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Old 24-09-2011, 12:18   #31
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Someone asked the question why get a marine SSB, if a ham radio can be opened up to transmit on marine SSB frequencies.

There are several reasons, aside from the legal requirement not to use non-type certified radio's to transmit on marine frequencies (aside from in an emergency).

First and foremost, many ham radio's can be opened up, but doing so can be difficult, WILL void the warrantee...and it is *easy* to screw this up and damage your radio.

Marine SSB's, such as the ICOM M700Pro, 710 and 802 transmit up to 150W. Most ham radio's are 100W. More power...is nice. It can mean the difference between making a contact and not.

I have an ICOM M700Pro and a Yaesu 857D. The Yaesu is a nice radio, but the reception and sound quality on the ICOM is hands down MUCH better.

And, on a marine SSB, there is basically nothing to fiddle with, no dials or settings to change...and thus...less opportunity to screw up your settings.

The ICOM M700Pro can transmit on all frequencies, including USB and LSB Ham frequencies, right out of the box. Nothing to do, change, modify. Works great. It is a nice set with two dials for its 150 channel memory: the A,B,C group dial and the 50 channel dial. It is a simple matter to tell a crewmember... dial A-1 and call for H E L P.

Hope this helps

Best

John
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Old 24-09-2011, 13:04   #32
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

I finally found a difference. On the Marine version of the VX1700 there is an energency button putting you on 2182. This button has been removed and no mention of it in the manuel. There are several manuels on line for this radio and I got lucky and found one that mentioned the button. Also the word Marine has been removed. Could be the price is too much competition for Icom. It still seems to operate on all freqs.
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Old 24-09-2011, 14:23   #33
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

In addition to the points made by John Drake, marine SSB radios are much more forgiving of low voltage conditions than ham radios.

73 es sail fast, dave KO4MI
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Old 24-09-2011, 22:27   #34
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

If you plan to sail long distance get your Ham. Also, there are great Ham "Nets" to listen (and talk on if licensed) that offer lots of help and info. I have a Icom 802 with a tuner set to the backstay and have great transmit/receive on both SSB and Ham freqs. Absolutly, get your Ham license...you won't regret it down the road.
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Old 25-09-2011, 10:00   #35
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Drake View Post
Someone asked the question why get a marine SSB, if a ham radio can be opened up to transmit on marine SSB frequencies.

There are several reasons, aside from the legal requirement not to use non-type certified radio's to transmit on marine frequencies (aside from in an emergency).

First and foremost, many ham radio's can be opened up, but doing so can be difficult, WILL void the warrantee...and it is *easy* to screw this up and damage your radio.

Marine SSB's, such as the ICOM M700Pro, 710 and 802 transmit up to 150W. Most ham radio's are 100W. More power...is nice. It can mean the difference between making a contact and not.

I have an ICOM M700Pro and a Yaesu 857D. The Yaesu is a nice radio, but the reception and sound quality on the ICOM is hands down MUCH better.

And, on a marine SSB, there is basically nothing to fiddle with, no dials or settings to change...and thus...less opportunity to screw up your settings.

The ICOM M700Pro can transmit on all frequencies, including USB and LSB Ham frequencies, right out of the box. Nothing to do, change, modify. Works great. It is a nice set with two dials for its 150 channel memory: the A,B,C group dial and the 50 channel dial. It is a simple matter to tell a crewmember... dial A-1 and call for H E L P.

Hope this helps

Best

John
Before you go out and spend twice as much on a type-approved radio, you should understand a bit more about the world of SSB.

First, transmit power is not that important--its what radiates from your antenna which matters. Maybe we can hear from one of the net contollers on the ham nets, and see if they notice a difference between hams who are using 100 watt radios or 150 watt radios. In my experience, it is more important to have a good ground system and a clean antenna lead. Another example is that 100 watts from a dipole will give a much stronger signal than 150 from a backstay. In addition, the speech compression function available on the ham radios will give your audio more punch, and "can mean the difference between making a contact and not".

Secondly, the biggest problems with reception on your boat come from noise, either locally generated or from nearby sources like power lines, other boats, other radios, etc. The ham radios have noise filters which you can use to minimize this interference, and the better (read more expensive) the radio, the better the filters. A good example of this noise is the harmonic noise which the Simrad autopilots put out. One of them is very close to 12.359 mhz, which is the frequency for Herb's weather net. On a boat with a marine SSB, I had to have someone hand steer for an hour each day to hear Herb. On another boat with a Ham SSB, I adjusted the notch filter to eliminate the noise.

