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Old 21-05-2014, 11:16   #16
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
AT least in RH's case they got some use out of their sat phone, unlike the HF rig that went completely unanswered.
I'm still trying to figure out and understand why/how he wasn't able to reach anyone on the SSB/HF? We are talking about an emergecny here, and ANY station speaking English would have let him break in and you know how HAMs are...they would have worked his signal and passed on Relays to the USCG and loved to help.

So before I dump on the SSB/HF radio...I need a little more info as to what really happened and why he couldn't get a contact.

Out of curisoty, I just flippped on my Icom M-803 [Edit: M-802] radio and yep....took me 35 seconds to find an English speaking station. I could have done "Break Break Break" and been in contact with some good old boys who I'm sure would have saved my ass. It's what Hams live for!

As a former Net Manager for a SSB radio net in Mexico I see a lot of folks that don't know how to use their radio...was that the problem? Of coruse if/when you are out of battery power your radio is useless anyway, so maybe that was the problem? I would like Eric to give more details as to his failed coms...that is VERY Important for Cruisers to understand.
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Old 21-05-2014, 11:26   #17
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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I'm still trying to figure out and understand why/how he wasn't able to reach anyone on the SSB/HF? We are talking about an emergecny here, and ANY station speaking English would have let him break in and you know how HAMs are...they would have worked his signal and passed on Relays to the USCG and loved to help.

So before I dump on the SSB/HF radio...I need a little more info as to what really happened and why he couldn't get a contact.

Out of curisoty, I just flippped on my Icom M-803 radio and yep....took me 35 seconds to find an English speaking station that I could have done "Break Break Break" and been in contact with!

As a former Net Manager for a SSB radio net in Mexico I see a lot of folks that don't know how to use their radio...was that the problem? Of coruse if/when you are out of battery power your radio is useless anyway, so maybe that was the problem? I would like Eric to give more details as to his failed coms...that is VERY Important for Cruisers to understand.

I don't beleive he had a ham set , he had a marine HF set , of course I could be wrong

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Old 21-05-2014, 11:41   #18
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

If you have an Icom M-802 and don't know it's functions....buy this book:
http://www.sea-tech.com/idiyacht_books.htm#M802


I can also personally recommend the services of Sea Tech Systems Home
Not just for Sat phone minutes but for SSB/Radio coms in general.
He's a good friend of mine and we always try to get booths next to each other at the boat shows. He's an honest guy, former cruiser and will treat you right.
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Old 21-05-2014, 11:57   #19
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
I'm still trying to figure out and understand why/how he wasn't able to reach anyone on the SSB/HF? We are talking about an emergecny here, and ANY station speaking English would have let him break in and you know how HAMs are...they would have worked his signal and passed on Relays to the USCG and loved to help.

So before I dump on the SSB/HF radio...I need a little more info as to what really happened and why he couldn't get a contact.

Out of curisoty, I just flippped on my Icom M-803 [Edit: M-802] radio and yep....took me 35 seconds to find an English speaking station. I could have done "Break Break Break" and been in contact with some good old boys who I'm sure would have saved my ass. It's what Hams live for!

As a former Net Manager for a SSB radio net in Mexico I see a lot of folks that don't know how to use their radio...was that the problem? Of coruse if/when you are out of battery power your radio is useless anyway, so maybe that was the problem? I would like Eric to give more details as to his failed coms...that is VERY Important for Cruisers to understand.
So there are people readily listening on SSB now? I've been left with the impression that "no one's home" in the past. Then of course there is the detail of using the right freq's the right time of day etc.... Not a marine SSB user much, mostly ham.
is it possible your "35 second response" was a local receiver rather than a long distance one?
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Old 21-05-2014, 12:15   #20
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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So there are people readily listening on SSB now? I've been left with the impression that "no one's home" in the past. Then of course there is the detail of using the right freq's the right time of day etc.... Not a marine SSB user much, mostly ham.
is it possible your "35 second response" was a local receiver rather than a long distance one?
Yes and No...
Yes becasue there are set emergency frequencies that are indeed manned 24/hrs per day by the USCG and there is a list of there here:
DSC DISTRESS

Another Yes, becuase there are a Maritime nets that operated 24hr/day that while not part of the USCG they are always listening, putting out calls and conducting their Net.

