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SV Skalliwag #141
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I've already mentioned that I am using HAMtestonline to study for my Technician/General HAM license and how studying for the test doesn't teach much for actually using it.
Anyway I keep running into references about using the phone on HAM frequencies and protocols to be used. How is that possible, using your phone for radio communications?
 

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Huck
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Ive heard about needing a liscence but i only know one person out of all the boaters i know that actually have the liscense. What the point of the liscense. i plan on getting one just to have one. sorry didn't mean to hijack
 

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How is that possible, using your phone for radio communications?
"Phone" usually refers to voice communication as opposed to "Code", which refers to using Morse Code for communication. There are several other digital communication methods too.

There is also a way to utilize a UHF or VHF repeater to support phone patching, assuming the owner of the repeater set it up to do so. This predates cell phones and allowed a UHF/VHF user to patch into the phone system to make a phone call over their radio.

I strongly recommend that if you are going to operate on the Amateur frequencies, you get a license. Visit American Radio Relay League | ARRL - The national association for AMATEUR RADIO for more information.

I have my general class and actually taught myself morse code to pass the test (which is no longer required by the way). Knowing morse code is certainly a skill that is not a bad thing for sailors to have.

-Paul D (Amateur Call Sign KB1MAU - general class license)
 

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This is why I usually suggest a class instead of self study, at least for the first test. You can read the book, memorize the questions and answers, and pass the test. But that won't tell you how to get on the air and what to do when you get there. And a side benefit is you will also get the chance to get plugged into the local network of ham operators.
 

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Whilst at the ARRL website, you can find classes in your area as well as locating a mentor to help you along after getting the license. Many boaters and pilots are hams and see the value in learning.

Don't forget the digital modes are available as well.
 

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I got my General Class license when I was just 12 years old, 60 years ago. I was active until about 1962, when I decided to get married and settle down to some degree. (Never really settled down, though.) My call sign was W3JQL, and unfortunately, I never took the time to renew the license when it expired. Now, contemplating a trip down the ICW and across to the Bahamas and Mexico, that license may just come in handy.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I've had a ham license of one sort or another since about 1975. I was a Tech+ WA4YNH until about 1990 when I became Advanced KO4MI. I now hold an Extra class license as well as some commercial licenses. I use my ham license at sea regularly.
 

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If you check the ARRL web site, you can easily find amateur radio clubs in your area. Like sailing, most involved in the hobby are very willing to help newcomers into the field. Like anything, you can get book smart, but there's no substitute for having a mentor (elmer, as ham mentors are called) who can answer all the simple questions that many books gloss over.

As mentioned above, Morse code is no longer required for licensure. Many old hams beefed about this, however, since eliminating the requirement, I have noticed a huge surge of interest in code. It is certainly a reliable way to communicate if band conditions are poor. Lots of fun too.

But to answer your question, it sounds like "using the phone" is referring to a repeater patch, which allows VHF and UHF (mostly in the form of small, mobile radios akin to CBs, or walkie-talkies) to "patch" into phone lines. You must be within range of a repeater (VHF line-of-sight) usually 5-10 miles depending on terrain and radios. Otherwise, "phone" is referring to vocal communications in the form of am, fm, or SSB.

Good luck with the exams. Feel free to PM if you have any other questions.

Dave
KB3WNA
 

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Ive heard about needing a liscence but i only know one person out of all the boaters i know that actually have the liscense. What the point of the liscense. i plan on getting one just to have one. sorry didn't mean to hijack
SBL, no license required for VHF. You need a Restrictd Radio Operators license from the FCC to transmit on an SSB marine radio, which has no test. You just send the fee and you get it in the mail, good for life. The OP is studying for a Ham license, which is only necessary for amateur radio stations and not absolutely necessary for boating. Some want to use amateur radio bands for the boat.
 

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You really are funny!!
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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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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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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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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/GordonWest_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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You really are funny!!
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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/GordonWest_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... :eek:
 

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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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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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