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Old 02-04-2012, 07:40   #1
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Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

All of the SSB threads become debates about which is better/safer/cheaper. I don't want a debate. I just request that you tell me what YOU would do with the assets that I have on MY boat with enough cash to do sat phone data if that is what you would choose. I don't want to spend 10's of thousands per year on data but I am willing to spend $2000 or $3000 on data and E-mail, even more with internet time if possible.

Just bought an 8 year old Hylas 54. It has an SSB, a built in Iridium phone with permanent antenna and I have an Isatphone pro plus from my old boat. I am going to be sailing in Europe next year and I want to learn the best way to have weather and E-mail services to a laptop from the best combination of the above assets. How would you do it?

Who should I call to help set me up with SSB AND Satellite capabilities to the laptop? Preferably in the Ft Lauderdale area but not critical. Since the hardware is in place, I want BOTH options working from preferably the same software/member package. I know a ton of free data is out there but is joining a pay service going to get things done easier? I AM NOT LOOKING FOR THE CHEAPEST OPTION. I'm wanting to know how you would set things up WITH MY CURRENT HARDWARE if everything were FREE, including sat time.

I can afford Sat phone data but would only be willing to go that route as my primary means if it yields significant speed or reduced hassle.
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:50   #2
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If its Europe then I'd use a local SIM and a gsm phone. or put it into an iPad 3G

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Old 02-04-2012, 08:33   #3
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

But that won't help me while out of cell phone range (i.e. Atlantic crossing, 10 miles offshore).

Do you mean for viewing on the cell phone small screen? Can a cell phone dump data to a laptop software package? Can an ipad? We have an ipad that I use in the states and loved it cruising off Florida. In the Bahamas last year it was largely worthless because Wifi was limited and data roaming was off for 3G.

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Old 02-04-2012, 09:27   #4
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Just had a conversation with a couple of the skippers from the Clipper Round The World Race and they don't have SSB on board the boats, just Sat Phones. One skipper says his misses chatting on SSB, but that's about it. Oh, also said he would not sail without AIS.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:47   #5
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With a SatPhone and a friend or weather service you send one short txt each day giving your status. They reply shortly after with a short txt like "later today you are going to wish you were in port. Stay south of Xxx."
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:19   #6
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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Originally Posted by daddle View Post
With a SatPhone and a friend or weather service you send one short txt each day giving your status. They reply shortly after with a short txt like "later today you are going to wish you were in port. Stay south of Xxx."
Iridium texts are limited to 160 characters, but it doesn't cost the sender anything to send one. An outgoing text costs 30 seconds of airtime, which on my phone comes to $1.00 USD per outgoing text.

When I'm sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, I ask my friend to send me the wind forecast daily. Just something like: "Lite Coromuel until noon, then W 9 kts till sunset. El Norte on Tuesday, 15 kts, then calm for three days."
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:19   #7
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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With a SatPhone and a friend or weather service you send one short txt each day giving your status. They reply shortly after with a short txt like "later today you are going to wish you were in port. Stay south of Xxx."
Why not use the iSatPhone as a modem to retrieve emails? Use saildocs.com to subscribe to free daily grib files so they send you a grib each day tailored to your needs. You can change this subscription while underway to adjust the area covered. We used onsatmail.com as a free ISP, providing a fast and reliable email compression.

Works like a charm, costs slightly above 1 airtime minute per day for retrieving the daily grib and sending / receiving the odd text email. Worked every day of our crossings.
So weather emails cost you less than 30 EUR for a normal atlantic crossing. That is if you are eligible for a prepaid isatphone SIM (US customers can't get these, ask your Homeland Security for the reasons). Regular postpaid plans are for some reason more expenive.

But one thing: If you don't know how to set it up, read all docs you can find. If you still can't figure out, ask someone in your marina who did it. If this is not enough then I'd say this stuff is too complex for you and you should not rely on it anyway because you won't be able to fix it if something is wrong.
I had a buddy to whom I explained it but for some reason or another he fell back to getting SMS from his brother because he could not figure out how to fix it.

For local weather in the Med you will never be outside cell range for longer periods except for a few hours on a passage between the islands. In fact we even had permanent 3g cell coverage from Mallorca to Ibiza without disruption.

You can get a decent prepaid 3g data plan for next to nothing. E.g. Spain Carrefour costs 1 EUR per day you use it, free if you don't use it. Yoigo gives you a one month / 500 MB prepaid data plan for 8 EUR.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:29   #8
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In Europe you can pick pay as you go SIMs that offer unlimited data in each country. Other then that EU mandated pricing for roaming data is 4euros a megabyte. ! Some operators do better roaming deals then that

Yes a phone will connect to you laptop.


