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Old 24-01-2014, 17:23   #16
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Just thought I'd try to actually post some photos of my Furuno FAX-408, my old Alden MarineFaxIV, Nav Station, etc. inside this thread....






















Sometimes a picture actually is worth a thousand words....
So, there 'ya go..


Fair winds.

John
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Old 24-01-2014, 20:30   #17
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

The Wefax charts you download via Saildocs are "perfect" and easy to read. Often the best you can get "over-the-air" is difficult to read. If you have a Pactor modem you can easily do both. I retrieve the most important via Saildocs, but often set Getfax to get the less critical ones over the air.
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Old 25-01-2014, 11:05   #18
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
1. Does a Pactor modem do a significantly better job decoding weatherfax broadcasts than sound card methods?
No

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
2. Is a dedicated weatherfax receiver really such a boon as to justify the expense, space, etc.?
No

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
3. Assuming you have Sailmail anyway, and a Pactor modem, is it better yet to get weatherfaxes sent by email? Is email over Pactor a more efficient method than receiving the FSK weatherfax broadcasts?
No, No
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Old 25-01-2014, 12:52   #19
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Being a frequent CF poster, I'm sure you've read about and/or considered getting weather fax via a receiver, but just in case you haven't here's what we do:

We have a portable receiver with the headphones of the receiver plugged into the mic of the laptop and run JVComm. Works great, even in the marina. If the laptop dies we can use an app on our iPhones or iPad to capture the images. I made a simple external antenna which is just a length of wire run from the nav station to our port shroud with a mono jack on one end and an alligator clip on the other. However, I've found for the NWS Boston transmissions (about 400 miles away as the crow flies) I don't even need to hook it up using their 9110 broadcast (9.108 MHz). We use a Sangean 909X that I got off of eBay barely used (still in shipping plastic) for a bit cheaper than a new Tecsun 660, which was my other choice. Total investment including the bits needed for the external antenna were under $150. We have neither the boat space nor the disposable income for a dedicated weather fax machine.

Another consideration is power consumption- for example our Sangean runs off 4 AA batteries or 12V adapter and sips energy compared to running an ICOM 802.

If I had an ICOM M802 and 12V power to spare, I'd keep it simple and use the same technique (SSB headphone to laptop mic). If I was concerned about power I'd get a portable receiver, which will also act as a backup to the 802.

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Old 27-01-2014, 02:23   #20
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dockhead,
Don't have the time to go into details at the moment, but have enough time to definitively answer your questions about WeFax chart broadcasts and ways to receive them...and I addressed the various ways to receive wefax (and other offshore/hi-seas weather) in a thread here last summer (see below for link)....1) A typical weather chart broadcast takes about 8 minutes...depending on the size of the chart, it varies a bit, from 6 minutes to as much as 10 minutes...
But, figure about 8 minutes....

{BTW, just a fun fact....facsimile is the oldest form of "image" communication....the patents date back to 1843...yes that's the 19th Century!!! And, first commercial "telefax" service started in 1865!!!
And, radiofax dates back to the 1920's/30's.....
Modern radiofax/wefax is a robust form of one-way communications...and with modern receivers, it still works great!!!

Oh, and further according to the 2012 survey by the WMO/jcomm Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, HF WeFax is used my a majority of commercial ocean-going vessels daily and will continue to be used by them daily, for at least the next decade....

So, HF wefax isn't going anywhere, any time soon!!!}


If you look at the broadcast schedules you'll see about 10 - 13 minutes between chart transmissions, the two that I use regularly, are USCG wefax broadcasts from Boston and New Orleans...
Boston Radiofax Schedule with Links
New Orleans Radiofax Schedule with Links




2) As for a stand-alone wefax receiver, this is the approach that I used starting in the 1970's and still use today....
And, is still the preferred way for many professional commercial mariners...

Although nowadays, some like the idea of a standalone "black box" connected to a laptop, etc....but this adds the issue of a "laptop" now being a necessity in order to "get weather", and if you're going to do that, why not simply use your HF transceiver(s) for the receiver, or another HF receiver, and save the $$$???

