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Old 25-10-2015, 15:24   #1
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AIS with VHF/SSB

Howdy all!

Just bought a sailing boat (have had a few, so its an exchange for a larger one).

Previous boats we had paper charts and the compass, and an analogue VHF.

Last boat though, we tried a tablet with SeaPilot a bit + a Cobra VHF with DSC.

The new boat has much more in terms of nav equipment. However only an old analogue iCom VHF = no DSC.

Our requirements spec is:
Being able to use DSC over VHF.
Being able to use DSC over SSB.
Want to see other boats + be visible to them over AIS in the Raymarine plotter and in a computer when using software with charts.

What to buy, please?!

Heard there are SSB radios with VHF integrated into them? Makes sense as we already have a VHF, don't want VHF analogue + VHF with DSC + SSB with DSC = 3 units.

With AIS, not sure if one must always buy a stand-alone transponder or if it possible to have it integrated in a SSB radio? If so, there has to be an AIS output on the radio to feed the navigator and computer.

With SSB, we want automatic antenna tuning.

Will read all the plentyful posts on the topic here, but already having a separate analogue VHF, we felt we had a bit special starting scenario, and we want make an informed purchase, please

Regards,

Robert
Sweden
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Old 25-10-2015, 22:29   #2
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

you need to buy all 3 things


new vhf
SSB
AIS transponder.


there is no combos. they are all different


there are many choices for VHF and AIS. icom m802 and at140 tunner is common for SSB
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Old 25-10-2015, 23:36   #3
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Alright. If I am to keep costs and labour down, what about skipping having DSC over VHF? We're planning ARC, not sure they require that.

Cheers
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Old 25-10-2015, 23:47   #4
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Howdy all!

Just bought a sailing boat (have had a few, so its an exchange for a larger one).

Previous boats we had paper charts and the compass, and an analogue VHF.

Last boat though, we tried a tablet with SeaPilot a bit + a Cobra VHF with DSC.

The new boat has much more in terms of nav equipment. However only an old analogue iCom VHF = no DSC.

Our requirements spec is:
Being able to use DSC over VHF.
Being able to use DSC over SSB.
Want to see other boats + be visible to them over AIS in the Raymarine plotter and in a computer when using software with charts.

What to buy, please?!

Heard there are SSB radios with VHF integrated into them? Makes sense as we already have a VHF, don't want VHF analogue + VHF with DSC + SSB with DSC = 3 units.

With AIS, not sure if one must always buy a stand-alone transponder or if it possible to have it integrated in a SSB radio? If so, there has to be an AIS output on the radio to feed the navigator and computer.

With SSB, we want automatic antenna tuning.

Will read all the plentyful posts on the topic here, but already having a separate analogue VHF, we felt we had a bit special starting scenario, and we want make an informed purchase, please

Regards,

Robert
Sweden
Robert, I think there is some confusion here.

AIS does NOT use SSB, it only uses VHF.

You state analogue VHF. All marine VHF voice is analogue, only the DCS and AIS aspects are digital.

The VHF DCS is part of the radio, I'm not aware of any separate DCS "box" that can be tacked onto an existing VHF.

AIS can be separate external transponder or be integrated in a VHF set.

There is really only one SSB with DCS that is suitable for the recreational boat and that is the Icom M802 or as you are in Europe, they market are similar radio called something like M801 or M801E. It is basically a M802 that is modified by Icom to meet the European requirements.
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Old 26-10-2015, 01:11   #5
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

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Originally Posted by tob View Post
Alright. If I am to keep costs and labour down, what about skipping having DSC over VHF? We're planning ARC, not sure they require that.

Cheers
the vhf is $200 and a 15 min install if the hole happens to be the same (doubfull). the SSB is going to be $3000-4000+ installed.