On Ham radios, there is a nice headphone jack on the front of the radio, so you can listen to it without waking up the rest of the crew. Headphones give you clearer reception than speakers, especially under marginal conditions. Headphones are available with external noise canceling technology, so you can hear the radio when the engine is on. There are also wireless headphones, so you can wander around the boat and stand your watch while listening to the ham radio (or stereo, satellite radio, etc.). Unfortunately, no one made a wireless noise-cancelling headphone the last time I looked, so I went with a wireless with the big ear muffs. Maybe they have put a front earphone jack on some marine SSB's, but they didn't one the ones I've used.

While the Icom 802 is a popular marine radio with a lot of features, it has a pervasive clipping problem. If you try to transmit on a frequency where the antenna tuner cannot provide a good impedance match, protective circuitry in the radio clips off your transmission, making you unintelligible. Icom is supposed to have a free fix, and newer radios are supposed to have it, but this year I still heard half a dozen boats trying unsuccessfully to talk on their 802's.

Ham radios also have channel memories, and it is easier to tell the crew to call for help on channel 1 than it is tell tell them about dial A and dial 1.

My other pet peeve on Icom radios is their user interface. Tell a novice Icom marine SSB user to switch to 8137 khz, and I'll guarantee you it will take them at least 15 minutes with the manual in one hand.
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Old 25-09-2011, 10:25   #36
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Fantastic to hear Herb is still around, guided us so well to Ireland from Azores in the 90's with never a headwind all the way. Geat guy!
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Old 25-09-2011, 10:30   #37
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Good points.

My two radio's, the ICOM M700pro and Yaesu 857D ham radio are set up side by side on an A/B switch to the same system: SGC-230 tuner, copper counterpoise in the bilge (and thru hull) and backstay antenna. This is a typical sailboat set up. When making calls, the 150W of the M700Pro, is without question, louder and thus more readable than the 100W Yaesu. This does make a difference in making DX calls and calls to any station when conditions are weak for propagation. Obviously, when conditions are good, the difference does not matter. But you cannot count on good conditions. And obviously and experienced ham can set up an antenna/counterpoise system that is more efficient and can propagate a weaker signal better...but that is not always convenient on a boat.

As for having a novice or untrained crew person find a particular channel, I agree, the ICOM 710 and 802 ARE difficult to use.

But this is where the ICOM M700Pro excels. The M700Pro has 150 memories set up in just three groups. There are two big knobs on the radio. The left for the groups: A,B, C. The right for the 50 channels in each group. This makes it a simple matter to tell someone to turn to "A-1" or "B-25". I also keep a three column list of the radio channels on a laminated sheet at the radio. If I am looking for a frequency or station name, I can easily find it on the list and turn to that channel. The 700pro has a "Ch/Freq" button that allows you to switch between memory channel mode and VFO.

[And a note: I have my memory groups set up such that the A group is commercial/USCG/etc, the B group is marine SSB channels, C group is freqs. And actually, my C group is set up so that I have all the nets for this area arranged by time, beginning with BASRA, Waterway, etc and ending with MMSN...so I can just click through over my morning coffee]

I had a good friend who had an ICOM M710. We connected on a frequency once, and found that conditions were not good. So, I suggested we switch to another marine SSB simplex channel to continue our chat. It took him quite a while to find in in the 1000 memory M710.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 25-09-2011, 10:39   #38
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I'd agree with most if that.

I just became an NCS for MMSN, and while I have an Icom M700Pro that puts out 150 watts, I use my Icom 7000, which only puts out something less than 100, almost exclusively. I also prefer my vertical 20-meter dipole hung from the masthead about 45' above the water -- normally sloped back and tied off to the boom pushed over to one side.

It seems to work pretty well. I'm just outside NYC, and have worked all the way from western Egurope (Gibraltar yesterday) to the US west coast with no problem -- obviously dependent on propagation at the time.

The extra 50 watts may make a difference if you have a crummy antenna, but in my case, my contacts can't tell a difference. However, I'd use it if it had all the filters, etc., that comes with the 7000.

Btw, I use the 700Pro with the tuner for marine freqs and winlink email.

Just my limited experience...

Btw, the boat I checked-in from Gibraltar was using an FT-857d, LDG tuner, MFJ voltage booster, and insulated backstay about 40' long. Gibraltar is about 3,600 miles away, boat to boat.

73...
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Old 25-09-2011, 10:55   #39
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Yeah, the Yaesu 857D is a good little radio. I have made numerous DX contacts with it, 4000 and even 5000 miles.

Conditions for boats vary so much. On the water, obviously, things can be much better than at a dock in a harbor that is a noisey RF environment.