It is a pricey way to go....but VERY effective and reliable...
A new Furuno FAX-408 will set you back about $2000....(I know, I bought one a few years ago, when my Alden MarineFaxIV's automatic timer would no longer function...it's nice to program it to turn-on and receive just the charts that you want, whether you're on-board or not, or on-watch, or asleep, etc...and I REALLY like my Furuno FAX-408...)

My FAX-408, as well as my old Alden can be seen in these photos of my Nav Station...
Nav Station




3) As for the "advantage" of receiving wefax charts (synoptic weather charts and forecasts prepared by seasoned maritime meteorologists) via an e-mail (saildocs) thru a PACTOR-modem radio link, rather than received directly from the USCG, UK Met/GYA, etc. etc..

If using Sailmail, the saildocs e-mail wouldn't take nearly as long as the open WeFax transmission takes....about a minute or so, per chart ....
But, this DOES use up some of your daily 14 minutes (90 minutes/week) of Sailmail access....
(I've not heard of many that choose to use up their precious Sailmail minutes by getting wefax charts this way....unless they're having reception problems from the broadcasts and/or missed the chart they wanted!!)

The only advantage to using the PACTOR-connection (thru Sailmail, etc.) is that the chart is clean / clear of any "static"...as the PACTOR error correction makes sure that there are no errors received....so noise / static is removed...
BUT...
But, this does NOT mean that the PACTOR connection is better....just that it can produce a clean/clear chart...

Since the Sailmail stations are typically 150 watts PEP (50-100 watts average in PACTOR-II and PACTOR-III), vs. the USCG wefax transmitters being 4000 watts average, and UK, etc. stations as much as 10,000 watts average....
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf
And, further since the USCG, Aus, UK, SA, Japan, etc. etc. wefax transmission antennas are designed to provide gain on their freqs, and point their signals to the areas they're sending weather forecasts for, vs. the unknown antennas of Sailmail stations......and even worse the totally unpredictable antennas of WINLINK stations (possibly wide-band, zero-gain)....
In these cases, the real S/N "advantage" of PACTOR (theoretically as much as 15 -16db, typically 8-10db) is easily compensated for by the more powerful transmitters and better antennas of these HF WeFax transmission facilities...




4) Now last summer I spent some time writing a rather detailed posting on the SSCA Disc boards about "how to get weather" when offshore.....this was prompted by a specific question from an SSCA poster....
And then when I decided to re-post this information here I was rightly taken to task for using the word "accurate" in my posting.....but since I included some very brief opinion, I found myself flamed for voicing such heresy as stating that if still works well for many/most commercial ocean vessels (and I've been successfully using it for decades), then this is what I primarily recommend.....
In any case, that is all water-under-the-bridge....

But, you can read what I wrote there about WeFax, etc. here....
Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea




I hope this helps clarify things a bit....

Fair winds.

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Fantastically comprehensive information, as usual John, thank!

If it's faster and more error-free to receive them by email, and plus you're not on a broadcast schedule, that really kind of sounds like a superior method to me, did I miss something?

In order to avoid eating up Sailmail minutes, I suppose I could use Winlink, couldn't I? It's not commercial I think? The Airmail program will push your selected faxes and gribs to you through either Sailmail or Winlink, won't it?
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Old 27-01-2014, 02:42   #21
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

And here's some information I googled up about getting wefax over email:

Get Weather Information Over Your SSB Email

Looks like the wefax files may be too large for Sailmail, but can work with Winlink. Sounds like you can order them up over Saildocs. Looks very cool.
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Old 27-01-2014, 06:16   #22
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Dockhead,
Receiving WeFax broadcasts is FREE....and requires NO costly modem....saving many mariners $1500 - $2000, as well as a few hundred dollars per year...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
If it's faster and more error-free to receive them by email, and plus you're not on a broadcast schedule, that really kind of sounds like a superior method to me, did I miss something?
So, when you ask if use of PACTOR modem for getting wefax via an e-mail is "superior", that's a subjective/opinion question...
My opinion: No, it's not superior....just different...they both work, just in different ways...
(and although I don't have a PACTOR modem myself, both the math and anecdotal reports suggest that wefax broadcasts are almost always going to be received on at least one channel/freq, vs. some cruisers attempting to connect via Sailmail or winlink and finding stations either busy or poor/non-existent signals/propagation...)