I say No, because of course with propogation it's aways a function of "can you hear them and can they hear you", BUT in an emergency you can break into any HF communication you can find. So there are people there and if you can hear them and they can hear you, then you are in business.

For example the station I found in 35 seconds was coming out of Alabama (I'm in California) two guys just chatting away about the weather and type of antennas they were testing. If I would have thrown out a "Break Break Break" you can bet your ass that these hamsters would cancel their daily plans to help me if I was a Maritime Mobil at sea in trouble. There are hundreds of these types of conversations going on around the world on all types of bands that you can gain access to in an emergency. BUT you have to know the bands, where to look, where to listen and how to scan. So it DOES take some training and pratice. This is the beauty of the HF Radio.

There are people out there "listening and waiting for you to call for help".
The problem is if you don't know how to find them, don't have a good working radio, then what good are they to you if you can't find them?

I'm certianly no HF expert...far far from it. But the good working SSB/HF Radio is something I would never to to sea without.
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Old 21-05-2014, 13:35   #21
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
If you have an Icom M-802 and don't know it's functions....buy this book:
Idi-Yacht Titles


I can also personally recommend the services of Sea Tech Systems Home
Not just for Sat phone minutes but for SSB/Radio coms in general.
He's a good friend of mine and we always try to get booths next to each other at the boat shows. He's an honest guy, former cruiser and will treat you right.
Thank you for both of these references. Capt. Marti Brown's book was the first "Idiot's" guide I bought. I think if I revisit this & other sources now that I'm a bit more familiar with my HF radio they will be more helpful. I also bookmarked Sea-Tech and will include them on my resource list.

For me, I suspect the barriers to learning how to operate & understand my M-802 are more about the vocabulary & radio "jargon" which I encounter everytime I either read about the topic or converse with an experienced operator. Kinda like "legalese" -- everyone's speaking English but only the lawyers can decipher, and they're so used to their own jargon they're often not even aware of the disconnect. Like everything else, I'm sure it will come to me with further study & experience, but I wonder how many others remain clueless about the safety & other benefits of having a HF radio on their boats, simply because they are unable to understand how they work.
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Old 21-05-2014, 13:52   #22
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
Yes and No...
Yes becasue there are set emergency frequencies that are indeed manned 24/hrs per day by the USCG and there is a list of there here:
DSC DISTRESS

Another Yes, becuase there are a Maritime nets that operated 24hr/day that while not part of the USCG they are always listening, putting out calls and conducting their Net.

I say No, because of course with propogation it's aways a function of "can you hear them and can they hear you", BUT in an emergency you can break into any HF communication you can find. So there are people there and if you can hear them and they can hear you, then you are in business.

For example the station I found in 35 seconds was coming out of Alabama (I'm in California) two guys just chatting away about the weather and type of antennas they were testing. If I would have thrown out a "Break Break Break" you can bet your ass that these hamsters would cancel their daily plans to help me if I was a Maritime Mobil at sea in trouble. There are hundreds of these types of conversations going on around the world on all types of bands that you can gain access to in an emergency. BUT you have to know the bands, where to look, where to listen and how to scan. So it DOES take some training and pratice. This is the beauty of the HF Radio.

There are people out there "listening and waiting for you to call for help".
The problem is if you don't know how to find them, don't have a good working radio, then what good are they to you if you can't find them?

I'm certianly no HF expert...far far from it. But the good working SSB/HF Radio is something I would never to to sea without.

Very informative & helpful. I will be posting that list of distress frequencies next to my radio, and will program them into my M-802. If I understand it correctly, they are already permanently programmed into the radio as "ITU" stations?

As another example of my "disconnect," I remember wrongly concluding that when the USCG quit monitoring 2182[?], it meant they had stopped monitoring on any SSB stations. At the time, it seemed there was a lot of discussion about another example of the demise of HF radio generally. I only recently learned it was apparently more about the inefficacy of that particular band, and that they still monitor the higher frequency ones.

I just think it may be difficult for newbies, who's only experience is with VHF, to grasp some of the peculiarities of HF radio.
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Old 21-05-2014, 14:49   #23
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

Tom-
"How do you really know if your signal is getting out."
I think every trained radio operator, regardless of the type of radio or the type of training, would tell you the same thing.

