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Old 21-04-2015, 12:33   #31
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I keep getting reminded that 3x more failure modes means 9x more likely the have a failure, not just 3x.
Not exactly. The percentages for each type of failure matter a lot, and depending on the interconnectedness the rate of *system* failure may actually be less.

Regardless, a VHF with a built-in GPS is nice to have. Do they even make non-GPS EPIRBs any more? You definitely want built-in GPS there.
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Old 21-04-2015, 12:46   #32
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Re: Communications equipment

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Do they even make non-GPS EPIRBs any more? You definitely want built-in GPS there.
Surprisingly non-GPS Epirbs are still made. I don't think it's smart to save money by buying a non-GPS Epirb
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Old 21-04-2015, 13:03   #33
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Re: Communications equipment

hellosailor,
I was remiss in not mentioning this directly....so THANK YOU for mentioning it directly!
I was assuming that when I mentioned a 406mhz EPIRB for about $400 - $450, that everyone would understand that I meant a GPS-enabled 406mhz EPIRB...
But, I failed to mention that directly....so thanks for clarifying that!
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
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.
And, I also failed to mention the extreme importance of properly registering your EPIRB!!
For those that wish to understand both why registration is so vitally important, and what really happens when you activate your EPIRB, if you follow the links in this thread here (especially the COSPAS-SARSAT and Cruising World links), you'll learn a LOT!!
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds


And, one surprising thing you'll learn is that while having a GPS-enable EPIRB is nice....it does NOT mean that they always get you fix quicker!



Fair winds..

John
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Old 21-04-2015, 14:11   #34
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
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...




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

Fair winds..

John
Your input has been very helpful to me. Will try and be more specific on my terms as both ham and Marine use the HF frequency spectrum via Single Side Band transmissions. Seems most people think that SSB is Marine SSB so using SSB as an abbreviation for that makes sense.

I'm not an electronics genius, just a little above. Know just enough to be dangerous. Until reading your explanations of DSC, didn't realize how valuable it could be as a messaging tool and for emergency communications. Thought that SSB was a way to charge outrageous money for a no brainer radio that even a power boater could figure out how to use. Because they are channelized, the number of frequencies are limited. Since the commercial stations are no longer around, thought no one was monitoring even those few frequencies.

Have had a ham radio for long and short distance MM nets and a way to keep wife and family informed of where I/we are and what we've been up to. Originally got into ham radio as a pirate back in the '70s sailing in French Polynesia. Had set the boat up for an HF radio with insulated backstay and ground plate but had too many other things that we needed for the cruise so sailed to the Marquesas with no radio. Our parents were worried about us and pooled their money to buy an Atlas 215 ham radio and manual tuner and mailed it to us in Hiva Oa. Unfortunately, the tuner couldn't match the radio to the antenna so still had no communications. Out of the blue, a huge Ferro Cememt schooner with a young electronics genius on board who had had a hand in designing the Atlas radio dropped anchor next to us. He came over to the boat and with a little snipping here and there, a few parts and some solder and had the tuner working with the radio in short order.

At that time affordable ham hf radio was just being discovered and many of the cruisers were getting ham radios. Since we cruisers were in SoPac with no way to take the FCC exams, almost everyone went on the air as pirates. Pick some obscure out of the way country, figure out there international call sign letter prefixs and make up a call sign. IIRC mine was TI8PO, Tango India 8 Papa Ocean. Worked great for the local MM network that spanned FP. Made friends with an ex Navy pilot ham in Malibu and set up a regular schedule with him just to chew the rag and get very occasional phone patch back to the families. Unfortunately the radios got too popular. A number of obnoxious yahoos would constantly break into ours and others QSO's demanding phone patches. By the time we sailed for home, some in the ham community were trying to stamp out the pirates. Believe the life of 'pirate' ham radio, like Blackbeard, was short lived.