Not using either Sailmail nor winlink, myself, I'll defer to others for the specifics here....but you are correct...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
In order to avoid eating up Sailmail minutes, I suppose I could use Winlink, couldn't I? It's not commercial I think? The Airmail program will push your selected faxes and gribs to you through either Sailmail or Winlink, won't it?
As long as you have Airmail configured for both Sailmail and winlink (and have callsigns for both), Airmail will allow you to choose easily whether to connect to a Sailmail station or winlink station...

But, I'm not privy to the size limits of either service...best to check with them directly to be sure you can get what you want when you want it...


Fair winds.

John
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Old 27-01-2014, 09:19   #23
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

At this point in time I do not have a SSB and do not intend to install one. But for an Atlantic crossing and Europe/Baltic cruising I am considering the following: Does it sound reasonable/cost effective to meet the needs of both weather and AIS. What sounds like the "best system"?
Here are the options:
From the most complete and expensive
1. Furuno Fax 30 (both weather fax and Navtec forecasts, needed in the EU). Furuno plotter (big rebate until June) that would function with an AIS transceiver, (provides chart plotter back-up as well).
2. Simrad AIS, plotter. and either weather fax and PC or sat phone and GRIB files
3. Furuno Fax 30 and PC, stand alone AIS
3a Sat phone GRIB files, PC, stand alone AIS
Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 27-01-2014, 12:09   #24
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Jack,
1) For offshore and high seas weather data and forecasts, you're plans looks okay..
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
At this point in time I do not have a SSB and do not intend to install one. But for an Atlantic crossing and Europe/Baltic cruising I am considering the following: Does it sound reasonable/cost effective to meet the needs of both weather and AIS.
The FAX-30 is a fine piece of gear....a bit pricey, but very good kit...
I am assuming that you'll have another "display" such as a laptop, to connect to the FAX-30, in order to do two things???
a) provide a back-up for a Furuno NavNet MFD, should you experience a failure???
b) depending on what Furuno display, provide you with a lower-power consumption display for your weather charts???



2) For AIS display, the Furuno MFD is fine when you have it on....but what are you going to be using for an AIS display when offshore for weeks at a time, when there is no need for chart plotter???
(not to mention the great features of Vesper WatchMate products, that you'd be missing!!)

I recommend the Vesper AIS displays highly!!! (I LOVE mine, and I'm not alone!!!)
AIS WatchMate Display - Dedicated collision avoidance system

{BTW, until you've actually used the absolutely wonderful Vesper WatchMate AIS displays, and seen their unique CPA graphic page in action, etc. you really won't know what you're missing!}




Heck, you may find it just as easy to get a Vesper 850 Class B transponder / display....or their new XB-8000 transponder w/ a WM670 display....
AIS WatchMate 850 - AIS transponder and display

XB-8000 AIS transponder with built-in WiFi and NMEA 2000 Gateway
AIS WatchMate Display - Dedicated collision avoidance system








3) Asking which is best, is asking opinion....and that's going to vary widely, depending on how/where you're using it, and of course on our own personal experiences....so with that in mind...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
What sounds like the "best system"?
Here are the options:
From the most complete and expensive
1. Furuno Fax 30 (both weather fax and Navtec forecasts, needed in the EU). Furuno plotter (big rebate until June) that would function with an AIS transceiver, (provides chart plotter back-up as well).
2. Simrad AIS, plotter. and either weather fax and PC or sat phone and GRIB files
3. Furuno Fax 30 and PC, stand alone AIS
3a Sat phone GRIB files, PC, stand alone AIS.
--- I personally believe offshore/hi-seas weather and AIS are different things and grouping them together in one question is sure to confuse the issues....
So, I'll deal with the AIS first, as this is the easiest to answer (and not really part of this thread)....
Go with the Vesper products, I highlighted above....
Their WatchMate 670 display (w/ any AIS transponder, or with their XB-8000 transponder) is the most versatile....or simplify things and use their WatchMate 850 AIS transponder/display (all-in-one)....
Either way, you can still send all your AIS data to any chartplotter and/or computer you desire, but you'll still have the best AIS system / displays available!!!


