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Old 22-03-2012, 21:41   #16
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Re: SSB Question

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
My iridium phone cost 600 dollars and I pay 150 a year. Can I get a GOOD SSB setup for that including antenna and a digital modem ? ( like hell I can )

Dave
You can pick up a used Icom 706mkIIG for $700 on ebay, antenna tuner like an ah-4 for about $200, 30 meters of wire for $10.00 and use Winmor so no need for a modem. Not far off your total $ but you do need to get a ham license.

Dave L38 #38
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Old 22-03-2012, 22:26   #17
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Re: SSB Question

Yea ya can get ssb and tuner for that amount, maybe not new but seviceable ya have to look but they are out there !!
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Old 23-03-2012, 04:59   #18
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Re: SSB Question

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Originally Posted by Dave View Post
You can pick up a used Icom 706mkIIG for $700 on ebay, antenna tuner like an ah-4 for about $200, 30 meters of wire for $10.00 and use Winmor so no need for a modem. Not far off your total $ but you do need to get a ham license.

Dave L38 #38
I've done both the inexpensive SSB and the inexpensive satphone route (Globalstar). Both can be done for even less than stated above. And I eventually gravitated toward the satphone in real life use. But the reality, at least for me, is that I end up mostly getting on the Internet via a cellphone (or occasionally pay Wifi) connection. Or I wander ashore and grab a minute on somebody else's computer to look at the weather. This is not armchair theory. It's just what I found myself doing. Others may do differently.
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Old 23-03-2012, 06:35   #19
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Re: SSB Question

I wouldn't bother about those toy-receivers, usually they are not very selective.
Get yourself something decent like the Icom R-75 receiver, covers all HF until 60 Mhz. It even looks like it's transmitting brother the HAM Icom 817.
Or even better: a compact HAM mobile rig like Yaesu FT817 (5 watts out) or better the Yaesu FT 857 (compact) or Yaesu FT897. Very versatile rigs that even have VHF so you could even use it as an emergency spare for your marine VHF (strictly speaking illegal but in case of emergency). Just leave the microphone off, take it off the rig, and it will operate as a receiver.

ICOM Receivers

Welcome to Yaesu.com

Welcome to Yaesu.com

All rigs above will give you decent SSB reception with good sensitivity and selectivity.
Bringing data out to your laptop (simple wiring or better an interface cable) you can use it to receive Weatherfax, but also Navtex (free software available)
Obtain a HAM license later on and use it to transmit.
With suitable modem and software to be used for HF-SSB email.

Good luck, good sailing,

Jan
ON3ZTT
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Old 23-03-2012, 08:34   #20
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Re: SSB Question

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Originally Posted by Dave View Post
You can pick up a used Icom 706mkIIG for $700 on ebay, antenna tuner like an ah-4 for about $200, 30 meters of wire for $10.00 and use Winmor so no need for a modem. Not far off your total $ but you do need to get a ham license.

Dave L38 #38
Then add a pactor III modem

PS: I am a ham.

Dave
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:52   #21
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Re: SSB Question

Satellite phones and mobile phones can do amazing things but the fact is that despite the whizz-bang capabilities of these systems, the official marine communications system for short distance communications is a VHF Marine radio, and for longer distance (ie: greater than 20nm) is a HF/SSB Marine radio. Some of the reasons:

1. The broadcast feature allows you to talk to or listen to anyone in range, including the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC). You can ask for advice or help from any other boat or shore station monitoring the frequency.

2. The use of DSC on VHF and HF/SSB radios has eliminated the background noise and other conversations when maintaining a standby watch for calls. People who know your MMSI number can call you, like calling a phone. Or someone in distress can send the distress call ID which switches all DSC standby radios into an alert state, so people can listen to the subsequent voice call requesting assistance.

3. An MRCC controller in an emergency can ask for any vessels - or send a DSC alert to wake up DSC equipped radios - to respond and help the people in distress, or who need a tow, or need the waypoints into a safe anchorage on a dark night. The controller does not need to know the mobile phone number or satellite phone number of all the boats which are in the vacinity that day (an impossible task) and call them individually to ask them to help.