Tried to get my General ticket when we got back but my ears and brain just couldn't master code past 7 wpm. Kids and the reality of life finally put a hiatus to our cruising days so ham radio dropped out of my life. Finally got the General License when they dropped the code requirement a while back. Equipped my new boat with the aforementioned ham radio before sailing solo to Hawaii a few years back. Don't rely on it as an emergency device because of the vagaries of propagation and finding someone who is listening and would pick up on a mayday call. Have multiple Epirbs for emergencies. Have found the ham radio to be very useful tool while cruising, able to check in on the ham MM net, get weather, snd just talk to someone besides myself after 12 days at sea solo.

Aloha
Peter Ogilvie
'Ae'a, Pearson 35 #108
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Old 21-04-2015, 14:30   #35
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Re: Communications equipment

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...
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.
Dockhead -- you haven't asked for another perspective, but -- I found HF/Pactor unusable in many harbors. There was too much electrical noise. It didn't work in most of Asia for us. Even small cities in Mexico were bad. This was ~10-15 years ago, and maybe it's better now. The newer Pactor modems are supposed to be better at working with weak signals, and there are now more Sailmail stations. Maybe that's made a difference. Does anyone know?

So, to us, Iridium is luxurious for email. It's push button and works everywhere.
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Old 21-04-2015, 14:43   #36
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Re: Communications equipment

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Dockhead -- you haven't asked for another perspective, but -- I found HF/Pactor unusable in many harbors. There was too much electrical noise. It didn't work in most of Asia for us. Even small cities in Mexico were bad. This was ~10-15 years ago, and maybe it's better now. The newer Pactor modems are supposed to be better at working with weak signals, and there are now more Sailmail stations. Maybe that's made a difference. Does anyone know?

But, to us, Iridium is luxurious for email. It's push button and works everywhere.
For harbours, it's worthwhile getting a long range WIFI setup. If you are lucky you will find a free unsecured hotspot or perhaps a cafe hotspot you have a code for, otherwise you can pay for access that will be much cheaper than using your iridium and you can do much more than email.
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Old 21-04-2015, 14:53   #37
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Re: Communications equipment

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For harbours, it's worthwhile getting a long range WIFI setup. If you are lucky you will find a free unsecured hotspot or perhaps a cafe hotspot you have a code for, otherwise you can pay for access that will be much cheaper than using your iridium and you can do much more than email.
What part of the world are you in?

WiFi has not worked well for us in the Caribbean. Even when we pay it has been super slow and flakey. There's been close to Zero open access points. Sometimes we eat ashore and have a WiFi code for a cafe or restaurant, but it's often flakey out in the anchorage. Or seems overwhelmed with other sailors. Maybe we always anchor by someone who is clogging the tube with YouTube. I think more than 3/4 of the time we've given up completely on WiFi and are using cellular data on our Android phones.

The best, ever, was when we rented a WiMax thing in St Maarten.
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Old 21-04-2015, 15:03   #38
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Re: Communications equipment

We went with a Delorme in reach. Unit was under $300. And for $50 month we have unlimited text to cell phones, emails, or other inreach's. Even Ssb w sailmail costs 200 plus a year. W can have family member send weather info etc if needed, and rec weather on an inexpensive kaito type radio ssb receiver.

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Old 21-04-2015, 15:18   #39
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Re: Communications equipment

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What part of the world are you in?

WiFi has not worked well for us in the Caribbean. Even when we pay it has been super slow and flakey. There's been close to Zero open access points. Sometimes we eat ashore and have a WiFi code for a cafe or restaurant, but it's often flakey out in the anchorage. Or seems overwhelmed with other sailors. Maybe we always anchor by someone who is clogging the tube with YouTube. I think more than 3/4 of the time we've given up completely on WiFi and are using cellular data on our Android phones.

The best, ever, was when we rented a WiMax thing in St Maarten.
Greece

Obviously the success of using WIFI greatly depends on where you are, but when it's possible and the speed usable then it's worthwhile.

