Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-08-2014, 17:36   #76
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Okay, I spent two hours late last night, composing/typing up some great info for you all here....including links to GMDSS info, GMDSS videos, links to info on EPIRB's and HF-DSC, etc. as well as some of my own videos....
And then, when I went to submit the post, I got a "503 server unavailable error", and lost it all!!!

But, I'm not one to give up....so, I'm gonna' try to send along just some brief info....and hopefully it'll all go thru...

EDIT:
Sorry about the weird layout/formatting (and the blue text), but that seems to be a peculiarity of cruisers forum, when composing/posting such a long post...



~~~~


Dan, et al,
1) Before I address the ease-of-use of HF radio ("Marine SSB" and/or "ham"), I think it would be good to make sure everyone understands the extreme ease, robustness, and reliability of the MF/HF-DSC signaling, which has been a part of the GMDSS for 20+ years now!!
(the GMDSS was established by the IMO under the SOLAS conventions in 1988, and became fully effective/operational in Feb 1992....and became mandatory for all SOLAS vessels and signatory nations in Jan 1999...)
So, this is nothing new....and we should all have been fully aware of the GMDSS now for at least the past 15 years, and have made every effort to utilize what parts of the GMDSS we can....


Parts of the GMDSS system that most find easy/affordable/useful (all within easy reach / affordable parts of the GMDSS for cruising boats...):

--- 406mhz EPIRB's (relatively inexpensive at $400 - $700, and easy to "sell" to cruising sailors..)

--- Marine VHF-DSC-FM (cheap and almost ubiquitous now-a-days...anyone that doesn't have a Class D VHF-DSC, REALLY needs to spend the few hundred dollars now!!!)

--- Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB (HF-DSC is a VERY robust/reliable means of signaling.....and with reasonable costs of ~ $1800 new, ~ $1000 used, for an Icom M-802 MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone....and simple-to-use, robust and reliable...it is an easy "sell", almost a no-brainer!!)

--- NAVTEX (inexpensive and very useful for most coastal sailors and/or those plying the Med, etc., with typical forecasts for waters out to 150 - 200 miles....but in some areas the forecasts are only for the next 24 hours, so other weather sources, such as HF-WeFax are recommended...) (and in US waters, the VHF-based NOAA Weather Radio system is widely used, so NAVTEX hasn't caught on in the US, as it has in Europe and the Far East...)
- WeFax....And while HF WeFax was not adopted officially as part of the GMDSS, according to a 2012 survey by the Joint WMO/JComm group, HF comms, DSC, voice, and data are used daily by a majority of ocean going vessels, and HF wefax being reportedly used daily by > 85% of them....so, for offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts beyond the "text" weather info provided via INMARSAT-C and some HF coast stations, HF WeFax still rules as the predominate "1st choice" when offshore, even in 2012, even for large ships / SOLAS vessels....)

~~~


Parts of the GMDSS that are a bit more expensive:

--- INMARSAT-C,
While INMARSAT-C might seem to some to be a bit pricey, at ~ $3000 - $3500, is a VERY viable communications tool to have on-board long-range cruising boats...as it gives, thru its FREE "SafetyNet" service, offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts (in plain text), position reporting and weather reporting thru NOAA and AMVER, and Distress Signaling....ALL FOR FREE....
NO monthly/annual subscription, NO Fees at all, until/unless you use it to send regular e-mails, and then you're just billed by the character/letter....
(and it is very robust/reliable....many orders of magnitude better than a handheld sat phone!!)

--- INMARSAT Fleet systems (such as F77) are pricey at $15,000 - $20,000 and are big/heavy, and use significant amounts of electrical power....
So, here if cruiser's desire hi-speed data / broadband internet access / etc., Iridium Pilot or INMARSAT Fleet Broadband systems (at ~ $4500 - $5000) are usually the typical choices....

--- SART's (X-band radar Search And Rescue Transponders) are reasonably priced at $600 - $800.....but are often over looked by many cruising boats, as they figure a working EPIRB in their liferaft will do them better...
And, if deciding between a second 406mhz EPIRB and a SART, I'd choose the second EPIRB!!! (but, if you're cruising in heavily-trafficked areas, with poor visibility, such as UK/North Sea, etc. then a SART would be a GREAT idea, and I'd recommend one before a second EPIRB...)

~~~~~


Anyone talking about "Marine SSB" in the last decade or two, should be talking about MF/HF-DSC-SSB....and those that are talking about 25 year old radios and "Voice radio watch standing", etc. are unfortunately either ignorant of the changes in the past 25 years or are laboring under some serious misconceptions????

While it is not a requirement for our pleasure craft, the GMDSS has been a mandatory system for all SOLAS vessels, and all signatory nations, since Jan 1999....over 15 years ago...and regarding "SSB", please remember that nobody (except the USCG, Aus and NZ, etc.) does any "SSB Voice" monitoring or watchstanding anymore...and haven't for decades....
(as most "radio watchstanding" in the 1970's, 1980's and early 90's, before the GMDSS was fully implemented, was via "2182 watch receivers", which were silent until they received a two-tome alarm signal from another like-equipped merchant vessel, etc....so, understand that for most of the past 40 years, aside from the USCG, Bermuda Radio, Portishead Radio, Olympia Radio, Aus, NZ maritime shore stations, etc. nobody has maintained a SSB Voice radio watch for many decades....and now in the recent 20 years, since the GMDSS has been implemented, they are all monitoring MF/HF-DSC, 24/7....
{When I write "they", I'm speaking about the > 80 HF-DSC shore stations worldwide monitoring for HF-DSC signals 24/7, from all over the world....and the > 450 MF-DSC shore stations worldwide, that are monitoring MF-DSC 24/7, from vessels within 150 - 250 miles offshore....and the many hundreds of SOLAS grade vessels plying the seas/oceans worldwide 24/7 (many of them could be within a few hundred miles of you, < one day away...remember 500 miles can be covered by a container ship in less than 24 hours)....but again, except for the USCG, and a couple of others, nobody has a Voice radio watch anymore, and haven't for 15-20 years....all initial contact/signaling is done by DSC, and then further contact/coordination is done via "SSB Voice", only after signaled by DSC (or INMARSAT-C)....}

Here are the USCG Distress calling info....for vessels within range of the USCG stations....
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/marcomms/2MHzDistressWatchkeepingClosureSafetyAlert.pdf

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=AboutDSC

Please remember that while they were one of the last holdouts, the USCG no longer has MF/2Mhz voice or DSC capability and no longer monitor 2182 SSB, nor 2187.5DSC...
Quote:
Effective 01 August, 2013, the U. S. Coast Guard will terminate its radio guard of the international voice distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz and the international digital selective calling (DSC) distress and safety frequency 2187.5 kHz. Additionally, marine information and weather broadcasts transmitted on 2670 kHz will terminate concurrently.
The Coast Guard will continue to maintain a continuous watch on VHF FM channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and on existing voice and DSC frequencies in the 4/6/8/12 MHz bands as described in the Coast Guard.

