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Old 26-04-2012, 16:06   #31
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecadi View Post
Ka4wja
I'm in the Miami region, based at DKM until June and will move to marathon in June
We intend to cruise the Bahamas next winter.
I have an SSB Icom 710 and a Practor modem recently installed
I have used it to listen to some channel so far but nothing more
I'll be glad to have somebody guiding me and teaching me how to use the SSB and modem.
Can you recommend somebody?
Thanks
Alec
PS: I always answer and I thank people giving their advices... :-)
Have you considered studying for a Ham license and getting involved in some of the SSB or Ham cruisers nets? There are lots of threads on Cruisers' Forum on the subject. The nets are full of helpful and friendly folks. Of course, you don't need a Ham license to use your SSB radio, but I think the information you gain from studying for the Ham licenses is VERY useful. Even though I don't use HF radio on my boat any more, I use the knowledge I got from the Ham radio hobby all the time in tackling electronics and communications issues. If you've got the time and desire, playing with radios is fun.
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Old 27-04-2012, 16:48   #32
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

Alec,
Congrats on desiring to learn!!!
Good for you!!!!

But, the person I recommend is YOU....
The information is there for the taking, and if you have the time to spend for someone to "teach" you, you certainly have the time to "learn"...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecadi View Post
I'm in the Miami region, based at DKM until June and will move to marathon in June
We intend to cruise the Bahamas next winter.
I have an SSB Icom 710 and a Practor modem recently installed
I have used it to listen to some channel so far but nothing more
I'll be glad to have somebody guiding me and teaching me how to use the SSB and modem.
Can you recommend somebody?
Thanks
Alec


I can certainly get you started here.....and you can use the links I provide for more info....and ask further questions here (or on other sites / e-mail / etc.) as needed....

I do hope this helps....


Alec,
You asked for help, and I'll offer some here, but be advised that there is NO way that anyone can write here all that may be necessary.....

And, not knowing exactly what your level of expertise is, regarding HF
communications, makes exact recommendations difficult.....

But, here are a few general thoughts:


First off, please look into getting your ham license......
You'll find the knowledge gained in the process to be invaluable, even if you don't turn into a radio nut like myself...
http://www.arrl.org/
http://www.arrl.org/licensing-education-training




1) Before you start, you must understand how much RFI / Noise (Radio Frequency Interference / Radio Noise) there is in our modern environment these days.....(both on-board our boats and on-shore)
This makes it especially difficult to use HF-SSB radios when you're in (or near) a marina!!!!


The amount of RFI can be so bad that you'll not be able to hear anything but the strongest signals....
The plethora of inverters, battery chargers, cell-phone-chargers, refrigeration units, computers, plasma screen tv's, stereos/sound systems, digital clocks/voltmeters/etc, touch-lights, photo-sensor lights, digital security cameras, intercoms, bilge pumps, air cond, fans, vacuums, radars, other radios, scanners, bugler alarms, welders, drills, saws, misc machinery, etc. etc. all contribute to what can be high received RFI, thereby keeping you from hearing all but the strongest signals....even regular old power lines and street lights, etc....
SO, if you are new to HF communications you really need to get away from the marinas (and stay 1/2 to 1 mile, or more, away from densely populated and/or industrial areas), when trying to do some serious operating.....


{FYI, I operate from the dock quite a lot, and while I've had pretty good luck, occassionaly I do get significant received RFI from nearby sources....and I just live with it....but I know what it is, and work around it, those without the experience might just say "I can't hear anything....SSB doesn't really work....why did I waste my money on all this stuff...." so getting away from the dock, and anchoring out, is what I recommend.....}


BTW, you'll see that many of the items I mentioned above which can cause RFI / Noise in your HF-SSB receiver, are on most of our boats!!!!
So, knowing what causes interference and what doesn't on YOUR OWN BOAT is very important....
You'll also notice many posts on sailing websites from new HF radio users who have interference problems on-board...so gaining that knowledge now, before you head out on a long passage, is a good idea!!!






2) Listening is always a good way to learn procedure, as long as those
that you're listening to are doing it correctly
Obviously, for those who are new to radio communications (especially HF
radio comms) knowing whether other's on-air examples are the correct ones to follow or not, is the real problem....


And please understand that these procedures aren't just about the "jargon", as anyone can learn the language, rather this is where the "art" of radio operations comes in!!!
This is learning when to listen, when to transmit, what information
to convey (and the language to convey it in), when/where to change frequencies / bands,
when to offer assistance and when to keep your mouth shut, etc....


So, with that in mind, I'd recommend:
a) Listen a LOT, even when just doing boat projects, or just out for a day
sail, etc. you can gain invaluable experience each hour you listen....

