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Old 15-11-2012, 17:44   #1
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SSB and email?

My wife and I are new boat owners FP Belize 43 and are trying to repair and outfit the boat which is still on the hard in Charleston area. Our boatyard neighbor said for SSB ICOM 802 is the only way to go. He also suggests an AT antennae. It all sounds good just expensive. Will this actually also let us email from offshore? Any ideas or input.
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Old 15-11-2012, 18:41   #2
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Re: SSB and email?

Brit,

Yes, the Icom M-802 is the current top-of-the line marine SSB for cruisers. It costs about $1,800. Once you get familiar with it, you can easily communicate via voice or the digital modes (email).

A complete installation involves, at a minimum:

1. the transceiver itself (M-802);

2. a suitable automatic antenna tuner (the AT-140 with matching cable for the M-802);

3. some sort of RF ground system (many sailors now are using the very simple KISS-SSB counterpoise system which works well and costs about $140);

4. a Pactor modem for email; and

5. installation and testing of the above.

The transceiver and tuner cost about $2,400 new. The KISS-SSB ground system costs $140. A Pactor III modem runs about $1,200; the new Pactor IV modem (twice as fast) costs $1,600-$2,000, depending on model.

Professional installation, including needed parts, can run anywhere from about $900-1,500, depending on specifics of the boat.

Figure about $5,000 altogether.

This system will provide long-range voice and digital (email) capability worldwide.

You can find lots of details on these systems on Gary Jensen's great website: www.docksideradio.com

Bill
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Old 15-11-2012, 20:19   #3
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Re: SSB and email?

I am most interested in getting weather information. Internet is secondary. Is the Pactor necessary? I read a post abut using the audio out to a laptop in with freeware. Weatherfax - Make Your Own | YachtPals.com
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Old 15-11-2012, 20:26   #4
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Re: SSB and email?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Brit,

Yes, the Icom M-802 is the current top-of-the line marine SSB for cruisers. It costs about $1,800. Once you get familiar with it, you can easily communicate via voice or the digital modes (email).

A complete installation involves, at a minimum:

1. the transceiver itself (M-802);

2. a suitable automatic antenna tuner (the AT-140 with matching cable for the M-802);

3. some sort of RF ground system (many sailors now are using the very simple KISS-SSB counterpoise system which works well and costs about $140);

4. a Pactor modem for email; and

5. installation and testing of the above.

The transceiver and tuner cost about $2,400 new. The KISS-SSB ground system costs $140. A Pactor III modem runs about $1,200; the new Pactor IV modem (twice as fast) costs $1,600-$2,000, depending on model.

Professional installation, including needed parts, can run anywhere from about $900-1,500, depending on specifics of the boat.

Figure about $5,000 altogether.

This system will provide long-range voice and digital (email) capability worldwide.

You can find lots of details on these systems on Gary Jensen's great website: www.docksideradio.com

Bill
WA6CCA
Ah ha.......

A possible layman's terms website....I bookmarked it.

Thanks,

James L
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Old 15-11-2012, 20:29   #5
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Re: SSB and email?

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
I am most interested in getting weather information. Internet is secondary. Is the Pactor necessary? I read a post abut using the audio out to a laptop in with freeware. Weatherfax - Make Your Own | YachtPals.com
I did that with just a Sony receiver that I paid 150$, also used it to listen to Chriss Parker and NOAA weather reports. But now I have my HAM license (VA2SLE), a 2 way SSB and the PACTOR modem for weather info and email. I should have prioritised that setup at the beginning.
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Old 15-11-2012, 20:35   #6
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Re: SSB and email?

Hi,

We have been using an 802 but without the pactor modem. Instead we use RMS Express and Winmor, which uses your computer's sound card (or an external sound card). We had reliable, although slow connectivity on I'd guess 90% of the nights we tried connecting to a server. Sometimes the speed was good, around 800 - 1200 bytes per minute. Average was 500 or so, sometimes it was as bad as 150. Like any ssb email system it's very dependent on conditions and location (ie tucked up in a steep sided fjord, you don't get a lot of connection). (see winlink.org for details of RMS express).

