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Old 30-07-2014, 13:25   #61
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
I don't know. My bad. Regardless, I'm sorry you had a bad experience with HF/SSB.

Sometimes there is a good distance between theoretical understanding and practical implementation. There are a lot of pitfalls DIYers encounter. Shakespeare (or similar) crimp-on connectors, damage to Molex connectors while pulling cables, ground loops, confusion of counterpoise and ground, voltage drops in power supplies, poor implementation of grounds (including a lack of understanding of single-point grounds), RFI with other systems, poor choices of antenna lengths, poor choices of connections between transmission line and antenna, and more show up again and again. I regularly see boats with a problem whose owners tell me "we did what the 'Dummies Guide to SSB' said to do" and then are surprised that $20 of parts (plus my time) solves the problem. Research is a good thing, but credible sources are important. Unfortunately it's hard to assess credibility when you are in the research phase. I'd prefer not to throw rocks but there is a lot of bad information out there. Some of the sources have generally good data but when they are wrong they are quite wrong. Best practice also changes with time. For example, I've seen poor installations along the lines recommended by Gordon West and Fred Maia in days gone by that didn't work well. Both have changed their tune, particularly on marine ground issues, since some of their books were published. I respect both those gentlemen greatly but they are not infallible. Of course neither am I, or John/KA4WJA. Some other visible resources are much less credible.

I suggest that in the absence of academic peer review (you talked about advanced degrees so I assume you understand the implications) you differentiate between those whose justification is "because I say so" and those who can provide some substantiation. You can also consider the decisions by those who make huge investments (like the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and US Department of Homeland Security, the International Red Cross, the United Nations, and many others) in evaluations of alternatives.

This stuff really isn't hard. There are just a number of ways to mess it up.



I'd check with GMN.
We did several independent side-by-side field tests with proven SSB installations by experts and ours was deemed to be fully functional.

The use experience was not good. It was a "bad propagation year" 2010 and we were accessing Herb. We also tried to stay in touch with a net on the Canaries in Nov 2011. All was major frustration and aggravation. Just my experience.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:28   #62
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
The only one that matters :If I can eventually learn how to successfully twiddle a SSB, then why can't my wife?? This is the safety issue and the one that's important to me.

Uh, because she doesn't WANT to?
How does she feel about the charging system? The inverter? The watermaker? The refrigeration system? The dinghy engine? The windlass?

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After watching for awhile, her question is "Why not just get a sat phone?"
Clearly a lack of appreciation for the underlying issues.

But hey - you know you want a satphone so just stick with that.

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I'm not going east of Bermuda. I'm not taking this boat to Bora Bora. We will never be further than a hundred miles from an island.
Then I suggest it is pointless to talk about a satphone. Stick with an EPIRB, a couple of PLBs, and redundant VHF. You'll be fine.

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So it's pretty pointless to talk to a boat 300 miles away. And what if we did. They going to chug on over at six knots and pull us out of the water, three days later?
The commercial guys will be moving at 20 kts or better. They may be closer than official rescuers. Read the S&R after action reports over the last several years and you'll see they fall into two categories: fixed wing air support followed up by commercial AMVER rescue and serious bad stuff with air support and rescue swimmers.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:31   #63
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
The use experience was not good. It was a "bad propagation year" 2010 and we were accessing Herb. We also tried to stay in touch with a net on the Canaries in Nov 2011. All was major frustration and aggravation. Just my experience.
While the sunspot cycle has an impact it isn't everything. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Mine has been universally positive on my own boat and on delivery. I don't remember the last time I couldn't reach Herb before his retirement.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:40   #64
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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While the sunspot cycle has an impact it isn't everything. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Mine has been universally positive on my own boat and on delivery. I don't remember the last time I couldn't reach Herb before his retirement.
When was the last time you were 500 miles east of St. Johns? Every boat north of the Azores had the same issues that summer. We are talking 5 to 8 stations. Some of the comms ended up as a relay. We just gave up half way across and relied on the GRIBs from the satphone download. None that I know could communicate with Herb much east of where we gave up.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:44   #65
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Illusion (below) states, "doing this since I was 12." It indicates that you need 30 years of practice to make this work - I know it doesn't but it is a perception that this stuff takes "years" to understand and master hence the idea that it is complicated.

