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Old 24-08-2013, 06:30   #31
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
It is common in Europe for the application for Station License to require the model and serial number, so the M802 is not an option (it is not authorized as meeting the standards).
I don't know about other European countries, but Ofcom in the UK do not require serial numbers for your station license, and the M802 is sold in the UK (advertised for "export" but sold to anyone) and is widely used by UK sailors.
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Old 24-08-2013, 06:44   #32
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Capt.Don View Post
This is turning into an interesting thread - thank you everyone for the input. Like chs, I'm starting to become familiar with all of this and never really understood the differences between marine SSB and amateur/ham radio.

It sounds like a very bad idea to use a ham radio (non-marine SSB) on the marine SSB frequencies. As Bill mentioned, the ham radios are not up to the FCC specs for marine SSB. I'd imagine that if someone used a ham radio on the marine SSB, their signal (power, noise,....) might create problems and lead to potential penalties and fines.

It seems to me that the options for using the radio for two-way communications are to install a marine SSB that is unlocked for ham frequencies. This gives access to both the marine SSB and other ham radio frequencies. Obtain the Radiotelephone Operator's permit at $220, use the specific marine frequencies as intended. Add email capabilities and weather info, etc. and this may be sufficient for most cruisers.

Obtain the FCC General Class license, to extend the use of the Marine SSB to more frequencies. I've seen refereces to the Marine SSB channels are specific, limited numbers and often crowded. The General Class license opens more bands and frequencies for two-way communications. I also believe this allows more option for data transfer, possible Internet and email capabilities which might be useful. With the widespread use of amateur radio, there's more options available and might be an interesting hobby.

I saw several references that the Technical class is not sufficient for marine use and need the General Class license. I believe this has to do with the frequencies available under the Technical Class vs. those used by Marine SSB. If you are planning on taking the ham radio exams, the Technician Class is pretty easy - 35 questions, mostly common sense. It is a good idea to read a book and spin through the question pool. The General Class is a bit more involved and the question pool extends into radio and antenna theory, power usage, etc. I spent 3 or 4 days studying this before I felt comfortable with the material. I wrongly assumed that I could use the General Class license to use Marine SSB frequencies.

As a final note, you can always use the radio to "listen" on other frequencies without transmitting. In this case, it doesn't really matter what radio or license you have. This might be an interesting way to get started.

In general, do most people stick with the Marine SSB and Radiotelephone Operator's permit or jump into ham radio with the General Class license? Is the Marine SSB sufficient or do you quickly find that you need more frequencies? What other benefits does the ham radio/General Class license provide?

I'm starting to understand this. I'll do a bit more digging on this regarding radios, etc. I also suspect some of this is dependent on one's location with different countries having different requirements.

Thanks for the info,
Don
A couple of comments:

1. You mentioned that one might want to be able to use the ham bands because the marine SSB bands are "crowded". That has not been my experience.

2. It's worth mentioning that the operating procedure and style is completely different between ham and marine ssb. Ham radio is made for playing around with radios, and you are allowed and even encouraged to make calls to no one in particular, then just chat about nothing if someone answers. This is very different from marine radio where you are supposed to call only a specific station (except in particularly defined situations), you are not supposed to just shoot the breeze -- you are supposed to pass your message and get off the air. Of course this is not strictly enforced, but the style is still very different between ham and marine ssb. Another important difference is that with marine SSB you can only talk to other vessels (or specific marine radio shore stations), whereas with ham you can talk not only to sailing hams, but to hams on land and all over the world. So there are lots more people to talk to -- if that is what attracts you to radio (it's not for everyone).

3. The Technician license gives you very few rights on High Frequency (3 - 30 mhz) bands -- you are allowed to operate mostly on VHF and UHF, which is no good for long distance communications. Marine SSB is HF radio (SSB is just the operating mode), or more precisely, MF-HF (2 - 26 mhz). The General license gives you almost all the amateur HF bands (which as has been said, don't overlap with the marine bands), but if you plan to sail to other countries, you will want the Extra license, which is the only one which provides much reciprocity in other countries. In Europe, you are golden with the Extra license, as almost the entire continent follows the CEPT reciprocity scheme which allows U.S. Extra operators to operate without any additional permission of any kind -- you just need your FCC license and a passport.

