Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 07-01-2011, 09:44   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 7
SSB or SatPhone ?

Hello all,

We currently have no long-range communication system on our sail boat. Since we're looking at close to $6000 for the purchase and installation of an ssb, a hand-held sat-phone and accompanying charges aren't looking that expensive. So, I thought I'd put it out there and see what people's preferences are and why. Is there anyone out there who uses both?

Thanks.
__________________

__________________
catamannie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 09:54   #2
Registered User
 
PamlicoTraveler's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Depends
Boat: SB 43' Cutter
Posts: 679
Images: 13
You'll open Pandora's box here, but that's OK. I am sure people will say the SSB is better because of the nets and the ability to broadcast. The Sats will have the advantage of voice calls of course, but also better internet ability.

$6,000 seems like a lot though....A radio, a tuner, and the isolators...I can't see why it adds up to that much.
__________________

__________________
PamlicoTraveler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 10:03   #3
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 4,038
Images: 4
Yes, I use both. They are complementary technologies, not identical either in how they work or their potential uses.

SSB is a two-way long-distance communications technology using radio waves, broadcasted from your antenna. Anyone can listen and participate. It is extremely useful for such things as: keeping in touch with other boats, getting weather forecasts and broadcasts, participating in the various maritime nets, making phone calls thru a marine radio operator, just listening to other boats and boating news, sending/receiving email, etc., etc. It is also a valuable safety technology and is still much used by the cruising community.

BTW, the installation doesn't have to cost $6K. I do this for a living; you can get by for much less, depending on your circumstances and desires.

Satphone technology is a point-to-point technology based on satellites. Just like a telephone, you talk to -- and only to -- the person you're calling or who has called you. Other boats and shore-based stations cannot hear you. It is very useful for personal and business phone calls within the coverage area (Globalstar is limited; Inmarsat is global), and for downloading GRIB files and sending email (Globalstar is 4X as fast as Inmarsat in this regard). The cost of satphone service varies a lot, depending on your plan and on the amount of use.

I carry both, and a ham radio as well.

Which is the more useful? That depends very much on your preferences, your personal style, and what you intend to do with it.

To use a SSB effectively you must learn some things, and this takes time and patience. It also takes experience on-the-air and listening, e.g., to maritime nets. You can't just walk up to a SSB installation -- even a perfect one -- and expect to use it effectively.

Satphones require very little learning; they're more like "appliances".

Personally, I find SSB to be far more useful than satphones for the cruising sailor, but that's a personal preference. Maybe my years as a ham and marine SSB user bias me, but literally hundreds of cruising sailors out there right now would agree. And, their ranks are growing.

Bill
WA6CCA
__________________
btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 10:59   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
roverhi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
Posts: 6,005
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
The installation costs seem high. An 802 Icom runs slightly less than $2,000. The SGC 230 Antenna Tuner is $500. About $400 for Norseman/StaLok backstay insulators. Maybe a couple hundred more for miscellaneous stuff and your talking right around $3,000 in New Parts. If you go with a a 710 Icom, you can cut $300 off those costs and not give up anything but a little convenience. Here is one source of SSB kits Icom SSB Radio Kits If you are patient, haunt the cruising websites and Ebay, you can cut the electronic's costs in 1/2 or more. Here's one that got away and it included a Pactor Modem for sending email Icom 802 SSB

You can go even less expensively with Ham equipment. It will require getting General Ham Operators license but that's easy to do with the online exam questions. The knowledge gained is also a big plus in learning about operating a HF radio and propagation. Icom 718s sell for under $500 used and a little over $600 new. hamradio.com is one source.

Sat phones have their place but they aren't cheap to use. Everytime you open your mouth, you are paying for the service. HF radio is basically free once you have the equipment.
__________________
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 11:38   #5
Registered User
 
AntiqueTri's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Tampa Bay Area
Boat: Crowther Bucaneer 33, Trevor Banks 44 trimaran
Posts: 46
Images: 13
My wife and I are having this same discussion, we already own a radio and tuner, but haven't installed it on current boat yet.

One of our primary communication needs is to stay in touch with our elderly (88 and 92 yo) parents and to be available when the time comes. sending and recieving e-mails or just calling them sounds really easy at this point.

