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Old 28-08-2015, 18:21   #1
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Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

I am thinking this is going to be obvious. See these radios at radio shack, or I did when they were in business. About $60 and they called them single side band. I think they are the receive only, if they transmit you need a locence and the radio is a lot more.

Do these actually pick up stations far away? What are some other low cost methods for getting weather information.

A lot of the info is outdated, talking about weather faxes and what not.
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Old 28-08-2015, 19:50   #2
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
A lot of the info is outdated, talking about weather faxes and what not.
These methods are still working and still free. You need a decent quality SSB radio, external antenna and a laptop to get weather charts. For the voice broadcasts you only need the radio, pencil and paper. There are a ton of threads on CF about how to set up a laptop and radio to decode weather charts (synoptic, satellite images and text).
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Old 28-08-2015, 21:22   #3
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Oh cool, I'll look them up, what kind of antenna do I need? Do I use the sub radio. With my laptop of can I just use my laptop with an antenna?
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Old 29-08-2015, 00:46   #4
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Sony, Sangean, Kaito, Grundig and probably others make Single Side Band Short Wave/HF Radios that will serve to pick up weather broadcasts. Most are less than $200. WWV has hourly significant weather bulletins 5, 10, and 15 MgH. Look them up for all the frequencies and time. We got by just fine with WWV on the sail to French Polynesia and back. Hooking into a computer to get GRIBS and other weather charts is more involved. You may be able to get by just using the whip antenna on the radios. Know it will work to pick up WWV.
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Old 29-08-2015, 06:33   #5
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Oh cool, I'll look them up, what kind of antenna do I need? Do I use the sub radio. With my laptop of can I just use my laptop with an antenna?
You generally use single sideband to receive weather. But WWV and WWVB (Hawaii) at 2.5, 5,10 & 15 mehahertz are in AM mode.

For receiving weather charts and satellite images you tune the radio to the weather frequency for your area and time of day (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/rfax.pdf). Then connect the audio output of the radio to the line in jack on the laptop. Then you need a program on the laptop to convert the funny tones on the SSB radio into pictures. There are many such programs. I like http://www.jvcomm.de/index_e.html and OpenCPN http://opencpn.org/ocpn/Weatherfax_Plugin. Both work with nearly all sound systems of modern laptops. OpenCPN is a totally free program. JVCOMM offers a free trial that works well.

Generally you need an antenna that extends out of the boat. A wire from the radio lifted by a halyard into the air works quite well. Most portable radios have a connection for a wire antenna. Sangean and Sony are good brands and there are others. Generally a decent quality SSB radio with fine tuning controls will cost between $100-$300. Don't expect the $25 radios sold in street markets to work well.
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Old 29-08-2015, 09:48   #6
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Hi, good info on the thread , I've been using weatherfax for many years, jv com with various laptops, always have a lot of interference resulting in poor pictures. I've just bought an inexpensive tablet running android found a program in the google store and use audio between the radio and the tablet, now get MUCH better pics, just with the radio antenna, even during the day. It seems like the computer generates a lot of the picture quality problem especially with a wired (USB) connection The tablet and the radio are right next to each other during reception, no problem. Hope this is useful, PT
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Old 29-08-2015, 10:01   #7
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Bootstrapper, can you elaborate on that? Name of program in google play store and how you connected audio to your tablet from the radio? My Yacht Boy has audio out but tablet has no audio in.
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Old 29-08-2015, 10:13   #8
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

the program is HF Weatherfax not very expensive, . Has all the bells and whistles,and it receives the radio signal via audio, no wired connection involved My current computer an asus , it generates so much interference that the picture is unreadable. The tablet gives me the best picture ever, even with the radio just a few inches away. Doesn't seem to be a problem with ambient noise either.
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Old 29-08-2015, 10:57   #9
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

There are also books about weather, including use of barometers. IIRC, boatman managed to navigate around some weather by reading the sky & sea state last year. Dependence on electronic/instantaneous answers may be over rated for any particular location way out there.

I say this, as Steady Hand has frequently mentioned, in a friendly manner.

I used to be the weather forecaster at my summer camp. I'd get up earlier than the rest, go up to the "nature hut", read the instruments, sling the hydrometer (sp? - it's been a while ), and read the clouds, then prepare a forecast. This was in western Massachusetts, variable weather during the summer for sure.

I also have a nice old Sangean radio.
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Old 29-08-2015, 13:59   #10
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Do these actually pick up stations far away? What are some other low cost methods for getting weather information.

NASA Navtex (Dual Band) and Roberts R861 a Portable Multiband Radio with loads of presets plus SSB (Upper & Lower Band) also a portable Scanner is very useful eg YUPITERU MVT-7100 (Narrow & Wideband FM) in that order.