AND, be sure to listen to your weather nets, weather broadcasts, etc. every day for a week, BEFORE you head out on a long passage, as this will not only get you familiar with the current weather patterns, but also familiar with the current radio propagation conditions....


b) Try listening to / monitoring the well-established maritime nets.....
Such as the MMSN and Waterway Net, on the ham bands.....
http://www.mmsn.org/
http://www.waterwayradio.net/

Or, Southbound II Weather Net on the marine bands....
http://www3.sympatico.ca/hehilgen/vax498.htm


As you gain more knowledge and experience you may wish to branch out a bit, and now with your knowledge/experience, you'll not be unduly influenced by any poor operating practices of other operators....

If you wish to see a listing of some other maritime nets, have a look here...
http://www.docksideradio.com/east_coast.htm



c) Also, be sure to listen to, and get familiar with, the USCG HF
communications / broadcasts....

You can hear the Voice Weather broadcasts 4 - 8 times per day.....
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm

Be aware that the freqs you hear the USCG offshore/hi-seas weather broadcasts on, are the USCG "working channels" and are NOT monitored by the USCG (nor anyone else), if wishing to contact them (or others) you'll need to use one of their "calling channels" (4125, 6215, 8291, 12290)....
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall

{Please also be aware, as you have an Icom M710, you are NOT equipped for MF/HF DSC signaling, and as such you'll NOT be able to raise other vessels (commercial/merchant/military/etc.) using your HF radio, as there has not been any MF/ HF voice radio watch requirement in more than 13 years.....and there are few (none?) pleasure craft that monitor any of the GMDSS Voice channels (2182, 4125, 6215, 8291, 12290, 16420)
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=rtchansi }


d) Be sure to listen to WLO / Shipcom Radio, from Mobile, AL USA....
http://www.shipcom.com/
You can hear them on multiple frequencies from 4mhz thru 22mhz, 24 hours a day....broadcasting traffic lists on the top of the hour, and weather 6 -8 times a day....


You can easily set-up an account with them, and you'll be able to make ship-shore phone calls for 99 cents / minute (from just about anywhere in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Eastern Pacific)...
And, anyone wishing to contact you can call them, leave a message for your vessel and callsign, and you'll be added to their hourly traffic lists until you check-in with them / get your message / return the call....

They are REALLY nice people...small business operators who have doing this a LONG time, and will be there for a LONG time to come!!!
251-666-5110


e) For coastal cruising, and out to about 200 miles, you can get NAVTEX marine text forecasts 24/7....on 518khz, either thru your SSB radio and laptop, as with the USCG HF-SITOR broadcasts of Hi-Seas weather...or with a dedicated NAVTEX receiver...
The Miami NAVTEX transmission (and weather) is useable up to about 250 miles from Miami....
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/navtex.htm







3) For other SSB queries, please have a look at the SSCA Discussion Boards....
http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/
http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=5&sid=7744bcb07618504e63a13566a86f 043e



4) For some details of maritime HF frequency choice, for offshore nets,
etc..please have a look at a post of mine discussing just this....
http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13270



5) Although I have not read the book myself, I have heard from others that Marti Brown's "Marine SSB for Id-i-Yachts", is a good book for explaining both the "radio operation" as well as some installation tips.....
I know they sell the book on-line and at marine stores, such as West Marine, etc....
Buy this book, read this book, and you should learn something..



6) Specific to your cruising area (S. Fla and Bahamas)

You may find that listening to Chris Parker on his "Caribbean Weather Net" / "Marine Weather Center" to be of help....both for gaining experience with HF communications, as well as getting some weather info...
http://mwxc.com/index.php






7) A few things specific to your set-up....and PACTOR connections....

a) Be sure to understand that you do NOT need a PACTOR modem at all to receive the NWS/NOAA Marine weather forecasts for offshore and hi-seas waters.....as these are broadcast by the USCG, using very powerful (4000 watt) transmitters, so even though there is no data error-correction, you should have decent reception anywhere they provide a forecast for.....

These official NWS marine weather forecasts are considered by most offshore sailors, and merchant mariners, as the "gold standard" that others are measured against....to be accurate here, the UK met office, as well as French, Aus, and NZ Met offices also provide truly accurate offshore marine weather forecasts that are considered to be close to (or as-good-as) those from the US NWS Ocean Prediction Center, for those areas of the world that they cover...



Either by voice, from the USCG (and/or WLO/KLB)
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm
http://www.shipcom.com/


Or, Weather Fax (weather charts / images) from the USCG (by using a laptop and free software, such as JVComm)....
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/radiofax.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfgulf_links.htm
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfmarsh_links.htm


Or, text weather from USCG....(using your laptop and free software....)
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfsitor.htm




b) Also, be aware that you can get the WeFax charts thru saildocs (using your PACTOR modem / Sailmail connection)...
This allows you to use your Sailmail service, AND get the "gold standard" of marine offshore / hi-seas weather forecasts (from the US National Weather Service / NOAA Ocean Prediction Center) which are prepared by humans (who attach their names and reputations to each official forecast).....

