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Old 11-02-2012, 08:10   #61
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Googled "Addvalue Skipper 150" and the equipment comes in at about $4,000 to $5,000 - then add air time costs . . .

SSB HF systems are about half of that and then add for Pactor - which you can get for considerably less than their retail price if you get it from a cruiser who has finished his circumnavigation.

Iridium Googles as about $1,000 plus air time.
Isatphone Googles at about $500 plus air time.

Rentals seem to be the way to go for oceanic passages since coastal or island cruising has WiFi available. Oceanic Passages are rather "serious" stuff in my estimation so having both SSB/HF&Pactor and Satphones makes sense.

For coastal and island cruising Wifi is the thing when in a harbor/bay/cove where it is available. And SSB/HF is very useful to get live weather reports from other cruisers on the "morning nets" or weather services like "Chris Parker."

With JVCcomm and some other computer "sound card" demodulation systems, getting a Pactor seems to be not worth the money for coastal/Island cruising anymore especially when you can use Wifi for graphic weather and normal SSB for audio weather reports.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:03   #62
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Thks for that Orissail.Your correct in costs for the Skipper 150 FBB but monthly costs for minimum card is around Us$50(obviously depends on usage).However with Sailmail at Us$250 a year there is not such a great difference and the positive side is that the sats are always available.Unfortunately where I live a full blown SSB such as Icom 802 plus all the wiring/grounds etc etc will run about the same(4K).If you add in a Pactor then its a bit pricier with possibly slower downloads for email or gribs.
Anyway as a newbie am open to every bit of info I can glean.
Brgds Nig
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:22   #63
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

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Originally Posted by cnx123 View Post
Thks for that Orissail.Your correct in costs for the Skipper 150 FBB but monthly costs for minimum card is around Us$50(obviously depends on usage).However with Sailmail at Us$250 a year there is not such a great difference and the positive side is that the sats are always available.Unfortunately where I live a full blown SSB such as Icom 802 plus all the wiring/grounds etc etc will run about the same(4K).If you add in a Pactor then its a bit pricier with possibly slower downloads for email or gribs.
Anyway as a newbie am open to every bit of info I can glean.
Brgds Nig
Hi Nig,

Much depends on your views of cheap vs expensive. If you find it cheap to spend $2,500.- a year on communications, then a satellite based solution is the way to go for you. If you live in the fast lane with a busy life, work, orders and sailing on the side, then a satellite solution is your best option too, even if it costs more.

But if you will live aboard, retired, and appreciate things like listening to cruisers nets, tuning a radio to a frequency at a certain time to report your progress while underway on another net etc. then SSB is not only the way to go, it is also much cheaper. Even if you would use SailMail, that $250.- a year buys you everything, I believe 10 minutes per day. I think if you use that much air time on a satellite phone, you will incur costs of many thousands of dollars.

But it can also be completely free even without the 10 minute limitation when using Winlink2000. It only requires an easy passable exam for HAM radio operator.

If a download over satellite takes 1 minute while the same download over Pactor takes 2 minutes and this bothers you, then take the satellite solution. I did that too. The problem is that I changed a lot very quickly after retirement and it didn't take me a year before going the Pactor route.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:29   #64
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Gosh ! and now I know that the expense of the second hand SSB/ Ham raidos I bought for my kids so we can keep in touch was a good value!! LOL cus I can't understand most all of this stuff LOL I get weather, conversation when I wish and Connie can talk to the kids anytime we want ( well mostly lol) and it's pretty much free !! wow I thought about this stuff but found it was to complcated for this OLD Guy LOL just our 2 Cents Bob and Connie
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:35   #65
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

[QUOTE=osirissail;884397]
SSB HF systems are about half of that and then add for Pactor - which you can get for considerably less than their retail price if you get it from a cruiser who has finished his circumnavigation.

If you are a Ham, winlink2000 has introduced a software (WINMOR) alternative to the pactor modum using your computers sound card. I haven't tried it yet, but it should provide relief to the expensive SCS products.

http://www.winlink.org/WINMOR

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Old 11-02-2012, 11:06   #66
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Thks for all the lively replies.However being a newbie I am questioning a lot of stuff in my innocence.Please bear in mind that I live in South East Asia where all these cruising nets and lively discussions over SSB are not so prevalent as perhaps in the Caribbean or North American waters or even Europe.
I am looking at passages but not trans Pacific or trans Altantic.So all in all my tendancy is towards Fleetbroadband which with compression software does not cost thousands of dollars in airtime costs.I will have a Satphone as a back up anyway but am still trying to decide between SSB or FBB.
I am familiar from a Aviation background with VHF/HF/Satcom but trying to find the best marine solution is still a open question.Let the debate continue.....
Cheers Nigel
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:17   #67
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

I just tried to cover this topic in a cruising seminar, and this thread was immensely helpful. My experience has mostly been SSB/HAM, with one transatlantic with a Globalstar satphone (a disaster).

