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Old 20-04-2015, 06:05   #16
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Re: Communications equipment

RedHerring,
You've gotten some good advice already, and I'd like to further highlight Bill's words (as well as add some more of my own!)
First off, I'll make some brief comments, then get into details...
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedHerring View Post
I'm getting my Ericson 35 ready for some long-distance cruising in the Pacific. The comms gear I have onboard right now consists of:

* Old-school VHF: one fixed, one hand-held.
* A Garmin GPS plotter of mid-2000s vintage and a handheld unit (And, I'd add a new DSC-GPS-equipped handheld VHF, like the Icom M-92D...)
* GPS and VHF antennas
* Portable all-wave receiver with SSB. YachtBoy something or other.

My current plan is:
* replace the VHF with a Standard Horizon unit that has DSC, GPS and AIS receiver,
I prefer Icom (M-506, either with or w/o built-in AIS receiver), but the SH is also good...

And, I'd add a new DSC-GPS-equipped handheld VHF, like the Icom M-92D...

* add an EPIRB,
Yes, but be sure to properly register it!!
And, read this thread here for some eye-opening details...
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds


* add a satellite messaging gadget like DeLorme inReach,
You'd get a lot more for your money with a Marine SSB set-up, than any sat messaging / sat phone!!
See details about this below...


* make a simple antenna for the SSB receiver that can be hoisted on a flag halyard
For some details / advice on this, have a look here...
SSB Receive Only
SSB Receiver Only? Is it practical?


One thing I'm debating is whether to add an SSB tranceiver or not. On one hand, I know how to use this stuff. On the other, it's an $5k project to do it right (backstay antenna, tuner, ground etc), and while it's a bearable cost per se, maybe I should rather spend it on, I don't know, a better anchor, really nice stove, new genoa - stuff like that.
Apples and Oranges, when comparing sails to SSB....but I understand having a budget!!!
And, while I'd certainly puts sails ahead of the SSB, fact is that an SSB will NOT cost you $5k, but about half that!!!
(unless you include Hayn Hi-Mod insulators, PACTOR-4 modem, Dynaplate, etc.)
See details about this below...


Questions to the collective wisdom of this community:
* am I right about how much SSB costs?
No...
* is it going to make my life afloat that much better/safer/more fun/???
Yes...
* does my plan above make sense to you in the context of a "spend a sane amount of money and go now" strategy?
See Bill's list of priorities and my words below...


Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
it's important to prioritize, give the type of cruising you're planning. For you, planning long-distance sailing in the Pacific, I'd do the following:

1. Modern VHF with DSC -- the VHF is the most important piece of communications gear aboard; don't compromise.
I'd like to add a recommendation to change/improve (or at least verify the quality / performance) your VHF antenna and coaxial cable/connectors...
The Ericson is an older boat, and even if it originally had good quality cable, it may have reached the end of its useful life, etc. and even if it isn't original, it is relatively inexpensive and is a very important part of your VHF-DSC communications system!!
Have a look at this recent thread, with antenna / coax recommendations...
Antenna recommendation
And, I'd add a new DSC-GPS-equipped handheld VHF, like the Icom M-92D...


2. AIS -- I'd go for a standalone AIS transceiver, not just a reciever. The transmit portion is an important safety feature because it often helps AIS-equipped vessels, especially ships, to see and avoid you.
I agree, and I recommend Vesper Watchmate 850...


3. SSB - in my opinion, is more useful and important than a satphone PROVIDED that it's installed well and you have practice in using it.
You can self-install an Icom M-802 / AT-140 for about $2650...plus a few dollars for an antenna wire ("alternative backstay antenna")....and if you don't have bronze thru-hulls, or wish to use toe-rails, lifelines, etc. for a counterpoise, then some extra $$ for a grounding plate....
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components

And, you can add a PACTOR modem (~$ 1200 - $1600), for worldwide e-mail connectivity at speeds of 2 - 4 times that of Iridium sat phone / In Reach, etc...