My point being - if I could do it effectively at age 12, how credible is it that someone capable of operating an offshore boat can find it that difficult?

Rhetorical question I guess but it certainly sounds like one of the biggest detractors here has neither any stated experience(I asked but received no reply) nor an open mind willing to accept alternative view points making this forum concept a joke.

Just yesterday, the news media highlighted yet another story of how HF communications served to help coordinate rescue efforts of mariners when no other form of communications worked.

HF SSB isn't a panacea for all problems and certainly not the only tool in the box but to be as dismissive as this one guy tries to do is telling.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:59   #66
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
When was the last time you were 500 miles east of St. Johns? Every boat north of the Azores had the same issues that summer. We are talking 5 to 8 stations. Some of the comms ended up as a relay. We just gave up half way across and relied on the GRIBs from the satphone download. None that I know could communicate with Herb much east of where we gave up.
Due East or on a Great Circle to someplace like Rotterdam? Regardless, I don't usually get that far North in the Western Atlantic. Modern boats do quite well on a more southerly course. Newport or Bermuda to Horta on a Great Circle works great. Herb was the guy that turned me on to that in '06 responding to changes in wind patterns. Jimmy Cornell's World Atlas shows the same pattern shift.

I've had great experience with HF comms as far North as the Barents (although there are aurora issues) and certainly through the Skagerok and North Sea and into the English Channel and West from there.

I've certainly been able to get Boston and Northwood weather fax in high latitudes year round. Very good overlap crossing the Atlantic. Should be even more overlap as you get North recognizing auroral effects.

Clearly you had issues. I suggest your problems where not technology specific. There was something else going on.
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:12   #67
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Clearly you had issues. I suggest your problems where not technology specific. There was something else going on.
What are you suggesting? I and a number of other boats that choose the northern route would be interested. Again, search CF for the 1000's of posts regarding install, hardware, and use issues specific to SSB communication.
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:31   #68
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
What are you suggesting? I and a number of other boats that choose the northern route would be interested.
With all due respect to you and the experts you referred to I suspect either an installation or an operational problem.

Talking to Herb (who is a friend of mine) isn't a good example as he had fixed times and frequencies. He was great for North-South grayline but you did need a good rig to get him out past 35 or 40W, especially as you got further North; his antennas favored folks further South - no omnis. Did you try his alternates on 6 MHz by the way? Did you try Shipcom or USCG HF weather? Did you have a basic understanding of HF propagation, at least enough to pick times and frequencies for contacts? You seemed to be in contact with other boats in your region - was that on HF/SSB? Did you listen to the MMSN in afternoons in '10 to confirm that everything was working properly? WWV? BBC World Service?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Again, search CF for the 1000's of posts regarding install, hardware, and use issues specific to SSB communication.
Search CF for the people that make it work - John/KA4WJA, Bill Trayfors, and I try to help people. Other folks like Gary Jensen and Dick Giddings pitch in. HF/SSB works for tons of people.

Again, I'm sorry you had a bad experience but it is demonstrably not the technology itself. HF/SSB just works, worldwide, for people in all kinds of conditions. It didn't work for you, but that isn't because of the technology.

Perhaps you didn't understand frequency selection. Perhaps your installation was not well done. Perhaps your experts were not so expert. Perhaps there was another problem. Something clearly was wrong but it was not the technology. Too many other people sent e-mail back and forth every day, received weather faxes, and talked to others ashore and afloat to leap to that conclusion.
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:48   #69
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
With all due respect to you and the experts you referred to I suspect either an installation or an operational problem.

