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Old 18-07-2015, 11:31   #1
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Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Friends
I am thinking about adding SSB to my boat. I know very little about SSB, so was wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of a good book or article that I could read to get up to speed on capabilities and current equipment. I see a lot of older SSB units for sale, but suspect they are not current/state-of-the-art equipment. If anyone can recommend a good basic set-up that would be appreciated, as would any information on approximate cost starting from scratch. I am looking to use it for off-shore communications, weather, and possibly email.

Thanks!
Neil
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Old 18-07-2015, 11:53   #2
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Do a search on Electronics/Comm portion of this website. Look for Captain John. He's done about a dozen or two top notch videos on SSB and their operation. He likes the ICOM M802 with the 140 antenna tuner. Lots of pics on his set-up. These videos and such are about two years old, so while he has costs, they will have changed a bit.
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Old 18-07-2015, 14:26   #3
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

I am not sure there is much development in SSB. It is grown up technology.

Look at Yaesu toys see if that's what you perceive as 'up to date'. They seem to me.

http://www.yaesu.com/pdf/LEAFLET_HF_...ANSCEIVERS.pdf

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Old 20-07-2015, 06:11   #4
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Neil,
I have an appointment this morning, so need to be brief....
So, in a nut shell:

1) The Icom M-802 is the only new "affordable Marine SSB", being sold worldwide these days....it costs approx. $1800 new (compared to many of the older, used radios at about $400 - $500)
BUT....
But, it is like comparing "apples" to "oranges"....
Because the M-802 is an MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio, and NONE of the other "used radios" that you see advertised have this ?MF/HF-DSC capability!!
(take note that there are many discussions about the use of HF-DSC for pleasure boats, and while I'm firmly a proponent of it, and yes it DOES save lives, etc. it makes your purchase of a new radio necessary.....and hence expensive...)

IC-M802 HF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components


Note that Furuno and Sailor also sell MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios, and they start out at about $8000 and up!!!
(If you have that kind of budget, let us know....and we can discuss the details....




2) The most up-to-date information on Marine SSB (Maritime HF Communications), particularly regarding cruising boat / pleasure boat sailors, is going to be on-line...
Here at Cruiser's Forum, on the Seven Seas Cruising Association Discussion Boards( SSCA Forum • Index page ), and at panbo.com



3) Many see a problem in that you can also get quite a bit of opinion in on-line discussions, rather than "just the facts", but sadly this is also the case with most books on the subject as well)....
So, as long as get the facts, and understand them clearly, you should be fine...
(how you do that, well....read on...


4) I have attempted to lay out a detailed reference on-line, where there are many links to detailed/specific info (much of it from either official sources or those of us that have decades of experience in these matters), as well as uploaded some videos to Youtube that show LIVE real-world demonstrations of Marine SSB in operation, as well as explaining how-to use it, all the features/functions of the radios, etc....

If you have decent internet, take a look at the videos and read thru the references....and you'll end up knowing more about Marine SSB than 95% of the cruisers out there!!


Here are links to the video series (note that there are some videos that are shared/repeated in the different Youtube Playlists here, but the videos are organized in a logical order, so that you can more easily understand Marine HF communications):

Maritime HF Communications ("Marine SSB")
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX



Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


Offshore Weather dissemination sources
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


Offshore Sailing Video (just for fun)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY



And, for reading material....
Here are links to the references:
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use/properly-install SSB)


And, some discussion about the above videos...
New HF-DSC Explanation and LIVE Demonstration Videos

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call





5) Specifics in red...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ndavies View Post
I am thinking about adding SSB to my boat.
Good idea!!

I know very little about SSB, so was wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of a good book or article that I could read to get up to speed on capabilities and current equipment.
The Icom M-802 is the only "affordable" choice of equipment these days, for a new MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio....(see details above)

And, see links above to videos and reference materials...


I see a lot of older SSB units for sale, but suspect they are not current/state-of-the-art equipment.
You are correct, none of them are DSC-capable radios....and many are getting a bit old to be reliable at sea...

If anyone can recommend a good basic set-up that would be appreciated, as would any information on approximate cost starting from scratch.
The Icom M-802 is about the only "affordable" choice..(see above for details)
Price of radio alone is about $1800....but price for the WHOLE system is about $2600, all-in...
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components


I am looking to use it for off-shore communications, weather, and possibly email.
You can get all the offshore communications and weather info you'll ever need (including safety/distress comms), from a properly installed Icom M-802....(about $2600, all-in)
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components

Most find e-mail while offshore/at-sea to be unnecessary....so they do not need any external modem (which is pricey at ~ $1200 - ~ $1800, just for the modem)
Others will "make-do" with slow and less reliable e-mail at sea, by obtaining a ham radio license and using the ham radio / e-mail system (WINLINK) via WinMor, instead of an external PACTOR modem.....this saves them the cost of the modem, at the expense of speed/reliability, and of course NO business e-mails allowed, only personal...

