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Old 22-08-2010, 17:28   #1
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Ham Question: Satellite, Digital, Gateway, EchoLink, ILRP, APRS ?

As I study for my Technicians on the longer road to the higher licenses, a few questions for any HAMsters out there.

Q: Besides typical voice and CW, have any of you experimented with some of the digital modes and options to communicate information ship to shore? e.g. combinations of EchoLink, Internet gateways, VOIP, ILRP etc?

Q: How about amateur satellite to increase range and reliability?

Q: APRS and GoogleMaps/Earth on your website?

Basically, trying to get an idea what additional toys are available besides WINLINK for digital or other communications using the HAM bands.
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Old 22-08-2010, 18:26   #2
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I've done APRS, and a couple of kinds of EMCON digital modes. APRS is so-so, but is getting really easy to implement these days when you can buy a multiband radio with GPS option and turn it on.

The digital modes (I've used PSK and Olivia) work great at getting a message through but both ends have to be using it. The last circumnavigation I did I used it to send messages home, along with WinLink and Sailmail...all worked.
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Old 22-08-2010, 18:46   #3
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Skip the technician and go to the General directly. There is no longer a code requirement. All you need to do is memorize the answers to about 300 questions.
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Old 22-08-2010, 19:07   #4
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Hopefully, if you do choose to get a General license, you won't simply memorize the questions/answers as you really should make an effort to understand some basic fundamentals.

Satellite comms isn't practical off a boat.

Neither is internet access as it is typically too slow via SSB and HF.
Sailmail is your best option as it doesn't clutter up limited ham radio freq (which Winlink does)with comm traffic for which it isn't intended.
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Old 22-08-2010, 19:40   #5
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"Sailmail is your best option as it doesn't clutter up limited ham radio freq (which Winlink does)with comm traffic for which it isn't intended."

Well, the question was what modes are available with ham. Could say "Get an Iridium phone so you don't clutter up limited ham radio freq".

Michael
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Old 22-08-2010, 19:44   #6
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speciald@ocens. - I thought I needed to get the tech "before" i got the general? Is this not the case?

S/V Illusion - yes, I'm trying to actually understand everything within the tests rather than just memorize the answers...hence it's taking longer than I believe other people's experience. Also, have plans to use CW, so driving toward learning morse and Q codes.

Healer52 - thanks for the details on all the modes. Nice to see someone actually experimented with these options.

The modes, amateur satellite, VOIP etc sounds like limited practicality for a boatster and only SailMail is the way to go for any kind of bridging to the rest of the world. HAM<==>HAM is still good but for play only.
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Old 22-08-2010, 19:51   #7
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svcambria - yes, trying to get a sense on how some experienced and advanced HAMsters on CF might be using their rigs to extend communications along the digital or analog front to communicate back home - to family, friends, or even other HAMsters (using repeaters, amateur satellite, amateur gateways etc connected together or even just the modes themselves such as PSK31)
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Old 22-08-2010, 20:32   #8
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Salty Monkey,

Yes, you do need a Tech license before you can sit for a General license exam. The good news is if you pass the Tech license you can go on to take the General exam that same day and it should be covered in cost by the fee to take the Tech exam - i. e. free (that day only).
It's not up to us as to whether Winlink is a valid communication method on ham - the FCC has said it is. It is the same program as Sailmail, written by the same people, just looks for stations on the ham side rather than the marine SSB side. The built-in advantage of Winlink is that it is free to use for general class or higher hams, and there is no real time limit per day, per week, per anything, so if you have a situation where you need extra time for messages, you got it. You can also receive mail with attachments like weather info, sat pictures, anything on Saildocs.
I have an extra class license and have found that voice - station-to-station or on a net - and Winlink have been all I have needed over the last twelve years of cruising to "keep in touch". Winlink gets email messages into and out of the mailboxes of land-based non-hams and the nets can usually scare up a telephone patch if you need one.

Michael
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Old 22-08-2010, 20:41   #9
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The problem with Winlink other than the interference it causes which some tend to ignore is that because it is offensive to so many people, they tend to over-react and interfere intentionally with this mode making it unreliable. We all know that doing so is inappropriate and also illegal but that doesn't change the fact hams generally have a disdain for Winlink which all hams are aware of but some casual boaters who use this mode don't know or understand.

It's difficult to thoroughly describe all the modes available, their pros and cons and which would be best for any specific use so you would be better served I think by buying a manual available through the ARRL which provides the basics for all digital modes. An unintended result of reading this may be that you find alternatives about which you are currently unaware.
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Old 22-08-2010, 21:07   #10
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svcambria - one of the advantages of HAM, WinLink combination outside of FREE email is the ability to use WINMOR as a soft modem over PACTOR HW which costs outside of radio another 1200 $$. I don't know the reliability and severe performance hit of using soft modem, but it does reduce costs significantly when putting this stuff together.