4. If you go to sea with only a satellite phone, when it comes to a situation when other cruisers need help, is there enough credit in your satellite phone account and how much of your money are you willing/able to spend to help someone else? The Marine HF/SSB radio bypasses such difficult questions.

5. The reason commercial vessels regularly assist yachts and other recreational vessels in distress is because they are required to maintain a listening watch on VHF and HF/SSB radios (using DSC), so they are part of an effective communication network that can be contacted in an emergency. With an effective HF/SSB radio on-board you can also be part of that world wide network, so you can also play your role to help other people; like you'd hope someone will help you if you have a problem.


If you go to sea with only a satellite phone or mobile phone it's the same as saying "I will phone the MRCC or Coast Guard and tell them when I have a problem, and I expect lots of other vessels out there to be maintaining a listening watch on their marine radio so they can receive the call from the MRCC or Coast Guard and come to my assistance. But I will not maintain a listening watch on a marine radio myself, to assist others if they need help; the same people in vessels who I expect to assist me when I ask."

Here is a quote from the MRCC Australia website:
"While satellites and satellite-compatible distress beacons have significantly improved the effectiveness of SAR operations, the system is NOT a substitute for carrying appropriate marine or aviation radio."

If you are operating close to shore, where there is an effective VHF marine radio coverage, then a VHF marine radio will be sufficient to hear the local MRCC, Coast Guard or volunteer controller. If you are operating out of range of VHF coast stations, you need a HF/SSB radio.

Recreational boaters get a lot of lattitude and support from maritime authorities. It's smart to help preserve those freedoms by being a responsible citizen by playing a role in assisting others at sea; like you expect they will assist you.

The Titanic sank in calm seas. If you were nearby in your yacht you could have saved lives; but only if you knew they had a problem. The present day Titanic captain does not know your satellite or cellphone number and does not know you are nearby. But if you bother to carry a VHF or HF/SSB Marine radio (with DSC) and simply maintain a listening watch for DSC alarms, that captain, or fishing trawler skipper, or tug captain, or the family in another yacht or motor cruiser, can tell you they have a problem and you might be the closest person available to assist them. Just like you'd like someone nearby to assist your family if you have a problem at sea.

Buy that Marine VHF or HF/SSB radio before you buy the satellite phone. For your own benefit, for the benefit of others who also go down to the sea in small boats, and for the preservation of our freedoms to go boating.

I hope this contributes some understanding to the topic.
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Old 23-03-2012, 14:25   #22
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Re: SSB Question

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Then add a pactor III modem

PS: I am a ham.

Dave
With Winlink the winmore soundcard tnc no need for pactor. Seems to work worldwide OK. Free

Can you really get a decent amount of airtime for $150 these days? Used to cost me more than twice that just to keep the sim active
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Old 23-03-2012, 14:32   #23
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Re: SSB Question

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Originally Posted by Goudurix View Post
I wouldn't bother about those toy-receivers, usually they are not very selective
I'd no probs at all with weatherfax across atlantic using a degen 1103. Just croc clipped into fm radio antenna. Didn't know much about antennas then Obvoiusly not the best radio in the world but it easily did what was required.

But if you're not offshore for weeks on end then it's not that big a deal not having anything. There's wifi everywhere.
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Old 23-03-2012, 14:44   #24
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Re: SSB Question

Allan,
I agree fully with you regarding the need to have a marine VHF radio on a yacht AND maintain a listening watch. I don't want to read in the news that a boat sank near me and I did nothing because I wasn't aware of it.

But I am not sure that a marine HF radio would be useful in this situation. If a boat beyond VHF range broadcasts a Mayday or even a PanPan message, I can't reach it within many hours.

