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Old 23-08-2019, 06:53   #91
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ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,429
Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

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 13-09-2019, 11:01   #92
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Old thread but new questions.

I saw where the compressor is off from the factory. A factory shop is truly the only way to turn that on? Also, I’m wondering about this din socket on the back. Has anyone figured out a way to control remotely with logging programs, such as Log4OM? Anyone else come up with stuff to get more out of the M802? As a ham, I’m always curious.

73’s
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Old 17-09-2019, 08:49   #93
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

David,
Quote:
Originally Posted by N1EYO View Post
Old thread but new questions.
Actually it isn't an old thread, but rather it's a continuing reference "sticky" that has a great deal of generic info (and links to details)....and while the ubiquitous Icom M-802 is featured as the primary radio description (as it is the only affordable MF/HF-DSC-SSB Marine Radiotelephone), this isn't a thread specific for that radio, nor its features (there is a thread for that, or start a new one)


I can offer you some brief answers here in red, and if these aren't detailed enough perhaps you could start a new thread with your specific questions laid out in order.

Quote:
Originally Posted by N1EYO View Post
I saw where the compressor is off from the factory.
Actually, originally the M-802 left the factory with its DSP-based "Speech Compression" turned On....
But, a few years back, Icom got scolded by the FCC, as the M-802 was 1.5db shy of meeting some Part 80 spectral specs (on one or two freqs) with the speech compressor On, but passed with 1/2db to spare with it Off....so, from then on, Icom delivered the M-802 to US dealers with it turned Off...


A factory shop is truly the only way to turn that on?
If you read thru the details here in this sticky, and follow the links (and/or do an online search), you'll see that switching the Speech Compression On, is a simple click of the mouse if you have the proper version of CS-802 ("cloning software")....most Icom HF dealers have this software, but is also available for sale online (~ $40, I think)
Or, you can have a hardware mod done (~ $100) that would allow you to turn this On or Off as you decide (FYI, the only reason to switch it off is if you were operating from a noisy environment, where you'd be transmitting a good deal of your ambient background noise)



Also, I’m wondering about this din socket on the back. Has anyone figured out a way to control remotely with logging programs, such as Log4OM?
Well, there is a great deal that can be controlled remotely....but it's not the DIN socket....

You'd want to use the "REMOTE" jack (a DB-9 connector), and configure the M-802 for remote control via either RS-232 or NMEA (whatever your remote control software requires)

You can use the "AF/MOD" jack for audio in/out and PTT/keying for data modes, etc....
Although the "ACC" jack (the DIN Socket) also has these inputs/outputs (at a slightly different spec'd impedance)....so you could use the DIN socket if you wanted to....and fyi, some that use an external modem use this DIN socket because it has a switched 13.6vdc output, that allows you to power the modem from the radio....

Some have used RMS Express, HRD, and N3ZH, HRI....
There is a great deal of info online about all of this....have a look.

Anyone else come up with stuff to get more out of the M802? As a ham, I’m always curious.

73’s
FYI, If you want some quick links, here is what I found in less than 30 seconds of looking:

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rol-84954.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ios-48115.html

W7PEA

https://www.sailnet.com/forums/elect...e-control.html

https://groups.io/g/N3ZHSoftware

https://groups.io/g/Winlink/topic/rm...20,2,0,5175468

https://sourceforge.net/p/hamlib/mai...sage/33264921/

http://www.ab4oj.com/icom/ic7700/7700hw_sw_setups.pdf


David, there is more available....but, as I wrote above, perhaps it's best to leave this sticky as a generic reference and start a new thread with your specific questions?

fair winds.

John
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Old 15-02-2020, 16:46   #94
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Hmm, great idea, and I tried following some of the links of the very first original post and they seem to be all hidden behind a web page one needs to pay membership fees for...

Cheers

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Old 15-02-2020, 19:05   #95
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Hello again!

Meanwhile, I have been scanning more of this thread. It is really great and I very much appreciate it.

It seems all the links to SSCA web forums are gone behind the iron wall, though... The youtube should still work, but I will need a better internet connection for it.

The system I have got was installed by a professional and I am sure he made no mistakes, but I am a perfectionist and so I am trying to see what I can squeeze out more...

Learning what frequencies to use, and when, etc is part of that, but not part of this post of mine right now:

So, I am particularly interested in improving the performance of my system, which is an M-801E with an AT-140 tuner, a 7m whip antenna (yes, I have learned of its disadvantages now, but it is a trimaran with no back stay, and it has dyneema shrouds, which I am somewhat reluctant to have anything else attached to...).