Use MF/HF-DSC and then after initial contact via DSC, use the GMDSS SSB Voice calling / safety channels....



Here is a short video that shows real worldwide shipping, and their routes...have a look, and you'll see that most of our cruising routes pass near to, or in/thru, these ships paths....and we end up being close to, within a few hundred miles of, SOLAS vessels and/or within range of shore stations, along most of our typical cruising routes....
(but, unless we have MF/HF-DSC and/or INMARSAT-C we have no way of signaling these other vessels....and remember it is MF/HF-DSC that would allow you to signal another vessel for some non-distress assistance as well, such as if needing navigational or weather info, medical advice/info/supplies, fresh water, food, diesel fuel, etc...unless you are lucky enough to find a vessel within VHF-DSC range, it's going to be MF/HF-DSC or nothing...)

And, here is another video, that I've been hesitant to post, as it is 22 years OLD (from 1992), and has some errors and some unfortunate misinformation....But, it does give a decent overview of the GMDSS (as it was originally designed, and implemented in 1992..), so I think some might find it useful....just remember it is OLD and dated, with some errors...
Please understand that this is an OLD GMDSS explanation video (from 1992), and some things have changed! Please ignore the errors from19m 23s to 19m 36s, showing MF/HF and VHF radios that do NOT have DSC capabilities and note the old external DSC controller shown from 20m 17s to 20m 24s.
Also ignore the references to the old defunct INMARSAT-E beacons (now completely replaced by 406mhz SARSAT-SOSPAS EPIRB's).
Further take note of the old "2182khz Watch Receiver", which haven't been used in almost 20 years (at 20m 54s), shown listening to static (which they didn't do, as they were typically squelched and listening for a two-tone alarm generator alert (NOBODY monitors 2182khz anymore!)


So, when terms like "SSB" are bandied about in our discussions on-line, I think we should all understand that this is not the 1980's anymore....and having a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio on-board is what we are talking about...
(those advocating using a 25 year old, non-DSC radio and a handheld sat phone, for communications when sailing offshore, would do well to understand the severe limitations such an approach has, and heed the words/comments from those who have found this to be a unfortunate choice...)

Please remember, that when out-of-range of VHF-DSC.....there are many shore stations and SOLAS ships, listening on MF and HF DSC Frequencies 24/7....
And remember too, when you are beyond the range of a USCG helo (or Aus, UK Coast Guards), it is a merchant vessel that is most likely going to be your rescuer...
There are literally hundreds of SOLAS grade vessels out there plying the high seas, many within a few hundred miles of you....


`

Getting back to the particulars of MF/HF-DSC signaling...
In addition to the SITOR-FEC (Forward Error Correction) nature of MF/HF-DSC, which is incredibly strong and robust, AND the repetitive sending of the message (over-and-over again), MF/HF-DSC also has a significant signal-to-noise advantage over SSB Voice communications.....
MF/HF-DSC is about 15db better than an SSB Voice circuit over the same path, on the same band/frequency, etc.
This 15db S/N advantage is like going from a 150 watt SSB radio to a 5000 watt SSB radio...

The simple one-button DSC-Distress, sends out a multiple of DSC distress calls on 8mhz, over-and-over, without any further human interface...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call...
And a "two or three button press" DSC-Distress, sends out multiple DSC distress calls, over-and-over, on 8mhz, 12mhz, 16mhz, 2mhz, 4mhz, and 6mhz, and continues over-and-over again, without any further human interface...(and you can also select another freq, should you desire)...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call (or until electrical power runs out)...
Please understand that while the radio is transmitting your DSC-Distress call it is also listening for a response from a shore station/RCC and/or other vessels, and while it is standing-by waiting for this response (approx. 3 minutes of standing-by/waiting between DSC calls), it is ALSO monitoring/listening on the GMDSS VOICE Distress / Calling frequency that corresponds to the band that the DSC call was placed in....


Here is a video that shows what the M-802 does, live, in the real-world, when you press the Distress button...






2)
Getting back to the particulars of MF/HF-DSC signaling...
In addition to the SITOR-FEC (Forward Error Correction) nature of MF/HF-DSC, which is incredibly strong and robust, AND the repetitive sending of the message (over-and-over again), MF/HF-DSC also has a significant signal-to-noise advantage over SSB Voice communications.....
MF/HF-DSC is about 15db better than an SSB Voice circuit over the same path, on the same band/frequency, etc.
This 15db S/N advantage is like going from a 150 watt SSB radio to a 5000 watt SSB radio...

The simple one-button DSC-Distress, sends out a multiple of DSC distress calls on 8mhz, over-and-over, without any further human interface...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call...
And a "two or three button press" DSC-Distress, sends out multiple DSC distress calls, over-and-over, on 8mhz, 12mhz, 16mhz, 2mhz, 4mhz, and 6mhz, and continues over-and-over again, without any further human interface...(and you can also select another freq, should you desire)...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call (or until electrical power runs out)...
Please understand that while the radio is transmitting your DSC-Distress call it is also listening for a response from a shore station/RCC and/or other vessels, and while it is standing-by waiting for this response (approx. 3 minutes of standing-by/waiting between DSC calls), it is ALSO monitoring/listening on the GMDSS VOICE Distress / Calling frequency that corresponds to the band that the DSC call was placed in....

This means that with just a press of a button or two, your MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio is sending out very detailed/accurate position information, as well as your MMSI# (which gives the shoreside RCC's all your vessel info, size/type/color, equipment on-board, communications capability, liferaft/survival craft, etc. as well as your shoreside contact information), and if you've selected a "distress type", the exact nature of your distress....AND it is waiting for an acknowledgement of your DSC call on both the GMDSS DSC channel/freq and on the appropriate GMDSS Voice SSB channel/frequency....AND it does this automatically....
And, if you've selected a "six freq DSC Distress call" it is doing this on all six GMDSS DSC calling frequencies from 2mhz thru 16mhz...thereby assuring that your distress call will get thru to shore stations / RCC's (and other vessels), regardless of time-of-day or radiowave propagation of the moment...all automatically....(thereby eliminating the need for a trained radio operator, nor any trained personnel at all!!)
And, even if you selected just an 8mhz DSC call, during the daytime this would typically get thru to shore stations within 1000 miles of you, and all HF-DSC equipped SOLAS vessels within 600 - 1000 miles of you....and at nighttime this would get to shore stations, and other vessels as far away as 3000 - 4000 miles....
Again, all automatically, without any need for "trained" / "experienced" radio operators....

And, this is/was one of the basic goals / principles of the GMDSS....allowing multiple / redundant (and robust / reliable) ways of signaling shore stations and other vessels, WITHOUT the need of trained radio operators....
Using 406mhz EPIRB's, VHF-DSC, MF/HF-DSC, INMARSAT-C, allows for all of these goals to be realized!!! (although many/most cruiser's feel not having INMARSAT-C is not too much of a detriment, and some compliment the other GMDSS equipment with a consumer sat phone, such as Iridium, and feel this adequate for them..)