Thanks!
Neil


I hope the above helps...
Please watch the videos, and read over the referenced threads, and please come back with further questions...

fair winds..

John


P.S. Please ignore "barnakiel's" response above....as this is simply a link to Yaseu's current HF ham radio product line....not any marine SSB's there....and half of those radios need 120vac/220vac power to run them anyway....
Sorry, barny.....but that info isn't helpful here...
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Old 20-07-2015, 09:43   #5
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Neil,
I have an appointment this morning, so need to be brief....
So, in a nut shell:

1) The Icom M-802 is the only new "affordable Marine SSB", being sold worldwide these days....it costs approx. $1800 new (compared to many of the older, used radios at about $400 - $500)
BUT....
But, it is like comparing "apples" to "oranges"....
Because the M-802 is an MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio, and NONE of the other "used radios" that you see advertised have this ?MF/HF-DSC capability!!
(take note that there are many discussions about the use of HF-DSC for pleasure boats, and while I'm firmly a proponent of it, and yes it DOES save lives, etc. it makes your purchase of a new radio necessary.....and hence expensive...)

IC-M802 HF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components


Note that Furuno and Sailor also sell MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios, and they start out at about $8000 and up!!!
(If you have that kind of budget, let us know....and we can discuss the details....




2) The most up-to-date information on Marine SSB (Maritime HF Communications), particularly regarding cruising boat / pleasure boat sailors, is going to be on-line...
Here at Cruiser's Forum, on the Seven Seas Cruising Association Discussion Boards( SSCA Forum • Index page ), and at panbo.com



3) Many see a problem in that you can also get quite a bit of opinion in on-line discussions, rather than "just the facts", but sadly this is also the case with most books on the subject as well)....
So, as long as get the facts, and understand them clearly, you should be fine...
(how you do that, well....read on...


4) I have attempted to lay out a detailed reference on-line, where there are many links to detailed/specific info (much of it from either official sources or those of us that have decades of experience in these matters), as well as uploaded some videos to Youtube that show LIVE real-world demonstrations of Marine SSB in operation, as well as explaining how-to use it, all the features/functions of the radios, etc....

If you have decent internet, take a look at the videos and read thru the references....and you'll end up knowing more about Marine SSB than 95% of the cruisers out there!!


Here are links to the video series (note that there are some videos that are shared/repeated in the different Youtube Playlists here, but the videos are organized in a logical order, so that you can more easily understand Marine HF communications):

Maritime HF Communications ("Marine SSB")
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX



Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr


Offshore Weather dissemination sources
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


Offshore Sailing Video (just for fun)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY



And, for reading material....
Here are links to the references:
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use/properly-install SSB)


And, some discussion about the above videos...
New HF-DSC Explanation and LIVE Demonstration Videos

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call





5) Specifics in red...




I hope the above helps...
Please watch the videos, and read over the referenced threads, and please come back with further questions...

fair winds..

John


P.S. Please ignore "barnakiel's" response above....as this is simply a link to Yaseu's current HF ham radio product line....not any marine SSB's there....and half of those radios need 120vac/220vac power to run them anyway....
Sorry, barny.....but that info isn't helpful here...
It's the antenna/match that is most important ... getting optimum performance from whatever unit is used. "Old" transceivers may lack fancies, but are capable of adequate communications. HF links are governed by the ionosphere, which is subject to the vagaries of the sun.
That said, ICOM has a long history of good and reliable performers. The Japanese led the miniaturization of devices in the '50s, picked up by "Hams" and later followed by U.S. military.
One operating asset of "old" units is CW (i.e., "code") capability that often works when SSB won't. There is always some Ham, somewhere in the world, that can hear you when commercial and government stations don't.
Keep in mind that with dead batteries, there's no SSB.
If you're really worried about emergencies, better buy satellite. SSB is a nice-to-have convenience, but not an essential. One may sail without it. There is no substitute for seamanship. --KV4FR
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Old 20-07-2015, 12:45   #6
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post

P.S. Please ignore "barnakiel's" response above....as this is simply a link to Yaseu's current HF ham radio product line....not any marine SSB's there....and half of those radios need 120vac/220vac power to run them anyway....
Sorry, barny.....but that info isn't helpful here...
OK, I see.

I did not know the 'marine' factor is such a big point. And most boats with SSB I have sailed had 120 / 220 Volts onboard too so I did not consider this a limitation.