As the antenna ground is in one of the floats of the tri, it has potentially a problem with the sea water ground plane, I think. I do have this ground with some copper paint for some square meters, but the thing is the float can come out of the water and fly, depending on the wind direction I am sailing. Then capacitor formula (with one over distance) tells me that this is not good at all for my antenna system.

It had to be in one of the floats, as the whip can only be installed in the transom of one of the floats, and having the AT-140 in the center hull and then routing the antenna cable after the AT-140 all the way across to the float for some 4 meters did not seem such a good idea.

I got myself an SWR meter with which I can measure reflected and transmitted waves at the AT-140 input. Close to 70 W average power in F1B mode, with 80 W at the output of the M-801E. Some 3-5 W reflection. (The antenna cable is an Ecoflex 10.)

Although KISS had been pointed out to be very inefficient, I did add it in parallel to my sea water ground plane and it does improve things a bit. I now have 1-2 W reflection. Mostly, though, I hope that it will help me when the float is flying out of the water...

I did add ferrits to the cables for bilge pump and light, which are the only thing in the vicinity of the AT-140, but I will now also add ferrits to the AT-140 supply, as well as all lines of the M-801E, as suggested.

The M-801E has its own 12 V power supply, as the general power supply on my boat is 24 V. Those power supplies I had already added ferrits right before entering the M-801E (plus and minus).

Oh, and I did see some noise occasionally when my Navtex is switched on. (It provides GPS information to the M-801E.)

What else can I do? Is there any firmware upgrade of the M-801E that I need to have performed, like the early models of M-802?

I read somewhere I should experiment with adding a 5-10kOhm resistor at the output of the AT-140, between core and shield, to reduce statics that can build up in the plastics of the whip antenna. Does that make sense? Sounds to be like a high-resistive discharging by-pass that is to be applied here.

BTW - my background is Physics and I did a lot of soldering when I was young, but that is all long time ago. SSB license and HAM license in place, though.

And this is for world-wide sailing, with currently being in the Caribbean. The other day I did a radio communication between Guadeloupe and San Blas islands near Panama, so spanning some 1080 nm. We used 8297 kHz about 2 hours after sun set in Guadeloupe. The other side was also a whip, on a cat. I could hear them ok, with the odd misunderstanding. Is that as good as it gets? Or should I expect more?

Cheers

Mathias
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Old 03-04-2020, 13:06   #96
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Those that wish Parts 1 and 2 combined....but with a little lower resolution...

Live Demonstration of HF-DSC "Test", "Routine", and "Safety" Calls to USCG and WLO, etc.
(this is parts #1 and #2 combined together using youtube edit, but the resolution is a bit lower....which might be good for those of you on bandwidth limited internet...)


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Old 03-04-2020, 14:02   #97
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Huskybeer,

3 quick things...

1) Sorry, you're having troubles....but, you bring up an issue that can happen when you click on a 5 year old post....
Some good news here though....as I've just tried that link using 4 different browsers (IE, Edge, Firefox, and Chrome), and each one works fine....

So, not sure what else to do....except give you an elegant solution here, in #2 and #3....



2) The quick solution has an very big additional benefit!
Look at the very next post (just one day after the one you quoted), and you'll see what I'm talking about...

Simply, do not go to that individual video at all....as you can see by looking at further posts, I put together Youtube playlists, where the videos are posted in logical order for the easiest / best way of understanding the subjects at hand...

Please see the HF-DSC Comms playlist here...

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

(note the specific video you queried about, is video #6 in that Playlist)



3) Please have a look at these other Playlists, where the videos are organized in a logical order for easiest learning / explanation....(of course, you may skip, or fast-forward thru, parts that you are completely certain you already know)


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


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


HF-DSC Comms

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


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


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



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








4) And, to MathiasW....sorry about the SSCA deciding to lock-out non-members....please understand that was NOT my decision (I argued against it!)....and as such, I am no longer an SSCA member (I was a Rear Commodore)....I find my membership in the OCC to be much nicer / much more a group of ocean sailors, rather than frustrated folks at the SSCA...


Oh, and of course, I love the folks here at Cruiser's Forum....yeah, there are ads, but no worries here....at least we can post what info / assistance we can, and actually be of help to our fellow sailors, without hassle!


{as for your poor HF system performance....start a new thread, with a LOT of details, and ask some specific questions, and you'll probably improve things....fyi, I'd really like to keep this "sticky" as a reference guide, and not deal with specific problems
BUT...
But, one quick comment / recommendation....you should NOT have any "shield" on the output of the AT-140 tuner, at all!!!
This must be a single wire!! (GTO-15 is typical)
This cannot be coax, cannot be a shielded wire...never, ever!!
So, there is nothing to connect a resistive shunt across...
If you do have a shielded wire (coax?) there, going to your whip....this is a problem...Please correct this....and then start a new thread with a LOT more info....}






I hope all the above helps!


