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Old 25-09-2011, 14:47   #46
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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.
No worries, I'll still answer your call -- others might take offense to abusive language, but I got over that a long time ago in boot camp...
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Old 25-09-2011, 15:13   #47
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Small world, you had Sargeant Jimmy as your DI, too??
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Old 25-09-2011, 15:33   #48
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Don't think so.

However, I got sick and spent a month in the Navy Hospital on Camp Pendleton, so I was blessed with two complete sets.

Can't remember their names -- my book is at my sisters, so I can't even look them up right now -- but I pretty much hated about half of them. Especially the second set.

However, they did make me a squad leader, so at least I didn't have to clean toilets. Really liked the rifle range and pugil sticks, but the rest wasn't quite as fun, though I did recover and came out in great shape... ;-)
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Old 25-09-2011, 17:47   #49
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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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.
In Europe,on a boat, it is illegal to own equipment that you do not have a station license for. So if all you have is a Ham license, you cannot legally modify your HAm radio to operate on marine SSB frequencies. Equally if you have a Marine SSB cert ( Cept LRC, ,or GOC) and the appropriate station license, you cannot legally interfere with a Marine SSB set to work ham bands , as to do so invaliudates the type definition.

Even if you have both licenses, you cannot certify one radio for both applications.I suspect the situation is technically the same in the US

Of course the chances of being detected are close to nill, unless you are being silly.

Dave
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Old 25-09-2011, 17:56   #50
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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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.
No there is no issue, they all use 406Mkz, but its a digital burst system and all will get through to to the satelitte. All the radios have a unique Hex code in them anyway, ( thoiugh the short protocol doesnt transmit it,if a call sign is programmed as an identifier).

EPIRBS dont need GPS, teh satellite can determine your position by doppler shift, it just takes a little longer.

Dave
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Old 27-09-2011, 06:16   #51
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

An interesting little fact --the Icom 718 ham radio has a twin, the Icom 78 which is sold in many markets (not the US, it's 'export only' there ) as a full marine radio meeting marine radio requirements. The difference...different firmware...which can be loaded to a 718 to make it a 78...what does the firmware do?..mainly disable the VFO tuning of the ham radio. So if you want a good cheap 'marine' radio you can buy a 718 and tell yourself not use the very convenient VFO.. :-)
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Old 27-09-2011, 09:46   #52
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Interesting.. I am not an electronics specialist, but to my eye ...the frequency stability of the ICOM 718 does not match the FCC specs for marine SSB's. Perhaps someone else can confirm this.

One of the issues of people using inexpensive ham radio's on marine freqs is that they bleed too much over into the closely spaced freqs. This can produce a very annoying squeak on freqencies that would otherwise by clear for use.

Not very good practice and not helpful to other radio users.

Thanks

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Old 27-09-2011, 14:41   #53
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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Interesting.. I am not an electronics specialist, but to my eye ...the frequency stability of the ICOM 718 does not match the FCC specs for marine SSB's. Perhaps someone else can confirm this.

One of the issues of people using inexpensive ham radio's on marine freqs is that they bleed too much over into the closely spaced freqs. This can produce a very annoying squeak on freqencies that would otherwise by clear for use.

Not very good practice and not helpful to other radio users.

Thanks

J
In my experience (20yrs Ham and Marine licenses) the Icom 718's are very stable, however for around $70 you can add the CR-338 TXCO option and get 0.5ppm frequency stability ..I'd recommend that anyway for Pactor use.
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Old 24-03-2012, 08:00   #54
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

It is true that in most countries, a HAM radio is not certified to transmit on the Marine frequencies. In fact, a legal HAM radio will not permit itself to transmit on any frequency apart from the HAM frequencies. Some people make illegal modifications to HAM radios to permit them to transmit on frequencies apart from the HAM frequencies.

On the other hand, most recreational Marine radios can be programed with HAM frequencies too, and it is legal to use a Marine radio on the HAM frequencies.

Legality is linked to reliable functionality and the inability of the radio to cause interference to other users. Because HAM radios have lots of dials and functions designed to allow HAMs to experiement and learn about radio operation, HAM radios modified to work on the Marine frequencies can easily cause unintended interference to other marine users, safety commmunication, weather broadcasts etc.