As for the Atlantic if you u understand HF then use it with a pactor modem, since the gear is already installed.

Other then that you can use satphones. I have to say there's not much point getting too much weather on an Atlantic crossings, that's not much you can do about it.

In the med Navtex is very useful.and covers the whole med.

I get GSM phone coverage often out to 25 miles offshore


If you really are comfortable spending 3000+ and more for broadband maybe you could consider fleetbroadband 150. You'll need new gear


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Old 02-04-2012, 12:07   #9
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

Maybe best to make yourself a neat spreadsheet with the options / usage / prices, and chose the point that fits your needs and budget best?

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Old 02-04-2012, 12:37   #10
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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Why not use the iSatPhone as a modem to retrieve emails? Use saildocs.com to subscribe to free daily grib files
Yes. One can. But GRIB files are much bigger. Require more analysis than a succinct message. And most importantly around here, do not show developing tropical storms and other useful stuff.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:53   #11
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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Yes. One can. But GRIB files are much bigger. Require more analysis than a succinct message. And most importantly around here, do not show developing tropical storms and other useful stuff.
1) request smaller gribs! - many ways to 'economize' here: smaller area or less data or longer data intervals, etc..

2) request radiofax directly from the wx server (you need 'email with attachments' for this).

3) listen to voice - only a small HF receiver required.

Just free floating thoughts.

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Old 02-04-2012, 13:39   #12
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Other then that you can use satphones. I have to say there's not much point getting too much weather on an Atlantic crossings, that's not much you can do about it.
Dave
Dave we will agree to disagree because over the course of our 2010 crossing from Halifax to Ireland leaving June 15 we encountered 4 major lows. We were able to track the lows each day using GRIBs and successfully avoid the worst of it.

We downloaded the GRIBs using our Iridium and XGATE each day and sometimes twice per day.

The last low was 970 mb and we spent 3 days getting out of the way. The highest winds we saw were sustained 35 knots instead of 50 knots. Without the weather forecasting we would have got our butts kicked in a major way and not once but 4 times.
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Old 02-04-2012, 17:04   #13
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

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Yes. One can. But GRIB files are much bigger. Require more analysis than a succinct message. And most importantly around here, do not show developing tropical storms and other useful stuff.
Useful GRIBs can be as small as 2-3kb. Or several MB if you want the whole atlantic in 0.5 degree / 3hrs resolution including waves, moisture, temperature, etc,etc It's up to you to decide what you need.

To me this was a detailed GRIB for the area where we were for the enxt 3 days plus every other day a very coarse grained GRIB to get an overall impression.

If you need caribbean weather alerts, these are available as email subscriptions as well.
Retrieving a couple of normal text emails doesn't add much to the overall airtime bill. Most airtime seems to be spent on technical handshake and not exchaging emails.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:27   #14
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

tulsag,
Sounds like you're approaching things in a good way....
And, while you've gotten some responses, they haven't directly answered your query....
Perhaps, I can help....without a long debate.....(you wish to use what you have, have it work easily and hopefully seamlessly, and are willing to spend some $$$ to make sure things are as you desire....)
(BTW, in addition to sailing on Hylas', I am also a member of the HYOA discsussion list...for almost 10 years now...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tulsag View Post
All of the SSB threads become debates about which is better/safer/cheaper. I don't want a debate. I just request that you tell me what YOU would do with the assets that I have on MY boat with enough cash to do sat phone data if that is what you would choose. I don't want to spend 10's of thousands per year on data but I am willing to spend $2000 or $3000 on data and E-mail, even more with internet time if possible.

Just bought an 8 year old Hylas 54. It has an SSB, a built in Iridium phone with permanent antenna and I have an Isatphone pro plus from my old boat. I am going to be sailing in Europe next year and I want to learn the best way to have weather and E-mail services to a laptop from the best combination of the above assets. How would you do it?

Who should I call to help set me up with SSB AND Satellite capabilities to the laptop? Preferably in the Ft Lauderdale area but not critical. Since the hardware is in place, I want BOTH options working from preferably the same software/member package. I know a ton of free data is out there but is joining a pay service going to get things done easier? I AM NOT LOOKING FOR THE CHEAPEST OPTION. I'm wanting to know how you would set things up WITH MY CURRENT HARDWARE if everything were FREE, including sat time.

