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Old 07-04-2014, 16:41   #1
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Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

I'm just about to finish my radios installation in my boat with a VHF/UHF ham radio (a Kenwood TM D710).

I was just wondering whether other cruisers on here are actively using the VHF/UHF ham bands? And how?

I know that Nick of Jedi (who gave me a lot of good advice last year; thanks Nick!) uses these bands; that he uses APRS and likes to set up his transceiver as a digipeater for APRS.

Anyone else using these bands? They're not a natural at first glance since they are of little use at sea, but since even most circumnavigators spend more time in port than at sea, maybe they're more fun than they seem at first glance.

I have been playing around with these bands using an Icom handheld. When connected to the VHF/UHF antenna I installed on my first spreader (which does double duty serving my AIS installation), I get remarkable range out of only 5 watts. I've had some interesting contacts with UK hams through repeaters and without repeaters.

How about you guys?
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Old 07-04-2014, 16:44   #2
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Dockhead , you'll have to post pics of the chart table/ spy trawler control area. It must be impressive now !

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Old 07-04-2014, 16:57   #3
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Don't forget to add this GPS module to the back of the 710 control panel: Green Light Labs GPS-710

We also have a pair of Kenwood TH-D72 HT's which complement this kit. These have internal GPS and TNC with full APRS processor.

We modded all of those to be able to use every band incl. marine VHF @ 50W

The 710 can cross-band repeat from 70cm to marine VHF (or 2m band) so that you can use the big radio from your dinghy out on the reefs.

When we go out for mini expeditions we both carry a D72. We can always find each other (GPS guided!), call each other etc. Sometimes the big radio on the boat (or motorhome) acts as Digipeater so that we keep a link that wouldn't work without a repeater.

You can get a holster for the D72 from Kenwood that works very good. We even use a speaker-mike sometimes (example: carry the radio inside a bag to keep it protected with just the mike clipped to a strap)

When one is aboard and the other goes out for photography etc. then the one aboard can even see the other one move over a satellite map. This works without an Internet link too: it's a full tactical system.

Now I'm looking at weather stations or even boat-monitoring while it is in storage. Can't imagine how it is without these Kenwoods anymore
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Old 07-04-2014, 17:47   #4
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Don't forget to add this GPS module to the back of the 710 control panel: Green Light Labs GPS-710

We also have a pair of Kenwood TH-D72 HT's which complement this kit. These have internal GPS and TNC with full APRS processor.

We modded all of those to be able to use every band incl. marine VHF @ 50W

The 710 can cross-band repeat from 70cm to marine VHF (or 2m band) so that you can use the big radio from your dinghy out on the reefs.

When we go out for mini expeditions we both carry a D72. We can always find each other (GPS guided!), call each other etc. Sometimes the big radio on the boat (or motorhome) acts as Digipeater so that we keep a link that wouldn't work without a repeater.

You can get a holster for the D72 from Kenwood that works very good. We even use a speaker-mike sometimes (example: carry the radio inside a bag to keep it protected with just the mike clipped to a strap)

When one is aboard and the other goes out for photography etc. then the one aboard can even see the other one move over a satellite map. This works without an Internet link too: it's a full tactical system.

Now I'm looking at weather stations or even boat-monitoring while it is in storage. Can't imagine how it is without these Kenwoods anymore
Very cool! Encouraging that you've not gotten bored with this toys after so much time.

I think I will indeed sell the Icom DStar handheld and buy one of the Kenwoods. Some of the functions you describe sound really useful. Repeating marine VHF! I wouldn't have thought of that.

I have acquired a lovely old Bird CoaxWitch antenna switch for the purpose of switching between the ham radio and my AIS. One thing which is really cool is that it doesn't just switch the unused radio to nothing -- it has four N-type connectors and it will switch the unused radio to a dummy load or a different antenna. I think I'll put another VHF/UHF antenna on the pushpit (I'll have plenty of space after getting rid of Navtex and satphone antennae) and then both radios will work all the time, and I'll have an emergency VHF antenna in case God forbid the mast goes down anytime.
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Old 07-04-2014, 17:59   #5
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Dockhead , you'll have to post pics of the chart table/ spy trawler control area. It must be impressive now !

