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Old 03-06-2007, 08:58 AM   #1
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Thinking about upgrading , replacing or acquiring an HF Radio for your Cruising Boat - probably as difficult as choosing a new engine or even a new yacht. Technology in most other electronic equipment found on today's yachts has developed at a fantastic pace. The HF Radio's most obvious advance has been in its miniaturisation. It's interactivity functions for GPS systems, for emailing at sea, for weather reports and files, etc, etc.

However, on the downside - the majority of models are blessed with a multiplicity of features and functions that require at least a rocket scientist to operate, many that few cruisers will ever use.

There a few HF radios in current production that meet the few basic criteria needed for the average yacht and for the average cruiser and crew.

A list of the criteria in no specific order :-

a) Ideal Size : no larger than 8" wide x 2 1/2" high x 6" depth

Output : 10 Watts min x 150 Watts max

c) Operate even on 11 1/2 volts

d) Covering all normal amateur bands

e) Simplex and duplex enabled

f ) Memory bank for min 50 frequencies

g) Interference and Noise elimination

h) Press button Antenna tuning

i) Frequency tuned at the roll of a knob

j) Mike gain control

k) Less than a $1,000 US - (if you are lucky)

l) Truly marine - the case does not rust !

I list a few HF radios that I would choose, if I was going to install a new one in a good friend's

yacht : (disclaimer ; I have no pecuniary interest in any of the models or their companies)

Again in no particular order :

Icom 706 MkIIG seen at http://www.universal-radio.com/

Icom 7000 "

Icom F 7000 "

Kenwood TS-480SAT "

Kenwood TS-50 The one I use - have used every day for 8 years

Yaesu FT-817ND seen at http://www.universal-radio.com/

Yaesu FT-857D "

Yaesu FT-897D "

With the above selection in hand from someone who has used a HF radio every day to talk to literally thousands of cruisers in this part of the world over the last 20 years, I hand you over to a real expert - Richard Mogford KG6 TOJ with his presentation made on the 19th May 2005 - entitled "HF Radio at Sea" http://hamradio.arc.nasa.gov/meetings/HFradioatsea.html
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Old 03-07-2007, 05:41 AM   #2
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Richard,

Thanks for the most helpful information and links. This information is timely for me as recently I started studying for my amatuer license.

The link to Richard Mogfords' site really presents a complete system in a very easy to understand format. At the end of that link I returned to the parent page and found a whole 'nother world to explore.

I got the cart before the horse, in that I bought two transcievers on e-Bay, BEFORE I started studying, or had any technical clue as to what I was buying. First I bought a Kenwood TS-180S, without a mic. After I recieved it, I started shopping for an orginal mic. WOW! They either were junk or were going at what I thought was very expensive. For a little more money than a mic alone, I bought another Kenwood Transciever, a TS-520S, with the mic for the TS-180S.

I don't think I did to bad, time will tell. These certainly are not marine grade, and have a larger foot print than your recommendation, and have accessory boxes for the tuner, power supply, and speaker, but they should serve my needs while I learn in "The Shack".

If I don't hang on to them to long I should be able to cash them in on e-Bay and get most of my money back, maybe even make a few bucks, when I decide to upgrade to "more radio / less box".

I invite your feed back about these rigs.

Thanks,

Jeff
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Old 03-07-2007, 07:07 AM   #3
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Hello Jeff,

Both the radios you bought were good radios for the purpose they were designed for . However , they were not ideal radios for the average yacht,s needs. As you may have discovered they are now discontinued and longer manufactured - The old TS 520S weighs in at over 35 lbs - so if you have to cart it by air if it breaks down , it will eat a large hole in your baggage allowance. I don't know what you mean by "and have accessory boxes for the tuner, power supply, and speaker" were these also part of your purchase ? If so they may come in useful when you buy a suitable

HF Radio.

Richard
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Old 03-07-2007, 07:07 AM   #4
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Good, useful info - thanks Richard.



To add, a useful list of world cruiser's nets, times and frequencies as well as more info on HF Radio, see the section on the Cruising Wiki: HERE.
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Old 03-07-2007, 11:52 AM   #5
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Hi Richard,

I have a Kenwood TS140S on board (along with an ICOM tuner). I'm not much of a technotype so it does more things than I know how to use. It's way better, though far more complicated than my first HF which was a Codan 8121 which was on a previous boat.

That was back in the days when I bought my first GPS, a Magellan which referenced 3 satellites and cost me $4000 on special at a boat show.

Thems waz the days! David.
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post
Hello Jeff,

Both the radios you bought were good radios for the purpose they were designed for . However , they were not ideal radios for the average yacht,s needs. As you may have discovered they are now discontinued and longer manufactured - The old TS 520S weighs in at over 35 lbs - so if you have to cart it by air if it breaks down , it will eat a large hole in your baggage allowance. [b]I don't know what you mean by "and have accessory boxes for the tuner, power supply, and speaker" were these also part of your purchase ?[/b] If so they may come in useful when you buy a suitable

HF Radio.