You make a good point regarding antenna's. A good antenna, efficient, such as a single band dipole, can achieve superior results making the difference in power between two radio's not as significant. But, I would say again, this is not what people do on sailboats. They rig up what they can and go from there. The backstay makes a very fine, very convenient antenna and that is what most people use. Thus, more power is helpful.

And, a very nice ham radio like the 7000 has a number of filters and settings that an experienced amateur can take advantage of. Again...not something many cruisers would or could do.

These are all reasons why (IMO) Marine SSB's exist.

My best to all.

73,

John
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Old 25-09-2011, 11:03   #40
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I'd seriously considered getting one, but chose the 7000 because all the filtering was DSP and already built in. You have to buy additional filters for the 857, don't you?

Once you do that, they cost about the same. I can dial in the filter to be whatever width I want, but usually leave it at 2.1k. I also use a Heil headset, which really helps out too.
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Old 25-09-2011, 11:14   #41
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

True enough...I would love to have the 7000...but it is not cheap...and I already have two radios

As you have mentioned, one thing I do like and use on the Yaesu is RF gain, as well as DSP (though the DSP on the 7000 is much better). Sometimes I play with bandwidth.

That said, the M700Pro does not need any playing with filters, compared with my Yaesu....its built in settings are just excellent. The noise floor is much lower and signal to noise is better than the Yaesu. Not sure about the 7000....it is certainly a better rig than the 857D....but....also more $ than the M700Pro.

If I were to buy a 7000 new, I am certain I would NOT be touching that board to open it up. Way too much money and not worth voiding that warrantee (I am not that brave ) ....just as an aside.

We should also keep in mind that the ham radio that many are talking about modding for marine use is the low end Icom 718 and not the very nice 7000.....

73, hope to connect with you sometime on MMSN

Best

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Old 25-09-2011, 11:48   #42
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I'd never mod a ham radio to use marine bands -- that's illegal.
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Old 25-09-2011, 14:06   #43
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

It's not illegal to modify a ham radio to transmit on other than ham frequencies. It's illegal to use the radio on these other frequencies except in an emergency. Personally think it's really stupid not to open up your ham radio so have the ability to call for help on any frequency in an emergency.

It's rediculously simple to open up the ICOM 718 radio. I could have done it myself if I'd had someone show me how to do it. It involves disabling three chips, IIRC, on a circuit board. Of course, it may be more difficult on other radios but kind of doubt that it is.

No one has come up with any proof that a 'Modern' ham radio is any different than a Marine SSB radio in the parts that actually send out the radio frequencies. An Icom 802 format is different than the Icom 7000 but would be willing to bet the stuff that makes them do their radio thing are damn near identical. Because a ham radio has a lot of different ways to process the signal, operator error can creep in. If the ham radio is operated properly, that isn't a problem. Apparently the ICOM 802 has a speech processor just like the ICOM 7000. The difference is that Icom has disabled the speech processor on the 802 because of problems meeting the marine radio specifications with it in use. The operatior can use or disable the speech processor on the 7000 so can turn it off if it is an issue causing problems on the marine channels.

The airmail program on my computer kept switching to Sailmail instead of Winlink as the default HF email program. Sailmail wouldn't work and I seem to remember getting a failure to subscribe error message. Thinking about it, Sailmail undoubtedly doesn't work on the ham frequencies because it's a commercial service. To be legal, you'd have to have a Marine SSB to use sailmail. Winlink worked fine for me on 40 and 20 meters sailing to Hilo once I'd gotten AirMail to settle on the right software.

Here's a link on modifying the Icom 7000 to transmit on all HF frequencies. Pretty straight forward if you have any skills with a soldering iron, I don't. Just unsoldering one diode. KB2LJJ Radio Mods Database and Manuals If you really want to have multi spectrum entertainment ham radio, it also shows a mod to recieve TV signals. Not legal to use while driving, however.
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Old 25-09-2011, 14:11   #44
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Thanks for calling me stupid, but I still won't modify my radio -- don't need to.
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Old 25-09-2011, 14:40   #45
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Your welcome. Can't see the logic in not having a tech do a 1 minute modification so you can use every radio frequency the radio is capable of to call for help when the brown stuff hits the fan.

This is entirely off topic but the discussion got me to wondering. Is there an issue with setting off two or more EPIRBs at the same time. Probably wouldn't do it as I'd want to keep a back up when the batteries failed on the others. I sail with 2 EPIRBS and a PLB. All transmit on the same frequency but only two have GPS as well as the EPIRB signal.
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