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Old 10-11-2015, 13:00   #16
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Same question ... over and over again. An amateur rig will work fine on the ham bands but most probably not on the marine bands. In addition, most ham radio will not stand up to the harsh environment of the marine atmosphere. My choice is a Kenwood TKM-707 ... nice small rig ... works on BOTH marine nbnd (Part 80) and simple to make it work on the Amateur bands (Part 97). In fact, Kenwood manual tells you how to do it.
Don't ignore good advice. A dipole it the rigging is CHEAP, SIMPLE and works well. I have BOTH a 707 AND an SGC-230. ... but even a manual tuner will do. Start by learning something (easy) about AR and you will be better off. Need more info ?
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Old 10-11-2015, 15:00   #17
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

If you can find a local HAM club, you might contact them and see if there is any HAM Fest going on in your area. I bought my first HF radio at a HAM Fest. A ICOM-735 and a AH-4 antenna tuner for $ 350. The ICOM 735 was opened up to transmit on all frequencies. It lasted 7 years, and I then bought a new ICOM 718 ham set and AT 140 tuner which I've had for 12 years. The place I bought it from asked if I wanted the 718 opened up. Said yes, and they charged $ 40 to do it.
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Old 10-11-2015, 16:18   #18
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Icom 706MK II opened up with an AH-4 tuner is simple, inexpensive and it works. You'll save a lot vs. Marine SSB which may have more features. But it's marine so of course it has to be more expensive.
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Old 11-11-2015, 19:46   #19
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Overall consensus seems to be with getting a marine one (probably an icom one) and then opening to ham channels, so I'll probably do that. Thanks all!
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Old 12-11-2015, 00:06   #20
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Overall consensus seems to be with getting a marine one (probably an icom one) and then opening to ham channels, so I'll probably do that. Thanks all!
This is a perfectly good approach. The Icom M802 is pretty easy to use as a ham rig. The older M710 (which I have) is more difficult to operate as a ham radio, but it can be done, and I occasionally do just that.

I was suggesting a ham set because you mentioned low-cost, and wanting to get your ham license.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:35   #21
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

I am not an SSB expert but had an Icom M802 for a few years while cruising. I found HF radios to be a complicated and intimidating field at first and it still is a bit. And I am reasonably comfortable with computers, programming, and other electronic bits - professional electronics tech, etc. But I found the 802 to be far and away easier to use for even an intermediate level user. I have "radio-head" friends who will tell me that xyz ham radio is easy enough for anyone to use and then they proceed to get lost in the buttons and dials that are unintuitive and overly complex. Even those with menus can be too hard. And, the 802 has a big learning curve but IMHO is light years easier to use to do the common things you need to do on a boat. It is easier to program, and find, the programmed channels. I

But hey, I don't like to memorize complicated sequential steps to do simple things. I find it hard to remember unless I use it constantly and it is hopeless for the Admiral. She did learn how to use the 802. Just two cents worth of thoughts.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:44   #22
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

We just replaced our 30 year old Icom with a new 718, AH4 tuner, and kiss grounding and GAM antenna for under $1000. All new with warrantee. We will tell you how we like it! $1000 for an entire setup new seems reasonable affordable compared to a lot of other things on boats.B.O.A.T. "bust out another thousand"

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Old 12-11-2015, 13:40   #23
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

alctel,
Unfortunately, many of the responses you've gotten refer to "apples" and "oranges" (and even new shinny apples vs. old bruised oranges), without actually answering our questions...
Perhaps I can answer them for you...



You haven't mentioned what your budget is (nor what your exact application is), but reading what you write....somethings just aren't adding up...

IF you are on a budget....WHY in the world would you spend the $150 on a KISS ground, when you can make one yourself for FREE (or at most $5)?????????????
And, why spend the $$$$ 500 on a GAM antenna, when you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by making your own "alt backstay antenna"????
I'm confused by these!!!

Re: KISS-SSB Counterpoise

Have a look and you'll see how to build your own KISS for free...or provide an even better ground for just a few dollars....and you'll also see how-to build your own antenna for < $50....
Doing these will save you > $500!!!



If you have the $$$ for these, then you could probably afford the M-802/AT-140, and save the money on a KISS and a GAM!!!
Yes???????????????????????????????????????





1) First off, if you're living on-board a 36' Hunter, I'm going to assume that you're not going to be crossing an ocean anytime soon, and might not be looking for the same kind of reliable, long range comms that a marine SSB radio is usually prescribed for....
(but, I could be wrong in my assumption....so, I will put some info in here for you, in that vein...)