4. A lot of what's interesting on ham radio occurs on the VHF and UHF bands, mainly 2 meters and 70 cms. This is no good at sea, of course, but even circumnavigators spend most of their time in port. So this is another reason to get a ham license. There are repeaters all over the world for these bands, and it is interesting to meet new people when you enter a new port in a strange country. You can set up a terrific VHF/UHF station on boat with a quite small antenna compared to what's required for HF, and quite inexpensive equipment compared to HF equipment, and you can work VHF/UHF even from a handheld.
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Old 24-08-2013, 08:01   #33
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

There is always a lot of talk about how inexpensive ham radio's are compared with marine SSB sets, and that is simply not true.

Further, marine SSB radio's have a number of advantages over ham sets. They are built to better specs, more frequency stable, but the biggest advantage is that most are 150W of transmit power whereas most ham sets are 100W(of course....your antenna makes the biggest difference). The other advantage is that, in general terms, marine SSB radio's have lower noise floors than the entry level ham radio's, and better signal handling (without the need to adjust controls).

The ICOM 706 ham radio and ICOM M700 Pro marine SSB are now roughly equal in price. I think both only ICOM makes a single ham radio model that is lower in price than their M700Pro, marine SSB. Yaesu used to, but no longer. The price of ham radio's has gone up quite a bit.

You can certainly find used ham radio's. It is just as easy to find use marine SSB's. If you want to go very very cheap, you can still find the ICOM M700 (not the pro) for $400 or so. And it is still a great radio.

IMHO, if you are going to be on a boat, get an amateur radio license and get the least expensive marine radio, the ICOM M700Pro. Add in get a ham 2m VHF radio. You will find that local repeaters can be an amazing resource (...and then there is Echolink...which is well beyond the discussion here). Obviously...you need a ham license...which is now much easier since the code requirement is no longer.

My ICOM M700Pro came open to all bands and frequencies out of the box. There is just no need to go more expensive than this. Save that money for more radio's (once you get into amateur radio...you will want to). The 710 and 802 are good sets, but overly complicated, offering no tx and rx advantages over the M700Pro. You should be able to pick up an M700Pro, new, for around $1000-1100. Spend the money you save on the best tuner, the SGC-230 and a good backstay antenna install.

Just my $0.02. Hope this helps. Good discussion.

John
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Old 24-08-2013, 09:03   #34
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

What John just above posts about Ham vs Marine HF hardware are generalizations, and not true in every instance.

There are plenty of Amateur Radio transceivers that exceed the performance of marine units in almost every category, but they aren't cheap either. They are typically far more flexible and configurable than marine SSB transceivers and with skill can be used to extract much weaker signals successfully than one could do with a marine unit.

Marine SSB units are designed to be robust and (relatively) easy to use and harder to misuse than ham transceivers. This allows marine SSB transceivers to be used by people that are not so interested in the nuances of HF communication and simply want an appliance to get a particular job done without worrying about problems they might cause for other users.

As for the statement about "lower noise floors" in marine SSB transceivers, I would have to take issue with that generalization. Might be true with some high end marine transceiver compared to some entry level amateur radio transceiver, but even so the comparison is moot for the most commonly used HF bands (14 mHz and below) where atmospheric noise greatly outweighs even the cheapest transceiver's noise floor (except perhaps in some special operating cases...)

The practical difference between 150 watts output and 100 watts output is just about undetectable in normal use, but if the most power output is important to you, there are amateur transceivers that put out 200 watts out of the box, and one can even find amateur radio amplifiers that will give you 500 watts while running on a nominal 12 volts.

There is rarely a simple answer to anything when it comes to radio!

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Old 24-08-2013, 09:13   #35
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Remember. To reach a wide market an Marine SSB must include class D DSC and be made GMDSS compliant. The frequency stability of marine ssb , channel cutoff slopes and bandwidth mean that Marine radios are more costly to make

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Old 24-08-2013, 09:14   #36
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Well, to clarify, I was comparing apples and apples. $1100 price range ham vs marine radio's. Someone mentioned the ICOM 706, which is ICOM's next to lowest priced ham radio, now over $1000.

