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Old 19-02-2011, 13:25   #76
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I have an SSB but never use it. I should probably send in the license fee.

I predict that when 4g networks and devices become prevalent (in about a year in the U.S.) the price of satphone services will drop considerably, since people with regular cell phones (e.g. iPhones or Droid devices) will have high speed internet wherever they can get a cell phone signal. Sure, that doesn't help when you are 500 miles from land, but most of the time you are not that far from land.
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Old 20-02-2011, 08:30   #77
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
I predict that when 4g networks and devices become prevalent (in about a year in the U.S.) the price of satphone services will drop considerably, since people with regular cell phones (e.g. iPhones or Droid devices) will have high speed internet wherever they can get a cell phone signal.
Why should that make any difference? Connections to the Internet using cell phones and data cards have been faster than Iridium and Globalstar for many years. The explosion in cell phone infrastructure caused a change in sat phone pricing 15 years ago.
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Old 20-02-2011, 12:36   #78
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Why should that make any difference? Connections to the Internet using cell phones and data cards have been faster than Iridium and Globalstar for many years. The explosion in cell phone infrastructure caused a change in sat phone pricing 15 years ago.
My understanding is that the speed you get from the satellite providers depends on what you are willing to pay.
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Old 20-02-2011, 14:11   #79
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
My understanding is that the speed you get from the satellite providers depends on what you are willing to pay.
Nope. Not quite.

Satellite connection speeds are limited by the system. For Iridium, it's about 2400 baud. For Globalstar, it's 9600 baud.

Iridium has better coverage -- basically global in scope -- and greater reliability, but slower speeds. Globalstar has less coverage, less reliability (though that is improving as their new satellite constellation comes online), but greater speeds and better voice quality when you do make connections.

With the high-end stuff, though, you're right: thru Inmarsat there are commercial hookups which give you greater bandwidth, but these are mostly for large ships...their cost is prohibitive for yachts.

The point I think Auspicious was making is that cellular coverage has nothing to do with satellites. It's land-based, through thousands of locations all round the country. Ditto for wi-fi hookups.

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Old 20-02-2011, 15:21   #80
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With 4g your cellphone will also become a wireless broadband modem. In the U.S. this extra capability will cost around $20 in addition to the fee for Internet access. You will have no further need for wi-fi hotspots.

As for sat phone speed, yes it's slow and that's why I have had no use for a satphone up to now. However, I've read that both however both Globalstar and Iridium are launching new satellites offering much faster data services, although I imagine that one will pay through the nose for these higher data transfer speeds.
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Old 20-02-2011, 15:58   #81
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G'day, mates. On a bad propagation day, I can usually connect my Ham radio/Pactor III modem at 2400 baud and 4800 baud on a good day. Cheers.
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Old 20-02-2011, 16:00   #82
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Mark, unfortunately my Iridium satphone just doesn't have the bandwidth for downloading a useful amount of sleazy porn.
There currently is a technology limit on the bandwidth of sat phones. Encoding signals at the speed of light has real limits for frequency discrimination. Further there is a limit on satellites and the number of satellites and the cost of satellites. Demand is skyrocketing and the technology limit is based on the current laws of physics. It will take Star Trek level technology to make make sat phone prices come down.

In all probability they will never get cheaper. The commercial demand for the bandwidth will clearly out price users like "cruisers". Shore based communications links require sat links as well. Cheap underwater cables might bring those prices down. The bandwidth capacity for one satellite is now maxed. They can't cram more into one.
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Old 20-02-2011, 16:56   #83
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[QUOTE=btrayfors;624147]The point I think Auspicious was making is that cellular coverage has nothing to do with satellites. It's land-based, through thousands of locations all round the country. Ditto for wi-fi hookups./QUOTE]

Actually my point was that the original business plans of the satellite phone providers collapsed in the mid to late 90s when cell phone availability exploded. Hardware and minute prices plummeted as the expectation that long-haul truckers, farmers and other rural works, and high-tech folk outside urban areas would get sat phones simply evaporated.

I was there, working in association with the industry. I watched the house of cards fall.
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Old 21-02-2011, 15:09   #84
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Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

1) This topic always seems to be so controversial, which is surprising since the answers are actually very simple....
MF/HF radio comms and Satellite comms are NOT competing technologies, but rather are COMPLIMENTARY to each other.....(as Bill has pointed out)

A few highlights / facts, that may help.....

A) It depends on where/when/how you'll be sailing, voyaging, and cruising.....

B) MF/HF radio communications DOES work, and DOES work well, both for routine communications and emergency comms....