You can go for a full-blown 802/140 setup installed professionally for about $5000 or you can go for a used ham rig or older marine SSB for much less. These latter won't have HF-DSC capability which might come in handy in the Pacific, but they're still very useful.



4. Satphone - these can be great for calling home or even in emergencies, but as many have found they're nowhere near as reliable in actual operation as most folks believe.
While there's nothing wrong with having a sat phone, and I truly like Iridium!!! But, I disagree with Bill placing it on a list of communications priorities (we just have different opinions here...)
If you desire voice connections with the outside world, other than those on the marine and/or ham radio bands (calling on the phone), then you CAN use your Marine SSB radio to do this....in addition to Shipcom's WLO / KLB, you have Brunei Bay Radio, Australian HF radiotelephone network, NZ Taupo Maritime Radio/ZLM (MF/HF)...
But, remember you MUST have a HF-DSC Radio (such as the M-802) to signal Brunei / Aus...as well as call other ships/vessels, etc. for any comms routine or Distress!!



5. Email via HF radio (ham and marine) or via satphone can be quite useful as well. Pactor modems cost a bundle, but are extremely efficient.
If you do desire e-mail connectivity while at sea or in far remote locales, then yes a PACTOR modem (and Sailmail) is certainly the way to go!!
But, be aware that many long-range cruisers find their 3G/4G/Cellular and Wi-Fi systems they use in port / at anchor to be more than adequate for them, and find no need for e-mail while out at sea on passage, etc...


That's my list. I'm assuming that you have a 406 EPIRB already, as that's a critical piece of gear.
Yes, a 406mhz EPIRB is important...
Be sure to read this thread here...
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds
Bill


In addition to my specific comments above, here are some threads filled with info / details that you'll find helpful...

Antenna recommendation

Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use/properly-install SSB)

SSB Antenna without a Backstay

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds





And, here's the details on what you get for $2650....not $5k...

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components
Quote:
You supply the boat, antenna, and RF ground, and DSR's IC-M802k SSB kit does the rest. The Icom M802 comes ready to use on both Marine SSB and Ham/amateur Radio frequencies. The M802's flexible three-piece design makes it easy to install: mount the separate control head & speaker at your nav/helm station where space is scarce, and squirrel-away the main radio unit in a more seldom used locker or cubby hole up to 15-feet (5Meters) away. Both the control head and speaker have a generously wide bezel, making the professional look of an in-panel flush-mount installation a snap, even for skippers who aren't expert wood workers (requires MB-75 flush Mount Kit - must be ordered separately).
The IC-M802k contains:
  • <LI abp="938">Icom M802 SSB Radio with:
    • <LI abp="942">Transmit on Ham & Marine Frequencies - Enabled <LI abp="945">Amateur & Marine Nets Updated- - - Pre-programmed
    • Dial and Channelized tuning methods - Enabled
    <LI abp="951">AT-140 Antenna Tuner <LI abp="954">OPC-1147N tuner control cable (10M - 30+Feet). <LI abp="957">GPS data cable (12') w/BNC connector & FairRite (DSR exclusive). <LI abp="962">RG-8 low-loss double-shielded coaxial cable with soldered connectors installed on both ends(10', 15', 20', 25', or 33'/10M)1 <LI abp="972">GTO-15 - 20-feet antenna lead-in wire. <LI abp="975">The "G-TŌ Bug", GTO-15 to Backstay connector. (DSR exclusive) <LI abp="981">Copper RF grounding foil (10', heavy-duty .012 thick. Min width 2.75, Max 3-inch Wide - Won't dissolve in your bilge). <LI abp="984">T-4-500 "common mode" coaxial RF Choke. <LI abp="987">Double-male coaxial connector. <LI abp="990">RF chokes - FairRites (two XL type-31 snap-on ). <LI abp="993">The Sailors Quick-Start Guide to SSB Radio Installation & Operation
    (DSR exclusive).
  • 1-hour professional technical support included.

I hope this helps...

Fair winds.

John
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Old 20-04-2015, 10:28   #17
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Re: Communications equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muckle Flugga View Post
Perhaps you may have misread my submission. I did not say that he "needed" to have two EPIRBs.
...
Yes, sorry, I did misread you.