Since the implementation of GMDSS, the ocean is split in 4 areas:
  • Area A1: Within range of VHF coast station with continuous DSC alerting available (about 20-30 nautical miles).
  • Area A2: Beyond area A1, about within range of MF coastal stations with continuous DSC alerting available (about 100 nautical miles).
  • Area A3: Beyond the first two areas, but within coverage of geostationary maritime communication satellites (in practice, this means INMARSAT). This covers the area between roughly 70N and 70S.
  • Area A4: The remaining sea areas. The most important of these is the sea around the North pole (the area around the South pole is mostly land). Geostationary satellites, which are positioned above the equator, cannot reach this far.
Then, HF radio is essential for distress and emergency messages only in GMDSS Area A4. Not many yachtsmen operate there. IMO, the most cost-effective distress system for blue-water yachts is an EPIRB.

Alain
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Old 23-03-2012, 19:11   #25
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Re: SSB Question

I've got a Kaito KA1103 as a backup, and it works fine. I've used it for soundcard wfax, and for receiving SSB voice weather broadcasts from the Coast Guard.

The user's guide is poorly done, and the tuning dial is not my favorite. The radio has only average filtering, and is not in the same performance class as a high-end communications receiver, but it is quite stable and will get the job done for under $90.
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Old 23-03-2012, 22:10   #26
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Re: SSB Question

If anyone knows of an actual SSB receiver that works let me know.
Scott

This winter I installed an ICOM m700 that receives well in Olympia Washington from Kauaii and elsewhere. Lots of very clear reception. I transmit and receive well close to me but need someone 1000 or more miles away to help me test my transmitter. Is anybody in Southern California, Hawaii, or further away who could work with me? I need coordinates, a time, and a frequency to call on.

Brisa, bdbilldev@gmail.com
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Old 24-03-2012, 14:14   #27
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Re: SSB Question

Brisa,

I also use an ICOM M700 and it works great for long distance. I would give you a call from San Francisco, but I am currently at sea working on a cruise ship.

I did a lot of testing of my communications by listening and talking on the various cruising networks that occur frequently throughout the day. Go online and find the networks. then tune in and say hello. You will quickly see how far you can transmit and you may even hear boat checking in from the south pacific or Hawaii.

it is always a great motivator to hear these boat. Very soon, my wife and I will be one of the cruisers checking in on the radio.

good luck.
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Old 24-03-2012, 15:37   #28
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Re: SSB Question

Medicrene,
Thanks so much for your reply to my post. So far the networks I've tuned in to all have required Ham licensing, but I'll keep looking. When you're back at your boat in SF think of me. And, in case anyone else is reading, I'm in Olympia, Washington and need someone 1000 or more miles away to receive and verify my transmission on SSB.
bdbilldev@gmail.com
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Old 24-03-2012, 20:07   #29
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Re: SSB Question

Hi Alain et al,

I agree that possibly the most reliable receiver is acually a full transceiver; it can both receive and transmit.

With regard to sea areas, the HF/SSB radio also functions as a MF radio (to receive NAVTEX and Weatherfax) for comms up to 100nm. It is relevent everywhere beyond the limited A1 coastal coverage, in sea areas A2, A3 & A4. All commercial vessels that might venture beyond sea area A1 are required to carry a HF/SSB radio with DSC capability. That's how MRCCs (inclucing the Coast Guard) contact commercial vessels to ask them to assist in emergencies. It's also how an MRCC located beyond VHF range can contact your yacht.

The MRCC cannot keep track of all the vessels - big and small - in it's area, to call them individually. So they send a general DSC alarm signal that wakes up the HF/SSB radio in any vessel maintaining a DSC watch in range. Then they announce the nature of the problem and location of the vessel and ask for vessels nearby to respond to them. It could be that you are the closest. But you are beyond VHF range of the MRCC station. The HF/SSB radio with DSC becomes immediately important when you move beyond range of an available A1 VHF station.

VHF radio range is line of sight and therefore quite short. A VHF handheld at deck level has roughly a 3 to 5nm range. With a mast-top antenna you can increase it to 25nm. If you want to talk to a cruising buddy who left the day before you, to ask him the waypoints into the anchorage he's now located, or tell him you had to turn back because of a mechanical problem, you'll likely need to talk beyond 25nm at the morning or evening sked time you arranged.