---- As for the 3 - 4 different plans you propose for "getting weather" when at sea....
I personally like the reception of WeFax broadcasts directly.....using either: a) a dedicated WeFax unit, such as my Furuno FAX-408; or
b) a dedicated receiver such as the Furuno FAX-30 connected to a laptop and/or a Furuno MFD; or
c) use of any decent HF receiver (Marine SSB, or portable HF receiver such as Sangean 909, or Sony 7600)
BUT....
But, understand that some find HF reception on-board to be plagued by RFI (radio frequency interference) and you MUST understand that and you may need to spend an afternoon tracking down the offending items/systems, and filter them properly....(it is NOT expensive....typically will cost your less than $50....but not doing spending the time looking for and filtering the offending items might make you curse your choice of HF wefax later on....so, PLEASE heed this advise before you shove-off across the Atlantic!)














So, if I HAD to pick which one of the "plans" you listed as the "best", it would be #1 and #3.....in my opinion, together they make the "best" plan out of what you listed....

This does not mean that this actually IS the "best" plan....just MY opinion, based on just the info you provided....

And, I'm sure some here will chime in and say that I'm "old fashioned" and somehow I'm "anti-satellite"...
Ha!...I've made a living in the sat comm business for 30 years now, the last dozen years exclusively in commercial sat comm industry....I'm actually VERY "pro-satellite".....it's just that the a sat comm system that is usable / reliable to send/receive e-mails, is pretty pricey (and while not too complicated, it ain't as easy as using your cell phone....), as you'll need a fixed-mount external Iridium antenna and some sort of nav station phone mount / docking station....(understand that Globalstar will not cover you along your whole route, even in areas where they have coverage, it is "spotty"....and an INMARSAT IsatPhonePro will require an even more expensive external antenna and have slightly lower speeds, higher air-time costs)


I hope this answers some of your questions...if not please ask again and/or be more specific and we'll try again....



~~~~~~~~~~~
BTW, Jack, now that I answered you.....I hope you can answer me a question...
What are going to use for long-range communications on-board??
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
I do not have a SSB and do not intend to install one.
Just wondering????
Since there is no way to contact other vessels beyond VHF radio range, and although an EPIRB is a great way to signal distress in an emergency, you should be aware of its limitations / delays, etc...

And, while some pre-program RCC contact numbers into a satellite phone, trying to pass your lat/long, etc. thru a sat phone connection when you're in a MayDay situation isn't going to be easy/effective....(hence this what the GMDSS was designed to overcome, with multiple paths to signal distress / urgency with.....EPIRB, MF/HF-DSC (aka "SSB radio"), an INMARSAT-C.....no handheld sat phone, no Iridium, no Isatphonepro, etc....heck, voice contact is established only AFTER digital-connection of distress/urgency is signaled...and then it is by HF radio and/or INMARSAT-B....)
Okay, sorry to ramble on and on....
I was just curious what you have on-board for long range communications....I assume INMARSAT-B, etc.???
~~~~~~~~~~~


Fair winds..

John
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Old 27-01-2014, 13:07   #25
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Jack,
I got a phone call as I was finishing my answers, and now I can't go back and Edit what I left out...sorry about that...

Regarding my question for you about what you have for long-range comms, etc...
Please read over this thread and the links posted in it, in order to have a clearer understanding of how EPIRB's work, how to increase rescue odds and reduce the time to get assistance, and how to utilize more of the GMDSS for your benefit (you're already aware of NAVTEX, but please be aware of MF/HF-DSC, INMARSAT-C, etc. as well...)