I felt the collective advice here was encouraging someone with a ~$30k boat to think they need $5-8k of communication gear to be safe. I felt the OP's $1-2k plan is great and wanted to encourage him to stick to it. But in adding my counterpoint I think I overstated my perspective.

I value everyone's opinion here and appreciate the time each of you takes to share your perspective. I like reading it and have learned a lot from many people. But sometimes I feel we get caught up in consumerism, of what is more perfect or desirable or the best, without sufficient regard to how much it can all add up to and how that could affect someones plans or money left over for other equipment. I feel that for people on a budget there are more efficient choices that can be made than what is commonly discussed here.

I would love to have a conversation with you guys about what you feel 'the best' set of electronic safety and communication gear is for various budgets. Say for a $10k, $5k, and $1k budget, assuming only a VHF radio is already on the boat.
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Old 20-04-2015, 13:23   #18
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Re: Communications equipment

msponer,
I hear 'ya loud-n-clear!
Everyone here has a budget, and the best we can all do is prioritize based on our budget AND our application...
If you read this short sentence, you'll see that I eluded to that...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
...And, while I'd certainly put sails ahead of the SSB [in priority], fact is that an SSB will NOT cost you $5k, but about half that!!


1) And yes, there is no shortage of "consumerism" in our 21st Century cruising life!
When I started boating/cruising in the mid 60's "communications equipment" was just your lungs shouting at someone! Okay, seriously we did have an old 2mhz AM marine radio, that on a good day could raise another station 100 miles away....but in the 70's as we were heading offshore / across the Atlantic, we got an SGC SSB....

But, nowadays, with smart phones proliferating peoples' lives (BTW, NOT mine, as I refuse to have a smart phone), and many who are new to cruising wish to move aboard and "cruise" with all of their shore-side luxuries....
And, this is (in my opinion) the major crux of the issue...
Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
But sometimes I feel we get caught up in consumerism, of what is more perfect or desirable or the best, without sufficient regard to how much it can all add up to and how that could affect someones plans or money left over for other equipment. I feel that for people on a budget there are more efficient choices that can be made than what is commonly discussed here.





2) If you're serious about this part, I have done this over the years (and you can see it some of my postings here and on the SSCA Disc Boards....for LOTS of details!!)
But, if you want a VERY brief outline, here it is...
{please note that while many do not consider a good on-board Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/Cellular data, system to be part of their "electronic safety and communications gear", it CAN be....and I'm making the assumption that this gear is already a part of their gear on-board...allowing them easy access to weather info/data when in port, at anchor, or along populated near-shore/coastal areas....but just not designated as "safety" or "comms" gear...}
Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
I would love to have a conversation with you guys about what you feel 'the best' set of electronic safety and communication gear is for various budgets. Say for a $10k, $5k, and $1k budget, assuming only a VHF radio is already on the boat.
"Only a VHF radio" will not do anymore....
It needs to be a DSC-VHF Radio, preferably a new Class D VHF-DSC Radio...


A) You start with the $1k budget...(in order of importance)
--- 406mhz EPIRB ($400 - $450)
--- DSC-VHF radio ($200 - $500),
--- GPS ($20 - $100),
--- portable SW receiver (w/ BFO for SSB and WeFax reception) ($50 - $120),
--- handheld DSC-VHF radio ($200-$250)
The above is about $900 - $1100, depending on brand/model, and what you already have on-board...


B) In addition to the above, for the $5000 budget, in order of importance...(you can add as much as $4000 worth of communications / electronic safety gear, to the above list)
--- MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, i.e. "Marine SSB" ($2500 - $3000, including antennas and ground system)
--- Class B AIS Transponder (Vesper Watchmate 850, at $800 - $900)

--- depending on WHERE you are cruising/sailing, to round out your comms gear / electronics safety gear under your budget, you have a few choices....(in order of my recommendation/preference)
Pick on, two or all three depending on price and how they fit into your budget:
- a second 406mhz EPIRB, or,
- a second DSC-VHF radio, or,
- a used Iridium handheld sat phone....(and you'll need an ext. antenna for it as well, and depending on the exact price of the sat phone, this might push you beyond your budget)



C) For those with BIG $10k budgets, in addition to all the above...there are two "paths" now....one is "safety" and one is "communications", as now their functionality diverges a bit...you pick one "path" and can spend the additional $5k...