I believe the 801 is no longer available and they are working on a new euro one. (tried to buy one a couple months back to replace a broken one, had to convert to 802 which was a pain.)
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Old 26-10-2015, 09:50   #6
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

You can get a VHF/AIS/DSC radio. Standard Horizon $399 + $100 for remote mike at West Marine. SSB is a separate unit.
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Old 26-10-2015, 10:15   #7
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

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Originally Posted by nknowland View Post
You can get a VHF/AIS/DSC radio. Standard Horizon $399 + $100 for remote mike at West Marine. SSB is a separate unit.
To be clear on this.. That is AIS receive only. Its not a transponder!
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Old 26-10-2015, 10:17   #8
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Really feel like keeping the iCom VHF without DSC/AIS. Not buying more VHF equipment.
We also have a handheld VHF.
Buying a SSB unit with DSC + automatic antenna tuner + Pactor modem.
Buying a stand-alone AIS transceiver, to connect to either Raymarine colour chart plotter at helm (must I use a Raymarine AIS then?) or computer.

I am compromising safety here, please?

Don't remember from the SSB course, do the Rescue Centers listen to DSC distress calls on HF/MF bands, please?

What about antennas. Should I go for the expensive splitter allowing me to share AIS, VHF and car stereo on the mast top VHF antenna, or have a separate antenna at the aft pulpit for AIS (can be used as emergency VHF antenna, but we have a handheld in fact). Inclined towards the expensive splitter - Keep It Simple Stupid.

If I go for the aft antenna (separate) for AIS, is is problematic that the running backstay will be the SSB antenna? I.e. are they too close to each other?

Regards,

Robert
Sweden
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Old 26-10-2015, 12:21   #9
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

A) your likely case

I would buy a Ray AIS transceiver, plug it into the plotter, and then extend it with either cable or wifi (for PC/tablet, etc). I would also buy a Ray dsc VHF and make sure the dealer and the technician understand I want to be able to call the DSC targets from my plotter NOT just from the radio.

You may want a specific Ray plotter for this. The rest of the equipment as you please.

B) Our case

Because we did not have a plotter we got a SH AIS/VHF combo this one allows to dsc AIS targets from its AIS screen. (SH plotter do the same, but we do not have one)

Then I extended the data with a plain wifi bridge (built out of an old wifi router) to our tablets/laptops.

But I cannot call AIS targets from the tablet nor from the laptop, which is OK as in our 26' boat doing this from the VHF is just as simple.

b.
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Old 26-10-2015, 12:41   #10
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

I'll offer an alternative to barnakiel.

We chose a Vesper AIS and couldn't be happier. Although my plotter is B&G I know other cruisers with the Vesper and Raymarine gear and they are happy. The advantage of the Vesper is it will give you a WIFI and NMEA 0183 bridge (essentially for free). This will let you see AIS targets on the laptop over WIFI (either OpenCPN or Polarview).

We also choose the Vesper VHF splitter and have been super happy with its performance. Single antenna, and no extra cable to pull. The splitter is powered with the AIS device so doesn't draw power until I need AIS. The splitter defaults to VHF, so without power (to the splitter) the VHF still functions.

I tend to agree with the Raymarine VHF recommendation if you want to call DSC from the plotter. I adandoned doing this on my Standard Horizon as I could not figure it out.
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Old 26-10-2015, 14:15   #11
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Robert,
There is a bit of confusion here....and I hope I can help clarify things for you...
Without going into too much detail!
(In addition starting my sailing/cruising life as a kid in the mid-1960's, I have more than 4 decades of electronics experience, especially with Communications / RF, both at sea and onshore...)

BTW, you asked a LOT of questions....so this is going to be a LONG posting!!!
Enjoy!



1) First off, as others have pointed out, there is no such thing as an "AIS with VHF/SSB"....nor is there any "AIS with VHF", nor any "VHF with SSB", nor any such combinations!!

They are all separate units, as they all do separate / different things!!




Please note that some here may be confusing you by their use of the phrase "VHF/AIS" combo....
What they are talking about is a modern VHF radio (VHF-DSC-FM radiotelephone), that also has a built-in AIS RECEIVER ONLY!!!
They do NOT have an AIS transponder built-in!!!
(and their screens are so SMALL, that unless you can get your face very close to them, using them for a primary AIS display is ridiculous!!)





