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Old 28-01-2016, 13:46   #1
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Pactor 1 - quick question!

Is there any value in an old version 1 pactor modem these days. Are they still supported (in the sense that they can still receive information). Does it make more sense to just get an ssb receiver and pug it into the computer with Winmor software?
Thanks
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Old 28-01-2016, 14:20   #2
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

The Winlink 2000 network have many Pactor 3 nodes, and some with Pactor 4. From what I've seen, they're still compatible with 1 and 2. With with them being slower speeds, I think it would be better to upgrade to get a faster connection without taking too much air time.
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Old 28-01-2016, 14:28   #3
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

tmonandj,
Some facts, and some clarifications...

PACTOR-1 is FSK....just like "SITOR", and is usually limited to a max of 200 baud...(actually I believe all "PACTOR" modems are 100% compatible with both SITOR-A and SITOR-B, PACTOR is simply a TOR mode with data sent in packets and using ASCII....)
And, this is of course NOT a proprietary mode, and doesn't require any special proprietary modem...
PACTOR-I is still supported by SAILMAIL (and by various public coast stations, as well)....but isn't used much except for initial contact (as the speed is very limited)


BUT....
An "old version PACTOR 1 modem" could mean an SCS PACTOR-II modem....
And, if this is what you are referring to, then yes it is still a viable / usable modem...



BUT....
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmoandj View Post
Is there any value in an old version 1 pactor modem these days. Are they still supported (in the sense that they can still receive information). Does it make more sense to just get an ssb receiver and pug it into the computer with Winmor software?
Thanks
BUT....
But, understand that you cannot utilize the WINLINK system, nor SAILMAIL, with only an "SSB receiver", no matter what modem you have....you must have an SSB Transceiver!

So, I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to accomplish....



If your goal is to access offshore weather info/forecasts, news, etc., then you don't need any modem at all!!
And, an SSB receiver will do just fine for you...no modem needed!!
(if you wish to receive WeFax charts, the "gold standard" of offshore weather info/forecasts, then simple free software is available and reliable)



If your goal is for e-mail connectivity, when offshore / away from cellular / Wi-Fi, then you would need an SSB transceiver, not just a receiver...


Please let us know what you are attempting to do, and we can tell you what would work, and what will not...




I hope this helps..

fair winds..

John
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Old 28-01-2016, 23:07   #4
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

OK, thanks for the advice. I guess transceiver makes sense in order to send mail as well as receive things. We'd like to have email access but we're doing all of this on a tight budget! ( like everyone else!) So, I guess we need to find an inexpensive transceiver. I occasionally see an old ssb transceiver on eBay but I'm a little confused: I thought they ought to receive in roughly the 1-30 MHz range but I keep seeing units with much narrower ranges like 28-29 MHz. Are these of any value? W why do they bother making a unit with such limited range?
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Old 29-01-2016, 01:22   #5
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Quote:
with much narrower ranges like 28-29 MHz. Are these of any value?
... these are typically CB-Radios or 'Single band 10m amateur radio units'. For a lot of reasons these will not help you on your boat ...

If you get your amateur radio license I think radios like IC-7200 (should be available used at around $ 550,- or so) are a good start, if you go for a 'marine transceiver the IC-802M will be your best bet (used around $ 1350,- maybe).

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Old 29-01-2016, 03:02   #6
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
tmonandj,
Some facts, and some clarifications...

PACTOR-1 is FSK....just like "SITOR", and is usually limited to a max of 200 baud...(actually I believe all "PACTOR" modems are 100% compatible with both SITOR-A and SITOR-B, PACTOR is simply a TOR mode with data sent in packets and using ASCII....)
And, this is of course NOT a proprietary mode, and doesn't require any special proprietary modem...
PACTOR-I is still supported by SAILMAIL (and by various public coast stations, as well)....but isn't used much except for initial contact (as the speed is very limited)


BUT....
An "old version PACTOR 1 modem" could mean an SCS PACTOR-II modem....
And, if this is what you are referring to, then yes it is still a viable / usable modem...