Richard
"Accessory Boxes": I meant the components of a complete radio set are not all in the same case or box.

The TS 520S has the receiver and transmitter in one case, the power supply in another, and the speaker in a third case. That was purchased as a package, with the owners manual, minus the MC-50 microphone.

I wanted to complete the set with the same model mic that was sold with it when it was new. While shopping for it, and knowing I needed an antennae tuner, I bid on and won the next radio, for slightly more than MC-50 mic's in good condition were selling for.

The TS 180S has the receiver, transmitter, and power suppy in one case, with an external antennae tuner, and the missing MC-50 Mic I was looking for. After I got this set, I went looking for the owners manual. I found one On-Line, for five bucks that also contained the wiring schematics.

When I was bidding on them, I knew they were radios from the past. Doing a little research, I found many still like and use these. I think one is a 1970's vintage, and the other a 1980's vintage. An older friend of mine, has been a HAM since WW-II. He slaps them on the bench, rips the guts out, rebuilds the capacitors, tests and replaces the tubes, (he knows the old school stuff). He has a basement full of "Vintage Radio Parts", and deals in it.

You are right on about the weight; they are heavy. As well bulky. I did not buy them to install in a future boat. I bought them to learn with and get some HAM experinace after I get my license. I didn't want to spend a fortune on "training wheels". Had I bought the latest, newest and best available, it would be yesterday's junk by the time I have a boat to put it in. Meanwhile, likely there will be something better, and cheaper. My plan is to buy the "electronics" for my future world cruising boat, 6-12 months before going to sea trials. Than after I find and correct weakknesses and flaws, will we cast off for circumnavigation. Our timeline is when we are properly prepared, 5-10 year window. We would like to in 2-5 years, but that seems unrealistic, in that we have a long checklist with few boxes checked off accomplished.

On another topic, which brand is typically considered the top of the line? Perhaps that changes by the year and the models they produce.
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:44 PM   #7
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"

On another topic, which brand is typically considered the top of the line? Perhaps that changes by the year and the models they produce ?"
Jeff,

I guess there are 2 general answers to your question :-

For Jeff , sometime around 5 years from now - the answer for the top of the line brand = who knows ? the tech world evolves at a pace that even the experts with their fingers on the button would hesitate giving a prediction.

For the Present , the question regarding which brand is top of the line, itself needs defining :- Top of the line in terms of function ? in terms of price ? in terms of customer service ? in terms of reliability, in terms of value for money for the average yacht ?

I would suggest we stick with the brand/s that are currently top of the line in terms of value for money for the average yacht = my choice would be Icom and/or Kenwood.

Richard
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Old 03-08-2007, 07:24 AM   #8
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Hello Richard,

After you posted that reply to Jeff , avoiding a prediction for 5 years over the horizon, I checked on my crystal ball and found a forecast for the top o' the line HF radio in the year 2012, it was a Dell , weighing only 1 kg , could run on battery power for a week without recharging,

2 solid state memory banks each of 320 GB (instead of hard drives) The DDR ram replaced by XXR Ram of 8GB . The Transmitter max power of 500 Watts . Full spectrum Ham bands.

Full interference suppression. GPS VHF and UHF enabled. Latest electronic charts constantly annotated. Coupled ship proximity system . Auto wifi Lan to Satellite for email and internet

download/upload speed 100Mb/sec. Provision for options to run all ship's navigation and propulsion systems. With the 21" screen a mere $4,000.

Richard
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Old 03-08-2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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Hello Richard,

After you posted that reply to Jeff , avoiding a prediction for 5 years over the horizon, I checked on my crystal ball and found a forecast for the top o' the line HF radio in the year 2012, it was a Dell , weighing only 1 kg , could run on battery power for a week without recharging,

2 solid state memory banks each of 320 GB (instead of hard drives) The DDR ram replaced by XXR Ram of 8GB . The Transmitter max power of 500 Watts . Full spectrum Ham bands.

Full interference suppression. GPS VHF and UHF enabled. Latest electronic charts constantly annotated. Coupled ship proximity system . Auto wifi Lan to Satellite for email and internet

download/upload speed 100Mb/sec. Provision for options to run all ship's navigation and propulsion systems. With the 21" screen a mere $4,000.

Richard
Realizing your 5 year crystal ball has a bit of 'tongue in cheek" humor to it, that is exactly why in settiing my time line of purchasing equipment, that I decided electronics and software would be near the end of outfitting a cruiser. Technology changes and evolves so quickly.

Conceivably the system of the future will do even much more than described, weigh less, cost less, and be hand held. Fifty years after it is obsolete, people will look back at in awe, wondering how sailors functioned with such limitations.
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Old 03-08-2007, 10:39 PM   #10
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Realizing your 5 year crystal ball has a bit of 'tongue in cheek" humor to it, that is exactly why in setting my time line of purchasing equipment, that I decided electronics and software would be near the end of outfitting a cruiser. Technology changes and evolves so quickly.