I was not comparing the $1000 ICOM M700Pro with ICOM's $2000-15000 amateur offerings, since that is not this discussion. There are plenty of $1600-15,000 amateur radio's and it does make sense that they have superior attributes. But....I did not think the discussion was about those.

As for 150W vs 100W, I can only relate my own experience. I had two radio's on my boat, side by side, using a coax switch to switch between the two. They used the same tuner and antenna system. One was a 100W ham radio (the Yaesu 857D) and the other a 150W M700Pro. A station in Europe could hear me on the 700Pro, but not on the 100W Yaesu. Since I did a good deal of DX, there were several instances where I made contacts with the M700Pro, that I could not make with the 100W ham set. As I said, it is just one of several attributes that people overlook, when comparing equally low priced ham vs marine ssb radio's.

As for running 200 or 500W on a radio on a boat, that would not be very good on the battery bank.

Hope this helps

Best

J
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Old 24-08-2013, 10:46   #37
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Hi John,

I have been thinking about the M700pro instead of the 802 and your posts encouraged that process. However, I started looking around the internet and am not finding much information on the 700. In fact I could not find it on the ICOM website at all except for downloading manuals. Is it possible the M700pro has been discontinued?


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Old 24-08-2013, 13:02   #38
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Yes, it has. All new marine radios -- VHF or MF/HF -- sold in the U.S. must have DSC capability. Only the Icom M802 MF/HF radio has this, except for a few higher priced marine sets (Furuno, et. al).

In the used market and except for the Icom M802, marine and ham transceivers are pretty closely priced. You can get a good M710 for $600-800 these days. There was a M700Pro on eBay yesterday for about that money. A good ham radio will cost that much, including the venerable Icom M706MKIIG.

And, if that's too rich for your budget, you can find the older M700 and several SEA marine transceivers for $250-500.

An automatic antenna tuner will add about $500, but if you're a ham and know what you're doing it's perfectly possible to have a good marine/ham SSB station set up on your boat for $500-600 all told.

The Icom M710 is a wonderfully robust marine radio, and is readily available in great condition on the used market. It works very well with Pactor modems, can be controlled by a computer, has variable output power levels (which the M700Pro does not have), etc. It is a bit less convenient to use on the ham bands, though desired frequencies can be programmed into its memories and there is a trick which allows for "VFO operation" almost like a ham radio.

While it's true that ham radios tend to have VFOs and more knobs and buttons and memory choices, allowing for far greater adjustment to be made to the reception and transmitting characteristics, not many folks really make use of them. And, truth be told, with some 25 MF/HF transceivers in my shack I much prefer listening and participating in nets with either a marine transceiver or a military or land-mobile transceiver, since these tend to have better audio on both receive and transmit. In my experience, all the bells and whistles aren't really necessary, unless you're going to be a very active ham, participate in contesting, DX chasing, etc.

I wish it were true that all the newer ham transceivers can easily match the spectral purity and other specifications required of marine transceivers. That just isn't the case. Matter of fact, many newer ham rigs are even worse on these parameters than are older sets.

What to do?

UNLESS you really think you need HF/DSC (and I don't), go for a good used radio. Better, go for both a good used ham rig and a good used marine rig. The redundancy is nice, the ham radio will give you lots of knobs to play with if you're so inclined, and this can be done for far less than the cost of a new M802 alone ($1,800 in the U.S.).

That's what I did on my boat. The two radios can be seen at the lower left in the pic....a Yaesu FT900CAT ham rig and a Yaesu FT-600 marine rig. Both are compact, similarly sized, fit into the same mobile brackets, and can be had used for under $1,500.

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Old 24-08-2013, 22:25   #39
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Yes, it has. All new marine radios -- VHF or MF/HF -- sold in the U.S. must have DSC capability. Only the Icom M802 MF/HF radio has this, except for a few higher priced marine sets (Furuno, et. al).