A marine HF/SSB radio is designed to work reliably in the riggors of the marine environment. Modern Marine radios - eg the ICOM M801(E or A) are a sealed unit, with no cooling fan sucking salt air and dust through the radio componenents to shorten their life. And no fan using limited battery power, so the radio can be left on DSC watch to listen for emergency calls from other yachts or vessels. HAM radios are not built like that and are not equipped with DSC and other features that have been learnt to be important for marine operations.

Another common element of Marine radios is BIG displays and lettering, so you can read the display from the companionway, or when you have dropped your reading glasses. Also, they have far fewer dials and buttons and adjustments which are the experimental domain of HAM radio users. They have the critical operating functions and that is all. So it's relatively easy for someone to operate the radio if the trained/licensed operator is the injured person who needs medical assistance.

Strictly speaking, only a licensed HAM is approved to operate a HAM radio. If the radio has been (ilegally) modified to operate on the marine HF/SSB frequenciess, it's all too easy for a non HAM to set dials and funtions incorrectly and either cause interferrence to others, or cause the radio not to function correctly.

If you plan to operate offshore use a HF/SSB radio that is designed to work optimally in the marine environment and on the official marine emergency, duplex and simplex channels, and which can be licensed as a vessel's radio and be assigned a marine radio callsign. There is a reason for these standards and type approvals and licence limitations; they help ensure the radio works when you really need it to work. You owe it to yourself, your sailing companions, your family and other mariners who use the Marine HF/SSB service to install a proper Marine HF/SSB radio, and learn how to use it. Buy a radio that has DSC, so you or another person onboard can use the emergency button to initiate communications to obtain assistance if needed.

It's illegal around the world to operate HAM radio on the Marine frequencies. And if you go to a foreign country where you need to check in, the official doing the check may wish to see a proper Marine radio licence with an official marine radio callsign that co-incides with the official registration papers for the vessel and country of registration of the vessel. A HAM license is for a person, not the vessel, and does not qualify as a vessel's marine radio or marine radio callsign. Don't hand some official the excuse to impound the radio or your yacht or otherwise make life difficult for you; until you pay a fine. Get a proper marine radio and marine callsign, like every other foreign-going vessel in the world.

HAM radios are great for their purpose - learning about and experimenting with radio communications. They are not designed for the harsh marine environment or operation by wet hands in a bouncing boat, with dim cabin lights when you have dropped your reading glasses.
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Old 24-03-2012, 09:58   #55
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Reality check:
"And if you go to a foreign country where you need to check in, the official doing the check may wish to see a proper Marine radio licence with an official marine radio callsign that co-incides with the official registration papers for the vessel and country of registration of the vessel."
Never had this occur in about 20 countries visited. Not saying it couln't happen, has anyone on this forum ever had an official check his radio paperwork?? Maybe in Europe?
"HAM radios are great for their purpose - learning about and experimenting with radio communications. They are not designed for the harsh marine environment or operation by wet hands in a bouncing boat, with dim cabin lights when you have dropped your reading glasses."
I've had 3 ham radios while cruising on boats. They were all purchased used and worked fine in the marine environment with no failures. Let's face it, many ham radios are used mobile in Jeeps etc and at disastor sites. I would guess there are a lot of people on this forum with the same experience...
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Old 24-03-2012, 15:30   #56
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

From my experience, it is true that a HAM radio is not certified/authorised to transmit on the Marine frequencies. In fact, a legal HAM radio will not permit transmission on any frequency apart from the HAM frequencies. Some people make modifications to HAM radios to permit them to transmit on frequencies apart from the HAM frequencies. This is illegal and against FCC regulations and the regulations of every other country in the world where it's possible to license a HAM radio.

On the other hand, most recreational Marine radios can be programed with HAM frequencies too, and it is legal to use a Marine radio on the HAM frequencies; because they have tighter technical specifications than a HAM radio.

Legality is linked to reliable functionality and the inability of the radio to cause interference to other users. Because HAM radios have lots of dials and functions designed for HAMs to experiement and learn about radio operation, HAM radios modified to work on the Marine frequencies can easily cause unintended interference to other marine users, safety commmunication, weather broadcasts etc.