Weather downloads are also a big item for us. These two can be easily solved by using sat phones, GLobalstar has a special right now for their newest handset for $500, with a 12 month contract for all you want to talk for $20 a month. Says this is just for North America at this time, but I don't know how far south that goes islandwise, or if it will expand later. The service is not 24/7 due to not enough birds, but you can get a download of availability by area and schedule accordingly. Seems like they offer about 20 min availability every our, which suits me nicely. Kind of takes the expense out of the equation, as a ground, counterpoise and antenna will easily eat this up.

The big hole in the plan is if you are dismasted or break your arm, or some other medical emergency, a quick call to 911 probably won't get you any results. For this type of thing Ham or SSB is the only reliable way to call for help and make contact with someone close enough to give aid.

We used ham with voice patches to communicate with the old ones last time and it was quite a chore, meeting schedules and training them in radiospeak, etc.

If you read up on it doing your own install, it will save you some money and really teach you a lot about how it all fits together and also help with troubleshooting later if you have problems.

Don't know if this info will help you, or what we will do finally, but looks like it will be both at this point.
__________________
AntiqueTri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 12:42   #6
Registered User
 
funjohnson's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Currently Indiantown FL
Boat: 37' aluminum pilothouse "Elements"
Posts: 1,847
I have been looking into the globalstar's $20 a month voice, but cannot find anything out about data with that program. Do you know anything about what is included? I emailed two different reps, but they talk about everything but.

I'm mostly looking for email and this seems the least expensive.
__________________
funjohnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 14:03   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 774
Quote:
Originally Posted by catamannie View Post
Hello all,

We currently have no long-range communication system on our sail boat. Since we're looking at close to $6000 for the purchase and installation of an ssb, a hand-held sat-phone and accompanying charges aren't looking that expensive. So, I thought I'd put it out there and see what people's preferences are and why. Is there anyone out there who uses both?

Thanks.
Hi there. We're live-aboard/cruisers and have basically set our boat up to be "wireless" anywhere. Communications are most important so my favorite "toy" is our ICOM802 SSB (WDF3292) with all the neat attachments for email/fax etc. There's a bit of a rigmarole to the whole process (installation, licenses for ship and primary operator) and a steep learning curve to use it for those limited to cell phone technology experience. But it's the only piece of equipment that requires that somebody only be listening on the other end. The $200.00 per year charges to use the email servers are good and we've made clear as a bell calls over 600 miles away. There are also phone servers out there still but they rapidly vanishing.

Easier to use yet more expensive to operate (equipment costs are about the same) is our sat-phone. We also have an Iridium 9555 sat-phone which is also hooked up as a modem as well as for voice calling. Iridium is the best phone out there for worldwide service albeit a little on the expensive side for service which we don't purchase until we're going offshore. We also have a wireless broadband modem with a booster through Verizon that works to about 10 miles offshore pretty much anywhere in North America. On the non-communication side, although very nice is our sat-tv system, that has actually given us real time information on weather on top of being able to watch your favorite movie channel. Here in California, cell coverage is pretty good and works to about five miles from shore (we use the same signal booster as for our wireless modem). Our next (and final ) piece of equipment we'll be adding is Hughsnet satellite service to our sat-tv system so as we don't have to pay the huge data charges on the Iridium ($1.00US per minute) while using offshore internet.

All in all we find the most expensive equipment to use is the sat-phone, so we don't hook that up much of the time unless we're heading for deep water. However I might add, do your homework before purchasing a sat phone. Many have limited coverage and power consumption can be an issue, but then again so can the 802 when transmitting.
Safety is of course the number one consideration. When the ICOM802 connects, it's fast and the built in DSC (when connected properly) give that added safety net if needed. If you get a sat-phone make sure you go to the USCG and add all their emergency numbers for the areas you intend to be located. This is the sat-phone's downfall (it needs a number to call) unlike the "mayday" you can send from an ICOM, "911" doesn't help 1500 miles from shore. The Icom802 reaches out to anybody within listening range, which can be a half continent away. So I say, the more the merrier.
__________________

