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post #1 of 90 Old 03-15-2008 Thread Starter
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SSB radios

A previous discussion's got me thinking and challenging my assumptions (which is a good thing - usually...)

Although clearly useful if already mounted on a cruising boat, I left wondering about the utility of purchasing and installing an SSB on a boat without one.

It seems that as sat phones and services become more robust and less expensive, the relative value of SSB to cruisers will fall.

What do you smarter folks think -- has the SSB become the nautical equivalent of the six-button AM dash radio?
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post #2 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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I could not justify the cost of a SSB. I did buy a SSB receiver so I can listen into the cruiser nets. Satellite phones have come a long way in the past year and prices have dropped radically.

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post #3 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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Why would someone buy an SSB and not a 12volt ham radio? An SSB is three times as expensive, and is more limited in bands than a ham.

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post #4 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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Can a HAM setup pick up those frequencies used for mail while out?

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post #5 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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First, to use a Ham you need a license which requires a test. Many are not willing to do that or can't find somewhere to get tested. The RRO license for an SSB doesn't require one. Second, most SSB radios, at least the good ones, are as capable as any ham unit.
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Why would someone buy an SSB and not a 12volt ham radio? An SSB is three times as expensive, and is more limited in bands than a ham.

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post #6 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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Where with the SSB you can pick up the mike and ask if anybody is listening, I think that would be rather hard to do with a sat phone. Apart from that there are other advantages to SSB, but if they justify the cost of installation I think is a personal decision depending a lot on the cruising area and length of absence from more normal sources of communication.
Ah, and Jody - I don't think so.

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post #7 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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In an emergency, SSB radios are more useful, since they are broadcast devices, and many more people may hear and respond to a MAYDAY call for assistance, where a Satellite Phone is a point-to-point device, and if no one answers, you're gonna get screwed. Also, the on-going costs of a satellite phone are fairly high. The ham radio and SSB radio don't really have much in the way of costs, outside of the initial investment in equipment.

You can do e-mail on either Ham or SSB radio. WinMail is free via Ham, Sailmail via SSB has a nominal annual fee.

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post #8 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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Also, the on-going costs of a satellite phone are fairly high. The ham radio and SSB radio don't really have much in the way of costs, outside of the initial investment in equipment.
I agree. We rented an Iridium phone for our last voyage and also bought a "like new" (and it really was) Icom IC718 with tuner and antenna which I installed myself.

The Iridium cost us (rental and calls) about US$1800 for the voyage and we had to give it back. The entire radio setup cost about US$1100 and we still have it

And the other point is also really valid. When you are 2500 miles from land and something serious goes wrong, try switching on the Iridium and shouting into it "CALLING ALL SHIPS" Or try to get daily weather advice.

I'd like to have an Iridium on board but there is no way I'd swap it for my SSB.

Andre
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post #9 of 90 Old 03-15-2008
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A little confused by your terminology - isn't Ham the same as CB?

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NO... very different things entirely. Different range, different frequency, different radios, different regulations.

CB radio is unlicensed, only has 40 channels, a much more limited range of frequencies covered in the 11-meter bands (27 mhz) and much more limited distance range. In the US, trying to communicate on CB radio at a range over 150 miles is illegal IIRC.

Ham radio generally has much greater range and requires a FCC issued license.

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A little confused by your terminology - isn't Ham the same as CB?

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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