Dave


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Here you are.

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The guys at Cowes started calling me boat "that Russian spy trawler"
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Old 07-04-2014, 18:01   #6
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Hi Nick: Why do you need the freestanding GPS module? Can't you feed it with NMEA0183 position data from the ship's network?
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Old 07-04-2014, 18:18   #7
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Hi Nick: Why do you need the freestanding GPS module? Can't you feed it with NMEA0183 position data from the ship's network?
What is NMEA0183?

The radio is picky with receiving the correct sentences. I had it going so-so with one GPS and not so much with the other, but then got the GPS module in the motorhome and was quick to add one on the boat too. It is very convenient and works 100%
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Old 08-04-2014, 22:10   #8
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

So is Nick the only sailor on here doing VHF/UHF ham radio from his boat?
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Old 09-04-2014, 00:23   #9
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Haven't done it in years, but remember when in the middle of nowhere Desolation Sound B.C. my friend taught me how to link the repeaters and we were talking to folks down in southern California with a 2 meter handheld.
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Old 09-04-2014, 06:55   #10
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

My cruising grounds are along the southern US gulf coast where there are many VHF & UHF repeaters. I currently just bring an HT on board, but have been contemplating what else would be useful for me. I am usually the only licensed ham on board and using as a local repeater is an awesome idea, but not practical in my situation. I have done some cross band repeater use from a remote area ( radio-wise) to hit a distant repeater. That capability is easy, relatively cheap, and as described earlier, very useful in certain circumstances. I have been trying to decide if APRS or some other digital mode would be useful for me. I ran a Winlink RMS gateway several years ago and being able to access that could be useful, but again, I would have cellphone/data access from most of those locations. On the other hand, as a typical ham, it's more about being able to do it than actually needing it for practical reasons. There are some satellites you can work relatively easy. You could work the ISS packet BBS, cross band voice repeater via ISS, or voice with the astronauts. Echolink is one method of linking repeaters via VOIP and offers another set of options if available.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:48   #11
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
When one is aboard and the other goes out for photography etc. then the one aboard can even see the other one move over a satellite map.
Curious what software are you using for this. UI-View? APRSISCE? Something else?
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Old 10-04-2014, 07:33   #12
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Impressive Nav station.

I found ham 2m VHF radio's very fun and very useful. The FL Keys have a linked system of repeaters. You can be in Key Largo and talk with someone off Key West.

Miami used to have a tall...1100 ft ...2m ham repeater. You could hit it from 50-60 miles away. I would bet on a good day, Bimini, if you had a tall mast.

I found that I could use the Metz/Shakespeare marine VHF antenna on my masthead for my ham VHF rig.

Then, I discovered Echolink. Fantastic.

Then, I got an ICOM 880 and got UHF capability, more repeaters. Got a Comet GP3 antenna and got much more range. And then discovered DSTAR. Amazing.

HF comms have become problematic, since propagation (at least where I am) has degraded a good deal. Digital comms via DSTAR just reinvented radio.

Interestingly enough...and someone please correct me if I am wrong, I can find no repeaters, let alone echolink or DSTAR ones, in the one place that would be great for us here in FL: The Bahamas.

For $100-130, you can get a basic 2m ham VHF radio. It is well worth it, even an HT, when you consider that ...while not optimal...you can just put it on a coax switch and share your already in place marine VHF antenna.

For $500, you can get an ICOM 880 and Comet GP3 (or huster) high gain VHF/UHF antenna and have as much capability as is possible.

One big aid in all this was using programming software to program in all the repeaters I wanted. Made life MUCH easier.

Best

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Old 10-04-2014, 11:57   #13
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Use APRS to keep an eye t the weather too:

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Old 10-04-2014, 11:59   #14
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

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Curious what software are you using for this. UI-View? APRSISCE? Something else?
I use all of that but UI-View with a custom satellite image is what I like best

We could use better software though.
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Old 10-04-2014, 13:46   #15
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Re: Sailing Hams: VHF/UHF?

Love 2m on the boat... If your headed north and have a good masthead antenna you can do very well. The 147.105 from Davidsonville, MD, for example, covers almost all of the central and northern Chesapeake bay...
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