C) MF/HF maritime communications, both ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore (whether voice and/or data), is still used by 1000's of vessels at sea, everyday......both commercial and pleasure boats....
And, MF/HF-DSC communications are a significant part of the GMDSS.....along with VHF, EPIRB, NAVTEX, SART, and INMARSAT-C....and this is NOT going to change anytime soon, at least not for the next 20 years.....

D) And even though the list of long-range HF shore stations is smaller than even just a decade ago, the FACT is that there ARE shore stations (for both voice and data comms) all over the world, NOT only in/near the N. Atlantic....both commercial and gov't.....
(not to mention the numerous MF shore stations, used for coastal comms / Sea Area A2 GMDSS compliancy....)

E) Satellite communications while at sea, DOES work, and DOES work well....but usually costs more than the same info thru HF radio...

F) For some users (possibly many of the newer users), Satellite communication (both voice / data) is more "user-friendly" and more "idiot-proof"


There have been some detailed and well written posts, describing the FACTS of all of this, over the past year or two.....
Read them over, and you'll see....

Ham, $$B, Iridium ?
WX Channels on Short Wave - Help!
SSCA Discussion Board • View topic - shortwave marine weather forecasts in english?
Buoy Weather
If Data Connection Is Necessary, What's Best ?
HF SSB Radio Frequencies for South Pacific, SE Asia and Australia




2) Two myths that seem to raise the biggest arguements are:
a) the myth that HF communications are unreliable or difficult to master...
b) the myth that nobody outside of the N. Atl and Carib use HF anymore....
Both of those are false......
They are myths that are propagated by a few that have had (legitimate) bad experiences, and are repeated until many believe they are fact, which the are not.....

The first one is so subjective, and causes so many arguments and hurt feelings, that it's best to just let it drop.....
No sense stirring up the pot.....but, please be assure that the IMO, etc. would not have placed such a high priority in MF/HF comms in the GMDSS, if it wasn't reliable.....

The second myth is easy to dispell.....
With many, many users everyday at sea, both commercial and pleasure vessels.....
With many, many, many MF coast stations worldwide, operated 24/7....
With long-range HF coast stations (both gov't and commercial) operating 24/7 on many different freqs, from many different countries.....
Stations from the US (from east, west, and gulf coasts, Hawaii, Guam, etc.), Canada, Aus, NZ, Brunei, Port Morsby, Monaco, Greece, South Africa, etc. and just so nobody thinks these are weak or unreliable, I regularly hear all of thses, including Monaco and Greece 5000+ miles away, and AUS 10,000 to 12,000 miles away from me, here on-board at the dock in S. Florida, USA..... although I haven't heard Belgium or Thailand here in Florida this year, they are still listed as being on HF, perhaps I just haven't listened when they were transmitting.....
Most of these stations provide voice weather, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship comms, radio-telephone service, etc. and many also provide WeFax and/or Text weather.....and many also provide commercial SITOR/PACTOR communications (NOT sailmail / NOT winlink)

Not to mention the HF WeFax and Text Weather transmissions everyday from dozens and dozens of other stations, from many other nations, worldwide....(like US, Canada, UK, Germany, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Aus, NZ, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, India, South Africa, etc, etc.....

Not to mention the dozens of sailmail and winlink stations (private coast stations) operated 24/7 world wide.....

Not to mention the millions of ham radio operators, worldwide, 10's of thousands of whom are on HF everyday....



3) As to kiwa's original questions...
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwa View Post
Have been looking at a number of boats in USA . Not many seem to have ssb radio although they claim some long ocean passages in their pedigree.
I have been out of sailing for a number of years - it was if you went offshore an ssb radio was standard required equipment ( I'm from Australia ).
Is that no longer the case . I have been factoring in the cost of an ssb to any boats that dont have it.
What is your advise for presant day communications for open water passages ( or out of VHF range for that matter ).
The answer is:
a) Yes, HF communications (SSB) is still considered almost maditory for those venturing across oceans on the typical-sized cruising boat.....(not an absolute, but there are still considered a necessity by most....)
b) Read over the other threads (links above) on this subject and you'll get more info/details than you could ever need.....


I do hope this helps....

Fair winds...
John
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Old 21-02-2011, 17:13   #85
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Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

"They are myths that are propagated"

Sorry, but I had a chuckle at this. Beautiful post, by the way.
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Old 21-02-2011, 17:49   #86
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pirate Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

Myth no1... a Satphone is nessecary
Myth no2... an SSB is nessecary
Myth no3... you'll die if you don't have them...
Fact... you will need the above if you are an insecure, attention seeking plonker who can't live with their own company and need to pester friends and family who'd thought they'd finally found some peace when you cast of your lines and sailed... or are incapable of managing your own passage planning without repeated conversations with Herb or one of the other radio geeks... weather/routing... whatever...
Regardless what of anyone says... an ocean voyager does not need these toys... so you low budget guys go right on sailing...
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Old 21-02-2011, 18:53   #87
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HF comms/Radio propagation/learning curve/failure to listen to strong powerful statio

I forgot another myth.....
The myth that everyone actually needs either of these systems on-board.....
The fact is, that neither is actaully necessary......

