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A Few Basic Questions, please

BOBRR

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 15, 2004
Messages
790
Location
Boston, MA
Hello,

Would like to get started with monitoring cruise ships (and also basic Maritime traffic) and have a few very fundamental questions please:
I see most of the frequencies in use are in the 400 MHz or so region.
I have a radio (SDRPlay RSP-2) that covers these, but do I need a Scanner to practically do so ?
e.g., are these CC and trunked systems, etc. ?

Live about 25 miles from Boston. Is monitoring when they are in Port probably the only practical listening ?

If you could get me started as to what I need, and how practical with just an RSP-2, would be most appreciative.
And, any Software programs I should get familiar with, etc. ?

Also, are there any sites like Plane plotter, etc. that one can subscribe to ?

I read the wiki(s), but feel i still need some really basic and fundamental
info/help in getting started.

Thanks,
Bob
 

mmckenna

Well Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
10,451
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
Hello,

Would like to get started with monitoring cruise ships (and also basic Maritime traffic) and have a few very fundamental questions please:
I see most of the frequencies in use are in the 400 MHz or so region.
There are two common radio systems used by cruise ships, which one you want to listen to will depend on what you want to hear:
- VHF Marine channels (156-162MHz) These frequencies are used primarily for navigation, talking with other ships, vessel traffic control, etc.
- UHF Marine channels (457-467MHz) These frequencies are used for the ships interior communications

There are other systems for internal ship communications, 900MHz, etc.


I have a radio (SDRPlay RSP-2) that covers these, but do I need a Scanner to practically do so ?
e.g., are these CC and trunked systems, etc. ?
Depends on exactly who you want to listen to.
An SDR will work fine for listening to the VHF systems as well as conventional/non-trunked UHF systems. You can listen to trunked systems with the SDR's, it's just a bit more challenging.
The types of trunked systems used on the cruise ships are often DMR type, but it can vary depending on the individual ship/individual line.

Live about 25 miles from Boston. Is monitoring when they are in Port probably the only practical listening ?
That will be your biggest challenge.

The VHF systems are going to be line of sight. While the VHF antennas are up pretty high on the ships, and most USCG stuff is going to be up on tall towers, your distance from them, your antenna height, your specific location, will all dictate if you are going to hear anything or not.
The UHF internal systems on the ships are designed for communications within the ship. They are not wide area systems that you will necessarily be able to hear from 25 miles away. It will probably be unlikely you'll hear much from these guys.

No one can really predict that for you without knowing your location, antenna height, etc. Like I said, line of sight. 25 miles is a long way on these frequencies, especially if your antenna is not up really high, you have a lot of buildings, topographical features (read: dirt) between you and who you want to listen to.
And so much of it is about your antenna system.

If you could get me started as to what I need, and how practical with just an RSP-2, would be most appreciative.
And, any Software programs I should get familiar with, etc. ?

Also, are there any sites like Plane plotter, etc. that one can subscribe to ?

I read the wiki(s), but feel i still need some really basic and fundamental
info/help in getting started.

Thanks,
Bob
marinetraffic.com will allow you to track the positions of ships from your computer.
You can set up your own receiver, but the effectiveness of that will depend entirely on your location.
 
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