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Old 17-09-2014, 17:15   #1
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ssb/hf receiver

I'm delivering a boat from Oahu to Mexico next month and there is just a VHF and an I-Reach tracker. I am looking for an inexpensive receiver to hook up to my laptop for weather faxes from Honolulu and Pt. Reyes.
Anyone know of a brand and model that will fit the bill? Also I may need to update my software for downloads as mine is very old.
Thanks

Lynn A. Stokes
Captain
Eastern Pacific Yacht Delivery Service
Morro Bay, Ca.
805-471-0593
stokesla@earthlink.net
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Old 17-09-2014, 17:46   #2
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

I know you are looking for a receiver, but if you are planning on having deliveries be an important part of your life right now you might want to consider a SGC 2020.They run around $500 used
last time I looked.
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Old 17-09-2014, 17:48   #3
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

I've had good results with Sangean ATS 909, Tecsun 880, and the Tecsun 660.
Tecsun 660 is the cheapest in the group... these people are good to deal with... Tecsun PL660 PLL FM Stereo MW LW SW SSB AIR Band Silver Color PL 660 Radio | eBay I have bought 5 or 6 radios from them... always satisfied... you can also get a USB charging cable to go with it.
880 is my favourite of the three but a bit pricier.
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Old 17-09-2014, 18:00   #4
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Oh... and if you are using a Mac laptop this is brilliant software that does fax plus lots of other stuff. cocoaModem Product Reviews
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Old 17-09-2014, 18:17   #5
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

The Sony SW7600GR keeps coming out on top of the reviews as it has done for more than a decade. Relatively cheap, just works.
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Old 17-09-2014, 18:44   #6
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Thanks for the info. The past few years I have used a sat phone and Ocens Weathernet,e-mail and sailblogs bundle and have download files via ssb. This boat does not a ssb but an I-Reach tracker with unlimited text. If we use a weather router, then the text feature will work, just ok in my mind. I like to see the whole picture especially as the Eastern Pacific has not cooled down at this time.
I'll look into your suggestions, thank you all, but if too pricey I may just go back to Ocens for my info. They are a fantastic company and have served me well since 2004.
Thanks again
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Old 17-09-2014, 20:24   #7
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

I've had very good results with a degen 1103, doesn't cost much and the receiver quality gets good reviews from the geeks though the os isn't so user friendly. Also, was very surprised how good an Android wfax app was last year across biscay, just sitting next to the radio.
I wouldn't like to head offshore without wfax
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Old 17-09-2014, 20:33   #8
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Quote:
Originally Posted by conachair View Post
I've had very good results with a degen 1103, doesn't cost much and the receiver quality gets good reviews from the geeks though the os isn't so user friendly. Also, was very surprised how good an Android wfax app was last year across biscay, just sitting next to the radio.
I wouldn't like to head offshore without wfax
A fellow cruiser demonstrated this to me a while back by placing his tablet next to his HF radio that was outputting the weatherfax tones. The weatherfax just appeared on his tablet as it was broadcast. I don't recall if he had an iPad or an Android tablet but both probably have similar applications. I have not looked as I have a Furuno Fax 30 which does a nice job picking up weatherfax and NAVTEX.
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Old 17-09-2014, 23:47   #9
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Lynn,
1) You're obviously experienced and just need a recommend for a decent portable radio (but also, please heed my advice about on-board RFI screwing-up your HF reception, no matter what radio you have...)

2) As others have mentioned, the Sangean 909 series radios as well as the Sony SW-7600 series radios, are both good choices....please see my detailed recommends in the referenced threads below...
As for wefax software, I've found JVcomm to work great, but others have also found GetFax to work great...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loco Gato View Post
I'm delivering a boat from Oahu to Mexico next month and there is just a VHF and an I-Reach tracker. I am looking for an inexpensive receiver to hook up to my laptop for weather faxes from Honolulu and Pt. Reyes.
Anyone know of a brand and model that will fit the bill? Also I may need to update my software for downloads as mine is very old.
3) Please click on these threads and have a quick read (even if the topics look as though they're not on-point, trust me, they are), you will get plenty of specific recommends / details...

SSB Receivers

SSB Receive Only

Testing a SSB/Ham radio - poor reception

Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea

SSB Receiver Only? Is it practical?

Mast for Short Wave antenna


Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call


Icom M802 in fresh water

Tips for using an HF-SSB Radio (mostly for newcomers)

ICOM 706 MK2 G optimization.



4) In a nutshell....
--- Buy a Sangean or Sony radio that is capable of "SSB" reception and has an ext. antenna jack (such as the ones mentioned above)...about $100 - $150...

--- Hoist a scrap piece of wire, about 25' - 30' long up a flag halyard, as your HF wefax receive antenna....OR, simply use a short piece of wire from the radio's ext antenna jack to a close-by shroud / stay....either option costs nothing (free)...
Evaluate which one works better...

