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Old 07-02-2019, 17:18   #46
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Dennis,
1) Actually the answer to question #1 is the easy one...
The exact capacitance isn't critical.... 0.01uf to 0.1uf in total, is a good rough value...and 1000v to 5000v rating is good, but with our 150 watt radios, 1000v - 2000v might be okay...

Spend $5 to $10 or so, and buy 2 (or 3), ceramic disc caps....2Kv, 0.1uf ceramic disc caps...(Mouser, Newark, RF Parts, etc...)
(if you were designing a more precision circuit, I'd probably recommend some hi-tolerance silver mica caps, but for this application, generic hi-voltage ceramic disc caps are fine!)
BTW, if you have a ham radio friend, you can probably scrounge 'em from him/her, for free....and/or spend about 50 cents each for them at a "hamfest"...

Wire them in a series string (so that the voltage rating will be multiplied and capacitance will be divided), and place them INSIDE your remote tuner....solder one end of the string to the remote tuner's "ground wire" and secure (solder or use crimp terminal) the other end of the string to the inside of the remote tuner's ground terminal....

Then you can connect the tuner's ground terminal to your hull....using whatever is the recommended material by the hull / boat manufacturer...
And, you will have NO DC connectivity from your tuner ground and the hull, and no stray current issues!!

With fairly good certainty, you're probably never going to need more than 2Kv (2000 volts) rating (maybe even 1000v), with our normal 150 watt HF rigs....so, if you just want to use one capacitor, that would be fine....but, you know I'm a radio nut...
(btw, SGC has a 0.1uf cap inside their tuners, for DC ground isolation....)


{I don't have an aluminum hull, but considering the mass of the hull, using a SS bolt, or whatever you currently use for alum hull attachments, and a liberal amount of Penatrox-A conductive grease (designed specifically for electrical conductivity between dissimilar metals, like alum, copper, SS, bronze, etc...), and you should have no issues...}





Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingnut40 View Post
Two questions.....
1) If I have an aluminum boat and I need to couple the tuner ground to the hull through a capacitor (to prevent DC to ground) What size and type of capacitor is suitable?
Question 2) Has anyone any idea where to get a channel List (or CSV file) for programming channels into my ICOM HF radio? (not an 802)


I did find it on the internet a couple years ago, but cannot find it now.
Thanks Dennis

2) I really thought I covered this in these stickies and the links in them??
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...tc-133496.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...tc-198305.html

However, if you cannot find the details....I can tell you exactly what freqs to program in your radio...but...

But, those specific / exact answers depend on:
a) What radio?
b) What your planned application is? (SSB Voice, GMDSS SSB Comms, Cruising Nets, Wefax, Voice Weather, Maritime, Ham, Shortwave/BBC, AM/MW Broadcast reception, etc.)
c) Where are you planning to be sailing / cruising?
d) How many channels does your radio support?
Without knowing any of these things, the best I can do is answer you generically...


Note that ALL maritime HF-SSB freqs will be USB....as well as ALL SSB ham freqs of 14mhz, 18mhz, 21mhz, etc. and above will be USB...but, ALL ham SSB freqs of 7.3mhz and below will be LSB....


[Note that those freqs in bold type are the more important / critical freqs for just about everyone sailing Atlantic, Pacific, and/or USA / N. America / Caribbean / C. America....and most sailing anywhere offshore...
Those in red bold are Safety, Urgency, Distress calling freqs...
Those in blue are generally weather freqs...]


Starting here, with "channel #1 thru channel #6" being the "Safety Channels"....

A) Of course, you will want to make sure you have all six GMDSS SSB-Voice Freqs...

2182.0khz USB
4125.0khz USB
6215.0khz USB
8291.0khz USB
12290.0khz USB
16420.0Khz USB

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

https://www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/navigation-systems/global-maritime-distress-safety-system

http://maritimeradio.org/taupo-maritime-radio-zlm/


Also, programming in WWV / WWVH, time/freq standard freqs....
2.500mhz USB
5.000mhz USB
10.000mhz USB
15.000mhz USB
20.000mhz USB


B) Weather freqs...
And whatever maritime SSB-Voice weather broadcast freqs...and their ship's transmit duplex freqs...(all USB)
518khz NAVTEX on 516.1khz USB...

4316.0khz simplex
8502.0khz simplex
12788.0khz simplex

4149.0khz simplex (Australia)
6230.0khz simplex (Aus)
8113.0khz simplex (Aus)
6507.0khz simplex (Aus)
8176.0khz simplex (Aus)
12362.0khz simplex (Aus)
12365.0khz simplex (Aus)
16546.0khz simplex (Aus)
{plus some others for New Zealand, see link}

ITU Ch 424 = 4426.0khz ship rx / 4134.0khz ship tx
ITU Ch 601 = 6501.0khz ship rx / 6200.0khz ship tx
ITU Ch 816 = 8764.0khz ship rx / 8240.0khz ship tx
ITU Ch 1205 = 13089.0khz ship rx / 12242.0khz ship tx
ITU Ch 1625 = 17314.0khz ship rx / 16432.0khz ship tx


http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm

Schedules and Frequencies for HF Marine Radio Voice Services

https://www.metservice.com/marine/ra...dcast-schedule



And the HF WeFax freqs...(way too many for me to type 'em all here, especially 'cuz I don't know the answer to the questions I posed above...)

So, have a look here:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/radiofax.htm
https://tgftp.nws.noaa.gov/fax/marine.shtml
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf


For Atlantic, Caribbean, etc....you'll want NMF and NMG freqs...
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfmarsh_links.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfgulf_links.htm


For C. America, Pacific, etc....you'll want NMC, NMG, KVM70, and NOJ
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfreyes_links.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfgulf_links.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfhi_links.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfak_links.htm


And, for western Pacific, Indian, etc...you'll want VMC and VMW, HSW64, ZKLF, etc...have a look here....and also, for N. Pacific, Med, EU, N. Sea, etc...have a look here...
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf



And, HF-SITOR freqs...
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfsitor.htm




C) Basic HF SSB Voice Simplex freqs...
4a = 4146.0khz
4b = 4149.0khz
4c = 4417.0khz


6a = 6224.0khz
6b = 6227.0khz
6c = 6230.0khz
6d = 6516k.0hz

8a = 8294.0khz
8b = 8297.0khz

12w = 12350.0khz
12a = 12353.0khz
12b = 12356.0khz
12c = 12359.0khz
12d = 12362.0khz
12e = 12365.0khz

16a = 16528.0khz
16b = 16531.0khz
16c = 16534.0khz

https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=rtchansi


Some 18mhz, 22mhz, and 25mhz simplex freqs might be useful to some, cruising some areas....but with our falling sunspot numbers, these will be less useful in the coming couple years (possibly totally unusable)...but some are nice to have, to check occasionally...

And, if you have the channel space, and are a radio nut, you may find many of these "shared" maritime-fixed-land-mobile freqs to be good to have...
https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=rtchansi




D) Plus the cruising net freqs (both maritime and ham) for the areas that you'll be sailing / cruising...

East Coast Cruising Nets
West Coast Nets

AMATEUR "HAM" RADIO


Some cruising nets inexplicitly use "shared" maritime / fixed-land-mobile simplex channels....and as such these are also useful...
8152.0khz USB simplex (Doo-Dah Net and Cruiseheimer's Net, primary freq)
8146.khz and/or 8164.0khz (Cruiseheimer's secondary / alternative freqs)



E) Some further weather freqs...
Some other SSB Voice weather services (Aus BoM /AMSA, listed above) as well as commercial services like CaribWx, also use some non-standard and/or "shared" maritime-fixed-land-mobile freqs...
4045.0khz USB simplex
8137.0khz USB simplex
12350.0khz USB simplex
https://www.mwxc.com/marine_weather_services.php




F) Some popular ham freqs....
14.300mhz USB (Maritime Mobile Service Net / MMSN, InterconNet, Pacific Seafarer's Net) almost 24hrs a day...
Maritime Mobile Service Network
https://www.pacseanet.com/
14300.net
14.300 MHz NCS Schedule

7.268mhz LSB (Waterway Net)
Waterway Net Web Site

And, some other boat/marine related ham freqs...
AMATEUR "HAM" RADIO

Please note that even if you're not a licensed ham, these can be helpful, in an emergency for you, as you apparently do not have an MF/HF-DSC radio, which hinders your ability to signal most maritime coast stations (worldwide there are > 80 HF-DSC Coast Stations and > 450 MF-DSC Coast Stations) and prevents you from signaling the 1000's of SOLAS-grade GMDSS / DSC-equipped vessels


BTW, some of the ham freqs are only able to be used in certain countries and/or in certain geographic areas....due to different freq allocations...
3.696mhz LSB Bahamas Weather NET (must be a US licensed "Extra Class" or "Advanced Class" licensee, or be operating in Bahamas WITH A BAHMAMIAN ham license or reciprocal permit)

7.096mhz LSB Bahamas Weather NET (must be operating in Bahamas WITH A BAHMAMIAN ham license or reciprocal permit)




G) Further, some Shortwave Broadcast / BBC freqs...(although these are all AM transmissions, you'll typically find less noise and less fading in USB mode, rather than in AM mode)

12095khz USB
15400khz USB
6195khz USB
9410khz USB
5875khz USB

And, of course, you can program in a few US AM Broadcast stations (a few "clear channel" stations, like WCBS, etc. can be heard at night most of the way across the Atlantic, and into the Caribbean...
You can listen to WCBS (880khz), WABC (770khz), and some of the other NYC and east coast stations, too, every night, as you sail across the Atlantic...and some other US 50KW, "clear channel" stations also have quite a range...(I hear WWL, WSM, and WSB, frequently thru the Caribbean, as well...)
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...da-184267.html


H) Sailmail and/or WINLINK freqs???
If you'll be using your radio for HF e-mail connectivity, you'll want to program some of those in as well....choose ones in your region of the world, but NOT necessarily just the ones "closest to you"...




3) Not knowing your radio, your specific applications, nor where you'll be sailing/cruising, I cannot be specific in what should be in every specific channel number....
But,
A) I highly recommend you start with the "Safety" channels in # 1 thru #6...and some of the WWV channels next...

B) Then all the weather freqs (Voice SSB, WeFax, SITOR) for your planned sailing / cruising region...