These official NWS marine weather forecasts are considered by most offshore sailors, and merchant mariners, as the "gold standard" that others are measured against....to be accurate here, the UK met office, as well as French, Aus, and NZ Met offices also provide truly accurate offshore marine weather forecasts that are considered to be close to (or as-good-as) those from the US NWS Ocean Prediction Center, for those areas of the world that they cover...


Notice that I did not mention "GRIB's".....
Nothing wrong with using GRIB's, as long as you use them as they are intended, and understand what they are....
GRIB's are computer generated models, with NO human forecast intervention.....

So, for offshore waters / hi-seas forecasts around most of the N. Atl. / Carib / Gulf of Mexico / etc. you're much better served by the NWS/NOAA official forecasts and WeFax charts, than relying on computer generated GRIB files...


(To be clear, in some areas of the world GRIB's are the best source of 1 - 5 day offshore weather forecasts, BUT....but in the areas covered by 1st world nation's offshore weather forecasting, these human forecasters' knowledge is invaluable, and MUCH better than mine!!!}




c) Please read over the Sailmail site, and specifically download their "Primer"....
http://www.sailmail.com/
http://www.sailmail.com/smprimer.htm


Read the "Primer", especially the parts about installation, set-up, and testing of your PACTOR modem (and Airmail software), EVEN IF YOU PAID SOMEONE TO INSTALL EVERYTHING.....If you read over these details, you will gain some understanding of how things work, and possibly be able to troubleshoot your system when problems occur...




d) Not sure of your level of familiarity with your M-710, nor how you have it programmed....
But, Gary has a nice page that lays things out very well....have a look...
http://www.docksideradio.com/icom_M710_programing.htm
http://www.docksideradio.com/M710%20Ch%20Guide.htm






8 ) With the exception of the specific SSCA Disc. Board thread, ALL of the other links I provided here are found on the main NWS Marine Weather website.....It's almost a one-stop-shop for all things "marine weather"....
Please have a look....
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm





9 ) Those with M-802's, Gary has a nice page for you as well....
http://www.docksideradio.com/icom_802_programming.htm
http://www.docksideradio.com/m802_ch_guide.htm






I do hope that you don't find all of this "too much".....and that it helps you out....


Fair winds.


John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 27-04-2012, 18:22   #33
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

G'day, John. Nice work, keep it up. We had an interesting situation this week on the Pacific Seafarers Net at 0300 UTC on 14.000 USB. A brief listing of details were as follows:

1. Yacht with an Iridium phone and HAM/Marine SSB aboard, piloted by a singlehanded non-licensed ham skipper, contacts the net after a hitting a whale around 15 deg S and 155 deg W.
2. Yacht is taking on approximately 40 gallons of water an hour with the fuel supply for the genset getting low in attempt to keep the batteries charged to keep the bilge pump(s?) going.
3. PacSea Net allows the skipper to give his details, but he does not declare an emergency.
4. Skipper does not have Pacific Ocean Search & Rescue contact numbers for his Iridium, as well as various Marine SSB safety frequencies.
5. PacSea Net immediately contacts New Zealand Maritime Radio and advises of the situation. New Zealand Maritime Radio likewise contacts New Zealand Search and Rescue (as they are on the same floor in the building in Wellington).
6. PacSea Net relays to the skipper the key emergency contact numbers & frequencies for his Iridium & HF radio.
7. After the net New Zealand Search & Rescue establish contact with the yacht.
8. PacSea net is no longer willing to maintain contact with the non-licensed ham skipper as he is unwilling to declare and "emergency".
9. A non U.S. licensed land based ham sets up his own sched with the yacht on amateur frequencies to provide "support" until landfall is reached.
10. Approximately 4 days later, yacht & skipper are safely guided into Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands, by local search & rescue personnel.

No matter what means of communication one chooses to head off with, I can only encourage one to have the appropriate contact details and be comfortable using the equipment.

Here is the list of the various Search & Rescue contact details for the Pacific. Cheers. P.S. For the non-licensed hams, I wouldn't necessarily count on a licensed ham establishing contact & support (IN NON EMERGENCY SITUATIONS) and potentially risking loosing their license from the appropriate authorities.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf PacSAR.pdf (7.6 KB, 52 views)
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Old 30-04-2012, 08:19   #34
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Alec,
Congrats on desiring to learn!!!
Good for you!!!!

But, the person I recommend is YOU....
The information is there for the taking, and if you have the time to spend for someone to "teach" you, you certainly have the time to "learn"...


--------------------
I do hope that you don't find all of this "too much".....and that it helps you out....


Fair winds.


John
s/v Annie Laurie

John
Thank you so much for all the info.
I really appreciate taht you take the time to answer me so extensively.
Now I have to "digest" all that
Thank you again
Alec
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