2) Let me address the VHF first....as this will be your primary means of communications on-board, and is an important part of the safety systems on-board as well..
Buy a new Class D VHF-FM-DSC radio...(this all that has been legally available now for many years...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Really feel like keeping the iCom VHF without DSC/AIS. Not buying more VHF equipment.
We are talking about replacing the old radio, with a new radio, not adding more VHF equipment!!
Do you still use the same cell phone, same computer, etc. for the past 15 years??? (or the same Television set, automobile, etc.??)
Both the GMDSS and technology advancements have come along, that make it necessary for you to buy a new radio!!

Understand that ALL Marine VHF radios made/sold in the past 15 years have had DSC functions, so the radio that you have on your new boat is pretty old...albeit it's an older Icom, and apparently still works, you really should buy a new VHF radio!!
And, any new VHF Marine Radio will be a Class D VHF-FM-DSC radio...and will cost you approx. $200 to $500 USD...depending on brand/model/features/etc..
(I prefer the Icom M-604 or the M-506....)

M604A VHF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

M506 VHF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

Please remember that since the implementation of the GMDSS in 1992, and it being a mandatory requirement for all SOLAS vessels and all signatory nations, on Jan 1, 1999.....DSC has been with us for quite a while, and is the way to signal other vessels and shore stations, via radio...
(although, in US waters "required vessels" / SOLAS vessels, are still required to monitor ch. 16, this doesn't apply in many other places...)

You should replace your older non-DSC VHF radio with a new radio asap, and also just as important, please check/replace the old VHF antenna and coaxial cable/connections as well!!
If the radio is so old that it is a non-DSC radio, then it is likely that the antenna and coax are also that old, and since the VHF system is your primary means of communications and serves as an important safety device on-board, making sure that it is new and works properly, with excellent performance!!
This will be money well spent!
(besides, who here is still using their same cell phone, computer, etc. from 15 years ago!!!)

Again, as others have pointed out, there are NO combo units that have an AIS transponder and VHF radio built-in together!! (and it's doubtful there well be, anytime in the near future!)
But, buying a new hi-quality VHF-DSC-FM radio (and new antenna / coax / connectors) will serve you well for many years to come!!!
(if you wish to keep the old Icom VHF on-board as a spare, that's fine....but with the low cost of new VHF-DSC-FM radios, you can buy two.....but, at the least buy one!! )

Whether having an AIS transponder or not, will be important to you and your sailing/cruising, depends a lot on where and what type of sailing/cruising you'll be doing....
But a new, well-installed, VHF-DSC-FM radio (and antenna / coax) is a good choice for anyone, anywhere, anytime!!!


{if you choose the Icom M-506 VHF radio, which allows AIS target/info to be displayed on it (or a SH version, that also allows this), this can give you a low-power AIS display, separate from your chart plotter and computer...}



3) For an AIS transponder, there really are few choices (Vesper, Raymarine, Emtrak, Furuno, all have pretty reliable AIS units, with Vesper arguably the best!)....
Having used AIS now for almost 10 years, in my opinion (and the opinion of others here who've used AIS for a while), at the top of the list of choices for AIS is, Vesper!!!

No question in my mind, Vesper makes the best damn AIS systems for cruising boats, worldwide....and their customer service/support is fantastic!!
https://www.vespermarine.com/

Very important though....if you wish to display the AIS targets/info on your chart plotter, be sure that the particular plotter you have can actually do this....as many plotter made prior to 2005/2007 cannot!

Also, understand that when sailing offshore you're not likely to have your chart plotter turned on, so having a low-power consumption dedicated AIS display (separate from your chart plotter), is a very good idea....
(this is what I do....I have AIS targets/info sent to both my Raymarine E-120 and E-80, but also display on my Vesper WatchMate!!)

{if you choose the Icom M-506 VHF radio, which allows AIS target/info to be displayed on it (or a SH version, that also allows this), this can give you a low-power AIS display, separate from your chart plotter and computer...}









4) As for "SSB" radio....(this is where I have many decades of experience!!)

ALL "Marine SSB" radios legally made/sold in more than 10 years are "SSB-DSC" radios!! (see my info above regarding the GMDSS!)

What's available are MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones....and that is it....
And specifically, what units are available for you, are very limited...

--- The Icom M-802 (or possibly the M-801, if you can still find one), is the only affordable choice for most of us....
(and is the only "12vdc" Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone being sold these days.....the others are 24vdc / 110vac radios...)
M802 HF Marine Transceiver - Specifications - Icom America

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components

In the US, the M-802 and its remote tuner the AT-140, and all associated cables/hardware typically sell for about $2650 USD....