C) Then the basic maritime simplex channels...

D) Then the "Cruising Net" freqs....

E) Then some alternative weather, cruising, freqs....and some of the "shared" maritime-fixed-land-mobile freqs...

F) Then some ham radio freqs....(even if you're not a ham, at least program in 14.300 and 7.268...)

G) Then some Shortwave / BBC...and some US AM Broadcast stations (if these interest you)

H) In some Sailmail and/or WINLINK stations (if you'll be using HF e-mail)


~~~~~~~~~~


4) Please if you let me know the answer to these questions....I could've been more specific, and especially more concise, in my answers / recommendations!!

a) What radio?
b) What your planned application is? (SSB Voice, GMDSS SSB Comms, Cruising Nets, Wefax, Voice Weather, Maritime, Ham, Shortwave/BBC, AM/MW Broadcast reception, etc.)
c) Where are you planning to be sailing / cruising?
d) How many channels does your radio support?








5) I do hope you have a chance to watch some important videos???


For a better understanding of HF Maritime communications, what freqs do what, and Offshore Weather, etc...please have a look at these playlists.....they're free of course....nobody is selling you anything at all!!

They are all made by me personally, with no script, no director, just LIVE as-it-happens, in the real-world, on-board a real offshore cruising sailboat (just like most of you will be doing all of this), no laboratory simulations (except for the Icom VHF DSC videos), no fancy edits to cover-up "oopps" moments....it's all done LIVE, on-the-air, as-it-happens....(so, please be kind to my less-than-professional video work....it's just my M-802, my fingers, and my voice...)


Please have a look at these Playlists....and watch the videos there in order (skipping any that are of no interest), as this way they will all make better sense..


Maritime HF Comms (in general)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y




Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY




HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX




Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY




Icom M-802 Instruction Videos (I know, you don't own one, but you can still learn a LOT about many different radio functions / features / controls, as there are many similarities!!)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr




VHF-DSC
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...J6QugtO2epizxF






Hope this helps..

Fair winds..

John




P.S. You didn't ask, and never mentioned EPIRB....and you may think that this is way off topic...but, fyi, proper registering EPIRB's and most importantly understanding how EPIRB's and the COSPAS-SARSAT system actually work, is very important!! And, is unfortunately a fairly misunderstood subject, and once aware of the details, many sailors pay more attention to their HF radio set-up, especially HF-DSC...
Have a look:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ds-146617.html
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Old 07-02-2019, 20:55   #47
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Power/SWR Meter for HF-SSB Radio...Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

I've recently gotten a few questions regarding the Power / SWR meters I have permanently flush-mounted on my Nav Station....
And, I thought some might find this info useful (not really the info on my power/swr meters, but on what you might desire or need...or not need??)

So, here is what I just wrote...


The meters you see flush-mounted on my Nav Station are Daiwa CN-410m for my M-802 (15w/150w from 1.8mhz thru 150mhz)....
And, a Daiwa CN-460m for my M-602 VHF (15w/150w from 140mhz thru 450mhz)...

Unfortunately they are no longer imported into the US....and are in short supply in Japan....so...
So, if those are the ones that interest you, you're out of luck...


But....two pieces of good news...

1) Daiwa CN-801HP or CN-901HP, are both good meters....but, a bit bigger and a bit more complicated to "flush mount"...



2) But, you may not need to permanently mount a meter on-board....
You might not be fully aware of the features / displays of the M-802?
But, fyi, most sailors find that while they might desire permanently mounted power/swr meters, they find that might not really need one...

I agree that having one is very nice, and I do recommend them....but might not be necessary...

'Cuz...

Fact is, the M-802 actually DOES have power output metering AND a high-swr indicator (as all other Icom HF Marine transceivers have had for > 20 years)...

No, it does not read-out the exact wattage number on a display, nor is there any numerical swr indication...but...

---- But, the M-802 (as well as other Icom HF Marine rigs) does have an 8-segment bar-graph display that is surprisingly fairly linear, and accurate....

(AND in the M-802, at least, the LED bar-graph is fast enough to show as a "peak-reading" display, so that it does follow normal speech fairly well, and therefore is actually a darn good indication of the radio's actual "SSB Talk Power", i.e. whether the M-802's DSP Speech Compression is On or Off, as well as how "loud" your audio is on-the-air...
And, except for the fact that I know how my Daiwa CN-410 "average-reading" meter should read under normal voice, the M-802's internal meter is better for showing the voice peaks!)

The M-802 illuminates one segment for every 15 - 20 watts of output power...

All 8 segments = full output - 140 - 150 watts

This should be seen when full carrier is transmitted, such as when pressing the microphone PTT button in "FSK" mode, or when transmitting a CW carrier....and also, 7 - 8 segments should be illuminated when you whistle into/across the microphone in "SSB" mode...

In CW or FSK modes:
1 - 2 segments = 10 - 20 watts = "tune power"
1 - 2 segments = 15 - 20 watts = "low power"
~ 4 segments = 60 watts = "med power"
8 segments = 140 - 150 watts = "hi power"


In SSB mode, the exact number of segments illuminating when speaking normally will vary, depending on 3 things:

a) Whether the M-802's internal DSP Speech Compression is turned On or Off...
(If it is On, you will see approx. 7-8 segments on voice peaks, and typically 4 - 5 segments on normal speech....
If it is Off, you will see 4 - 5 segments, at most, on voice peaks, and typically only 1 - 3 segments on normal speech)

b) Exactly where you place the microphone...
(1" to 2" away from your mouth, and speak directly into the small electret mic element opening, is best...)

c) Your exact voice..
(some talk louder, and annunciate well, some don't....and typically women have a better SSB voice than men do!!)


---- As for an SWR indicator....well, all marine radios fall short....but...

But, the M-802 (like other Icom HF Marine rigs in the past 20+ years), does have an "hi-SWR" indicator...

The display that normally shows "TUNE" will flash "SWR" when the swr reaches approx. 1.7:1 to 1.8:1, and "SWR" will stay illuminated if the swr is 2:1 or higher...

Also, the M-802 (like all other modern solid-state HF radios), will reduce its output power when presented with a high SWR....this is known colloquially, as "SWR Fold-back"....


And, while I don't have the exact specs at my finger tips, I do know that at 2:1 SWR, the M-802 will fold-back to approx. 110 watts....and at 3:1, will fold-back to less than 50 watts...and at much higher SWR's (such as when you have a tuner failure, etc.) the M-802 will only output approx. 20 watts...

So...

---- if you know the amount of power your radio outputs based on how many segments of the display are illuminated...

---- and you understand the radio will indicate when an SWR of 1.7:1 is reached (by "SWR" flashing) and when an SWR of 2:1 or higher is reached (by "SWR" staying illuminated)...

---- and you understand the radio's SWR-Fold-back specs....

Then...
Then, you can certainly make simple "proof-of-performance" tests, and do basic RF troubleshooting...all without any external power/swr meter!!

Again, this is NOT as good as having a real external power/swr meter, but all of the pertinent info is right there for you!!


The REAL problem here is that Icom does not have this detailed info in their owners manuals!!!
And, unless / until, many of my fellow radio nuts pass this on to as many sailors as possible, then few sailors will know all of this!!!



I do hope this helps!!!

Fair winds...

John
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:05   #48
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

WOW!!!!


That is 10x more answer than I expected!

I am a Canadian amatuer with all band privileges and I own a ICOM 756 pro that I love and if my next boat does not have a better radio, I expect to be putting my 756 into it.


I have an ATU-140 as well but nothing newer than a PK232 for a modem yet.


I have searched before asking the questions, but have come up empty but must confess I have not read this entire thread.


I have the marine radio licence as well but have zero experience with the HF side other than a few check ins on 14.300mhz.


The lingering question is, if I bought the 802 would it not come pre loaded with channels or does everyone have to custom program it for the area they are cruising?


I plan to retire in the next 1 - 3 years and am shopping for my next boat this spring. I will start out in the ICW and Caribbean and when ready (if) likely the MED would be next. After that could be Panama Canal and west.



I'm still trying to decide how much extra equiptment I would need to do the other stuff. wefax, gribs, email etc. etc.


I will have some significant funds available for tech. but I'm still trying to figure out how it all goes together.



It is pretty overwheming even for someone who considers himself a serious techie.


Many Thanks! Dennis
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Old 08-02-2019, 11:48   #49
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Dennis,
1) You're welcome...
But, since I didn't know where / how you'll be cruising, I really couldn't be too much more specific...


2) As for the M-802 coming pre-programmed....yes, it does!!

It comes with both ALL the maritime ITU channels (simplex and duplex), including all the GMDSS Safety Calling freqs, all permanently stored in memory....
Plus it has a 160 channel "user channel" bank, that you can change/customize as needed....but this too, comes pre-programmed from the factory with about 150 - 160 of the more common HF channels / band segments, used generically worldwide, but with a US-centric influence...(and some dealers do their own "custom" list as well)

Here is a link to the Icom M-802 factory pre-programmed "user channel" list..
Icom M802 User Group Channel Guide

And, there you can find pdf files of that list that you can print out if you need...



3) BTW, you'll find the M-802 to work similarly as your 756Pro....Icom took some of the design of the M-802 an incorporated it into the 756ProII and ProIII....

Of course the M-802 transmitter PA is totally different....as is the "user interface" / display, and operating firmware.....but they are similar...




4) Also, as you're a ham, I'd recommend placing a couple of channels into each of your fav / most used bands.....once you select that channel(s), one touch of a button, and the channel knob is now your VFO...
Slick n easy-peasy...

But, for US, Bahamas, Caribbean, across the Atlantic, Med, etc....most of what I wrote earlier is good!!
(In addition to adding some more ham channels, I'd add a couple channels for the two Med nets, and OCC Nets...and then if heading west across the Pacific, I'd make sure you had the Aus, NZ, etc. freqs programmed in...)



5) I think, if you look close....you'll find the M-802 can do just about everything you'll likely need....(and you'll probably not need GRIB's, as you'll have excellent wefax charts....remember wefax charts are drawn by experienced marine meteorologists...GRIB charts are the raw computer data files with no human interaction...)


Please have a look at these videos...for more details...

Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY



Most find e-mail / internet connectivity unnecessary during the short times they are out-of-range of cellular/3G/4G/LTE and/or Wi-Fi service....
But, if you do find a need....the choice is usually between a PACTOR modem versus a sat com data set-up....but you have time to figure all of that out!!