But, remember that while "SSB Voice" is used for further contact/coordination (after initial contact by DSC, or INMARSAT-C), SSB Voice" is NOT monitored (except by USCG, etc.), and as such when we use the term "SSB", we should all understand that this is MF/HF-DSC-SSB, NOT 'SSB Voice".....


Dan, your perception here is understandable...and I'm sorry that this has resulted in some misconceptions...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
It may sound weird but when you state "40 years of experience" 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.
To be clear, it doesn't sound weird at all....it is completely understandable....


And, sorry-to-say, that statements about experience have actually become an unfortunate "common internet discussion procedure", used to actually get accurate/believable information (as opposed to misunderstood Wikipedia-sourced info and/or info regurgitated from magazines, boat-shows, etc.), through to those that inquire on-line....

I used to just give some facts....but that just started arguments...and even had some guys say that there is no such thing as "facts" in on-line discussions, as it is all opinion!!
Then I would briefly answer the query, and list many links to detailed facts/further info....but have found that few actually follow the links and read them....
So now, it is getting difficult to actually get the facts out there...

In my opinion this is unfortunate....as scientific facts are just that, facts....



Okay, I'm rambling...
The point is, you do NOT need years of experience to make proper use of HF communications....and it is an unfortunate fact-of-life that this misconception continues...
Hopefully, I can alleviate your tentativeness a bit...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
I am a tentative SSB fan - I am waiting for someone to post a thread that says - "Bought Radio Model XYZ, plugged it in and it works."
My late father had NO electronics knowledge nor training, and was not a "high tech" guy at all...you know the type, WWII vet (10th Mountain Div), construction worker, self-made, small businessman....
Way back in the mid-1960's, I remember him using our old 2mhz AM marine radio in the Bahamas and down-island....and having little success when more than 150 miles from Miami and/or San Juan (I learned why this was "typical", in the early 70's)....and in the early/mid-70's, I taught him how to use his new Marine "SSB" Radio (an SG-714 "SGC Intercontinental One", 12 - 24 channel, crystal-controlled HF-SSB radio), and from '76/'77 thru late 80's (when I installed a new Icom for him), he used that radio almost everyday when at sea and even in port...and in the late 70's, I remember placing telephone calls on-board from all over, even the eastern Med (via WOM and WOO, 6000-7000 miles away), after spending hours waiting for an "international line" at some telephone office in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, etc. (remember that back then, there were no direct dial international phones in many cities in these countries!!!)
My Dad was NOT a radio guy at all....and he mastered the Marine SSB in a few attempts over a few days...


Fast forward a few decades and now it was my sister (10 years my senior, and while intelligent, she is also a "non-tech" person, having degrees in journalism/poly-sci).....
I was able to teach my sister how to use my Icom M-802, to listen to weather, to call a distress, call USCG, call WLO, place phone calls, etc....al in just an hour or two....and have written a couple basic steps on a laminated 3 x 5 card, to assist anyone unfamiliar...

And, I used her and my 93 yr old ocean sailor of a mother (a VERY non-tech person) as my 2 person "focus group" to critique my videos....figuring if they understood them, anyone else should be able to do so...



3) While I have posted links to my videos before, if you wish to read things and/or desire further details / info...here are some pages that will help...

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

Tips for using an HF-SSB Radio (mostly for newcomers) (mainly for those with OLD radios..)

HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net.. (lots of detailed info/background....explained well though...

Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!


And, here are links to the HF radio videos and detailed discussions...
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/icom-m-802-instr-videos-basic-adv-and-live-dsc-distress-call-114734.html

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call





4) As far as your "communications stool"....the SOLAS conventions and the GMDSS have already dealt with that and have adapted as needed over the recent years (see all the info above)...
And, see photos of my Nav Station to see some ideas/examples....






And, FYI, everyone should read this thread and follow the links there (especially those to SARSAT-COSPAS and Beth Leonard's articles)

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds




See details above....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
I view HF/SSB as one leg of the communications stool that now includes satphone. satphone is "on the rise" in terms of lowering cost, variety of products and utility of use.
As you can see, on-board my boat, for sailing the N. Atlantic, Caribbean, Med, etc....
I think of HF-DSC-SSB as one part of the "communications stool", 406mhz EPIRB as another part....and then either my spare HF-DSC-SSB radio, my two VHF-DSC-FM radios, and/or "ham radio", and/or marine SSB voice (USCG and WLO), as my third / fourth part (and I DO have a spare Icom M-802 on-board, so it can be used the third leg of my tripod...)
And, if heading farther off the beaten path (such as a circumnav, etc.), I'd equip with INMARSAT-C in a heartbeat....

And, as long as you (and others) understand that it is DSC that is important here....MF/HF-DSC is what we are all talking about, when speaking of "SSB", not a 25 yr old non-DSC HF radio!!!

And, while I understand that some will chose a "sat phone" as part of their "communications stool", I caution them to remember that a handheld sat phone is NOT the easiest thing to use, even in calm conditions....and when the weather is rough, they are damned near impossible to use...(and remember they don't work below decks)...
Shouting your coordinates into a handheld sat phone while hanging on for dear life in the cockpit, isn't my idea of a useful part of my communications stool...
Installing an external antenna and below-decks docking station is going to be an almost necessity for anyone deciding to use a "sat phone" as part of their communications stool...




SSB is not going to get any easier and at some point may no longer be a "necessary" leg in the communications stool.
Actually Dan, "SSB" IS getting easier to use and more reliable!!!
(see info and videos, above)
I'm still amazed that somehow this "myth" seems to propagate....
(I'm not saying that everyone needs an "SSB"....but it IS getting easier to use them, and they are certainly NOT going to be "unnecessary" for a long time to come...at least another decade or two...)

I'm not sure why that myth pervades, but with Maritime HF communications (DSC, data, and Voice) being used daily by a majority of ships at sea (an actual fact, from the WMO/Jcomm survey in 2012), and with > 80 HF-DSC shore stations, and > 450 MF-DSC shore stations, and many 1000's of SOLAS ships at sea....it is clear that "SSB" (MF/HF-DSC-SSB) is still a necessary part of the communications stool for those venturing offshore and/or across oceans, and will be for many years to come...





I will readily admit that I have not gone deep into your videos and instructional posts - I am not at the point where this decision needs to be made. But in the meantime I try not to be a detractor of HF. Just educating myself slowly and observing the dialog.
No need to wait 'til decision time....just read the above, follow the links, and watch some of the videos (the ones here in this thread, at least), and you'll be well on your way to nirvana
Seriously, if you do this, you'll be ahead of 95% of the cruiser's (and wannabe cruisers) out there...



The comms plan needs to be redundant and reliable.
This is one of the PRIMARY functions of the GMDSS....(see above)

Currently SSB is a separate system from VHF and satphone and that makes it a level of redundancy that is useful to have on board, if one can afford it.

