Monday, December 19, 2011

HF Marine / HAM radio?

I spent the evening last night looking over websites relating to HF radio.  I knew, for example, that there was email and weather fax capability via the HF bands.  What I did not know was that it is illegal for an unlocked HAM radio to transmit on the Marine HF bands.  Did you know that?  Lots of people have Ham gear and do transmit on the marine HF radio bands but they are not supposed to and it is possible for Ham's and Governments to detect whether this is happening via the bandpass characteristics. 

It was also a surprise to me that Marine HF radios have much tighter transmit specifications that the HAM radio that can transmit on the same frequencies (if unlocked so to speak).  As a newly minted HAM this was somewhat discouraging since I intended to use my General Class license with one HAM HF radio on the boat we will buy for use in warmer waters. NOT!  To me now, this means two rigs - one Marine HF and one HAM HF radio.  Why you say?  Well read on

A real quandary arises and that involves email/voice vs commercial / amateur transmissions.  Say your on the high sea and your water pump fails.  You install your spare but now you need to buy another one and have it in your next port of call.  Can you use the HAM radio to transmit the purchase info?  Nope - no can do.  I'll have to use the Marine HF radio ( and have email capability) for commercial related traffic.

Why even have a HAM radio you say.  Well, there are tens of thousands of Ham's on the bands day and night.  If you get into trouble or have a life threatening emergency who would you call?  Maybe a few hundred boats in radio range or thousands of Ham's who really do want to help you.  Now if you have a HAM radio why not add email and weather fax capability?  So this means two of everything - including an unlocked HAM rig for redundancy.  Besides it gets really boring out there and a good HAM radio will keep you occupied between and during tedious watches.

That is what I learned last night and it has just cost me another $2.5K-4K for more equipment.  However, I consider this $$ well spent for safety and companionship reasons.  I am looking at Icom radios:

IC-M802 Marine HF

IC-7200 Amateur HF


No comments: