF/SSB. It's usually a simple process of cutting a few wires or disabling a chip or two. On my ICOM
718 radio, it took a tech only a few minutes and $20 to open it up. It is not legal
to transmit on other than Ham frequencies, except in an emergency
, however. The reason claimed for this is the Ham radios are not subject to the frequency stability standards of the Marine Radios. That doesn't mean that the Ham radios aren't just as frequency stable as the Marine radios, just that they aren't tested and guaranteed to meet the requirements. I've heard from many reliable techies that modern Ham radios are just as frequency stable as the Marine radios. I'd be willing to bet that as far as the radio electronics
, the ICOM 7200 Ham Radio is identical to the ICOM 802 Marine Radio under the cover. Don't know that for certain but the water
sealing design of the front end of ICOM 802 is the same as for the ICOM 7200 and all the other radio specs seem to be identical except the channelization unique to marine radios.
The real question is why go with a Marine SSB?? The maritime mobile nets are almost exlusively on the Ham Frequencies. There's a whole bunch of talking on the Ham bands while there is precious little on the Marine bands. Sailmail works on Ham frequencies if you want a back up to Winlink and uses the same software
. If the going gets down and dirty, you can use the marine frequencies on your opened up Ham Radio to contact the emergency
responders. As they say, "Any fregquency in a Storm." I was ready to transmit with my ICOM 718 ham radio, AH4 antenna
Tuner, Norseman backstay insulators, and copper foil ground plane for less than a boat unit ($1,000). When I priced out an ICOM 802 and tuner, it was over 2 boat units just that and I still had to do the installation
. Even if I'd gone with the more costly state of the art ICOM 7200 ham radio, could have had it up and running for less than $1,600. Buy used equipment
and you might be able to do it cheaper.
As far as getting the General Ham license
, it's a piece of cake with the online tutorials. I studied for one day on line to pass the General License
Exam. I'd done the Gordon West manual for the Tech license exam prior so had some carry over from that. Still, it wasn't a big thing to learn enough to pass the General Exam. I'm not an electrical
genius by any stretch of the imagination. Never got beyond the water flowing through a pipe anology and still can't work my smart phone
SSB stands for Single
Side Band. It's a more efficient way of sending radio transmissions. Both ham and marine radios transmit in the HF 'High Frequency' radio spectrum. Marine radios have very limited numbered channels that correspond to a specific radio frequency. Ham radios tune through a range of radio frequencies. It's much like the difference in operation between a TV and an FM radio. They both use similar frequencies, it's just a different way of tuning them in. Most marine radios can transmit in the ham range, many are not ergonomically optimized to do it, however. See whats involved in tuning in the on the Ham band before you leap.
In Ham speak, you want a radio that is optimized for 40 and 20 meter frequencies. Actually, that's more an antenna
system than a radio issue. In real life terms, that's 7mhz and 14mhz. 20 meters is a good frequency for daytime long range communication over many thousands of miles. 40 meters is good for daytime communications
under a 1,000 miles and night time communications
over longer distances. The marine bands use frequencies in the 80 meter range for the lower channels that aren't used all that much by the typical Ham equipped sailor.