A VHF A1 service needs lots of coast stations - or repeaters/relays on coastal mountians - to make a continuous coverage for a dependable service coverage in coastal waters. It works in some areas - like Europe/UK where population densities are high, but not in most other places of the world. That's why some countries have officially declared they have no A1 sea area service. This includes Australia, where there is a large coastline and small population. All commercial vessels operating in open water must have a HF/SSB radio with DSC. If you want to cruise the Australian coast and have any chance to get weather information, contact a coast station etc, you also need a HF/SSB radio. There is no VHF shore station network, but there are big HF/SSB stations that cover all the Austalian coast line and all of Australia's huge maritime search and rescue responsibility area:

"Depending on the circumstances, your initial distress alert should still be made by radio if possible. You should activate your distress beacon only if contact cannot be made by any other means or when told to do so by a rescue authority.

Whilst there may be other Governments establishing HF facilities in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas, Australia aims to cover the Australian Search and Rescue Region (SRR) to a high level of probability with its own stations. "



A similar scenario occurs throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and here in SE Asia, where I live. There are almost no VHF coast stations, and commercial shipping densities in open water are thin; compared to Europe/UK and North America. A VHF radio is almost useless as far as calling for assistance because it's likely the nearest vessel is beyond VHF range and the MRCC is perhaps a few hundred or thousand nm distant. VHF is limited to talking to boats in the anchorage, maintianing contact with your tender crew when they are ashore, or when sailing in close company. If you participate in a rally on this side of the world, you'll almost certainly need a HF/SSB radio.

The M700 is a great radio, but it does not have DSC capability. In Europe/UK and Australia, the minimum radio standard for a new recreational vessel installation is an ICOM M801 (E=Europe or A=Australia). It has DSC, a BIG display screen (so you can see the display without reading classes and from a distance), and a radio unit that is fully sealed, without a fan, so there is no salt air being sucked through the radio components (a primary cause of equipment failure) and no fan draining batteries; so you can keep the radio on watch for emergency DSC alarms - or individual calls to your radio using its MMSI number - 24/7. A proper Marine HF/SSB radio like this comes with all the marine HF/SSB frequencies, channels and emergency frequiencies pre-programmed.

They can also have additional frequencies added by the user, so a HAM can add HAM frequencies and a SailMail or Winlink user can add these email frequencies. It is legel to operate a Marine radio on HAM frequencise, but not legel to operate a HAM radio on Marine frequencies; it's to do with the technical specs of the two types of radios.

Yachts cruising the Pacific, SE Asia and transitting the Indian Ocean, - or in years past, sailing from SE Asia to the Red Sea - normaly setup self-help cruiser skeds. These are conducted on the HF radio, because yachts very quickly spread out beyond VHF radio range. They swap sea and weather info, arrange to pass spare parts, fuel etc, give info about anchorges, shore contacts, where to do customs and immigration etc. Occasionally they arrange to tow each other. There are specific marine HF/SSB frequencies designed for intership communications which they use. All this commmunication is free of charge. And when one yacht talks about a good deal on fuel at a recent stop, all the other yachts listening on the sked get the details simmultaneously.

The HF/SSB radio becomes an important means to help minimise cruising costs, as well as provide the safety/emergency communications via the DSC system. Add SailMail (or WinLink for HAMs) and you can send/receive emails (order spare parts, book a marina berth, talk to the person renting your house, check your bank account etc), get emailed weather info (eg: METAREA forecasts, coastal forecasts & GRIB charts for free - which commercial users pay heaps for through their satellite systems) and send free daily position reports for display on the web for your family and friends to see.

The HF/SSB with DSC is a smart investment for yachts venturing beyond home port VHF range.
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Old 24-03-2012, 21:31   #30
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Re: SSB Question

G'day, mate. +1 on Dave's input above. Since you stated that you only are interested in receiving, just look for an older ICOM 706 (without the MIIG). Should be able to score one for around $400 USD if you're patient. Then as suggested, if you pick up a tuner you can add the ability to trasmit with it in an emergency situation if you choose not to get the appropriate licenses. By spending a few extra bucks you will get a very good capable receiver that not only has HF ham & marine capability, but also has marine VHF capability in an emergency. All the best. Let us know what you decided to go with. Cheers.
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