2) Secondly, without knowing what your application is / for what purpose you desire a marine SSB radio, nobody here can offer anything but generalities...


3) Here are some brief specifics, in red....
Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Hi all, looking to get into SSB radio, and looking for some advice where to start.

Obviously if money was no object I'd get a icom802 with the AT140, but that is pretty much out of my price range right now, esp since I still need to install an antenna and ground.
The Icom M-802 / AT-140, and associated wiring/cables/connectors, including a self-installation, will run you approx. $2650!!
(that's about $1850 for the M-802 alone, plus about $450 for the AT-140, plus extras/accessories...)

Yes, this is pricey....but it IS a very nice radio, and is the ONLY affordable MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone on the market today!! (and it also serves as an excellent ham radio as well!!)

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components



What are good second hand SSB radios?
I have seen used M-802/AT-140's sell for < $1000, but figure about $1200 used, in excellent condition....with a warranty that they will work!
And, for just the M-802, figure about $800 - $1000...
And, for a used AT-140 or AT-130, figure about $200 - $250...

All other "used" SSB radios are not DSC radios...and hence are available at significant savings!!
Either the Icom M-700Pro or the M-710, can be found for around $400 - $500, and as long as it works and you get some sort of non-DOA warranty, either is nice Voice SSB radio, and either would serve you well for Voice SSB service (and the M-700Pro also makes a good ham radio)....but remember they do NOT have MF/HF-DSC functions...
And, for a used AT-140 or AT-130, figure about $200 - $250...


I was thinking about getting my Ham general license as well, should I get a dual use one? If I got my ham license can I broadcast on marine bands and ham bands, or do I need a marine SSB to use those channels?
While there are some marine SSB radios that work well on the ham radio bands as well (such as the above mentioned M-802 or M-700Pro), there are NO ham radios that you can legally (nor morally/ethically) operate on the marine SSB bands/channels!!
(this has been discussed forever....and nothing has changed!)

My first priority is to be able to use the marine SSB channels, but would like the option to use HAM channels as well.
For your stated desires here, you choices are an Icom M-802, M-700Pro (or if you can find an older Kenwood marine SSB)....
But, remember in order to call other vessels (merchant vessels) you would need MF/HF-DSC...so, this leaves only the M-802...


Would something like this be ok?
As others have pointed out, the FT-726 is a VHF/UHF ham radio and is NOT anywhere near what you desire, and the IC-720 is a very old (and unreliable) ham radio, that would also not do what you desire even if it was "like new"!

The M-710 is a possible solution....(see my details above...)



4) For a real-world, live demonstration and easy-to-understand explanation of MF/HF-DSC, please have a look at these videos!!
They're FREE, and designed for the non-tech / new to HF radio radio sailor!!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX




And, for further info on Offshore weather...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY




For HF Maritime comms in general...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y




And, for specific instructions on the M-802
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr




As I wrote above, you are getting misleading info...based on "apples" to "oranges" comparisons....

So, please tell us exactly what your application is, and we can advise you further!!

Fair winds...

John
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Old 12-11-2015, 14:40   #24
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Wow, some great info here, thanks again everyone.

And yes, I do plan on taking my 36 across oceans - once I've finished the refit that is. So it'd be used for long range communications, GRIB weather data and listening on nets so I don't go mad by myself.
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Old 12-11-2015, 22:55   #25
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

alctel,
Okay, now we know a bit more about your application....but, still do not know your budget...
But, please understand that you can install an excellent antenna and "ground" for < $100 all-in for both!! (so, this alone will save you ~ $500 - $600, based on your writings in this thread!) And, will work much better than a KISS Ground and a GAM antenna!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
I do plan on taking my 36 across oceans - once I've finished the refit that is. So it'd be used for long range communications, GRIB weather data and listening on nets so I don't go mad by myself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Hi all, looking to get into SSB radio, and looking for some advice where to start.

Obviously if money was no object I'd get a icom802 with the AT140, but that is pretty much out of my price range right now, esp since I still need to install an antenna and ground.


What are good second hand SSB radios?


I was thinking about getting my Ham general license as well, should I get a dual use one? If I got my ham license can I broadcast on marine bands and ham bands, or do I need a marine SSB to use those channels? My first priority is to be able to use the marine SSB channels, but would like the option to use HAM channels as well.
Please forgive the hard truths that will follow....but, they are the truth!


