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Old 27-03-2012, 03:09   #91
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Hi Tashtego, I did not suggest people should throw out their present radios and buy a DSC model. But when fitting a new boat, or replacing a HF/SSB radio, upgrading to the latest technology and service - DSC - seems an opportunity too good to pass up. In some countries its already mandatory.

However, if "HF GMDSS is on shaky legs anyway and won't be with us much longer", then buying a DSC radio could be a bad investment. I'm sure a lot of people would be interested to have you share more about this; no one wants to buy a lemon.

Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining. A positive outcome of the introduction of the GMDSS system was it forced big ships to shift most of their regular traffic onto their expensive satellite systems, ending their domination of the marine HF/SSB frequencies. Many more frequencies became available for us little people to use.

Happy cruising.
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Old 27-03-2012, 10:44   #92
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

I'm following this thread with interest and I know this could open a can of worms, but I can't help wondering: With the improvements in sound cards -How hard can it be to send a DSC distress call from a non-GMDSS equiped radio attached to a laptop ? Isn't there an app for that yet ?

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Old 27-03-2012, 11:02   #93
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

I know they created Winmor but I've often wondered why someone can't just write pactor software for a PC as well.
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Old 27-03-2012, 12:03   #94
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Hi Dave, good point. There must be a creative HAM out there who could put that one together. It could certainly help those people with a marine radio but without DSC to get access to DSC services, and to maintian a DSC watch - at least for general alarm calls - on their boat.

I'm sure it would not get FCC (or any other national comms authority) type approval, and therefore would not allow an MMSI ID to be issued, but it should give people access to the basic DSC funtion.

And it would need more electricity on board to power both the radio and the PC/notebook. I think that lower power consumption in standby mode has been one of the goals in developing workable DSC radios for small-craft.

Although what I'm not sure about is whether there is a copyright on the DSC function. Anyone can help on that?

I know there is a copyright on the higher speed (eg: P3 & P4) Pactor functionality, and I understand there might also be a copyright on the AirMail software. I guess the HAMs who put the time and money into creating those great products for us also have families to support; and probably boat bills to pay!
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Old 27-03-2012, 13:07   #95
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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"why someone can't just write pactor software for a PC as well. "
Easy, someone CAN. If they don't mind being sued for patent and copyright infractions. Which in turn is why Rick created Winmor, which was actually his second very long and dedicated attempt to give the world something as good as Pactor without infringing on Pactor.

And....

Dave?
You remember a scene is Star Wars when they go to escape in the Millenium Falcon and hit hyperdrive, and the computers crap out and the ship just stalls? Thanks, no thanks, don't want my laptop, any laptop, any OS, involved in sending distress messages. Hit button, BSOD, Apple Bomb, whatever. No, even a tight *stard like me would prefer to hit a button built INTO the radio, no cables and no outside assistance needed.

Or a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, involving the Holy Hand Grenade. What was it? Thou shalt pull the pin and count to three? Laptops, ham sound cards, equipment drifting or getting unplugged...I guess it would be a nice backup, to be used shortly before the note in the bottle.<G>
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Old 27-03-2012, 14:31   #96
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tashtego View Post
AlanR, You don't seem to get the point. I DON'T HAVE HF GMDSS!! And I don't plan on paying several thousand dollars to get an M802 system to get it. SOLAS has been irresponsible in shutting down safety watches on the Marine Emergency channels. So be it. I'll depend in my 406 MHz GPIRB and the ham nets for help. Besides, the rumors I hear indicate that HF GMDSS is on shaky legs anyway and won't be with us much longer. Small loss.
Nobody has shut down anything, in fact I’m standing on my bridge at the moment in front of the GMDSS console, and as always a listening watch is been maintained on the MF/HF Radiotelephony equipment. (As is required throughout the fleet, and my standing orders)

All SOLAS have done is remove the mandatory component, they have not shut down anything.....

We do not have to carry a Sextant.....but we do....

We do not have to carry paper charts as we are fully ECDIS compliant.....but we do....

We are still required to carry approved MF/HF Radiotelephony equipment, we are not required to maintain a continuous listening watch.....but we do....

Now could you please quantify your “rumours” with some facts.....
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Old 27-03-2012, 14:42   #97
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Target:
"why someone can't just write pactor software for a PC as well. "
Easy, someone CAN. If they don't mind being sued for patent and copyright infractions. Which in turn is why Rick created Winmor, which was actually his second very long and dedicated attempt to give the world something as good as Pactor without infringing on Pactor.
After my initial post here I did some research and saw that SCS has a lock on the technology and will continue to sell their proprietary products. That sucks. A lot. I really hope Winmor does take off and becomes usable with Sailmail or some other service.

I haven't gotten into the how/why HAM insiders are fighting it, but I do know that I hate it when a single vendor controls something.
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Old 27-03-2012, 14:54   #98
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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Originally Posted by Target9000 View Post
After my initial post here I did some research and saw that SCS has a lock on the technology and will continue to sell their proprietary products. That sucks. A lot. I really hope Winmor does take off and becomes usable with Sailmail or some other service.

I haven't gotten into the how/why HAM insiders are fighting it, but I do know that I hate it when a single vendor controls something.
On the other hand, SCS invented it and invested their time and money to make a really nice product that works well. People were and are willing to pay for a good product, and Pactor has become a defacto standard because of this. This is how the system works, and I like it that way.