As for testing, I hope I can just get this one down first to the point where I know I will pass, then start in on general studies. The HAM club that administers my test is meeting late next month, so that would be the target. Don't know if I will make the grade so to speak for both. We will try. I need another week to finish T submodules.

S/V Illusion - not looking for full description of modes, but am looking for real practical experiences from boating people who have hacked at it to come up with their own solutions.

Here is one list of digital modes

Digital*Modes*Samples
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Old 25-08-2010, 02:21   #11
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For the diehard HAM enthusiast you can set up a Pactor-IP bridge which will allow your HF/Pactor rig to connect to the Internet albeit at outstandingly slow speeds despite cutting down protocol overheads to an absolute minimum.

SCS, the Pactor people developed a method to create a Windows HF "dialler" which allied to a firmware upgrade on their modems, allowed your Pactor rig to connect to a compatible station & allow it to extend full Internet connectivity.

The two attached .pdf files explain the basic system & how to set it up on your PC. I have successfully configured an HF dialler & with one click had my ICOM M802/PTC-IIex rig make a connection attempt, but not having a suitable station to connect to, wasn't able to test it fully.

BTW SCS offered this some time ago & latest firmware is now v40.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf PIB.pdf (263.3 KB, 483 views)
File Type: pdf profi32_eng.pdf (275.4 KB, 76 views)
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Old 25-08-2010, 02:56   #12
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I have just finished studying for my Tech. My exam is next week.
I was really lucky to find a nice fellow that spent a LOT of time going through every single question pool via Youtube. 35 videos, very well explained. I recommend them to anyone despite their background in electronics, ham or even poor math skills.

I too am quite curious on how viable Satcom is while on the water. As most Satcoms require directional antennas, I wonder how viable it would be on the water. However, seeing people with mini-Yagi's in the park on a sunday making contact with their mobile it gives me some hope.

I have the same questions about the viability of some of the HF bands while in the middle of no where. Such as 6 and 10 meter. Do you sailing-Hams make DXes with HF while doing passages? What kind of antenna setup do you use?

Another thing that really sparked my interest in learning about Ham was a few products out there that advertise "NOAA sat receiption" in one little package, but the "package" goes for $2000+. With the right receiver (2 meter), free software (wxToImg) and a DIY Copper Quad Helix antenna you can download NOAA data with ease for a fraction of the cost. There are even a few antennas on the market that are quite small and salt-water/corrosion resistant for exactly that purpose (Ie. NOAA on Boats).

Thanks to everyone for the Winlink information, I am just learning about it. Packet radio is really the bees knees if you have any computer background. I can't wait to get that going.

73!
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Old 25-08-2010, 08:54   #13
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richardhula - Thanks for that information! Really interesting stuff there I need to study more!

Patient - Yes, I was using the videos for some of my studying. The AARL Q+A and an application on my iPad allows me to practice running through all the questions and setting up random mock tests. Good luck on your testing. Unfortunately for me I need to wait till the middle of next month. Since I just finished up my T-submodules, I have a little extra time to start in on the General and learn my code. If not for next month than in October. Have to get more into packet...
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Old 25-08-2010, 09:40   #14
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You do realize that you don't have to learn code for your General license, don't you?
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Old 25-08-2010, 09:46   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patient View Post
I have just finished studying for my Tech. My exam is next week.
I was really lucky to find a nice fellow that spent a LOT of time going through every single question pool via Youtube. 35 videos, very well explained. I recommend them to anyone despite their background in electronics, ham or even poor math skills.

I too am quite curious on how viable Satcom is while on the water. As most Satcoms require directional antennas, I wonder how viable it would be on the water. However, seeing people with mini-Yagi's in the park on a sunday making contact with their mobile it gives me some hope.

I have the same questions about the viability of some of the HF bands while in the middle of no where. Such as 6 and 10 meter. Do you sailing-Hams make DXes with HF while doing passages? What kind of antenna setup do you use?

Another thing that really sparked my interest in learning about Ham was a few products out there that advertise "NOAA sat receiption" in one little package, but the "package" goes for $2000+. With the right receiver (2 meter), free software (wxToImg) and a DIY Copper Quad Helix antenna you can download NOAA data with ease for a fraction of the cost. There are even a few antennas on the market that are quite small and salt-water/corrosion resistant for exactly that purpose (Ie. NOAA on Boats).

Thanks to everyone for the Winlink information, I am just learning about it. Packet radio is really the bees knees if you have any computer background. I can't wait to get that going.

73!
LOL. I was bored on watch during my non-record breaking circumnavigation and dialed up some ham bands on the SSB....I made a contact with some guy at McMurdo Station (Antarctica) while we were off Cape Agulhas (S. Africa). On 10 meters....

I wouldn't depend on it for communications, but yeah, you can do it.
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