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Old 10-10-2021, 06:14 PM   #1
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HAM HF Radio on Boats

Wondering how many boat people are HAM operators and have a setup on their boat? What kind of rigs do you have and what antennas do you run? Any amplifiers?

I plan to move my home rig on to the boat and trying to figure out if I will be able to install and tune a dipole for 20 & 40 meters. I know many boats use a vertical with a black box tuner but not sure how well that works. We always had long wires on the boats I worked on but they were quite a bit larger than my target trawler size.

Love to see pics of your setup and what kind of antennas you all use.
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:35 PM   #2
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I am a HAM (extra) and have SSB (opened up to ham frequencies) on my boat. I bought, but have not (yet?) installed an ICOM 730, for the boat. Perhaps someday.
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:40 PM   #3
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I replaced the Icom m802 with my icom ic-7001 and reused the Icom Tuner, I have a Shakespeare 23ft vertical whip, have actually sent and received emails using pactor modem..does ok but not as good as long wire....
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:43 PM   #4
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I am a HAM (extra) and have SSB (opened up to ham frequencies) on my boat. I bought, but have not (yet?) installed an ICOM 730, for the boat. Perhaps someday.
Are you using the black box tuner on a vertical? Do you use the SSB for CQ or just have the ability?
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:46 PM   #5
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Yep... FT897D all band, no amp auto tune on HF. Lenovo Micro for Wefax - FLDIGI for digital - FT8 Jpole on 144 & 440, MFJ whips as vertrical on 40 & 20 - back to back as diople on 20.



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Old 10-10-2021, 06:50 PM   #6
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I replaced the Icom m802 with my icom ic-7001 and reused the Icom Tuner, I have a Shakespeare 23ft vertical whip, have actually sent and received emails using pactor modem..does ok but not as good as long wire....
I wonder how well those auto tuners work. Have you ever measured the SWR? I have a manual 1500 Palstar and can tune a coat hanger with it. I assume you are only running 100 watts?
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:51 PM   #7
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Are you using the black box tuner on a vertical? Do you use the SSB for CQ or just have the ability?
The tuner is AT140, with 23' vertical whip. Very little CQ. Mostly nets in Baja / Mexico, and sailmail (SSB) / winlink (ham) for remote email.
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:54 PM   #8
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Yep... FT897D all band, no
I have the FT 890 10-160M. Only 100 watts but it does a great job on my 160M OCF dipole.

What antenna do you run on your boat?
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:59 PM   #9
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Yep... FT897D all band, no amp auto tune on HF. Lenovo Micro for Wefax - FLDIGI for digital - FT8 Jpole on 144 & 440, MFJ whips as vertrical on 40 & 20 - back to back as diople on 20.



Works !
That makes great sense. Amazing you can tune 40 on a vertical whip without any ground plane. Do they have some kind of balun built in?
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigWhit View Post
Wondering how many boat people are HAM operators and have a setup on their boat? What kind of rigs do you have and what antennas do you run? Any amplifiers?

I plan to move my home rig on to the boat and trying to figure out if I will be able to install and tune a dipole for 20 & 40 meters. I know many boats use a vertical with a black box tuner but not sure how well that works. We always had long wires on the boats I worked on but they were quite a bit larger than my target trawler size.

Love to see pics of your setup and what kind of antennas you all use.
OK. What are all you guys talking about? Please get rid of all the radio jargon, and illuminate us. I'd love to get more connectivity than VHF offers, but I couldn't understand a word you were saying. Please break it down. There has got to be something better than Marine VHF!!
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Old 10-10-2021, 11:18 PM   #11
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Marine VHF is one step above a tin can and a string!



Ham (Amateur) radio offers a wide variety of options for mariners, some latest technology which require big words!


See spot run - doesn't cut it these days!


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Old 10-11-2021, 03:47 AM   #12
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Don't get excited....

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Originally Posted by Caballero II View Post
OK. What are all you guys talking about? Please get rid of all the radio jargon, and illuminate us. I'd love to get more connectivity than VHF offers, but I couldn't understand a word you were saying. Please break it down. There has got to be something better than Marine VHF!!
...By all this Greek speak. Single side band (SSB) is in the family of high frequency radios, often called shortwave. A section of this frequency band has been set aside for HAM radio. SSB refers to a radio which uses the upper or lower part of the radio wave. These radios are amplitude modulated (AM), which means that the same information is essentially carried on both the upper and lower sideband. Using just half the wave firm allows more power to go into the signal and also provides more possible stations. Radios can use upper or lower sideband. So essentially two different transmissions can happen simultaneously on one frequency.

This discussion is talking about how to set up the most efficient radio system. In a perfect world 100 percent of the RF power produced by the transmitter would exit the antenna. But, there is almost always a mismatch between wave length of a given frequency and the physical length of the antenna. Reflect power occurs when this happens. Some of the RF energy is directed back to the transmitter. A radio tuner electronically matches the physical length of the antenna to the frequency.

