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Old 20-08-2011, 22:24   #1
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Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

I've spent the evening reviewing various posts and other web pages on the use of marine SSB versus amateur/ham radio. From what I can tell, a Ships Station License and Radiotelephone Operators permit are all that is required to use Marine SSB radios such as the ICOM M701, M802.... on the boat. This only requires completing a couple forms, no tests are required. With this, I assume one can send and receive on the specific marine frequencies in the 2-26MHz bands defined for "distress", "ship to ship", "ship to shore",..., participate in nets, download weather and send/receive email. It would seem to me that this is what most of us need for cruising, offshore racing and other rally type events.

As an alternative, the FCC General Class license gives access to the same bands without the frequency limitations of marine SSB. (Side note, the Technician Class doesn't have access to these bands). Do I assume that with a General Class license, you can have access to the marine SSB frequencies and don't need the Ships Station License and Radiotelephone Operators permit? This does require passing the Technician and General Class exams.

I also read that the marine SSB radios are specific or locked to the marine bands. Provided that the operator has the proper General Class license, can these be unlocked and used as a ham radio on other HF bands? It seems like the ICOM 701 or ICOM 802 are the choice transceivers, but are these specific to Marine SSB only. Are there better choices for a dual Marine SSB and Ham Radio?

Any clarification or additional information is appreciated. Thank you
Don
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Old 20-08-2011, 22:28   #2
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Yep, you nailed it!
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Old 20-08-2011, 23:04   #3
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

A Ships Station License and Radiotelephone Operators permit are required for shipboard operation on the marine SSB frequencies. These documents will not allow you to operate on the amateur radio frequencies*.

A General Class amateur radio license is the minimum license required to operate on the amateur radio HF bands. The General Class will not allow you to operate on the marine SSB frequencies*.

Some, but not all, marine SSB radios will receive and transmit on both the marine and ham frequencies. The ICOM-802 is one that is factory set to operate on both marine and HAM frequencies. Others, require special setup procedures to be able to transmit on the HAM bands.

*In an emergency any means necessary may be used to obtain assistance.

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Old 21-08-2011, 05:49   #4
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Viking Sailor is correct.

Icom doesn't make a 701 - you probably mean 710.
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Old 21-08-2011, 05:58   #5
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

I have an Icom 706, a ham set, that has the marine channels available. It is much cheaper and way smaller than the dedicated marine sets. If you don't want to spend a lot of money and you don't want to give up a huge space at your chart table then it makes a good option.
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Old 21-08-2011, 06:27   #6
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

In addition to the forms you must submit for the FCC station license and operator permit, you must also fork over $220 to the FCC for them. There is no FCC fee for the ham license unless you want a vanity callsign. The volunteer coordinators who administer the exams may charge a small fee (≤ $14). Some do, some don't charge anything.

It is also against FCC rules to transmit with a ham radio on the marine bands, while perfectly legal to do so with a marine SSB on ham bands. This is due to the technical standards and FCC certification required of the marine radio.

Eric
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Old 21-08-2011, 08:37   #7
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

In case it isn't already clear, the ham bands and the marine bands do not overlap. Your ham license does not give you permission to operate in the marine bands, nor does your marine permit allow you to operate in the ham bands.

The two services have multiple bands, or channels, throughout the HF radio spectrum, but the frequencies are not identical. For example, the 20-meter ham band covers 14.000 - 14.350 MHz, while the marine band has four channels from 12.353 to 12.365 MHz (12A-12E), and four channels from 16.528 to 16.540 MHz (16A-16E).

As has been mentioned, in an emergency you can use any radio you have, on any frequency.
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Old 21-08-2011, 08:58   #8
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Here's a link to "The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible". Now I understand the reasons behind the various discussions on using ham radio on marine frequencies! Thanks for the info!
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Old 21-08-2011, 09:08   #9
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Capt.Don View Post
Here's a link to "The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible". Now I understand the reasons behind the various discussions on using ham radio on marine frequencies! Thanks for the info!
Capt. Don,

That reference is dated, and contains erroneous and misleading statements.

1. The code requirement for ham licenses has been dropped; no code required; and

2. The reference refers repeatedly to "SSB radios" meaning marine SSB radios. In fact, SSB (single-sideband) is a type of emission, not a type of radio, and ham radios also use SSB extensively.

Auspicious, Paul Elliot, and fairbank56 have provided accurate information.

One other consideration. If you don't need or want to do email, then some of the older marine SSB radios can be made to work just great on both marine and ham frequencies, and they are less expensive than radios which are email capable, like the Icom M710, the M700Pro, and the M802. Examples include: the Icom M600, M700, M800 and the Kenwood TKM-707.