Under the "safety" path:
--- INMARSAT C (about $3000-$3500)
--- either a second 406mhz EPIRB or a second DSC-VHF radio (if you did NOT choose them in the above "$5k budget")
--- handheld Iridium sat phone, w/ ext. antenna (if you did NOT choose them in the above "$5k budget")
--- electronic / active radar reflector (aka Radar Target Enhancer)....(about $900 - $1000)

Under the "communications" path:
--- INMARSAT FB150, or Iridium Pilot (~ $4500 - $5000)
--- a used handheld Iridium sat phone (if you didn't add it in either of the earlier "budgets")




All of the above assumes that the vessel is already equipped with all of the "required" nav lights, horn, signaling devices, flares, etc....and that the owner/sailor/crew know at least the basics of how all of the above works (which ANY layperson can learn for FREE in just a couple hours!!!)
And, to be perfectly clear, there would be variations to these recommendations, based on WHERE someone was sailing/cruising, and for HOW LONG they'd be there, and WHAT TIME OF YEAR, etc...
As, systems like NAVTEX is GREAT in the Med, and some other locales, but of little use across oceans, etc...
As well, as variations due to other "communications needs", such as whether the needed business communications, etc..


And remember, while many do not consider a good on-board Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/Cellular data, system to be part of their "electronic safety and communications gear", it CAN be....and I'm making the assumption that this gear is already a part of their gear on-board...allowing them easy access to weather info/data when in port, at anchor, or along populated near-shore/coastal areas....




Now, msponer, I hope this brief look at things helps you out...
If you wish to delve deeper, we can do that....but it will take me a while, so it might be quicker if you just read some of my earlier postings on these matters....



Fair winds...

John
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Old 20-04-2015, 15:02   #19
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Re: Communications equipment

If you want the least expensive SSB communication, go with ham radio. Should be able to bring it in under $2,000 with a Pactor Modem. My setup is an ICOM 718 Radio $400 used, SGC 230 Tuner $490, Backstay insulator $210, Copper strapping for ground plane $150, and Pactor II modem with 3 upgrade $400 used. Could have saved $200 substituting an ICOM AH-4 antenna tuner. Buying a new radio would've added $250. A new Pactor Modem could run anywhere from $600 to $1,400 additional. For just voice communications, the Pactor Modem isn't needed. With this set up on a solo sail to Hawaii, kept in daily contact with my wife via email, downloaded Grib weather maps, checked in with the maritime mobile net and talked with a few hams around the world when I got bored.

You do have to pass the General Class Ham license to legally use the radio for other than emergencies. You should be able to pass the exam with a couple of days study using the test prep offerings on the internet. You won't be G. Marconi when done but will learn a lot of useful information about HF communications. Most Ham radios can be 'opened up' to transmit on the marine frequencies. Not legal to transmit except in emergencies but suspect that's honored more in the breach. Opening up the ICOM 718 takes less time than removing the case to get at the innards.

Ham radio uses similar frequencies as the Marine Bands. A Ham radio won't have DSC capability but will allow you to use a much larger frequency spectrum which can help in long range communication. There are the Ham MM nets that pretty much cover the world and local nets for specific areas. In addition, you can talk with other hams over a vast territory.
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Old 20-04-2015, 16:40   #20
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Re: Communications equipment

In order of ascending budget and priority

1.gps
2.dsc VHF
3. AIS transponder
4.epirb
5.navtex ( for Europe generally and out to 400 miles )
6 SSB receiver
7. Iridium satphone ( not isatphone)
8. DSC MF/ HF + pactor
9. Ham HF
10. Inmarsat mini -C

Compared with other forms of comms, a good quality DSC MF/HF is costly and hard to justify

