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Old 27-10-2014, 14:25   #1
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SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

hi
i'm looking for an SSB receiver for a pacific crossing we're planning (SF to HI). the boat doesn't have the power for a transceiver, so we're just going with a receiver. i used a grundig yachtboy 400 for years in the caribbean, but being that the ranges are longer this run im wondering if that will cut it (some reviews say that radio doesn't do SSB well).
also not trying to have the nicest radio or break the bank with this purchase. anyone have any recommendations? battery powered is a plus, and obviously a jack for an antenna (1/8" is what the other little radios ive used have had).
im also desiring to be able to listen get weatherfax/GRIB (run them as audio to our cpu into opencpn) if possible, but the HF voice is what im more used to and need.
thanks!
-steve
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Old 27-10-2014, 14:42   #2
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

The short list these days would be Sony SW7600GR, Sangean 909X, Tecsun 880 or Tecsun 660 .
I own all four....for build quality the Sony, for ease of use the Tecsun 880 which is my favourite.
A good comparative test here Mega Review: the Tecsun PL-880, PL-660, Sangean ATS-909X, and Sony ICF-SW7600GR go head-to-head | The SWLing Post ... note that test only used the whips not external ants.
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Old 27-10-2014, 15:10   #3
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

Another radio to consider but a bit more expensive is the CommRadio CR-1a which also has SDR capabilities.
CommRadio introduces the CR-1a | The SWLing Post
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Old 27-10-2014, 19:26   #4
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

Steve,
El pinguino gave you a fairly succinct answer....
Here's the long rambling answer....


1) Since you are familiar with using an HF receiver in the Caribbean, there isn't much that has changed, so you won't have much of a learning curve....

Understand that getting reception from longer ranges is usually easier than the shorter ranges....just use the proper frequency for the specific range and time-of-day....
(See links to info and videos explaining this, below...)


Just remember that the on-board RFI from oh so many modern devices can impact your HF radio reception.....
See links in the sticky mentioned below, for specific examples, solutions...

And, remember even an older used HF ham transceiver (~ $ 300 - $400), will be a much easier rig to use and typically result in better reception....


Also, getting your antenna up and away from these sources of interference, will be of great help....
Stringing up a 25' long wire from a flag halyard, etc. typically works well for a temporary set-up....



Specifically to your questions....

2) Sangean 909 series and Sony SW-7600 series radios (as well as the same basic radios with other names on the front, such as Katio, etc.), have all worked well...(I use a Sangean 909, as my emergency back-up)...
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesailor View Post
i'm looking for an SSB receiver for a pacific crossing we're planning (SF to HI). the boat doesn't have the power for a transceiver, so we're just going with a receiver.
i used a grundig yachtboy 400 for years in the caribbean, but being that the ranges are longer this run im wondering if that will cut it (some reviews say that radio doesn't do SSB well).
also not trying to have the nicest radio or break the bank with this purchase. anyone have any recommendations? battery powered is a plus, and obviously a jack for an antenna (1/8" is what the other little radios ive used have had
3) There are a few threads that detail almost all of what you'll need to know, have a look and you might them very helpful....

Have a look at post #54 and #56, as well as others here, for LOTS of details on HF receivers and procedures...
Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea

And, post #2 here...
SSB Receivers


SSB Receive Only

SSB Receiver Only? Is it practical?

Newbe to ssb, anybody help me with some basic info?





4) For weather info...
USCG HF Voice Weather Broadcasts
USCG HF Voice


If you connect the radio's audio out, to your computer, and use some FREE software (Jvcomm, GetFax, etc.) you can receive WeFax charts fairly easily....

USCG HF WeFax Broadcasts....
From Pt. Reyes, CA....
Pt Reyes Radiofax Schedule with Links

From Honolulu....
Honolulu Radiofax Schedule with Links


Here are a few threads with a wealth of offshore weather info....
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts


Scroll down to post #29 here, and you find LOTS of info on weather...
Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea




5) For a wealth of info on HF radiowave propagation, how to choose the correct channel/frequency, what the various signals sound like, etc. etc...
Have a look here...

A sticky with LOTS of videos showing you what radio signals sound like at various ranges/times-of-day, etc...
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call
Have a look at the videos #4, #5, and #9
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call
SSCA Forum € View topic - Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call


And, notwithstanding the title, this is not really specific to the Atlantic...
HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..


