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Old 01-11-2013, 11:09   #16
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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
The SSB technology is great for the "tech" hobbyist, who by the way are the most vocal supporters. I get it, nice electronics, tuning to get best performance, great physics, and a great community.

Most folks cruising are not into this tech category. They just want weather and communication, no hassle, easy, on their schedule. Look at all the threads on CF from folks requiring assistance on their SSBs, on install, use, noise issues, antennas, that are all electrical engineering/electronic technician level questions.

The reality is that most folks are not even installing a SSB these days. There are other "easier" alternatives.
That's possibly true for one off arc boats and the like, but I think long term ocean cruising ssb and Ham are still very much alive. I went from Sat to ham for budget reasons mainly. After that initial outlay that's it. And always preferred wfax to grib, to keep the airtime down the gribs were always of a small area, not an ocean like wfax where you get a much better feel for what's going on and what might be coming your way. Nice to know a person has had a look as well, not straight from a model.
But money allowing then both, hard to think of a reason not to have something like a 1103 onboard to get access to the free wfax service even if you have a satphone and 500 mins airtime to spare.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:09   #17
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Just to make a point about protocol the title of this post is Newbe to SSB while this is an interesting debate on alternative technologies I think we probably lost the original poster some time ago!!
I would point to one thing though, when I talk about cost of satphones as expensive I mean the cheapest monthly plan or prepay card is out of my budget. Also SSB is still part of SOLAS for ship safety, hand held sat phones are not (classed the same as mobiles for the same reason, the have no inter-ship capacity).
I see your point but I disagree because if you go back and read the OP text you will find he included information about his sat phone and decision process for looking at SSB. IMHO he made have not had all the information he needed and should possible rethink the decision to get his weather with a receiver.

As far a SOLAS I would rather have a sat phone with the preprogrammed number in memory for calling US CC or British SAR coordination that trying to access someone on an SSB with poor propagation.

I push a couple buttons on the Iridium and I have help. Critical when my task loading is maxed out in an emergency. Plus I can move the Iridium into the life raft when it's time to go.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:26   #18
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

"As far a SOLAS I would rather have a sat phone with the preprogrammed number in memory for calling US CC or British SAR coordination that trying to access someone on an SSB with poor propagation.

I push a couple buttons on the Iridium and I have help. Critical when my task loading is maxed out in an emergency. Plus I can move the Iridium into the life raft when it's time to go.[/QUOTE]"

I think this is worthy of a new seperate discussion so am starting one f any of you are intereste
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:35   #19
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
The SSB technology is great for the "tech" hobbyist, who by the way are the most vocal supporters. I get it, nice electronics, tuning to get best performance, great physics, and a great community.

Most folks cruising are not into this tech category. They just want weather and communication, no hassle, easy, on their schedule. Look at all the threads on CF from folks requiring assistance on their SSBs, on install, use, noise issues, antennas, that are all electrical engineering/electronic technician level questions.

The reality is that most folks are not even installing a SSB these days. There are other "easier" alternatives.
It is about a hobby. It's about reliable communications. That's why Navy's across the world continue to run HF/SSB.

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As far a SOLAS I would rather have a sat phone with the preprogrammed number in memory for calling US CC or British SAR coordination that trying to access someone on an SSB with poor propagation.
And miss the opportunity (you do have HF DSC right?) for closer support from someone that may only be just over the horizon?

The 911 mindset completely misses the value of a one-to-many and many-to-many modality of communication.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:48   #20
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

