Marine high-frequency single sideband radio, Part II

In my last Web Exclusive we talked in general about the many uses of Marine HF-SSB radio, and now we will get specific about one of the premiere transceivers available to the yachtsman and recreational boaters: the ICOM IC-M802.

Before I go into any details about this superb radio though, I’d like to introduce you to a very important organization for maritime electronics, the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA). One of the really important services that NMEA offers boaters is a list of trained and certified technicians and installers, and for installation of HF-SSB equipment I highly recommend that you pay one of these certified technicians to perform the radio install.

This is important for two reasons: 1) the criticality of proper grounding, and 2) a proper antenna counterpoise in order to maximize the effectiveness of HF-SSB. The importance of these two vital factors cannot be over-emphasized and so I would suggest you to go to, click on Trained Technicians & Installers, and Advanced Marine Electronics Installer or Certified Marine Electronics Technician. Find one near you and leave the technicalities of installing your ICOM IC-M802 to them. If there are any malfunctions after the completed install, then they are already there to troubleshoot for you — just in case!

The IC-M802 is a really high-tech radio that includes the following features:

  • Standard 4×8 remote control head
  • Large LCD with dot matrix characters
  • Easy to operate and use under all conditions
  • Built-in digital selective calling
  • Digital signal processor used for speech compression, flexible filter settings for narrow band signals such as email, SITOR & FSK
  • 150-Watt (PEP) output power
  • One-touch email access
  • Optional AT-140 automatic antenna tuner
  • Wide band receive coverage (0.5 to 29.9999MHz)
  • Remote control microphone allows direct channel selection
  • RS-232C accessory port for modem, etc.
  • GPS input (NMEA 0183 version 3.01)
  • Headphone jack in front of the controller

The 4-by-8-inch remote control head can be custom-mounted in one of three configurations: on top of control panel, overhead mounting and flush panel mounting. It’s your boat so the choice is up to you; just make sure to inform your installer of that choice. 

The transceiver is in a box that is 11-13/32 inches by 11-13/32 by 4-23/32 inches, and should be supplied with 13.6-V DC by a cable no longer than 10 feet. The transceiver requires a regulated DC power of 13.6 V and at least 30 A. I recommend the purchase of the optional AT-140 automatic antenna tuner for whip antennas or the AT-130/E for long wire antennas. These tuners will automatically match the antenna length for the signal frequency, thus optimizing transmit and receive parameters. The old navy antenna tuners were a lot larger and were manually tuned by the operator, these automatic tuners are tuned electronically and are transparent as far as the operator is concerned.

Once your transceiver is installed and tested, be sure to carry the following fuses just in case one of them blows in an overload: one each power cable fuse (FGB 30 A) and circuitry fuse (FGB 5 A), which is located inside the transceiver box. Now read the radio handbook, learn about atmospherics and practice, practice, practice!

Congratulations and welcome to the realm of HF-SSB radio. Part III of HF-SSB radio will deal with SCS PTC-IIIusb PACTOR-III modem that allows the HF-SSB transceiver to transmit and receive email through SailMail or Winlink.

By Ocean Navigator