BTW, in the past I also used an old Icom 735, and it worked too. Don't have to get the latest M802 if it's outside the budget. Lots of used radios out there - and lots of threads here about them.

We also use the KISS counterpoise - it works. Many knowledgeable people swear by connecting RF ground to a through hull.

Lastly, pay a lot of attention to your antenna. Get that part right! We have a ketch, which has a lot of rigging wires, which tend to interfere with the antenna. We connect the tuner under the deck to a chainplate for a shroud, and then have an insulator near the top (and the spreader is insulated from the shroud with a delrin end fitting). From that end, we run a line over to an insulated wire that runs down to the mizzen mast. So we have sort of an inverted L. Because the shroud is nearly vertical, most of our signal strength is at low angles to the horizon, and I'm not sure how much the triatic stretch of wire helps direct any upwards. When connecting to RMS servers from the central coast of BC, we were most successful with stations in Nevada or N California.

Good luck,
Van

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Old 15-11-2012, 21:15   #7
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Re: SSB and email?

Just a suggestion but maybe you should check into an Iridium 9555 sat phone. We used it for weather flawlessly during our Atlantic crossing this summer, for updating our blog, and for calling home. It costs $1000 for the phone and that's it. Every minute costs $1 to $1.25 depending on how many you pre-buy. Another bonus is the phone can go with you when you travel without the boat and is the cheapest way to call home from many countrys.
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Old 17-11-2012, 21:19   #8
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Re: SSB and email?

Our SSB is ICOM IC 738. We have not yet operated it and do not have a HAM. Plan is to get the license this winter. I haven't decided on a Pactor or audio inpt to the laptop.
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Old 18-11-2012, 05:34   #9
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pirate Re: SSB and email?

Have not tried the email aspect yet, but for receiving weatherfax there are multiple options.

As you would be receiving weather fax transmissions then only a receiver is required that can receive the weather fax frequencies. Numerous weather fax receivers are available for that purpose and as a result (depending on your local country comms regulations) you may not need a license as it is just a radio receiver (such as an AM radio that receives the frequencies that weather frequencies are received on - Very cheap $100 +, Icom not needed).

If you want to transmit on SSB frequencies then you will need a transmitter and also an appropriate long-range radio license to contact coast guard, etc on SSB. Icom needed.

If you have an amateur radio license then you can communicate with other vessels using your amateur radio callsign on SSB. Icom 802 not needed, any SSB radio would do using amateur license as long as you abide by the license.

You can use a computer soundcard as a modem. It can receive weather fax transmissions and would not need a pactor etc modem as the soundcard used with software on the computer can emulate the pactor etc modems. You would need software for your computer that can do the emulation for fax and emails in conjunction with soundcard.

But if you want to get involved with transmitting on marine bands using ssb then look at the Icom for marine use and licensing.

If you want to try weather faxes first, then look for a receiver that can receiver weather faxes, (about $100 +, which is a lot cheaper then HF transceivers and licensing.

I have started going down the amateur radio license route as I wanted to get involved in weather fax and SSB email.

Grounding wise, you could use two plates on either side of the hull that is under the water line, but connect the plates to the ssb rig with thick gauge wire, not foil, it has to be thick gauge wire to work properly and also for lightning protection.

If any of this takes your fancy then google search is a good place to start.

Technicaltony.
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Old 18-11-2012, 17:27   #10
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Re: SSB and email?

Just forgot to mention that an automatic antenna tuner is not really necessary. Any manual tuner will do fine. My MFJ Antenna Tuner can tune any aerial for any frequency. Once you understand how it works it is very easy to adjust. You have to remember to re-adjust each time you change frequency, before transmitting. Cost about $150 which is cheaper then an expensive ATU.

It all comes down to what you want. I'd say start off with an SSB receiver $100, a laptop with a soundcard (most laptops have this) and weatherfax software.

Don't forget that weather fax reception doesn't work too well over land so best use it off the coast and in early hours in the morning.

An Amateur Radio club could help you out with the equipment and show how to use it properly.

Technicaltony.
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:05   #11
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Re: SSB and email?