I personally would choose satphone over HF if my funds limited the types of equipment I could afford.
If you read the above info, follow the links and read them, and watch the videos, you may change your mind on what is a higher priority....
But, even if you do not change your mind, you will be come MUCH better informed / educated on these matters.....and THAT is really what my goal here is....(not to change anyone's mind, but rather to just honestly inform them as best I can...)


I do hope this helps!!!

Fair winds to all...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________

__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 17:57   #77
Registered User
 
u4ea32's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Los Angeles and Hawaii
Boat: Olson 40
Posts: 231
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Wow! THANK YOU!
__________________

__________________
u4ea32 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 18:16   #78
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

I could not get the above post to look/format correctly....even when editing it....so, I'm trying it again....


Dan, et al,
1) Before I address the ease-of-use of HF radio ("Marine SSB" and/or "ham"), I think it would be good to make sure everyone understands the extreme ease, robustness, and reliability of the MF/HF-DSC signaling, which has been a part of the GMDSS for 20+ years now!!
(the GMDSS was established by the IMO under the SOLAS conventions in 1988, and became fully effective/operational in Feb 1992....and became mandatory for all SOLAS vessels and signatory nations in Jan 1999...)
So, this is nothing new....and we should all have been fully aware of the GMDSS now for at least the past 15 years, and have made every effort to utilize what parts of the GMDSS we can....


Parts of the GMDSS system that most find easy/affordable/useful (all within easy reach / affordable parts of the GMDSS for cruising boats...):

--- 406mhz EPIRB's (relatively inexpensive at $400 - $700, and easy to "sell" to cruising sailors..)

--- Marine VHF-DSC-FM (cheap and almost ubiquitous now-a-days...anyone that doesn't have a Class D VHF-DSC, REALLY needs to spend the few hundred dollars now!!!)

--- Marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB (HF-DSC is a VERY robust/reliable means of signaling.....and with reasonable costs of ~ $1800 new, ~ $1000 used, for an Icom M-802 MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone....and simple-to-use, robust and reliable...it is an easy "sell", almost a no-brainer!!)

--- NAVTEX (inexpensive and very useful for most coastal sailors and/or those plying the Med, etc., with typical forecasts for waters out to 150 - 200 miles....but in some areas the forecasts are only for the next 24 hours, so other weather sources, such as HF-WeFax are recommended...) (and in US waters, the VHF-based NOAA Weather Radio system is widely used, so NAVTEX hasn't caught on in the US, as it has in Europe and the Far East...)
- WeFax....And while HF WeFax was not adopted officially as part of the GMDSS, according to a 2012 survey by the Joint WMO/JComm group, HF comms, DSC, voice, and data are used daily by a majority of ocean going vessels, and HF wefax being reportedly used daily by > 85% of them....so, for offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts beyond the "text" weather info provided via INMARSAT-C and some HF coast stations, HF WeFax still rules as the predominate "1st choice" when offshore, even in 2012, even for large ships / SOLAS vessels....)


Parts of the GMDSS that are a bit more expensive:

--- INMARSAT-C,
While INMARSAT-C might seem to some to be a bit pricey, at ~ $3000 - $3500, is a VERY viable communications tool to have on-board long-range cruising boats...as it gives, thru its FREE "SafetyNet" service, offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts (in plain text), position reporting and weather reporting thru NOAA and AMVER, and Distress Signaling....ALL FOR FREE....
NO monthly/annual subscription, NO Fees at all, until/unless you use it to send regular e-mails, and then you're just billed by the character/letter....
(and it is very robust/reliable....many orders of magnitude better than a handheld sat phone!!)

--- INMARSAT Fleet systems (such as F77) are pricey at $15,000 - $20,000 and are big/heavy, and use significant amounts of electrical power....
So, here if cruiser's desire hi-speed data / broadband internet access / etc., Iridium Pilot or INMARSAT Fleet Broadband systems (at ~ $4500 - $5000) are usually the typical choices....

--- SART's (X-band radar Search And Rescue Transponders) are reasonably priced at $600 - $800.....but are often over looked by many cruising boats, as they figure a working EPIRB in their liferaft will do them better...
And, if deciding between a second 406mhz EPIRB and a SART, I'd choose the second EPIRB!!! (but, if you're cruising in heavily-trafficked areas, with poor visibility, such as UK/North Sea, etc. then a SART would be a GREAT idea, and I'd recommend one before a second EPIRB...)



Anyone talking about "Marine SSB" in the last decade or two, should be talking about MF/HF-DSC-SSB....and those that are talking about 25 year old radios and "Voice radio watch standing", etc. are unfortunately either ignorant of the changes in the past 25 years or are laboring under some serious misconceptions????

While it is not a requirement for our pleasure craft, the GMDSS has been a mandatory system for all SOLAS vessels, and all signatory nations, since Jan 1999....over 15 years ago...and regarding "SSB", please remember that nobody (except the USCG, Aus and NZ, etc.) does any "SSB Voice" monitoring or watchstanding anymore...and haven't for decades....
(as most "radio watchstanding" in the 1970's, 1980's and early 90's, before the GMDSS was fully implemented, was via "2182 watch receivers", which were silent until they received a two-tome alarm signal from another like-equipped merchant vessel, etc....so, understand that for most of the past 40 years, aside from the USCG, Bermuda Radio, Portishead Radio, Olympia Radio, Aus, NZ maritime shore stations, etc. nobody has maintained a SSB Voice radio watch for many decades....and now in the recent 20 years, since the GMDSS has been implemented, they are all monitoring MF/HF-DSC, 24/7....
{When I write "they", I'm speaking about the > 80 HF-DSC shore stations worldwide monitoring for HF-DSC signals 24/7, from all over the world....and the > 450 MF-DSC shore stations worldwide, that are monitoring MF-DSC 24/7, from vessels within 150 - 250 miles offshore....and the many hundreds of SOLAS grade vessels plying the seas/oceans worldwide 24/7 (many of them could be within a few hundred miles of you, < one day away...remember 500 miles can be covered by a container ship in less than 24 hours)....but again, except for the USCG, and a couple of others, nobody has a Voice radio watch anymore, and haven't for 15-20 years....all initial contact/signaling is done by DSC, and then further contact/coordination is done via "SSB Voice", only after signaled by DSC (or INMARSAT-C)....}

Here are the USCG Distress calling info....for vessels within range of the USCG stations....
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/marcomms/2MHzDistressWatchkeepingClosureSafetyAlert.pdf

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=AboutDSC

Please remember that while they were one of the last holdouts, the USCG no longer has MF/2Mhz voice or DSC capability and no longer monitor 2182 SSB, nor 2187.5DSC...
Quote:
Effective 01 August, 2013, the U. S. Coast Guard will terminate its radio guard of the international voice distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz and the international digital selective calling (DSC) distress and safety frequency 2187.5 kHz. Additionally, marine information and weather broadcasts transmitted on 2670 kHz will terminate concurrently.