Since we have no idea what your budget is, except for the fact that you imply that the M-802 is too pricey...BUT..
But, then mention that you are planning on spending > $600 unnecessarily on a KISS Ground and GAM antenna???
It is all but impossible to give you any specific advice, based on budget/price...
BUT...

But, we can offer you specific advice based on your application / desires, and parse these with explanations of costs involved (especially costs versus results)

Before I go into all of this tonight, please understand that all of this has been discussed many times here (and on the SSCA Disc Boards, etc.), and as recent as just last month here!! (and nothing has changed...so, have a look....and you'll learn a LOT!)



1) Using your newly provided information, since you ARE planning on heading offshore / across oceans (as opposed to coastal cruising in US, Mexico, Caribbean, etc.), and require reliable long-range communications with other vessels and shore stations, for:
--- Distress / Safety comms
--- Weather forecasts / information
--- Cruiser's Nets
--- Public correspondence / news and information / etc.

Your options for a Marine SSB Radio are very limited!!
The answer is the M-802/AT-140 (at about $2650, all-in...)
http://www.docksideradio.com/Icom%20SSB%20Radios.htm

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/marine/ssb/m802/specifications.aspx

{note that if you had reliable 24vdc / 110vac power, and could afford the price tags of $8000 - $12,000....then the Furuno FS-2575/5075, or Thrane/Sailor 6350, or JRC2250(?), etc., are also options....but, as you see the Icom M-802 is the only "affordable" choice!}

The reason your choice is limited is because of the implementation of DSC, over 20 years ago....and the limited market for these radios...

Understand that since the implementation of the GMDSS in 1992 (and the requirement for all SOLAS vessels and all signatory nations to be fully compliant by Jan 1, 1999), there have been NO "SSB Voice monitoring" done by any vessel at sea for more than 20 years! (this 24/7 watchkeeping is done by MF/HF-DSC, and then once contact has been established, the rest of the comms is done on SSB Voice...but the watchstanding and initial contact is done by MF/HF-DSC...)
And, except for the USCG, Australian Maritime Authority (AMSA) and NZ Maritime Authority, nobody on-shore is monitoring SSB Voice Distress/Safety frequencies....(and how much longer even they will be doing so, is unknown...), there it is also done by HF-DSC for signaling and initial contact!

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall

http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html


BUT, there are > 450 MF-DSC Coast Stations and > 80 HF-DSC Coast Stations worldwide, that monitor the GMDSS DSC freqs 24/7...as well as the 1000's of merchant vessels plying the high seas daily....

Again, have a look at the videos referenced earlier...
Especially this series:
"HF-DSC Communications"
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Quote:
....many of my fellow sailors and cruisers are forgetting that there has been NO SSB Voice radio watch required by ships/vessels at sea, nor by coast stations, since Jan 1999!
Under the GMDSS (part of the SOLAS conventions), MF/HF-DSC Radio watch standing was started in 1992, and became mandatory for all signatory nations and all SOLAS vessels in Jan 1999!
And, remember that even for a decade or more before that, most radio watch-standing was being done using "2182 Alarm Receivers", which didn't listen for a Voice Mayday, but rather were listening for the two-tone emergency alarm signal....(except for the two, 3-minute long "quiet time" listening watches on 2182khz...)
So, with the exception of the USCG, AMSA, and NZMA, nobody has been maintaining an SSB Voice Radio-watch for a LONG time now!!
(yes, the last "S" in GMDSS is for "system", and the GMDSS includes 406mhz EPIRB's, INMARSAT-C, MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones, NAVTEX, SART's, etc....and while HF WeFax is not officially part of GMDSS, as of the 2012 IMO/Jcom Survey, HF-WeFax is being used daily by the majority of the respondents...)

I've written about HF-DSC extensively here and elsewhere, as well as written about the GMDSS and how we small boat sailors can utilize it / reap its benefits...
So, I won't ramble on and on, here....but I will say again that those that are still thinking that calling Mayday on 2182khz is part of Marine SSB usage, should really understand that this changed about 20 years ago!

Also, please note that the M-802 works wonderfully on the ham radio bands, and is a very easy-to-use for non-tech sailors!!!
But, the older (non-DSC) M-710 isn't so easy to use on the ham radio bands....although the older (non-DSC) M-700Pro is better than the M-710 for use on the ham bands, neither is as easy/seamless as using the M-802 on the ham bands...