Hope this helps...gotta go!

73,

John, KA4WJA
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:34   #50
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dennis,
1) You're welcome...
But, since I didn't know where / how you'll be cruising, I really couldn't be too much more specific...


2) As for the M-802 coming pre-programmed....yes, it does!!

It comes with both ALL the maritime ITU channels (simplex and duplex), including all the GMDSS Safety Calling freqs, all permanently stored in memory....
Plus it has a 160 channel "user channel" bank, that you can change/customize as needed....but this too, comes pre-programmed from the factory with about 150 - 160 of the more common HF channels / band segments, used generically worldwide, but with a US-centric influence...(and some dealers do their own "custom" list as well)

Here is a link to the Icom M-802 factory pre-programmed "user channel" list..
Icom M802 User Group Channel Guide

And, there you can find pdf files of that list that you can print out if you need...



3) BTW, you'll find the M-802 to work similarly as your 756Pro....Icom took some of the design of the M-802 an incorporated it into the 756ProII and ProIII....

Of course the M-802 transmitter PA is totally different....as is the "user interface" / display, and operating firmware.....but they are similar...




4) Also, as you're a ham, I'd recommend placing a couple of channels into each of your fav / most used bands.....once you select that channel(s), one touch of a button, and the channel knob is now your VFO...
Slick n easy-peasy...

But, for US, Bahamas, Caribbean, across the Atlantic, Med, etc....most of what I wrote earlier is good!!
(In addition to adding some more ham channels, I'd add a couple channels for the two Med nets, and OCC Nets...and then if heading west across the Pacific, I'd make sure you had the Aus, NZ, etc. freqs programmed in...)



5) I think, if you look close....you'll find the M-802 can do just about everything you'll likely need....(and you'll probably not need GRIB's, as you'll have excellent wefax charts....remember wefax charts are drawn by experienced marine meteorologists...GRIB charts are the raw computer data files with no human interaction...)


Please have a look at these videos...for more details...

Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY



Most find e-mail / internet connectivity unnecessary during the short times they are out-of-range of cellular/3G/4G/LTE and/or Wi-Fi service....
But, if you do find a need....the choice is usually between a PACTOR modem versus a sat com data set-up....but you have time to figure all of that out!!


Hope this helps...gotta go!

73,

John, KA4WJA
John,
Because of your wonderful guidance you convinced me get an ICOM M-802 and a Pactor II (upgraded to PIII) and a SGC230 tuner and I offset the cost by selling the 756 PRO to another ham. So far I have figured out weather fax and comms but I think sailmail etc. Will have to wait until I get an account set up. The whole DSC thing makes me think that a distress call to hundreds of nearby ships beats a sat phone call to a coast guard 1500 miles away.
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Old 04-06-2019, 10:11   #51
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Dennis,

You're very welcome!

1) I think you'll be happy with the M-802....and as you cruise more, you may also find the less you have to worry about the radio (ease-of-use for all on-board and its reliability, etc.), the more enjoyment you'll get from cruising overall...I see some sailors obsess over "getting weather", or staying in touch with those on-shore, etc., and I wonder how they relax and enjoy the ocean.


2) As for selling the 756....that's cool. Just hope the lack of fun knobs and a cool display of the M-802 doesn't leave you nostalgic.


3) A few things that are most important....

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingnut40 View Post
John,
Because of your wonderful guidance you convinced me get an ICOM M-802 and a Pactor II (upgraded to PIII) and a SGC230 tuner and I offset the cost by selling the 756 PRO to another ham. So far I have figured out weather fax and comms but I think sailmail etc. Will have to wait until I get an account set up. The whole DSC thing makes me think that a distress call to hundreds of nearby ships beats a sat phone call to a coast guard 1500 miles away.
a) I assume you're aware that a PACTOR modem is not needed at all to access excellent weather info/forecasts (such as the "gold standard" of offshore weather, the US NWS NOAA maritime WeFax Charts, etc.)....and that what you get from having a PACTOR modem is simply low-speed e-mail access??

I have nothing against PACTOR (except the price of the SCS modems!)....But, please be aware that with the ubiquity of cellular networks in even the more remote locales these days, most sailors / cruisers find their e-mail / data needs, etc. to be handled just fine when in range of cellular networks (using external cellular antennas / boosters if needed), and/or via local Wi-Fi networks (also using external wi-fi antennas/boosters when needed)....
Unless you are running a business while on-board, the few days / weeks that most are at sea, the lack of e-mail connectivity while at sea is irrelevant....(understand that you do not need e-mail, pactor, sat phone, etc., to access excellent weather info/forecasts while at sea and/or in remote locales)


b) Please be aware that while using DSC signaling to raise other vessels in your area is good....if in a Distress, you'll certainly also be glad that there are > 80 HF-DSC Coast Stations worldwide (and > 450 MF-DSC Coast Stations worldwide) that are connected to their respected RCC's also have the ability to receive your DSC Distress alert! Yes, getting your distress call directly to those vessels (SOLAS vessels) in your area, that can be of direct assistance is good...and in many instances can be lifesaving....but just wanted to clarify that in addition to the 1000's of SOLAS-gradevessels plying the high seas, there ARE coast stations standing-by / monitoring MF/HF-DSC!

You do not need to place a "sat phone call to a coast guard", because when signaling Distress via HF-DSC you are actually signaling many "coast guards" / many coast stations / many RCC's, directly! (I hope I didn't give the impression that DSC signaling was only to signal other vessels??)

Further, while your 406mhz EPIRB is the PRIMARY means of signaling Distress when on the high seas, you need to remember that in many parts of the world (outside of the SAR responsibility of US, UK, Aus, NZ, S. Africa, France, etc.) your use of a DSC distress call may be the only way other nations' RCC's will actually start a SAR response....this is a sad, unfortunate fact....but a fact nonetheless...

Please have a look at this discussion, and read the links there....
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ds-146617.html


c) RE: SG-230 Tuner??
Well, SGC tuners used to be some of the best....and while the SG-230 is still a great design, fact is that SGC has had some rather glaring quality-control issues over the past 3 - 5 years....
As well as some rather high prices for repair work, etc., that most of us on budgets find objectional...
Contrast this to the Icom AT-140, which might not have as long-standing reputation, but in actual real-world use over this past decade has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, etc.....and is certainly more reliable than the current crop of tuners from SGC....
Yes, the SGC tuners will work with any HF radio, and that's nice....and if you bought the SG-230 used and/or you already owned it, that's fine...
I just wanted others to know the whats/whys of this..



4) And, Dennis, please read over my post above (post #46, from Feb 7th), and try to lookover all of those links...especially the ones in the last part (part #5)
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ml#post2820540

Watch those videos!!
My narration might be somewhat repetitious at times, but if you watch 'em all you'll better understand how all this maritime comms stuff / weather stuff / etc. works.



I do hope this helps.

Fair winds.

John
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Old 04-06-2019, 11:03   #52
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dennis,

You're very welcome!

1) I think you'll be happy with the M-802....and as you cruise more, you may also find the less you have to worry about the radio (ease-of-use for all on-board and its reliability, etc.), the more enjoyment you'll get from cruising overall...I see some sailors obsess over "getting weather", or staying in touch with those on-shore, etc., and I wonder how they relax and enjoy the ocean.


2) As for selling the 756....that's cool. Just hope the lack of fun knobs and a cool display of the M-802 doesn't leave you nostalgic.


3) A few things that are most important....


a) I assume you're aware that a PACTOR modem is not needed at all to access excellent weather info/forecasts (such as the "gold standard" of offshore weather, the US NWS NOAA maritime WeFax Charts, etc.)....and that what you get from having a PACTOR modem is simply low-speed e-mail access??

I have nothing against PACTOR (except the price of the SCS modems!)....But, please be aware that with the ubiquity of cellular networks in even the more remote locales these days, most sailors / cruisers find their e-mail / data needs, etc. to be handled just fine when in range of cellular networks (using external cellular antennas / boosters if needed), and/or via local Wi-Fi networks (also using external wi-fi antennas/boosters when needed)....
Unless you are running a business while on-board, the few days / weeks that most are at sea, the lack of e-mail connectivity while at sea is irrelevant....(understand that you do not need e-mail, pactor, sat phone, etc., to access excellent weather info/forecasts while at sea and/or in remote locales)


b) Please be aware that while using DSC signaling to raise other vessels in your area is good....if in a Distress, you'll certainly also be glad that there are > 80 HF-DSC Coast Stations worldwide (and > 450 MF-DSC Coast Stations worldwide) that are connected to their respected RCC's also have the ability to receive your DSC Distress alert! Yes, getting your distress call directly to those vessels (SOLAS vessels) in your area, that can be of direct assistance is good...and in many instances can be lifesaving....but just wanted to clarify that in addition to the 1000's of SOLAS-gradevessels plying the high seas, there ARE coast stations standing-by / monitoring MF/HF-DSC!

You do not need to place a "sat phone call to a coast guard", because when signaling Distress via HF-DSC you are actually signaling many "coast guards" / many coast stations / many RCC's, directly! (I hope I didn't give the impression that DSC signaling was only to signal other vessels??)

Further, while your 406mhz EPIRB is the PRIMARY means of signaling Distress when on the high seas, you need to remember that in many parts of the world (outside of the SAR responsibility of US, UK, Aus, NZ, S. Africa, France, etc.) your use of a DSC distress call may be the only way other nations' RCC's will actually start a SAR response....this is a sad, unfortunate fact....but a fact nonetheless...

Please have a look at this discussion, and read the links there....
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ds-146617.html


c) RE: SG-230 Tuner??
Well, SGC tuners used to be some of the best....and while the SG-230 is still a great design, fact is that SGC has had some rather glaring quality-control issues over the past 3 - 5 years....
As well as some rather high prices for repair work, etc., that most of us on budgets find objectional...
Contrast this to the Icom AT-140, which might not have as long-standing reputation, but in actual real-world use over this past decade has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, etc.....and is certainly more reliable than the current crop of tuners from SGC....
Yes, the SGC tuners will work with any HF radio, and that's nice....and if you bought the SG-230 used and/or you already owned it, that's fine...
I just wanted others to know the whats/whys of this..



