I'm also interested in this, somewhere in the southwest for me. Which SSB are you thinking about the usual Icom 710 or another, I would be intersted to hear your views, I'm also considering buying one. But it will be in Gib.
Have now booked in with Yachtcom.com based in Southampton, £299 plus £75 exam fee. They run their courses on ICM710 so a good chance to have a go before you buy? The boat we have just bought has an old Husun 150 fitted but as we have no idea about these things- yet- I thought that we'd make a decision as to replace or not after the course.
Before buying and even looking you should consider what type of comms you are getting into, there are a number of alternatives to the traditional Icom 710, which I have to say is an excellent radio and one that has provided me with hundreds of hours of trouble free service, with any of these systems the key to everything is a proper grounding.
When I talk about ?what type of comms? are you looking for eg. ship to shore, ship to ship, weatherfax, general weather info, e-mail etc.
Another point to bear in mind when looking at SSB is how technical are you, if you feel comfortable with items such as SWR, understand the basics of wave propagation, and concepts such as Simplex and Duplex channels then buying a Ham radio adjusted to cover all the marine frequencies is a cheaper and very good alternative, one of the differences is obviously the marine channels aren?t pre programmed, a second is that a HAM radio is obviously not GMDSS compatible (But is that necessary?) However they are certainly more flexible in many other areas.
Doing a HAM course is also a great grounding for the marine SSB course and it?s not that difficult, maybe a bit technical in places but not unduly and it certainly opens up another world of opportunities.
If anybody else wants any more info feel free to drop me a PM.
My husband has just done this course with Yacht.com and said it was excellent but really difficult with a lot to learn in four days. He passed and now all we have to do is install our ICOM 710. You can have the ham bands made available on this machine. He plans to do a ham course next.
How much did you set cost and where from? Is there anybody on the net selling these sets, I see the ICOM site, but no prices apart froma few US sites, where I will have trouble with CE marking etc. Do you know or anybody, whether I can just import one to Gib without the vat and import stuff?
Thanks, I'll have a word, but the qoute I got from US, was $2000, with tuner but no antenna. But by the time its shipped etc! I think I'll go with EMS, mine will be duty free aswell, shipped to Gibraltar.
Watch out re the CE certification if you get caught it's £5000 of a fine, but i still ask why the Icom 710 as i said above great radio but, I also have a yaesu FT 100 does alot more is much smaller and hell of alot cheaper.
One thing that should be considered for any of these units is where to mount them the 710 weight is 8kg so don't mount it above your head, but most of the main units come with the option of having a detachable front so you can store the heavy bits in a locker or under a bunk.
One other thing to remember is that although all Icom radios are re-programable the dealers have been instructed not to do it. So although the 710 is capable of transmiting on HAM banks they won't reprogram it to do so.
Now that's all very interesting and I'm still trying to piece together all the facts on this topic.
So my question is: Who is EMS and are the units you are talking about CE approved?
Here is what I know:
I was looking for a set that would allow me to use regular ITU ship to shore or ship-ship communication, and also allow me to work on the HAM radio networks.
Looked around and bought an Icom 710 with remote head and the open version that allows you to use any frequency in the range from 1.6 to 30 MHz. In talking to HAM's they don't like the unit because it is organized around channels, rather than frequencies, means before you can send you need to create a channel and set its transmit and receive frequency and the modulation etc. I figured I’d go with that compromise, instead of a cheaper and more versatile 706, because it would also give me a proper ship station.
Apparently there is some software that gives you a HAM style user interface on a PC and I think even for a Palm Pilot. Haven't tried it.
Also, through recommendation of friends who are Hams, I took the antenna tuner from SGC, (SG-200) they claim it is better than the AT130.
By the way, when I bought it two years ago, the standard 710 was $1300 and I paid about $1900 for the open feature and the remote head feature.
I have installed my unit, but never used it since I don't have a HAM license yet, (plan to make it later this year), and I could use it as a marine station since I couldn't register the unit for the ship station, until I found some way recently.
If you use it for as a marine SSB and you call any station, you need a call sign. It is the same as the VHF, but the shore station access the registration database that shows what frequencies you have registered, and maybe what billing service you use.
Things may be slightly different since my boat is Germany registered. The RegTP, the office that handles ships radio licenses was very friendly and helpful and told me to go to the manufacturer and get a CE approval number from them, and hinted that it might need some modifications.
Mailing Icom either in Europe or in the US led to absolutely no response. So I started investigating further and got some insight from a guy at Kiel Radio, who sell SSB e-mail services, which I'll probably subscribe to.
He told me that the only unit that is approved in Europe is a GMDSS prepared standard M710. Standard means not open to program any frequency and no remote head feature. It is also slightly modified, so it has a max power of 125W rather than 150W and it is only certified in conjunction with a special AT130E tuner, that has an additional emergency tuning circuit for 2182kHz range. The prices for that unit that I have seen so far are very high, about €4000 with the tuner.
I'm curious how you register your units, and if they are the CE -approved ones?