Dave


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Old 20-04-2015, 17:11   #21
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Re: Communications equipment

Some skippers like the active Radar Transponders like Sea-Me. That way the Fishing boat
with just radar might pick you off in the soup.
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Old 20-04-2015, 17:35   #22
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Re: Communications equipment

officebob,
Yes, this is correct...and not only did I include this in my list..
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
--- electronic / active radar reflector (aka Radar Target Enhancer)....(about $900 - $1000)
But I suspect that it is also in some others' lists when asking about specific sailing/cruising areas....
Quote:
Originally Posted by officebob View Post
Some skippers like the active Radar Transponders like Sea-Me. That way the Fishing boat
with just radar might pick you off in the soup.



FYI, now both Echomax and See-Me, have dual-band (S-band and X-band) RTE's....now there are no small fishing boats with S-band radar, but some SOLAS ships run their S-band radar at sea and not their X-band....
So, those with the budget, I recommend the dual-band units...


Fair winds...

John
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Old 20-04-2015, 18:36   #23
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Re: Communications equipment

ka4wja

Thanks for that piece of info.

Communications_Radar and all things electronic

are always a changing. I like to mount them away

from the helm so as to not get my head stuck!

73's
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Old 20-04-2015, 19:40   #24
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Re: Communications equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
.. .
Compared with other forms of comms, a good quality DSC MF/HF is costly and hard to justify

Dave
Im surprised that neither John nor Dave mentioned satellite text devices like DeLorme and Yellow Brick. Seems tremendously useful; great bang for buck, to me.

As to the cost of SSB - can be much less, if you buy used and install yourself. I have less than $1000 in my setup including Pactor III and M802. I would say the biggest disadvantage of SSB is not cost, but time required for decent installation and study and practice in using the system. It's totally opposite to our plug 'n play instant gratification culture. You need to spend time with it for it to be an effective tool. Even if John has made it a lot easier with his excellent videos. In my opinion there's a bright line between people who don't have time or interest for it, and those who find it an enjoyable and interesting art.
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Old 21-04-2015, 10:19   #25
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Re: Communications equipment

Peter,
You bring up some good points, especially for those on tight budgets...
But, I hope you don't mind if I add some additional info for clarification??


We all know that SSB, in communications, is a specific mode of communications....but we all also know how sailors / cruisers have traditionally use the term "SSB", it designated Maritime HF Voice Communications on Maritime channels/frequencies (or some fixed/land-mobile channels/freqs), vs. "ham radio" (the amateur radio service)...
But, since the 1990's, "SSB" has meant MF/HF-DSC-SSB (1992 was the first implementation, with Jan 1999, it being mandatory for all signatory nations and all SOLAS vessels), which means that we sailors/cruisers needed to understand that....

And, although I've been "preaching" about HF-DSC-SSB for more than 10 years now, in the past year or so I've been trying to nudge / cajole others that when discussing "SSB", we should all simply understand that we are talking about MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio (which is MF/HF-DSC signaling AND MF/HF-SSB Voice)....and since there are NO ham radio transceivers that have DSC signaling in them, nor do the older (pre-1990's) HF-Marine radios, we should all understand that while "SSB" in the pure communications sense, might make it seem like there is little difference between "Marine SSB" and "ham SSB", the fact is that there is a BIG difference!

Please understand that I'm NOT saying that ham radio isn't great (it is!), nor am I trying to say that you must spend a lot of money on a MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio....but I am saying that it isn't as easy to compare "marine SSB" to "ham SSB", as it was in the pre-1990's days....
Things have changed, and they changed many years ago, and I wanted to make sure that we are all aware of this!!



So, for those on tight budgets that desire some 2-way HF Voice communications capability, yes a basic, entry-level, HF ham transceiver (like the IC-718) is a viable choice....but we should be comparing it to a used, older Icom M-700pro (which sells for about the same price)....not comparing it to a modern IF-DSP, MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephone such as the M-802...