I used Yaesu's SSB (or ham whatever) twice and I liked them. I found them easier to operate without manual than ICOMs. I did not actually notice they were not marine SSB radios. Pressed the buttons and talked to the other guys, it all seemed seamless.

And none of the above to take away from ICOM that is probably sort of like the bread and butter of marine SSB gear.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 20-07-2015, 13:11   #7
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

I installed the Icom 802 and the AT140 a while back at my lady's request. She ended up not liking it. No real surprise. She never cared for CB chatter either. It very seldom gets turned on.

If you are a radio buff, go for it.

I find my Delorme InReach see's a lot more use.


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Old 20-07-2015, 14:06   #8
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Unless you are a HAM and know what you are doing, suggest you only buy ICOM and buy NEW and maybe Pro install. Avoid insulated backstays if you can, they break. Will need ICOM antenna tuner and Pactor Modem if you plan email Russ KA1OUC
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Old 20-07-2015, 19:20   #9
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Neil,
As you can see (and as I mentioned right up front), there is no shortage of opinions on what you should do, what you should buy, what you should rely on, what you shouldn't do, etc. etc. etc...
And, yes....you can sail the world without a radio at all....we all understand that....but you asked about differences between new modern Marine SSB radios (MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios) and older, used marine SSB's (non-DSC radios)....and you get many off-topic answers....sorry about that!!

But, as you can also see, there IS some good info here for you....as well as, actual answers to your questions!!!



1) You made no mention of ham radios, but specifically asked about Marine SSB....and asked directly about using Marine SSB for offshore communications, weather, and possibly e-mail...
There are NO ham radios made than have DSC!!! NONE!!!
Marine DSC is a unique mode, and has been since 1992...
{Understand that in 1992 (yes, 23 years ago!), the Safety-Of-Life-At-Sea conventions established the GMDSS, and DSC (both VHF-DSC and MF/HF-DSC), and this became mandatory for all SOLAS vessels and all SOLAS-signatory nations on Jan 1999 (yes, 16+ years ago)....and you have been unable to buy a new non-DSC radio in the US/EU, etc. now for more than a decade!!}
Neil, you asked specifically about the newer Marine SSB radios (which are MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios) and the older marine SSB's which are NOT DSC capable, nor has there ever been are any ham radios that are/were DSC-capable...

If anyone wishes to read the info posted here on Cruiser's Forum, or the info published/posted by the IMO, USCG, AMSA, NZMA, EU, etc. etc. etc....the info about the GMDSS and MF/HF-DSC is there for everyone to read, and has been for a couple decades!!

Icom, Furuno, JRC, and Sailor all make MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios.....but the Icom M-802 is the only "cruiser-affordable" one in the mix!! (all the others cost $1000's and $1000's of dollars more!!)


2) Marine SSB radios are designed to "turn-in-on, and use-it" type radios, that ALWAYS work....they are mostly idiot proof, easy-to-use, and reliable, no matter what brand....
But, Icom has not only the great reputation and 90% market-share of the pleasure boat HF radio market, they are reliable and reasonably priced!!


3) Your profile shows a Hunter 42, so you might not have a backstay at all (B&R rig???)....and will probably want an "alternative backstay antenna" or a home-made "rope-tenna", etc. (of approx. 40' - 45' overall, including the GTO-15 wire)....or if you have a backstay, you can be assured that properly sized rigging insulators do not "break"...


4) Most sailors do not wish to rely on a 120vac genset to run a radio....and nobody would ever want to run an inverter, to run a 120vac radio (too much RFI!!!)
Also, a 42' sailboat, probably is a "12vdc boat", and most won't have any genset anyway...


5) While mentioning of the antenna is good...and it is true that proper installation (and a good antenna / ground system) IS important to optimal performance!!
This does not change the fact that while "old" radios may still function well, these are non-DSC radios.....
{And, in my opinion, many of them are getting a bit too old to consider placing them in mission-critical applications on an offshore voyage...}

And, every modern Marine SSB, whether Icom M-802, or not also has CW capability, and not only is the M-802 an excellent ham radio transceiver as well (SSB Voice, data/digital, FSK, and CW), but the M-802 is actually a great CW rig, too!! (full-break-in, full IF-DSC, narrow CW filters, etc. all standard equipment)
BUT...
But, with the advent of MF/HF-DSC, 23 years ago, CW isn't used by anyone but us ham radio nuts these days!!!


6) Proper installation of radio and antenna is, of course, important....BUT..
But, just as important is learning how-to properly use the radio, and how-to avoid issues on-board (such as RFI, etc.)
Anyone that can use a smart-phone or laptop, can learn how-to properly use a Marine SSB in less than an hour!!! For FREE!!!

