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post #1 of 23 Old 01-31-2016 Thread Starter
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License question for hams with SSB

Two quick questions for hams. If you are FCC licensed, do you use your ham call sign, or the ship's station call sign?

If you are FCC licensed, do you even need the ship station license?

Thanks,

CS

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post #2 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

1. You use the call sign that matches the band you are using. So if you are transmitting on a Ham band, you use your Ham call sign and if you are on a Marine band, use the ship call sign.

2. You must be licensed for the band you want to use. So if you want to operate on the Marine SSB bands, you will need a station license and a restricted radio operators license from the FCC. If all you are doing is the VHF portion of the Marine bands, in the US, there is no license required for domestic use.
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post #3 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

You need appropriate licensing for the service in which you operate.

On the marine bands you need a ship station license (for the boat), which conveys a call sign and a Federal MMSI. The ship station license is good for 10 years between renewals. At least one person aboard should have a restricted radio operators permit (RP) for the operator. The RP is good for life. You can use your ship station license and RP anywhere in the world (consider the mind-boggling international agreements it took to make that happen!).

On the ham bands you need a ham license. Ham licenses are both a station license and an operator license in one document. You can use your ham license ON THE HAM BANDS anywhere in US territory, international waters, or in accordance with reciprocity agreements in some other countries. See International Operating

In an emergency you can use any service. An emergency means someone is at risk of dying. It does not include running short on Grey Poupon, making marina reservations, asking for weather information (unless you are in the midst of a hurricane or cyclone), or anything else that a reasonable person would consider a convenience.

The FCC licenses are issued for specific services and any given license is only good for operation in that service: marine, air, ham, GMRS, broadcast radio, broadcast TV, cell, WiFi, etc. In the US there are blanket waivers for many services including ship's radar and WiFi and the client side of cell.
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post #4 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Let's get a few terms straight, before getting to the Answers:

"Hams"- Amateur Radio Operators. Certain RF Frequency _Ranges_ were set aside from the beginning for Experimentation and "Rag Chewing". When using those Frequency Ranges and Licensed as a Ham, the assigned Callsign must be used. Anonymity or encryption was never part of the Ham Culture, and Commercial activity is forbidden. Individuals are licensed based on passing an Exam, and may operate anywhere. Ham Gear is usually very adjustable, and because of the Experimental roots, all sorts of odd Modes like "SSTV", (Slow Scan Television), are permitted.

"SSB"- Single SideBand (Suppressed Carrier). A Modulation Technique that offers better range and efficiency than Amplitude or Frequency Modulation. Most commonly used on the HF Band- ~1.8 to ~30 MHz, and increasingly popular after WWII.

"Marine SSB"- As above, but on _specific_ Frequencies set aside for _Commercial_ Marine purposes. Boats are licensed; Marine SSB gear can only be used on Land under specific circumstances. Experimentation and "Rag Chewing" are discouraged. To use Marine SSB gear, one must obtain a "Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Permit", good for life, that doesn't require any testing, or indeed any knowledge. Marine SSB gear is simplified to the extreme, so that minimal knowledge is needed to use it, _especially_ in Emergencies.

These terms are confused and interchangeable these days. When Hams use the term "SSB", they are referring to the Technique; when Boaters use the term "SSB", they are usually referring to the Frequencies and gear set aside for Marine purposes.

Now let's get to the bits that mostly apply to the US:
The FCC keeps a loose eye on who uses what and where. They issue a "Type Acceptance" for a Transmitter or Transceiver that acknowledges that the Gear operates Legally on permitted frequencies, and that will not bother others too much off-frequency. The Reception parts aren't "Type Accepted" because simple Listening, with certain obscure exceptions, doesn't require Licensing.
There are no Transceivers that are "Type Accepted" for both Marine and Ham usage in the US. This is quite deliberate and is not likely to change anytime soon, because the FCC wishes to maintain the distinction between the two types of Services.
That doesn't mean that Ham gear can't be modified, often trivially these days, to operate anywhere in the HF Range in any Mode. It happens all the time, and one has to be really obnoxious for the FCC to take any interest. "Really Obnoxious" is becoming more common as well.
(There is a valid reason for ease of modification; it's just too complicated for a Manufacturer to customize their gear for all of the various Regulations in all of the various Countries. So the right kind of Technician with the right kind of Test Gear shouldn't find it too difficult to do it legally, and expensively.)

Most Nations have similar Regulations, but they often differ in the details. Why this is has to do with one man, and one International event.
The Man was Guglielmo Marconi, the first Ham, and the first Marine Operator, on the SS Philadelphia. The event was the sinking of the Titanic a few years later; Marconi's gear meant that there were Survivors.
Back then, Commercial and Amateur Operators walked all over each other, and it was then seen that there was a need to separate the two. Any Reception was to be encouraged, but Transmission was to be restricted. Thus the "Radio Act Of 1912" in the US, and the "International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea" in 1914, which never actually went into effect because of what happened in August of that year. WWI saw the introduction and growing importance of a third kind of Radio Operations- Military.