Fair winds....

John



P.S.....BTW....sorry I've been away for a while....spent the whole month of Feb in NZ, Aus, and Fiji....and been caring for elderly family since returning....so, haven't been around here much...have a look at some of my vaca pics...yep, we flew....my boat and I are in Florida...it's a long sail to Aus from here!.....and, yes that is me with my Iridium 9555 in the middle of the Aus outback / Northern Territories, sorry I just didn't have a way to pack/deploy/use a full HF radio set-up...so, I took my Iridium phone to stay in touch with elderly family when in remote locales...


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Old 24-05-2020, 16:23   #98
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

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 regarding Proper Installation Tips / Techniques, have a look here...
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/hf-ssb-radio-proper-installation-tips-techniques-etc-198305.html







Fair winds to you all...

John
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Old 25-05-2020, 03:07   #99
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
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...
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 25-05-2020, 05:20   #100
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

So considering failure points...
Using the adage ‘Two is one and one is none’, what about running a redundant NMEA backbone? It looks like a good idea - on the whiteboard in my mind.
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Old 25-05-2020, 12:06   #101
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

David, N1EYO,

Your question here is very specific....and except for feeding NMEA position data to your M-802 (or other MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio), is pretty far off topic of this thread....

Perhaps you could start a new thread, and query the "what if's" there? Hopefully, you will get some detailed responses?

Until then, here is my personal opinion, baaed on my personal experiences offshore, as well as what issues I hear others having...[not the least of which are sailors that somehow have wired their electronics up in such a convoluted way that they need to run their MFD's 24/7 when offshore just to keep other things working? and/or just to get a GPS fix? So, please go ahead and use your whiteboard first... ]

Quote:
Originally Posted by N1EYO View Post
So considering failure points...
Using the adage ‘Two is one and one is none’, what about running a redundant NMEA backbone? It looks like a good idea - on the whiteboard in my mind.
A NMEA network failure should not adversely effect your safety, nor success of completing a passage....allow me to expand a tiny bit:

a) Your most important piece of electronic gear when approach land is of course your depth-sounder, and this should have a dedicated / independent display that would be unaffected by any NMEA network failure...


b) Radar (although not critical to some sailors) it can be a vital piece of marine electronics in areas of poor visibility, and as in the case of depth-sounder, radar should have its own display (MFD or dedicated radar display), and again a NMEA network failure would have no effect on this...

