Sunday, January 20, 2013

SSB ICOM 802 Installed

ICOM 802 SSB Radio head unit and speaker
We decided to add an ICOM 802 SSB and a Pactor III/USB modem for voice communication, weather data, and email access, especially related to Chris Parker, our weather information subscription service.

We had originally thought that we would buy an Iridium 9555 satellite phone and use OCENS email services. Then we discovered the issue of minutes prepaid for a specific time period which then expire, in addition to the contracted monthly services charges for access. We figure that within 2-3 years of satellite phone use, we will have paid for all SSB equipment, so we opted for the SSB instead.


The cutting in for the instruments


Little did we know HOW MUCH WORK it would be to install and set up, let alone to learn how to use the beast! The install took us 4 days full time, including installing the radio, the modem, GAM antenna, KISS counterpoise grounding system and a number 8 power wire directly from the battery bank. Now we are up and running, testing the transmission and reception of the unit. It is working great!

We bought everything except the antenna and grounding system from Gary Jensen, owner of www.DockSideRadio.com in Punta Gorda, FL. Gary sells kits that include all the ferrite chokes and special line filters that make for a great install. Gary also includes a 50 page book with step by step directions on how to install the unit and set up your radio. We had a bid for $900 to install the SSB, so we decided to try it ourselves and we were successful. I credit this success to Gary Jensen, who was exceptionally helpful via cell phone calls, text messages, and his well-written book. Thank you, Gary!

The completed panel - this was the EASY part!
Our first few days of testing have been on the Marine Channels only, since we are not yet HAM licensed. On day one, we heard from Colorado to North Carolina, to George Town, Bahamas all from Marathon FL. This is a range of about 500-800 miles. On day two, we transmitted with a check-in on the daily Cruiseheimers' Net. The net controller reported a "Clear Voice and Good Signal" from George Town, Bahamas. So, we are very pleased with our install and our set up.

Our next goal is to install and set up SAILMAIL and we are also preparing for the HAM exams. 
We will see how that goes. For now, we have a working SSB and, from what we understand, that is a big accomplishment for a self-installed unit!


Here are a few photos of the install.

I built the transceiver onto a custom shelf for wiring and for the modem

The custom shelf fits under the back of the nav desk

I designed the shelf so it can be dropped for servicing the radio and modem.

This is the magic bullet....Gary Jensen's book

The finished nav desk where you can see a small section of the SSB shelf
to the right under the desk. This install took away zero space!
FOR A FULL 38 PHOTO ESSAY, PLEASE SEE THIS on IPYOA.com

So, if you are thinking of an SSB install, then I recommend that you visit Gary Jensen's web site and buy from him. He will gladly help you out and make sure you get your SSB rig up and running.

PS:
To prepare for a HAM exam, try this...

3 comments:

Greg K said...

Hey Great Deal Sparky & Sparkette!

That's quite an accomplishment.

Now with that pactor modem and sail mail account you will be opening up a whole new world, especially when you are down in the bahamas.

We can send jokes back and forth from the Desert to the Abacos. Ain't technology grand!

Good Job.

Roger Family Sailing Adventures said...

Thanks for yet another resource, Hayden. I'm going to see about getting his book. We've got a perfectly functional radio that I'm a klutz at operating. Will enjoy some expert advice.
Glen

Judith said...

Do you have a Photo from where the antenna ends on the backstay and where the White antenna part goes into the boat?

Best Judith