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  #21  
Old 01-18-2012
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Excellent, thanks Dave (and BG). I probably will wind up shooting you a pm sometime in the relatively near future, as I am at the point of beginning to install whatever electronics we are going to have, as well as the battery(s). I'll check out the links you sent and see what I can begin to learn.

Seems like a fun thing to be a part of, it must be very satisfying to be able to talk over such long distances.
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  #22  
Old 01-18-2012
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Minnewaska will become famous soon enough Minnewaska will become famous soon enough
Is pretty reasonable to expect reception over hundreds of miles with a marine SSB and thousands of miles are possible on upper bands in the right conditions. Personally, unless you are a real Ham radio enthusiast, I don't get the need for a Ham radio on a boat. To make that exotic connection to some user in a far away land takes tons of patience, time, skill and luck. For me, there at too many other things to do on the water.... Like sailing. To each their own.
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  #23  
Old 01-18-2012
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Wow ! It's really great that people are getting involved with HAM radio. The latest reports are that HAM operators worldwide are at historical highs.
I got involved about 3 years ago now for emergency communications with my wife. I found out quickly that it is awesome hobby too. There has been a lot of good info posted her and would like to share my thought too.
If you are interested in starting to study, check out Ham Radio Outlet or another HAM radio store to purchase a CD set and a book. Your first license will be "Technician" class. This gives you many areas to transmit on. As you are making progress you can take free online tests, as many as you like. When you start scoring 90's consistently then its time to go test. There are many testing sites and most are free to take the test. Then the FCC wil issue you your very own "call sign". You can pay around $17.00 to get a vanity if you choose.
Next is your "General" class license. This is a whole new world. This gives you the ability of global communication using SSB and various digital modes. With these digital modes, with very low power you can send and receive text and mail from friends and loved ones. You will be able to receive all weather, wind, wave and various other reports from the NOAA 24 hours a day. From different areas of the world they send this info out. The weather, wind and current maps actually show up on your computer screen ! This whole process does not cost a lot at all. It does take effort on the person who is studying for the test. Its not hard, they teach your everything you need to know. You will find a world of helpful people from every corner of the world. These folks are positive and always willing to help and teach. There is a fantastic organization that monitors all vessels that are underway. You could be out in the middle of the ocean or tied up to the docks. They run a "NET" 24 hours a day to keep communications with vessels to ensure their safety and to relay info to friends and family who are not HAM operators. These folks are 100 percent volunteer and very professional. They also have a "ShipTrak" program so that family can log on to their site and keep track of your progress. Below are some helpful links to help you on your way. HAM radio is truly an amazing thing. If you are a sailor, this is the best thing that you can do for yourself and crew. Here are some links for you !
HAM Radio Outlet -Ham Radio Outlet - World's Largest Supplier of Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Equipment. Sales, Supplies, and Service.
Free software to send and receive weather faxes and communicate using many different digital modes. There are many programs for free ! Here is one..
HAM radio software - Programs for amateur radio
Free online exam website. On the left click on Ham Exams, click on Technician then start !
eHam.net Home - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community Site
Wonderful organization that will always be there for you. Its call the Maritime Mobile Network. Maritime Mobile Service Network
You can listen online for free to hear what actually goes on out there. This is the frequency we use is 14.300 Mhz. Check it out.
14300.net
Again all this is not expensive at all and gives you global information and contact.
I will leave you with this video from YouTube. If you need anything or more info, please feel free to contact me at -- n4mdx@yahoo.com
Here ya go !! Amateur radio today - hosted by Walter Cronkite, SK. - YouTube
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  #24  
Old 01-18-2012
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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?
Chris,
I have both Ham and Marine SSB license. I have a Icom 700 pro and with an AT-120 automatic antenna turner and a back stay antenna. Here it is from WM- looks like that might not carry the unit as it does not come up.

West Marine eCatalogs

Look at page 90

I would reccomend this set up for a few reasons. It is marineized and will hold up to dripping salt water (most ham radio will not survive long in the marine environment of a boat at sea), the unit will operate legally on Marine SSB and Ham bands. A marine SSB needs to be FCC type accepted- basically a marine SSB, not a ham radio operating on marine bands (which many ham radios can do- but is illegal- but probably would not get caught- has to do mainly with how stable your transmit frequency is). Two transmit a high powered marine SSB or ham signal, you need to tune the antenna to the frequency- the AT-120, or similar unit does this automatically- if antenna is not tuned, the tranmitter amplifier will be damaged. You do not need a direct path necessarily to water- grounding to one of your keel bolts might work.