If WINMOR or some other public-domain project can improve on the price/utility equation, I would be very pleased. This is also how the system works, and I like that too.
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Old 27-03-2012, 15:02   #99
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

True SCS invented it, but on the other hand Pactor has been around since the late 1980s. I'm not an expert in patent law but my understanding is that in America a patent on that type of tech should last around 20 years. Not sure if it is patented in Germany, they may have different laws. However, 20 years with no competition in a small field seems more than enough to recoup your startup/research costs. I agree that needs to happen. However, having a lock on the entire market forever seems kind of silly.
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Old 27-03-2012, 15:23   #100
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Criticisms of DSC are misplaced. Does it have issues, of course. ( it should have been purely reserved for distress) but its here to stay. Hf DSC is problematic but the relevant organisations are working to fix it. It does show up the need in the US for some sort of user training, the lack of which will cause a lot of problems.

Both Inmarsat b and M and C do have an integrated distress button.

Marine HF is dying, sat comms has virtually completely replaced it, in commercial communications. It would be interesting to see how many would be removed is the mandatory carriage requirement was removed.

Sat coms are not effected by localised ground disruption. Unlike all the examples given. The military retain HF because they must continue to operate in an environment where they are denied sat access. This is not an issue for leisure boaters.

Ham HF radios are not legal on marine HF bands , other then in distress, irrespective of whether the operator is marine HF licensed or not. Marine HF requires type approved radios.


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Old 27-03-2012, 18:11   #101
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

[QUOTE=IslandHopper;917456]

"All SOLAS have done is remove the mandatory component"

"we are not required to maintain a continuous listening watch"

IslandHopper you can't have it both ways. Maybe you are standing continuous watch, but if it's not mandatory it probably won't be there when we need it. You almost admitted that if MF/HF gear wasn't required you wouldn't have it on board.

Another quick comment, I don't intend to pay SCS nearly $2000 just so I can send e-mails. I can send text by ham radio using several digital modes including RTTY, PSK31, MFSK16, Olivia and many others. I can even use WinMOR to send e-mail through Winlink2000.

Finally, those who don't have confidence in the computer connected to their radio are free to press the panic button and depend on the computer inside their radio instead.
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Old 27-03-2012, 18:24   #102
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

"Finally, those who don't have confidence in the computer connected to their radio are free to press the panic button and depend on the computer inside their radio instead. "
Tashtego, there can be a million PAGES of code running behind your OS if your computer is running Windows or Apple OS. That's before any apps are running or any malware has gotten in from the outside. *NIX isn't very different either. In fact the new Apple OSes are running on top of Unix, adding more layers.

OTOH the DSC "computer" in your radio is immune to hackers, they have no access to it. And it is running perhaps a couple of thousand lines of code, instead of a million pages. With no third party software running on it at the same time.

If you don't appreciate the difference in stability, try dragooning your officers from the local pub, see if you don't find a difference in the quality of the more, ah, select product that usually walks up the gangplank on its own, with papers.
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Old 28-03-2012, 07:48   #103
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

Hey, guys, thanks again for the excellent advice. I contacted the FCC, and I passed my general exam yesterday! So now all I need to do is figure out how to use the radio.

Again, many thanks for the input.
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Old 28-03-2012, 10:30   #104
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

[QUOTE=Tashtego;917600]
Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandHopper View Post

"All SOLAS have done is remove the mandatory component"

"we are not required to maintain a continuous listening watch"

IslandHopper you can't have it both ways. Maybe you are standing continuous watch, but if it's not mandatory it probably won't be there when we need it. You almost admitted that if MF/HF gear wasn't required you wouldn't have it on board.
1. I have no idea what you are talking about "can't have it both ways" ??

2. I have in no way shape or form "almost admited" anything....all current vessels will still have MF/HF gear, no one is removing them....we have 20 new builds with a designed 20 years life span that will be fitted with the same equipment.....

3. Sorry but your whole "when we need it" is a bit misplaced, What you need to grasp is the whole system was not implemented with the recreational boater as the priority, SOLAS came about due to the massive loss of life due to a cruise ship sinking, not a sailing boat, and the decisions they make have to be for the “greater good”....
If SOLAS and the commercial industry decides to move the system in a new direction to increase efficiency and safety “for the majority” of seafarers, and i as a cruiser (minority) wish to utilise that system, then i need to adjust and spend the bucks..........that’s just a fact of life with most instances.....

I can still remember the uproar when EPIRBS became compulsory....nothing changes.....
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Old 28-03-2012, 11:20   #105
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Re: HF SSB Ham Radio Option

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Originally Posted by IslandHopper View Post
Nobody has shut down anything, in fact I’m standing on my bridge at the moment in front of the GMDSS console, and as always a listening watch is been maintained on the MF/HF Radiotelephony equipment. (As is required throughout the fleet, and my standing orders)

All SOLAS have done is remove the mandatory component, they have not shut down anything.....

We do not have to carry a Sextant.....but we do....

We do not have to carry paper charts as we are fully ECDIS compliant.....but we do....

We are still required to carry approved MF/HF Radiotelephony equipment, we are not required to maintain a continuous listening watch.....but we do....

Now could you please quantify your “rumours” with some facts.....
I'm really happy that someone who is familiar with the reality of commercial ship comms is participating in this discussion, and I have heaps of questions for you. For starters:

When you say that you maintain a continuous listening watch on MF/HF, is that the automated DSC function or are you actually listening on the voice channels?? If so, which channels and for what periods?

On the subject of GMDSS/DSC, are you required to maintain a log of all emergency contacts/alarms, and how many entries a month does that have log have??

If you had an emergency 500 miles offshore, how would YOU send your distress message out--inmarsat or HF/DSC??

My understanding is that commercial shipping has eliminated the radio officer position, and that all comms functions are now done by deck officers who have less training, less inclination, and less time to use the equipment. Is that the reality on most ships?
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