4) And, Dennis, please read over my post above (post #46, from Feb 7th), and try to lookover all of those links...especially the ones in the last part (part #5)
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ml#post2820540

Watch those videos!!
My narration might be somewhat repetitious at times, but if you watch 'em all you'll better understand how all this maritime comms stuff / weather stuff / etc. works.



I do hope this helps.

Fair winds.

John
Thanks John,
I got the SGC 230 from a local $200 canbucks...... about $150 real $$$

I still have lots to learn but I'm liking the radio so far!

Just need to get my house sold so I can get my next boat.....

Thanks again!!
Dennis VE3XDA
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Old 25-06-2019, 08:08   #53
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Dennis,
Good on you...

Just to wrap up this specific topic )Aluminum Hulled Boats and Remote HF Tuners / Grounds), SGC shows that their SG-230 tuner already has a DC-isolated antenna ground terminal (capacitor inside)...so you should have no worries, just look inside the SG-230 (and look on circuit board and schematic too) to verify...
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingnut40 View Post
Thanks John,
I got the SGC 230 from a local $200 canbucks...... about $150 real $$$

I still have lots to learn but I'm liking the radio so far!

Just need to get my house sold so I can get my next boat.....

Thanks again!!
Dennis VE3XDA
Fair winds.
John
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Old 25-06-2019, 08:12   #54
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Thanks John. I was going to ask you for a value on that cap. once I got to the install phase. That helps a lot.

Best Regards Dennis
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Old 25-06-2019, 08:30   #55
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

To be clear, it is still my intention that this thread/stickie be a resource for information and catalog of links to details....not an on-going discussion of the details....for discussing these matters / details, simply start a new thread!

But, just a couple days ago I got a PM from a sailor who had questions about "rf grounds"...(what is more accurately called an HF Antenna Ground)...

And, while I've been hesitant to post details here, preferring to simply post links to things such as the Sailmail Primer, Gordon West's article (with his real world tests), and to my own real world tests, and scans....I still get many questions (I love Google, but sometimes people get so much info, and much of it is conflicting info, that it can be worse than no info...so..)

So, here is what I just sent off to this guy...
I do hope some here find it useful...


{I don't know what boat you have, what radio you have, where you are located, nor where you're sailing, etc...so, I will just answer your generic question...}

------ Allow me to preface this info (regarding HF antenna grounds on our boats), with this:



Although your signal will suffer and you will likely find some increased noise issues, you can make HF radio contacts from your boat, without any ground system at all...I've done it often when doing deliveries, etc....so, while having a well-designed and installed antenna ground system is always a good thing (and highly recommended), please understand that it is all a matter of degree....how good it works / how poorly it works, is relative....so, when discussing antenna grounds for our maritime HF communications (whether on maritime channels/freqs/bands, or HF ham bands/freqs), we must know this going it!!


Over the past couple decades, I have fairly scrupulously kept my advice / responses on antenna grounds / RF grounds, to the scientifically-proven, and real-world-results backed facts (not "snake oil" marketing hype)...based not only on my 45+ years experience in antenna system design, HF communications / installations / operations (as well as my majoring in physics, decades ago) but also based on the decades-long research of those like Marconi, RCA, AT&T, Rockwell, Motorola, etc...as well as some of my fellow talented sailors / radio operators and engineers, like Gordon West, Jim Corenman, Don Melcher, Bill Trayfors, Rene Stiegler, Steve and Linda Dashew, etc....and over the past 15+ years, I'm usually recommending the Sailmail Primer as the defacto "bible" in how-to wire/connect/install marine HF radios, as well as highlighting Gordon West's real-world tests showing how significantly better a low-impedance direct sea-water connection is (thereby actually using the sea water as your primary antenna / RF ground) versus "capacity-coupled" antenna grounds, and/or versus artificial counterpoises / radial systems...

{although I disagree with Gordon on one point, as I recommend thick copper strapping, as it lasts a LOT longer, and is easier to protect/paint, than the thin "foil" that is sold in marine chandleries...


https://www.gacopper.com/022-CopperStrap.html

https://www.gacopper.com/012-CopperStrap.html
https://www.gacopper.com/Braid-Strap-Wire-Comparison.html }


Please have a look here:
The Sailmail Primer
https://sailmail.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/smprimer.htm

Gordon West's real-world HF Antenna Ground Tests
https://www.sfbaysss.org/resource/doc/SeawaterGroundingFor_HF_Radios_byGordonWest.pdf


Of course more recently, I have also done extensive real scientific tests debunking the ridiculous "snake oil" claims of the KISS-Ground system....and have publicly posted dozens of real spectrum scans, antenna current measurements, etc., uncovering these bogus claims...(and showing how you can make your own "home-made KISS-type counterpoise" for free, or at most $5, that will work better than the $150 KISS....but, of course you'd be much better off with a low-impedance direct sea-water connection.)


Although I made dozens of posts on this (with dozens of scans in many of them), along with other info such as antenna current measurements, etc., on the SSCA discussion boards... https://www.ssca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13490&sid=2bccddde850db0c32634 adf6fb4b5875

Unfortunately they are no longer available to me, or others that have decided to no longer pay the SSCA dues....
So, for some of the highlights of all this...Please see post #165 here:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/the-kiss-ssb-counterpoise-revealed-with-pics-56551-11.html


And, post #166 here:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/the-kiss-ssb-counterpoise-revealed-with-pics-56551-12.html


But, aside from these specific postings, I have tried to steer clear of delving into on-line arguments regarding the KISS and/or some other antenna ground system....rather preferring to simply point out a few VERY important facts:


a) Anything metallic will work to some extent for an antenna ground (or will work as an antenna, for that matter), even nothing at all....so this is all about "how well" / "how poorly" something works...(and in actual real-world practice, most tests have found the KISS, or other poor ground system, to perform as much as 6db, or more, worse than a direct sea-water antenna ground...about as bad as no ground at all)



b) A low-impedance direct sea water connection, to allow the sea water to be used as your primary antenna ground, is the best overall multiband/wideband HF antenna ground for our modest-sized non-metallic boats...hands down, accepted by everyone (even the guys touting the KISS don't dispute that...rather they just try to BS you into thinking the KISS is "almost as good", which it isn't!)



c) Adequate knowledge and experience/expertise of radiowave propagation AND how to best use / optimally use your HF radio is, in the minds of every experienced HF radio operator, significantly more important than almost all the "technical subjects" discussed / inquired about on-line regarding Maritime (and ham) HF communications!!!


Please let me repeat this....as it is so often ignored...
Adequate knowledge and experience/expertise of radiowave propagation AND how to best use / optimally use your HF radio is, in the minds of every experienced HF radio operator, significantly more important than almost all the "technical subjects" discussed / inquired about on-line regarding Maritime (and ham) HF communications!!!


Every sailor who wishes to install / use HF radio (maritime or ham) should take the time to learn about HF radio comms, HF radiowave propagation, and actual real radio operations....just like they made the effort / took the time to learn to sail, navigate, trim their sails, anchor properly, diesel maintenance, how-to flush the head...etc!!




----- Now onto your question regarding ground issues / DC-isolation of antenna system grounds...



1) First off, stop right now...don't buy anything, don't install anything...yet! (he was asking about what capacitors to buy, and how to wire them up into his "copper foil ground system")
The two main reasons you cannot find much info regarding DC-isolation of Antenna Grounds are:


a) This is fairly old, quasi-science....originally comes from eliminating issues caused primarily by the electrical system on boats designed/installed prior to the ABYC...and generally not needed for modern fiberglass (GRP) boats.



b) Generally only recommended now-a-days for aluminum-hulls (or steel hulls)...but, adding an isolation cap inside your remote tuner (as SGC does) cannot hurt anything, and eliminates any complicated external capacitor / copper strap connections...(usually a 0.1uf to 0.15uf 1000v to 1500v silver mica or ceramic disc cap, is fine for even higher power HF applications....and even lower value caps will work...see details below.)






2) The synopsis...

a) you should not be considering using copper "foil"....it is too thin / flimsy, too easy to tear, too difficult to protect/paint, too difficult to attach, etc....you should be looking at copper strapping...particularly the 0.022" thick, 3"wide strapping (it is cheap, and lasts a LONG time....even if you don't paint/protect it, but I recommend that you do)
https://www.gacopper.com/022-CopperStrap.html

https://www.gacopper.com/012-CopperStrap.html
https://www.gacopper.com/Braid-Strap-Wire-Comparison.html



b) most do not need to use capacitors to decouple your antenna ground...(unless you have an alum hull, or steel hull)....and if you do have an alum hull, and want an easy-peasy way to DC-isolate your antenna ground, then simply installing a cap or two inside your remote tuner, on its antenna ground terminal, usually a 0.1uf to 0.15uf 1000v to 1500v silver mica or ceramic disc cap, is fine for this application, up to 100's of watts of transmitter power, actually probably good to almost 1000 watts....although even smaller value cap will probably work, such as a 0.01uf....and rated at a few hundred volts, will probably work just fine (and I think SGC uses a cap of similar value inside their SG-230 tuner to DC-isolate its Antenna Ground terminal)...


c) you should not connect any copper strap, nor any other "grounding" to your marine radio (MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, such as Icom M-802) itself (regardless of what the radio's manual says!!)....it requires a DC power connection, coaxial cable connection, tuner power/control connection (which does have a DC ground wire), and that is it!! You do NOT want any stray RF currents flowing anywhere nearer to the radio (nor nearer to any ancillary equipment, such as computer, PACTOR modem, etc.) than necessary....and certainly do NOT want to attach your antenna ground to the radio!! Of course this is contrary to what most radio manuals show, and while installations on land (where the radio, and antenna system, are usually physically separated by fair distances....and the "antenna ground" is fairly lossy) can many times survive this, on our boats, especially where we have sensitive electronics / computers / etc. in very close proximity to the radio and especially the antenna, this is definitely a no-go!!!



d) Line isolators (installed in the coaxial cable, back at the remote antenna tuner), and ferrite chokes/isolators on tuner control/power wires...all allow the antenna ground to operate most effectively and independently from other systems...






3) Brief description of other "grounds" on our boats...