To the second issue. Unless you are an enthusiast who likes to gab for free with people hundreds or thousands of miles away, this is a lot of effort for not much gain. I installed one on our sailboat when we did blue water cruising so that I could do email via sail mail. Also was able to download weather maps from NOAA. But, it really is not much use for everyday boat work.

One other thing you can do is listen to weather routers like Chris Parker. But you don't need a tuner to listen. All you need is a receiver and a good antenna. If you are not transmitting, a tuner is not required.

Hope this helps.

Gordon
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Old 10-11-2021, 05:42 AM   #13
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What Gordon said.

Its a way of communicating around the world with no outside assistance like using satellite or repeaters. When a hurricane or typhoon hits a region its always the HAM radio folks that are first to communicate with the outside world. Depending on time of day/night/frequency/atmospheric conditions and your skill level, you can communicate around the world.
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Old 10-11-2021, 09:10 AM   #14
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OK. What are all you guys talking about? Please get rid of all the radio jargon, and illuminate us. I'd love to get more connectivity than VHF offers, but I couldn't understand a word you were saying. Please break it down. There has got to be something better than Marine VHF!!
VHF is very high frequency. Ham and Single Side Band are mostly high frequency. Frequency and wavelength are related in that frequency times wavelength is the speed of light. VHF is about 157 khz, so its wavelength is about 2 meters, and that length fits conveniently on an 8' antenna. SSB and Ham are mostly lower frequency (than VHF, instead called high frequency), so longer wavelength, making it difficult to fit on an 8' antenna. SSB antennas are commonly about 23'. Unlike VHF, which is all on the 2-meter "band", amateur (ie ham) and SSB radio operators commonly refer to wave length, they are using, since the propagation characteristics are heavily depending on wave length. While VHF is commonly (but inaccurately) regarded as purely "line of site", lower frequencies (the merely "high" frequencies used by ham and SSB) will bounce off the sky and allow communications at great distances, even world wide. Wave lengths are grouped into a variety of different "bands", some even shorter (and therefore higher frequency than VHF), but others longer, being in the 5, 10, 20 or 40 meter bands, for example.

VHF is in the 2 meter band, and there are ham and SSB frequencies also in the 2 meter band. Many fishermen use "2 meter" radios to communicate amongst themselves, primarily for privacy. Unlike VHF radios, which transmit and receive on designated channels that the radios automatically translate to frequencies, ham and SSB radios don't really have channels. So, if you are looking for someone to talk to, it is really a question of searching an almost infinite number of frequencies.

The frequencies available for use by amateur radio operators are all set by FCC regulation (and by international treaty, are pretty much followed around the world). Pieces of the frequency spectrum are designated for use by marine radio operators, and those are commonly referred to as SSB (single side band) frequencies. Other pieces (often on either or both sides of the SSB frequencies) of the spectrum are reserved for hams, while other pieces for military, and police, commercial, broadcast, etc.

It is much easier to get a SSB license (no test required) than to get a ham license (3 different license levels, with increasingly difficult exam requirements), but if your goal is to talk to random people, there is much less opportunity to do so on the SSB frequencies. And in the advent of sat phones, there are fewer and fewer SSB operators. That said, there are two real good uses for SSB: 1) sending and receiving email using a network called "sail mail" and a piece of hardware (interfaced to the SSB radio) called a Pactor modem. With that, you can send and receive email from about anywhere in the world, although the bandwidth is very low. On the other hand, time is often abundant when offshore; and 2) talking with other boaters on pre-designated frequencies at pre-designated times. Those "nets" are common along baja california, particularly during the baja haha.

The OP asked about ham use among boaters. It is/will be interesting to see how many boaters use ham equipment/ frequencies on board, since SSB is intended to better fill that need, but its wanning popularity is one reason to use ham.
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Old 10-11-2021, 09:59 AM   #15
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I have a FT-450D with a 23' shakespeare. Mainly run CW just for fun, but I like to practice receiving weather update files via saildocs and winlink.
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Old 10-11-2021, 01:41 PM   #16
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Gordan, Davie [U]et[U][U]al[U],

Great explanations. Thanks. I have been interested in joining a local radio club to learn and explore some of this technology. My interest is heightened.
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Old 10-11-2021, 04:08 PM   #17
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VHF is very high frequency. Ham and Single Side Band are mostly high frequency. Frequency and wavelength are related in that frequency times wavelength is the speed of light. VHF is about 157 khz, so its wavelength is about 2 meters, and that length fits conveniently on an 8' antenna. SSB and Ham are mostly lower frequency (than VHF, instead called high frequency), so longer wavelength, making it difficult to fit on an 8' antenna. SSB antennas are commonly about 23'. Unlike VHF, which is all on the 2-meter "band", amateur (ie ham) and SSB radio operators commonly refer to wave length, they are using, since the propagation characteristics are heavily depending on wave length. While VHF is commonly (but inaccurately) regarded as purely "line of site", lower frequencies (the merely "high" frequencies used by ham and SSB) will bounce off the sky and allow communications at great distances, even world wide. Wave lengths are grouped into a variety of different "bands", some even shorter (and therefore higher frequency than VHF), but others longer, being in the 5, 10, 20 or 40 meter bands, for example.

