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Old 18-10-2012, 11:05   #31
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

As others have said, a ham radio makes a much better reciever than a cheap shortwave radio. Reciever electronics are way better and they are so much easier to tune. The price I mentioned was for a used radio, btw. Add a few $100 to buy new.

I bought my 718 used, already opened up for transmit on all the hf freq's for $425. The 718 is a pretty basic ham radio but it does all the things I want it to including send and receive Free email. Of course to do that I bought a very expensive modem. For what you initially want to do, you just need the radio. I don't get along with multi layered pull up menus which are a minimum on the 718. You get more tweaks and whistles with more expensive ham radios that do nothing for me 'cause I don't have the patience or interest to dig through the confusion. As was pointed out, other ham radio mfg's, make similar simple radios.
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Old 18-10-2012, 11:34   #32
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Ted,
You've gotten some good input, especially specifics on the "how-to's" of wefax software, computer interfacing, etc.....

But, your are in a marina where there is plenty of RF noise, etc. AND your antenna is not one that I suspect is doing you any favors!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
Im sitting at my nav table at the dock in Annapolis right now. I have a Kaito KA1103 reciever. I have a length of 12AWG wire with a 1/8" jack soldered to one end and the wire runs aft to the base of my mizzen maybe 15'. then up inside the mizzen 30' and out the top where a bare section of the wire is clamped to an insulated triatic stay.
1) Your antenna starts at the 1/8" plug....and most of your antenna is inside your boat and inside your mizzen mast, which means that most of your antenna is receiving very compromized radio signals AND most probably receiving more RF noise that it would otherwise....

You'd be better served using that piece of 12 gauge wire (say about 30' or so), stuck out a hatch / port, and run up a flag halyard....and plug the bottom end (with the 1/8" plug) into the radio....
(although I do have some more permenant ideas...)


2) An alternative would be to run coax from the radio, thru the boat, up your mast, and then attach the center conductor of the coax to the insulated triadic stay, with the shield connected to the mast top or grounded stay.... (or you could use a balun, and attach one wire to the triadic and the other to the mast/grounded stay....and you'd have a pretty decent antenna....)



3) Further, remember that a vertical antenna (whether a dipole, whip, or backstay, will allow for best low-angle signal reception, they also receive the most noise...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
I can barely get time signal reception on 10,000Khz. Am waiting till 1430 UTC to try and get weather fax but reception has been a real challenge.
At any rate we are less than 2 weeks from heading offshore to teh caribbean and so far have had little success with the SSB recieve/JV Comm method. I suspect my radio is the problem. I would consider installing a proper SSB radio if I could get away with spending just a few hundred on the radio itself and deal with tuned and other bits for transmitting later.
4) a) Get out of the marina, even if just for a short daytrip!!!
b) Get away from shore / commercial areas / etc. by a at least a 1/2 mile to a mile.....a few miles away is great!!!
c) Then make sure you've controlled the RFI environment on-board your boat as well....

And, you're likely to find that your reception improves!!!!

Oh, and BTW, as the day goes on....try 15.000mhz and 20.000mhz WWV as well....usually less noise on the higher freqs,
(as long as the bands are open, using the highest freq possible always produces the best signals...)



5) BEFORE you do anything else, like spend $$ on another radio, etc....
Change your antenna / antenna design!!!!

Indoor antennas (even on a boat) don't work well at all....
And, antennas run inside, along other wiring work even worse....
And even worse, running an antenna up inside a conductive mast (assuming you have alum masts???)....

Change your antenna BEFORE you do anything else!!!!



6) Then after changing the antenna, spend a few minutes boning-up on radiowave propagation.....

The 2 things that really make a radio play well (whether a simple receiver or a full-fledged transceiver) are:
a) A good antenna...
and
b) An experienced operator....

No matter how hi-tech the radio, or software, etc....
It is the antenna and the operator that make 95% of the difference between things working great or not at all!!!!





Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
I would consider installing a proper SSB radio if I could get away with spending just a few hundred on the radio itself and deal with tuned and other bits for transmitting later.
7) The advice of an Icom IC-718 is good....or even a used Icom Marine transceiver, such as a M-700pro or M-710....
But, please change your antenna FIRST!!!




Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
I thought you needed the tuner? Would you suspect I would get better reception with an Icom SSB without the tuner than I will with my Kaito?
8) Yes.....
But, you'd better changing your antenna FIRST!!!!




I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 18-10-2012, 11:50   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi
As others have said, a ham radio makes a much better reciever than a cheap shortwave radio.
Agree but side by side I don't think my 7000 isn't *that* much better than the degen 1103. Better in many ways but from Caribbean to uk the little degen was fine receiving wfax all the way. It will certainty be staying onboard s a backup, current draw is much less as well.
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Old 18-10-2012, 11:57   #34
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Ted,
Just a couple brief points...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
Im sitting at my nav table at the dock in Annapolis right now. I can barely get time signal reception on 10,000Khz. Am waiting till 1430 UTC to try and get weather fax but reception has been a real challenge.
9am on the east coast can be a bit early to get 10mhz or higher comms to the west....but from Annapolis, you should be able to receive wefax from NMF (USCG - Boston) on at least one or two of their daytime channels today...6340.5, 9110, and 12750.....
Boston Radiofax Schedule with Links

And, you should also be able to get decent reception from NMG (USCG-New Orleans).....on 8503.9 and 12789.9....
New Orleans Radiofax Schedule with Links

But, you may also wish to check both your voice recption quality on 14.300 (the MMSN), etc...

As well as USCG voice weather...
USCG HF Voice

And, WLO's hourly traffic lists (on the top of each hour) and weather broadcasts...
HF SSB Radiotelephone, Telex and Email Frequencies and Channels



I hope this helps some....


Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 18-10-2012, 12:39   #35
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Ok, I'm on the Pro-SSB and/or Ham transceiver side of things. Besides the safety part of having the weather fax (paper and/or voice for certain areas), you are also in direct contact with other cruisers and the many Cruiser Nets broadcasting in the Caribbean, Pacific, South Pacific, and the world. Plus, you can send/receive Email (free for Winlink (Ham), or $250/year (SSB) Sailmail).

As a past Net Controller (in Panama) for the Pan-Pacific Net - 8143 at 1400 UTC, we spoke daily with cruisers sailing toward Panama from Mexico and out to the Galapagos Islands (yes that far!). Great cruising and local information is shared among the cruising fleet. It's nice to talk with friends hundreds of miles away and know information about the anchorages, dangers, provisioning, or local check-in procedures well ahead of time. There is a LOT more information broadcasted on the SSB than you realize.

Having a receiver (only) may be better than having nothing at all...that is, until you really need to communicate with someone, or communicate far beyond VHF range. Yes, the Sat Phones are getting cheaper, and great to have if they're in your budget, and if the other party has a phone and you have their number!

As full-time cruisers, we like having more communication options aboard for the safety of our crew, and for the boat.
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Old 18-10-2012, 12:42   #36
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Once you leave the dock and get out to "open water," away from the other boats, masts, buildings, etc... you will hear (receive) a LOT better on your radio.
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Old 18-10-2012, 12:50   #37
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

And if you're worried about your cable between radio and computer, you could also spring for one of these...
6-Ft. Attenuating Dubbing Cord, 1/8 Phone Plug to RCA Plug : Dubbing Cords | RadioShack.com

Though I've had no problem with a plain, non-attenuating patch cable.
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Old 19-10-2012, 05:53   #38
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For a inexpensive antenna fix, Google "Rope Antenna". It looks like a regular line but has a copper core that you can hoist up the mast. It works very well as a vertical dipole or tie off to the stern rail. It can be custom cut for the frequencies you want to tune in. I go back and forth from it to my insulated backstay. No problems. I purchased it for a backup but use it a lot.
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Old 19-10-2012, 07:31   #39
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
As others have said, a ham radio makes a much better reciever than a cheap shortwave radio. Reciever electronics are way better and they are so much easier to tune. The price I mentioned was for a used radio, btw. Add a few $100 to buy new.

