Using the SSB Radio

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          We kept a fat orange folder near the Nav Station containing much information related to the ICOM 710 SSB. This is a complicated subject, and the intent of the checklist below was to allow someone not familiar with the radio to use it to communicate with the Coast Guard or other cruiser in an emergency.

  1. Get out the fat orange folder with SSB reference material and review the contents.
  2. Turn on the radio by pressing the power button on the lower left corner. Adjust volume knob for a slight "hiss".
  3. The display will indicate channel number, frequencies, or words – depending on how it was set at last use. Frequencies have Decimals and may show on the top and bottom row, or not at all. Channels are 1-4 digits, no decimals, and may have a hyphen between digits.
  4. To send an automatic distress call, see the Distress Calling checklist.
  5. For an explanation of how to call a "May Day", see the same checklist.
  6. If the top row of the display has Frequencies on it, press the "Ch/Freq" button below the numeric key pad. This changes the display to show channel numbers on the top row. Pressing "Ch/Freq" again switches the display to show the receiving (Rx) frequency on the top, with the transmission (Tx) frequency underneath it. The "Ch/Freq" key toggles back and forth between the two displays.
  7. With a channel number on the top row, press "1" on the key pad, then press the "Rx" button below the keypad. This gets you on 2182.0kHz, the Hailing and International Distress frequency.
  8. Listen to the channel so see if it is being used. Take down the black microphone handset and hold it an inch from your lips. If you have a life-threatening situation, break in with your "May Day", otherwise wait for a break in conversation. If someone is talking, someone else is listening. Press the button on the side while you talk, and release it when you are finished. Wait a few moments for a response.
  9. To call the Coast Guard, pick an appropriate channel (frequency) from the list below: With a channel number showing on the top row, press the channel numbers on the numeric key pad, and then press "Rx" to enter it. NOTE that "USB" should show up on the upper right hand corner of the display. If it doesn't, press the "Mode" button under the lower left corner of the display until you get it to show.

  10. Channel Receive Transmit Range (Day) Range (Night)
    424 4426.0 4134.0 2-300 miles 8-1,500 miles
    601 6501.0 6200.0 400-500 miles 1,000-2,000 miles
    816 8764.0 8240.0 500-1,000 miles 1,000-3,000 miles
    1205 13089.0 12242.0 1,000-3,000 miles unreliable
    1625 17314.0 16432.0 3,000-5,000 miles unreliable

  11. Note that these are the frequencies that the Coast Guard uses to transmit weather broadcasts so if you hear one, wait until it is over before you try to call.
  12. Follow the instructions on the Distress checklist and make a May Day or Pan Pan call on the frequency you select.
  13. If you are unable to get the Coast Guard, try one of the Safety and Hailing channels until you find one with someone talking on it. With a channel number showing on the top row, press the channel numbers on the numeric key pad, and then press "Rx" to enter it. Wait until there is a break in conversation before transmitting your message or request unless it is a May Day.

  14. Channel Receive Transmit Range (Day) Range (Night)
    4-1 4125.0 4125.0 2-300 miles 8-1,500 miles
    6-1 6215.0 6215.0 400-500 miles 1,000-2,000 miles
    8-1 8291.0 8291.0 500-1,000 miles 1,000-3,000 miles
    12-1 12290.0 12290.0 1,000-3,000 miles unreliable
    16-1 16420.0 16420.0 3,000-5,000 miles unreliable

  15. If none of these work, start listening on some frequencies commonly used by other cruisers. Try Channels 43-89. Start listening on one of these. You can move up or down one channel by turning the right hand large knob (the Channel Selector) clockwise or anticlockwise. Also try some more of the general marine channels: 4-x, 6-x, 8-x, 12-x, 16-x where "x" is 2 through 9.
  16. If none of these work, start listening on some of the Ham frequencies (Channels 13 - 38). You may make a May Day on a ham frequency even if you don't have a Ham license, but only if you cannot reach anybody else.


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This page was last modified on:
August 9, 2009