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Old 17-01-2008, 22:58   #1
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Cruising w/o SSB

Is it worth the 9.5k to install a new ssb system on are Gulfstar 47? New 805 and modem - 5.5k. Split backstay mod - 2k. Install w/grounding plates - 2k. I was thinking of installing a Furuno weatherfax system instead. Cost for Furuno is 1.5k.

We are planning on going from San Diego to Med on 4 year cruise.
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Old 17-01-2008, 23:03   #2
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Originally Posted by Cyber Mike View Post
Is it worth the 9.5k to install a new ssb system on are Gulfstar 47? New 805 and modem - 5.5k. Split backstay mod - 2k. Install w/grounding plates - 2k. I was thinking of installing a Furuno weatherfax system instead. Cost for Furuno is 1.5k.

We are planning on going from San Diego to Med on 4 year cruise.

Wanna do it for less than US$100? (about $150 in Aus)

Read this thread about degen DE1103 and see my first wetherfax!

radio receivers (reviews)




mark
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Old 17-01-2008, 23:04   #3
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Get your HAM license, buy an inexpensive Amateur reciever and antenna tuner, install it yourself and you have an HF for under well under $2,000.00. You'll also learn enough to make it work in the process.

No more code for a Ham license, btw.

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Old 18-01-2008, 01:27   #4
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The advantage of the SSB and modem is that youu will be able to send emails for free and, if you decided to join a rally like the ARC Europe you need to be part of their net. But with a SAT phone you can also send and receive emails for not much money and have the ability to call from the middle of the Atlantic if you have to. The costs (if you don't use it much) are fairly low.
I would have a receiver that can pick up the frequencies that the different Atlantic nets operate on, so you can listen to weather and info from other boats making the crossing.
Another consideration is to have the split backstay and grounding plates installed, since those are a bigger job and require the boat out of the water (but your cost quotes seem really high), then adding the radio and modem/tuner is not that big a job.
.
I think having a weather fax is a great idea and it's something that I think we will add someday.
We'll look forward to seeing you in the Med.
Jim
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Old 18-01-2008, 02:57   #5
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Lots of people have sailed lots of miles without any of that stuff (self included). FWIW I prefer making passages without radio.
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Old 18-01-2008, 06:15   #6
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Is it worth the 9.5k to install a new ssb system on are Gulfstar 47?
It's two way communication. What is that worth? Over 4 years probably more than you think. Since SSB is a marine based system it's the easiest way to communicate with other cruisers plus the ability to add pactor modem text communication that can include GRB weather data too.

I think your estimated costs are pretty high. Installation is the one factor that can involve costs and time. The weather FAX system is a good thing too but it's just the weather map some time old when you get it. Not the same as talking to people that can communicate with more up to the minute information or convey local information such as available from the various cruising nets. That would include information a cruiser needs to know reported and relayed by cruisers. Lots of the current details missing in the cruising guides.

Information is valuable and accurate information even more so. Consider what old or out of information can cost you. There are many ways to acquire it.
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Old 18-01-2008, 06:27   #7
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A long-distance radio for the type of cruising you are contemplating is more than a convenience. You'll find, as many other cruisers have, it's extremely valuable for all kinds of things, from receiving WX and safety info to keeping in touch with home and with other boats, to dealing with all sorts of problems, including marine emergencies.

Whether you go with a marine SSB or ham (also SSB, by the way) depends on your desires and situation. Actually, it's good to have BOTH or...at a minimum...the ability to listen and transmit on both marine and ham radio frequencies.

The $9.5K estimate is surely high for what's been suggested and for your location. There are ways you can cut that cost WAY back, and do so without cutting quality or performance.

I've posted on the SSCA board, this board, and elsewhere numerous suggestions on radios, antennas, ground systems, and strategies for putting good SSB capability aboard at reasonable to low cost.

Bottom line: don't be put off by the $9.5K estimate. Do some further investigation. You can do it and do it right for a lot less.

Bill
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Old 18-01-2008, 07:43   #8
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I agree with Bill. We left with only a receiver and it worked great for listening and getting weather. We found after a offshore issue with another boat we were traveling with long distance 2 way communication would have reduced a lot of worry after an engine failure in the there boat.

After that I found and installed an Icom 710 used, tuner, and antenna into Makai for less than 1K USD. Later upgraded to a new i802 and sold the 710. Still into my system for less than 2K USD. AS bill mentions there are other routes to keep the cost down without cutting quality.

After several incidents and the ability to keep up with friends it is worth every penny and more
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Old 18-01-2008, 09:20   #9
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A brand-new out-of-the-box Icom IC-M802, AT-140, SCS Pactor modem w/ P3, and all interconnecting cables, together with telephone hand-holding and quite good written instructions (for those disposed to read the directions <grin>) is $4,449 from hfradio.com . There are other sources as well. Your rigging estimate seems very high to me; regardless read the posts Bill referred to above for alternative antenna approaches (I use a backstay antenna to good effect, but there are lots of other ways to go). Your installation estimate seems very high to me as well.