And, a sticky with an index of "almost all things HF"....
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.) - Cruisers & Sailing Forums





6) Steve, you will NOT be getting any GRIB's via an HF receiver...sorry....
But, you CAN get wefax fairly easily and for FREE...(see above)..
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesailor View Post
im also desiring to be able to listen get weatherfax/GRIB (run them as audio to our cpu into opencpn) if possible, but the HF voice is what im more used to and need.
I have no idea how to get wefax into OpenCPN, but there are many, many posts here abouts from those trying, etc....so do a search and have a look at the OCPN forum...



Steve, as you can see there is a plethora of info out there for you on both Cruiser's Forum and the SSCA Disc Boards....have a look and do some searching for even more...


I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 28-10-2014, 09:20   #5
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I've used a Grundig Yacht Boy for a long time. Most recently in the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii.
It worked just fine. The key is the antenna. If you use the antenna that came with the radio, hoist it to the mast head, upper spreader, or as far as it will extend, then it's good. Otherwise, you won't be happy. We were on a Moore 24, so the length worked well. But, you need to hoist it on a halyard of some sort. I would support the antenna wire on a small diameter bit of dyneema or Kevlar for support (to take the load off the small antenna wire. No matter what radio you use, the wire antenna has got to be deployed correctly. The built-in antenna won't cut it offshore.
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Old 28-10-2014, 13:13   #6
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I used this inexpensive SSB receiver SF to Hawaii this summer--worked great.

On Amazon for under $150.00

Amazon.com: Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception: Electronics

I hung the folding circular antenna with a large microfiber towel folded over it to increase the reception quality. Also, I used a good microphone headset when it was noisier.
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Old 28-10-2014, 13:47   #7
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I question the expense of buying a recieve only SSB. it's helpful for weather etc. but when the S--T hits the fan, listening is less than useless. If my SSB were not a send/recieve unit, a woman who was mis-carrying and hemorraging on a remote anchorage would in all probability be dead today. Miles from no where on a sail boat late at night and zero response on VHF. I had the Coast Guard in MD instantly on SSB, (We were in FL), They had a rescue helo on site in less than 2 hours and air lifted her and brought her to the closest hospital, (Dr's hospital in Nassau) where she was treated and then sent back to the states by air ambulance. Spend the extra money, it's worth it!
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Old 28-10-2014, 15:15   #8
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

Lester,
I do agree with 'ya here....and have never recommended this as a primary means of weather reception...
But then again, I'm a long-ago confirmed radio nut...
Quote:
Originally Posted by lesterbutch View Post
I question the expense of buying a recieve only SSB. it's helpful for weather etc. but when the S--T hits the fan, listening is less than useless.
But, let's not forget that many sail offshore without any weather forecasts available on-board at all, and many without any communications other than a Marine VHF....

Heck, when I started cruising as a kid in the 1960's we didn't have anything but an AM / SW radio, and a next to useless 2mhz AM marine transceiver.....and that got us safely thru the Bahamas, and all the way thru the Caribbean to Grenada, etc. a couple times....(and many cruises during hurricane season!)

And, it wasn't until I made my first Atlantic crossing (~ 35 years ago) that I had HF-SSB transceiver on-board....

Nowadays, HF-DSC-SSB radios (such as the M-802) are ubiquitous....but just wanted to point out that it wasn't always so...


Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 28-10-2014, 16:04   #9
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I agree with everything you say and especially when your sailing long distances either off shore or inter-continental.
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Old 28-10-2014, 17:35   #10
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I would agree that SSB transceiver is a really good platform. It's free (minus radio cost), but I find that SatPhone is better for communications, if you can afford the air time. It is faster, you can retrieve email and GRIBS (with SailMail subscriptions), and it's mobile (you can go walkabout with it), and it burns less power (SSB is a huge power consumer when transmitting). I've raced PacCup with both, and 2012 & 2014 we never turned on the SSB. It was nice to know it was there, but we had twice a day voice chats with family when things were slow, and...I have friends whose boat sank on the return trip (2008) and SatPhone is what saved them, not SSB. Same this year with Transit-of-Venus. SatPhone got them off of their disabled boat.

SSB receiver, I would still take, but I think SSB is dying for boating.
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Old 29-10-2014, 17:25   #11
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

thanks everyone so much for all the info! now I have lots of reading to do...

Sent from my SM-G730V using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 30-10-2014, 02:52   #12
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Re: SSB receiver recommendation for Pacific

I use a degen 1103.
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