A marine HF/SSB radio is designed to work reliably in the riggors of the marine environment. Modern Marine radios - eg the ICOM M801(E or A or GMDSS) are a sealed unit, with no cooling fan sucking salt air and dust through the radio componenents to shorten their life. And no fan using limited battery power, so the radio can be left on DSC watch to listen for emergency calls from other yachts or vessels. HAM radios are not built like that and are not equipped with DSC and other features that have been found to be important for marine operations and safety.

Another common element of modern Marine radios is BIG displays and lettering, so you can read the display from the companionway, or when you have dropped your reading glasses. And, they have far fewer dials and buttons and adjustments which are the experimental domain of HAM radio users. They have the critical operating functions and that is all. So it's relatively easy for someone to operate the radio if the trained/licensed operator is the injured person who needs medical assistance.

Strictly speaking, only a licensed HAM is approved to operate a HAM radio. If the radio has been (ilegally) modified to operate on the marine HF/SSB frequenciess, it's all too easy for a non HAM to set dials and funtions incorrectly and either cause interferrence to others, or cause the radio not to function when needed.

If you plan to operate offshore use a HF/SSB radio that is designed to work optimally in the marine environment, for marine emergency, and general communication. A Marine HF/SSB radio comes pre-programmed with all the marine frequencies, channels and emergency functions. It can be legally licensed as a vessel's radio and be assigned an official marine radio callsign. There is a reason for these standards and type approvals and licence limitations; they help ensure the radio works when you really need it to work.

As a member of the maritime community, you owe it to yourself, your sailing companions, your family and other mariners who use the Marine HF/SSB service to install a proper Marine HF/SSB radio, and learn how to use it. Be sure to buy a radio that has DSC, so you or another person onboard can use the emergency button to initiate communications to obtain assistance if needed. A DSC emergency call will set of an alarm in every similarly equipped radio in the world that receives the alert, including boats a few miles from you, or thousands of miles, and the network of Maritime Rescue Co-orordination Centres (MRCCs) around the world (operated by the Coast Guard in the USA), manned 24/7 by trained operators who can summon assistance.

It's illegal around the world to operate HAM radio on the Marine frequencies. And if you go to a foreign country where you need to check in, the official doing the check may wish to see a proper Marine radio licence with an official marine radio callsign that co-incides with the official registration papers for the vessel and country of registration of the vessel. A HAM license is for a person, not the vessel, and does not qualify as a vessel's marine radio or radio license, nor can you get a marine radio callsign for a HAM radio. Avoid giving an underpaid official in a developing country the excuse to impound the radio or your yacht or otherwise make life difficult for you; until you pay a "fine".

HAM radios are designed for an important purpose - learning about and experimenting with radio communications. They are not designed for the harsh marine environment or for operation by wet hands in a bouncing boat, with dim cabin lights when you have dropped your reading glasses.
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Old 24-03-2012, 17:00   #57
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Hi Cheechako, and others,

Thanks for your response. On my side, I live and cruise in SE Asia, where there are certainly officials in some countries who are under family financial pressure and who will create issues if given the opportunity, or if you cause offense through some unintended process.

And I've experienced numerous problems created by people with only a HAM radio onboard trying to communicate on the marine frequencies or channels. Sometimes this occurs because the boat is sold complete with a HAM radio which the new owner has no idea how to operate, and is not a licensed HAM.

None of the MRCCs (Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres) in this region, or Australia, provide a voice listening watch on the Marine Emergency frequencies; they all provide a 24/7 DSC watch. No HAMs I'm aware of provide a 24/7 listening watch on the marine emergency frequencies for distress calls either. And commercial vesesl that might be called into provide assistance to a yacht in distress do not have a HAM radio, a licensed HAM operator or HAM frequencies.

Only a marine HF/SSB radio has DSC functionality, is legally pre-programmed with all the marine emergency and general use frequencies/channels, has big displays with readable lettering and can be licensed as a yacht's official radio and get a marine callsign.

To my knowledge, in Europe and Australia - at least - the minimum standard of ICOM radio that can be licensed for a new yacht installation is the ICOM M801(E=Europe, A=Australia). These radios are built for the marine enviornment and marine HF/SSB service functionality. They have DSC for emergency calls, and have minimal power drain in DSC standby mode because they have no fan.