Seahunter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2011, 23:00   #8
Senior Cruiser
 
roverhi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
Posts: 6,005
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Just in case you didn't pick up on this new listing. http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...tml#post592974
__________________
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2011, 01:27   #9
Registered User
 
surfmachine's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cruising the West coast of Sumatra and the offshore islands, surfing!!
Boat: Feltz Skorpion mark 11A, Aluminium 39' sloop, constructed Hamburg. http://photobucket.com/eloise_01
Posts: 674
Images: 9
Send a message via Skype™ to surfmachine
From what I have learnt, the sat phone is the only reliable way to get in touch when your arse is grass! Just dial in the emergency number for search and rescue for your location and your on! with the ssb, the batteries are under water and the antenna tuner is wet, forget it, plus, no one monitors the dsc channels these days, maybe get a nearby fisherman?
I love my ssb, for the bbc and abc, but when you are sinking, well?
you can use the sat phone in the dingy or liferaft as well.
hope it never happens?
__________________
Keith, "But I was born very young and grew up knowing little of the world!" http://surfmachine-surfmachine.blogspot.com.au/
surfmachine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2011, 13:57   #10
Registered User
 
Dragon Lady's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Sydney Australia
Boat: Lavezzi 40, Pourpre
Posts: 949
A friend was on a yacht that had to pull out of this years Syd Hobart because the yacht was hit by lightning and lost all electrics including the HF radio.
At work we communicate with our fleet of aircraft all over the world and the satcom phone is all we use, very reliable and easy.
It's also discrete with all the piracy issues do you want the whole world to know who and where you are?
__________________
Dragon Lady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 09:01   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 774
For those "unfamiliar" with the ICOM801 and misunderstanding regarding DSC, (Digital Selective Calling - USCG Navigation Center) allow me to shed some light. As previously stated there is a certain learning curve required in order to take advantage of all the features on the 801.
Being a DSC radio it requires a MMsi (Maritime Mobile Service Identity - USCG Navigation Center) which is similar to a telephone number specifically given to one radio or ship. This number can be programed (as well as many others) into the 801 for secure transmissions between ship to ship, ship to shore (CG) or ship to other radios on that ship. The key is that the DSC antenna must be installed properly (see ICOM 801 for IDA-yachts).

As for being monitored, NObody is monitoring sat-phones however the USCG is monitoring DSC. The USCG as well as the CCG (http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/eng/CCG/MCTS_Gmdss) monitor the emergency DSC channel (National Distress System - USCG Navigation Center). It is important to learn how DSC works in and emergency How to Use Digital Selective Calling (DSC) Radios | Coast Guard News and how to use it for secure ship to ship communications.

The key to any safe boat is to cover your "arse" and the 801 was designed to do just that. After a little programming specifically by you, with information about you and your boat, the 801 can at the flip of a switch, burst transmit an emergency signal with your exact location (GPS connection required) your distress, and the the name of you, your boat, your crew and your MMSI. (which is registered with the FCC and includes information on emergency contacts etc.), This transmission is not only heard by other ships (DSC monitoring is required by commercial ships ~ VHF monitoring is NOT) but most importantly the CG who is monitoring the system. This allows you to do go about taking care of issues like pumping water or what ever. Trying to make a sat-phone call in an emergency is not always going to be that easy. Sat-phone coverage is not global and a storm can definitely put a damper on satellite connections, especially with a hand-held.

The 801 also has HAM capabilities, albeit limited, however in an emergency HAM operators monitoring the airwaves will be more than happy to offer assistance as is there history.

All in all there is really no #1 communication device capable of covering all instances, but the 801 is close. Our choices have been to augment each system with support from another system. We carry on-board communications as well as portable hand-held 2M radios and VHF-DSC hand-helds. We also carry 3 built in VHF stations which we monitor when out (required by law). As previously posted we also carry an Iridium sat-phone, which has mainly been used for internet and calling friends, family and ordering pizza. It's a handy tool we keep charged in our ditch bag. However, one needs to remember, unlike commercial ships, airplanes and the like, you'll not have room onboard for a 6+ foot diameter dish antenna for perfect transmission/receive capabilities for your sat-phone, an advantage the 801 has over other VHFs.