{Regarding licensing....your FCC issued ship's station license and restricted radiotelephone operators license (both for the Maritime Mobile Radio service) will work for you worldwide, and require no tests/exams....and costs about $240 every 10 years....but, of course has nothing at all to do with the ham radio bands or licensing....

And, please understand that if you're interested in ham radio, it is the Extra Class license that you will actually need! As this is the only US license class that is accepted in most foreign countries as a real ham license that qualifies for reciprocal licenses in these other countries...}


You can save quite a bit of money, AND have excellent performance, by choosing the right radio system the first time, and by installing the radio / antenna system properly the first time!!



2) As for antenna....
--- A 30' - 35' length of SS lifeline wire, strung up towards the masthead, connected to 10' - 15' of GTO-15 wire, run down to the AT-140 tuner, will be an excellent antenna (called an "alternative backstay antenna"), and cost you about $50....and take you less than an hour to construct / install....(and will last you decades)

--- Or, you can run some insulated copper wire inside a 3/8" double-braided Dacron line (such as Sta-set), and connected to a short piece of GTO-15 wire run to the AT-140 tuner, will also be an excellent antenna (called a "rope-tenna"), and cost you about the same $50....take you less than an hour to construct/install, and also last a long time!!!

{Understand that the antenna starts at the AT-140 tuner....total length of wire, including the GTO-15, should be approx. 40' - 45'....not really critical....a little longer favors the lower freq bands, and a little shorter favors the higher freq bands....but generally keep the length between 30' and 60'....with 40' - 45' generally being the best overall length...}

Neither of these approaches requires you to have a backstay, nor use expensive backstay insulators if you did have a backstay.....and both of these approaches produce an excellent antenna, that will perform as good as an insulated backstay antenna, and better than a $350 23' whip on the lower bands (8mhz and below)....
And, either will perform better than the ~ $450 GAM split-lead antenna (which is basically a slant-feed, "coupled antenna")....



3) As for an RF / Antenna ground...
--- For an antenna ground / RF ground....(a subject that many here, including me, have gotten tried of explaining)...
If you have an underwater bronze thru-hull (or grounding plate) within 8' - 10' of the proposed mounting location of the remote tuner (AT-140), then the best overall RF ground is to simply attach a low-impedance connection (copper strap), from the tuner ground lug to this bronze thru-hull or grounding plate....
This gives you an excellent RF antenna ground (the sea water), and will not only work best, it will last decades....
And, all the cost you have is < $50 for the copper strap!!

- If you do NOT have bronze thru-hulls (mine are Marelon), and do not have a grounding plate (Dynaplate), and are looking for an inexpensive but good performing RF antenna ground, use the pushpit, lifelines, alum toerail (must attach by tapping into the alum, as the outer anodizing has high RF resistance), etc...and even run a strap to a keel bolt or two...
This will provide you with a good RF antenna ground, not quite as good as a direct sea water connection, but much better than a KISS....
And, all the cost you have is a few dollars (or free) for some scrap wire to run from the tuner ground lug to the pushpit, lifelines, stanchions, toerail, etc...and maybe the miniumal cost of some copper strap to a keel bolt....

- If you don't have any pushpit/stern rail, no lifelines, no alum toerail....and cannot get a strap from the tuner to a keel bolt....
You can take a few scrap random lengths of copper wire (just about any size), crimped onto a ring terminal and connected to the tuner's ground lug, and tossed into your lazarette / bilge, etc....
This will work as well as, and usually better than, a KISS ground....
And, here your only costs are at most a few dollars for a few pieces of wire and a ring terminal....(but, you can use ANY scrap wire you see in a dumpster or have on-hand, on-board....so usually this approach is actually free!!)
Have a look here:
Re: KISS-SSB Counterpoise




4) As for Offshore Weather forecasts / info...
In addition to the videos referenced earlier, please have a look here:
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts


And, please be sure to watch these videos...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2mPZAx2vWzdjTJjHlChruyY





5) As for where to find ALL the details about ALL of the above, and so much more....if you look right at the top of the Cruiser's Forum "Marine Electronics" page, you'll see a "sticky" that has just about all the links to just about all the references needed for Marine comms / SSB / etc...
Have a look:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/marine-ssb-stuff-how-to-better-use-proeprly-install-ssb-and-troubleshoot-rfi-etc-133496.html






6) alctel, again not knowing what your budget is, it is impossible to give budget-based recommendations....
BUT...
But, here are some recent and very relevant / on-point threads discussing these very points...(even if the title/subject might not seem to be "on-point", trust me the information IS!!!)