You DO NOT know if your signal gets out, ever, unless someone else ACKNOWLEDGES it. If the device only transmits in the blind, then you are SOL unless you have some other means of getting an acknowledgement.

And as anyone who has had experience dealing with commercial vendors, especially in the tech industries, can tell you, you CANNOT rely on any of these private companies being in existence six months from now. Companies go belly-up all the time. Delorme, Iridium...who knows? Heck, I expect Mr. Putin to disconnect the Russian side of the COSPAS-SARSAT program as he keeps explaining to the US that we can just go sod off if we don't like his expansion plans.

But I'd still call that system more likely to be up and running, than any private one.

If there's no one to say "ROGER" and acknowledge your call? Cross your fingers but don't stop bailing.
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Old 21-05-2014, 16:20   #24
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

With the group's indulgence, may I try to organize the thinking here just a bit, based on 40-some years of HF experience in maritime operations in many parts of the world?

I can't address all the problems noted herein, but I believe it would be very useful to first address the basic concept of:

  • one-way vs. two-way communications
  • one-to-one communications
  • one-to-many communications
These are not the same thing!


You cannot compare a satphone with SSB -- either marine of ham -- nor can you compare a SPOT or in-Reach or other texting device with either satphones or SSB or email for that matter.


Stop trying....it just shows your ignorance.


All of these and other communications devices are useful in their own rights, but they are DIFFERENT!


A PLB is a good thing to have, but it doesn't replace an EPIRB. If you have to ask why, then you really need to read up before you hit the high seas!


I have many forms of communication on my own boat: VHF, VHF/ham, Marine SSB, Ham SSB, satphone, EPIRB, cellphone, Pactor email, etc., etc. Which is most useful? It depends. Which would I not leave the dock without when heading on a long trip? That's easy:


VHF/FM marine -- this is the most important safety device you can fit to your boat, but it's range is limited to, say, 25-30 miles


HF/SSB (marine and ham) -- this is by far the most important device for staying in touch, getting weather, and for emergency situations WORLDWIDE. The downside: you absolutely have to know how to use it.



EPIRB -- absolutely indispensable for abandon-boat situations worldwide


Satphone -- great for one-to-one communications, calling home, ordering parts, etc. Good backup for data, too.


Oops...gotta run. Dinner on.


Bill
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Old 21-05-2014, 16:32   #25
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Tom-
"How do you really know if your signal is getting out."
I think every trained radio operator, regardless of the type of radio or the type of training, would tell you the same thing.

You DO NOT know if your signal gets out, ever, unless someone else ACKNOWLEDGES it. If the device only transmits in the blind, then you are SOL unless you have some other means of getting an acknowledgement.

And as anyone who has had experience dealing with commercial vendors, especially in the tech industries, can tell you, you CANNOT rely on any of these private companies being in existence six months from now. Companies go belly-up all the time. Delorme, Iridium...who knows? Heck, I expect Mr. Putin to disconnect the Russian side of the COSPAS-SARSAT program as he keeps explaining to the US that we can just go sod off if we don't like his expansion plans.

But I'd still call that system more likely to be up and running, than any private one.

If there's no one to say "ROGER" and acknowledge your call? Cross your fingers but don't stop bailing.

I'm sorry , but this is alarmist nonsense , companies like iridium, Inmarsat , cospas sarsat are too important to major countries and world commerce to allow any such system to fail. ( as was amply demonstrated with iridium )

You think the high seas ships comms traffic uses HF, think again , then look at some Inmarsat data.

HF is all very well, but the day to day routine business comms is not carried over it airwaves.

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Old 21-05-2014, 16:37   #26
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So there are people readily listening on SSB now? I've been left with the impression that "no one's home" in the past. Then of course there is the detail of using the right freq's the right time of day etc.... Not a marine SSB user much, mostly ham.
is it possible your "35 second response" was a local receiver rather than a long distance one?
I think many sailors overlook a key difference between the marine HF frequencies (aka "SSB") and some ham HF frequencies, such as 14300. In the latter you a count on shorebased volunteer hams who have fantastic equipment (10 times the power of a marine set, much better antennas that can be rotated to point at you) and skills and will help you it when you need it. That may not replace an EPIRB but can be of great help with less urgent situations in which you need to get help or talk to someone.

