forbid the use of non “type certified” radios on the marine
bands excepting an emergency
. So what would be the tragedy of allowing knowledgeable ham operators to utilize the marine
bands while operating offshore
in a maritime mobile application?
Let’s be clear. I am not suggesting anyone break the law and transmit out of band. This is purely an academic discussion challenging the wisdom of current
and the view of many new cruisers.
Technology has evolved and the use of HF by commercial
marine carriers has significantly diminished over the past two decades. Simultaneously, the cruising community has grown exponentially to the point where it seems the majority of users on the marine bands are relatively untrained recreational cruisers. At the same time, HAM radios have evolved from the build it yourself Heath kits of the 60’s to highly sophisticated transceivers.
Let’s really think about many of the comments made in previous posts and see how they stack up. Admittedly, I will have a HAM operator’s perspective so please take my comments from where they come. For comparison purposes, the numbers I state below are from Icom’s specification sheets
for the 706 mkiiG and the marine 802 . I believe these two units are representative of the most popular rigs used by recreational cruising sailors on either side of the spectrum.
So what’s been said….
Marine HF radios draw less power and have a significantly greater tolerance for low voltage
802 13.6V (DC) +/- 15%
706 13.8V (DC) +/- 15%
On the low voltage range critical to cruisers, Icom certifies performance at 11.56 vs. 11.73 volts. Yep, .17 volts. Decide for yourself how significant this is. Unfortunately, neither of these numbers are likely to improve in the future given the digital technologies.
Ham radios frequently transmit out of frequency and cannot match the much higher tolerance requirements of marine HF radios
Icom 802 -62db
Icom 706 -60db
Icom 802 10hz
Icom 706 1 ppm = 8hz @ 8mhz; “warmed up” unit. 7 ppm vs. unstated for 802 for 1st 60 minutes
Marine HF radios are much more weather
resistant and suited to use on yachts
Marine HF radios are easier to operate
I suspect this is more a matter of preference and what unit one learned on. For me, I am confused by the controls of the 802 but can easily adapt to most intermediate level ham radios. As for the untrained crew argument – both my wife and I hold general amateur licenses. I don’t think we are unique in the cruising world. That’s our normal crew. There’s a reason ham radios have all those dials – we can pull in a signal.
Marine HF radios are a safety
item, inclusive of “one touch” access to rescue
So program a key on the ham radio
. This is getting silly. Must all gear
used on a cruising yacht require no forethought?
So what’s the bottom line?
The use of HF by commercial
marine operators is decreasing rapidly. I think you can make a credible argument that the FCC should enter the 21st century and lift
their antiquated and senseless ban on using non type certified radios on the MB frequencies. Without a change in these regulations, marine HF will be relegated to an essentially unlicensed amateur band used by affluent recreational cruisers. Due to superior marketing
, the financial position of American cruisers and the significantly easier licensing requirements of marine HF in the US vs. HAM, I suspect that marine HF will become the norm for American cruisers. As such, the majority of the cruising nets will ultimately move to marine HF frequencies along with commercial weather
routers (who cannot operate on the HAM bands). Are we really better served with untrained operators using (at best) marginally better equipment
Come on FCC – open up.