I can afford Sat phone data but would only be willing to go that route as my primary means if it yields significant speed or reduced hassle.
1) First off, if I understand your words correctly, you do NOT wish to make any changes to your existing system, NOR add anything else....
But, simply "use what 'ya got"......
(it's a bit odd, but I'll try to give you the answers in that way.....but please be aware that is NOT what I would do.....)
You did not let us know what SSB you have, nor what if anything is currently configured to work with it / connect to it.....
But, I'm assuming it is an Icom M-802 MF/HF-DSC-SSB....and you have nothing configured/connected to it????

AND, I'm assuming that you'll have a reliable laptop/netbook, and a spare (or two) on-board....AND, a secure way of mounting / using the laptop while underway....

Also, please be aware that you will NOT have "internet access" with either the Iridium phone or Isatphone (or SSB).....you will only have low-speed data, which allows only e-mail, etc....(although some will tell you that you can surf at speeds of < 10kbps, it just ain't realistic!!!)
Your internet access will be either wi-fi or thru a cell/mobile/smart-phone/I-pad, when in port or in near coastal waters....


And, most importantly are two things that many forget:
a) Make sure you know HOW everything works BEFORE you leave....
Not just that "it works", but "how" it all works!!!

b) Determine how you are going to power all the associated gear that you equip your boat with.....an hour a day of laptop / satphone use is no big deal, and uses little power, but be aware of what power you use on-board, and how you are generating that power.....you don't wish to have your weather forecasts depend on how much diesel fuel you can use...



Okay here goes...

2) For weather and e-mail access offshore (and worldwide)...use your existing Iridium phone w/ its existing fixed-mount external antenna....and sign-up with OCENS service....
Home Page
They provide full-service sat-phone service for offshore cruisers.....including data compression (VERY important), e-mail services, weather, etc.)
Cruising

Iridium and OCENS are long standing companies, with many customers, and will be there if/when you need them (tech support, etc.)

OCENS uses the same compression as UUplus and XGate.....so, you could use any of the 3 services, but for a one-stop-shop, without hassle, I recommend OCENS....

You'll need the data cable to connect your computer to the phone, but I believe OCENS will supply that.....



3) Make sure that your SSB radio works and works well.....AND that you are familair with how it works!!!
(I can help you directly on that if you like...for FREE...or you can contact some old friends of mine in S. Florida at Atlantic Radiotelephone...)

Also, spend the $10 for a cord to connect your M-802 headphone output (or even better, the fixed line-out) to your laptop, and using free downloadable software (such as JVComm) you'll have a simple and easy (and FREE) way to get WeFax charts worldwide....

I realize that you wrote you only wish to use "MY CURRENT HARDWARE", but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that simply adding a short cable and some free software would give you a LOT more flexibility!!!!

(contact me for more details, if desired....)



4) For weather and e-mail access when in port (in EU, etc.)....
a) use wi-fi....either your existing laptop or add an external wi-fi system...
(and here again, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that adding an external higher-power wi-fi system on-board for < $300, will give you a GREAT deal of added freedom, flexibility, and ease of use...)

b) use local cell/mobile phones/SIM Cards (either tethered to a laptop, or use a smartphone, I-pad, etc.)



5) Either sell or trade the Isatphone (or keep it as a spare....)
My personal thought would be to sell/trade it, for a quad-band, unlocked smart-phone (or unlocked I-Pad??).....especially one that can be tethered to a laptop...
This would allow you to but SIM cards everywhere, and give you easy telephone (and internet) access when in EU ports (and even when coastal sailing in EU)......

If you decide to keep it....get an extra battery for it, charge both batteries fully, and keep the Isatphone as a spare.....perhaps stow in your ditchbag, when sailing offshore, just in case....



6) Although I've run my own electronics firm for almost 30 years now, and have about 40 years experience in communications, etc. I'm not in the marine electronics business....(but I do know a lot about the marine elec. business)

In S. Florida there are many marine electronics dealers / installers.....and I've worked with / spoken with many over the years....(having grown up here)
The guys at Atlantic Radiotelephone are good, and they shouldn't steer you wrong.....
Atlantic Radio Telephone

But, if you'd like some free and friendly advice, please send me a PM (private message), and we can speak in detail......and please understand that while I'm not directly in the marine electronics business, I do what I'm speaking about....

Here are some photos of my Nav Station...
Nav Station
E120/Cockpit
Solar Panels
Towed-Water-Generator



There is much more to discuss (such as whether you'd wish for e-mail redundancy, wefax receiver, etc..)....but thought I'd just give you a brief overview, and then discuss any further details later....

I hope this helps...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 03-04-2012, 13:30   #15
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Re: Optimum SSB/satphone combo setup

ka4wje: Although I'm not the OP, your response above so represents why many people with less sailing experience belong to CF. Thank you!!
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