You could pickup a used unit for maybe 1/2 cost of new, but be careful, it can be hard to tell if a used unit is fully functional- escpecially the transmit portion. So be prepared to spend say $2000 on a new install and maybe $1000 on used- you providing labor. The Icom is also great for recieving short wave broadcast (am) from around the world like BBC, and all other countries- interesting to listen to the perspective of world news from countries other than the US.

Installation: run supplied 5 foot 12 volt cable to your batter with 30 amp fuse. Then connect the antenna tuner with supplied cables, then hook up you antenna to your backstay (note you will need two back stay insulators- somwhat expensive and need to cut these into you backstay- alternatively you could string up a length of 30 foot wire up the rig in someway to act as your antenna, or go with a vertical antenna mounted to the stern (check WM for SSB vertical antennas).
Regards

Last edited by casey1999; 01-18-2012 at 06:11 PM.
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  #25  
Old 01-18-2012
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Chris,
Go here for an Icom manual- it should describe the installation requirements.

IC-M700PRO SSB Radio Telephone - Features - Icom America
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Old 01-18-2012
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Good info sir ! I had explored the option of using your backstay as a inverted V dipole except as you said they are expensive and the work to have them installed in pricey also.The insulators alone are around $500. a piece and you need two of them. The one thing I found it is hard for the auto tuner to tune the "lower" bands.
The verticals work ok. The best set up I have found is buying a commercially made wire dipole. Buy a good one, they are around 150 dollars. This will last your forever. My fav is the Buck Master dipole. They tune very easy and will withstand the marine elements. Just simply attach a halyard to the center of the dipole and hoist to the top of your mast, tie off one side to your bow and one side to your stern and attach your coax cable before hoisting. Thats it !
As far as buying a used radio, its a good idea to buy from a HAM site such as QRZ.COM, eham, or ham radio outlet. There are "HAMfests" where you can go and see the radios first hand that people are selling and try them out. Ebay makes me nervous, however thats my personal opinion with no experiences to tell. I bought my first one in excellent condition for $350.00 . Still use it to this day, everyday. Even if you buy a brand new one you can spend as little as $500.00.
Grounding....critical item ! The cool thing is sailing in brackish or salt water is the best ground plane you can have. The water that your sailing in is your ground plane...how cool is that ? I have found that grounding your radio to two or more points works very well. I used the metal shaft mounting brackets. The shaft goes straight into the water. The motor mounts and the seacocks are great. Basically anything metal that touches water is a good spot.
So, in recap, a good new/ used HF SSB radio, an auto tuner if the radio doesn't already have one, good coax cable...you really need LMR400...its the best. Then you need a good commercially made dipole. With all these items in place, you will have clear and the absolute best communication possible.
So you can have everything you need for under $1000.00 easy ! Get a laptop and free software now you can receive all your weather faxes for free !!
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  #27  
Old 01-18-2012
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Thanks Casey and Chiquita, excellent info - and a lot to absorb for the noob. I like this idea a lot:

Quote:
Just simply attach a halyard to the center of the dipole and hoist to the top of your mast, tie off one side to your bow and one side to your stern and attach your coax cable before hoisting. Thats it !
Here's a noob question: What kind of "entertainment" (radio, talk etc) can you tune in with these set ups? Is there stuff out there like that, or is it mostly communications between individuals? Also:

Quote:
The motor mounts and the seacocks are great. Basically anything metal that touches water is a good spot.
Does the barrier coat and bottom paint I applied over my through hull openings negate them as a ground now? It's a lot of layers between the bronze and the water...

?
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  #28  
Old 01-19-2012
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Entertainment - Well there is regular chat, there are practice emergency nets, radio stations that play music from different countries all over the world, military operations globally, tons of religious radio stations, and news from every corner of the world. It is absolutely amazing how many signals there are out there. It wasn't until I put up an antenna and started listening to different frequencies. It will keep you busy

Motor mounts and seacocks - It would decrease the ground plane, yes. What might be best for you then is to attach it to the prop shaft mounts. As long as the signal can travel thru metal from the mounts to your prop shaft and into the water. That should be an easy fix. Someone also mentioned keel bolts if you have them, as long as some lead is exposed to the water. Sounds like maybe the prop shaft or the prop shaft mounts might be best.
Important note - When you do the grounding, try to make the line copper and make it as short as possible. Make sure no one has contact with the wire while underway. It sends a signal thru the wire and they could get burned from it.
I had a left over spool of regular house electrician wire. I just cut it open and found that all 3 wires, positive, negative and ground were copper. Problem solved.
Are you going to get your HAM license ?
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  #29  
Old 02-18-2012
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I got my General Ham License!!!!! Now I can learn how to use my ICOM M710.
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Old 02-18-2012
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Congrats and we'll keep an ear out for you.
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