Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 11-02-2011, 14:35   #16
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Probably in an anchorage or a boatyard..
Boat: Ebbtide 33' steel cutter
Posts: 3,537
You don't mention if you are heading off cruising for a long time or just getting the boat across an ocean. If the latter then satphone is probably the way to go. Even rent one. Only time i used mine was going across atlantic. Next time as i'm working now with cash coming in will be with a ssb. Purely because of the monthly line rental. Well and the call charges, if is there it's hard not to upload just one more hilarious blog, not much else to do out there Even if you do countless spreadsheets that show it's not a lot I couldn't get on with knowing that money was going out every month. For maybe over a year before you get round to heading across another ocean. Though offshore the only reason to have any transmitting device for me is to stop me mum worrying Otherwise a cheap ssb reciever plugged into the laptop is all you need to get weatherfax.
__________________

__________________
conachair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2011, 20:27   #17
Registered User
 
Jon Hacking's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Currently cruising Southern Indonesia, heading for peninsular Malaysia
Boat: Wauquiez 45' (now 48') catamaran
Posts: 523
Send a message via Skype™ to Jon Hacking
Ham vs Marine SSB Radios

A comment on Ham vs Marine SSB. Both types allow you to listen on any freq, Ham or marine. Both types can usually be modified to transmit on all freqs if you want. It's not strictly legal to use a Ham radio on the marine bands in most countries, but we've been doing it for years & I KNOW I put out a better signal than many "marine" radios.

Marine sets usually have heaters on their crystals, so they're more frequency stable but they take more power. They also don't have frequency dials that allow you to wander across the bands looking for an open channel - you have to punch in your exact frequency. They're built for the less-technically-adept (not quite idiot-proof, but close) so don't usually have the displays, meters & filters that Hams expect.

We've found that modified Ham radios are frequency stable enough that professional ground stations are very willing to talk with us. They're generally cheaper than marine sets & have better options (for me) like SWR & power meters. But they are somewhat more complicated to operate & they're really meant for folks who know what they're doing.
__________________

__________________
-- Jon Hacking s/v Ocelot
Jon Hacking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2011, 09:00   #18
Registered User
 
Auspicious's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Boat: HR 40
Posts: 1,793
Send a message via Skype™ to Auspicious
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
I KNOW I put out a better signal than many "marine" radios.
Well I'm glad you know that.

One of the reasons some ham radios seem to have "better signals" is that they have more aggressive speech compression, often resulting in splatter onto adjacent frequencies at power levels beyond the 2.5 kHz bandwidth accepted for SSB transmissions.

Marine HF/SSB is a life-safety service. The specifications are more demanding for a reason.

Sure other stations can hear you fine and maybe even better. What about adjacent channel interference or harmonic interference (there is a reason ham bands are harmonically related) to someone who may be trying to communicate a safety-of-life-at-sea issue?

I have personally experienced a ham radio running Pactor on marine bands wiping out weather and marine nets across a good-sized area. Finding the boat didn't take much in the way of DF and FSM work.

Using a modified ham radio that doesn't meet ITU and IMO requirements for performance on the marine bands is selfish and rude in addition to being illegal. Ham radios run outside the ham bands don't even meet the original specifications, much less the marine band requirements.

Have you used a service monitor or other deterministic instrumentation to determine the characteristics of your modified radio on the marine bands?

This "I don't care" and "the rules don't apply to me" attitude is really upsetting.

Incidentally, I've been a ham for 35 years, about 5 years longer than I've been sailing. I truly enjoy ham radio both as a hobby and a utility. I really dislike people misusing equipment from my hobby and soiling its reputation.
__________________
S/V Auspicious
AuspiciousWorks
Beware cut and paste sailors
Auspicious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2011, 11:35   #19
Registered User
 
Jon Hacking's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Currently cruising Southern Indonesia, heading for peninsular Malaysia
Boat: Wauquiez 45' (now 48') catamaran
Posts: 523
Send a message via Skype™ to Jon Hacking
A bit off topic, but...

Auspicious, you raise many good points, several of which I asked as well. I didn't think they were important to this thread, but obviously I touched a nerve.

Quote:
One of the reasons some ham radios seem to have "better signals" is that they have more aggressive speech compression, often resulting in splatter onto adjacent frequencies
Good point. I actually DO ask other boats if I'm splattering or bleeding over excessively. I don't have instrumentation to measure this (who does?) & I'll admit I haven't asked anyone recently, but I'm often keying up with others nearby who are good enough friends that they'll tell me if something's amiss with my signal. My friends know I'm pretty passionate/concerned about my signal quality.