The Unit I have is a CE approved M710 with ATU130e, which certainly didn't cost me ?4000 I can remember exactly but I think it was more like ?2000. To say that it is the only unit with CE approval must not be correct since prior to the GMDSS edition it was selling in Europe with CE approval so old units must have complied. Cetainly the open channel issue would cause a prob for approval.
However afterwards is another issue!!!!!
As for Ships licence etc you don't need one for a HAM radio. <G> Maybe this is the way around it all Joking aside a ships licence is a must, and cetainly there is quite alot of difference between the HAM Radios and the 710 I am not sure which I prefer certainly they both have different uses.
As for AT130 not as good as a yeasu one I have but certainly not bad and the construction is fairly solid.
delivered in two days...
They have the FT100 listed at 900ish gbp.
If you are interested in HF only, why not consider an Icom 718: even cheaper (£650), sturdy, light, it hasn't got 2m nor 70cm bands but you would hardly use them at sea anyway..
If you look at owners' reviews at www.eham.net you find it is one of the best radios for what it is supposed to do: entry level radio, easy to use, practical without all the ham bells and whistles still absolutely efficient. With a double vfo you can also simulate marine channels comms. BTW many marine stations do not even ask your callsign, you can often simply tell the name of the boat, not for public correspondence but if you just need a met forecast or other general infos..
Had a look at the Yaesu, but its not a marine set, I think I will go for the Icom 710, its desiged fopr the job and will hopefully be easier for a numbskull like me to operate. I amy be wrong of course!
I would recomend a ham set and try and get your ham licence = not for the radio procedures but the free e-mail via the winlink system. It has worldwide coverage and is only restricted in that you must be a ham and not conduct commerce over it. We spent the last year going to russia and back and spent over $1500US on e-mail via mobile and internet cafes in the year - hence the recommendation for the ham licence. It is a much better option - all you need is a ham licence, ssb and modem.
As was pointed out, you can have e-mail service via the HAM networks and for free. The above is a comercial one providing e-mail services, plus weather and position reproting for a anual fee of Euro 300 ex-vat.
The modems are the same as used on the HAM nets. They sell the latest types which are supposed to do 2400 Bd. I plan to give this a try for this year and see how well it works. Will let you all know.
They also sell complete kits with transceiver. They choices they offer is the Australian Barret, the Icom 710 and a Sailor. The cheapest is the Barret. Interestingly I haven't seen that one mentioned anywhere here.
I understand the keep it simple issue and as a pure marine SSB radio the Icom is great as I said before, but given all the other possibilities I still think you should consider a HAM option. The real difference as has been noted is that the marine radios work on channels while the HAM radios work with frequencies, but all the frequencies can be stored in memory channels (back to channels again). I would agree that the Icom is initially easier to use but the Yaesu FT100 is certainly not difficult. If I had to choose between the two, I think I would go for the Yaesu, only because of size and mounting possibilities but my boat is smaller than yours.
BUT, before you go for a radio have you thought about what you are going to use as a ground plane and what about the antenna configuration. These two items are the most important part of any installation and the more time and effort expended on getting them right the better your radio will work. For Info, there is a great section on all these SSB topics on the US Icom web site which is worth downloading and printing (Sorry can?t remember the URL).
Anyway hope I haven?t caused too much confusion or debate and happy hunting.
Peter, Any amount of info is always welcome! I will still consider the HAM option, as you say I can program the most useful "channels" anyway. One of the other things I liked about the ICOM, was it's ability to be tuned by a computer for weatherfax operation, switching on at the correct time to receive them. But no matter I'll see whats what. I am aware of the antenna thing I have already downloaded the relevant stuff from ICOM. I was either going to use an existing triatic stay, or one of the backstays and put norseman insulators top and bottom, this is probably the way I will go, as I can mount the ATU in the lazarette and only have a short run from it to the backstay. Thanks again for all your info. By the way, I'm also considering satcom, the inmarsat "C" system from thrane and thrane, they have a new one, non solas, alll built into the small antenna, which would also fulfill my needs in some part, but not of course the ship to ship requirement! One of the main things I need is E mail coms anywhere, so I may have to rethink some of this and go to thuriya/globalstar or something. I will continue to gather what info I can get, it of course also needs to be as cheap as possible!
You can program and tune most HAM radios for weatherfax etc with a computer there are tons of programs available for virtually all makes. As for most used channels, the FT100 has 300 or is it 500 memory channels which is more than enough, I know not the 1600 the Icom has but I never use half of them anyway, but I have to say I tend to use frequencies more often.
Backstay with norseman insulators is the way to go, they are great bits of kit, remember the antenna must be at least 23feet long for the HF bands. The other issue is that the active part of the antenna should not be something people grab hold of, if touched while in use (Transmiting) it burns like a microwave from the inside out and bloody hell does it hurt.
You haven't mentioned ground plane which is probably the most difficult part to get right but once correctly installed and after your first transatlantic transmision gives you the greatest buzz.
Interesting that you are looking at sat comms, I was/am looking at Iridium but am not sure coverage seems good but like all systems is a bi...ch to setup and the data transfer is v.slow but HAM bands not really better.
Keep me posted on which way you go and if you need any help please feel free to ask me if I can provide it will do so, although Portugal is right next to Spain where my current boat is I am a bit far away.