--- The Furuno FS-1575 / FS-2575 / FS-5075, are Furuno's Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones (24vdc/110vac)....and they sell for $8000 to $13,000 USD...

--- The Sailor 6300 Series radios, are Cohban's Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones....(24vdc/110vac)...and they sell for about the same prices as the Furunos...

--- JRC also makes/sell Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones....(24vdc/110vac)...and they sell for about the same prices as the Furunos and Sailors...



5) For a very easy to understand explanation of "DSC", please watch these Youtube videos!!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


And, for an overview of Maritime HF communications, please watch these videos...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


And, for details on all the functions and how-to operate the Icom M-802 specifically, please watch these videos...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


{and for details about Offshore Weather forecasts/sources, please have a look at these videos..
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY }




6) Regarding a PACTOR modem....(at $1300 - $2000 USD, they're pretty expensive!!)
Understand that all this allows you to do is send/receive e-mails via the "SSB" radio... (and that's a lot of $$$$ to spend, for e-mail when away from terrestrial systems, such as Wi-Fi and/or cellular/3G/4G/LTE systems)

While is important to some that have business interests ashore that they must keep in touch with via e-mail when sailing offshore / on passage, many that are in these situations have the extra dollars to spend on full-time broadband sat comm terminals (~ $5000 to $20,000, plus airtime)
Pactor Modem Kit Contents and Pricing.htm

Please remember that the PACTOR modem is a rather expensive piece of gear, and all it gives you is e-mail connectivity (VERY LOW SPEED DATA, ~~ 2.4kb - 4.8kb)
when you are away from any Wi-Fi or cellular/3G/4G/LTE systems....and the times that you are away from those terrestrial-based systems is usually only when on an ocean passage and/or when in very remote locales....(you'd be surprised how many places in the "3rd World" have good cellular networks and data plans...typically not as "fast" as the data we have in the 1st World, but typically a couple hundred times faster than a PACTOR modem!)



7) Some brief specifics, in red...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Previous boats we had paper charts and the compass, and an analogue VHF.

Last boat though, we tried a tablet with SeaPilot a bit + a Cobra VHF with DSC.
Please forgive my rather blunt American style...
But, "Cobra" is junk!!!


The new boat has much more in terms of nav equipment. However only an old analogue iCom VHF = no DSC.
Buy a new VHF radio!!!
PLEASE!!
It is all but a necessity to have a VHF-DSC radio now-a-days!
(see details above in #2)


Our requirements spec is:
Being able to use DSC over VHF.
You MUST have a VHF-DSC-FM radio....see details above in #2....
I prefer the Icom M-604A or the M-506...
M604A VHF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America
M506 VHF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America



Being able to use DSC over SSB.
You MUST have a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone!! (see details above in #4)
The only affordable choice is the Icom M-802...
M802 HF Marine Transceiver - Specifications - Icom America
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components



Want to see other boats + be visible to them over AIS in the Raymarine plotter and in a computer when using software with charts.
You MUST have an AIS Transponder...(see details above in #3)
I prefer Vesper Watchmates...
https://www.vespermarine.com/

If you want to display AIS targets/info on your Raymarine plotter, make sure it is a modern plotter and it is capable of doing this!!


What to buy, please?!
See details above!


Heard there are SSB radios with VHF integrated into them?
NO....
There are none...and never will be, as these all do very different things, on very different frequencies!
Makes sense as we already have a VHF, don't want VHF analogue + VHF with DSC + SSB with DSC = 3 units.
1 --- A VHF radio...(a modern VHF radio IS a VHF-DSC-FM radio and is BOTH an analog FM Voice radio, AND a "digital"/DSC radio...)

2 --- An "SSB" radio...(a modern "SSB" radio IS a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio and is BOTH an analog SSB Voice radio, AND a "digital"/DSC radio)


This is only TWO units, not three!!
Personally, I find it rather odd that anyone would be making decisions on what equipment to have on-board based on not wanting "3 units", but rather "only 2 units"....but that is what you asked about, so there is the factual info!