Learning this goes a LONG to not only being able to "enjoy" the radio, but even more importantly to being able to rely on the radio for offshore comms, weather, etc. as well as getting the most out of cruiser's nets. etc...

I cannot stress hard enough this adage:
"Optimal performance is 90% antenna and operator (split about even), the rest is installation, wiring, dc power, etc..."





7) Now, I do NOT wish to pick on anyone specifically....and while I did counter much of the erroneous info and misunderstood opinions in some of the other posts above....I would like to politely dispel a myth about rigging insulators, specifically...(sorry Russ)
Yes, rigging insulators are expensive!!! But, they just don't break!
I started cruising as a kid in 1965, and in the past 50 years I've seen my share of the results of rigging failures and dismastings...in many places, such as Ft. Lauderdale, Antigua, Puerto Rico, Gibraltar, etc....and I have never seen, nor ever heard of any rigging insulator failure, at all!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ View Post
Unless you are a HAM and know what you are doing, suggest you only buy ICOM and buy NEW and maybe Pro install. Avoid insulated backstays if you can, they break. Will need ICOM antenna tuner and Pactor Modem if you plan email Russ KA1OUC
Fact is these rigging insulators are designed to be stronger than the rigging wire they are installed in....and while nothing man-made is infallible, these things really don't fail...
Fact is most rigging failures that I've seen, have failed at the wire-to-terminal junction....or simply failed/broken wire....as well as simply failed chainplates or failed rigging terminals...
But, if some are interested in a 100% fail-safe rigging insulator, the Hayn Hi-Mod rigging insulators are great, and are totally "fail-safe"...
Hi-MOD Fittings by Hayn Marine



Yes, rigging insulators are expensive!!!
But, they just don't break!

Russ, if you have personal experience with a failed rigging insulator, please let us know...



8) Neil never asked about satcom....and while I do love Iridium, satcom and HF radio are two different things, and they do two completely different things, are used for completely different purposes/applications!!!
They are NOT replacements / substitutes for each other, they compliment each other!!!
Those that do not understand the "broadcast" nature of radio, especially HF-DSC, might not fully grasp this....but that doesn't change the facts that satcom and Marine HF Radio (MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio) do NOT do the same things!!! (and they should not be thought of as replacements for each other!





Again, please understand that I mean NOTHING PERSONAL in any of my clarifications above...it's just that I want Neil to actually get factual answers to his questions, rather than some misunderstood opinions...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 20-07-2015, 20:46   #10
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Whatever John said is correct. BUT, you do not have to have 1940's technologies determining your antenna setup. YES, it is crucial, but a KISS SSB antenna will simply work fine. Don't worry that you have not earned your stripes by climbing thru every hole, nook, and cranny with copper foil. The result will be the same. Now to discuss anchors, guns, women, beer, and Mexican regulations . . . . .
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Old 21-07-2015, 00:04   #11
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post

Note that Furuno and Sailor also sell MF/HF-DSC-SSB radios, and they start out at about $8000 and up!!!
(If you have that kind of budget, let us know....and we can discuss the details....
Not to hijack the thread, but.....

Stevens Engineering Associates sells the SEA 235 for about $2800. It's current, but it doesn't have DSC installed. SEA developed internal Digital Signal Processing, which the Icom M802 capitalizes on for its clear transmissions. And, for you China-bashers, they're made in the USA.

SEA Marine Product Reference

I never see them mentioned. The SEA stuff seems like good equipment....?
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Old 21-07-2015, 09:31   #12
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

A big thank you to everyone for the input on this one. I now have a lot of material to read....and videos to watch. this is great info!


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Old 21-07-2015, 10:41   #13
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Neil,
You're very welcome!

Fair winds...

John
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Old 21-07-2015, 16:04   #14
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
BUT, you do not have to have 1940's technologies determining your antenna setup. YES, it is crucial, but a KISS SSB antenna will simply work fine. Don't worry that you have not earned your stripes by climbing thru every hole, nook, and cranny with copper foil. The result will be the same.
Do you mean the KISS ground system??? Yes, they work fairly well, usually. There are lots of options for a ground system, and some are in my opinion better than the KISS, and no more difficult to install.

But that's not the antenna. A backstay antenna is good, and there are other decent choices as well.
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Old 21-07-2015, 16:18   #15
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Re: Intro to SSB, up-to-date Equipment

I found this book very helpful in understanding the basic function and use of marine SSB radio operation without getting buried in technical data that just tends to confuse many people including me.

Marine SSB Radio for "Idi-Yachts": A Guide for Using Marine Single Sideband Radio



Marine SSB Radio for "Idi-Yachts": A Guide for Using Marine Single Sideband Radio: Marti Brown: 9780971564022: Amazon.com: Books
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