A fundamental principle of being at sea is that each vessel can be part of a network of self-help resources which can be summoned to assist people in need of assistance. Maintaining a DSC radio watch in your yacht means you can be alerted by another cruiser, or a fishing trawler, ferry, cruise ship or merchant ship, if they are in need of assistance. Or you can be contacted by the MRCC sending a DSC alert.

The reason commercial vessels are routinely seen on TV assisting cruising yachts is because commercial vessels are required to have a DSC radio and are required to maintain a 24/7 DSC watch, and are required to go to the assistance of other mariners. They marine HF/SSB DSC system works very well to alert people to another's distress.

In this region there are no Coast Guard cutters. Australia's official rescue organisation makes two statement worth remembering:

"The arrangements for search and rescue (SAR) in Australia have been influenced by the physical size of the island continent, the large size of the search and rescue region, Australia's relatively small population and the nature of governmental processes. Dedicated SAR facilities are limited in Australia. When necessary, other facilities are diverted from their primary function by arrangement or request."

AND:

While satellites and satellite-compatible distress beacons have significantly improved the effectiveness of SAR operations, the system is NOT a substitute for carrying appropriate marine or aviation radio.

Depending on the circumstances, your initial distress alert should still be made by radio if possible. You should activate your distress beacon only if contact cannot be made by any other means or when told to do so by a rescue authority.

Whilst there may be other Governments establishing HF facilities in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas, Australia aims to cover the Australian Search and Rescue Region (SRR) to a high level of probability with its own stations.




You cannot call MRCC Australia - or almost all other MRCCs in the world - if you do not have a DSC equipped marine radio. They no longer maintain a voice watch for MAYDAY or PAN-PAn voice calls. They only maintain a 24/7 DSC watch.

And you cannot play your part in the self-help marine rescue network without a DSC equipped marine radio, so MRCCs or other vessels can contact you to assist other mariners, a MOB situation etc.

It's a lot easier to get someone from the water into a yacht than up the side of a merchant ship. The Titanic sank in calm water and a yacht would have been an ideal pickup boat. But only if you knew about the problem. A DSC marine radio in standby mode allows you and your yacht to be alerted by a modern day Titanic captain, or the other cruising yacht just out of view over the horizon, or in the adjacent anchorage cove. You could be the closest vessel available to lend assistance in the case of MOB, an overdue tender trip from shore, or a fire on-board.

A DSC marine HF/SSB has a mute function that allows you to monitor the official marine emergency frequencies for a DSC alert signal, without needing to listen to the static, other calls etc. This DSC mute function is designed to overcome the temptation to turn down the volume, or switch off the radio.

None of these features, funtionality or ability to be on call to help other mariners - as they are on call to help you - are available with a HAM radio. A DSC equipped marine HF/SSB is designed for the unique marine operating curcumstances and the assumption that all people who go to sea are willing to help other mariners; just as they'd like others to come to their asistance. Because there is no 911 and the ambulance or fire station is not just down the street.
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Old 24-03-2012, 19:11   #58
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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To my knowledge, in Europe and Australia - at least - the minimum standard of ICOM radio that can be licensed for a new yacht installation is the ICOM M801(E=Europe, A=Australia). These radios are built for the marine enviornment and marine HF/SSB service functionality. They have DSC for emergency calls, and have minimal power drain in DSC standby mode because they have no fan.
While the M801 is a well sealed unit without a cooling fan, that is not the case for the M710 and M802 widely used on U.S. registered vessels and elsewhere. They are higher power radio's and have a ventilated cover and internal fan which is ONLY in use during transmit.

Eric
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Old 24-03-2012, 19:42   #59
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

AllanR, you go to great lengths to promote the use of marine SSB's over modified ham rigs, but a lot of your arguments are pure fantasy. A little disclosure is in order--do you make money selling SSB's??

The only upsetting news about using a modified ham rig is that their prices are rising--I just checked Ebay and a 20 year old Icom 735 now sells for about the same as it did new.
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Old 24-03-2012, 20:16   #60
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

I agree a little disclosure is warranted. Your statements about not being able to provide help without a DSC radio and about not being able to contact rescue centers via voice is totally false. Sounds like a sales pitch for the M801 to me.

Eric
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