If you wish an AIS transponder, and will only use your chart plotter and/or computer to display the AIS data, you will only need a small "black-box" AIS transponder, which will take up little room, and take up NO room on an instrument panel / Nav Station / etc.!!!
So, you'll still only have the 2 radios above....hence just "two units"...

If, like most sailing offshore, you will want an AIS display separate from your chart plotter and computer, then you would of course then have a "3rd unit" (the AIS display)...
Although, if you choose the Icom M-506 VHF radio, which allows AIS target/info to be displayed on it (or a SH version, that also allows this), this can give you a low-power AIS display and still keep you to "two units"!!


With AIS, not sure if one must always buy a stand-alone transponder or if it possible to have it integrated in a SSB radio?
Yes, you MUST have a standalone AIS transponder....that is all that is made/sold...

With SSB, we want automatic antenna tuning.
Yes, this has been "standard" equipment for 30 years now!


Will read all the plentyful posts on the topic here, but already having a separate analogue VHF, we felt we had a bit special starting scenario, and we want make an informed purchase, please
You REALLY should replace that old VHF....
(see details above!)


Regards,

Robert
Sweden
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Really feel like keeping the iCom VHF without DSC/AIS. Not buying more VHF equipment.
Please....You REALLY should replace that old VHF....
(see details above!)
We also have a handheld VHF.


Buying a SSB unit with DSC + automatic antenna tuner + Pactor modem.
See details above in #4 and #6....
But, make sure you understand that a PACTOR modem only allows for very low speed e-mail connectivity....and really does nothing else for you, at $1300 - $2000 USD, it is pretty damned expensive for the limited purpose!


Buying a stand-alone AIS transceiver, to connect to either Raymarine colour chart plotter at helm (must I use a Raymarine AIS then?) or computer.
No....you can use any brand of AIS transponder....(assuming your Raymarine plotter is capable of displaying AIS targets/info, of course!)
I prefer Vesper...
(see details above in #3...)


I am compromising safety here, please?
Assuming you take my recommendations, no you are not compromising safety!
(But, if you refuse to buy a new VHF radio, then yes...


Don't remember from the SSB course, do the Rescue Centers listen to DSC distress calls on HF/MF bands, please?
There are > 80 HF-DSC coast stations worldwide, and > 450 MF-DSC coast stations worldwide, that are part of the GMDSS, and they all relay directly to their respective RCC's...

As well as the 1000's of SOLAS-grade vessels monitoring MF/HF-DSC....
But, understand that with a Distress call, it is the intent of the GMDSS to get your distress info to the RCC directly....so that while many vessels are likely to receive your DSC-Distress Call, they are required under the GMDSS to wait 3 minutes before responding to your Distress call (and relaying onto the appropriate RCC), to see if the appropriate RCC is responding to you directly....
Although, their radios WILL automatically be tuned to the appropriate/respective SSB Voice frequency to call/communicate with you directly, as well as still monitoring for any DSC response from the RCC....

What about antennas. Should I go for the expensive splitter allowing me to share AIS, VHF and car stereo on the mast top VHF antenna, or have a separate antenna at the aft pulpit for AIS (can be used as emergency VHF antenna, but we have a handheld in fact). Inclined towards the expensive splitter - Keep It Simple Stupid.
I actually have BOTH!!!
And, if you can afford both, then you get the best of both and the redundancy!!

But, many actually prefer the stern-rail/pushpit mounted AIS antenna....as this gives their transmitted AIS signal planty of range TO the "big boys" (the big / fast commercial ships), and allows them to get the AIS signal from the "big boys" at plenty of distance...
Although, the reliability of a low-mounted antenna can be compromised when in heavy sea....
And, of course, the "range" to/from other small, similarly equipped craft, will be limited....

If you wish to go with the "splitter" (actually a "splitter and relay"), then please ONLY use the Vesper SP-160....it is the only one I recommend!!


If I go for the aft antenna (separate) for AIS, is is problematic that the running backstay will be the SSB antenna? I.e. are they too close to each other?
No, this is not a problem at all!!


Regards,

Robert
Sweden

Robert, I do hope this helps!!

Fair winds..