I, too, have anchored in crowded anchorages & heard pactor bleed-over from other boats. I've come to believe that most radios (ham or marine) are sensitive enough these days that this is unavoidable. The output filtering just isn't as good as modern receiver sensitivity. Maybe it should be, but these days it seems that only one boat in an anchorage can be using a Pactor modem at a time. (What really annoys me is when folks don't recognize the unmistakable Pactor cadence, & try to connect while someone else is connected, ruining both connections)

Quote:
Marine HF/SSB is a life-safety service. The specifications are more demanding for a reason.
Again, I agree. But I've also had to listen to quite a few "marine" radios that were putting out horrible signals, tougher specs or not. It takes knowledge of your equipment (OK, & giving a damm) to realize when it's acting up. As I'm sure you know, it's a pretty black art to most folks.

I got my first ham license 29 years ago, a bit after I got into cruising. I suppose I do take a somewhat pragmatic approach to many rules, but many cruisers do. I don't think I'm being "selfish & rude" because I do care, so I check to make sure I'm not interfering with others. And I also help other cruisers who are having problems with their radios, as most hams do.

BTW, here's an interesting & heart-warming true story about a pirate radio net in the 80s.
__________________
-- Jon Hacking s/v Ocelot
Jon Hacking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2011, 11:46   #20
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 617
My current boat came with a Sat Phone system, but no SSB.
I will not use the sat-phone, and have ordered a SSB.
Cell/PDA service is great to good, Wifi/Skype is excellent - 90% of the time.
Depends how long/far offshore you intend to be.
I like the concept of no 3rd party control of the SSB/Ham nets...
the rest is better, and free to cheap on cell/wifi...
__________________
AllezCat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2011, 12:45   #21
Registered User
 
LakeSuperior's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Boat: Teak Yawl, 37'
Posts: 1,581
Images: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strygaldwir View Post
Do you like to talk? A lot of folks like the social interaction and feeling of being connected by voice. Those folks are going to tend to like the SSB a whole lot better than Sat phone.

If you're looking for a critical communication device, I think sat phones are better. They will be cheaper, less hassle, less complex and more versatile. That is to say, you're only using it in important situations, not calling back home to say hello every day. It assumes a hand held sat phone that you can put in the ditch bag, or take ashore in the dinghy. Heck, you can even call for a cab when you're in an out of the way spot and no one is listening to the VHF or SSB.

If you like to socially talk, SSB, Lot cheaper once you have it installed. No ongoing cost, unless you're doing email. If you're a ham, you know of course, no commercial type emails, i.e. checking on things in the office, can be done with the free version, have to get the paid version for that. Propagation and availability of a sail mail receiver is problamatic sometime. Pactor modems are also quite pricey.

I have an SSB. Will get a sat phone when I go cruising again.

Cheers,

Keith
IMO, Keith has hit the nail on the head. I would add, as I have in several other threads regarding this topic, that when you want reliable bullet proof communication anytime of the day or night then the sat phone is the answer. They are very efficient in downloading GRIBs particularly when you are tracking unstable weather. We found this reliability worth the extra cost in terms of peace of mind.

As you can see by a number of responses in this thread using SSB with and without modems is a hobby and requires a significant investment in time. I just prefer to use my time for different pursuits while on long crossings.

We had both sat phone and SSB crossing from Halifax to Ireland last summer. There were a number of instances where sitting down below at the nav station for an hour or so trying to obtain data with the SSB was not very desirable. Plus signal propogation was bad last summer. Not just for us but for those near us. SSB was unreliable.
__________________
LakeSuperior is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2011, 14:45   #22
Registered User
 
Tia Bu's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: South Carolina
Boat: 40' Jeanneau
Posts: 454
I just sold my ham setup and was planning to buy an Isatphone Pro. (About $500). Prepaid plans for service are available for very reasonable prices. But I'm also considering Boatman's third option. A PLB can be purchased for less than $200, requires no plan, and can call for help from anywhere on the planet. If you want to keep in touch with home, a SPOT is awfully cheap.

I enjoyed playing with the ham radio, but I didn't find it very useful on the boat. The nets are fun for some folks, but... By the way, while I had opened my ham radio up for use on marine bands in an emergency (perfectly legal), there's no real need to talk on the marine bands (or send Pactor messages on them) if you have your ham license, and I never did. So I don't see any problem with installing a ham radio on a boat. I just didn't find the thing particularly useful-- as boat equipment-- for the money and effort involved.

I personally would not spend the big bucks required for an SSB setup. I think it's just outdated and unreliable communication compared to what's available now.

