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Author Topic: Ham rig for use on a sailboat that's >$1,500  (Read 3401 times)

Posts: 126


« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2003, 09:45:32 AM »

What setup do you use for Weather Fax?

Posts: 2357

« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2003, 01:19:54 PM »


I'm essentially in your position -- leaving for MExico (and wherever) next fall in a 36' sailboat.

I have an Icom IC-706 mkIIG on my desk, SCS PTC-IIex modem next to it, with a manual MFJ 901B tuner.  DX-EE multi-band dipole is strung over the garage.

I have an SG-230 auto-tuner on the boat, waiting for installation.  I'll move the IC-706 on board in the spring, and take the MFJ 901B as a backup tuner with some spare dipoles.

I had no "interface problems" with SCS modem and IC-706 -- I've tested WinLink and done a few weatherfax receptions with JVComm32.  There's a standard cable available from SCS for the IC-706.

Lots of trucks are riding around with IC-706's in them -- I'd put a truck up against a boat any day as a "hostile environment".

While marine radios may claim enhanced corrosion resistance, corrosion damage on Icom marine gear is _not_ covered by warranty.

I have only heard one reliable story about serious (adverse) consequences caused by a ham radio "opened up" to work on marine frequencies, and that happened in Australia a few years ago.

Yes, there are reasons that marine radios cost more than ham radios.   The question is:

    Do those reasons matter enough for you to pay
    the premium price?

If you run an IC-706 in digital modes (PSK31, Pactor, etc), you should run it at half-power or less.   That will get you _plenty_ of range.

I was considering an IC-718 myself -- nice radio, and less "menu-oriented" that the 706.  Decided on the IC-706 because there are _so many of them_, and thought the VHF coverage might be useful.

Posts: 66

« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2003, 02:12:38 PM »

I have a Macgregor 26X Sailboat.  I am using the Icom 706MKIIG with a long wire up the mast with the AH-4 tuner.  I had the mod done on so I can also use this rig for Marine (receive) use (yes I have a VHF Marine license) and the Family Radio Service. The FRS frequencies come in handy when we race or have regattas with my sailing club and don't want to use the Marine Bands.  I can also listen on the aircraft bands which come in handly when I take the boat to the air show at the Toronto Ontario Place which is a big boating event in the summer. The only thing I worry about is the rig getting stolen this is my biggest concern. I often wish I had a cheaper used rig (that would do all the same things) but would not sting so much if I got it stolen.

Posts: 689

« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2003, 04:52:47 PM »

Hello again.....
(Wow, I've been away for a couple of days and this topic has really gotten popular!)

I don't wish to throw any cold water on anyone.....Nor do I dispute that the IC-706, FT-897, FT-857, etc. are usable rigs......for their intended purpose (Ham, etc.)

And, if you're a ham on a budget (aren't we all!!!), and also a sailor....AND you wish to do some casual hamming while enjoying sailing, then a ham rig onboard is a decent option........(actually VA7MGK's IC-735 is VERY popular and a nice rig for sailing hams!!) and I'm sure that EA4XK is finding his rig is working fine, and VA7CPC will find his to work as well.....
So, good wishes to you all!!!!

BUT, IF YOU INTENDED USE IS FOR LONG-RANGE COMMUNICATIONS (SSB, PACTOR.....USCG, etc) while sailing OFF-SHORE / HI-SEAS (Atlantic/Pacific crossings, etc.), or in extreme enviroments (Off-Shore Races, Southern Ocean, etc.)........
and/or its PRIMARY function is that of a "safety device".....
Then there is NO question in my mind that you DO NOT want a "ham rig"!!!!
ESPECIALLY a small/compact "menu-driven" one that is difficult to set-up or operate for non-technical people, and is all but impossible to use with gloves on (as well as polarized sunglasses ---- LCD display readability troubles...)
And, while you may find that "ham rig" to be "easy enough" to use when at a quiet anchorage, or while on a nice sail in calm waters.......if you end up needing it in an emergency, with your adrenaline pumping, etc. you just might find that it's NOT so easy to use.....and that cause a serious situation to turn to a dire one.....where lives are at risk.....
(but at least you saved a few hundred dollars...Hi, hi)


PLEASE understand, I'm NOT in the marine electronics business......but with almost 30 years of HF communications experience at sea.....both power and sail.....and both ham and commercial maritime, (operating, installing and repairing) AND with a LOT of that being OFF-SHORE / HI-SEAS, I can tell you that I've sailed with almost any combination of radios/rigs you could imagine (including NONE at all!).........
And, in all of that, AS WELL AS over 20 years of experience in Ham radio on-shore (rigs, antennas, propagation, etc.)....
I TRULY LOVE my ham radio!!!!  I really do!!!!
BUT, for the application(s) that I specified, I'd NOT recommend a ham rig.....but rather, I'd recommend a real commercial Marine HF rig!!!

As far as cost is concerned......

The Icom M-710 w/500hz filter (and factory approved "VFO" Mod allowing very easy "ham band use")
along with the AT-130 Antenna Coupler (remote tuner)
works out to be about $1785.....

And an Icom IC-706MKIIG w/500hz filter (and "hi-stability oscillator")
along with the AH-4 remote tuner,
works out to be about $1320......(PLUS another $50-$80 for mounting brackets)

So there is an approx. savings of $400......(the cost of an Icom M-700Pro w/filter & AT-130 is just about the same as that of an the IC-706 package quoted above!)
Is that $400 well spent?Huh  or Not?Huh?

