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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #1  
Old 11-07-2010
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SSB antenna tuner specs?

I’m new to amateur radio…lots of knowledge gaps.

Am starting on my winter project: assemble components for SSB system…prefer used gear to stay in budget. Goal: SSB comm. for email, sailor nets, weatherfax. I have a (used) Icom IC-718 transceiver.

I’m looking at a used Icom AT-180 antenna tuner (to be installed inside the dry pilothouse). The Icom description says the radio’s auto function will work with the AT-180. The description also says…

“Please note it does not operate on 144/440 MHz bands.”

Is this a limitation that affects sailors?

Dave

Nauticat-36 Redwing
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Old 11-08-2010
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Dave,

The 718 is a good entry-level ham radio. It does email very well with Pactor modems. It is ILLEGAL to use this radio on the marine bands or, e.g., with SailMail as this service uses the marine bands.

The AT-180 is not a suitable tuner for the 718 in the marine environment. Quite apart from the environmental issues, it has a limited tuning range and is unlikely to work well with the typical end-fed wire antenna (backstay or vertical) found on a boat.

For a more suitable tuner, I'd consider an SGC SG-230 which will work with ANY HF radio and has other functional and mechanical properties compatible with a marine installation.

The "144-148 mHz band" is the amateur radio 2-meter VHF band, located just below the marine VHF band. You wouldn't normally use a tuner for this band.

There are lots of ways to implement a relatively low cost marine SSB system, but if you want or need HF email that's going to drive the costs up considerably. At a minimum, it will mean a newer, more expensive marine radio (e.g., Icom's M700Pro, M710, or M802...a minimum of $1,100) and a Pactor modem with the PIII license (about $1,200).

Bill
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Old 11-08-2010
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Nor will you ever use the 440 band in the marine context.

If email is important to you, take a look at the ICOM M802. The three radios btrayfors listed are all good radios, but the 802 seems to be made with the email user in mind.
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Old 11-08-2010
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Hi Dave, I don't have an answer to your question but as an Icom 718 owner I thought I would say that I just installed an AH-4 tuner on our boat this year and everything played nicely (with Pactor) on the first try. You can see the inside guts of the AH-4 and my not-so-hot soldering job here:
SV Estrellita 5.10b: SSB Install: Tuner to antenna
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Old 11-09-2010
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HF e-mail can be done with the 718, but you have to get a general class amateur radio license. That will require taking some tests. These tests are not particularly difficult, and you do not have to learn Morse code. You can then use Winmor (a software package), your radio, and a computer to send e-mail via HF.

Regardless of the license you have, though, you cannot legally use the 718 on marine bands, except in an emergency. You can LISTEN to the marine bands all you want, and you can TRANSMIT on the amateur bands if you have an amateur license.
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Old 11-09-2010
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The AH-4 is a good tuner.

Winmor is good good too. To run the faster Pactor modes, you'll need one of the spendy SCS line of modems. Pactor I is slow and free for use by hams, so any recent modem will run Pactor I.

The Airmail software package that Sailmail uses also works with the ham bands. Difference is a different band, (duh) and different internet servers for email handling. Ham based servers are free to use. One needs the necessary Ham license though.
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Old 11-10-2010
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Thanks!

Thank you all for the helpful replies. Thanks for the photos, Livia.

Looks like the AT- 180 is OFF the search list and Icom AH-4 and SGC SG-230 are ON the list.

Re the license...I have a Novice and am studying for General. Maybe the 718 willbe my learning radio...change to a M radio later.

Thanks again...

David

Nauticat-36 Redwing
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Old 11-10-2010
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David,

Getting the ham license first is a good strategy. With the General Class license, the 718, a proper tuner, and a Pactor III modem you'll be all set for both voice and email on the ham bands.

Then, later, if you feel the need to be QRV on the marine bands, you could add a low-cost used marine radio...less than a quarter the cost of an 802! If you choose the SG-230 tuner, you'd be all set, since it works with ANY HF radio.

That's what I have on my boat: a ham rig (FT-900CAT) and a marine rig (FT-600), an SG-230 tuner, and a Pactor modem. Here's a pic:
NavStn_0140

Bill
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Old 11-21-2010
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Or a manual antenna tuner from eBay.
More reliable than automatic tuners.
With some practice, and noting the working low SWR settings down for each Ham band, you will laugh all the way to the bank.

KC9SGV
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Old 11-21-2010
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Click Here:
Antenna tuner items - Get great deals on Electronics, Computers Networking items on eBay.com!
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