a) The AC electrical system (shore power, and/or genset, provided) design has been well thought out and fairly well perfected over the years....and since there is safety concerns if done wrong, almost everyone (including me) will recommend just following the ABYC recommendations, and most importantly the NEC Code....and luckily just about all boat manufactures (selling boats in US) do this...so, there is no need to re-invent the wheel here...
(I'm NOT a licensed electrician, so please follow all electrical codes, NEC Codes, Fire Prevention Codes, etc...I'm just giving you a laypersons explanation of marine electrical design)



b) Lightning grounds....there are entire books written on this subject, both for land-based and marine-related systems.....the predominant / historical research has been done many decade ago (for land-based radio towers and buildings) and is accepted science by all...with the ultimate / updated scientific research having been done here in Florida over the past 10 - 20 years (by Univ of Florida Lightning Research project), with the added benefit to us that much of this research was done for boats!!



The results are that Motorola, RCA, Bell Labs, (and some from GE, AT&T, GTE, Westinghouse), along with some universities, have provided the guidelines for lightning grounds for just about any structure / building / mast / tower, etc....and these formed the basis for the US NEC Code for lightning protection....and now-a-days, companies like Poly-Phaser, etc, are a good source for both the materials needed and for the knowledge to understand all of this, for most small projects and laypersons...



While most of the basics are the same for boats, and using the old "Motorola grounding standard" on boats has worked for years.....lightning protection specifically for boats has some differences / advantages.... Dr. Ewen Thomson has done the definitive research (both when he was a prof at Univ of Florida, and subsequently) and written "the bible" regarding lightning protection and boats....and his research / papers / books are the basis of the modern ABYC (and Boat US) lightning ground recommendations, as well as being accepted by the marine insurance industry as a whole....
If you wish to learn more about lightning grounds, look at Dr. Ewen Thomson's papers / booklets, and follow his recommendations!

So, here also, there is no need to go looking for re-inventions....




c) HF antenna ground (what the marine industry calls an "RF ground", to distinguish it from "AC/DC grounds" and "Lightning Grounds")...
See above, and the Sailamil Primer, for details about Antenna grounds...









I do hope this helps...


Fair winds.


John
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Old 27-06-2019, 11:35   #56
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MedNet and Marine HF SSB Radio Nets in the Mediterranean

Well, here on this side of the Atlantic, in the Caribbean, and in Mexico, etc. there are many HF Radio Nets for sailors/cruisers....both the maritime bands and on the ham radio bands...
But, in Europe / Mediterranean, there have been few...

Just this past week I got an e-mail letting me know that the "MedNet" was back on the air this month!!
So, thought I'd add some info here that might be of use to those sailing the Med!


A few pieces of good news for Mediterranean sailors, with HF (SSB) radios!


1) The old "Mediterranean SSB Net" / "MedNet" has been resurrected / restarted as the new "MedNet"!!

They operate on the HF maritime bands throughout the Mediterranean, from Turkey thru Gibraltar, 6 days/week, from Mon thru Sat. (May thru October, I think?)


Starting on 6516khz ("6d" or "6-4") at 0600 UTC (8:00am in western Med; 9:00am in Eastern Med), for initial check-ins....then moves to 8134khz....and then to 12359khz (that's "12c" or "12-3", Herb's old weather net freq), to cover the whole Med when needed.


{the old Mediterranean SSB Net, used to meet on 6516khz...but few checked-in, so it fell by the wayside...so, if any Med / European sailors that have HF equipment on board wish to become more familiar / competent with it, here is your chance....of course there is also the main purpose of the new "MedNet": "...to share information, location, weather, passage plans and for safety during passages. It also acts as a general help forum and is a wonderful way to connect with other cruisers across what is a vast distance."}

Fyi, I'm not a Facebook user, but it seems the new Net has a Facebook page too?
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MedNetMarineSSB/



2) Later in the season (September, I think?) there is the "pre-ARC Net", on 8297khz ("8b" or "8-2") at 0815 UTC...



3) And, for those in the Med, that wish to check comms across the Atlantic, there is always the SSCA Atlantic Net...but, not sure who is using that / checking in these days (ironically, it took them 5 years after I suggested it, to actually get around to doing it, and many who used to use Herb for weather have moved on....but, I have wished them well with it)




4) Years ago, the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) used to run a MedNet on 8104khz, at 0600z, daily....but think that was rolled into the "Mediterranean SSB Net"? And, now the new "MedNet"?

Also, there used to be some local informal Nets, in the eastern Med, as well....but not sure about their activity now?
Local Aegean informal, 4417khz ("4a" or "4-1") at 0800-0900 local time.
Greek/Turkey informal, 6224khz ("6a" or "6-1") at 0500z, and on 12353khz ("12a" or "12-1") at 0645z...




I do hope some find this helpful.

Fair winds.

John
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Old 23-08-2019, 06:47   #57
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Hello to all,
There is a recent thread here, started by a landlocked sailor and new ham radio operator, who was looking for info/advice on buying an HF ham radio and installing it and antenna(s) at home, in order to learn about and become familiar with ham radio / maritime communications, and offshore weather info/forecasts.

I thought since my quite long-winded response(s) was fairly factual and applies to many circumstances, it might be a nice addition here to this thread.
Please note that this was a discussion about ham radio / HF ham radios on land / at home, and simple antenna ideas/choices...not primarily HF maritime radios, nor generally "boat" installation...(so, please understand that what works on a sailboat in sea water does not work all that well inland...and what are great options on land, just don't fit onto a boat!)
So, here ya' go...


Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
fschaefer,
Congrats on earning a General Class ticket...you know what they say, "the license is the just the first step in learning about ham radio / radio comms"!

{sorry I'm coming in late here....I've been dealing with a family medical issue....which is up/down, and today is a good day. }

Now onto your questions....


1) First off, please understand that there is no need for a PACTOR modem (nor WINMOR) in order to get excellent offshore weather info / forecasts when offshore and/or in remote locales!!
(please see details below)
Fyi, most offshore sailors find no real need for e-mail connectivity (the purpose of a PACTOR modem/Sailmail, or WINMOR, and/or a satcom data service) when offshore / on-passage, or in far remote locales (when outside cellular and/or wi-fi coverage)....


2) The real short answer about the 706, is:
Yes, the IC-706 series, specifically the 706MkIIG, is an acceptable (good?) radio to learn HF communications with....and for casual operating...(no, it isn't the best radio ever made, but it doesn't need to be)

3) The somewhat longer answer is:
Understand that it may take you some time to become familiar with the many menu functions of the '706, used to adjust/manipulate the radio's settings, but once you do, you'll see that for most users, many of those features are "set 'em once....and leave it alone, for most operating"....and then you'll see that it is an acceptable radio to learn HF communications with...



4) The real answer / long answer is....HF communications is all about:

a) Radiowave Propagation (some get intimidated by this, but most laypersons can learn most of what they need to know by watching a few videos and spending an hour and/or studying for an hour or so....certainly less time/effort than needed to learn to sail, navigate, proper anchoring, sail trim, etc.)

b) Operator experience / Skill (including knowledge of Radiowave Propagation, RFI, and the need to maximize receive S/N)


c) Antenna (primarily for transmit, but also an antenna that maximizes receive S/N)

{BTW, "receive S/N" is your received Signal-to-Noise ratio....and is THE single most important determiner of successful HF comms....it's in the "how to maximize it", that these things need to be further understood...}

These first three things make up 90% to 95% of the criteria for success....



This next criteria for optimal communications makes up another few percent:
d) antenna placement / location (to improve receive S/N and improve transmit efficiency / effectiveness), radio installation / wiring, reducing/eliminating RFI, and correlating your radio's features/settings with HF operations/propagation...



And, assuming we are talking about a fairly modern and good-functioning radio, the final small percentage of importance for successful HF communications is:
e) The radio....
I know, I know.....this flies in the face of all the marketing hype and "consumer-driven advertising"....but, please understand that until you are trying to squeeze the last sliver of efficiency / success from an HF radio system (AND you've already done everything possible to improve your antennas, polish your operating skills, reduce/eliminate sources of RFI, and continue to study the intricacies of radiowave propagation)....until that point, the actual radio you choose is far down the list of importance...(again, assuming we are talking about a fairly modern and good-functioning radio...and old, broken, damaged radio, would of course be a detriment!)



5) If you desire to use the IC-706MkIIG at home, please remember that you do not want to use the same type of antenna that you'd use on-board...

Here again, most laypersons will think this odd....but, once you understand antennas and HF radiowave propagation, it will become clear that unless you're in an apartment in a crowded urban area, you have an opportunity to use some easy and efficient antennas (and cheap) that will serve you well....

Knowing where you are located, and what your possible operating times/schedule would be, and of course the most important piece of info: Where/Who do you wish to communicate to/with?? Time of day, etc...

After that I could better recommend an effective antenna for you....but fyi, a simple horizontal loop, of any shape, strung up thru / over a few trees and/or a simple mast, etc., will be a good, easy, cheap antenna....



6) As for some more info about both, "getting weather", and learning about HF (maritime and ham) communications....


Please have a look at these "stickies" and these Youtube Playlists...
{please understand that these videos are produced LIVE, as it happens, with no script (little, to no, editing), no director, etc...on a real offshore cruising boat...no BS simulations, etc....just like everyone does on-board....but hey, they're free....and nobody is trying to sell you anything....so enjoy!}

Offshore Weather (info/forecasts, systems, and procedures)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2mPZAx2vWzdjTJjHlChruyY


Maritime HF Comms (a lot also applies to ham radio)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


HF DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nbwAGh5DKgTCj15iyl6qoY


http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/marine-ssb-stuff-how-to-better-use-proeprly-install-ssb-and-troubleshoot-rfi-etc-133496.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/hf-ssb-radio-proper-installation-tips-techniques-etc-198305.html







EDIT:
Just saw that you didn't get the '706....no worries, as you see the "exact radio" you choose is secondary to many other criteria!


Please answer the above questions (especially where you are at, and where you wish to communicate....time-of-day, etc.), watch the videos, and read the stickies....and we'll be in a much better position to recommend a radio, antenna, etc...


