Ham Radio On Board
02 February 2013
I have recently been bitten by the ham radio bug, bought a rig for home, and am busily chasing DX. When we bought Ranger we installed an iCom M710 SSB radio system, which was the gold standard at the time. It still is good, but the iCom M802 offers some mounting advantages. While I have not used this radio much (but will soon), but it did go with Eric Thomas a few years ago on his Olson 30, racing solo from San Franscisco to Hawaii.
My radio was purchased "opened up" to the ham bands, and I am an Extra Class licensed amateur, call sign W0LGS (Let's Go Sailing!) I tried the iCom on ham bands this winter at home, and the rig is definitely NOT user friendly, as it is very tedious to shift frequencies. The idea is to use the radio to pursue my ham hobbie. The marine channels will be used for checking into the various nets, downloading weather, SailMail, etc. I have already made a contact in Hallifax, NS, and have an invitation to meet him if we ever get there (we should.) That contact opened my eyes to the possibilities of making contacts thru the very friendly and generous ham community. This winter Amy passed the Technician Class test too!
I found a few references to custom software that would run on our PC to control the radio from the PC. I've not found a freeware version that I can figure out, so I think I will have to purchase a software package called Marine Radio Ops which seems like it will do what I want. The objection is the price of $160. See: http://www.cssincorp.com/Marine_Radio_Ops.html
They do offer a free trial, and I think I'll try to get it running this winter at home.
I also got an inkling from somewhere on the 'net that the Airmail software I use with the Pactor moden can be made to control the radio, but I can't get anything to work without the modem connected (I'm not going to bring it off the boat.) I'll try it this spring before I invest in MRO.
I'd appreciate any sage advice....
I've attached a photo of Harvey his first fall on the boat, apparently just having placed a call "home" to the puppy farm via the high seas operator. You can see the SSB radio on the far left, lower corner of the shot. BTW, dogs typically need assistance when working with the microphone due to their lack of opposable thumbs. A BOM (bark operated mic) would be a good option.
Also, we located our Pactor modem in the panel in the bulkhead behind Harvey. It is just above the blue binoculars and white fan outboard of H's right ear. There is a large space behind the lower part of this panel, which is 1/4" plywood. The modem doesn't require any real attention during operation. It just has flashing lights, as it is controlled (incl. on-off) by the laptop/radio system. The hardest part of the installation was to run the connecting cables from the modem to the SSB. Just a long path behind and thru tight spaces. Typical of all boat projects.