SSCA Forum • View topic - EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds


SSCA Forum • View topic - Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!



Fair winds..

John
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Old 27-01-2014, 15:19   #26
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

John:
Thanks for the input. I have read many of the links you referred to. My initial plan was actually the WatchMate 850 - AIS transponder and either a sat phone for GRIB files along with a Navtex receiver (for near shore) or the Fax 30 or connected to a PC. My impression is that the weather fax reports are easier/better than GRIBs, but there seems to be a movement away from them. Do you think there is any chance of NOAA discontinuing weather fax transmissions?
At Strictly Sail this weekend one of the vendors suggested an integrated system, so I thought I would look in to it, hence my questions. I was trying to determine if the power consumption and cost of a plotter for the AIS display, a black box AIS had some merits that I had not realized. I am aware of your affinity for SSB and feelings for sat phones, as well as the limits and benefits of EPIRBs, but don't think we are ready to take on SSB transceivers along with the extensive refit that we are doing, what SSB receiver would you recommend?
Thanks, I'll continue to study the posts you referred to.
Jack
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Old 27-01-2014, 17:54   #27
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Jack,
You're very welcome!

1) But, I'm still confused about your question regarding "AIS" and "WeFax"???
I'm suspect someone at the Boat Show tried to link them together, somehow / somewhere....but since I wasn't there with 'ya, so I'm confused...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
My initial plan was actually the WatchMate 850 - AIS transponder
I cut your post here in the middle of this sentence, as I'd like to say, in MY OPINION, this (Vesper WatchMate 850) is a great choice...
And, I cannot think of any reason to change this....and certainly nothing to do with offshore/hi-seas weather data/forecast reception would effect the choice of AIS transponder, nor AIS display when at sea...






2) As for weather fax vs. GRIB's.....and the long term viability of WeFax....
(maybe you could've asked a less controversial question, like what is the best anchor???
This first part opens-up-a-can-of-worms.....but the second part is easy....
So, the second part, first...


b ----- WeFax charts WILL BE HERE FOR SOME YEARS TO COME, from the US NWS/NOAA, as well as from some other ocean-voyaging nations, such as China, Australia, NZ, Russia, Germany, Japan, S. Korea, etc....and even those crimped by economizing such as UK, SA, Chile, etc. are still planning on keeping their signals on-the-air....if anyone has doubts about this, please read the 2012 survey by the WMO/jcomm Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology...



a ----- As for WeFax Charts vs. GRIB's....they are VERY different things....
One is not "better", as they are NOT the same things, and are NOT intended to be used for the same things....
Although many "cruiser's" seem to have been sold the idea of GRIB's (raw computer data) as a substitute for synoptic weather charts (actually prepared and published by humans), when in reality they are NOT a substitute for them....

You are aware that wefax weather charts are actual weather charts prepared by humans (who in the US, anyway, sign their name to the forecasts!!), and are based on that forecaster's best analysis of real-time data, multiple years of experience, etc. as well as them (the human forecaster) taking into account data from many multiple weather models....


And, contrarily, a GRIB (Gridded Binary file) is one computer model's raw output.....so, if downloading multiple GRIB's for the same area and same forecasts times, and finding other real-time data (VERY EXPENSIVE to do on-board), would give you most of the raw data to allow you to make your own forecasts....

{note, that while I know how to read a weather chart as well as the sky and barometer, etc....and have decades of offshore sailing experience, I am not a meteorologist, and I prefer to get a forecast from a real meteorologist rather than raw computer models....just MY OPINION here....but it does jibe with many other experienced opinions as well...}

Please note that in some areas of the world's oceans that are not well-traveled, GRIB's are a viable option and are actually considered one of the only options in some of these areas (as are 137mhz live satellite APT feeds), as there are few if any synoptic charts available.....but in "first world" areas / areas with shipping traffic, synoptic charts rule.....with the US NWS/NOAA Ocean Prediction Center / Tropical Prediction Center (along with the UK, France, Germany, Aus, and NZ Met Offices), considered to be the "Gold Standard" of offshore / hi-seas weather forecasts!!!