The little-known Yaesu FT-600 (AKA System 600) is a great little marine radio which does marine, ham, and email if needed. But, they're hard to find on the used market.

Bill
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Old 21-08-2011, 09:56   #10
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

I believe there is another concern, other than legal or license issues in using Ham radios on marine bands. I may have this back wards but I'm sure Bill will correct me if I do.

My understanding is that marine rated SSB radios have to meet tighter specs that Ham radios. So using Ham radios on marine bands may cause interference with other transmissions on the band and make you quite unpopular.

Since the marine radios exceed Ham band specs then using marine on Ham bands does not cause problems to other users on adjacent frequencies.
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Old 21-08-2011, 10:40   #11
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

Correct!

Most ham radios could not pass the more stringent specs requirements for FCC certification of marine SSBs. These include not only suppression of spurious emissions, but certain other requirements like the need to operate on lower voltages. Many ham rigs will pack up if the voltage drops much below 12.6, whereas marine radios will carry on down to 10.5 volts or so.

Unfortunately, however, the fact that it is illegal to use a ham radio on the marine bands doesn't stop a lot of folks from doing it.

Bill
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Old 21-08-2011, 17:27   #12
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
Viking Sailor is correct.

Icom doesn't make a 701 - you probably mean 710.
Minor correction, Icom did make a 701, it is a HF HAM radio.
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Old 21-08-2011, 18:04   #13
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

For European cruisers: the Icom Marine SSB radios available there do not support opening the ham frequencies. The M700/710 units have a different firmware, although it is not unheard of for European units to have the firmware changed to accomplish this. As for the M802, which allows the opening of ham frequencies forever with a simple key sequence at startup, most European countries don't sell it. They sell the M801, which is identical but has no ham capability. 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).

The international treaty that authorizes amateur radio bars using a ship's radio for ham use. In the US this is interpreted to include required ship's radios and not optional installations (us). In Europe it is interpreted to include all ship's radios, compulsory carriage or not.
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Old 21-08-2011, 19:49   #14
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So what constitutes an emergency? Family on board, need some help with routing, so I call up one of the weather guys or gal on my modified 718? I DEFINITELY don't want to trash the airwaves and wouldn't knowingly unless true emergency. Is there a way I can confirm that I'm not causing spurious emissions in the rare event I need the marine band?

I am new to HF and don't even have an antenna set up yet. I'm ready to hit the high seas but I definitely can't afford another radio right now. Rigging a half wave dipole soon, have all parts but so limited with that. Would like something like the GAM because it is simple to install, but with tuner and counterpoise, I'm out hundreds. I could just set up the portable receiver, but with the family onboard next year, I should really get the transceiver working for HAM and "SSB" emergency. Sorry if off topic, it was close.

I'm ready to start covering lots of miles and sailing the hell out of my boat. Can't wait. Trip home after buying in SW Florida was longest trip so far and out of range for VHF. I rented a sat phone but can't afford to do that every time. I can buy some copper with that money!

How bout this left over 8 g romex from a recent project at home? Any good do it yourself websites for antennas and counterpoise? I'm ready to start talking to some of you on the radio this fall! Good to know the 802 can operate on HAM. one day....

Chase
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Old 21-08-2011, 20:11   #15
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Re: Marine SSB Radios Used for Ham Radio

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So what constitutes an emergency? Family on board, need some help with routing, so I call up one of the weather guys or gal on my modified 718? [...]
I'm not an expert on this, but I believe that a "MAYDAY" situation would qualify. A "PAN", probably not, and a "SECURITE", definitely not. I'm virtually certain your example (requesting weather routing) would not clear the bar.

As for antennas, I've made many dipoles with romex, stripping off the outer insulation and using the individually insulated wires for the dipole elements. You can strip the insulation from the wires, but it doesn't make much difference. #8 wire is pretty heavy for an antenna -- that's not bad, but #14 works fine too. I would use tinned braid or copper flashing for a ground connection though (the flashing is probably going to hold up longer than braid in a salt air environment.) The soft copper used in romex isn't too strong, and will eventually stretch, but in most cases will work fine for a reasonable length of time.

The GAM is just some insulated wires with an insulator separating the wires from the backstay a little bit. It works OK in most cases, but isn't anything special. I think you could do as well or better by hauling up a wire and using standoffs, or just at an angle to the backstay. Run a ground strap to a throughhull, use a tuner, and you will have an adequate antenna system. This won't be a top of the line installation, but many people get by with worse.

Remember, "The perfect is the enemy of the good."
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