John




P.S. Spent almost 2 hours writing all of the above....and FYI, a lot of this info is right there in the "sticky" at the top of the "Marine Electronics" page...
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Old 26-10-2015, 16:47   #12
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Thanks John!

Awesome advice. I am getting the picture now, very clearly communicated. Just bought the boat so it's a steep learning curve to get to know her and all this electronics stuff.

The Raymarine chart plotter is a RayNav 300 GPS plotter. It is being fed by the ST5000 Plus SailPilot autopilot, the wind gauge at the top of the mast, the Autohelm SeaTalk ST50 log and the sounder Autohelm SeaTalk ST50 Plus. (I realise SeaTalk is some kind of protocol standard).

There is another chart plotter at the helm, not sure the brand and model (could be the one I actually mean), it's a backup unit and both of them have different memory cards over different areas.

I should mention I recently signed up for Morgan's Cloud and I read, with great interest, their article about "needs" vs. "wants" for the offshore cruiser. Perhaps sending AIS is more of a "want". The boat has a radar deflector, I think we we won't buy a real radar for this trip.

We are planning the ARC from Las Palmas to the Carribbean a few years from now.

I thought the Pactor modem was necessary to receive weather data; "GRIB" files to use with a computer? A "need"? We want to track the weather in detail. Not sure if Navtex is a "want" or a "need", perhaps better with GRIB files.

One good thing would be to be able to send an email to relatives from the middle of the Atlantic - "we are alright". However, there are radio amateurs I know of that could be helpful, relatives could book time there. So email is definately a "want".

I will investigate the satellite solutions. Installing the SSB radio seems rather complex. It seems satellite is too expensive though. We'll see.

Anyway, your answer initiated my purchase list. The VHF is on it. Will add more later

I might just leave the iCom VHF mounted for now. Perhaps I can make some kind of failover switch with a lever, in case the new VHF fails. Or connect it to a pulpit antenna together with AIS receiver. Needs some consideration.

Please don't spend hours on answering this, just wanted to mention what I think I've got, I will now read up.

I'll come back a bit more informed with more specific questions. Now time to read those posts...

Thanks,

Robert
Sweden
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Old 26-10-2015, 17:41   #13
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
I thought the Pactor modem was necessary to receive weather data; "GRIB" files to use with a computer? A "need"? We want to track the weather in detail. Not sure if Navtex is a "want" or a "need", perhaps better with GRIB files.

One good thing would be to be able to send an email to relatives from the middle of the Atlantic - "we are alright". However, there are radio amateurs I know of that could be helpful, relatives could book time there. So email is definately a "want".
Some things to read up on.

1. Recieving weather fax via handheld SSB receiver (usually called a world radio) and Android/Apple or Windows tablet.

2. Delorme Inreach. This allows Txt and e-mail from anywhere in the world (even the middle of the ocean).

3. Spot Go. Like the Inreach (txt/email) but can provide Gribs and weather anywhwere in the world.
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Old 26-10-2015, 18:35   #14
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Robert,
You're very welcome!
Wish I had the additional info that you have now provided, as this would've saved us both quite a bit of time!!

So, how about some brief comments/recommendations...

First off, you seem to be confusing the functions and capabilities of HF Radio ("SSB") and satellite communications devices...
These are two VERY different systems, with VERY different capabilities and functions...
They are not really comparable/exclusive, but rather are complimentary!!
(although, most find they will install the SSB first, as it is the most versatile, and an almost necessity for offshore cruising boats....with sat comm being a desire for some...)

And, please understand that if you follow some simple, layperson-understandable instructions/procedures (laid out here and in the Sailmail Primer), installing an SSB radio is pretty easy...actually easier than a fixed-mount sat comm terminal!!
Further, operating one is also pretty easy....just watch the videos that I referenced earlier!!



1) Reading just what you write here, it appears that the "electronics" on-board your new boat are fairly old and rudimentary...
That is NOT to say that they are "bad", just old, out-dated, and fairly rudimentary...
(the Raymarine Raynav 300, ST-5000, ST-50's are all about 3 or 4 generations past....designed in the late 90's / 2000....and I suspect yours are about 15 years old...)


2) The RayNav 300 is a GPS receiver/plotter, NOT a "chart plotter"...