Now, with all of that out of the way, let's answer the questions:

"If you are FCC licensed, do you use your ham call sign, or the ship's station call sign?"
If you are using Ham Gear on the Ham Bands, you use the Ham Call sign. With direct supervision, others may use the rig. If you are using Marine Gear on the Marine Frequencies, you use the Ship's Station Call Sign. Note that during Emergencies, these distinctions melt away, on purpose. The Lessons of the Titanic were learned.

"If you are FCC licensed, do you even need the ship station license?"
Again, there are different kinds of Licenses for different purposes. The Ship's Station License is needed for the communications gear on the Marine Frequencies, on Type Accepted equipment. An Operator's Permit is required to use it. Only one Permit is required; anybody on board can share it.

If you are doing it right, you have your Ham and Marine gear separate, with the required Licenses for both. You can always use Ham Gear for listening to Marine communications, but Transmitting is prohibited.




Now I will Rant a little.
What is usually missing in these kinds of discussions is the Driving Force behind all of these distinctions for over a Century: Courtesy.
Courtesy is pretty much forgotten all too commonly. (Listen to the various Marine Nets, especially on 20 Meters.):

•Use only as much power as needed.
•Don't Hog a Frequency.
•Listen for a bit, before Transmitting.
•Don't Operate in such a way as to offend others, and this doesn't involve just use of Speech, but use of Gear as well. Don't Splatter.
•During Emergencies, stay the Hell out of the way, unless you can materially contribute.
•During "Contests", stay away from them as well, unless actively participating. "Contests" exist for reasons, especially the QRP ones. (Very Low Power.)
•Learn and abide by the applicable FCC Regulations, and when in Foreign Waters, learn those Regulations as well.
•When using Marine Gear, stay out of the Guts, unless you are a qualified and FCC certified technician. (The Rules have changed recently here.)

All of this applies, and more, if using modified Ham Gear on Marine Frequencies. This is Illegal, but common. There is only one valid reason for this- Emergencies. Having the capability, but not using it unless absolutely needed, is somewhat OK.

¬Erindipity
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post #5 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Erindipity,

Excellent post, with clear explanations.

Thomas
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post #6 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Erindipity just answered half a dozen questions I had in a manner that was both informative and respectful instead of the typical "go look it up" rant. Thanks for that. It is what makes forums like these valuable across a wide range of experience levels.

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post #7 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

A little off subject since the original post has been answered. If I want to request a weather map (i.e. 24 hr surface forecast) from Saildocs, which is free, using Sailmail via SSB offshore do I have to become a member of Sailmail, i.e. pay the $250.?
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post #8 of 23 Old 01-31-2016
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

A number of good points, most duplicating my own, and some misleading statements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
Certain RF Frequency _Ranges_
Since we are dealing with vocabulary (and I love vocabulary) ranges of frequencies are called bands. Thus "the ham bands," "the marine bands," "the air bands," etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
"Hams"- Amateur Radio Operators. Certain RF Frequency _Ranges_ were set aside from the beginning for Experimentation and "Rag Chewing".
Rag chewing (chatting) came along late in the game. The impetus and continued support for protecting radio allocations for Amateur Radio was experimentation and expanding the state of the art. There are a lot of really cool things we take for granted that came from or were supported by Amateur Radio including SSB, Pactor, even cell phones. Not every ham is pushing the edge of the envelope. There are many who simply provide a market for those who do. Stan Honey, SK Vic Poor, Jim Corenman, and Rick Muething are examples of those who have contributed to the technology that cruisers now take for granted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
Anonymity or encryption was never part of the Ham Culture, and Commercial activity is forbidden.
As I pointed out above, you must use the identification issued to you by your national government (the FCC in the US) for the service you are in which you are operating. You have to abide by the rules of the service. As Erindipity notes Amateur Radio prohibits communication in which you have a fiduciary interest. For cruisers that leads to some interesting dichotomies. You may order a pizza over a local VHF repeater or call ahead on HF for parts to repair your boat (the FCC has determined these do not constitute a fiduciary interest to you) but not call your stock broker.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
"Marine SSB"- As above, but on _specific_ Frequencies set aside for _Commercial_ Marine purposes. Boats are licensed; Marine SSB gear can only be used on Land under specific circumstances. Experimentation and "Rag Chewing" are discouraged. To use Marine SSB gear, one must obtain a "Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Permit", good for life, that doesn't require any testing, or indeed any knowledge. Marine SSB gear is simplified to the extreme, so that minimal knowledge is needed to use it, _especially_ in Emergencies.
Vocabulary is important. In the case of marine SSB (granted the misnomer) "commercial" doesn't mean you have to be in a for-profit venture. It is a convenient label. There is no proscription on chatting or "rag chewing." There are a number of social radio nets on the marine SSB bands. I happen to think that the marine-oriented nets in the ham bands are better but the ones on the marine bands are perfectly legal.