To take advantage of wifi in an anchorage you will be more successful with a long range wifi setup. In my marina (about 150m from shore) I can't get any hotspots inside and barely any when on deck using my iPhone or laptop directly trying to access wifi. However my wave wifi rogue pro can see probably 40 or 50 hotspots from around the bay of which half have a signal strong enough that they could be used (if I can log on to them). I connect to my wave wifi via wifi, so if I get a connection I can share it with everyone onboard.
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Old 21-04-2015, 15:23   #40
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
We went with a Delorme in reach. Unit was under $300. And for $50 month we have unlimited text to cell phones, emails, or other inreach's. Even Ssb w sailmail costs 200 plus a year. W can have family member send weather info etc if needed, and rec weather on an inexpensive kaito type radio ssb receiver.

Sent from my LG-LS980 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
When you say "email", do you mean "SMS like" short text messages that can be sent to and from an email address?
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Old 21-04-2015, 15:38   #41
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Re: Communications equipment

Communication on the Volvo Ocean Race yachts

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Old 21-04-2015, 16:33   #42
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Dockhead -- you haven't asked for another perspective, but -- I found HF/Pactor unusable in many harbors. There was too much electrical noise. It didn't work in most of Asia for us. Even small cities in Mexico were bad. This was ~10-15 years ago, and maybe it's better now. The newer Pactor modems are supposed to be better at working with weak signals, and there are now more Sailmail stations. Maybe that's made a difference. Does anyone know?

So, to us, Iridium is luxurious for email. It's push button and works everywhere.
I would never rely on HF/Pactor for harbors. Near shore, mobile phone data is king. Despite cruising through 10 countries last year, we always had mobile phone data. In this part of the world, the coverage is just about seamless.

In sight of land, we have Internet almost like at home -- even cruising 10 countries.

I also have a very good WiFi setup with a Ubiquity Bullet installed on the first spreader. It hardly ever gets used, since mobile phone data -- now LTE almost everywhere -- is so good.

HF/Pactor is for when you're out of sight of land, and there it works far better.
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Old 21-04-2015, 16:36   #43
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by msponer View Post
What part of the world are you in?

WiFi has not worked well for us in the Caribbean. Even when we pay it has been super slow and flakey. There's been close to Zero open access points. Sometimes we eat ashore and have a WiFi code for a cafe or restaurant, but it's often flakey out in the anchorage. Or seems overwhelmed with other sailors. Maybe we always anchor by someone who is clogging the tube with YouTube. I think more than 3/4 of the time we've given up completely on WiFi and are using cellular data on our Android phones.

The best, ever, was when we rented a WiMax thing in St Maarten.
Many discussions of this. Everyone's experience mirrors yours. Marina WiFi is almost universally carp and nearly unusable. Waste of time and money even in civilization. Mobile phone data is an almost perfect solution these days. We now have an LTE router and see data speeds similar to what we have at home.
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Old 21-04-2015, 16:40   #44
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
We went with a Delorme in reach. Unit was under $300. And for $50 month we have unlimited text to cell phones, emails, or other inreach's. Even Ssb w sailmail costs 200 plus a year. W can have family member send weather info etc if needed, and rec weather on an inexpensive kaito type radio ssb receiver.
IMHO, a brilliant solution

90% of everything you ever need to say to anyone can be distilled to an SMS, or at worst, a few SMSs. And will probably be better expressed, being thus distilled.
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Old 21-04-2015, 16:55   #45
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Re: Communications equipment

I think the Ham or SSB is great tool... especially for weather and nets etc. However, I'm not sure I'm a big believer that it's a great safety tool for rescue. Based on doing transmissions myself in a calm anchorage, time of day and solar flare noise.... my guess is the odds of successfully using the SSB for rescue etc in the limited time before the boat sinks is... well... bad odds.
Not sure I would even try, just turn on the Epirb.
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