Oh, and have a look at the Icom M-802 Instruction Videos....they'll give you a good idea of both what features/adjustments are most useful, and how-to use them...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr




I hope this helps.

Fair winds.

John



fschafer4,
You're welcome!
I'm glad to have helped...


And, please come on in and sit for a while...
There is a lot to cover, and unfortunately the internet is not the place to learn all of this...
(I know, that sounds like some old fart bemoaning some new-fangled-technology....but that's not what I mean here...)
What I mean is, there are many "on-line experts" that will BS you down all sorts of useless paths of radio comms / ham radio....but, if you read some textbooks and study the basics (like from the ARRL Handbook and ARRL Antenna Book), you'll end up actually learning about this, rather than just trying some contraption that some guy told you worked for him, or buying some radio that "everyone" says is the "best"



1) The above notwithstanding, here are some brief generalizations:

a) Please know that just about anything metallic can be pressed into service as an HF antenna, and just about any of the commonly-referred-to antennas will work to some extent....what works best and/or is relatively effective for a specific application is what gets confusing for many (and many new hams, or those new to HF comms, make significant errors in these choices, due to not taking the time/effort to learn the basics, first!)....
What is "best" can be matter of degree...in many cases the differences can be very significant....remember when we are talking differences of say 10db, that's like taking a 100-watt radio and reducing it to 10 watts of transmit power....or going the other way, making a 100-watt radio sound like a 1000 watt radio!

So, knowing the basics is very important!



b) Local/regional comms = out to 300 - 500 miles (almost always on the lower HF bands, 40m ham and 8mhz maritime, and below)
Long-range comms = 500 - 5000 miles (daytime on mid-to-upper HF bands, 7-30mhz, but usually 12mhz maritime and/or 20m ham, these days.....and, nighttime 40m ham / 8mhz maritime, and below)



c) Now-a-days (and for the next 6 - 12 months) the sunspot cycle is at its lowest point (solar scientists say the lowest point should be between this fall and next summer)....we're hoping for an upturn in the next year, and fairly good conditions by 2021/2022...
Until then...


For Daytime comms:

Your best bet for "long-range" comms is going to be daytime on 20m (and/or 12mhz maritime)...and some on 40m (and/or 8mhz maritime), especially early morning and late afternoon.
With your best bet for local/regional comms in daytime is on 40m and 75m (and/or 4mhz, 6mhz, or 8mhz maritime)...


For Nighttime comms:

Nighttime long-range comms you'll find 20m (or 12mhz maritime) to be poor, but 40m (and 8mhz maritime) will be very good....and in wintertime even 75m (and 4mhz maritime) will be great for long-range nighttime comms....
Local/regional comms that were great on 40m during the day, should be good on 75m at night...you might find it difficult to hear stations in San Antonio or Houston on 40m at night, that were loud and clear a few hours earlier....but now you're talking to guys in Europe, on 40m!




2) As for what antenna to try at home?
Two quick caveats upfront:

a) You can take a scrap piece of wire of any random length of 20' - 60', stick one end into the antenna jack of just about any working HF ham (or maritime) radio, and toss the rest of the wire out a window, string up somewhere or even just lay it across some shrubs, or up thru a tree branch, etc....and you will receive plenty of HF signals (ham and maritime)....the farther the radio and antenna is away from noise sources (sources of RFI), the better your reception will be....placing the radio close to window and away from sources of RFI, and getting this hunk of wire up and away from the building (and sources of RFI), and you will hear better and probably be able to make some contacts....making this wire approx 1/4-wavelength long (actually a bit shorter) might actually get you some significant power output (relatively low SWR) without any tuner....if you have some old scrap wire, this antenna cost$ you nothing....
Yes, it will work....not great, and I'm not recommending this, I'm just showing you an example of what can be done with just a few minutes of time and for less than the cost of lunch...



b) Noise / RFI is going to be your primary detriment to reception....reducing/eliminating sources of RFI in your house (and if possible, in your neighbor's homes, too), is the first step....and getting your antenna (of whatever design/type) as far away as possible from your house / sources of RFI, is a close second step!! Using a current-balun at the antenna feedpoint is important here as well (reducing common-mode interference), and is the third step....and a close 4th step (costs and space permitting) is using directional antennas...




3) Back to what antenna to try at home? A few generic thoughts and then a few specifics...



a) Keep it simple and cheap, to start with....unless you have money to burn, you can do quite well with simple wire antennas...


b) Using existing supports (trees, roof peak, basketball backboard, chimneys....especially trees) for attachment points of wire antennas further reduces costs...but, even a Rohn H-50 pole is fairly inexpensive...



c) A slightly better antenna (and one that is a good match to your application) than the commonly recommended 1/2-wave dipole, is a large loop antenna (one-wavelength at the lowest used freq). This is a good simple antennas, as it presents a fairly low-impedance which is easy to match to coax, even on multiple bands....(although the pattern on different bands can be wildly different, this can be good....see below for some details)




A bit more specific:

d) In almost all cases (except over sea water, on the lower HF bands) a horizontal antenna is always going to provide you with the best signals (transmit and receive) for both long-range (assuming antenna is ~ 1/2-wave high), and local/region HF comms.....
[although in some areas (that have excellent or at least very-good/above-average ground conductivity) such as N. TX, SE TX, and some parts of central TX, can give decent results with vertical antennas (assuming you also invest the effort into an excellent antenna ground / radial system), due to the far-field ground conductivity governing the pseudo-Brewster angles and overall antenna patterns]

But even there, horizontal antennas (~ 1/2-wave high) are going to preferable for long-range comms....and for local/regional comms (up to 300-500 miles) a horizontal antenna at approx. 0.2-wave high (up to 0.4-wave high for ranges from 400 - 1000 miles) is always going to be a lot better, than even the best vertical system!


To be more clear for local/regional HF comms, you're going to be using the lower HF bands (1.8mhz/2mhz; 3.8mhz/4mhz; 6mhz/7mhz/8mhz) and for comms out to 300 miles or so, a horizontal antenna (such as a flat-dipole or loop) at approx 0.175-wave to 0.2-wave high above ground will be an excellent performer....and take note raising it a bit higher 0.25 to 0.3-wave results in only very minor reduction in gain (< 1/2db) for these very high-angles for local/regional comms, but lowering to 0.1-wave high, reduces gain by 2db - 3db, and if going even lower gain falls off quickly....
Also, please take note that when raising this height to 0.4-wave this high-angle gain (used for these local/regional comms) suffers by 3 - 6db, but signals at these local/regional distances are relatively strong, so you can sacrifice gain here, and pick up 3 - 6db at mid-angles that are used for comm ranges of 400 - 1000 miles....as well as pick up significant gain (compared to a lower horizontal antenna) at even lower angles used for long-range comms of 1000's of miles....



In practical terms, this means wire antennas approx. 25' - 50' high, for 40m and 75m ham bands (and 4mhz, 6mhz, and 8mhz marine bands) for excellent local/regional comms, both daytime and nighttime....and even good long-range nighttime comms on these lower HF bands...and either this same antenna or another wire antenna at these heights, for long-range comms on 20m, is good!



And, that's a fairly easy height to accomplish in many residential areas, using a couple trees and peak of the roof, etc....even if you spend some minor $$ on a 40' "push-up-pole" / telescoping-mast, or a couple of them, it's still a fairly minor expense, compared to the cost of a radio!


Now, if you want better long-range comms (such as international comms, across oceans....1000 - 5000 miles away), getting the antenna up 0.5-wave high, and higher, is important....but, even if only about 0.4-wave high (or lower) it will still work!! (heck, as I wrote above, just about anything will work to some extent.)





e) Even more specific:

Now, have you noticed that I only mentioned a specific height in feet, once?
That's 'cuz I want to drive two points home:
--- think in wavelengths, or percentage of wavelengths...
--- how convenient the old harmonic positioning of our ham bands is...for various reasons.



You see, take a 40m loop (~136' - 140' in circumference....34' - 35' on a side, if square....but can be ANY shape you can fit in your yard / with your supports), install it at about 25' to 35' high above ground and you have an excellent 40m antenna to talk all over Texas during the daytime (and much greater distances at night)....and this same loop, at this height, is surprisingly a nice 20m antenna that will get you good results all over the US / Caribbean, EU, etc...(and even worldwide)





f) Even more:

There is a lot of personal preference in these choices, aesthetic-wise and otherwise....so, while I'm listing some specifics.....these are not commands set in stone!


You of course, could rig a couple dipoles (build a multi-band / fan-dipole), and feed with one coax....and while this works, it can get a bit complicated when you want 3 or more bands, and can look a bit odd too....
So, a large loop can be a good alternative...
Kinda all depends on how much space you have in your yard / what supports you have??


If you have a LOT of room and lots of tall trees, the choices are vast....and you're a lucky guy!
If you have a normal city lot, with just a few trees, you may be limited....
But there are ways to make any place work!


If it were me....and I had a small yard, and a few trees...
I'd build a 40m loop, cut for about 7.15mhz....install it 30' above ground (25' - 35'), where it would present an approx 150-ohm input impedance, and 7.5dbi of gain at zenith on 40m...feed it with a good quality 4:1 current balun (from DX Engineering), and then good quality RG-213 coax to your radio...SWR at the radio will be good, and probably would not need a tuner....and this same antenna at that same height would have a good low-angle pattern on 20m (good for long-range comms on 20m), and present a decent SWR at the radio, but may need a tuner (for 20m) depending on exact length of loop wire and height above ground (you can trim this now 2-wavelength loop to present lowest SWR on 20m and it should still be good on 40m, where it will be a 1-wavelength loop).


That one wire antenna, built with even cheap Home Depot 14ga THHN wire, strung up in any fashion you can manage, the corners tied off with some polyester rope to some supports or even just thrown up in some trees, etc....will give you good results on your two most useful and populous HF ham bands, 40m and 20m (based on your description of your current plans)....and provide you with good regional and longer range reception on the HF maritime bands of 6mhz, 8mhz, and 12/13mhz, and even 16/17mhz...


Depending on what trees / supports you have, this should cost you less than couple hundred dollars, for the wire, balun, coax/connectors, and some rope....



If you have more space in your yard (or more trees)....then you can consider a 75m loop??


Or...


Or if you're looking at purchasing an Icom M-802 (or similar radio) then using an Icom tuner such as the AT-140 would be great....
You simply feed the loop antenna with the tuner....one end of the loop goes to tuner "output" terminal and the other end of the loop wire to the tuner "ground" terminal....I recommend / prefer to have the tuner mounted up high on a pole for antennas like this...