While, I'm a confirmed radio-nut....been one for 35-40 years......
I've also made my living in the Sat Comm industry for the past 25+ years.....
So, please understand, coming from a satcom pioneer/exec and confirmed radio-nut, that neither of these are necessary......
Although, in my opinion, it is only prudent to carry a well-installed MF/HF comm (SSB) set-up on-board......
Again, in my opinion.....NOT a necessity, but prudent.....



So................................................ .........................................
HF comms / Radio propagation / the learning curve / failure to listen to strong powerful coast stations / Herb's lousy signal / etc. etc. etc.
With a title like that, some may be expecting one of my infamous treatices....but not this time....
Just some brief thoughts, and learned observations.....

1) In my almost 40 years of HF communications esperience (both maritime and Ham.....at sea and on-shore), the worst HF radio propagation I've seen has been in 2007 - 2008......and with 2009 being tied for 2nd worst......

I'm sorry to say this.....since it sounds to many new HF users as "the excuse of the arrogant".....
But, if you do the research and actually speak to those that have been around HF for decades, you'll see that this IS quite factual....
Even when the sunspot numbers were rising in 2009, we still had high absorbtion, and long fading caused by a unique occurance of reflection angle (wave angles) criticality......which combined to confound even those "HF experts"......(I heard thru the grapevine, that VOA and BBC, and I think RCI as well, re-calculated their SW braodcast paths/schedules/broadcast frequency bands, in 2007/2008, because their SW signals weren't getting to their specific target locations using their decades-old time/freq schedules.....)
Heck, even last week's "mega-solar-flare" didn't do too much to disrupt things, not compared to the 2007 bottom of the barrel in propagation!!!!

But, even in those times of truely horrible HF propagation (2007....2008), I was still able to make excellent and reliable use of HF comms at sea (and on-shore)......even contacting Herb, when some others were having trouble...
a) Using high power, strong shore stations such as the USCG's NMF, NMN, NMG...and the UK's GYA....etc.
b) Or, when contacting low power (weaker) stations, I just needed to use different times and/or different frequencies (different bands).....
c) By making sure I have decent HF set-up on-board, well before shoving off....


2) In addition to LakeSuperior's comments here...
Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Our boat and many other on the Atlantic could not reliably communicate with Herb last summer. We could listen to Herb about 10 out of the 19 days of the crossing. There was a fair amount of "relay comm" for some.
I have heard the same from others......

Let me say up front, that what they wrote is true....and I've done my share of relaying for Herb and his vessels, from my own boat (mostly from my own boat here in Florida, but also when out on a voyage/passage...), most recently this past Nov/Dec.....

But, please allow me to explain a bit.....
a) Herb is a fanatical weather-nut, and has an uncanny ability to give pretty accurate forecasts for small specific areas, directly along the routes of vessels that he is tracking......
His particular service is actaully unique, and very helpful.....
BUT.....
But, even Herb himself is constantly reminding sailors that his is just one source of weather data / forecasts.....and that nobody should venture offshore or across oceans without the ability to garner accurate forecasts from experienced, certified, ocean-meteorologists......(whether from WeFax, SITOR-text, voice....or from e-mail, internet, etc.....whether from HF radio, satellite comms, etc....)
And, in our neck of the woods (N. Atlantic, Carib, Med, etc.), that means the US NWS/NOAA, UK Met Office, Canadian Met office, etc. and their forecast products, produced by just the type of guys you'd think= maritime weather experts.....not raw computer models (which you get from GRIBS)

While this point is often ignored, it is an important one.....


b) Herb's radio signal is.....hmmm, to put it politely.....his signal isn't very good.....
He's using 100-150watts (Icom M700 or M710, I think), from a location hundreds of miles inland (near Toronto, CA), with a pretty lousy antenna which has little or no gain, and certainly his antenna isn't nearly as good as even those on the typical well-equipped offshore cruising boat.....
And, he's NOT a radio guy.....(Herb is a friend....but to be honest.....he's not very well versed on radio, and doesn't understand much about propagation.....)