If you just want to stay in touch a less expensive method is the "In-Reach" system. InReach

You do have to pay a fee just like a sat phone but not so high a price. Here are some info/threads on the subject:
Delorme Inreach Sat. Communicator- Any Real Experience?
Delorme inReach- 2-Way Communicator
DeLorme inReach review | GPS Tracklog
Delorme inReach Review — Take Texting to New Lands - The Backcountry Skiing Blog
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:08   #12
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Re: SSB and email?

All good advice.

The marine SSB transceiver with automatic tuner and Pactor 3 modem is one, high end approach. That is what I have used (Icom M802, SGC antenna tuner, SCS modem) and it works very well. If I were to start over today I would definitely consider using RMS Express with an inexpensive USB sound adapter instead of the modem - much less expensive and is increasingly the way the hams are going. OTOH if I didn't have a ham license then the modem would be needed for Sailmail (email over the marine bands for an annual fee). The Icom 700/710 radios are less fancy (and less expensive) then the 802, and if anything work a bit better, so consider one of them instead to save money. There is quite a market for used SSBs, so again do some research there to save money. You don't really need the latest and greatest; your budget will dictate. Avoid using ham radios on the marine bands - many folks will recommend it but keep in mind that it is illegal, and that type approved marine radios are built to a higher spec than most ham radios. If you want to go with ham, then buy a a marine radio and open it up for the ham bands. (Admittedly this is a bit contentious, so instead of derailing the thread please look at other threads which thrashed this to death.)

For email communication while crossing an ocean the satellite phone systems are a pretty good deal and more reliable than shortwave. In combination with internet access (usually WiFi) when not out sailing, this works well. It really depends on how much you and your contacts feel the need to communicate regularly, and what your definition of regularly is.

For many people buying a SPOT transmitter is good enough for letting the folks at home know where you are. Do you really need to be exchanging emails in the middle of the ocean? Something to think about...

For weather info, a receiver (as opposed to transceiver) is all you need. There are programs for Windows and Macs that can decode weatherfax and teletype, and of course can receive voice as well. All that is needed for fax and TTY is to connect the line out (sound) of the radio to the line in on the computer; modern CPUs have the DSP (digital signal processing) instructions to enable the software programs to do a great job of demodulating the signals. The performance is often improved by using an outboard USB sound adapter (as with RMS Express, and very inexpensive) for the simple reason that there is less interference away from the computer's motherboard with its CPU and GPU, and other sources of RFI.

For very little money you can fill the need for weather info and communication; it really depends on how much money you want to spend and what you feel you need. Funny that our predecessors didn't "need" shortwave, epirb, weather forecast, emails, etc...

Greg
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:17   #13
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Re: SSB and email?

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Funny that our predecessors didn't "need" shortwave, epirb, weather forecast, emails, etc...

Greg
Our predecessors were mostly of the male gender.
Times have changed and the men are getting hooked on all the electronic toys these dazes.
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:50   #14
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Re: SSB and email?

Guess I don't see this as a gender issue: why would this be any more or less an issue for women?

Yes, times have changed. And most folks like to have their toys. But it is always worth remembering that they are not fundamentally necessary to accomplish cruising. Desireable, yes. Enjoyable, yes. Absolutely necessary, no.

Greg
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Old 18-11-2012, 19:18   #15
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Re: SSB and email?

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Guess I don't see this as a gender issue: why would this be any more or less an issue for women?

Yes, times have changed. And most folks like to have their toys. But it is always worth remembering that they are not fundamentally necessary to accomplish cruising. Desireable, yes. Enjoyable, yes. Absolutely necessary, no.

Greg
Can you imagine a woman w/o a cell. It's practically non existent these days. As for men, one of brothers just got his first cell last year. And I know of other men who don't even know where there cell is "right now"! Even myself, I'm on a prepay in which I've only spent $100 this year and that is mostly of people calling me about products or my wife calling, not conversation.

The only reason I would want email/text at sea would be for the benefit of my wife. The weather and EPRIP is all I really need. Although, I do know of some men that really like to talk. IMHO
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