I just uploaded a video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/alanspicertelecom taken today during the day (morning) while monitoring 14.300 Mhz SSB/Amateur Radio/20 Meters. This frequency is a long time radio “Net” short for Network dedicated to providing communications, including emergency and distress, for Maritime Mobile Stations of all types. You can find out more by visiting:
http://www.mmsn.org and http://14300.net (a quote from 14300.net begins below.) Note that you can listen to streaming audio of the “net” via the Internet from a link on 14300.net (just watch your bandwidth if you are a marine vessel with limits on your Internet bandwidth usage, e.g. Cellular or Satellite!)
14.300 MHz has become a very well known frequency in the Amatuer Radio world. There are three major nets in the Western Hemisphere that operate on 14.300 MHz. From early morning until late evening the frequency is busy with traffiic of one form or another. Begining at 0700 ET daily, The Intercon Net, formally know as The Intercontinental Amatuer Traffic Net, starts out the day. Intercon runs until 1200 ET before handing the frequency over to The Maritime Mobile Service Network. The MMSN, which also runs daily, operates from 1200 ET until 9 PM EST / 10 PM EDT or 0200 UTC. After The MMSN raps up The Pacific Seafarers Net begins operation at 10 PM EST / 11PM EDT or 0300 UTC and runs various lengths of time, depending on traffic load, but usually about 2 hours or less.
The Maritime Mobile Service Network The primary purpose of the net is for handling traffic from maritime mobiles and overseas deployed service personnel. MMSN also assists missionaries and persons working abroad. The MMSN has a more formal or structured format than Intercon. Since vessels at sea generally have barefoot or less rigs, running on battery power with wire or vertical antennas, their signals may be hard to copy at times. The Net Control Stations frequently ask all stations to standby while calling for maritimes only that may wish to check in. Also, offshore weather information is usually read at about 30 minutes past the hour. Ragchewing is considered a no-no during MMSN. Any station can check into the MMSN when the NCS is asking for general check-in’s. If you would like a signal report, audio report or just to say you are “riding along”, this is the time to check-in.End Quote* The rig here is a Kenwood TS-480SAT connected to a Hustler 6BTV multiband trapped vertical antenna. This is a modern H.F. High Frequency rig with a built-in antenna tuner, somewhat similar to SSB equipment found aboard Marine Vessels – such as the Icom IC-M802, the difference being that this rig *is designed* to operate primarily in the Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Bands, whereas newer Marine SSB Radios may be designed to operate not only in the Marine SSB (MF and HF Bands) but perhaps also in the Amateur Radio / Ham Bands.
You do need an FCC License to operate on this frequency, which requires testing, however that testing has gotten actually quite a lot easier in recent years. The Morse Code requirement (CW – Continous Wave) is no longer required, the FCC Question Pools are published all over the place, and Study Material (including programs for your computer) are easy to obtain. You will need at least a General Class Amateur Radio License from the FCC (U.S.) or other equivalent license elsewhere in the world to operate on this frequency. Thats the 2nd level of licenses in the US Amateur Radio System. The Technician Class License will get you quite a few other Modes of Operation – including the popular 2-Meter VHF, 70-Centimeter UHF (along with repeater systems and clubs in just about every city and town), and more – Just not enough to get on 14.300Mhz SSB/Phone (a.k.a. Voice.) So you will probably want to work your way up to at least General Class. Have a look at: http://www.hamuniverse.com/ as well as some of the ARRL links I posted just recently when I wrote about:
* Of course there’s things to do with your SSB rig onboard ship *before* (or if/until) you get your Amateur Radio License – such as Marine SSB voice communications with other marine vessels near and far, and Email Communications such as Pactor III-based Sailmail (see: http://www.sailmail.com/) – so you can certainly make use of your SSB gear right away. You also might want to make sure that you have learned about, and how to use, your GMDSS – DSC capabilities in both your SSB (MF/HF) Radio Equipment and your VHF Marine Radio Equipment. There are some books available in a series “idi-yachts” related to this kind of radio gear. I haven’t obtained any of them yet, but I have been thinking about it. You might want to think about it as well. Let me know if you do get any of those books, and how helpful they have been to you. These books are something like the “For Dummies” series of books that were published on computer topics. Despite their name, they were actually very good books – as I suspect the “IDI-YACHTS” books are as well. Remember the only dumb question is the one that you didn’t ask.
And by all means have fun! Have fun learning! Have fun using radio! And become knowledgeable and a better crew member or captain because of it.
Note: I have been a Ham Radio Operator (Amateur Radio) for over 25 years, and have operated High Powered SSB Equipment in the U.S. Navy – including operating “Military Affiliate Radio System” (MARS) as Call Sign: NNN0NAD onboard U.S.S. Recovery (ARS-43) back in the 1980′s.
73′s de KA4UDX
Alan Spicer Marine Telecom
communications (at) marinetelecom.net