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
If you want the least expensive SSB communication, go with ham radio. Should be able to bring it in under $2,000 with a Pactor Modem.
My setup is an ICOM 718 Radio $400 used, SGC 230 Tuner $490, Backstay insulator $210, Copper strapping for ground plane $150, and Pactor II modem with 3 upgrade $400 used. Could have saved $200 substituting an ICOM AH-4 antenna tuner. Buying a new radio would've added $250. A new Pactor Modem could run anywhere from $600 to $1,400 additional. For just voice communications, the Pactor Modem isn't needed. With this set up on a solo sail to Hawaii, kept in daily contact with my wife via email, downloaded Grib weather maps, checked in with the maritime mobile net and talked with a few hams around the world when I got bored.
Just two minor FYI's for everyone....
-- Peter seems to have good luck with his SGC230 tuner (as used to be the case with everyone), but there have been many SGC tuner failures lately (last couple years), that have made me no longer recommend them at all...(I had my own SGC tuner fail twice....all the while I have an Icom AT-140 on-board that has worked perfectly for many years!)
-- You can have free access to all the weather info/forecasts you need, without any PACTOR modem, nor GRIB files....HF-WeFax is alive and well, updated multiple times a day from very powerful transmitters, etc. (as well as HF- Voice and SITOR Text), and this weather info, forecasts, charts, etc. are all from professional ocean meteorologists, not the raw computer model data of the GRIB files.

Just wanted to add some additional info for everyone...


Ham radio uses similar frequencies as the Marine Bands. A Ham radio won't have DSC capability but will allow you to use a much larger frequency spectrum which can help in long range communication. (for our use/application, it's not really a larger freq spectrum, but that's a moot point anyway...)

Although using HF Voice communications, you are more likely to find someone on the ham radio HF bands than on the marine HF bands, this is because, except for the USCG, AMSA, and NZMA, all other maritime coast stations and all SOLAS vessels at sea, have been required to monitor DSC freqs NOT Voice freqs, since 1999!!!
So, if all you have is an HF Voice radio, then you are more likely to find "someone to talk to" on the ham bands, BUT....

But, if you are within 4000 - 5000 miles of either the US East Coast, the US West Coast, Australia, or New Zealand, then you could raise their Coast Guards / Maritime Authorities directly via HF Voice (SSB), and be in direct contact with them...OR...
Or, if you had an MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio, you could signal > 450 MF-DSC coast stations worldwide, > 80 HF-DSC coast stations worldwide, as well as 1000's of SOLAS vessels worldwide....all with additional communications capabilities, as well as direct connections to Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC's)....but, all of this initial contact is done via DSC signaling (and, only after that DSC call, then the actual traffic is done on SSB-Voice....they are NOT monitoring HF Voice channels, and haven't been for > 16 years now...)


There are the Ham MM nets that pretty much cover the world and local nets for specific areas. In addition, you can talk with other hams over a vast territory.
Yes, there are literally 100's of thousands of hams on the HF freqs.....but, let's not forget that the M-802, etc. works very well as a ham radio, too!!!

Again Peter, you brought up some good points....I hope you don't mind my additional clarifications...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 21-04-2015, 10:32   #26
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Re: Communications equipment

Dockhead,
I have nothing against Yellow Brick, it's a fine piece of gear....and while I have no experience with InReach, I assume it is as well...
But, like Bill wrote earlier, it is about prioritizing!
Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
It's always a challenge to know what equipment to buy, given the amazing array of electronic goodies these days!
But, it's important to prioritize....
When you look at things from a step-by-step, numbered priority, list....and heading across the Pacific is the planned cruise...most will get more bang-for-the-buck from a Marine SSB set-up, than a satellite messenger, etc...and the "satellite messaging" can certainly be handled by a handheld sat phone as well...

Again, nothing against them....just think the Marine SSB does more / is more versatile....and of course, when on a budget, a Marine SSB can take a big bite out of the checkbook, so there might not be too much left to spend on a satellite messenger...
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Im surprised that neither John nor Dave mentioned satellite text devices like DeLorme and Yellow Brick.

Fair winds...