The Coast Guard will continue to maintain a continuous watch on VHF FM channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and on existing voice and DSC frequencies in the 4/6/8/12 MHz bands as described in the Coast Guard.
Use MF/HF-DSC and then after initial contact via DSC, use the GMDSS SSB Voice calling / safety channels....



Here is a short video that shows real worldwide shipping, and their routes...have a look, and you'll see that most of our cruising routes pass near to, or in/thru, these ships paths....and we end up being close to, within a few hundred miles of, SOLAS vessels and/or within range of shore stations, along most of our typical cruising routes....
(but, unless we have MF/HF-DSC and/or INMARSAT-C we have no way of signaling these other vessels....and remember it is MF/HF-DSC that would allow you to signal another vessel for some non-distress assistance as well, such as if needing navigational or weather info, medical advice/info/supplies, fresh water, food, diesel fuel, etc...unless you are lucky enough to find a vessel within VHF-DSC range, it's going to be MF/HF-DSC or nothing...)

And, here is another video, that I've been hesitant to post, as it is 22 years OLD (from 1992), and has some errors and some unfortunate misinformation....But, it does give a decent overview of the GMDSS (as it was originally designed, and implemented in 1992..), so I think some might find it useful....just remember it is OLD and dated, with some errors...
Please understand that this is an OLD GMDSS explanation video (from 1992), and some things have changed! Please ignore the errors from19m 23s to 19m 36s, showing MF/HF and VHF radios that do NOT have DSC capabilities and note the old external DSC controller shown from 20m 17s to 20m 24s.
Also ignore the references to the old defunct INMARSAT-E beacons (now completely replaced by 406mhz SARSAT-SOSPAS EPIRB's).
Further take note of the old "2182khz Watch Receiver", which haven't been used in almost 20 years (at 20m 54s), shown listening to static (which they didn't do, as they were typically squelched and listening for a two-tone alarm generator alert (NOBODY monitors 2182khz anymore!)

So, when terms like "SSB" are bandied about in our discussions on-line, I think we should all understand that this is not the 1980's anymore....and having a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio on-board is what we are talking about...
(those advocating using a 25 year old, non-DSC radio and a handheld sat phone, for communications when sailing offshore, would do well to understand the severe limitations such an approach has, and heed the words/comments from those who have found this to be a unfortunate choice...)

Please remember, that when out-of-range of VHF-DSC.....there are many shore stations and SOLAS ships, listening on MF and HF DSC Frequencies 24/7....
And remember too, when you are beyond the range of a USCG helo (or Aus, UK Coast Guards), it is a merchant vessel that is most likely going to be your rescuer...
There are literally hundreds of SOLAS grade vessels out there plying the high seas, many within a few hundred miles of you....


Getting back to the particulars of MF/HF-DSC signaling...
In addition to the SITOR-FEC (Forward Error Correction) nature of MF/HF-DSC, which is incredibly strong and robust, AND the repetitive sending of the message (over-and-over again), MF/HF-DSC also has a significant signal-to-noise advantage over SSB Voice communications.....
MF/HF-DSC is about 15db better than an SSB Voice circuit over the same path, on the same band/frequency, etc.
This 15db S/N advantage is like going from a 150 watt SSB radio to a 5000 watt SSB radio...

The simple one-button DSC-Distress, sends out a multiple of DSC distress calls on 8mhz, over-and-over, without any further human interface...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call...
And a "two or three button press" DSC-Distress, sends out multiple DSC distress calls, over-and-over, on 8mhz, 12mhz, 16mhz, 2mhz, 4mhz, and 6mhz, and continues over-and-over again, without any further human interface...(and you can also select another freq, should you desire)...until a response is sent or until you cancel the call (or until electrical power runs out)...
Please understand that while the radio is transmitting your DSC-Distress call it is also listening for a response from a shore station/RCC and/or other vessels, and while it is standing-by waiting for this response (approx. 3 minutes of standing-by/waiting between DSC calls), it is ALSO monitoring/listening on the GMDSS VOICE Distress / Calling frequency that corresponds to the band that the DSC call was placed in....




Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
It may sound weird but when you state "40 years of experience" 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.
To be clear, it doesn't sound weird at all....it is completely understandable....


And, sorry-to-say, that statements about experience have actually become an unfortunate "common internet discussion procedure", used to actually get accurate/believable information (as opposed to misunderstood Wikipedia-sourced info and/or info regurgitated from magazines, boat-shows, etc.), through to those that inquire on-line....

I used to just give some facts....but that just started arguments...and even had some guys say that there is no such thing as "facts" in on-line discussions, as it is all opinion!!
Then I would briefly answer the query, and list many links to detailed facts/further info....but have found that few actually follow the links and read them....
So now, it is getting difficult to actually get the facts out there...

In my opinion this is unfortunate....as scientific facts are just that, facts....



This means that with just a press of a button or two, your MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio is sending out very detailed/accurate position information, as well as your MMSI# (which gives the shoreside RCC's all your vessel info, size/type/color, equipment on-board, communications capability, liferaft/survival craft, etc. as well as your shoreside contact information), and if you've selected a "distress type", the exact nature of your distress....AND it is waiting for an acknowledgement of your DSC call on both the GMDSS DSC channel/freq and on the appropriate GMDSS Voice SSB channel/frequency....AND it does this automatically....
And, if you've selected a "six freq DSC Distress call" it is doing this on all six GMDSS DSC calling frequencies from 2mhz thru 16mhz...thereby assuring that your distress call will get thru to shore stations / RCC's (and other vessels), regardless of time-of-day or radiowave propagation of the moment...all automatically....(thereby eliminating the need for a trained radio operator, nor any trained personnel at all!!)
And, even if you selected just an 8mhz DSC call, during the daytime this would typically get thru to shore stations within 1000 miles of you, and all HF-DSC equipped SOLAS vessels within 600 - 1000 miles of you....and at nighttime this would get to shore stations, and other vessels as far away as 3000 - 4000 miles....
Again, all automatically, without any need for "trained" / "experienced" radio operators....

And, this is/was one of the basic goals / principles of the GMDSS....allowing multiple / redundant (and robust / reliable) ways of signaling shore stations and other vessels, WITHOUT the need of trained radio operators....
Using 406mhz EPIRB's, VHF-DSC, MF/HF-DSC, INMARSAT-C, allows for all of these goals to be realized!!! (although many/most cruiser's feel not having INMARSAT-C is not too much of a detriment, and some compliment the other GMDSS equipment with a consumer sat phone, such as Iridium, and feel this adequate for them..)

But, remember that while "SSB Voice" is used for further contact/coordination (after initial contact by DSC, or INMARSAT-C), SSB Voice" is NOT monitored (except by USCG, etc.), and as such when we use the term "SSB", we should all understand that this is MF/HF-DSC-SSB, NOT 'SSB Voice".....


Okay, I'm rambling...
The point is, you do NOT need years of experience to make proper use of HF communications....and it is an unfortunate fact-of-life that this misconception continues...