Quote:
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These terms are confused and interchangeable these days. When Hams use the term "SSB", they are referring to the Technique; when Boaters use the term "SSB", they are usually referring to the Frequencies and gear set aside for Marine purposes.
Absolutely correct. Too late to fix it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
Now let's get to the bits that mostly apply to the US:
Not quite. See below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
The FCC keeps a loose eye on who uses what and where. They issue a "Type Acceptance" for a Transmitter or Transceiver that acknowledges that the Gear operates Legally on permitted frequencies, and that will not bother others too much off-frequency. The Reception parts aren't "Type Accepted" because simple Listening, with certain obscure exceptions, doesn't require Licensing.
No.

In most countries receiving is legal anywhere. In the US there are limitations on receiving cell phone communications. In the UK there are taxes on certain radio reception. In other countries there are outright proscriptions.

In the US there are also specific requirements on electronics including receivers that are tantamount to type acceptance. Look for the little label on the back or bottom of your radio, TV, etc to that effect. For most of us it makes little difference since we are so used to simply buying things off the shelf. Although must hams also buy equipment off the shelf Amateur Radio is the only service to my knowledge (outside of minor ISM applications) that allow you to build and operate your own equipment from scratch without inspection. This freedom is one of the reasons the ham bands are harmonically related.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
There are no Transceivers that are "Type Accepted" for both Marine and Ham usage in the US.
This is disingenuous. There are marine MF/HF SSB(/CW/FSK/AM) type accepted radios that can be "opened" for use on the ham bands without subverting the type acceptance on the marine bands. The Icom IC-M802 is a good example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
This is quite deliberate and is not likely to change anytime soon, because the FCC wishes to maintain the distinction between the two types of Services.
Not at all. The FCC wants to ensure that all radios used in any service meet the requirements for operation in that service. Vertex for example makes a number of multi-service radios.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
That doesn't mean that Ham gear can't be modified, often trivially these days, to operate anywhere in the HF Range in any Mode. It happens all the time, and one has to be really obnoxious for the FCC to take any interest. "Really Obnoxious" is becoming more common as well.
Absolutely correct. Unfortunately, while using marine, air, or military radios in the ham bands is legal using ham radios in other services is not. This is not some bureaucracy run wild. Issues of adjacent channel interference from frequency stability and signal purity on a life safety service (like marine radio) is simply not acceptable.

Your historical perspective on Marconi is a bit off the mark. Selectivity at the time was a real issue (it didn't exist) and the wideband characteristics of spark gap transmitters (remember everything was CW (Morse Code) at the time) were extreme.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
"If you are FCC licensed, do you use your ham call sign, or the ship's station call sign?"
Please see my post above.

An individual may have many FCC licenses and each applies only to the relevant service: amateur, marine, air, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
An Operator's Permit is required to use it. Only one Permit is required; anybody on board can share it.
Also not strictly true. The RP license is not shared. The presumption is that the license holder is supervising operation. This is exactly analogous to the situation with supervised use of an Amateur Radio station.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
•Don't Operate in such a way as to offend others, and this doesn't involve just use of Speech, but use of Gear as well.
Courtesy is very important, not only while operating radios but operating our boats. In that respect "gear" is quite inclusive.

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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by brokesailor View Post
A little off subject since the original post has been answered. If I want to request a weather map (i.e. 24 hr surface forecast) from Saildocs, which is free, using Sailmail via SSB offshore do I have to become a member of Sailmail, i.e. pay the $250.?
Yes.

The Saildocs service is free. You can reach it through Winlink (free for licensed hams), Sailmail ($250US/yr), Cruisemail (about the same), and others as well as the Internet using cell phones or WiFi or cable, etc.

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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erindipity View Post
Now, with all of that out of the way, let's answer the questions:

"If you are FCC licensed, do you use your ham call sign, or the ship's station call sign?"
If you are using Ham Gear on the Ham Bands, you use the Ham Call sign. With direct supervision, others may use the rig. If you are using Marine Gear on the Marine Frequencies, you use the Ship's Station Call Sign. Note that during Emergencies, these distinctions melt away, on purpose. The Lessons of the Titanic were learned.

"If you are FCC licensed, do you even need the ship station license?"
Again, there are different kinds of Licenses for different purposes. The Ship's Station License is needed for the communications gear on the Marine Frequencies, on Type Accepted equipment. An Operator's Permit is required to use it. Only one Permit is required; anybody on board can share it.


¬Erindipity
Thanks, this is how I thought it worked. I was confused by a frequency chart that seemed to imply the marine bands were included in the amateur bands. I see this is not the case.

So if I wanted to use an SSB radio to keep in contact with an onshore location, i.e., home, I would need to use the amateur frequencies and both ends would need someone with a General class license present (to use the frequencies with good DX).

I would also need a rig that was dedicated to non-marine bands since a marine SSB isn't legal to transmit on amateur HF even if it had that capability.

Is that correct?

Thanks,

CS

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