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  #11  
Old 01-14-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
SBL, no license required for VHF.
That is true for marine frequencies, others will require a license...ala ham radio license for those VHF frequencies allocated to the amateur radio services, etc...
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  #12  
Old 01-14-2012
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Can anyone recommend a good ham radio that is relatively inexpensive for a smaller (30') boat? I'd also like to know what kind of power draw/amp usage I should expect from a radio.. ? Are they difficult to install? Can anyone walk me through all the basic installation steps?
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Old 01-14-2012
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I recently got my General license. Technician gives you access to the 2M (144 to 148 MHz) and 70 cm (444 MHz) bands. These are UHF and VHF bands and use upper sideband. The General gives you access to all the amateur bands. The longer wavelengths give you longer distance contacts. As several people have noted, the tests don't help you actually use the ham bands. I purchased the ARRL Operating Manual which was a great help. But I think you still need the Restricted license to operate a marine radio. I need to check that. Also, installation of the required equipment for the lower bands (160 thru 20 meters) on a boat is difficult for a lot of technical reasons. Having said all that, I still think it is worth getting your license.
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Old 01-14-2012
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Chrisncate,

Many good deals are out there on used equipment. An older all solid state HAM HF rig can be found for $300-400, in fine working order.

Amp draw will depend on how much power you are transmitting, as this is adjustable on Amateur radios. Max power out is typically 100 watts, most will draw 10-12 amps at full power. Many are designed to run on 12 VDC.

The setup is kind of specific to location but in general, on a boat I would expect a good wire antenna (either home built or commercial) and a good automatic antenna tuner. This can be terribly complicated or relatively simple, it just depends.

The best advice is to get some help from local folks. Clubs are a great way to share skills, seek advice and get help deciding on what gear suits a particular application the best.

I have found there are mostly two types of HAMs, at least around here. One group are the absolute expert operators, the contest winners. They have talked to seemingly everywhere on Earth and can get through in the toughest of conditions, including contest pile-ups.

The second type are the tinkerers. This group builds their own antennas and gear. They have a pile of parts and spend time building gadgets for their hobby. Many build radios and gear just because they can.

Like Auspicious, I was a Tech+ N8TIH, then earned my General and Extra, as NI3S. Before all of it a commercial license became a necessity. It is still valid and has come in handy from time to time, although it is not required for my current vocation. The commercial license does offer me operator privileges on SSB so at some point that may be a good thing.

Good luck to all that seek to earn a ticket.
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Old 01-15-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VetMike View Post
These are UHF and VHF bands and use upper sideband.
While there is some SSB on VHF and UHF, the overwhelming majority of communication at VHF and above uses FM.
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Old 01-15-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisncate View Post
Can anyone recommend a good ham radio that is relatively inexpensive for a smaller (30') boat? I'd also like to know what kind of power draw/amp usage I should expect from a radio.. ? Are they difficult to install? Can anyone walk me through all the basic installation steps?
Recommend an Icom 7000 or a good use 706MkIIg

IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF All Mode Transceiver - Features - Icom America

with an autotuner such as an SGC

SGC Smartuners

and a good ground plane..

http://www.carsonhowe.com/files/Gord..._on_ground.pdf

Personally I use commercial SEA equipment for type acceptance on the Marine SSB freqs as well as Ham freqs.

SEA Marine Communications International - American Technology that talks to the World

Regards,

Clay AA3JY
s/v 'Tango'
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  #17  
Old 01-17-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa3jy View Post
Recommend an Icom 7000 or a good use 706MkIIg

IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF All Mode Transceiver - Features - Icom America

with an autotuner such as an SGC

SGC Smartuners

and a good ground plane..

http://www.carsonhowe.com/files/Gord..._on_ground.pdf

Personally I use commercial SEA equipment for type acceptance on the Marine SSB freqs as well as Ham freqs.

SEA Marine Communications International - American Technology that talks to the World

Regards,

Clay AA3JY
s/v 'Tango'
Thank you!

Ok, I have gotten the bug to get my license and install a radio, but for some reason I am having trouble "getting it" regarding how marine HAM/SSB actually works (installing equipment). There doesn't seem to be much "dummy" info out there, the kind that assumes you know absolutely zero about this stuff (me).

For a person like myself who has a plastic boat with no motor (for the ground?), what is, and how do I, install the needed hardware? I have two bronze seacocks (the cockpit scuppers), and no other "metal" other than the aluminum toe rail and the rigging.

Can I get into a fully ready radio (let's assume for the argument I already have my license, so don't factor that into time/costs) for $500/$700?

Please help me, this is as mysterious as celestial navigation...
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Old 01-17-2012
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There are two different things you are considering.

A ham setup, Radio $350, tuner $150, wire antenna and feed line, $100. Doable, HOWEVER, you can not use that setup on the marine bands. Data, like email and fax might add a bit more.

A marine system is different in the fact that the radio is certified to operate within predefined specifications. With a HAM setup it is the responsibility of the licensed person to ensure the performance of the radio is up to standard.

It may be possible to use a Marine SSB radio with a modification on the amateur bands. The trick is in not negating the certification (to predefined specs) with the modification.

Two radios, one ham and one marine, could potentially share a tuner and antenna and work It won't be cheap, but it could be done.
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Old 01-17-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisncate View Post
Can anyone recommend a good ham radio that is relatively inexpensive for a smaller (30') boat? I'd also like to know what kind of power draw/amp usage I should expect from a radio.. ? Are they difficult to install? Can anyone walk me through all the basic installation steps?
For any over the horizon communication, you will need a high-frequency rig. (10-80 meters) There are some really nice portable rigs (new ~ 600-1000USD)
For whatever reason unknown, used ham gear is only discounted about 10-20% off new. To me, its worth the little extra to get a new piece of equipment with a warranty.

Ham Radio Outlet (google search) is a good site to browse.

If i were putting a rig on my boat, I would consider the Yaesu FT897D or 857D.
They both have the following features that I think are important:

1) small, portable, lightweight.
2) powered by internal battery packs or external 13vDC source.
3) have BOTH HF and VHF, so when in range, can use repeaters.
4) unlike some other models of portable HF radios, these two will produce a full 100w output if run from an external source.

But keep in mind, antennas are like the tires on a sports car. No matter how fancy or powerful of a radio you have, a poor antenna will make it drive like a Yugo. Conversely, a really good antenna can make a mediocre radio reach far. Some hams pride themselves with never using more than 5 watts, and reach over 100 countries. (QRP operation) I wouldn't recommend this for a boat, unless you just want the challenge. For reliable communications, you'll want a good antenna, and more wattage.

Icom makes a similar radio, IC7000, which is similar to the Yaesu FT897D, but costs a good bit more. Kenwood also makes a fine HF portable, but it does not include the VHF freqs. This may or may not matter to you.

*by VHF, I am referring to the amateur radio VHF freqs. You can receive, but not transmit on marine VHF with these radios.

Feel free to PM or post here with other ?s.

Dave
KB3WNA
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  #20  
Old 01-18-2012
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BTW, here is a good book published by the ARRL (the ASA of ham radio) specifically discussing marine radio:

ARRL :: Emergency Communications :: Marine Amateur Radio
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