John
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Old 21-04-2015, 11:21   #27
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Im surprised that neither John nor Dave mentioned satellite text devices like DeLorme and Yellow Brick. Seems tremendously useful; great bang for buck, to me.

As to the cost of SSB - can be much less, if you buy used and install yourself. I have less than $1000 in my setup including Pactor III and M802. I would say the biggest disadvantage of SSB is not cost, but time required for decent installation and study and practice in using the system. It's totally opposite to our plug 'n play instant gratification culture. You need to spend time with it for it to be an effective tool. Even if John has made it a lot easier with his excellent videos. In my opinion there's a bright line between people who don't have time or interest for it, and those who find it an enjoyable and interesting art.
well I cant talk about Yellow Brick, but I do know a fair bit about iridium SBD ( short burst data) which is the basis behind these products.

All of these SBD have some limitations as to how they communicate , meaning that they are not the same as say Mini-C etc.
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Old 21-04-2015, 12:15   #28
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Re: Communications equipment

I'd also suggest the GPS be integrated in the VHF/DSC radio.


Integrated means one less piece of equipment.
One less power cable.
One less data/network cable.
Total, at least 3 fewer opportunities for a connection and performance failure but I keep getting reminded that 3x more failure modes means 9x more likely the have a failure, not just 3x.


Integral GPSes are cheap enough these days.


Might add that to the EPIRB list as well, one with integral GPS in it. The GPS electronics are only a $5 component to the manufacturer, and under $10 including antenna.
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Old 21-04-2015, 12:26   #29
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
In order of ascending budget and priority

1.gps
2.dsc VHF
3. AIS transponder
4.epirb
5.navtex ( for Europe generally and out to 400 miles )
6 SSB receiver
7. Iridium satphone ( not isatphone)
8. DSC MF/ HF + pactor
9. Ham HF
10. Inmarsat mini -C

Compared with other forms of comms, a good quality DSC MF/HF is costly and hard to justify

Dave


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I would have thought Epirb should be considered mandatory kit and should be ahead of the AIS transponder
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Old 21-04-2015, 12:33   #30
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dockhead,
I have nothing against Yellow Brick, it's a fine piece of gear....and while I have no experience with InReach, I assume it is as well...
But, like Bill wrote earlier, it is about prioritizing!
When you look at things from a step-by-step, numbered priority, list....and heading across the Pacific is the planned cruise...most will get more bang-for-the-buck from a Marine SSB set-up, than a satellite messenger, etc...and the "satellite messaging" can certainly be handled by a handheld sat phone as well...

Again, nothing against them....just think the Marine SSB does more / is more versatile....and of course, when on a budget, a Marine SSB can take a big bite out of the checkbook, so there might not be too much left to spend on a satellite messenger...



Fair winds...

John
Indeed, and I certainly wasn't suggesting it as an alternative to HF radio.

My suggestion was, rather, if you want to have some form of satellite comms in addition to everything else, and you are on a budget, this would be, in my opinion, the way to go. As being very economical both to acquire and to run, compared to satellite voice, and being very, very effective, easy, and reliable for communicating short messages, which should cover 90% of anyone's really serious communications needs. Just like SMS -- how valuable is that for the pithy, to-the-point conveyance of a message, to such an extent that SMS messages now outnumber voice calls, even on land where voice calls are cheap or free and without any hassle, unlike voice comms via sat at sea.

My plan is quite similar to that of the OP's -- EPIRB, PLB, 2x DSC VHF's and with emergency antennae, DSC MF/HF radio on both ham and marine bands, plus data comms via Sailmail and Winlink, AIS MOB devices. On the list of possible future additions is a satellite text device.

I actually have a fixed installed sat phone which came with the boat -- but have never activated it; doesn't interest me. Obviously people's tastes differ with regard to satphone vs. MF/HF radio (where I am completely in your camp) -- it's not a "one size fits all" situation.


MF/HF requires a commitment of time and effort, but there are so many things you can do with it. It's my gut feeling that a ship is not a ship without a radio shack, but I realize that different people look at that in different ways.
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