In the used market and except for the Icom M802, marine and ham transceivers are pretty closely priced. You can get a good M710 for $600-800 these days. There was a M700Pro on eBay yesterday for about that money. A good ham radio will cost that much, including the venerable Icom M706MKIIG.

And, if that's too rich for your budget, you can find the older M700 and several SEA marine transceivers for $250-500.

An automatic antenna tuner will add about $500, but if you're a ham and know what you're doing it's perfectly possible to have a good marine/ham SSB station set up on your boat for $500-600 all told.

The Icom M710 is a wonderfully robust marine radio, and is readily available in great condition on the used market. It works very well with Pactor modems, can be controlled by a computer, has variable output power levels (which the M700Pro does not have), etc. It is a bit less convenient to use on the ham bands, though desired frequencies can be programmed into its memories and there is a trick which allows for "VFO operation" almost like a ham radio.

While it's true that ham radios tend to have VFOs and more knobs and buttons and memory choices, allowing for far greater adjustment to be made to the reception and transmitting characteristics, not many folks really make use of them. And, truth be told, with some 25 MF/HF transceivers in my shack I much prefer listening and participating in nets with either a marine transceiver or a military or land-mobile transceiver, since these tend to have better audio on both receive and transmit. In my experience, all the bells and whistles aren't really necessary, unless you're going to be a very active ham, participate in contesting, DX chasing, etc.

I wish it were true that all the newer ham transceivers can easily match the spectral purity and other specifications required of marine transceivers. That just isn't the case. Matter of fact, many newer ham rigs are even worse on these parameters than are older sets.

What to do?

UNLESS you really think you need HF/DSC (and I don't), go for a good used radio. Better, go for both a good used ham rig and a good used marine rig. The redundancy is nice, the ham radio will give you lots of knobs to play with if you're so inclined, and this can be done for far less than the cost of a new M802 alone ($1,800 in the U.S.).

That's what I did on my boat. The two radios can be seen at the lower left in the pic....a Yaesu FT900CAT ham rig and a Yaesu FT-600 marine rig. Both are compact, similarly sized, fit into the same mobile brackets, and can be had used for under $1,500.

Attachment 65949

Bill
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However, if you sail beyond VHF range of Coast Guard shore stations, then HF DSC is an extremely valuable safety system, and you should, in my opinion, stretch for an M802.


Nice nav station, Bill! What's the device to the right of the two HF radios?
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Old 25-08-2013, 05:54   #40
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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.........Nice nav station, Bill! What's the device to the right of the two HF radios?
Thanks. It's an AM/FM/Cassette system.

Here's the rest of the nav station.

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Old 25-08-2013, 07:00   #41
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Very nice indeed. The nav station is a great place to be, isn't it? Sometimes hard for me to decide whether I prefer being on deck (where I should want to be ) or down there.
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Old 25-08-2013, 07:47   #42
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Very nice indeed. The nav station is a great place to be, isn't it? Sometimes hard for me to decide whether I prefer being on deck (where I should want to be ) or down there.
Ha! You're right. Same for me, and even my crew sometimes.

On a passage to Maine a few years back one of my crew, Capt. Phil Johnson (USN, ret.) AKA KB3WAF spent most of his off-watch time right there!

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Old 25-08-2013, 08:37   #43
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

I somehow don't have any images of my nav station since the electronics refit last winter, other than this one:

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This was made last month as we started off on a night crossing of the Channel from Dartmouth to Roscoff in North Brittany, about 110 miles. The computer monitor is too big; looking for a different one. The terrain visible on radar is Start Point.

Here is what the nav station looked like pre-refit:

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Old 25-08-2013, 13:38   #44
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Very nice!

I can understand why you don't want to leave the nav station :-)

Bill
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Old 25-08-2013, 18:03   #45
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Just want to thank everyone who posted, this thread should be stickied! it has helped me out a lot. Though I'm still confused on some points, I think it's just going to take time.
We just got our license, me a tech and Brian ( Rain Dog) general. Our unit is a ic725, I thought this was Marine SSB, but is Ham. So we will probably go the route of two radios.
Has anyone used a 725? Can't find any info, but did find the manual.
Anyways, thanks for the great posts, we should have a Elmer group here at CF.
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