--- Shut off ALL circuit breakers on-board, both AC and DC....unplug any shore power, solar panels and controllers, etc...(inverters, battery chargers, and "wall warts" are the worst!) switch off the main battery switches, etc...make sure that there are no "battery powered devices" running anywhere on board....
Get the boat away from the dock if possible....1/2 mile away from land/civilization is usually enough...

Then, turn on the radio and tune into the USCG offshore or hi-seas VOICE weather broadcast from Pt. Reyes and Honolulu, using the highest frequency that you can receive them clearly on....
And, then turn on the main battery switches, and then the circuit breakers one-at-a-time....all the while listening to the radio for any on-board generated interference (RFI)....and if still nothing (or not much), continue on turn on systems, such as instruments, autopilot, computers, etc. (as well as refrigeration, etc.), and you'll soon find that there are going to be systems on-board that will adversely effect your HF radio reception...
(this should only take a few minutes)
And, then be sure to tune in the other frequencies from Pt. Reyes and Honolulu....but understand that not all of their freqs are used 24/7, AND that radiowave propagation will mean that you'll NOT get all the freqs to be receivable at all distances....
(remember the lower freqs will be primarily evening/nighttime and the higher freqs mainly daytime/early evening...)

Here is a video that shows what these USCG Voice weather broadcasts sound like, on various freqs....and teaches you how to choose the correct channel/freq (which also applies to wefax, as well)


Note that I recommend using the USCG VOICE weather broadcasts for these tests, even though you specifically asked about wefax, because it is MUCH easier to hear/evaluate the effects of the RFI on voice signals, rather than trying to determine how much effect the RFI is having on the digital wefax signals...

USCG HF Voice

Here is a video with some examples of RFI...


And, here is a video with some examples of natural atmospheric noises, and some HF radio signals...
(Note the USCG WeFax broadcast at 4min 15secs to 4min 40secs...)





--- ONLY AFTER you have determined what systems on-board (and/or on-shore) are effecting your HF reception, should you then set-up your computer to try to receive the wefax signals...
I cannot stress this enough....those that have never done this before will invariably find doing it the other way will be frustrating...

USCG HF Voice

Pt Reyes Radiofax Schedule with Links

Honolulu Radiofax Schedule with Links



5) Finally....something I assume you already do as a matter of normal SOP...
Make sure that the delivery vessel's EPIRB is up to snuff...
- It has a current / up-to-date registration...
- It has a current / up-to-date battery...
- It passes its self test....

Anyone wishing more details....have a look here...
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds



Lynn, I hope this helps....
(sorry about all the referenced threads, but shouldn't take but half an hour to read/comprehend it all...and if this is all already understood by you, oh well...have a great trip!)


Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie






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Old 18-09-2014, 00:29   #10
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

A good comparitive review of four of the portables mentioned above. The issues with the Sangeans when just using the whip are well known... as said it is an excellent permormer when used with an external antenna.
Mega Review: the Tecsun PL-880, PL-660, Sangean ATS-909X, and Sony ICF-SW7600GR go head-to-head | The SWLing Post
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Old 25-09-2014, 10:58   #11
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Thanks everyone! I bought the Sony 7600 and with both recommended software programs, it works great. Am able to read weather faxes from both Honolulu and Pt Reyes. Thanks again

Lynn
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Old 25-09-2014, 12:38   #12
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Lynn,
You're welcome!!
I'm glad it all worked out!!

BTW, thank you to you....for coming back and updating us....it's nice to know when our efforts pay off!!

Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 09-01-2016, 14:02   #13
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

I have a Sangean for sale if anyone is interested.

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...io-158760.html
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Old 08-10-2017, 06:03   #14
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Hi, guys- I have a question related to this topic.. I'm planning on doing a race this coming April/May from Tampa to Isla Mujeres on a Tartan 37. It had originally been equipped with an Icom ic-m802, which the original owner took with him-- I have no idea how to even chat on an SSB radio and will eventually purchase a sat phone when I do longer voyages, but the backstay antenna is still intact and I've been wondering about a few things. This trip is so short that I really don't need constant weather data access (although we will have sirius marine wx available), it offers an opportunity to experiment with more affordable options using HF receivers. I've read all of the above and tons of other posts on other forums and blogs and I'm tempted to go really cheap and buy the Sony sw7600 as the guy above did with the accompanying software. Question about the antenna connection, though-- is it possible to connect the backstay antenna I have now on to the Sony's external antenna input via some sort of coupler (looks like vhf to rca) or would I simply/crudely connect the two with bare wire?

Ray
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:53   #15
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Re: ssb/hf receiver

Ray,
First off, good luck in the Isla Mujeres Race!

