2M Ham Radios
Ahoy Club members;
One of our “snowbird” members has suggested the use of 2m ham radio net to aid communication while cruising; particularly in remote areas. I understand such systems are relatively inexpensive and very effective. So, do any Club members have 2m ham sets aboard their vessel? Anyone interested in knowing more about such systems—please continue reading.
Specific to 2m / 70cm VHF-UHF ham rigs, these are quite nice because they do not require elaborate installation, are inexpensive, provide ‘anytime’ ability to talk (versus HF rigs a.k.a. marine single side band radio).
2m band is the same band currently used by marine VHF-FM but the ham rig cannot be a second VHF radio (unfortunately the ham rig will not broadcast on the marine band frequencies, but will receive) . There is also the potential (I am yet to confirm this) of sending and receiving very short text only E-mails with the aid of a laptop computer – free specialised software is required. Maritime nets are common and offer both safety (e.g. typically the net control will take your position and if you’ve not checked-in for a specified period of time, with your prior directive, will call the USCG / CCG) and a means of contact beyond cellular service. The limitation of 2m / 70cm is the signal, like marine VHF, line of sight. This means, if you are in Princess Louisa Inlet you’re in a black-out zone. Similarly, if you are behind a cliff and the antenna you are seeking is not ‘visible’ you’re blacked out. But if you are across the Georgia Strait from Vancover Island’s east coast, without cellular service, you typically have radio contact via the Island Trunk System - one needs only dial up the frequency of the nearest repeater (explained later) and broadcast a call. Note: No commerce can be conducted on ham bands, except in emergency. (more…)