What I get out of this discussion is that the costs and connection time to get my weather and send email are reasonably comparable for SSB/Ham Pactor and Irridium satphone (it takes 5-10 minutes/day, lower cost depends on whether you will be cruising for months or decades).

What I don't get out of this discussion is how much do you have to learn to make it happen. I know that the SSB/Ham/Pactor is complex to install and operate. Now I'm finding out that it takes more than just an Iridium phone and a computer, I need to learn about firewalls, compressions, Xgates, and a bunch of other stuff.

If I am going to recommend a satphone to a newbie, can he get a system which takes him an hour to install and download his first grib and send his first email, or is it more like a week. Are there any user-friendly packages, which only require the insertion of the program CD, a couple of mouse-clicks and plugging in a couple of wires to set up??
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:34   #68
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Don, look at Global Marine Networks (GMN -- XGate) or the OCENS products (they're essentially the same thing). With these you need to:
  • Buy or rent a satphone and purchase airtime. The newest Iridium phones have a USB connection for charging and data, which simplifies the computer connection.
  • Buy and install an external antenna for the satphone. The "cartop" antenna provided with the phone will do in a pinch.
  • Sign up (and pay) for an email account.
  • Download the software and install it on the computer.
  • Start sending and receiving email.
You can get the entire package (hardware, software, email service) from the above vendors, and no doubt from some others.

The next step is to learn how to get the weather info you need. GMN and OCENS will sell you a very convenient weather info package, but you can also find free data and tools from Saildocs and others.
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Old 11-02-2012, 13:22   #69
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

There are very different systems being talked about here,

Firstly you can really only compare sat phones with a data connection to SSB with a pastor system, New out of the box, theres not much in the difference price wise and a professionally installed SSB will be more expensive.

Satphones work well for data ( the exception being Globalstar as their network is half shot), Iridium and Inmarsat being the leaders with Thurya following up ( limited coverage). Inmarsat currently looks the cheaper to buy and run.

Data rates are limited to about 2400bps, more with compression, overall this is better then Pactor , but you have have airtime costs.


Fleetbroadband is in a different league altogether, 4K for the equipment, provides you with a stabilized antenna and approx unto 150Kbps. This is orders of magnitude better then either sat phones or SSB. BUT this is about $10 per Mb. ( average across plans) , if you web browse etc, it will cost you megabucks.

However if you want good reliable all weather email with the ability to handle larger downloads if necessary, then it can't be beat, But just remember the $$$$$. You'll only buy it if you need it.


Dave
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Old 11-02-2012, 13:35   #70
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
I just tried to cover this topic in a cruising seminar, and this thread was immensely helpful. My experience has mostly been SSB/HAM, with one transatlantic with a Globalstar satphone (a disaster).

What I get out of this discussion is that the costs and connection time to get my weather and send email are reasonably comparable for SSB/Ham Pactor and Irridium satphone (it takes 5-10 minutes/day, lower cost depends on whether you will be cruising for months or decades).

What I don't get out of this discussion is how much do you have to learn to make it happen. I know that the SSB/Ham/Pactor is complex to install and operate. Now I'm finding out that it takes more than just an Iridium phone and a computer, I need to learn about firewalls, compressions, Xgates, and a bunch of other stuff.

If I am going to recommend a satphone to a newbie, can he get a system which takes him an hour to install and download his first grib and send his first email, or is it more like a week. Are there any user-friendly packages, which only require the insertion of the program CD, a couple of mouse-clicks and plugging in a couple of wires to set up??
As covered in a number of threads on CF all of these systems have trade-offs. Our experience with two Atlantic crossings using both a SSB and an Iridium showed the Iridium to be far superior in every way except operating cost. Purchase and installation costs are arguably equivalent.

We tried to participate in two SSB nets and found them to be of little value. We found signal transmission to be extremely variable June 2010 and November 2011. It was very difficult to maintain communication day-to-day with the nets. Getting forecast weather with the SSB was an exercise in frustration.