The answer sort of depends on,
1) What your intended use is.....(can you and others actually USE the rig properly in all conditions that might arise, in/on all bands/freq/channels that you require???)
2) Will you find that your use on the Marine "working channels" (ship-to-ship) would be hindered by NOT having channelized operation available [ham rigs]Huh
3) Do you wish to use 150 watts output, continuous duty for both SSB and PACTOR [M-710] or....
only 40watts (PACTOR) to 100 watts (SSB) "intermittent duty" [IC-706]Huh?
4) Will you be subject to strong receive signals (in-band and/or out-of-band) and will you put up with the inferior receiver [IC-706].....
5) The IC-706 does require an adapter ($50) to allow you to have computer freq. control if using the PTC-IIPro Modem.....using either WinLink2000 or SailMail....(this, of course, does NOT apply to the PTCIIex modem, since it does NOT have the ability to do freq. control of the rig at all...)  
6) Noise blankers in many ham rigs are fairly useless, or cause so many receiver IMD problems as to render your receiver useless.......but noise blankers are not needed that much at sea, so this may be a moot point....but you'll typically find the noise blankers in Marine HF rigs to actually work (at least a little bit), and NOT cause many receiver IMD problems....

Last, but not least......
Receiver sensitivity, is a non-starter here, since every HF rig (ham or Marine) made within the last 20 years has MORE than enough sensitivity!!!!
Actually many of our beloved ham rigs have TOO MUCH (hence the inclusion of "attenuators" in them!)

On all HF frequencies below say 25-30mhz, the "natural noise" (as well as that which is "man-made") is the limiting factor!!!

I will NOT go into the technical discussion here.....
But, if you wish to prove this to yourself, in a very "low-tech" way.....
1) simply turn on your HF rig, to say, 20 meters or 12mhz Marine Band....WITHOUT an antenna connected
2) Turn up to Maximum, whatever RF gain control there is on the rig.....and set the volume (AF Gain) to a reasonable level......
3) Listen to the receiver's "hiss" or "noise floor"....
4) Then connect an antenna, and listen......

If you noticed an increase in "noise" when you connect the antenna, then the receiver is sensitive enough....AND any further gain added (more sensitivity)
would REDUCE the signal handling capabilities of the receiver, and REDUCE its operating effectiveness......

Hams with HF receivers used with small antennas (Hamsticks, etc.) can sometimes be fooled into thinking that they need a more sensitive receiver, since there are stations that they cannot copy very well........
BUT, that is INCORRECT.......
If the signal isn't getting to the rig with enough of a S/N ratio that allows you to copy it, using a more sensitive receiver will NOT help at all!!!!
And in fact, will usually HURT your ability to copy the signal!!!!  (typically you will introduce more non-linearity into the receiver's stages, etc......causing a LOSS in S/N ratio......exactly opposite of what you want!!)

Okay, enough for now.....

John,   KA4WJA

P.S.  The SailMail shore station use Icom M-710's......running 24hrs./day  365days/yr.......
for what it's worth....

Posts: 689

« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2003, 04:57:02 PM »

I hope everyone reads KC0RDG's more recent posts regarding his new FT-897......its many menus and difficulties with them.......(mostly tied to the operation of the ATAS-120)

It might make you go "hmmmm"....


John,   KA4WJA

Posts: 126


« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2003, 01:45:08 PM »

it's not that difficult... i'm just extremely impatient and lazy.  the radio doesn't come with the extended menu on, which is kinda stupid, but it was easy to turn on.  also, i took the radio and the antenna in, and it turned out that everything is working...the radio just needed a factory reset and boom, the antenna moves now.  weird how that happened but i can totally understand since most of these newer radios are so computerized and such.

anyway, i can hardly say that the radio is so complex.  personally i love overly complex things because sure they are a b*tch to figure out to start with, but once you are familar with them/it, you fly through it and not only that, but you have alot of options to work with.


Posts: 1

« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2005, 10:18:32 PM »

Hi there,

I am Holger Jacobsen, KE6PIB, currently living in Taipei, Taiwan.  I already have a YAESU FT-840 and am thinking of buying a PTC-IIex in order to use Pactor-III with Winlink on a sailboat.  This is just for fun & all I want is short text-based (ASCII) eMail.  Are these two compatible or should I look for something different (& hopefully less expensive ;-) than the PTC-IIex?



Posts: 1

« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2013, 10:31:04 PM »

I just bought an IC 706 mk IIG on eBay for just over $800 and plan to hook it to an AH4 auto tuner.  After asking the same question as you did in the sea of cortez, I got this advice from a round the world cruiser who repairs mobile ham rigs and other electronics gear for a living, moving port to port (sounds like good work if you can get it). He said "Get a 706 mk IIG and you will be glad you did."  I hope he is going to be right!  I'll let you know.   What did you decide, and how did it turn out?  -Jeff

Posts: 2357

« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2013, 12:11:44 AM »

This thread is almost 10 years old, and I was one of the original posters.<g>

My IC-706mkIIg lasted very well over 3 years, going down the Pacific Coast.   It was "opened-up" for all-frequency use.   I suspect I've damaged the filters -- it's  fine below 15 MHz, but seems to be unstable for TX above that frequency.

The SG-230 antenna tuner, backstay antenna, and SCS Pactor-III modem all performed admirably.

I think, if I were doing it again, I might use the same setup.   Maybe use an IC-7000 instead (more expensive, with better filtering, but with a history of HF driver failures).

.             Charles
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