[Some guys mount it lower and just run the loop wires down to it (this is a mistake....some say it doesn't make much difference in how the tuner obtains a match, and that is true....they say the difference in antenna pattern is minor (especially with multiband operation) and this is also mostly true....but what everyone forgets here is that on RECEIVE you want the antenna as far away from the ground, the house, etc. (and other electronics) as possible to reduce noise pick-up / reduce receive RFI, thereby improving your receive S/N (Signal-to-Noise ratio)!! Remember, the antenna starts right there at the tuner (and in a coax and balun fed antenna, the antenna starts there at the feedpoint / at the balun) so getting the feedpoint up in-in-air is not just good for transmitting, but important for reception, too!]




If feeding a loop directly with a tuner, of course it doesn't need to be any exact / resonant length in order for the tuner to obtain a match....but, the actual antenna pattern is effected by the loop's length, as is the actual antenna efficiency....and of course the tuner losses as well...
So....if possible keep the loop length at least 0.75-wave in circumference at your lowest operating frequency....1.0-wave is normally a good length, and will work well, just be aware that once the loop is 3-wavelengths (or greater) in circumference, the pattern gets "lobey", so it's performance can be great in some directions, but mediocre in other directions....



You may find posts #25 and #26 here in this thread to be useful as well...
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/hf-shore-station-145350-2.html


Gosh, there is a lot more....but think that should get you started!



Also, using your words here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fschaefer4 View Post
Location:
Currently in Austin, TX. I do knot know where I plan to cruise other than to say I'd like to learn in the Pacific NW and head "out" from there.

Operating
Times and schedules:
For now, in the evenings 7-11-ish CST and weekends

Where/Who:
For now, here in Austin. I'd like to get on air, learn common jargon, make some contacts, find different weather stations, start getting useful weather info.
40m in the evenings....and 20m daytime....would be your first / best option...for longer-range comms....(especially using the antenna I describe)
75m evenings, along with 40m daytime (and some 75m, daytime)...would be best for more local/region comms....(and, understand that while a full-size 75m loop sounds big, I can fit one in my city yard)




4) As for reception of weather info/forecasts...
Quote:
Originally Posted by fschaefer4 View Post
I watched your first set of youtube videos. Very informative. Seems like you can get weather info broadcast easily enough from a number of sources. Still seems like either a weather fax or a sound card on a computer is the best way to get info- unless I missed something.
The actual reception of these broadcasts is almost all about receive S/N....so, no specific antenna choices are needed, except that they should be as far away from your house, far away from other houses, as far away from all RFI sources as possible (and this usually means, raise it up in the air higher....which is also great for transmitting, too!)
[although directional antennas rock for both transmit and receive, they're not cheap, nor are support structures, and ancillary equipment....so, if you've got the $$$$ and the space, we can delve into this in much detail, but reading what you wrote, I'm assuming that would be a waste of our time?]
FYI, that "40m loop" I mention above would be an excellent HF Maritime Weather broadcast receiving antenna!!!

And, while all of the antenna ideas I out-line above, are good choices here for receiving HF Maritime Weather Broadcasts....if looking only for "receiving only", you do not need to go thru such elaborate designs / heights / etc...



As for weather info specifics....
In my opinion, nothing beats a weather chart (drawn by a seasoned professional maritime meteorologist) in your hand...

And, that is what you get from WeFax broadcasts (from US, Aus, NZ, UK, Germany, SA, etc. etc.), but this is of course not what "GRIB charts are....(GRIB's are the raw computer model data)


How you get a weather chart....HF receiver, HF transceiver (ham or maritime), internet access (US NWS/NOAA marine weather site is a great source), e-mail from saildocs, etc....and how/where you view it (on laptop, tablet, WeFax machine), these are choices with both personal preferences, and costs involved?





5) As for picking a radio?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fschaefer4 View Post
I'll keep meeting locals until I can score a rig, then start working through the set up. There are SO. MANY. CHOICES out there, it might just boil down to which one comes available.

Once I have that, any input on antennas would be great.

Thanks again for all the info. I'll keep you posted.
How about just asking what's the best anchor, or best chartplotter, or best boat to buy?? These would be easier to obtain consensus on!


But, in serious...if you want an HF maritime radio now, the only real choice is the Icom M-802....costs about $1800 new, and $800 to $1000 used...
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components

If you desire a cheap 'n easy HF ham radio, and just want to listen to some maritime traffic / receive HF SSB Voice broadcasts and WeFax weather broadcasts, you can find cheaper HF ham radios, used...
Buying a used radio locally is good...especially if you can see it work, and/or actually know the seller...

Although the use of ebay has raised the prices / values of many used ham radios, it is a viable way to buy something if the seller has a 100% feedback rating, as I do...I've been there for 21 years now, with a 100% positive feedback rating, and I only buy from others with the same...

eham.net is also a good source of used ham gear, and while I'm not a fan of qrz.com classified ads, some hams do have good luck there...
When buying from either of these sites ads, only buy from licensed hams that use their ham callsign on that site (and check 'em out, read their postings and other ads, to try to ascertain their honesty and expertise/knowledge), don't buy anything from anyone without a ham callsign displayed proudly (they're hiding for a reason!)


[FYI, I'm a Drake fan!! But, for you and your application, you need to look more modern and more interface friendly!]



--- Any modern Icom HF rig will work similar and allow you to become familiar with their features / controls, etc...and just about every modern 12vdc Icom HF rig (designed so it can be used mobile), interfaces directly to any Icom remote tuner....this means Icom radios and tuners made over the past 20-25 years are compatible with each other....and are all good choices...
Icom IC-756ProIII is about as close to the Maritime M-802 as you can get....(but the IC-756ProII is also good)....even the precursor, the IC-756 is good...

The big/heavy big brother in the classic Icom lineage is the venerable IC-781 (a 28vdc/120vac radio)....and is still used worldwide and considered a top-of-the-line HF SSB ham radio!! (I have friends that own them, and they can afford a new 7851, and won't part with their 781's!!)

If you're looking for older/cheaper, the IC-761 and IC-765 are the forerunners of the 756 series, and the IC-751 was the earlier precursor...of course the IC-706 has already been mentioned (and I place it here at the lower end of the list)...the earlier IC-735 is a good radio, but requires a very rare external interface to use a remote tuner, so might not be a good choice....
Any of those should work for you...


(stay away from the IC-725, IC-730, IC-740, and even the IC-745)...
And, even if you wanted to spend 1000's of $$$$, stay away from the IC-7600 and IC-7700...
The IC-7100, 7200, 7410, etc. have some fans, but are just the modern versions of the bottom of the barrel, steer clear of them, as well....ironically the IC-7200 is one crappy radio for mobile, or maritime, applications, fairly RFI susceptible and software/firmware issues...



The current "hot girl" in the ham radio world is the Icom IC-7300 (and her big sister, the IC-7610)....both are SDR's with knobs....they do work and are nice radios, but are generally not for beginners, and certainly not great choices for "boat radios"!!

But, this is kinda a moot point anyway, 'cuz they're pricey....and if you want to spend that kind of ca$h, buy an M-802!




--- Kenwood's are also nice....but they're not as easy to set-up with remote tuners (read: costly and aftermarket tuners)...although the TS-590SG is a great radio!! And, if you want a great ham rig that you can use at home now, particularly if you just use some coax-fed antenna, the TS-590SG (not 590S) is a great radio!!

But, if you got the cash to buy that new....you might consider the Icom M-802...


A TS-480 is a nice older 12vdc Kenwood radio...


But, if you'll never run the rig mobile or on a boat, the TS-850, TS-930, TS-940, etc...are nice, too.


I'm not a fan of the older TS-430 (good radio, but didn't age well), nor are the TS-440, TS-570, TS-870...so, staying clear of them would be good.





--- I recommend against any modern Yaesu radio....any of their 12vdc radios made in the past 20 - 30 years are crap!

Don't let the cheap prices sway you....please steer clear!

(the FTdx-5000 and FTdx-9000 series radios are nice....but, they're big and expensive, and are 50vdc/120vac radios, as are the FT-1000 series...so any small, affordable, Yaesu that runs on 12vdc, is crap!)



--- TenTec made some nice rigs....but like the Kenwoods, some are not good choices for your application...and they can be pricey, too.



--- Elecrraft makes excellent, top-of-the-line HF CW radios (although they do SSB, ironically they are pretty crappy SSB radios)....but even if you decide I'm full of crap, Elecraft K3s is wicked expensive!! (twice the cost of an Icom M-802!)





--- If you were looking for outside-the-box ideas...
And had the money to burn, the Apache Labs ANAN-8000 is a great modern HF ham rig....a full-featured, big, powerful, SDR! (although the Flex-6400 and 6600 radios, and the older 6000 and 6700, are a more "user-friendly", and Flex Radio has excellent customer service....they just aren't up-to the state-of-the-art, compared to the ANAN-8000!)

OR...


Or, if you're looking for the other end / other end of the out-of-the-box idea...a clean, working, and aligned R.L. Drake TR-7 (I own two...bought my original one in 1978, still works great...and still works better than 99% of the modern rigs sold today!!) {this is the ham version of the maritime TR-77 and the commercial/gov't TR-4310}
OR...


Or, just save some $$$ and buy an Icom M-802 (I have two on-board!)....
OR...


Or, for really cheap and easy, if you can find a working Atlas 215x (about $200) it is actually a great little rig for you....but, you MUST watch your SWR and/or have a tuner, 'cuz the Atlas' didn't have a good protection circuit, and you can damage the PA if you're careless...

OR...


Or, an older JRC rig....the JST-245 is a great HF rig....it is the ham radio version of JRC's commercial maritime and commercial/fixed/air-base radios....




Hope this helps?

I know there is a lot here to unpack, but take your time....don't just run out and buy the first reasonably-priced radio, and the most hyped antenna...and DO go and buy the ARRL Handbook and ARRL Antenna Book, even used ones from the last 10 years, are fine!!


Fair winds.


John
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Old 24-05-2020, 16:26   #58
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,449
Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Hello to all,

During this past month's "lock down", our friend Dave (Auspicious) did a really nice free webinar about Electronics and Communications Equipment for cruising boats...where he also delved into the full modern 21st Century methodology of equipping your boat.