Have a look:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/ais-with-vhf-ssb-155170-2.html#post1949807

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/the-perfect-setup-142805.html#post1776278

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/communications-equipment-144756-2.html#post1805253

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/communications-equipment-144756-2.html#post1804858

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/communications-equipment-144756-5.html#post1807334


http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/ssb-to-monitor-is-monitored-155001.html#post1944674

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/have-to-haves-and-wants-142290-4.html#post1766411



FYI, for more coastal / Bahamas / etc...
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/guide-to-marine-electronics-142136.html#post1771912

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/the-perfect-setup-142805.html#post1776278




7) I know you never asked about EPIRB's....but, please have a look here:
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds




I do hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 13-11-2015, 07:03   #26
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

BTW, I forgot two pretty important points that you should be aware of...(well one very important...and one sort-of important!)

1) A Marine SSB radio (such as the M-802, or M-700Pro) will operate perfectly fine / up to its rated specs, even when used with reduced voltage at the radio!!
(typically will meet specs, from 11.5vdc to 15.5vdc)
And, this "lower voltage" is VERY typical on-board!!
(even if just 12.3vdc or so...this is a "low voltage" that will cause serious transmit problems for 99% of the ham radio transceivers out there!!!)

Ham transceivers (in addition to being pretty crappy for transmit spectral purity) will have severe distortions on transmit (and cause interference to others as well), when operated at normal battery voltages of 12vdc to 12.6vdc (at the radio, on transmit), and most will also reduce the output power significantly as well....and many/most (all ?) wil simply shut down if the voltage sags below 11.8vdc - 12vdc!!

Ever wonder why everyone with a ham rig on-board also recommends a $100+ "battery booster"??
It's cause they need them!



2) Secondarily, on a 36' boat, space at a Nav Station, etc., might be a premium....so having a modular radio (such as the M-802 or the rare M-710RT) can be of great help....where you can mount/install the radio anywhere (in a dry locker, etc. close to your house battery bank is good), and mount/install the control head in the most convenient location for your on-board use...



I hope this helps..

fair winds..

John
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Old 13-11-2015, 07:12   #27
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Wow, some great info here, thanks again everyone.

And yes, I do plan on taking my 36 across oceans - once I've finished the refit that is. So it'd be used for long range communications, GRIB weather data and listening on nets so I don't go mad by myself.
Would you perhaps be better served by one of these, linked to a smart phone/tablet, and one of the available higher cost plans with more text messaging monthly allowances, if funding is restricted?

DeLorme AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer

http://www.amazon.com/AG-008727-201-...BGYBS1EG9ZMAAR

Then if you want to do your Ham Radio License, you can forget about marine SSB for now (keep things as simple as possible for now), and pick up a reasonably priced very suitable transceiver, working your way through to what you would really need/like, in the longer term. This would also allow you to get fully in the swing with things after lots and lots of hands on?

Personally I'll be going with the circa $25 a month service package for the DeLorme, but there are cheaper as well as more expensive.

As for "going mad" by yourself. This is a fallacy. You will have plenty of company soaking yourself into the sounds, sights, smells, and even taste of Nature, that surround you (which perhaps you should be doing anyway, and I personally don't like anything distracting to interfere with that, and prevent me from paying attention, because I have found it is not infrequently the subtle things that can give you important advance warnings).

In fact rather than driving people mad, solitude just helps some people discover that they are already mad.

PS. Try and make sure you never let your 12v batteries go below 12.2v (approx. 50% charge left). Going under does damage that seriously shortens the life of your batteries, even if they are so called "deep discharge" (this is pretty much a fallacy, as they can only survive perhaps a little more damage).

If you are hitting 12.2v way too fast - install more batteries/charging power until you aren't. In addition, something which way too many people seem to be unfamiliar with, you have to put in more amps than you take out, to get a battery back to a full state of charge. This is in the region of 50% more. So if you use 50 amps, you need to be able to put back in around 75 amps, for example. This has quite an impact on the design of a proper power system, as perhaps you can imagine.
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Old 13-11-2015, 09:29   #28
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

I'm definitely going to get a DeLorme/Spot in addition to a radio.

That's really good to know about the Antenna and Ground alternatives. I think I'll probably do that then.