I fully understand that the above factual information runs contrary to the hype from the guys selling all the new whiz-bang cool-stuff.....but, it is what it is, and I can't change the facts to fit someone's marketing strategy...




3) In my opinion, it is best to decide on what weather data / forecasts you desire, and then decide on "how-to" get this weather....
But, unfortunately, that is rarely done...

So, in your situation you have two distinctly different applications....
a) Crossing the Atlantic..(WeFax Rules here!!!)

b) Baltic / Europe cruising...(NAVTEX is going to be your primary coastal / near-offshore weather source here....with Wi-Fi/4G internet access in port, allowing even more options...)

So, if you can receive both WeFax and NAVTEX on-board, you have the best / "gold standard" of maritime weather data / forecasts, and they are FREE....

Again, in my opinion, it seems like a no-brainer to me....
But, everyone is different, and opinions vary....






4) So, how-to "get weather", depends on the weather data / forecasts you desire....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
and either a sat phone for GRIB files along with a Navtex receiver (for near shore) or the Fax 30 or connected to a PC. My impression is that the weather fax reports are easier/better than GRIBs, but there seems to be a movement away from them. Do you think there is any chance of NOAA discontinuing weather fax transmissions?
I think I addressed the differences between wefax charts and GRIB's, above....as well as the long-term viability of wefax transmissions, but just to clarify, no the USCG is NOT discontinuing their WeFax broadcasts of NWS/NOAA weather charts and satellite images anytime soon (probably not for the next decade or more)....







5) Remember, boat shows are dangerous places...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
At Strictly Sail this weekend one of the vendors suggested an integrated system, so I thought I would look in to it, hence my questions.
I was trying to determine if the power consumption and cost of a plotter for the AIS display, a black box AIS had some merits that I had not realized.
Power consumption of ANY chartplotter is going to be a LOT more than any AIS display....
And, if you compare the consumption of a Furuno NavNet vs. a Vesper WatchMate display.....you're going to have an aircraft carrier vs. dinghy difference here!!
The 12" NavNet MFD (display only) will consume about 2.6 to 2.7amps x 24 hours = 64 A/H per day...
The Vesper WatchMate 670 display will consume less than 0.1 amp x 24 hours = < 2.4 A/H per day...(that's less than 4% of the Furuno's consumption!!)







6) No need to concern, regarding my affinity....I'll give 'ya the straight scoop / factual info.....and also give 'ya my opinion, but I will notate my opinions as such...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2 View Post
I am aware of your affinity for SSB and feelings for sat phones, as well as the limits and benefits of EPIRBs, but don't think we are ready to take on SSB transceivers along with the extensive refit that we are doing, what SSB receiver would you recommend?
(BTW, I LOVE Iridium!!! it is a GREAT system.....)
And, here again I'm a bit confused by the guys at the boat show proposing buying a Furuno NavNet 12" chartplotter ($3500 - $4000) and then a FAX-30 (another $1000+), but not spending the $2600 on a total/complete Icom M-802/AT-140 SSB system and install???
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components


As for what HF receivers I recommend....
There are some recent threads here that dealt with just that....(I use a Sangean 909 as my emergency receiver...and others have had good luck with the Sony 7600...)
BUT...
but, remember that all HF receiving can be hindered by on-board RFI....and having a decent outside antenna (even just a 20' - 30' hunk of wire strung up a flag halyard will work better than the small telescopic whips on the radios themselves), will go a long way to making things work well for you...

See these threads for lots of details on HF receivers...(the first one has pictures of my emergency receiver, the Sangean 909...as well as a LOT of detail....the 2nd and 3rd ones are a bit brief, but have some info...)

Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea

Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

SSB Receivers



I hope this helps..

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 27-01-2014, 20:19   #28
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Re: Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Short answers Dockhead.
Yes
No
Yes
and a whole lot more features in the PTC box too.
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