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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    2,788

    Default Ham radio operator

    Am exploring the pathways to 'Long Range Certificate' and/or 'Amateur Radio ( Foundation/Intermediate/Full ) License' and puzzling over which path to follow. Peeps here will have explored this before me.....

    Thoughts? Warnings? Preferences?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Durham, England
    Posts
    16,654

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Quote Originally Posted by zoidberg View Post
    Am exploring the pathways to 'Long Range Certificate' and/or 'Amateur Radio ( Foundation/Intermediate/Full ) License' and puzzling over which path to follow. Peeps here will have explored this before me.....

    Thoughts? Warnings? Preferences?
    I joined a local amateur radio club with the intention of getting the ham licence, but after three meetings I realised the hobby was so boring, I couldn't stand it. The sole objective of the ham seems to be to contact other distant hams by radio, and exchange details that prove the contact. But I'd already bought myself the UV5R radio, which is good for the Short Range Marine band, the ham bands and PMR, so all was not lost.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    I went the am radio route. Joined the local club and did the exams which were not too challenging.
    The am radio is basically free to use as the licence is for life.
    Am Radios are relatively cheap and often can be modified to transmit on the marine bands as well if you want .
    I've also got a modem connected between the radio and laptop which allows me to send and receive emails, position reports and grib files free over the radio using winlink 2000 .

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    39,110

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Quote Originally Posted by elton View Post
    I joined a local amateur radio club with the intention of getting the ham licence, but after three meetings I realised the hobby was so boring, I couldn't stand it. The sole objective of the ham seems to be to contact other distant hams by radio, and exchange details that prove the contact. But I'd already bought myself the UV5R radio, which is good for the Short Range Marine band, the ham bands and PMR, so all was not lost.
    Hams are one of those things you have to put up with, working in any radio industry.
    These days they normally email each other to arrange to send each other a bit of morse.
    If you tell them you'll be mid ocean and actually out of touch from phone networks, you may have to beat them off with a stick.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Ramsgate
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Hi Zoidberg, I have reached the Intermediate level and found it easy, the Advanced is quite a lot more involved with maths and theory. One of the Intermediate exam questions is about how to wire a plug, and the previous bunch of students who passed it were 8 yrs old..
    There's a bit of practical, eg solder a coax, build a simple project (one step up from a crystal set really) and a slow Morse practical ( I imagine your Morse skills are already ' good enough for government work'..) and everything is explained.
    It seems the only way to do it is to join a local club and do the classes and exam with them, and it's all lovely and cheap compared to RYA branded courses!
    I have found it quite useful for sailing, eg my VHF aerial broke and I had a home-made coathanger one hoisted up the flag halliard in half an hour tested and working, it still works as well as the £90 Metz from Salty Johns it replaced..
    As a hobby in itself, I have never got into it, the technical aspect is slightly interesting, but what do you chat about?
    I assume you have seen the Tony Hancock skit, if not, do!
    For blue water SSB, ( or even Solent SSB from a transmitter afloat) you *theoretically* need an Advanced licence to legally operate 'Maritime Mobile'.
    I don't have my books to hand, plenty on ebay I imagine. It is all administered by the RSGB, who will tell you about the plethora of rules and regulations involved ( states, countries and nations love to keep a very tight grip on radio transmissions, however liberal the regime).
    The LRC is extortionately expensive and much will be irrelevant ( sat coms) but it does teach you about DSC HF radio proceedures. One big difference between ham and marine sets, DSC or not, is that marine ones are channelised like the VHF on the boat, but ham sets need knobs twiddling and never have DSC of course.
    If it's for blue water, the Caribbean and the States are reputedly free and easy about enforcing the legalities, and Ofcom seem unlikely to carry out a dawn raid on your yacht for a technical infringement..( illegal pirate radio stations are thriving in the UK's cities, blasting out reggae and bangla at high wattage, all weekend on the VHF broadcast bands with little opposition).
    I would give the LRC serious thought, if you can afford it or do it through the back door. But most of it can be learned from books, websites and the grapevine, it is not enforced, and a ham ticket will give you the grass roots of it.
    There is a sensible Facebook group you could join, it's very educational compared to most of Facebook..'Offshore SSB Radio and Email'.
    Last edited by Ohlin Karcher; 24-11-19 at 20:07.
    "Now shall the gentleman haul and draw with the mariner"
    John Hawkins

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Winter in Falmouth, summer on board Rampage.
    Posts
    5,271

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Minor point but there’s no longer a requirement to learn morse code for the ham radio exams.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    2,788

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohlin Karcher View Post
    Hi Zoidberg, I have reached the Intermediate level and found it easy,.... There is a sensible Facebook group you could join, it's very educational compared to most of Facebook..'Offshore SSB Radio and Email'.
    Thanks for all that. Hoisted in....

    And, it's a fair while since I last heard 'Close enough for government work'....


    Edit: There's a local club just a few miles away, who plan to run a course 'soon'. I reckon I'll sign up for that, for the beer in the village social club bar upstairs is quite cheap......

    I did the mandatory '12 words a minute' exam close on 50 years ago - just one of the scores of tests - hurdles to jump - along the road to being permitted to fly in HM Queen's airyplanes.
    Today, with a half-hours practice, I could certainly manage 6 w.p.m.

    Last edited by zoidberg; 24-11-19 at 21:59.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Lorient, just back from a second round Atlantic trip
    Posts
    3,605

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Amateur radio at sea has recently (say past 10-15years) made some significant advancements as to make appear some of the comments coming from another century.
    It's not much "talking to other hams about weather", among other things the amateur licence gives you access to the Winlink system (just google to see what it is).
    With the latest developments (esp Ardop and Vara), an amateur licence and a few hundred quids radio system gives you acces to basically free email, with transfer speeds hovering around those of satellite phone (some a bit higher, some a bit lower), way above what is needed at sea for normal sailing (i.e. if you are not a rtw racer).
    You can query/retrieve gribs, bulletins, charts etc of all kinds, send your positions to the Winlink reporting system, all free. One cannot make communications for commercial purposes under the licence terms.

    After a few transatlantics, I consider the amateur radio by all means the very best "ticket" one can get for offshore sailing purposes.
    Understandably, satellite phone service providers have a different opinion.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Ramsgate
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Very interesting Roberto.
    "Now shall the gentleman haul and draw with the mariner"
    John Hawkins

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Ham radio operator

    Quote Originally Posted by lw395 View Post
    Hams are one of those things you have to put up with, working in any radio industry.
    These days they normally email each other to arrange to send each other a bit of morse.
    If you tell them you'll be mid ocean and actually out of touch from phone networks, you may have to beat them off with a stick.
    Oh dear, I'm very sorry we're such a nuisance to you. What did we do to bother you?

    Regarding the OP's question: legally there is a clear distinction in that the LRC permits operation on the maritime HF bands, the amateur licence does not. Amateur radio rigs will not be equipped with DSC for HF, which is potentially quite useful for alerting other ship stations to your distress situation when offshore; most amateur rigs can be modified to cover the marine HF bands, but they are not licensed for this operation. By contrast, a marine HF rig will (I'm told) operate happily on the amateur bands, which is fine so long as you hold a valid amateur licence (because amateurs are supposed to be at least somewhat competent—perhaps unlike those lw395 has worked with—they are allowed to build/modify equipment for the amateur bands).

    Amateur radio also comes with the rest of the hobby attached; others have made their pronouncement on that, clearly, but some of us find it quite entertaining!

    Regards
    William

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