Hopefully, I can alleviate your tentativeness a bit...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
I am a tentative SSB fan - I am waiting for someone to post a thread that says - "Bought Radio Model XYZ, plugged it in and it works."
My late father had NO electronics knowledge nor training, and was not a "high tech" guy at all...you know the type, WWII vet (10th Mountain Div), construction worker, self-made, small businessman....
Way back in the mid-1960's, I remember him using our old 2mhz AM marine radio in the Bahamas and down-island....and having little success when more than 150 miles from Miami and/or San Juan (I learned why this was "typical", in the early 70's)....and in the early/mid-70's, I taught him how to use his new Marine "SSB" Radio (an SG-714 "SGC Intercontinental One", 12 - 24 channel, crystal-controlled HF-SSB radio), and from '76/'77 thru late 80's (when I installed a new Icom for him), he used that radio almost everyday when at sea and even in port...and in the late 70's, I remember placing telephone calls on-board from all over, even the eastern Med (via WOM and WOO, 6000-7000 miles away), after spending hours waiting for an "international line" at some telephone office in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, etc. (remember that back then, there were no direct dial international phones in many cities in these countries!!!)
My Dad was NOT a radio guy at all....and he mastered the Marine SSB in a few attempts over a few days...


Fast forward a few decades and now it was my sister (10 years my senior, and while intelligent, she is also a "non-tech" person, having degrees in journalism/poly-sci).....
I was able to teach my sister how to use my Icom M-802, to listen to weather, to call a distress, call USCG, call WLO, place phone calls, etc....al in just an hour or two....and have written a couple basic steps on a laminated 3 x 5 card, to assist anyone unfamiliar...

And, I used her and my 93 yr old ocean sailor of a mother (a VERY non-tech person) as my 2 person "focus group" to critique my videos....figuring if they understood them, anyone else should be able to do so...



3) While I have posted links to my videos before, if you wish to read things and/or desire further details / info...here are some pages that will help...

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

Tips for using an HF-SSB Radio (mostly for newcomers) (mainly for those with OLD radios..)

HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net.. (lots of detailed info/background....explained well though...

Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!


And, here are links to the HF radio videos and detailed discussions...
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/icom-m-802-instr-videos-basic-adv-and-live-dsc-distress-call-114734.html

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call





4) As far as your "communications stool"....the SOLAS conventions and the GMDSS have already dealt with that and have adapted as needed over the recent years (see all the info above)...
And, see photos of my Nav Station to see some ideas/examples....






And, FYI, everyone should read this thread and follow the links there (especially those to SARSAT-COSPAS and Beth Leonard's articles)

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds




See details above....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
I view HF/SSB as one leg of the communications stool that now includes satphone. satphone is "on the rise" in terms of lowering cost, variety of products and utility of use.
As you can see, on-board my boat, for sailing the N. Atlantic, Caribbean, Med, etc....
I think of HF-DSC-SSB as one part of the "communications stool", 406mhz EPIRB as another part....and then either my spare HF-DSC-SSB radio, my two VHF-DSC-FM radios, and/or "ham radio", and/or marine SSB voice (USCG and WLO), as my third / fourth part (and I DO have a spare Icom M-802 on-board, so it can be used the third leg of my tripod...)
And, if heading farther off the beaten path (such as a circumnav, etc.), I'd equip with INMARSAT-C in a heartbeat....

And, as long as you (and others) understand that it is DSC that is important here....MF/HF-DSC is what we are all talking about, when speaking of "SSB", not a 25 yr old non-DSC HF radio!!!

And, while I understand that some will chose a "sat phone" as part of their "communications stool", I caution them to remember that a handheld sat phone is NOT the easiest thing to use, even in calm conditions....and when the weather is rough, they are damned near impossible to use...(and remember they don't work below decks)...
Shouting your coordinates into a handheld sat phone while hanging on for dear life in the cockpit, isn't my idea of a useful part of my communications stool...
Installing an external antenna and below-decks docking station is going to be an almost necessity for anyone deciding to use a "sat phone" as part of their communications stool...




SSB is not going to get any easier and at some point may no longer be a "necessary" leg in the communications stool.
Actually Dan, "SSB" IS getting easier to use and more reliable!!!
(see info and videos, above)
I'm still amazed that somehow this "myth" seems to propagate....
(I'm not saying that everyone needs an "SSB"....but it IS getting easier to use them, and they are certainly NOT going to be "unnecessary" for a long time to come...at least another decade or two...)

I'm not sure why that myth pervades, but with Maritime HF communications (DSC, data, and Voice) being used daily by a majority of ships at sea (an actual fact, from the WMO/Jcomm survey in 2012), and with > 80 HF-DSC shore stations, and > 450 MF-DSC shore stations, and many 1000's of SOLAS ships at sea....it is clear that "SSB" (MF/HF-DSC-SSB) is still a necessary part of the communications stool for those venturing offshore and/or across oceans, and will be for many years to come...





I will readily admit that I have not gone deep into your videos and instructional posts - I am not at the point where this decision needs to be made. But in the meantime I try not to be a detractor of HF. Just educating myself slowly and observing the dialog.
No need to wait 'til decision time....just read the above, follow the links, and watch some of the videos (the ones here in this thread, at least), and you'll be well on your way to nirvana
Seriously, if you do this, you'll be ahead of 95% of the cruiser's (and wannabe cruisers) out there...



The comms plan needs to be redundant and reliable.
This is one of the PRIMARY functions of the GMDSS....(see above)

Currently SSB is a separate system from VHF and satphone and that makes it a level of redundancy that is useful to have on board, if one can afford it.

I personally would choose satphone over HF if my funds limited the types of equipment I could afford.
If you read the above info, follow the links and read them, and watch the videos, you may change your mind on what is a higher priority....
But, even if you do not change your mind, you will be come MUCH better informed / educated on these matters.....and THAT is really what my goal here is....(not to change anyone's mind, but rather to just honestly inform them as best I can...)


I do hope this helps!!!

Fair winds to all...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 18:30   #79
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

EDIT:
UGH!!
I GIVE UP....
I cannot get this posting to go thru correctly!!!
The formatting is wrong, it's missing paragraphs, and no amount of editing seems to make a difference....

Sorry about the above posts.....not sure why, but cruisers forum is not allowing all of it to show up / missing paragraphs and rearranging them elsewhere??? and the blue text???

Sorry but I tried...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 18:40   #80
Moderator Emeritus
 
Ex-Calif's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Singapore
Boat: Maxi 77 - Relax Lah!
Posts: 11,514
Images: 4
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

John - Many thanks for your tireless efforts.

Somebody famous (Twain?) said, "If I had more time I would have written less."

I get the need to explain the facts because just answers doesn't cover it - I do the same thing.

You might want to think about putting a few canned messages together to guide the "newbie." I mean simple stuff.

For one small yacht successful installation of MF/HF-DSC installation I would recommend - Radio X, Antenna Y - mounted Z. You also need A-B-C.

