Ham Radio

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WorldHF_RadioHam Radio

Ham Radio

Amateur Radio, also known as "Ham Radio", is both a hobby and a service in which participants, called "hams", use various types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for public service and recreation.


Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. An estimated six million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio. These skills and equipment are often used aboard cruising yachts - enabling the suitably licensed users to use a wider range of frequencies than with Marine HF.

The term "amateur" is not a reflection on the skills of the participants, which are often quite advanced, rather, "amateur" indicates that amateur radio communications are not allowed to be made for commercial or money-making purposes.

Radio amateurs use various modes of transmission to communicate. Voice transmissions are most common, with some such as frequency modulation (FM) offering high quality audio, and others such as single sideband (SSB) offering more reliable communications when signals are marginal and bandwidth is restricted. Digital modes such as Morse code (CW), packet, PACTOR, and Radio teletype (RTTY), among others, are also used to communicate formal messages or just have a chat.

For many years, demonstrating a proficiency in Morse code was a requirement to obtain amateur licenses for the high frequency bands (frequencies below 30 MHz), but following changes in international regulations in 2003, countries are no longer required to demand proficiency. As an example, the United States Federal Communications Commission phased out this requirement for all license classes on February 23, 2007.

Amateur radio operators use their amateur radio station to make contacts with individual hams as well as participating in round table discussion groups or "rag chew sessions" on the air. Some join in regularly scheduled on-air meetings with other amateur radio operators, called "Nets" (as in "networks") which are moderated by a station referred to as "Net Control". Cruiser's Nets can allow operators to learn procedures for emergencies, be an informal round table or be topical, covering specific interests about cruising in general.

See Installation Aboard

Operator Requirements

An Amateur Radio License is required before you transmit on amateur radio frequencies. The procedure for obtaining this license varies depending on what country you are a citizen. Most countries require a test of technical and legal knowledge before issuing the license to the applicant.

Additional information on how you can obtain your amateur radio license can be found from your country's amateur radio society. The International Amateur Radio Union has a list of most societies in the world.

Choosing a radio

Thinking about upgrading, replacing or acquiring an HF Radio for your Cruising Boat (Ham or SSB)? 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 miniaturization. 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.
b) 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!
Here are but a few radios that will fit easily into a cruising yacht, being small in size.
Icom 706 MkIIG
Icom 7000
Icom F 7000
Kenwood TS-480SAT
Kenwood TS-50
Yaesu FT-817ND
Yaesu FT-857D
Yaesu FT-897D



List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


See Also


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