I use my SSB on marine and ham frequencies for voice, CW, e-mail, weather fax, and Navtex with that gear. For the cost of a couple of cables between my laptop sound card and the radio I'm adding PSK31 (no current utility on the marine bands, but lots of activity on the ham bands).
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Old 18-01-2008, 09:22   #10
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Even the Pardy's have broken down and they now have a receiver on board. It's the only thing on their boat that uses electricity. They even still use a cedar bucket.

Personally, I'd get a good used transceiver. e-Bay has Icom 700 Pro and Icom 710s for around $1,000, Don't forget to get the tuner too!

If you can't afford putting insulators in your backstay to use as an antenna you can get a 23 foot (or longer) whip antenna. Shakespeare Marine makes some nice ones for just over $200 (but shop around).

You don't need special grounding plates. You can use existing metal (engine, rudder, etc.) connected using copper stapping (grounding is a much longer topic). A good writeup on installing your radio to minimize interference can be found at: RF Interference

I think you could do the whole install for less than $1,500 and possibly less than $1,000 and have a first rate installation.

Note, however, that for email - the SCS Pactor Modem will cost extra. There's currently one listed on EBay for around $500 (current bid). A new one costs around $1,000.

See: Winlink 2000 And SailMail for information on low cost SSB Email.

Best wishes,
Bill
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Old 18-01-2008, 09:37   #11
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Another antenna option that is very cheap (but more hassle to use) is a set of simple dipoles cut to the frequency ranges you need, then hoisted aloft with a halyard. I would not advocate this for routine turn-key use, of course, as it might be incredibly inconvenient in some conditions, but for occasional email sessions or ragchewing (or just "playing radio") it is a fraction of the cost of a backstay/tuner combo (and, some would argue, a more efficient radiator).

One fellow has a photo album of marine-grade dipole construction techniques. By eliminating the tuner and the insulated backstay, this gets the whole antenna system down to a hundred bucks or so (but you have to deploy it when you want to use it).

Cheers and 73,
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Old 18-01-2008, 10:03   #12
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"One fellow has a photo album of marine-grade dipole construction techniques."

Guilty! Afraid that's me :-)

Yes, dipoles are incredibly good antennas, but they're not for use on multiple bands and in most cases they should be thought of as additional antennas to the primary sailboat antenna. IMHO, that "primary" antenna should be either a sort of traditional backstay antenna or a whip antenna.

However....as I've written about repeatedly, and provided photos as well....you don't need to break up a perfectly good backstay with insulators. You can rig an ALTERNATE backstay, made of s/s lifeline. This works every bit as well as a traditional backstay antenna, is extremely robust, and comes in at less than $100. Try cutting your backstay and installing insulators and matching that!

Re: the cost of installation, that depends very much on circumstances. Your choice of radio, tuner, RF ground system, antenna, and your boat's unique configuration will be important. Also, whether you choose to do it yourself or have it done professionally will make a big difference in the overall cost.

But, whatever choices you make, it won't cost anywhere near the estimate you got.

DISCLAIMER: after much prodding from fellow sailors, I now do SSB consulting and some marine radio and electronics installations professionally...as time permits. Anyone interested should contact me directly or via PM. Despite this new status, I will continue to provide technical help here and elsewhere in as unbiased a fashion as possible.

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Old 18-01-2008, 10:04   #13
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Thanks for all the quick replies

I will do some reasearch and post what I might do. Appreciate all the various thoughts on the matter..

Michael
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Old 18-01-2008, 10:14   #14
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Guilty! Afraid that's me :-)
Well, hi Bill! Nice work there. Your nicopress/lifeline construction technique is brilliant, and I have a trio of Budwigs enroute, inspired by your photos.

Do you ever see galvanic corrosion at the copper/stainless junction, or do you goop them well enough that it's not an issue?

By the way, given the importance of SWR monitoring, I'm using a Wavenode WN-2 with three probes (backstay tuner or dipole depending on a coax switch, marine VHF, and dual-band amateur VHF/UHF). More expensive than cross-needle, but much more flexible.

Cheers and 73,
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Old 18-01-2008, 10:23   #15
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Hi, Steve...

Thanks for your comments.

The WaveNode is a very interesting device. But, as you said, much more expensive than a cross-meter SWR/power meter.

Re: galvanic corrosion, I've never seen any in 17 years or so of using this design. This is not to say there might not be any, but simply that I've never had the need to remove the Nicopress sleeve and look underneath :-)

It is a good idea to use a thin layer of dielectric or conductor grease, though. And, after making the NicoPress connection, I have used good quality electrical tape to make a watertight connection. More recently, I've used heat shrink, either alone or over the tape.

Every few years, it's a good idea to remove and replace the tape and, maybe, the heatshrink.

Whatever might be going on at the copper-to-stainless juncture, these dipoles just go on honkin' for years and years :-)

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