With the satphone we were able to get GRIBs on our schedule and reliably. We could also talk to our families at any time. It was ready to go waterproof in the ditch bag/life raft at a moments notice with the emergency numbers already programmed (try that with an SSB.)

The technical level required to correctly install an SSB is much higher than a satphone. The learning curve of an SSB is far greater than a satphone.

With an Iridium satphone, XGATE software, and a laptop one can put them together and be downloading GRIBs in 20 minutes.

My feeling is that SSB use will diminish because of WIFI connectivity while near shore and the reliability and ease of use of the satphones offshore.
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Old 11-02-2012, 14:35   #71
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

Quote:
As covered in a number of threads on CF all of these systems have trade-offs. Our experience with two Atlantic crossings using both a SSB and an Iridium showed the Iridium to be far superior in every way except operating cost. Purchase and installation costs are arguably equivalent.
I can't see how installation costs of a portable Iridium phone come anywhere near a full SSB install. Th phone is virtually zero, SSB is quite expensive to install.

Quote:
My feeling is that SSB use will diminish because of WIFI connectivity while near shore and the reliability and ease of use of the satphones offshore.
If you take the ARC figures, the % of boats sailing with ONLY sat phones has increased steadily over the years and is now the majority.
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Old 11-02-2012, 15:31   #72
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Data rates are limited to about 2400bps, more with compression, overall this is better then Pactor , but you have have airtime costs.
Pactor III is about 5000 bps. Pactor IV is about double that.

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I can't see how installation costs of a portable Iridium phone come anywhere near a full SSB install. Th phone is virtually zero, SSB is quite expensive to install.
A portable handset is "free" to install until you drown a phone (and maybe a laptop) trying to get a signal in the cockpit. Add the marine external antenna, the car kit below, and the data cable plus installation and the price is just about exactly the same as a decent SSB with Pactor installation.
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Old 11-02-2012, 15:43   #73
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

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Pactor III is about 5000 bps. Pactor IV is about double that.
in your dreams, effective throughput of III is about 1700bps ( and thats with the wind behind you). Figures quoted by SCS and others include inline compression ( which is cheating). Ill reserve my comments of P-IV until I get one.


Quote:
A portable handset is "free" to install until you drown a phone (and maybe a laptop) trying to get a signal in the cockpit. Add the marine external antenna, the car kit below, and the data cable plus installation and the price is just about exactly the same as a decent SSB with Pactor installation.
Well after two transatlantics, just using a portable Iridium and a standard puck antenna, Id have to disagree. A proper SSB setup including either a insulated backstay or HF Whip is expensive. Taking new pricing including a pactor modem, you'd have little change for 4k for an SSB setup. A new IsatphonePro cost $450, please lets not kid ourselves

I am after all a amateur radio operator.

Dave
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Old 11-02-2012, 15:43   #74
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

I used Iridium down in the western Caribbean to get weather and download emails using XGate and it worked very well. I did not have an external marine antenna and it was not a problem. I did use the little hockey puck antenna that allowed me to keep the phone out of the weather while doing downloads. I found I averaged about 2 minutes air time per day when on passage, and when ashore I used wifi so there was no cost then. I only downloaded weather on average once per day on passage. Iridium was not used for regular calls, but a couple of times it paid for itself when emergency calls were needed (getting a prescription, transferring money). One of the big pluses is that you could take it with you into a liferaft and be able to communicate much more effectively than with just an epirb going off. In an ideal world, I would recommend having both SSB and Iridium--they do different things. Haven't really looked into Inmarsat, but the newer offerings sound good.
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Old 11-02-2012, 18:02   #75
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Re: HAM/SSB/SAT Phone

unbusted,
This is a topic that comes up every few months.....and here are a few recent threads that dealt in detail with it....

Ham, $$B, Iridium ?

If Data Connection Is Necessary, What's Best ?

Advice on Having SSB Aboard


And, if you're looking for a good place to get a whole HF radio set-up (M-802, etc.), now that Don at HF Radio On-Board has semi-retired, Gary at Dockside Radio is one of the few knowledgeable good guys around....
Get in touch with him...
Pactor-II/III Radio Modem sales, FCC License filing, Marine SSB & HAM Radio Net schedules &amp frequencies.

BTW, a whole complete Icom M-802/AT-140, HF-DSC-SSB / Ham set-up will currently set you back about $2600....
Icom SSB Radio


I hope this helps....

John
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