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Old 17-11-2018, 05:38   #1
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Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

When outside mobile phone coverage, are there any good ways of sending custom text messages to other vessels or land stations?

I love the fact that going offshore usually means there's no facebook, instagram, etc, but:

a) VHF voice communication has its challenges (range, quality, language/dialects among others)

b) maybe it could be fun and even useful to add a digital (social) layer to it all?

With the rise of a lot of peer-to-peer/edge tech, it would be quite nice to have the equivalent of whatsapp using existing technology with some addons turning vessels and land stations into some kind of mesh network, where the messages are communicated/forwarded.

So is there someone developing something like this? Or does it already exist?
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Old 17-11-2018, 06:00   #2
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Found this article. It's about voice/VoIP, but related: https://www.cut.ac.cy/digitalAssets/...mcecn-2011.pdf
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Old 17-11-2018, 07:31   #3
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

GO! or other satellite based.

Mesh-based Internet is way hard, but intranet among a like-minded flotilla, no internet, is feasible
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Old 17-11-2018, 07:39   #4
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
GO! or other satellite based.

Mesh-based Internet is way hard, but intranet among a like-minded flotilla, no internet, is feasible
Wouldn't it be cool, though, to just have mesh based short messaging connectivity? What are the flotillas using for intranet?

Technically, it seems the AIS protocol provides message types that can be used for transferring arbitrary data, but I assume there might be valid reasons against using that, and probably even restrictions?
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Old 17-11-2018, 09:37   #5
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Two I have used for text only email and messaging:

Satcom C
(don't know if it is still out there but it was handy)

Pactor with SSB

This is great because you can text other folks on other boats, even carry on a conversation. And you can send rcv text emails to any email. Also great for receiving grib (weather) files.

It cost nothing to send or receive. If you use a service like sail mail there is an annual charge for their service but no per message charge.

I have had great experience with it and would not cross an ocean without it.

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Old 17-11-2018, 09:49   #6
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Iíve used inReach for years now for basic texting. Fairly cheap, simple, and accessible from anywhere (uses Iridium satallite network).

Shortwave/SSB has been doing this for decades.

I get youíre looking at some sort of intranet peer-to-peer system, but Iím not sure what problem this is solving. Cost? Maybe...
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Old 17-11-2018, 10:41   #7
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Might be worth doing if you were cruising as part of a flotilla and could get by with one boat having a sat system acting as a relay for a number of others with shared cost.
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Old 17-11-2018, 11:44   #8
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

InReach is the most reliable, cost effective system I have found.
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Old 17-11-2018, 11:53   #9
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

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I get youíre looking at some sort of intranet peer-to-peer system, but Iím not sure what problem this is solving. Cost? Maybe...
I'm not sure either but I gather the problem is that I detest VHF conversations in a noisy environment when I have trouble understanding what the other person is saying.

Solution: reliable short text messaging instead of poor voice communication.

WhatsApp has gained the critical mass (and far beyond) to be a generally accepted text messaging app, so I think customer service oriented marinas as well as boats wouldn't have a problem communicating with that. On the other hand, how usual is it that they listen to those satellite messaging systems? Maybe this problem has been solved already

For boaters the final piece of the puzzle would be the underlying communication. Either it's satellite or something else. I think Iridium Go doesn't support WhatsApp out of the box (?) but MailASail has some gateway that enables it? Do you keep Go always on, btw? Or is it just started/connected when you need to do something?

The "something else" part was just thinking whether a peer-to-peer mesh network could be a cheaper solution than satellite internet. And if there already is some commonly used infrastructure (VHF, AIS) that could be used as the lower layer beneath this mesh network.
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Old 17-11-2018, 11:54   #10
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Another vote for InReach some challenges with different cellular providers but overall good kit
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Old 17-11-2018, 12:02   #11
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

InReach costs and you can choose to pay only one month if you like $45 for unlimited texts. This means that if you send a text in the middle of the Atlantic, it will arrive at someones Verizon or Orange or whatever phone and they can text you immediately back. Is this what you are looking for? If someone has an inreach in a boat 5 miles away from you in the middle of the Pacific, you can text them and they you. Is this what you are looking for? If you loan your inreach to your girlfriend who is sailing in the middle of the med with some Prince, she can text you and you her from your farm in Kansas.
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Old 17-11-2018, 12:16   #12
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

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InReach costs and you can choose to pay only one month if you like $45 for unlimited texts. This means that if you send a text in the middle of the Atlantic, it will arrive at someones Verizon or Orange or whatever phone and they can text you immediately back. Is this what you are looking for? If someone has an inreach in a boat 5 miles away from you in the middle of the Pacific, you can text them and they you. Is this what you are looking for? If you loan your inreach to your girlfriend who is sailing in the middle of the med with some Prince, she can text you and you her from your farm in Kansas.
Yes! Sounds about right! InReach is connected to the "normal" SMS system so I can just text to a phone number? Or does the recipient have to have the InReach system/app as well?

And why is my girlfriend boating with some prince in the med!?? I'm going to ask her that if she texts me!
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Old 17-11-2018, 12:42   #13
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mglonnro View Post
I'm not sure either but I gather the problem is that I detest VHF conversations in a noisy environment when I have trouble understanding what the other person is saying.

Solution: reliable short text messaging instead of poor voice communication. ...
Hmmm, maybe you need a better radio .

Seriously, look at inReach. I think it will do all you want. And there is an app to connect it to your smart device so you can use a reasonable keyboard.

I also think the new generation of SPOT does the same, but Iím not certain. Can anyone confirm?

You can also send DSC ďtextĒ messages via VHF as long as you have your targetís MMSI. I think they are limited standard messages, although I hear some new DSC radios are coming out with general texting capabilities.
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Old 17-11-2018, 12:47   #14
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Iíve used inReach for years now for basic texting. Fairly cheap, simple, and accessible from anywhere (uses Iridium satallite network).

Shortwave/SSB has been doing this for decades.

I get youíre looking at some sort of intranet peer-to-peer system, but Iím not sure what problem this is solving. Cost? Maybe...
...and InReach can be set up to message between InReach devices. I use that feature with friends while hiking/kayaking...handy if you get separated or if the group splits and takes 2 different routes.

Super easy to set up, just add the other device's assigned email address to your contacts...done.

Re the "digital layer" in the OP...InReach already has that too. You can pair with your smart phone for much easier message entry (text only though), and the InReach web site provides integration with an interactive map (Map Share) which others with Internet access, like friends and family ashore, can view. It also has intergration with popular social media...though Ive never used it.
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Old 17-11-2018, 13:20   #15
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Re: Peer-to-peer text messaging offshore?

The US FCC is trying to implement a text message system using VHF-DSC called VDSMS.It hasn't really caught on yet, but it might.

https://www.panbo.com/uniden-mhs335b...c-and-texting/
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