After the radio is successfully installed here is what you should do to ops check things.

To get voice weather in your area try these channels and these times - to get email working do this. To get weather fax do this.

I am not smart enough to write this up but I can see real value in a simple "Dummy's Guide to installing "SSB" and getting it going.

It's kind of like all the battery threads - A simple "What Battery Should I Buy" question devolves into Peukerts, ion transfers, chemistry and charge profiles.

I say I'm not ready for MF/HF yet because I am coastal sailing for now well within range of both VHF and cell phone coverage. But I'm learning!
__________________
Relax Lah! is For Sale <--- Click
Click--> Custom CF Google Search or CF Rules
You're gonna need a bigger boat... - Martin Brody
Ex-Calif is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 22:12   #81
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: San Francisco
Boat: Pearson 365, 36 ft Ketch
Posts: 7
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Thanks everyone for the amazing amount of information you have shared!

I probably should have phrased my question a bit differently... I am a software architect and hoping that I can still earn a living with part-time work from the boat (THAT's a question for a different thread). So I'm primarily interested high-speed data communications. I've seen unlimited sat data plans for $2k/ mo. - which is equivalent to paying rent for an office - a fair trade if it works out.

On the other hand, I expect I may end up doing most project work while within WiFi range. As a result, I'm leaning towards SSB with a Pactor 4 modem as the system of choice. That would give me reliable HF radio communications, reasonable connectivity for email and weather info when WiFi is not available.

Cheers!
__________________
BigIdea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2014, 23:39   #82
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

I've had success!!
(I couldn't get the links to videos to work here on cruiser's forum, nor could I get the paragraphs to actually post correctly/in order....and that's even breaking the posting up into multiple parts and posting it as a new thread!!)

So, please see this SSCA posting....

Marine HF-DSC-SSB, the GMDSS, "communications stool legs"


Dan, you're very welcome!! (and yes, if I had more time, I would've written less!!)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
You might want to think about putting a few canned messages together to guide the "newbie." I mean simple stuff.
I have tried this here before....without much success...

I posted some great detailed facts/info, with many official links, etc. regarding Offshore Weather info/forecasts, and the very first responses / replies didn't say "thanks" or "wow", but criticized my use of the word "accurate" in the thread title....and then it went downhill from there, with pages after page of various opinions and criticisms, but nobody ever disputed the facts!!
The problem was that nobody ever bothered to read/understand the facts, nor follow the links, etc....

So, while I still think putting together a "newbie's guide to HF comms, offshore weather, etc." and details on exactly how handheld sat phones work, and their limitations....
The unfortunate outcome would most probably not make much difference, except for wasting my time!!

BTW, the only reason that my thread with the HF Radio Videos "survived", was because a Cruiser's Forum Moderator was just starting to install/use their own M-802, and found the videos helpful....so the made them a "sticky"...


For one small yacht successful installation of MF/HF-DSC installation I would recommend - Radio X, Antenna Y - mounted Z. You also need A-B-C.
All of this is already posted here....and much is in my HF radio videos thread/"sticky"....

But, in a nutshell....here is what I've using/posting/recommending for years...(it is no secret, and it all works very well!!)

Radio/Tuner: Icom M-802, and AT-140.....

Antenna: Insulated backstay, 40' - 45' long (or "alternative backstay antenna").....
{longer lengths (50' - 60') favor the lower bands (4, 6, 8, and are still good thru 12mhz), but have a slight disadvantage on the higher bands....shorter lengths (25' - 30') favor the higher bands (16, 18, 22, and 25mhz), but have significant disadvantages of the lower bands!!!
So, 40-45' is good for most....(mine is 63'...as I prefer to favor the lower bands....)}

RF ground / antenna ground: 3"-6" wide, < 8' long copper strapping to clean underwater metal / Dynaplate / Thru-hull, etc....(alternatively, use toerails, lifelines, pushpits, pulpits, stanchions, metal tanks, keel bolts, etc. tied together, using copper strap, as a counterpoise...)
Use THICK copper strapping, not thin foil, and paint it (except for the connection points), and it will last decades!!!
(and use Penatrox-A, conductive/waterproof grease on the RF ground connections....and they still be in excellent shape for years and years...)

Follow Sailmail's installation recommendations....and read/study the Sailmail Primer (even if you'll never have a PACTOR modem, nor HF e-mail at sea)

SailMail Primer


After the radio is successfully installed here is what you should do to ops check things.
Watch the videos and ask questions....

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call


To get voice weather in your area try these channels and these times - to get email working do this. To get weather fax do this.
Read this discussion and follow the links (and read them)...

Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts


I am not smart enough to write this up but I can see real value in a simple "Dummy's Guide to installing "SSB" and getting it going.
Dan, it is already there on-line....free for the taking....(see the info above, ESPECIALLY the Sailmail Primer.....read the above threads/discussions and the links there in....and it is all there, no need to write a book, or reinvent the wheel!!)
But, you do understand that, "you can lead a horse to water, but 'ya can't make him drink"!!



I say I'm not ready for MF/HF yet because I am coastal sailing for now well within range of both VHF and cell phone coverage. But I'm learning!
I'm glad to be of help....just know that all the info is right there for 'ya....no need for anyone to write a book....(and it's all FREE!!)

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2014, 01:00   #83
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Dan, et al,
Cutting thru the on-line BS....and not needing to wade thru pages of technical mumbo-jumbo...you can get some quick and easy answers....but it appears that you've chosen not to read the basic info and watch the videos in the referenced thread....(maybe I'm wrong, and if I am, I'm sorry....but that is how it appears from your postings...)

I understand your thoughts here, but since most of the answers to your questions of "what can go wrong" and "how to fix it", are actually in the videos that you've decided to NOT watch and in the threads referenced, as well as the Sailmail Primer...(as you said, "you're not ready to buy a radio yet")....I'm not sure what else to say/write...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
In other words when it doesn't work it can be anything from failed radio, picking the wrong frequency, bad/ineffective antenna, tuner, ground plane and interference (of which there are many types)

But why does DenverDons experience - took a test bought some hardware and life's good compare with the multiple, "All I get is static messages.

Anyway just some musings...
If you wish to make sense of all of this, the answers are right there for you....but, if you choose not to read the info (including the Sailmail Primer) / watch the videos recommended, then I understand your musings....
What I'm confused about is, if you are having trouble reconciling some of the anecdotal reports posted and wish to understand things (which is what your postings show), then why not spend the time used posting to actually read the detailed factual info and watch the videos???





Dan, despite some complicating things with talk of installation problems / propagation issues....here are some BRIEF, DIRECT answers, that have worked well for anyone that has ever tried them....for decades now...(these basics are nothing new, the only "new" things, newer than 15 years, are the radio model, and the videos...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
For one small yacht successful installation of MF/HF-DSC installation I would recommend - Radio X, Antenna Y - mounted Z. You also need A-B-C.
