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Old 06-25-2012, 02:17 PM   #1
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Default Collecting some radios

Hi guys,

Decided to continue my cheapskate ways and purchase some used radios for the Hartley, which came with none at all. My first purchase today was a PCM Kestrel 132-12 (aka AWA Teleradio SS-120A) ten channel 130W HF radio of 70's vintage in unused condition for the princely sum of $95 delivered.

I lamented the lack of the matching PCM MTU100 antenna tuner, but later in the day one surprisingly came up from another eBay vendor for $60 starting price. A bit steep I thought, especially since the mounting bracket was missing.

Looking back at my first purchase I noticed the very item needed, complete with mounting screws, sitting on top of the radio I bought. A hasty email to the seller and I should have a complete setup for HF under $175 total.

Yes, I could have bought modern radios. But I would have spent a shipload more money for very little gain in reliability. At these prices I could buy two complete HF radio setups and have thousands of dollars over. And as for DSC, who needs it.

Now scanning for good used VHF gear.

Rob
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:02 PM   #2
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Rob,

I'm glad you're finding good deals out there. It's always so nice to do so ! There is an amazing quantity of good, old stuff out there--and cheap since folks just want to get rid of it.

On DSC--don't knock it. If you're sailing anywhere coastal, it is like having a free EPIRB aboard since you can push the distress button and the local Coast Guard will pick it up. It is a signal that will relay from DSC enabled ship to DSC enabled ship extending range. Of course, you need a GPS hooked up to the radio for that to work or you must manually enter your coordinates. I've heard enough Mayday calls in brief time we've been coastal cruising to know that it takes a lonnnnng time for the boat in distress to state their position to the USCG.

Also, if you have two boats both with DSC radio (say you're buddy boating) you can make direct call to that boat. And, finally, you know that 800 ft long freighter that is bearing down on you t 20 knots and ignoring your calls on the open VHF? If you have AIS (as I recall you plan to) it provides their DSC/MMSI number (or whatever it's called) and you can call them directly. They do respond to direct calls.

And, finally, DSC radios aren't very costly these days. Sure you'll find an old non-DSC radio used for $15 somewhere. However a DSC radio is as cheap as $100 new.

Remember the phrase "penny wise and pound foolish" ?
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:23 AM   #3
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Hey Bo,

I was being a bit facetious there. Obviously DSC is a great idea, but HF radios that have it are off the planet for price and rarely come up secondhand. Since I plan to emulate Noah and get two of everything, one of my VHF radios will most likely be a $100 Asian piece of junk with DSC. Large ships do still have to monitor channel 16 for the foreseeable future but as you point out many don't. The ideal solution would be to find an external DSC box that works with any radio, but I have yet to locate one of those.

There's an aspect that's often overlooked, the point of repairability. Older gear may be big and clunky but the discrete components are easy to find and just as easy to replace. If that $100 DSC radio dies, all you can do is give it the deep six. Besides, these old radios will look like original equipment in a 70's ferro. :-)

The research into cheap AIS continues, but it looks like I'll be able to achieve that with a $20 USB TV stick. The GPS cost me $18 in total: $10 for a CF card GPS unit, $3 for a CF to PCMCIA adapter and $5 for a 28dB active antenna.

I also bought two key-locked notebook docking stations (with serial and parallel ports!) to secure the PC to the table and enable permanent wiring, for a total of $40 shipped . The serial port will most likely become an NMEA 0183 feed to send AIS and GPS data to external devices, whilst the parallel port is needed to control my SDR ham radio.

Oh yeah, and after realizing how awful Jeppesen's C-MAP was I resold it and got my money back. Now running OpenCPN.

Rob
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:45 AM   #4
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Here's a very good article on radio requirements for the Australasian region.

Brunei Bay Radio - Marine Communications for cruising this side of the world; Pacific & Indian Oceans and SE Asia

Rob
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:04 AM   #5
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Here's another consideration when shopping for VHF DSC radios: the very cheapest units are usually remnant stock from the now-defunct (and dangerous) SC-101 US-only "standard" that didn't include a dedicated receiver for the DSC channel.

A survey of prices in Australia for Class D radios - the preferred ITO standard - shows that they start at $230 for basic models, and imported Class D radios aren't much cheaper when you figure in the $60 shipping most US vendors insist on charging for courier delivery.

Secondhand gear is still quite a bargain in comparison.

Rob
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haiqu View Post
I lamented the lack of the matching PCM MTU100 antenna tuner, but later in the day one surprisingly came up from another eBay vendor for $60 starting price. A bit steep I thought, especially since the mounting bracket was missing.

Looking back at my first purchase I noticed the very item needed, complete with mounting screws, sitting on top of the radio I bought. A hasty email to the seller and I should have a complete setup for HF under $175 total.
I must be some kind of lucky sonofagun. Just got a reply back from the guy from whom I bought the radio:

"I'm just changing a broken switch in the MTU100, will ship it up when finished."

He not only had the bracket but the whole antenna unit, and just gave it to me. So I canceled the other bid, which I thought was a bit steep anyhow. Total cost now $95.00 for radio and tuner.

Rob
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:05 AM   #7
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The PCM 10-channel HF radio arrived today. First thing I did was pull the cover off and check the crystals to find out what frequencies are fitted. I have the following:

2182 (AM), 2524, 4125, 6215 - Simplex distress
4483 Simplex - general purpose
4428.7/4134.3 (ITU 424) Duplex - USCG calling 6512.6/6206.2 (ITU 603) Duplex - general purpose

One crystal position is empty, which will allow me to add a PLL to tune WX channels. It's a typical 70's radio with a 1650kHz Local Oscillator and crystal IF filters.

Any extra channels I should consider covering? I suppose 8291 kHz seems obvious, are there any places in the world that the above wouldn't be adequate for HF coverage?

Cheers,

Rob
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