Talking to Herb (who is a friend of mine) isn't a good example as he had fixed times and frequencies. He was great for North-South grayline but you did need a good rig to get him out past 35 or 40W, especially as you got further North; his antennas favored folks further South - no omnis. Did you try his alternates on 6 MHz by the way? Did you try Shipcom or USCG HF weather? Did you have a basic understanding of HF propagation, at least enough to pick times and frequencies for contacts? You seemed to be in contact with other boats in your region - was that on HF/SSB? Did you listen to the MMSN in afternoons in '10 to confirm that everything was working properly? WWV? BBC World Service?



Search CF for the people that make it work - John/KA4WJA, Bill Trayfors, and I try to help people. Other folks like Gary Jensen and Dick Giddings pitch in. HF/SSB works for tons of people.

Again, I'm sorry you had a bad experience but it is demonstrably not the technology itself. HF/SSB just works, worldwide, for people in all kinds of conditions. It didn't work for you, but that isn't because of the technology.

Perhaps you didn't understand frequency selection. Perhaps your installation was not well done. Perhaps your experts were not so expert. Perhaps there was another problem. Something clearly was wrong but it was not the technology. Too many other people sent e-mail back and forth every day, received weather faxes, and talked to others ashore and afloat to leap to that conclusion.


Nice, you answer the question in the first sentence and then squid ink in the next 3 paragraphs.

What do I need to do to convince you that our system worked as it should? We verified operation with a number of independent methods. Yes we understand how it works. Yes we did our homework. Shall I take depositions? Shall we argue about the credentials of subject matter experts? What do you want?

What about all of the other boats in our area with the same issues. Should they also take depositions?

Yes, SSB works but with a 100 caveats most of them aggravating. The satphone was the easy button. Sorry you don't want to hear that. Over and out!!
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:55   #70
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Yes, SSB works but with a 100 caveats most of them aggravating. The satphone was the easy button. Sorry you don't want to hear that. Over and out!!
I have personal experience where satphones are NOT the easy button.

Set that aside.

Where are you? If you are within reasonable distance of me I'll come look at your boat and see what can be done.
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Old 30-07-2014, 15:05   #71
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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I have personal experience where satphones are NOT the easy button.

Set that aside.

Where are you? If you are within reasonable distance of me I'll come look at your boat and see what can be done.
I appreciate your generous offer (not being sarcastic here!!) The Mason 44 was sold at the end of the trip in Annapolis, 2012. I kept the satphone. The new hardly used SSB went with the boat.

I am trying to counter balance your crowd of serious hobbyists with a love for radio with my experience in the field using the gear.

Cheers!
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Old 30-07-2014, 15:51   #72
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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I am trying to counter balance your crowd of serious hobbyists with a love for radio with my experience in the field using the gear.
Please consider that some of us are professionals and that we are also in the field with the gear.

I appreciate that you took my offer in the spirit in which it was intended.
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Old 30-07-2014, 16:02   #73
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Whilst I am not up to date with half the stuff available but have been looking at the Thuraya sat sleeve IPhone set up and it appears to be a lot cheaper. But whether it does what it says on the tin is another matter has any one had experience with those
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:38   #74
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Hello,

Here is some advise I hope some of you guys will find useful. I have a lot of experience with HF and very low power levels, down to 100mW (yes, milliwats!). Not marine, but Ham Radio, but HF is HF, no matter what radio you use.

Some knowledge of propagation is required to use HF efficiently. There is no better way than getting into Ham radio for that. Basically, lower frequencies work better at night, and higher ones during the day. It's more complicated than that, but that is the jest of it. The problem with lower frequencies is that antenna length requirements become a real problem. To find the ideal antenna length (half wave), divide 468 by the frequency. Ex: 4mHz, 468/4=117ft. I don't think I've ever seen a mast that long! Ideally you would have one antenna per band. Of course people don't do that so they use a compromise antenna with a tuner. The problem with tuners is that in order to match the impedance of the antenna at the given frequency, a lot of the power you put out is just lost in producing heat. Often, people think they put out 100W when only 10W gets radiated, sometimes even 1W! Not to mention stray RF in the electrical system if the installation isn't perfect. Antennas are ideal for only one frequency and can work for a few more. For example, an antenna for 7mHz might work for 21mHz (3x7), but the radiation pattern might not be ideal. Bottom line is, you should choose an antenna depending on the bands you are going to use the most, and that can be tricky.

