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post #1 of 4 Old 08-15-2002 Thread Starter
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radio communications

please excuse my ignorance,ive only had "the dream" for a few years & im not up to learning about radio communications yet.

ive got a very basic idea about VHF,more or less line of sight stuff.
but what about SSB?,i dont even see them for sale in ship chandlers...

are there any good web sites,to direct me to ,to learn about these creatures?

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-15-2002
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radio communications

Bullseye-don''t fret lots of good info out there. Try and and for starts. But if you want to learn and practice SSB become an amature radio operator(HAM). I have upgraded to Extra class recently(KC0LFW), live in midwest, and can not only hear yachts at sea but can talk to them too. Try and -both excellent sites also. Good luck! welch.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-16-2002
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radio communications

While I don''t want to have an argument with Welch, and, in fact, partially agree with him, there is a big difference between ham radio (amateur radio) and Marine HF radio. I too am a ham, and a sailor, and have been a ham for over 40 years (callsign K8OUA)with an Extra Class license for many years now. I don''t disagree that a ham radio set onboard can be of great use and a lot of fun, but its intent is not the same as that of Marine Band HF radio. HF radio will allow you to make contact with others well out of line of sight that VHF radio is limited to. Marine Band HF radio has been set up to allow boaters well out to sea to make contact with others, particularly to receive weather and other useful reports, and to let aid and assistance groups such as the US Coast Guard know where you are as you sink into the sea. Ham radio is very different, and though you can make contact with stations all around the world, many things go on on the ham radio bands that are detrimental to a sailor in trouble -- e.g., there are radio contests on virtually every weekend, and there are rare and distant stations that other hams try to contact. If you''re in trouble and try to call ''Mayday'' during one of these contests, the chances are that you won''t even be heard above the din of very strong stations intent on making contacts with others for contest purposes. I believe that a ham set on board is great, but only if it is accompanied by a Marine Band HF radio too. Try this website -- and it will give you more info on Marine Band HF radio. Also, do a Yahoo search under Marine Band Radio and that will lead you to a lot of additional info. Good luck to you, and whatever you do, you''ll find a ton of fun with a ham radio license, so follow Welch''s advice and go to and check out ham radio communications too. But, make sure that you have the main emergency communications source onboard, the HF Marine Band radio if you are going offshore for your sailing.
Fair winds and 73,
Peter K., K8OUA
S/V Waltzing Matilda
Cape Dory 26, Hull #42
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post #4 of 4 Old 08-17-2002
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radio communications


First, I''d suggest you take a look at this same topic thread on the SSCA site ( as you''ll find some additional ground covered, which may be helpful.

Second, I''d suggest you look at HF comms from another perspective. If you''re eventually going offshore, there is no (nada, zip, none) other resource that will give you the same kind of inter-ship, wx data, safety & ''local knowledge'' information that HF radio can provide - even if you''re packing a sat phone. So let''s start with the presumption that a)if coastal cruising, HF SSB is not needed but nice to have, while b) if offshore, it''s worth considering for safety and current weather info if no other reason.

Now...think about that system the same way you will look at all the other key systems aboard. You''d be unlikely to install or use a pressure water system, diesel engine or navigation instruments without fully understanding how they work, how to do simple trouble shooting when they don''t, how they can be put to best use, what constitutes poor or abusive use, etc. - right? Same goes for HF SSB.

With that premise, there''s only one inexpensive, readily available means I know of to acquire that ''system knowledge'', or ''how to install/use/troubleshoot'' your HF radio...and that''s pursue a ham license. You''ll find a gaggle of local vendors who will gladly sell you a radio, tuner, etc., will install it for you, will test it for you, and will then pat you on the back. But there you are: when you turn it on, you''re just another poorly informed user clogging up the band. This is one of my disagreements with Pete''s post; IME there''s far more dysfunctional use of the Marine SSB bands than the ham bands - altho'' contests are a problem, they only occur occasionally - because many users of the Marine SSB bands bought their HF SSB just like they bought their autopilot. They had it installed and assumed it was dead simple and therefore a glance at the manual is all it takes to shoulder their way onto the airwaves.

So consider attending a beginner''s class in ham radio, drop in at the local club for a meeting or two, just explain that you know very little but are eager to learn more, and you''ll get a great education - over time, with a bit of effort - that will ultimately pay big dividends should you install a SSB of any kind.

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