c) Position fixing / GPS....well, unfortunately here many sailors don't have a dedicated GPS position display, but rather send position data thru their NMEA network to various other displays / devices (MFD's, instruments, etc.), and here a dedicated GPS display or a GPS that is not networked-in (secondary GPS), would solve any position fixing issues, should a NMEA network failure occur. Although, in my opinion, I also think having an addition wire (such as NMEA 0183, etc.) run from a secondary GPS to your primary MFD, and/or to your VHF-DSC radios, and/or to your MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio, will allow you to maintain easy-peasy position fixing, should your main GPS fail and/or in the event of a NMEA (or SeaTalk) network failure....



~~~~
FYI, this is what I have on my boat....I added an AIS transponder a few years ago, and changed out to a couple newer GPS's, but other than that, this is what I designed/built back in 2006/2007....so, it's not a NMEA2000 system, but rather a SeaTalk system....(with a little bit of NMEA0183 just for my DSC radios):

1- my depth transducer is controlled by a Raymarine ST-60+ Tri-Data instrument (where it takes in depth, speed/temp data, from its two transducers), and shows all three of these on its display...so, a network failure will have no effect on its display...
And it connects to the SeaTalk bus (network), where it sends this data to: one ST-80 Masterview, two ST-60+ Graphics, two MFD's, and to the autopilot (two ST-6002+ autopilot displays)....a NMEA (0183 or 2000) failure and/or SeaTalk failure would still allow the Tri-Data to display all Depth, Speed, and Temp data, and depending on which part of the network is down, probably most of the other displays will work too...

2- my radar data runs from the scanner to one MFD and repeats thru a separate/dedicated hi-speed connection (SeaTalkHS)....a NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000 failure will have no effect on radar data....and should this MFD-to-MFD connection fail, radar is still available on the other MFD....


3- my primary GPS powers from its own circuit breaker, and outputs SeaTalk data that runs to/on the SeaTalk bus (network), and is displayed on its own dedicated display (an ST-80 Masterview)...so, a "network" failure would still allow GPS data to be viewed easily...
And in addition, this position data also goes to both my MFD's (where it does not need any power) and autopilot (again just the data, no power needed from the autopilot)....additionally this position data goes to two ST-60+ Graphic displays, where it can be displayed independently of either MFD or autopilot....so, any "failure" of the data network, would still allow GPS position data to be seen in multiple locations....and this can easily be plotted on a chart, etc...
{yes, this might not be the case if you had a NMEA2000 network, but a few minutes on the white-board designing the best way to run this NMEA2000 network should alleviate (or at least reduce) this issue? BTW, someone with more NMEA2000 failure experience that I should be able to help you better....this is another reason you should really start your own thread on this topic! }

4- my secondary/dedicated GPS has its own display (Garmin GPS 76CS), and also sends position data (via NMEA 0183) to both my VHF-DSC and MF/HF-DSC radios....this gives me 3 displays of position data, independent of my primary GPS and SeaTalk network....that I can plot on a chart, easy-peasy....{and I have an additional NMEA 0183 cable from this GPS, run to my chartplotter that I can plug-in if ever needed}



5- although not considered part of many marine electronics systems, until recently, AIS is another way of maintaining a position fix should your NMEA network fail....a dedicated AIS display (such as my Vesper Watchmate has) will show your position and AIS targets.....
And/or do as others have, and run this AIS data (NMEA 0183 at 38400kb) to their VHF radio display (such as SH 2100 / 2200, or Icom M-506, 605, etc.)....so here again, a NMEA 0183 or NMEA2000 network failure would still allow you to see your position and see AIS targets....



As you see, it really isn't hard to design a fairly failure-proof on-board network, that should not require you to have another / back-up network running, in order to continue to operate electronics on-board should you suffer a "network" failure....

I do hope this brief answer helps....but, please start your own thread about all of this, as will get a wealth of ideas/comments.....this thread is really about Marine SSB Stuff, you know.

fair winds.

John

P.S. David, just your asking this question (a good thing) brings up the point that I try hard to drive home....you really do not need any of this to sail / cruise / voyage safely!! You have a compass, and a watch....and look at both the water (for depth) and the sky (for weather), and you'll be fine in the event of electronics and/or network failure!
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Old 25-05-2020, 13:09   #102
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Quote:
Originally Posted by N1EYO View Post
So considering failure points...
Using the adage ‘Two is one and one is none’, what about running a redundant NMEA backbone? It looks like a good idea - on the whiteboard in my mind.
I agree with John on the merits.

I'll take a slightly different perspective. Since you're talking about a backbone you are referring to NMEA 2000 (or Seatalk ng). Part of the trick is that the switches are "smart" devices which themselves can fail.

John is spot on that you should not be fully dependent on network function. Your depth transducer goes directly to a display. Your radar goes to a display. Your fluxgate compass and autopilot computer go directly to a display. It's lovely when they share information but you should be able to function if connectivity fails, and one system failing should not take others down with it.

Parallel networks lead to things like routers and routing protocols that end up adding points of failure and increasing complexity.

I carry a laptop that shows my AIS and my GPS with me on delivery. That often ends up being primary nav (mostly because of current charts). I suggest that is better redundancy than parallel networks.

There is much more to choosing electronics than opening boxes and plugging the cables together. Good question.
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Old 08-06-2020, 20:30   #103
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

KA4WJA,


I am new to the HF world, having bought my boat last year with an ICOM M710 installed. I'm also have a HAM license. Currently, the ICOM is simply some ornamentation on the Nav Station, as other more important things to learn and fix have occupied my time. We currently sail the Chesapeake, but next summer we intend to spend 7 months doing the Down East Circle, with several months in remote parts of the Canadian Maritimes. I've spent considerable time reading and trying to learn, and just spent a couple hours on this thread. A lot of good stuff, and a lot more for me to learn!


Your posts have been M802-centric. My questions are M710 specific.