Then you need to consider the modes of communication, data, SSB, CW... Yes, CW, good old Morse code. I'll come back to that later.

You can either spend thousands on a Marine email system or use a much cheaper Ham radio and the Winlink system. Shopping wisely, you could probably get a whole system, including the computer for $700.

The license (General) is very easy to get, usually sets you back $15 and is valid for ten years. You will have to plan any use in foreign waters carefully though. Reciprocal licenses are obtainable, sometimes not necessary.

Marine systems are probably more "turn-key," but they will cost you.

Another consideration is current draw. My SSB Ham radio draws 150mA on receive, not the 3A of an Icom 802. If you lose your ability to recharge batteries, you won't be receiving for very long, not to mention transmitting!

The truth is that little power is necessary for global range, assuming you radiate most of the power your radio produces. For SSB, 20W will get you anywhere. Maybe not where you want, but somewhere, most of the time. When the propagation isn't there, it doesn't matter if you have 20 or 1000W, it won't work. Hence the need to know which frequency to use at what time of the day, season, and depending on solar activity.

Data on HF is slow, very slow. It requires the radio to operate at 100% duty cycle and uses much current. You also need a computer of course, and some kind of interface or modem. It won't work all the time. Not that satellite will work all the time either... Actually, it might not work when you need it the most, in bad weather. Ever tried to watch satellite TV in a heavy storm? At least with HF, Marine or Ham, you most likely will be heard somewhere. I would never be at sea without an HF radio.

So, about emergencies... After all, the radio is foremost a safety device, not one to check your email or sign into Facebook! Personally, I would use Morse code to call for help, even if I had an EPIRB. I know, it's not for everyone, and certainly not easy to learn. At least it wasn't easy for me. The reason is that Morse code (CW) is like using a laser instead of a flashlight. A 5W Morse code radio is like a 100W SSB radio. Even better I suspect because it is a tone, much easier to hear than voice. I routinely have conversations in Morse code at power levels that would be impossible using voice and most data modes. My favorite radio uses 35mA on receive and 700mA on transmit. It is the size of a pack of cigarettes! Yet I've had great results up to 6000 miles. With a set of eight AA cells, which I can recharge with a small 7W foldable solar panel, I could be transmitting for months! You also practically always find someone on the air. I used a phone app called "Ham Morse" to learn the code, along with the lcwo.net web site. It took me more than a year to become proficient. Best avise: Don't learn it below 17wpm (words-per-minute). Try to copy in your head and not visualize dits and dahs...

A radio is not something you can just pick up and use. You might get away with ignorance on VHF a bit, but not on HF. Sure, use a lot of power and a tuner, you might get through more often than not, but there is a cost associated with that. Learning about radios, antennas and propagation will make you much safer at sea.

Becoming a Ham radio operator is a great way to learn how to use any radio more efficiently. Kids nine years old have passed their General license... Having fun with Ham radio will teach you a lot...

The guys on 14300kHz are a great bunch, and that alone is a reason to get a ham radio.

I'd be glad to give advise to anyone who is interested...

Gil.
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:45   #75
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Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

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Data on HF is slow, very slow. It requires the radio to operate at 100% duty cycle and uses much current. You also need a computer of course, and some kind of interface or modem. It won't work all the time.

Not that satellite will work all the time either... Actually, it might not work when you need it the most, in bad weather.
With an external antenna for my Iridium 9555 I did not find this to be the case. It always worked well for two years in the North Atlantic, US and Europe.

It also worked well in poor weather when we needed good forecasting. It may be my selective memory but with the external antenna we did not have any dropped connects.
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