My suggestion, do some research, hopefully some of the links I've supplied will get you on your way.
__________________

Seahunter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 09:18   #12
Registered User
 
swagman's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Winter land based UK New Forest. Summer months away. Making the transition from sail to power this year - scary stuff.
Boat: Super Van Craft 1320 Power Yacht
Posts: 2,175
Images: 10
Send a message via Skype™ to swagman
We'ver enjoyed both and if I were limited to one it would be a close call, but I'd also opt for the satphone.

As the OP said, without saying how long they aimed to cruise, but you can get a lot of satphone airtime with the change out of a SSB installation. And let's face it, if the stuff really hit the fan and you wanted to issue an alarm then you can always use the phone to make contact, and that really can't be guaranteed with a SSB.

But I would suggest an EPIRB has to be on the list either way. IMHO it's the ultimate tool if you really need to call for help anywhere.

Cheers
JOHN
__________________
Don't take life too seriously. No ones going to make it out alive......Go see our blog at http://www.sailblogs.com/member/yachtswagman/
swagman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 09:41   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 774
Quote:
Originally Posted by swagman View Post
if the stuff really hit the fan and you wanted to issue an alarm then you can always use the phone to make contact, and that really can't be guaranteed with a SSB.
But I would suggest an EPIRB has to be on the list either way. IMHO it's the ultimate tool if you really need to call for help anywhere.
I'd (and the USCG) (http://www.uscg.mil/d1/sectSENE/docs...%20%283%29.pdf) have to disagree with that statement as the DSC channels are monitored world-wide and here in the US (http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/resc...nationwide.jpg) and sat-phones are not (and sat-phones in large are not submersible). It's like cell phone, the USCG constantly advertises, NOT to communicate by phone, because DSC is faster. When you hit the Big Red button on the 801, somebody's going to call back almost immediately. Unlike standard VHF-DSC, the 801 has a "test" transmission setting; try it and see how fast you get a response. I've tried ours with a response from over 1000KNM.

However I do agree with swagman on the EBIRP and the PBIRB idea; although I don't usually put this in the communication category, but the emergency one, along with the life raft, jack-lines and such.
__________________

Seahunter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 09:58   #14
Registered User
 
captainKJ's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: 3rd wave passed the sea wall
Boat: private yacht always moving
Posts: 1,388
Quote:
Originally Posted by swagman View Post
We'ver enjoyed both and if I were limited to one it would be a close call, but I'd also opt for the satphone.

As the OP said, without saying how long they aimed to cruise, but you can get a lot of satphone airtime with the change out of a SSB installation. And let's face it, if the stuff really hit the fan and you wanted to issue an alarm then you can always use the phone to make contact, and that really can't be guaranteed with a SSB.

But I would suggest an EPIRB has to be on the list either way. IMHO it's the ultimate tool if you really need to call for help anywhere.

Cheers
JOHN
what good is a sat phone in an emergency if no one is on the other end to answer,,, with DSC the signal continues to transmit until it is answered and can be relayed to another station either a ship or land station
if they ever turn off the satellites for a national emergency your sat phone will not work and that leaves SSB
__________________
captainKJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 11:57   #15
Registered User
 
Dragon Lady's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Sydney Australia
Boat: Lavezzi 40, Pourpre
Posts: 949
Aren't the emergency numbers directed to the nearest search and rescue center which will also get a fix on your location?
As for turning the system off in a "national emergency" isn't the Satcom network and it's satellites owned by a separate group to any government?
And why do you need a 6ft receiver dish to pick up a signal from a low orbit satellite?

From the Iridium website:-

"Iridium’s constellation of 66 interconnected low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites provides inherent advantages in terms of performance and reliability"

"The Iridium network is supported by more than 400 engineers, experts and service technicians who constantly monitor, measure and analyze Quality of Service (QoS) metrics and respond immediately to issues or anomalies in the satellite constellation and ground infrastructure."

HF signals vary greatly depending on the state of the upper atmosphere sometimes the signal can go to the other side of the globe which is impressive, but sometimes it does not go that far.

That said if I were a serious cruiser, which I'm not I would have both systems because the real beauty of the HF or SSB is that all calls are free after your initial set up and maintenance costs.
__________________

__________________
Dragon Lady is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
ssb

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Rope Antenna for SSB Brisa Marine Electronics 37 26-02-2014 01:27
Sat Phone vs SSB MattStafford Marine Electronics 12 01-07-2011 13:41



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:05.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.