Hope that helps - whatever else, I wouldn't be without the Navtex for local weather and the Roberts gets most of the rest but the MVT-7100 with a wide band 'rubber duck' aerial is very useful for monitoring Airfield TAFs etc on VHF. Used to carry a small portable hand held TV but since most countries have now gone Digital, they use up too much juice to run off small batteries.
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Old 29-08-2015, 14:48   #11
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Navtex is not designed to work more than a few hundred miles from shore. The SSB weather fax system works pretty much anywhere on the high seas. There is world wide coverage from many countries not only the US. So, yes, these SSB shortwave radios pick up stations far away (thousands of miles).
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Old 29-08-2015, 15:10   #12
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

A useful source of Atlantic / Caribbean weather information for a SSB capable shortwave radio is the Maritime Mobile Service Net.

The net is on 14.300 MHz upper sideband, and runs from the middle of the afternoon to early evening, Eastern Standard Time.

Weather for the North Atlantic and Caribbean basin is given at the
start of each hour.

Most of the net control stations run high powered transmitters with beam antennas and do a good job of covering the Atlantic / Caribbean area.

Maritime Mobile Service Network
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Old 29-08-2015, 16:32   #13
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

northoceanbeach,
The short answer is:
In addition to the info from transmiterdan and roverhi....Yes, these radios DO receive weather info (and a lot more), from long distances...

To continue:
Not only have I done this (it is one of my back-up methods on-board), but many others have as well...

And, one of my brothers (a total non-electronics guy), made this work himself...I sent him the radio and written instructions, to the Caribbean, where he was told by "everyone" that it will not work, etc...and where he sat in his cockpit, extended the antenna, tuned to the prescribed frequency at the right time, and listened to the NWS/NOAA Offshore Marine Weather forecasts for the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic, first time he tried it!!
(he also used a small lead of wire to attach the radio's ext. antenna jack to his backstay or shroud, for even better reception)

This was before the days of iPads and small cheap laptops, so he never tried to receive WeFax (weather facsimile) charts, etc....but, they are right there, being transmitted by powerful transmitter, for free!



Now, the looonnnggg answer (including all the "how-to's") is, in these other threads, referenced below...
Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
I am thinking this is
going to be obvious. See these radios at radio shack, or I did when they were in business. About $60 and they called them single side band. I think they are the receive only, if they transmit you need a locence and the radio is a lot more.

Do these actually pick up stations far away? What are some other low cost methods for getting weather information.

A lot of the info is outdated, talking about weather faxes and what not.
But, before you click on these and spend time reading, why not just watch a short Youtube video, where you can actually listen to these SSB Voice weather broadcasts of the US/NOAA NWS Offshore and Hi-Seas weather forecasts...




Also, be sure to have a look at these videos...
"Offshore Weather"
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY



And, then have a look at these threads...

Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea (detailed info on portable SW receivers w/ SSB capabilities)

SSB receiver advice?

SSB Receivers

ssb/hf receiver

SSB Receive Only

SSB Receiver Only? Is it practical?

SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

Best Way to Receive Weatherfax?

Weather Fax on SSB

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/sea-of-cortez-and-sirius-xm-weather-150490.html#post1884255

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



Now, there is a lot more info out there....but, I think if you actually watch the videos and read most of the threads above, you'll get most of what you need...(if not, just do a search)

Fair winds...

John
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Old 29-08-2015, 16:43   #14
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

I have a Furuno Navtex which I use for offshore weather when out of range of VHF WX broadcasts. Primarily the Bahamas. Very reliable and up to date, never more than 12 hours old. But its limited to maybe 400 miles offshore max. And at $500 for the unit not exactly cheap although I understand there are other less costly ways of receiving Navtex.

Best thing about it is that it requires no interaction. Just leave it turned on 24/7. Very low amp draw. Read the latest forecast on the scrollable screen whenever you want to.
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Old 29-08-2015, 23:47   #15
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Re: Cheapest weather information for out of vhf range?

Another big vote for Navtex. Do a little research and you will discover that most maritime nations have Navtex transmitters active. And weather is only part of the info available; pretty much anything that would be in a notice to mariners or a coast guard broadcast goes out on Navtex: hazards to navigation, unlit buoys, request for assistance, scheduled military operations - you name it. The receivers work unattended and just keep accumulating messages, available to read at any time. I would be exceedingly reluctant to cruise without it.

For the uninitiated, Navtex originally transmitted on a single frequency worldwide, with transmissions in English (and sometimes additionally in the local language). Now there are two frequencies, and the second frequency is for local language broadcasts. In theory if you speak English then a single frequency is adequate, but the second frequency might prove useful at times.

I have an early, single frequency, Furuno NX-300 Navtex. Previously I had one of the "cheap and cheerful" ones, which worked OK but I am glad I paid for the upgrade to Furuno.

For ocean passages an SSB or satphone are invaluable, but otherwise the Navtex provides a lot of useful info. Note that not all nations offer weather forecasts on Navtex (or on VHF for that matter). Often a nearby country will provide the overlapping weather coverage.

Greg
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