If you are in the Pacific you can see see the difference in practice if you join both a marine SSB net and the Pacific Seafarers Net. In the former it is usual to find lack of controllers with good rigs to reach everyone, less than effective protocols, lack of knowledge re: best frequencies and times to reach A from B, etc , lack of means to pass on messages to shore, etc...

Of course the ham frequencies have a barrier to entry, which is the license, and many countries make their citizens jump through several hoops (morse code exam and several stages of license) until they ca use the critical 20m band.

Fortunately now anyone (regardless of citizenship) can get a US ham license ("General") that is good for the critical 20m ham band (among others) and can be used anywhere in US waters and international waters by just passing an easy multiple choice test...

C


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Old 21-05-2014, 16:38   #27
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Very informative & helpful. I will be posting that list of distress frequencies next to my radio, and will program them into my M-802. If I understand it correctly, they are already permanently programmed into the radio as "ITU" stations?



As another example of my "disconnect," I remember wrongly concluding that when the USCG quit monitoring 2182[?], it meant they had stopped monitoring on any SSB stations. At the time, it seemed there was a lot of discussion about another example of the demise of HF radio generally. I only recently learned it was apparently more about the inefficacy of that particular band, and that they still monitor the higher frequency ones.



I just think it may be difficult for newbies, who's only experience is with VHF, to grasp some of the peculiarities of HF radio.

The US is no longer monitoring 2182 and it's associated DSC channel, as of last year. The US did this. As under GMDSS obligations , it has no designated sea area A2 , only having A1 and A3 , hence it was possible to be released from monitoring ( or providing ) an MF DSC emergency service.

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Old 21-05-2014, 16:43   #28
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Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by svlamorocha View Post
I think many sailors overlook a key difference between the marine HF frequencies (aka "SSB") and some ham HF frequencies, such as 14300. In the latter you a count on shorebased volunteer hams who have fantastic equipment (10 times the power of a marine set, much better antennas that can be rotated to point at you) and skills and will help you it when you need it. That may not replace an EPIRB but can be of great help with less urgent situations in which you need to get help or talk to someone.

If you are in the Pacific you can see see the difference in practice if you join both a marine SSB net and the Pacific Seafarers Net. In the former it is usual to find lack of controllers with good rigs to reach everyone, less than effective protocols, lack of knowledge re: best frequencies and times to reach A from B, etc , lack of means to pass on messages to shore, etc...

Of course the ham frequencies have a barrier to entry, which is the license, and many countries make their citizens jump through several hoops (morse code exam and several stages of license) until they ca use the critical 20m band.

Fortunately now anyone (regardless of citizenship) can get a US ham license ("General") that is good for the critical 20m ham band (among others) and can be used anywhere in US waters and international waters by just passing an easy multiple choice test...

C


N

In my experience , there is very little marine HF traffic , even though there is a full HF DSC alert system in place. In the commercial world , since there are very very few public correspondence facilities, all ships business is being carried by sat comms, and virtually exclusively by Inmarsat.

But on Amateur bands , voice HF is quite active and especially in the US , where amateur radio has remained popular , there are significant voice resources , once you know where to look.

Despite that, for marine emergencies, the marine HF system with DSC alerting , is significantly better then any resources available on Amateur band HF.

Ps. Could we stop calling it SSB. It's HF radio.

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Old 21-05-2014, 16:58   #29
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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A PLB is a good thing to have, but it doesn't replace an EPIRB. If you have to ask why, then you really need to read up before you hit the high seas!
I have to ask why.

I've read several threads where someone made this comment, but they never really explain why. Is it the battery life, or some other reason?
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Old 21-05-2014, 17:10   #30
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Re: Advisability of depending on Satellite Comms & knowing the transmitter works

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
The US is no longer monitoring 2182 and it's associated DSC channel, as of last year. The US did this. As under GMDSS obligations , it has no designated sea area A2 , only having A1 and A3 , hence it was possible to be released from monitoring ( or providing ) an MF DSC emergency service.

Dave


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No offense, but this is another example of "secret code" which those of us who are trying to learn how to operate HF radio cannot possibly understand. "Sea areas A1, A2, A3?" "MF DSC emergency service?" No comprehendé. Maybe it's not important, but I would love to know what exactly the CG is still monitoring in the event I have an emergency outside of VHF range. In the meantime, I'll be sure to have a list of CG phone nos. for my satphone to call.
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