BUT....BUT....
But, understand that you cannot utilize the WINLINK system, nor SAILMAIL, with only an "SSB receiver", no matter what modem you have....you must have an SSB Transceiver!

So, I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to accomplish....



If your goal is to access offshore weather info/forecasts, news, etc., then you don't need any modem at all!!
And, an SSB receiver will do just fine for you...no modem needed!!
(if you wish to receive WeFax charts, the "gold standard" of offshore weather info/forecasts, then simple free software is available and reliable)



If your goal is for e-mail connectivity, when offshore / away from cellular / Wi-Fi, then you would need an SSB transceiver, not just a receiver...


Please let us know what you are attempting to do, and we can tell you what would work, and what will not...




I hope this helps..

fair winds..

John
AFAIK, all Pactor II modems can be upgraded to Pactor III in firmware.

Pactor III is still the most common protocol so absolutely viable.
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Old 29-01-2016, 10:31   #7
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

tmonadj,
Like many who are new to "radio communications", you are mixing up a LOT....but, no worries...as long as you don't spend any money, on ANYTHING (no radio, no sat phone, etc.), until you do understand things well enough, you will not have any problems!!

I do not know where you are at, nor where you are planning on sailing/cruising, and this is VERY important info that we need to help you out specifically....
So, without that....all you'll get is "generalities"...sorry..



First off, understand that any "28 - 29mhz" radio, no matter how they are advertised, are primarily CB radios, destined for the US / N. American "black market" (as well as the Asian and Pacific "black market")....
And, they will simply NOT work for the purpose that you desire!!
{note that there are legit "27mhz radios" used as "CB" radios and as recreational boat radios, in some areas of the world, such as Australia.....but, 99% of what you see advertised as "27mhz" or "28-29mhz" radios are illegal, non-certified, junk....that is destined for various black markets / grey markets, around the world....and you should steer well clear of these radios...
Not to mention that they will simply NOT work for the purpose that you desire!!}
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmoandj View Post
OK, thanks for the advice. I guess transceiver makes sense in order to send mail as well as receive things. We'd like to have email access but we're doing all of this on a tight budget! ( like everyone else!) So, I guess we need to find an inexpensive transceiver. I occasionally see an old ssb transceiver on eBay but I'm a little confused: I thought they ought to receive in roughly the 1-30 MHz range but I keep seeing units with much narrower ranges like 28-29 MHz. Are these of any value? W why do they bother making a unit with such limited range?

Now, as to "what do you need", "how much does it cost", etc....
Well, since I have NO idea what your specific intended purpose is, nor where you're sailing/cruising, I can only give you a general answer:

You will want an Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephone...commonly called an "SSB".....
The only "affordable" choice for most sailors/cruisers is the Icom M-802 (or the M-801e), and this radio sells for about $1850 USD new (~ $800 - $1000 used), and with its associated AT-140 remote tuner, all cables, connectors, parts and accessories, installation materials, etc....the entire package sells for about $2650 USD new (and about half that, used)

M802 HF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components



If you have a look at the "sticky" right at the top of this Marine Electronics page, you find links/references to just about everything "marine radio" related you'll ever want to know...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)


And, if you watch these videos, you'll learn more about marine radio communications, and offshore weather info/forecasts, etc. than most of the cruisers out there!

Maritime HF Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


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


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


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





{Please don't be mislead into thinking the new GM-800 is a better solution....as it is a 24vdc, full Class A GMDSS certified radio....it will cost 3 - 4 times the price of the M-802, just like the Furuno, Sailor, JRC, etc., Class A GMDSS radios!}



I hope this helps..

Fair winds...

John
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Old 16-03-2016, 12:52   #8
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Hey ka4WJA
Thanks. Your posts are always informative and to the point!
Do you have any thoughts on the future (2 years) with regards to high seas email and WX via satellite wifi or Cell?
I am guessing there are breakthroughs coming in low orbit satcomms of all types.
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Old 16-03-2016, 14:40   #9
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Symphony,
Well you ask a good question, and since I've made my living in the sat comm industry for decades, you asked the right guy...