Conceivably the system of the future will do even much more than described, weigh less, cost less, and be hand held. Fifty years after it is obsolete, people will look back at in awe, wondering how sailors functioned with such limitations.
Hi Jeff,

If one looks a the predictions made by the writers of science fiction over the last few centuries, ie.. A.C. Clarke, I. Asimov, R.A. Heinlien - L.de Vinci, J. Verne , H G Wells et al , and what we now take for granted in our every day lives. The concept of a laptop computing transceiver maturing within the next few years is a probability. Already we connectivity between radio and computers.

The hope must be that the computer component be as rugged as the radio's. A leetel tongue in cheek granted, but many a serious word said in jest ? .

Keep it coming

Richard
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:12 AM   #11
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Hi Jeff,

If one looks a the predictions made by the writers of science fiction over the last few centuries, ie.. A.C. Clarke, I. Asimov, R.A. Heinlien - L.de Vinci, J. Verne , H G Wells et al , and what we now take for granted in our every day lives. The concept of a laptop computing transceiver maturing within the next few years is a probability. Already we connectivity between radio and computers.

The hope must be that the computer component be as rugged as the radio's. A leetel tongue in cheek granted, but many a serious word said in jest ? .

Keep it coming

Richard
When I wrote my last post, I was not thinking of writers of science fiction, people with visions about the future. I was thinking about the people that discovered and proved science, chemistry, disciplines of math, physics, mechanics, hydraulics, medicine, and the like, and those that made something of it with inventions of technology, processes and procedures. Some of modern history for example, Franklin, Jefferson, Westinghouse, Edison, Watt, Marconi, Bell, Morse, Eli, Winchester, Ford, Kodak, Wright Bros, to name just a few.

Can you imagine sitting in a room with those guys and showing them a projected documentary of how their works evolved, influenced the world, and became interconnected?

Authors of science fiction, entertain many, intrigue others, and are dismissed by some with their wild and fanatical imagination. They simply take a guess at writing what may be future history before it happened. Sometimes they are correct......

For example Star Trek of the 1960's:

* Space Travel - We did it. Been to the Moon. Machines on Mars. We have the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope (just barely). Ordinary Citizens have been there. Though not yet affordable as air line travel, likely it will be.

* Star Trek Communicators - Today Cell Phones are common place - Sat Phones will be - The far fetched TV Show was not to far off from future reality.

* From a more recent Star Trek movie sequel, we have a little work to do on yet concerning "transparent aluminum".

We made great strides in sciences, but man continues to struggle daily with World Anything, peace, hunger, poverty, civil rights, resources, ecology, health......

~ I did not mean to Hi-jack your post and go off topic - it evolved naturally ~

But no one seems to be complaining or objecting about that either.

Back to the original post. That information is most helpful. Thanks for initiating it.
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Old 04-29-2007, 12:43 PM   #12
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* From a more recent Star Trek movie sequel, we have a little work to do on yet concerning "transparent aluminum".
Transparent aluminum is no longer fiction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparent_aluminum

Not quite ready for cheap mass production, but it is still available.
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Old 04-29-2007, 02:35 PM   #13
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Our first HF radio was a SEA 225 (Stevens Engineering Associates): http://www.sea-dmi.com/

Coincidentally, sv Watermelon was equipped with Datamarine instruments. SEA and Datamarine merged many years after we bought the 'Melon and the HF radio, and all our experience with them is pre-merger.

Both companies gave us exceptional service. When lightning fried our electronics, Datamarine fixed the wind instruments, etc., which was much cheaper than having to replace everything from the ground up. And we had always liked the Datamarine instruments, so were happy they stood by their products.

SEA was equally good at customer service, up to and including recently when I asked for an owner's manual even though we no longer had the unit. The cheerfully told me how/where to download the manual free of charge. Cheerfully is the operative word for all our experience with them.

When the SEA was also fried by lightning, we were in Singapore and although we could obtain an ICOM easily, SEA was not so easy, so Peter decided to get the ICOM. I was not as impressed with it then, still not has happy with it as with our old SEA.

Why does everybody point out ICOM as a top-of-the-line unit? The old SEA we had was more advanced and easier to use than the modern ICOM we bought as replacement. Is it just that it's not as well-known?

Not to go off on another tangent, but many science fiction writers, past and present, were scientists themselves.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:37 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=name='JeanneP' date='Apr, 02:35 PM' post='6646']

Our first HF radio was a SEA 225 (Stevens Engineering Associates): http://www.sea-dmi.com/

" The old SEA we had was more advanced and easier to use than the modern ICOM we bought as replacement. Is it just that it's not as well-known? "

Hello Jeanne, Hard to answer this question without knowing the model of the ICOM you replaced the SEA 225 with ?? - true, certain Icom's developed for the marine market , were/are a hassle to tune to a different frequency, eg " Because of noise, please move down 10".
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