I didn't realise about the importance of DSC on the HF/MF bands. That's pretty much a M710 (with GM110) or M802 then hey? I don't plan to leave for another 2 years so I'll get one in that time, I was just wondering if it was worth getting a cheaper radio to practice on - I just got offered an icom M600 + tuner for 200 dollars which means I'd probably able to get something up and working for around 400 dollars, if I include the ground/antenna methods outlined above.

Then in a years time or so, I can switch it out for an M802.
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Old 13-11-2015, 09:34   #29
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
I just got offered an icom M600 + tuner for 200 dollars which means I'd probably able to get something up and working for around 400 dollars, if I include the ground/antenna methods outlined above.

Then in a years time or so, I can switch it out for an M802.
If you don't mind the extra work in doing the switch and the money out for two purchases, no problem with doing that. There is a big learning curve for people starting out with HF radios. At least was for me and I'm pretty technical-minded.

If you do it, see if you can do all the wiring and antenna wire, etc. so that it would just be a swap of the physical radio and tuner since that is a significant part of the installation. Perhaps look at the wiring requirements online for the M802 and AT140. It should definitely work for the 600 as well.

And you should be able to sell the 600 and tuner later too.
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Old 13-11-2015, 10:40   #30
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Re: SSB radios - which one to get as a cheap starter one?

alctel,
A couple important points...

1) The GM110's haven't been made in many years....and I've never actually seen a GM110 in real life!! (and don't know anyone who ever has!)
I was told by an Icom factory rep (from Japan) about 10 years ago, that they "made a few" in order to have something that would allow some vessels to meet GMDSS compliance, but he wasn't sure if they ever sold more than "a handful" (perhaps a dozen?)...

So, for all intents and purposes, in Icom radios....it's a M-802 for a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone....and that's it!!!
(do NOT buy a M-710, thinking you'll find a GM110....'cause you got a better chance of hitting the Lotto!)

And, Furuno, Sailor, and JRC, all make excellent MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones.....but they run on 24vdc/110vac, and cost between $8000 and $13,000!!!


So, if you want an affordable DSC rig (which is almost a no-brainer, these days), it's the M-802....
Sorry about that....but, that's the way it is!



2) Now, as for battery voltage....while keeping your battery voltage up is always good, you cannot always have 13volts available!
And, most importantly, most forget the voltage drop when drawing a high current in transmit, can mean that even if you have 12.6vdc at the batteries, with even a 3% voltage drop will leave you with only about 12.2vdc at the radio....and unfortunately many sailors will have more than a 3% voltage drop, as they use the whole darn manufacture-supplied power cable, instead of using power wires properly sized for the length and current draw (30 amps)!!

Anyone who has ever heard an IC-706, IC-718, etc. running at battery voltages knows what it sounds like!! And, it ain't pretty!!



3) As for antennas, grounds, etc....the physics haven't changed!!
Follow the basic rules, follow the Sailmail Primer recommendations, and follow my recommendations here, and you'll have an excellent system....and it won't cost you much!!


4) As for the M600 and tuner for $200 (all-in?)....
That is a good deal!!
If you want a radio to fool around with, listen with, etc., it's not a bad choice...BUT...

BUT, remember the M-600 is a far cry from a M-802 (or even a M-700Pro or M-710) in its operation and performance....and I'm finding it hard to recommend spending the money on the M-600 now....as you might not learn too much about "radio", but a lot about the M-600 radio!! (not sure if that makes sense??)


But, my best recommendation is to watch the videos that I referenced BEFORE you do anything else, BEFORE you buy anything!!!
You'll learn a LOT....and they're free!!!
And, they are all real-world, as it happens, live demonstrations....no script, no studio tricks, no simulations!!!
They are 100% REAL and LIVE!! (including my poor editing!)


This Youtube Playlist shows the basics of Maritime HF Comms (including the "noise" and "interference" issues...)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

And, of course, this one shows HF-DSC Comms..
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX

And, this one shows Offshore Weather...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY

And, specific instructions for the M-802...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


And, some offshore sailing videos....for when you think your head is going to explode from all the "tech stuff"!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY






And, a final note....
trying to "learn about HF radio" while at the dock / working on the boat, etc., can be a REAL PAIN!!
The "Radio Noise" (RFI) that is around the docks and boatyards makes many think their fancy new radios must be broken!
But, if you look at the videos, especially the ones where I show "noise" and "interference", while tied to the dock, you'll see a small amount of what I'm talking about...(I don't have too much noise at my home dock to show, sorry!)



Fair winds..

John
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