Forgive my directness, but I'm not a marketing guy...

Sat comm for most cruisers is now (and will be, even in the near future), only used for clear voice and hi-speed data comms, when out-of-range of terrestrial systems....
And, since most cruisers are mostly within range of terrestrial system, sat comm hasn't (and probably will never) become ubiquitous!

Once away from cellular/3G/4G/LTE and Wi-Fi services/systems, there are two choices for voice and data...
a) HF radio
b) Sat comm
One (HF Radio) is cheap and ubiquitous.
One (sat comm) is expensive and limited market penetration.

These facts above are unlikely to change anytime soon....mainly due to 2 factors...
a) cost
b) need
When there is little need, there is little demand, and therefore little change in cost....


Thoughts on the future?
Breakthroughs coming?
Well...

If you are not concerned about price (of equipment nor service/airtime), then the future is bright!!

Both INMARSAT and Iridium have launched new satellites and/or are in the process of doing so....and both have also rolled-out new services, or are just about to do so...
And, yes....they will offer more versatility, and better service all-around...

Some services will provide higher speeds / more bandwidth, but these come at a stiff price!!

The bottom line for sat comm:
--- For areas where there are very few people, or no people, such as the oceans....the services will ALWAYS be very expensive compared to areas where there are people!!
This will not change!
--- Break-through's come reasonably often, but again for areas where there are no people (the oceans), once we've gotten to the point we are now, where the recreational user market isn't expected to grow much, there is little demand for the price coming down, and the break-through's are just in the services provided, versatility, and some reliability improvements, not in lower prices..


Will there be new sat comm services and new products?
Yes!

Will these new sat comm products and services be attractive to some cruisers?
Yes!

Will they be cheap?
No!




As for specifics....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symphony View Post
Hey ka4WJA
Thanks. Your posts are always informative and to the point!
Do you have any thoughts on the future (2 years) with regards to high seas email and WX via satellite wifi or Cell?
I am guessing there are breakthroughs coming in low orbit satcomms of all types.
WeFax charts, whether delivered by HF radio or sat comm terminals (or via Wi-Fi or cellular, when in port), continue to be the "gold standard" of offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts....
And, I do not see that changing....at least not in the next few years....
As, non-trained personnel using the raw computer model data (GRIB files) just doesn't make sense to most mariners...

As for new satellites changing the weather info/forecasts sources?
I cannot think of any reason it would...
You have your choices now, of what weather info/forecast source / supplier to use....and having a higher-speed data connection available just doesn't seem like it would make any difference to anyone...
Some choose to use the professional forecasts prepared by seasoned marine meteorologists at the US NWS/NOAA....some use the UK Met Office meteorologists, or the Australian, NZ, German, Russian, etc...
(and some choose to use the raw computer model data)

Having newer satellites....and/or a higher speed connection, etc....might make it quicker to access weather info/forecasts...
But, I cannot see this changing what sources you choose to use...
Perhaps I am misunderstanding your question?



I hope this helps...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 17-03-2016, 02:35   #10
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Thanks John, exactly what i needed to ponder.

I was (wishfully) thinking there might soon be a medium-priced ubiquitous single-source sat terminal that could handle voice and broadband and fit on a 45-55' boat. It would replace the need for HF SSB rig, and well as terrestrial cell/ wifi accounts and hardware.

I sold my rig years back, and somehow my Tech ticket N6VFJ expired after having it decades. But - you Given your well reasoned Supply Demand analysis- it seems that for lower cost comms it still makes sense over the next decade to get an Extra and the HF backstay rig for high seas connecticity.
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Old 18-03-2016, 01:43   #11
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmoandj View Post
OK, thanks for the advice. I guess transceiver makes sense in order to send mail as well as receive things. We'd like to have email access but we're doing all of this on a tight budget! ( like everyone else!) So, I guess we need to find an inexpensive transceiver. I occasionally see an old ssb transceiver on eBay but I'm a little confused.........
There was a thread some years ago on CF about using Pactor 1 Inexpensive Pactor 1 Text-Only Email from the High Seas

If you want to go down the HF email road I would email the very helpful people at sailmail SailMail | Universal email for cruisers: all devices, all oceans. and tell them what pactor you have.
Personaly I would flog it and buy a new(er) one. You will be up for a PC, an SSB and an antenna system so you might as well do it properlike....
For a transceiver I would look at either an Icom 710( second hand) or a 718.