Currently have VHF DSC which is generally LOS. Although, one night off of Portugal we were getting AIS signals for about 200 miles to the north and south of us. Cloud bounce I assume??
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Old 01-11-2013, 13:37   #21
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Currently have VHF DSC which is generally LOS. Although, one night off of Portugal we were getting AIS signals for about 200 miles to the north and south of us. Cloud bounce I assume??
Long-range VHF that is relatively clear is probably tropospheric ducting. Short term noisy propagation may be meteor scatter. I am not aware of signals bouncing off clouds.
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Old 01-11-2013, 13:53   #22
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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Long-range VHF that is relatively clear is probably tropospheric ducting. Short term noisy propagation may be meteor scatter. I am not aware of signals bouncing off clouds.
I was showing my ignorance with that comment. It was a cloudy overcast and since I had never observed the phenomena before I did what humans do better than any computer in the world, correlation. Consequently, I deduced that the clouds were just right to have been causing the long range propagation with zero causality or knowledge of what was really going on.
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Old 01-11-2013, 14:23   #23
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
I was showing my ignorance with that comment. It was a cloudy overcast and since I had never observed the phenomena before I did what humans do better than any computer in the world, correlation. Consequently, I deduced that the clouds were just right to have been causing the long range propagation with zero causality or knowledge of what was really going on.
My apologies if I can across as brusque. That wasn't my intent.

Tropospheric ducting is a phenomenon associated with atmospheric conditions (weather) in which VHF frequencies bounce off or are conducted along a boundary between layers in the atmosphere. VHF, ordinarily line of sight, regularly carries a couple of hundred miles. From time to time clear communication is possible over a thousand miles.

Meteor scatter happens when a combination of lots of meteors (like the Perseids) and their effect on the atmosphere generate what amounts to a reflector.

For whatever interest it may have, there are lots of things that can be reflectors. Aircraft at altitude can act as short term reflectors (remember the ghosts on TV back in the old days?). Ham radio operators regular bounce VHF and UHF signals off the moon (called EME).
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:21   #24
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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I think a few points of perspective are appropriate here.

One is that the capital cost plus running cost of HF/SSB should be compared to that of satellite phones (including car kit and external antenna). If you're heading out for just a few months sat phones look pretty good. If you're going for a few years or more HF/SSB starts looking very good.

A pet peeve of mine is that people will spend a lot of time learning about diesel engines and watermakers and electronics but can't be bothered to spend a fraction of the time to understand basic radio propagation and a few tools to model and predict it. It just isn't hard.
Thanks Auspicious for your thoughtful comments. I largely agree with what you say as it's very valid for certain types of users (namely long-term bluewater cruisers). If you have the time to build HF/SSB/HAM expertise, particularly troubleshooting poor installations (all too common) and learning about propagation, then the zero operating cost of HF/SSB will quickly outweigh the initial capital cost (which is typically higher than for a bare-bones but functional semi-fixed satphone installation). But for a more limited program (1-2 ocean crossings), satphones remains attractive, particularly if the boat is not especially suited to HF (for example, small chart table, limited electrical power, no backstay...), or if you have other priorities on your plate...

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Also note that satellite phones are not nearly as robust as many expect. It isn't like a cell phone in an urban area. Sometimes it just doesn't connect. ...Four or five bars don't last long on sat phones I have used.
As LakeSuperior noted, this is not my experience, particularly with Iridiums which seem to have a fairly solid connection (4-5 bars is the norm), especially with an affordable external antenna ($180-250). Isatphones require pointing the antenna towards the geostationary satellite, which I admit is a pain and doesn't always seem to work well (for example, the Isatphone didn't work for us when we tried it in the English Channel - we turned on the Iridium and it worked just fine).

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The problem with which assumption is that fragile and expensive electronics, including your laptop, end up in the cockpit.
A cheap USB extension cable on the Isatphone allows you to leave it in the cockpit while you call from your chart table. Not a perfect solution, but cheap (thanks to a previous CF contributor for pointing this out!).

Even better to have a semi-fixed Iridium installation (an antenna costs $180-250 and yields excellent reception; the mounting cradle is free and comes with the phone).