When I was installing my ham radio, I asked a neighbor on the dock who had an SSB on his boat for some help. He is an experienced blue water sailor, making at least a couple of offshore passages every year.

"Oh, that thing was on the boat when I bought it," he said. "I've never been able to get it to work very well, so I never use it."

Makes me think back many years to the time when an SSB was the only way to communicate offshore. Spent many a day offshore in SSB-equipped boats. Can't ever remember witnessing an actual SSB conversation on one.

I still have my Amateur Extra license, by the way . Getting it was cool and fun.
__________________
Tia Bu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 10:24   #23
Registered User
 
Auspicious's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Boat: HR 40
Posts: 1,793
Send a message via Skype™ to Auspicious
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
Good point. I actually DO ask other boats if I'm splattering or bleeding over excessively.
Splattering and bleeding isn't apparent to those on the same frequency as you. If you are really interested, you need to find someone who is willing to take the time to check adjacent channels and harmonic frequencies. Best would be someone beyond the near field but still in ground wave range. 50-100 miles is good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
I don't have instrumentation to measure this (who does?)
Me, sometimes. I rent it when I need it. If I keep working hard I'll be able to justify buying my own service monitor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
I, too, have anchored in crowded anchorages & heard pactor bleed-over from other boats. I've come to believe that most radios (ham or marine) are sensitive enough these days that this is unavoidable.
On the receive side it is about selectivity, not sensitivity. Regardless, it is the TRANSMITTERS responsibility to maintain a clean signal, not the receiver to block it out. Blocking it out reduces the ability to hear a desired signal. Simply not right. It's like expecting a neighbor to wear ear plugs when your party is searingly loud at 3am. I've never had an issue that stemmed from a marine radio from Icom, Furuno, or Sailor. I have from a number of ham radios opened on to marine frequencies. It isn't a Pactor problem. It is a transmitter problem, simply more apparent with data transmissions, including Pactor, PSK31, and WINMOR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
I have in several other threads regarding this topic, that when you want reliable bullet proof communication anytime of the day or night then the sat phone is the answer. They are very efficient in downloading GRIBs particularly when you are tracking unstable weather. We found this reliability worth the extra cost in terms of peace of mind.
Your experience is different than mine. On deliveries with a range of equipment, I often spending more time pounding on sat phone systems to get good weather than SSB systems. No question. Perhaps 35 years of ham radio experience make it easier for me. Incidentally, I haven't found a grib model yet that shows fronts, which are what I care about the most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tia Bu View Post
If you want to keep in touch with home, a SPOT is awfully cheap.

*snip*

"Oh, that thing was on the boat when I bought it," he said. "I've never been able to get it to work very well, so I never use it."
I agree on the SPOT. I wasn't convinced until I sailed with one, and now I have my own and use it regularly on deliveries. Good stuff. I still haven't figured out why it works so reliably when the underlying Globalstar system is so poor.

On the latter point, I've left a train of people behind me who with some very simple guidance have found their SSB to be incredibly effective. Just because someone has a lot of experience sailing in bluewater doesn't mean that their experience is relevant to radio operation.
__________________
S/V Auspicious
AuspiciousWorks
Beware cut and paste sailors
Auspicious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 11:56   #24
Moderator
 
Paul Elliott's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,871
Images: 4
On VALIS we have both marine SSB (Icom 310), and Iridium satphone. As has been already pointed out, the best one for you will depend on how you want to use it.

I've used SSB for voice comm, WFAX, email, and GRIB file download (Sailmail/Saildocs and ham Winlink). In the last few years I have turned to the satphone (using XGate and Saildocs) for my email and weather info, downloading GRIBs and WFAX charts. I also use it to call home from time to time. The speed and ease of satphone for this is a big convenience for me, although it probably does cost more than SSB if you use it a lot.

(Auspicious, if you want frontal information Saildocs has compressed WFAX charts you can download. They're probably too big for SailMail though.)

I still use SSB for voice communications though. VALIS has been the communications boat for the last two Pacific Cup races and returns, and while we allow satphones we still encourage SSB for fleet communications. Most long-distance races have transitioned to satphones though. The thing you don't get with satphones is the "party-line" community (which many people enjoy). You really need an organized net to make this work though. Look at the Pacific Seafarer's Net (ham) for an example.