If you only want to receive weather info then all you need is a decent SSB capable portable. My short list is the Sony 7600, Sangean 909X, or a Tecsun 680 or 880...I own all four and my favourite is the Tecsun 880. Do a bit of a search on CF... I've waffled on at length about these radios over the last few years. All good for SSB voice or fax weather reception. Most of the world is still covered by good weather fax broadcasts.

The major pactor/sailmail weather advantage is the gribs. Now... gribs come with warnings... which I can't find at the moment... computer generated, not reliable inshore, etc etc... but 'off soundings' they are wonderful resource and can be tailored to your area and requirements. More info here https://sailmail.com/category/weather/

I'll post the grib warnings when I find them.

I guess a lot depends on where you sail .....
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Old 18-03-2016, 01:54   #12
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Well that didn't take long.... herewith the notes just received from sailmail together with a recent grib for my locale....


"Notes & WARNINGS:

This grib file is extracted from a computer forecast model. While such computer data can provide useful guidance for general wind flow, there are limitations which must be understood. What you are receiving is a weather prediction generated by a computer run by NOAA/NCEP (GFS, WW3 models) or the US Navy (comaps, nogaps) and downloaded and processed by Saildocs (a service of Sailmail). The network is complex, and any computer network is subject to hardware and software failures or human error which can effect accuracy or availability of data. In particular, if our servers were not able to download a current data file then the grib-file may be based on old data. The file information is shown above and also contained in the file itself.
Also remember that grib data is not reviewed by forecasters before being made available. You are getting a small part of the raw model data that the forecasters themselves use when writing a forecast, and it is your responsibility to make sure that the data is consistent with your local conditions and with the professionally-generated forecasts (e.g. text bulletins and weather-fax charts).
Grib data also has limitations along shore, where local effects often dominate and may not be adequately modeled. In addition these models cannot provide adequate prediction for tropical systems, frontal activity or convergence zones. For example, while global models can provide useful data on the likely track of hurricanes, they grossly underestimate the strength of hurricanes because of their small size compared to the model grid. For hurricane/cyclone forecasts, carefully monitor the appropriate warning messages and do not rely on grib data from any source.
That all said, grib data can provide useful guidance not available elsewhere. Understand the limitations and use the data carefully. Grib data should be considered supplemental to other forecasts, and not be relied upon in lieu of professionally-generated charts or forecasts.

And please save a copy of these notes, they are long and won't be repeated for a month or so."
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Old 23-03-2016, 15:12   #13
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Re: Pactor 1 - quick question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Symphony View Post
Thanks John, exactly what i needed to ponder.

I was (wishfully) thinking there might soon be a medium-priced ubiquitous single-source sat terminal that could handle voice and broadband and fit on a 45-55' boat. It would replace the need for HF SSB rig, and well as terrestrial cell/ wifi accounts and hardware.

I sold my rig years back, and somehow my Tech ticket N6VFJ expired after having it decades. But - you Given your well reasoned Supply Demand analysis- it seems that for lower cost comms it still makes sense over the next decade to get an Extra and the HF backstay rig for high seas connecticity.
There is unlikely to be a single cost acceptable solution for remote area comms in anytime frame less than a decade.

A good practical and reasonably future proofed approach is both HF / Pactor / AT140, VHF DSC and data only satcomm. Inreach or Yellow Brick for example have teasonable costs.

In addition to the Icom 802 is the 710 they just lack the DSC but are cheaper. DSC has limited use with HF IMHO. VHF DSC does the job in a short range mesh network.

Pactors are expensive but very robust. Add a Sailmail subscription and you have a good system for email, weather data and voice comms.

Inreach for facebook or simply have someone landbased to post on your behalf, organize shipping, etc from your emails.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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