First, is there any way to make an M710 even sort of DSC capable? Seems that the right integration with a computer should be able to do something.


Second, the M710 is less user friendly than the M802. Are there any solutions to provide PC->M710 integration? In a recent post, I mentioned that I have a CORETEX serial demodulator, which I hoped would also provide control to the radio, but that appears to be limited to the USB version.


Third, is it possible to open up the M710 for Ham use? As I said, I am licensed, but have yet to squeeze a mic, so have no idea what I would even do with such ability.



Finally, is there a way to update or customize or otherwise improve the operating ergonomics?


I really hate the idea of pulling out a functional radio, to spend a large amount of money on a newer version, when I'm not really sure how much use I'll even get. My parents did this trip 30-some years ago with just Loran, VHF, and radar. I'm already miles ahead in the electronics department.


Since this question is rather generic, I thought it would be a good addition to this thread, rather than starting a new thread.


Thanks for input.


Harry
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Old 09-06-2020, 00:00   #104
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Hello Harry,

It isn’t often I can get out in front of John. I’m sure he’ll be along shortly. *grin*

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
First, is there any way to make an M710 even sort of DSC capable? Seems that the right integration with a computer should be able to do something.
Yes. There is an outboard DSC unit for some but not all models of the 710. Post a picture of the data label and we can tell you if you’re lucky. You’ll have to be lucky twice as I believe the outboard DSC unit is out of production so you’ll have to hunt for one. Start with eBay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Second, the M710 is less user friendly than the M802.
Sure. There are a couple of software tools to provide a more pleasant user interface. There is a hardware modification. You’ll also need a special cable to connect your computer to the radio. I can help you with both (I’m in Annapolis also).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Third, is it possible to open up the M710 for Ham use? As I said, I am licensed, but have yet to squeeze a mic, so have no idea what I would even do with such ability.
Can you confirm you have a General class license? A Technician is not sufficient for HF. The first thing to do is check to see if the modification has already been. There is a hardware modification for the radio. I can help you with that also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Finally, is there a way to update or customize or otherwise improve the operating ergonomics?
Not really. PC integration is about it.

If you want me to take a look drop me a line dave@auspiciousworks.com . You might want to wait for John to weigh in.
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Old 09-06-2020, 00:03   #105
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Re: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, e

Harry,

All Icom HF marine radios use a similar command set, based on NMEA style commands. These are well documented, search the web. The easiest is to use a terminal program with macros that would allow you to configure the radio any way you want.

There are a few apps that do this for you. Fldigi is considered the gold standard and has a very nice radio interface. It has many digital modes but not DSC. It is great for experimentation.

If you want to receive HF DSC calls, one of the best programs is YADD decider for DSC signals. It receives the calls, has a nice database of international MMSI numbers, so it will match the call to a ship’s name. That app can be integrated with ham app, called DX Atlas, that will automatically plot the calling ship position on a map. It looks really good. Once you experience this integration, it is as if you have a Coastguard DSC station on the boat. Even M802 owners prefer to use YADD and DX Atlas.

You will need a PC (one of these Windows tablets for $99 works well, a serial port cable (or WiFi adapter) to control the radio and an audio cable to feed the audio output from the radio to the tablet. If you decide to go the wireless route, you may consider also a Bluetooth audio adapter to feed the audio to the tablet. This way you are totally wireless and you can use and control the HF radio from any place on the boat.

Next, once you have the sound card setup and the serial control port, you can experiment with HF email. Winlink is what most people use, the waveforms are either Winmor or Vara, both work well. If you can get a Pactor III modem, then it is even better.

Currently, the hardest thing to do is to send DSC call requests from the radio to other ships. There exists an app, called PersonalDSC, that can send routine and distress calls. It costs $79. I have not used it but I am told it works well.

I also have a non-DSC HF radio on the boat (SEA-235), so I wrote a Python script to generate DSC calls using my Pactor modem. The script works well (I have sent routine and test calls to San Francisco and New Orleans and they get acknowledged immediately. The beauty of writing your own script is that you can generate any sort of DSC message (the standard is well documented), not only the ones that the M802 can generate. My script creates the DSC sequence but then uses the Pactor modem to modulate the audio signal. The reason for this is that you have to be careful to generate a phase coherent signal and the Pactor modem can generate a near perfect signal using its DSP. There is a way to use the computer sound card to generate the audio signal but most computer cards generate dirty signals which is not nice to be transmitted on the HF bands. There are some software techniques to generate a coherent signal using a computer sound card but that is beyond my skill level. I would be happy to share my Python script with the forum, I find it useful, may be it can be improved further.

My suggestion though is to just get the PersonalDSC app for $79. In any case, if you are using an app to send a DSC distress signal, especially if you anticipate doing so in an emergency, you need to understand how the standard works. Typically, you would send the signal on 8 MHz and wait for an acknowledgement. As soon as you receive the acknowledgment, you need to act on it, meaning switch the radio to the voice channel to talk to the Coast Guard. If you mess up and send a distress signal by mistake, you need to send a Cancel My Distress signal (it is a special sequence). My script automates all of this but it can definitely be misused by people who do not know what they are doing which could be a problem.

Finally, there is an app in development, called HamRing that has SelCall and ALE messaging and it is really easy to use. You will find SelCall a lot more useful than DSC to call your friends and setup voice calls. Plus, you can send short messages with either ALE or SelCall.

Let me know if you have questions.

SV Pizzazz
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