Now, while I've made my living in electronics/communications, and am a confirmed hi-techie-guy, I am actually firmly in the "old school" category when it comes to offshore marine electronics....no worries if you want your AIS targets to lay on your radar as well as chartplotter, etc...and I certainly see the advantage to sharing all your boat's electronics data across all systems, but (in my opinion) full integration should never be a necessity to get things working, and hopefully every skipper will know how to sail/navigate/communicate without much in the way of operational electronics on-board...


Dave's a good guy, and knows his stuff....and this will give many sailors some much needed hard facts / recommendations... So, if you're looking for some insight into what/how to equip your boat with electronics / communications systems, etc., it should help...

Topics covered:
Electronics
- Architecture
- Navigation
- Instrumentation
-- External
-- Internal

Communication
- Short range
-- WiFi
-- Cellular
-- VHF
Long range
- HF/SSB Radio
- Satellite Phone
-- Weather
Integration


Have a look:



And Fyi, please be sure to have a look at his brief section on weather (at 2hrs 14min), and I'd especially like to highlight the 3 minute part where Dave shows the inaccuracies of using raw computer model data (GRIB weather data charts) versus human-drawn synoptic charts (WeFax charts), for weather...at approx. 2hr 16min to 2hr 19min, and right near the end at 2hr. 26min!!


You know what they say about computer models: "All models are wrong, but some are useful"

And, with N. Atlantic weather being so dominated by continental weather, cold fronts, etc., raw computer model data can be rather inaccurate....and even in other areas, past a few days these differences/inaccuracies become rather worrisome.





Of course, I also added his video/webinar to some of my playlists...

Here are the various playlists that are designed to take a layperson sailor from having no real experience in HF radio ("SSB") and little use of long-range offshore weather sources, all the way to a reasonably competent radio user, weatherman, etc., while on-board offshore and/or in remote locales...

{please remember these are all FREE, and nobody is trying to sell you anything....and I did these LIVE in the real world, as-it-happens, on-board a real offshore cruising boat (at the dock)....extemporaneously, with no script, no director, no rehearsal, just my radios / my fingers / my narration....no laboratory, no simulations....all live in the real-world, just like you all will be doing it....}

Maritime HF Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y



Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2mPZAx2vWzdjTJjHlChruyY


HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2npivDjoFrC-8QKVyMb4tVr



Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nbwAGh5DKgTCj15iyl6qoY


VHF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2m-IejYg7J6QugtO2epizxF



And, if you're looking for some written info/advice on HF comms / Marine SSB....have a look at Cruiser's Forum marine electronics pages...post your specific questions there...
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/



And, specifically for a serious reference material regarding Marine SSB Comms, have a look here...
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...tc-133496.html






Fair winds to you all...

John
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Old 25-05-2020, 03:05   #59
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
I am actually firmly in the "old school" category when it comes to offshore marine electronics....no worries if you want your AIS targets to lay on your radar as well as chartplotter, etc...and I certainly see the advantage to sharing all your boat's electronics data across all systems, but (in my opinion) full integration should never be a necessity to get things working, and hopefully every skipper will know how to sail/navigate/communicate without much in the way of operational electronics on-board...
Hi John,

Thanks for your kind words. I strongly agree with your quoted statement.

The question people don't ask themselves is what happens when there is a failure. For example if you use a chartplotter or autopilot to bridge network segments and that device fails, do you lose AIS from other displays? Can your autopilot steer to heading isolated from the rest of the nav network if there is a failure? If your plotter fails do you have a display that still shows water depth? Do you have several feet of red and green yard on board? Can you account for set and drift without a COG line on a plotter?

I have another webinar called 'Classic Navigation in an Electronic World' I'll talk to David Walters Yachts about presenting. It's about skills, not paper charts.

Your videos are always first rate. Links to them remind us what a tremendous resource you have been quietly (well - quietly for you *grin*) providing for so very many years.

You and I should write a book together some day.
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Old 28-07-2020, 11:19   #60
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Re: HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.

Hello to all,

Once again I'd like to add some clarifying information.



Due to my efforts to promote HF-DSC, I unfortunately went too far and inadvertently caused some confusion....please ignore and forget my comments specifically dealing with "routine" HF-DSC signaling (you can skip that video, as well), unless you have some unique/specific need to investigate / learn about "routine" signaling....

Please just stick with the "Distress" (MayDay) signaling and "Safety" (Securite`) signaling (for weather, navigation, communications testing).



Those of us on private yachts, with the Icom M-802, etc., will mostly be using MF/HF-DSC for "Distress" signaling (MayDay) or "Safety" signaling (for weather, navigation / communications testing, etc.)....and that's probably it...


And, you're going to be using one of the six Int'l GMDSS DSC "Safety" / "Calling" frequencies [2187.5khz; 4207.5khz; 6312.0khz; 8414.5khz; 12577.0khz; 16804.5khz]



Although, I already mentioned that the USCG offers "automated DSC Testing" on 4207.5khz, from 3 of their locations, if you are beyond 4mhz comms range, they do accept DSC "Safety" calls for testing / verifying proper HF-DSC system operation, as long as you don't do this often (typically once per year / once per season, or only prior to an ocean passage).



Some additional supporting info for this:
From US FCC Part 80 Rules & Regs (Maritime Mobile Service):

80.359 Frequencies for digital selective calling (DSC).

(b) Distress and safety calling. The frequencies 2187.5 kHz, 4207.5 kHz, 6312.0 kHz, 8414.5 kHz, 12577.0 kHz, 16804.5 kHz and 156.525 MHz may be used for DSC by coast and ship stations on a simplex basis for distress and safety purposes, and may also be used for routine ship-to-ship communications provided that priority is accorded to distress and safety communications. The provisions and procedures for distress and safety calling are contained in ITU-R M.541-9 (incorporated by reference, see 80.7), and 80.103(c).



And, some further info (primarily dealing with the equipment and crew familiarity):

Quote from US Gov't Pub 117:


Use of GMDSS Equipment for Routine Telecommunications; GMDSS telecommunications equipment should not be reserved for emergency use only. The IMO has issued COMSAR/Circ.17 (dated 9 March 1998) which recommends and encourages mariners to use that equipment for routine as well as safety telecommunications. The following recommendation is extracted from Circ.17:

Use of GMDSS equipment for transmission of general radiocommunications is one of the functional requirements specified in SOLAS chapter IV, regulation 4.


Regular use of GMDSS equipment helps to develop operator competency and ensure equipment availability. If ships use other radio communication systems for the bulk of their business communications, they should adopt a regular program of sending selected traffic or test messages via GMDSS equipment to ensure operator competency and equipment availability and to help reduce the incidence of false alerts.

This policy extends to all GMDSS equipment suites including Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on VHF, MF and HF, to the Inmarsat systems, and to any duplicated VHF and long-range communications facilities.



{Over the years, I've attempted to be a bit less USA-centric, trying to point to the international uses of the GMDSS.....and I've mentioned some sailors recommendations for using MF/HF-DSC in ocean rallies, etc., as well as encouraging the use of "regional MMSI's" for regional-group calling... but these are rather specialized / niche uses, and I now realize that those interested in them will either already be aware or will be smart enough to ask/learn....so, no need for me to be rambling on about them... }



Without going into the weeds of the original GMDSS plan, nor specifically Digital Selective Calling (DSC), please remember that this system was originally designed/planned in the late 1980's / early 1990's, and implemented starting in 1992....so, much has changed....not the least of which most "public correspondence" (ship-to-shore phone calls) is handled via sat comm, as are most "data comms" that aren't being handled privately via PACTOR....


While the MF/HF-DSC system (as well as the VHF-DSC system) is an integral part of the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), the main use these days is the "Distress" signaling and "Safety" signaling, not the "Routine" signaling that was intended to be used for both ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship signaling, by both "public coast stations" (for "public correspondence" and ship's/fleet's business) and "private coast stations" (usually for ship's/fleet's business, using SITOR/FSK)...


So, while we can continue to rely on the GMDSS to be there when we need it [406mhz EPIRB's; NAVTEX; VHF-DSC-FM; MF/HF-DSC-SSB; SafetyNET broadcasts; INMARSAT-C (and now / soon-to-be INMARSAT FB and Iridium Certus); SART's (AIS-SART's or SART-X's)], we should remember (or rather I should accept?) that most sailors/cruisers (except those using NAVTEX...mostly in Europe or Asia), these days only use the GMDSS in times of "Distress"....so...


So, perhaps we could learn something from the IMO (International Maritime Organization) that started the whole SOLAS (Safety-Of-Life-At-Sea) idea, and came up with the GMDSS in the first place?



Maybe we should heed their advice?



Have a look again at what their advice / recommendations are:
Use of GMDSS equipment for transmission of general radiocommunications is one of the functional requirements specified in SOLAS chapter IV, regulation 4.


Regular use of GMDSS equipment helps to develop operator competency and ensure equipment availability. If ships use other radio communication systems for the bulk of their business communications, they should adopt a regular program of sending selected traffic or test messages via GMDSS equipment to ensure operator competency and equipment availability and to help reduce the incidence of false alerts.

This policy extends to all GMDSS equipment suites including Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on VHF, MF and HF, to the Inmarsat systems, and to any duplicated VHF and long-range communications facilities.



Perhaps this is simply what I should have recommended from the beginning, some ~ 17 years ago, when I first started touting "HF-DSC"? But, whatever the case, that's what I recommending today!


I do hope this info is helpful to you all.

Fair winds.

John


P.S. Don't forget the other "sticky" here, on Maritime HF Comms

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / properly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/marine-ssb-stuff-how-to-better-use-properly-install-ssb-and-troubleshoot-rfi-etc-133496.html


And, for those looking for the easy-peasy link to a free video series / Playlists, have a look here:


HF-DSC Comms

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


VHF-DSC Comms

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2m-IejYg7J6QugtO2epizxF


Generic Maritime HF comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2mPZAx2vWzdjTJjHlChruyY


Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2npivDjoFrC-8QKVyMb4tVr


Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nbwAGh5DKgTCj15iyl6qoY
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