And most sailmail / winlink stations are designed/set-up the same way.....but many are along the coasts, and some have gain antennas.....
Although the PACTOR error-correction, and other SCS modem facilities (such as DSP filtering and processing), do allow for a significant boost in link-up capability (marketed as a 16db advantage.....how much in the real world???? probably 10+db, depending on freq/path/weather/etc...)


Compare all of that, to the 4000 watts - 10,000 watts, with gain antennas placed along the coast, pointed out-to-sea, of the USCG HF communications stations, NMF, NMN, NMG, etc. etc.......or the 1000+ watts w/ many multiple directional gain antennas of WLO/KLB, etc....


Some HF radio users aren't even aware of the plethora of strong HF signals that they can use.....
Many are simply "sold" a "system"......with a PACTOR modem, etc. and they erronously believe that this is the only (or "best") way to garner weather data / forecasts, and communicate while offshore......
They are never informed of the most accurate (i.e. the "Gold Standard") weather data / forecasts available (from US NWS/NOAA, UK met office, etc.) transmitted almost continuously by very powerful transmitters, blanketing the oceans with strong signals......
{To give an example, they are so strong/reliable, that you CAN receive them with a cheap (~ $100) portable receiver, with its built-in 3' long telescopic antenna.....even when Herb's signal is almost non-existant.....
My brother didn't believe me, but I sent him such a receiver, with my written instructions, and within minutes the lowest-tech guy that I know (my brother) was getting WeFax and other weather clearly and easily.....}



3)
Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
We were fortunate to have a sat phone so we get the weather we needed to move to a favorable position to minimize the impact four major North Atlantic lows in June.
In other words you may want to be set up to download GRIB files with the sat phone. This more or less implies a nav station installation.
LakeSuperior's comments here are an example of good advice......but not complete.....
If, you have a computer on-board (which you'd obviously do to "download" something), you could just as easily (and for FREE) get weather charts / data/forecasts from some of these high-powered, strong-signaled HF stations......and use these charts, etc. to plot your course away from these N. Atl Lows......
Or, even without a computer on-board, you CAN get these same forecasts via voice, from these same high-powered stations.....

Nothing wrong with a Sat connection.....but if you've got an MF/HF (SSB) set-up on-board, and you can't connect with Herb, you CAN still use this gear to get the forecasts/data that you require.....
And, if you're like me an rather enjoy getting a forecast prepared by a person, and NOT raw daat from a computer (as is a GRIB chart), then you'd be better off getting the WeFax charts and/or text forecasts either directly from the strong, powerful HF stations or from saildocs (via either HF/PACTOR or Sat Comm connection).....


I do hope this helps clear some things up.....
If you wish to see my MF/HF set-up...have a look....
http://www.c470.jerodisys.com/470pix/47003.htm



Sorry for rambling on and on......I was planning on being brief....
Fair winds.....

John
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Old 21-02-2011, 19:09   #88
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Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Myth no1... a Satphone is nessecary
Myth no2... an SSB is nessecary
Myth no3... you'll die if you don't have them...
Fact... you will need the above if you are an insecure, attention seeking plonker who can't live with their own company and need to pester friends and family who'd thought they'd finally found some peace when you cast of your lines and sailed... or are incapable of managing your own passage planning without repeated conversations with Herb or one of the other radio geeks... weather/routing... whatever...
Regardless what of anyone says... an ocean voyager does not need these toys... so you low budget guys go right on sailing...
Thank you Boatman.......I'll continue on my way with just the SSB receiver(A toy I couldn't live without) and vhf
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Old 21-02-2011, 19:13   #89
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Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

Alchemy.....
I love "absorbing" propagated myths, rather than "reflecting" them....

Boatman....
I see Boatman61 you have reminded us all of another important myth....
That unless you have EVERYTHING at the boat show on-board, you'll surely never survive....


Fair winds....
John
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Old 21-02-2011, 20:04   #90
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Re: Advice on Having SSB Aboard

For those, like me, who only do a few offshore trips a year, an option is to rent a sat phone.

In this part of the world it's USD20 per week and USD1.5 per minute (USD 0.3 per minute to Philippines with a Philippine sim, which you can get in HK Sing etc). The phone uses the ACeS satellite system and is also GSM enabled, so switches to the mobile phone network when there is signal.

You can even keep your own mobile phone no.

Satellite roaming - Ericsson ACES R190

It's only a 2.5G phone, but when a 3G comes out, I will seriously consider to buy one and ditch the I-phone. I believe such a phone has just become available in the US, but with limited coverage and not jailbroken:

AT&T launches satellite phone | Wireless - CNET News

A safety device offshore and cheap calls & internet once you are within range of the mobile networks.

I'd buy one.
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