--- It will NOT display any AIS targets/info at all...it was designed/sold well before the AIS system was implemented!

--- It is NOT a chart plotter, has no charting capability...


3) I haven't heard of Morgan's Cloud....but, if you wish to see what is used by real cruiser's worldwide, the SSCA Equipment Survey (which is constantly updated) is THE definitive place where you can find a LOT of real-world statistics and real-world user experiences/comments....
This is from 1000's of cruisers worldwide, not just one sailor's opinion, or one guy's experience..

Also, be sure to have a look at recent threads here, where we have discussed not only what is "necessary" versus what is "desired", but also what is on these two lists, based on your budget....($1000, $5000, $10,000 overall electronics budgets...)

I'll look for the threads later, and post some links for you then!




4) As for a Weather info and NOT needing a PACTOR modem....
The best maritime weather info/forecasts available, considered the "Gold Standard" by most offshore mariners worldwide, are provided by the US NWS/NOAA, the UK Met Office, French Met Office, Aus and NZ Met Offices, etc. (Further info/forecasts from Germany, Russia, Japan, China, Korea, S. Africa, Chile, etc. etc..)
These are real human-derived, maritime forecasts / weather charts, not just raw computer-model data...
And, these are all transmitted over HF Radio, for FREE, worldwide, 365 days a year, by very powerful transmitters...
They can be easily received by any Marine "SSB" radio, and shown on your laptop/computer or even iPad, etc. for FREE....

If you watch the videos that I linked-to earlier, this is explained/shown....
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


"GRIB" charts are just the raw computer model data....
And, these DO require the expensive PACTOR modem to download...



5) AIS transponder (sending your position out to others), is like 95% of marine electronics....whether it is a "need" or a "want", is dependent on two things:
--- Where and How, are you sailing/cruising??
--- What is your budget, and will the AIS transponder (at about $600 - $900) fit in your budget??




6) Regarding sending a message from the middle of the Atlantic....although not one of my priorities, I do understand the desire from many that are new to offshore sailing....

But, the GOOD NEWS is that it is very cheap and easy to do so with your modern Marine "SSB" radio!!
Either:
--- attain your ham radio license and use the ham radio bands, to pass on a message, update your position on Shiptrak (something that I do), place a phone call for you, etc....or..
---- use a Maritime shore station to place a call for you ($0.99/min), or send a short e-mail using your computer connected to your modern Marine "SSB" radio and use FSK/SITOR which is a relatively slow data communications mode (0.1kb), but does NOT require any external modem at all!!
HF SSB Radiotelephone, Telex and Email Frequencies and Channels


Or, should you desire some more e-mail connectivity when offshore on-passage, you can always use a Delorme InReach, or even rent an Iridium sat phone and use SMS, etc...




7) Regarding a radar reflector....
This is a whole long discussion on its own!!!

But, in general, most of them are relatively useless...
Check out the UK's MAIB study/report about them...

http://www.ussailing.org/wp-content/...tor%20Test.pdf



8) NAVTEX is great for coastal / near-offshore waters (up to 200 miles offshore), in most 1st World areas....especially in the US, where NAVTEX has more longterm (3-4 day) forecasts, versus the Med (where 24-48 hr forecasts are the norm)...

But, for offshore sailing and/or in 3rd world areas, NAVTEX has little advantage...



9) Keeping your current Icom VHF as a back-up/spare is fine....but trying to use it (or any VHF) with an AIS receiver on the same antenna will necessitate using a "splitter", etc...so, costs go UP!
Just keep it stowed as any "spare" part on-board!!

Buy a new Icom VHF radio, stow the old one, and don't give the subject of "VHF Radios" any more thought!!




10) As for the ARC...
You've got plenty of time!!
You may even elect to not go with the rally, but rather on your own, 'cause no matter how many boats in the rally, you are really all n your own!!



Okay, I do hope this helps some more!!

fair winds..

John
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Old 26-10-2015, 18:51   #15
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Re: AIS with VHF/SSB

Yes. I agree if I were to buy a transceiver a Vesper blue box is one potential - also because of its waterproofing standards.

But I would lose the dsc to ais capability unless I keep both units.

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