All of this is already posted here....and much is in my HF radio videos thread/"sticky"....

But, in a nutshell....here is what I've using/posting/recommending for years...(it is no secret, and it all works very well!!)

Radio/Tuner: Icom M-802, and AT-140.....

Antenna: Insulated backstay, 40' - 45' long (or "alternative backstay antenna").....
{longer lengths (50' - 60') favor the lower bands (4, 6, 8, and are still good thru 12mhz), but have a slight disadvantage on the higher bands....shorter lengths (25' - 30') favor the higher bands (16, 18, 22, and 25mhz), but have significant disadvantages of the lower bands!!!
So, 40-45' is good for most....(mine is 63'...as I prefer to favor the lower bands....)}

RF ground / antenna ground: 3"-6" wide, < 8' long copper strapping to clean underwater metal / Dynaplate / Thru-hull, etc....(alternatively, use toerails, lifelines, pushpits, pulpits, stanchions, metal tanks, keel bolts, etc. tied together, using copper strap, as a counterpoise...)
Use THICK copper strapping, not thin foil, and paint it (except for the connection points), and it will last decades!!!
(and use Penatrox-A, conductive/waterproof grease on the RF ground connections....and they still be in excellent shape for years and years...)

Follow Sailmail's installation recommendations....and read/study the Sailmail Primer (even if you'll never have a PACTOR modem, nor HF e-mail at sea)

SailMail Primer


After the radio is successfully installed here is what you should do to ops check things.
Watch the videos and ask questions....

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

Learning how to choose the correct/proper channel/frequency (shown in video #4) is a VERY VERY important part of learning how-to get good results from your HF radio....(and it'll take 'ya about 15 minutes...)


To get voice weather in your area try these channels and these times - to get email working do this. To get weather fax do this.
Read this discussion and follow the links (and read them)...

Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts



The info/knowledge is there for the taking....and it's FREE...

Just my 2 cents....


Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2014, 09:36   #84
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Big,
I think you now understand that the iSatHub you inquired about, is BGAN-based and not designed for moving vessels...(and would not work for your application)

--- For the use/purpose you mention now....I'd recommend a VSAT terminal...as you will actually need reliable, hi-speed (Mega-bit speed) data/internet connectivity....

--- KVH VSAT's do work well...
But, understand they are pricey upfront....(but, w/ reasonable usage charges)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigIdea View Post
Thanks everyone for the amazing amount of information you have shared!

I probably should have phrased my question a bit differently... I am a software architect and hoping that I can still earn a living with part-time work from the boat (THAT's a question for a different thread). So I'm primarily interested high-speed data communications. I've seen unlimited sat data plans for $2k/ mo. - which is equivalent to paying rent for an office - a fair trade if it works out.
VSAT data costs are < $1/MB....and voice calls are typically $0.05 to $0.10 per minute...


On the other hand, I expect I may end up doing most project work while within WiFi range. As a result, I'm leaning towards SSB with a Pactor 4 modem as the system of choice. That would give me reliable HF radio communications, reasonable connectivity for email and weather info when WiFi is not available.
--- If you're within Wi-Fi range...go with Island Time PC's system...
Marine WiFi Systems

--- And, use a good wireless provider for 3g/4g/lte service...


--- But, once you are offshore and/or in remote areas....you'll probably need a VSAT system...(you may get by with a FB 250, but a VSAT would actually work out as cheaper!!)
KVH VSAT's for your application will run you about $15,000 - $30,000....
Mini VSAT Broadband

TracPhoneŽ V7-IP Marine Satellite Internet and Phone


--- Depending on exactly where you sail, some may wish to compliment the VSAT with an Iridium Pilot or INMARSAT FB.....but you'd probably NOT do this, due mainly to space limitations and costs....
You'll end up using the VSAT, and Wi-Fi, and cellular/3G/4G/LTE....to make things work well for you...



--- Please note that I LOVE HF Radio / Marine SSB, etc...
So, I have NO reason to stop you from equipping your boat with an Icom M-802, etc....
But, understand that e-mail via a PACTOR modem (i.e. Sailmail) is VERY limited....meaning you get 90 minutes of connection time per week, max...and that's at a typical 2.4kb rate...
That's about 12-13 minutes per day....
And, if you connect twice a day (or even 3 times a day) to check/download e-mails, this is hardly enough time to run a "software architect" business....
(also, note that the typical handheld "sat phone" approach here would also be limiting, VERY slow, and very expensive!!_



--- Bigidea, you are one of the rare folks here that actually may need a truly "always-on" broadband connection, and that's going to be had using a VSAT terminal....

The other threads that have talked about this, have summed things up well...but they almost always are from folks that CAN use relatively slow connection speeds and sporadic connections...where as it appears that you cannot??

Whats the best offshore internet connection?



--- Now that we've got the whole story from 'ya, we can be more specific in our replies/answers/recommendations...

I hope this helps...

Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2014, 10:01   #85
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 596
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post

Sorry but I tried...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
John,

Thank you for your efforts. I have watched all/most of your 802 videos on YouTube and they were excellent. Operating that radio sure is not rocket science.

I think your constant explanations of how DSC works is needed since people still think things work like they did decades ago and/or they do not understand the new system. This is a lot of work on your part so thank you.

Later,
Dan
__________________
dannc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2014, 16:01   #86
Registered User
 
GrowleyMonster's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: New Orleans
Boat: 1976 Cal 2-27
Posts: 1,298
Re: Sat-fi vs. SSB

My short answer: get both. At least eventually.

Long answer: start out by installing hf ssb. Learn it's capabilities and functions. Learn to be at least a semi skilled operator. Learn it's weaknesses and how to work around them.

Meanwhile, have a handheld vhf and epirb ready to toss in your bug-out bag.

When you can afford it, get satellite communications and the doodads and services that you find apprporiate. Redundancy is a wonderful thing when the poo hits the fan.

Last, a ham license and an amateur capable transceiver is a really cool and useful thing to have. A lot of marine radios can be used on ham frequencies, but knob tuning is much more practical on the ham bands.

Any receiver or transceiver that can tune continuously through the hf broadcast bands has terrific entertainment value. Try getting BBC or VOA on your satphone!

I know this thread is sort of beating a dead horse, but lots of good pros and cons to both technologies here. And sometimes there is no single right answer.
__________________

__________________
GrowleyMonster
1976 Cal 2-27, MR WIGGLES
Now with clean, dependable electric propulsion!
GrowleyMonster is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
ssb

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
HAM / SSB / SAT Phone unbusted67 Marine Electronics 91 14-02-2012 21:29
Sat Phone vs SSB MattStafford Marine Electronics 12 01-07-2011 13:41
Want To Buy: South Pacific Charts / Sat Phone / SSB RapidTransit Classifieds Archive 1 18-04-2011 12:26
Get Another SSB or Go for a Sat Phone ? capngeo Marine Electronics 72 19-11-2010 23:43



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:57.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.