VHF is in the 2 meter band, and there are ham and SSB frequencies also in the 2 meter band. Many fishermen use "2 meter" radios to communicate amongst themselves, primarily for privacy. Unlike VHF radios, which transmit and receive on designated channels that the radios automatically translate to frequencies, ham and SSB radios don't really have channels. So, if you are looking for someone to talk to, it is really a question of searching an almost infinite number of frequencies.

The frequencies available for use by amateur radio operators are all set by FCC regulation (and by international treaty, are pretty much followed around the world). Pieces of the frequency spectrum are designated for use by marine radio operators, and those are commonly referred to as SSB (single side band) frequencies. Other pieces (often on either or both sides of the SSB frequencies) of the spectrum are reserved for hams, while other pieces for military, and police, commercial, broadcast, etc.

It is much easier to get a SSB license (no test required) than to get a ham license (3 different license levels, with increasingly difficult exam requirements), but if your goal is to talk to random people, there is much less opportunity to do so on the SSB frequencies. And in the advent of sat phones, there are fewer and fewer SSB operators. That said, there are two real good uses for SSB: 1) sending and receiving email using a network called "sail mail" and a piece of hardware (interfaced to the SSB radio) called a Pactor modem. With that, you can send and receive email from about anywhere in the world, although the bandwidth is very low. On the other hand, time is often abundant when offshore; and 2) talking with other boaters on pre-designated frequencies at pre-designated times. Those "nets" are common along baja california, particularly during the baja haha.

The OP asked about ham use among boaters. It is/will be interesting to see how many boaters use ham equipment/ frequencies on board, since SSB is intended to better fill that need, but its wanning popularity is one reason to use ham.
Very nicely explained!

One comment regarding ďsomeone to talk toĒ, there are wide number of frequencies per band but there are easy ways to find activity. I enjoy DXing which is contacting folks in other countries outside my location.

1) There is a website called DXHeat that lists who is making contacts in what countries with easy to read heat maps. They also show the magnetic and solar activity levels which have a substantial effect on signal propagation. With that info you can quickly dial into the area of activity.

2) Many newer radios have waterfall displays that show band width and signal location and strength. Makes finding strong and weak signals easier.

3) I like the old fashioned way of running up and down the bands searching for signals. Depending on time of day I will start at one end of 20 meters and run the bands to the other slowly. Might take me 5-10 minutes depending on traffic. Then I go to 40 and if itís evening Iíll run through 80 meters. I have a hard time on 160 meters due to atmospheric noise in SoFla.

On an average few hours an evening I will make 10-30 contacts around the world. Some are just signal reports and others are chats on whatever interests you. I enjoy the technical and atmospheric aspects of HF and running the Grey Line which is ionospheric ducting. It is an amazing event that occurs every sunrise and sunset as the atmospheric layers are changing due to increasing and decreasing solar radiation.

Being able to communicate on HF and learning the art of radio operation is another arrow in your quiver during times of need and itís really enjoyable once you get into it and can take a lifetime to learn little of the complexities of the various aspects.
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Old 10-11-2021, 07:44 PM   #18
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On my center console I have a kenwood TMD-710 with built in APRS. I use a mobile vehicle antenna on my T-top. On the Trawler I don't have HF on it at the moment but I will bring my Yasue 857d and will most Likely use a tarheel screwdriver antenna or a 23' fiberglass vertical. I currently have A Kenwood TMD-710 on it for 2m 440cm and it shares a vhf antenna with the spare vhf. The antenna is a Diamond antenna designed for both marine VHF and Ham.



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Old 10-11-2021, 09:18 PM   #19
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Excellent discussion - hopefully we will hear about other marine ops.
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Old 10-12-2021, 08:29 PM   #20
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Ham radio on boats

Very interesting discussion and perhaps there is an opportunity here for amateur radio to be of great service to another community. I have been an amateur radio operator for years and unlike many hams who have a technical background I am a university professor and teach in a discipline totally distant from electronics. Nevertheless, I was able to study some well written materials and pass the technical tests to get a license and really enjoy the hobby along with boating. Along the way I have developed the ability to explain sometimes complex concepts in a language that is understandable by folks that may lack a technical background.

If you were boating, would you like to have a communications ability that exceeds VHF radio many times over? If you were doing the loop, would you like to have an immediate friend and a helpful companion(s) in every city you visited. Would you like to have a group of boaters (called a net) with whom you could visit by radio on a set schedule every day to update your trips progress and your welfare? All of these can be accomplished easily with the hobby of amateur radio.

Due to covid I have been lecturing university students for two years by zoom. If there is an interest I will set up a zoom meeting for all who think they might be interested in amateur radio and want to learn more. Just let me know of your interest. Thanks everyone. Tom Branton KF5WBS email: brantontm@sfasu.edu.
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