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...Navtex are much better than sat phones for weather.
Navtex text weather messages are pretty bad for weather forecasting in my experience - you're lucky if they provide anything more than a 24hr outlook (at least in Europe).
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:31   #25
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
I was showing my ignorance with that comment. It was a cloudy overcast and since I had never observed the phenomena before I did what humans do better than any computer in the world, correlation. Consequently, I deduced that the clouds were just right to have been causing the long range propagation with zero causality or knowledge of what was really going on.
But clouds, especially when part of the "marine layer" upper-level overcast, can be caused by the same conditions that create tropo ducting. It isn't the clouds themselves, but the layers of air density and humidity that refract the VHF signals. So you may have been essentially right about the clouds.

Big puffy cumulus clouds are not associated with ducting.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:36   #26
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Re: Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?

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If you have the time to build HF/SSB/HAM expertise, particularly troubleshooting poor installations (all too common) and learning about propagation ...
I admit this is a pet peeve, but learning about these issues is no more work than learning about diesels or watermakers or sewage systems.

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particularly if the boat is not especially suited to HF (for example, small chart table, limited electrical power, no backstay...), or if you have other priorities on your plate...
Chart table size shouldn't be an issue. Electrical power may be. No backstay is not an issue; there are lots of alternatives to an insulated backstay.

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As LakeSuperior noted, this is not my experience, particularly with Iridiums which seem to have a fairly solid connection (4-5 bars is the norm)
Others on this thread with a good bit of sea time have the same sort of intermittent experience that I have had.

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Navtex text weather messages are pretty bad for weather forecasting in my experience - you're lucky if they provide anything more than a 24hr outlook (at least in Europe).
Agreed. My comment was that WEFAX and Navtex provide the best possible weather data. WEFAX gives tremendous big and local picture and Navtex gives more detail, as you say, in the near term.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:49   #27
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I few things. In all years since 2001 since getting lost for 6 days in a storm and the wife forced me to buy a 2nd hand iridium 9505 , I've never failed to get connectivity at sea including Atlantic crossings. The myth of difficult connectivity is just that.

I pay 30 US dollars a month and $1 a minute bill pay account. The prepay system never seems to make sense. My service provider ( Marconi marine, Essex ) lets me suspend the account if I expect long periods ie months of inactivity of the winter. It means I get a new number each time I re activate but that's not an issue


Further more people talking about HF reaching out to over the horizon or closer boats actually misses the whole purpose of GMDSS. That is designed that you contact an MRCC FIRST. It's the MRCC that then contacts the ships or other rescue assets around you. In this regards a satphone call to an MRCC is actually better then a HF call that does not reach land.


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Old 02-11-2013, 12:53   #28
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In all years since 2001 since getting lost for 6 days in a storm and the wife forced me to buy a 2nd hand iridium 9505 , I've never failed to get connectivity at sea including Atlantic crossings. The myth of difficult connectivity is just that.


........... lets me suspend the account if I expect long periods ie months of inactivity of the winter.
Is that with voice or data? I've only ever made one voice call offshore, which worked fine so can't comment on that but data was never 100%, usually get there in the end but with many dropped calls along the way. Frustrating.

Being able to suspend the account is a big leap forward, that was one of the reasons I went to ham. Is it the same sim card?

Still think long term on a budget ham is the best option.
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Old 02-11-2013, 13:20   #29
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Is that with voice or data? I've only ever made one voice call offshore, which worked fine so can't comment on that but data was never 100%, usually get there in the end but with many dropped calls along the way. Frustrating.

Being able to suspend the account is a big leap forward, that was one of the reasons I went to ham. Is it the same sim card?

Still think long term on a budget ham is the best option.
The account suspension essentially results in. A new number ie a new activation they just FedEx the sim. They do it as a favour to a good customer

On data , yes sometimes the calls drop which requires software that can pick up where it left off. I found the addition of a better external antenna to help a lot

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Old 02-11-2013, 13:38   #30
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The account suspension essentially results in. A new number ie a new activation they just FedEx the sim.
Ah, not that great then. In lot of the nicer cruising spots an overnight delivery means you have no idea when/if the package might turn up or which particular office/shack it might end up.

Not an issue for most but a big negative for some.

Back to the OP and on the bright side though, recieving wfax on ssb is cheap and easy
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