Secondly, yes, you can use the existing backstay as your HF receive antenna....(but, see further for some details and caveats)

Third, there really isn't any "coupling" other than the electrical connection of the wire, no matter if you use an "adapter" or "bare wire"...But..
But, while "bare wire" (non-insulated wire) would work, it is almost exclusively used in outdoor / overhead installations (such as antennas and power transmission lines, etc.) and any metallic object this wire contacts would become part of your antenna, so I recommend some small insulated wire (such as 18 - 20 ga "hook-up" wire)....
Further if the Sony (or other radio) has an ext antenna jack, simply attach a short length of wire to a plug that fits that jack, and clipping this onto your backstay....and you're good to go!

Fourth, understand that the "antenna" starts right at the radio....and any wire that you plug into the radio IS the antenna....(of course this is not the case when you are using a remote antenna tuner/coupler, such as when using a transmitter)...
So, this approach isn't too effective if you wish to use the radio below decks....as you will have lots of your antenna (and it is the first part of the antenna that does most of the work) down below and surrounded by all the RFI generating devices...
SO...

So, most sailors who wish to use a small portable radio for HF receiving either use it:
a) above decks / in cockpit, where it is in the clear anyway...(and either just use its attached antenna, or sometimes then simply attach a short wire to any stay or shroud, which does not need to be insulated)
b) below decks, where they can attach a very short piece of wire to a chainplate or shroud / stay, and keep much of the received RFI at bay...
c) run a short piece of small coax to a stay / shroud or chainplate, attaching only the center-conductor to this to the stay or chainplate, and then attach the proper connector to the other end to plug into the radio...(while this approach is the most complex, it is also the best overall..)
d) some will just attach a random length of wire (15' to 30'), to a plug that they plug into the radio and run this out a hatch and string this up a flag halyard, etc...it's cheap and effective, and lends itself well to temporary use (such as yacht deliveries)...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irunbird View Post
Hi, guys- I have a question related to this topic.. I'm planning on doing a race this coming April/May from Tampa to Isla Mujeres on a Tartan 37. It had originally been equipped with an Icom ic-m802, which the original owner took with him-- I have no idea how to even chat on an SSB radio and will eventually purchase a sat phone when I do longer voyages, but the backstay antenna is still intact and I've been wondering about a few things. This trip is so short that I really don't need constant weather data access (although we will have sirius marine wx available), it offers an opportunity to experiment with more affordable options using HF receivers. I've read all of the above and tons of other posts on other forums and blogs and I'm tempted to go really cheap and buy the Sony sw7600 as the guy above did with the accompanying software. Question about the antenna connection, though-- is it possible to connect the backstay antenna I have now on to the Sony's external antenna input via some sort of coupler (looks like vhf to rca) or would I simply/crudely connect the two with bare wire?

Ray
BUT...
But, Ray while I've answered your questions, the ones you didn't ask are probably the most important ones....
"what will I receive?"
"how well will this work?"
And the answers are:

"it depends"

Seriously, it all depends on how much on-board RFI you have....and how familiar you are with HF radiowave propagation...

--- Radio Frequency Interference is a big problem in HF receiving and with so many small devices generating so much RFI, it's hard for me to say what your results will be...

---And, since it appears you have little HF radio experience, it might be a fun learning experience....


Finally....some specific tips...
If you're interested in Voice Weather....you have both USCG (NMN and NMG) and Shipcom's WLO....

USCG HF Voice

HF SSB Radiotelephone, Telex and Email Frequencies and Channels

In general the higher the sun, the higher the frequency you'll use....but, FYI since you'll only be 400 to 700 miles from NMG and WLO (and 1000 to 1200 miles from NMN) the highest freq (for daytime) will probably be 12mhz (or even 8mhz)....and at night, 8mhz will be the highest...

Specifically...
Try WLO on 13.110mhz and8.788mhz daytime (as well as 6.519mhz?)
And, at night, try WLO on 8.788mhz and 6.519mhz, and 4.369mhz...
(all at top of the hour for station ID and traffic lists and at 0000z, 0600z, 1200z, and 1800z, for their scheduled weather broadcasts)
The farther you go (Isla Mujeres), the higher the freq....the closer you are (Tampa) the lower the freq...
8.788mhz will probably be your primary freq to try...
HF SSB Radiotelephone, Telex and Email Frequencies and Channels

Try NMN at 1530z and 2130z on 13.089mhz and 8.764mhz....and at 0330z and 0930z on 8.764mhz and 6.501mhz, (and maybe 4.426mhz)...
Try NMG at 1530z and 2130z on 12.788mhz and 8.502mhz....and at 0330z and 0930z on 8.502mhz and 4.316mhz....

USCG HF Voice



Have a look here to see / hear what you will get...as well as a clear live, real-world demonstration of what reception on various freqs/channels sounds like!




And, please watch all these videos....they will help...

Maritime HF Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY



Hope this helps.
Fair winds..

John
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