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Old 02-08-2007, 22:53   #1
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Ham Radio- Rig Recommendations

I have been making my list of things I need to know prior to setting sail in a few years. Right now, I'm juggling celestial navigation (Thanks to SkiprJohn for selling me a quality sextant) and ham radio. I will sit for the technician exam on Saturday. I've never been particularly interested in radio until getting into sailing and the setting the goal of cruising. My intention is to get the technician license and then practice/study for the general exam. I figure I may as well have one more hobby and actually know how these systems work.

So, given that it will be a few years till the dream comes true and that the purpose of getting into this is directly tied to the boat, what type of rig would you hams recommend. I'm landlocked but I'd love to listen to the cost guard, get the ocean weather reports, talk with people on the high seas, maybe set up an email account (but the price of Pactor modems may prohibit that right now) etc. I'm assuming that this is possible with a radio that doesn't cost $1,500. There are a few Kenwood transceivers at ebay for under 500$. Would these work?

What would you recommend for my situation? Thanks.


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Old 03-08-2007, 01:26   #2
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Originally Posted by OldSchool
... I'd love to listen to the cost guard ... David
I can’t help /w your HAM needs, but suggest that you’ve hit on an idea that all citizens could support. A “cost guard” could be the political idea of all time.
Good luck,

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Old 03-08-2007, 06:06   #3
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I'm still relatively new to ham radio also, just got my techinician in february and general in april, but generally you can find a decent deal. I got a VHF handheld new for $200. I probably overpaid, but it's worked well, so I can't complain. I've got an 80s era ICOM 745 which is working decently for VHF. I bought it used from a local ham. It belonged to his father who had recently passed away and he was trying to get rid of his old stuff. I paid $350 for it.

For an antenna, I'm still trying to work things out, but as a temorpary solution, another local ham just gave me an old balun of his, that hauled up the flagpole with a bit of wire staked out to each side to make an inverted "V" and a long patch cable to reach in the house got me contacts all the way up and down the east coast and down to even South America, and a couple of nights I even heard Germany and Russia.

As for advice on what to buy, I've heard good things about kenwoods, also look at ICOMs and Yaesus. Don't count out older stuff, but do your research first. Some older radios have odd quirks you have to look out for, they also tend to be a bit bulkier as well compared to newer ones which might be a concern depending on your future boat. On the other hand, older radios tend to have more tolerance of doing bad things to them, like bad antenna matching and etc. And if you can find the parts, older radios are almost always easier to repair on your own if you have a bit of electrical knowledge and a steady hand to solder.

Just check and see if there are any Hamfests near you anytime soon, just go to one or two of those and look around and you'll get a decent idea of what you can get. Be sure to get there early though, most hamfests end way before the ending time printed, and most of the good deals are gone within the first hour, usually bought up by other people selling stuff there, marked up by 10 or 20 dollars and put on their table. :P Most hams are also very willing to give you advice or answer any questions you have. With few exceptions some of the nicest people I've met.
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Old 03-08-2007, 08:04   #4
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Our family are ham operators. We use an older Icom IC728 HF. This rig has been very dependable although it was never meant for the marine environment. I have always found that Icoms are pretty dependable. Although the same can be said for many other brands also.
My 10 year old daughter (extra class) uses this Icom to talk to people all over the world. She has been surprised to talk to people in places like Tonga and Palau. She has even talked to the Commander of the International Space Station on her VHF.
Keep in mind what Sluissa says,"Don't count out the older stuff".

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Old 03-08-2007, 08:58   #5
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Thanks for the advice. I've been looking at ebay and checking against the reviews on the site. The Kenwood TS-520 seems to be one of those bulletproof older radios. Actually, there are a few of them available at what seems to be reasonable prices.

I'm not necessarily looking for the exact radio that would one day go onto the boat. I just want to practice and get the feel for long range communications.
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Old 03-08-2007, 17:31   #6
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there is some very good information at this link
SSCA Discussion Board :: View topic - SERIOUS HAM SSB SETUP ON THE CHEAP
Denny and Diane
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Old 03-08-2007, 18:44   #7
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Might want to look at the ICOM 718. It's a basic radio that will do all the more modern radios will do, not just automatically for around $600 new or $400 used. The Kenwood is a good choice also. The simpler radios without all the microprocessors make sense to me on a boat. Not so many of those little printed circuits to get eaten by corrosion.

Peter O.
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Old 05-08-2007, 21:10   #8
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I passed the technician test with flying colors but came a couple questions short on the general exam. Not bad seeing I only studied a bit and that was with a book published in 2000.

One of the local hams was recommending the Yaesu FT-890 as a good choice for a used rig. In its favor over the Kenwood being that it has an automatic tuner and a wider range of bands. Seems like it will cost 500-600 bucks though.

I'm still solociting recommendations. Thanks.
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Old 06-08-2007, 23:54   #9
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Data capabilities on FT-890

Does anyone know if the FT-890 can receive data via Winmail? I know it would need to be interfaced to a Pactor modem- but I've been looking online and I can't find any documentation of people using the radio in this way. It seems to have good long range ability and a great auto tuning circuit.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 07-08-2007, 00:23   #10
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Nevermind the previous post. I just saw that Dockside Radio specifically has a configuration for this radio.

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