SSB remains useful and enjoyable, but unless the satellite infrastructure crashes, a satphone is probably easier and more reliable. Which is less expensive depends a lot on how you use it, and how long you have to amortize the initial costs.
__________________
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
www.sailvalis.com
Paul Elliott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 11:59   #25
Moderator
 
Paul Elliott's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,871
Images: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
I agree on the SPOT. I wasn't convinced until I sailed with one, and now I have my own and use it regularly on deliveries. Good stuff. I still haven't figured out why it works so reliably when the underlying Globalstar system is so poor.
I've been involved with some recent Spot testing, and they seem to have significantly improved their coverage between the U.S. West coast and Hawaii. This is puzzling, given their network design, but the results look good.
__________________
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
www.sailvalis.com
Paul Elliott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 12:15   #26
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
Did a TransPac to Hilo last summer from SF. The spot worked to within 200 miles of so of the Island. Was on a rhumbline couse so probably about 100 miles of the latitude of the Islands or or about 22 degrees North Latitude.
__________________
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 12:39   #27
Registered User
 
S/V Alchemy's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto
Boat: Custom 41' Steel Pilothouse Cutter
Posts: 4,576
Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
I agree on the SPOT. I wasn't convinced until I sailed with one, and now I have my own and use it regularly on deliveries. Good stuff. I still haven't figured out why it works so reliably when the underlying Globalstar system is so poor.

On the latter point, I've left a train of people behind me who with some very simple guidance have found their SSB to be incredibly effective. Just because someone has a lot of experience sailing in bluewater doesn't mean that their experience is relevant to radio operation.
Same here. I thought it was a toy until I returned from a delivery and saw the Google Map of the SPOT "6 am and 6 pm" check in and realize that it was a HUGE comfort to my wife to see us tootling along at good speed between two fronts. As for "why it works", I suspect it's similar to cell phone service and text: You can have "no bars" on a cellphone and still, in some cases, send and receive texts because the speed and data is tiny compared to carrying a voice service bandwidth. The SPOT is essentially a short burst of positional data. It can be sent a few hundred times every few seconds until you get the checksum right. Peanuts to even a crappy transceiving system. (I have heard dire things about Globalstar as well...)

As for SSB, its value is clear to me, even though I could do my mail via phone (expensively, mind you). Even brief discussions with nearby boats in the same gales (or passing squalls they can let you know are coming) seems like prudent operation to me, as do cruiser nets that tell you about officials on the take, good or terrible service depots, dodgy diesel suppliers and decent recipes for rum-based beverages.

Also, good luck doing a mayday on a satphone. While it's great if you can reach your country's SAR people by dialling direct, I would rather contact the nearest country's SAR people, plus any nearby fellow mariners, plus anyone, really, who can solve my sinking feeling.
__________________
S/V Alchemy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 13:25   #28
Registered User
 
LakeSuperior's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Boat: Teak Yawl, 37'
Posts: 1,581
Images: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Also, good luck doing a mayday on a satphone. While it's great if you can reach your country's SAR people by dialling direct, I would rather contact the nearest country's SAR people, plus any nearby fellow mariners, plus anyone, really, who can solve my sinking feeling.
???? Why not just do a little homework and put the nearest countries SAR number in your sat phone directory ahead of time. You can dial at your leisure once you get things squared away in the life raft rather than rushing things on the SSB before you have to step up!
__________________
LakeSuperior is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 13:52   #29
Registered User
 
Auspicious's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Boat: HR 40
Posts: 1,793
Send a message via Skype™ to Auspicious
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
(Auspicious, if you want frontal information Saildocs has compressed WFAX charts you can download. They're probably too big for SailMail though.)
Sure - but I can get those free over HF/SSB (with an inexpensive Katio 1103 and a laptop on deliveries). Why pay for e-mail for that stuff? Just my real-world experience.
__________________
S/V Auspicious
AuspiciousWorks
Beware cut and paste sailors
Auspicious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2011, 14:21   #30
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 7
We have a HAM capable Marine SSB on board as well as a SAT phone. I did not renew the SAT phone as it was just too expensive. I enjoy contacting other HAMs while at sea and I use the various HF cruiser nets to get weather and to keep track of our cruising friends. I can get WX Faxes from a couple of stations via the audio output from the SSB to the Lap top. I also enjoy surfing the airwaves for a variety of commercial broadcast stations which still exist. If someone else was paying for it then I would love to have the SAT phone to contact folks and have access to the digital goodies but I just can't justify the price.
Anyone wanna buy a used SAT phone?
Doug on board Ka'sala
__________________

__________________
Kasala 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
Short Wave / SSB Portable Receiver Advice, Please. halyardz Marine Electronics 43 17-02-2010 20:37
SSB Receiver Advice / Degen 1103 Cormorant Marine Electronics 8 13-01-2010 00:35
SSB Advice Needed Nice N Easy Marine Electronics 3 06-01-2010 16:54
Questions/Advice about Living aboard silent Liveaboard's Forum 7 22-08-2008 10:18



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 13:56.


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.