I bought my 718 used, already opened up for transmit on all the hf freq's for $425. The 718 is a pretty basic ham radio but it does all the things I want it to including send and receive Free email. Of course to do that I bought a very expensive modem. For what you initially want to do, you just need the radio. I don't get along with multi layered pull up menus which are a minimum on the 718. You get more tweaks and whistles with more expensive ham radios that do nothing for me 'cause I don't have the patience or interest to dig through the confusion. As was pointed out, other ham radio mfg's, make similar simple radios.
Mind if I ask the running price for modems of that type? Sure would be nice to have some limited email capabilities on the crossings.
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Old 19-10-2012, 07:46   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drruss
For a inexpensive antenna fix, Google "Rope Antenna". It looks like a regular line but has a copper core that you can hoist up the mast. It works very well as a vertical dipole
$185 for what is to the radio just a length of wire is "inexpensive"?

It certainly isn't a vertical dipole either, it is a vertical monopole. Still requires an antenna tuner for transmitting unless its length including unshielded feed happens to be resonant in the single band of your interest.

Chip
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Old 19-10-2012, 07:55   #41
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

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Originally Posted by sentientcj View Post
Mind if I ask the running price for modems of that type? Sure would be nice to have some limited email capabilities on the crossings.
Pactor Modem Kit Contents and Pricing.htm

The cost of these things has inspired me to get my Technician's license so I can use Winlink. Maybe a bit slower than Pactor III but what's the rush?
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Old 19-10-2012, 09:12   #42
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

So I see a whole lot of scope creep going on here.

OP started out asking about how to get weather fax on an existing computer: $200 ($170 for new SSB receiver + $30 for patch cable)

Then the suggestion was made that a ham radio would make a better receiver: $400-600 (used radio + lets say $30 for cabling and antenna)

Then the suggestion was made that if you have the ham you really should be able to transmit for emergency response: approx$1000 (used radio, tuner, cabling, backstay insulators, ham license)

Hey if you have a working ham you could get a Pactor modem and have email too wouldn't that be cool: $3000 or so + $100-200yr ($1k radio as above, $2k Pactor plus annual email subscription).

SCOPE CREEP
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Old 19-10-2012, 09:40   #43
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

You can probably pick up an old SSB that will do the job for receiving pretty cheap.... might be an alternative to the $99 sony or etc. .... might be a lot bigger though! As stated above.... what you get is nice smooth tuning.... tuning is hard enough on a good radio.... might get real frustrating on a small handheld. You can get a good old Ham radio for $250 or so. Kenwood 430, 440 etc. You dont need an antenna tuner or ground plane to receive.
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Old 19-10-2012, 10:24   #44
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Win link 2000 is a virtually free hf email setup that works very well for the ham world. When I say virtually free, they do ask for a $10 donation which is nothing for what you get.

I've been doing a major refurb. on the boat and haven't turned on the radio in more than a year. Seems there have been some new developments to get inexpensive email at sea. Pactor modem was the only proven system when I did my solo transpac 2 1/2 years ago. Pactor modems are expensive, paid $700 for a used Pactor 2 with the 3 upgrade. Reading through the Winlink website, it looks like using cheap sound cards may be an alternative. There are two programs for under $50 on the site. Don't know how well they work or how easy they are to set up but they weren't even available back in the old days of '10.

Yes this thread creep.
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Old 22-10-2012, 20:19   #45
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Re: Awfully Stupid Question re SSB Reciever/WeatherFax

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
So I see a whole lot of scope creep going on here.


SCOPE CREEP
But a most excellent Scope Creep

Thank you all for the education.

And thanks to the OP who had the courage to ask the question in the first instance.
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