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Old 26-10-2016, 16:02   #1
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SSB Watch keeping while at sea

If we wanted to leave our SSB on while at sea, what frequency(s) should we monitor: 2182? The twice daily net we will check in on?

We have a Sailor HF4500B SSB, which has DSC. The automatic squelch works well enough that it doesn't bother us with static noises.
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Old 26-10-2016, 16:19   #2
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

or 4125?
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Old 26-10-2016, 16:47   #3
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Not many cruisers leave their SSB on for power reasons. If you plan to leave it on and don't have anyone planned to call you on a voice channel then I'd put it on DSC scan mode.
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Old 26-10-2016, 17:02   #4
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

It depends what you expect to hear. Most of the time there is nothing interesting on HF. Further, a typical SSB transceiver will draw 1-2 amps which could be significant (half of your autopilot consumption).

If you are still interested in monitoring HF (must be really bored), one way to do it is just to let DSC work its magic. It will monitor the six frequencies and alert you if someone is trying to place a communication request.

The next level is to connect your radio to a computer (Windows tablets work best for low current and software availability) and configure the software to scan more frequencies. For example you could have the software automatically tune in to weather fax frequencies at specific times, monitor the DSC frequencies and select aircraft frequencies (you get a little more activity there). Another option is to use PCALE software (similar to DSC but used by some military services and ham enthusiasts) to listen to occasional calls of those parties. It is however, significantly more involved than DSC and some communications are encrypted.
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Old 26-10-2016, 17:38   #5
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Ahh, OK, I was thinking of leaving the SSB on to be a good neighbor. Like we leave the VHF on when we are anchored. There seems to be about a dozen boats on the way to New Zealand, and I figure that if someone has a problem it'd be nice if they can reach out at times other than the morning and late afternoon nets. But this area is well covered by Kiwi Radio and so there is probably little need to talk to us or another random sailboat. I don't want to listen for entertainment, to hear random conversations with aircraft or etc.
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Old 27-10-2016, 05:25   #6
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Powerboats, running their engines all the time, with electricity to burn, will sometimes leave their SSB radios on all the time. Sailboats, with limited electricity, not so much.
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Old 27-10-2016, 06:14   #7
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Recognize the practical limitation here that HF signals in the 2 - 4 MHz range are very limited in range, particularly during daylight times. The only purpose served by monitoring those frequencies is to receive stations within VHF range. Consequently, there is no real benefit.
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Old 27-10-2016, 07:58   #8
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
Recognize the practical limitation here that HF signals in the 2 - 4 MHz range are very limited in range, particularly during daylight times. The only purpose served by monitoring those frequencies is to receive stations within VHF range. Consequently, there is no real benefit.
Are you sure you are right?
From my understanding you would have a much greater range.
If you had it in DSC scan you would get a loud alarm from a DSC call and an alarm from a DSC SOS.
Please, someone more experienced needs to comment.
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Old 27-10-2016, 11:43   #9
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by RDW View Post
Are you sure you are right?
From my understanding you would have a much greater range.
If you had it in DSC scan you would get a loud alarm from a DSC call and an alarm from a DSC SOS.
Please, someone more experienced needs to comment.
rdw
Yes, I'm sure I'm right. After using HF radios on 160 and 75/80 meters for over 5 decades, I'd be interested to see how you can find "someone more experienced".
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Old 27-10-2016, 11:57   #10
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

The Ham Band maritime mobile nets are on 14.330 IIRC. That frequency seems to be monitored by some hams worldwide at most hours. Been awhile but know I got a response from someone in the Carribean when I happened to dial in on that frequency midday in the middle of the Pacific.

Haven't had my ham radio up and running for awhile or checked it's recieve only current drain but doubt if it is all that much. It's transmitting that eats up the electrons.
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Old 27-10-2016, 12:19   #11
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by RDW View Post
Are you sure you are right?
From my understanding you would have a much greater range.

Please, someone more experienced needs to comment.
rdw
With all due respect to the experience of others, I suspect the problem here is definitional. Those frequencies have short ranges relative to higher frequencies, but much greater range than VHF.
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Old 27-10-2016, 12:25   #12
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Ahh, OK, I was thinking of leaving the SSB on to be a good neighbor. Like we leave the VHF on when we are anchored. There seems to be about a dozen boats on the way to New Zealand, and I figure that if someone has a problem it'd be nice if they can reach out at times other than the morning and late afternoon nets. But this area is well covered by Kiwi Radio and so there is probably little need to talk to us or another random sailboat. I don't want to listen for entertainment, to hear random conversations with aircraft or etc.
This might work, but would really need to have a common understanding (re frequencies certainly, possibly schedules, etc) among the fleet for it to be effective.
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Old 27-10-2016, 12:41   #13
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

2 or 4 megs during the day are very short range and the noise is normally high. Early morning or early evening are better of course but during the day almost a waste of time. Even while offshore and using a net you won't see these frequencies used. After it's been dark for awhile the 4 Meg band starts to kick in and you can get decent range.
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Old 31-10-2016, 15:27   #14
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

msponer,
Sorry to be coming in a couple days late...
But, I do have some helpful info for you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
If we wanted to leave our SSB on while at sea, what frequency(s) should we monitor: 2182? The twice daily net we will check in on?

We have a Sailor HF4500B SSB, which has DSC. The automatic squelch works well enough that it doesn't bother us with static noises.
Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Ahh, OK, I was thinking of leaving the SSB on to be a good neighbor. Like we leave the VHF on when we are anchored. There seems to be about a dozen boats on the way to New Zealand, and I figure that if someone has a problem it'd be nice if they can reach out at times other than the morning and late afternoon nets. But this area is well covered by Kiwi Radio and so there is probably little need to talk to us or another random sailboat. I don't want to listen for entertainment, to hear random conversations with aircraft or etc.
1) First off, please be aware that Sailor produced TWO versions of the HF4500...
http://cirspb.ru/pdf/4500.pdf
--- One has only a single-channel MF-DSC receiver (on 2187.5khz), and was their most popular version (mainly for the EU and "coastal" markets, where Sea Area A2 GMDSS requirements were all that was needed)
--- The other had a mult-freq scanning MF/HF-DSC receiver, for Sea Area A3 and A4 GMDSS requirements...

Whether or not you have the available electrical power on-board, and/or the desire to monitor some HF SSB Voice frequency, you might want to determine which version 4500 you have, so that you can make a determination of how much of a "good neighbor" you'd be....


2) Secondly, while others have pointed out that most cruisers do not maintain any HF radio watch at all (damn near none), except for their weather nets, cruisers nets, etc...
Some sailing in rallies, and/or even just friends heading in the same general direction DO still try to maintain an HF radio watch....(especially if the Voice Squelch function works well)

I have written about all of this previously, in quite detail....
And, all the answers can be found in the links in the sticky above...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

And, specifically, here is a great discussion about HF freq/channel choice...
HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..



I personally would suggest an 8mhz freq for boats sailing along a particular route / in the same geographic area, for a wider coverage area....
Less noise, typically stronger signals, than the lower freqs....but you can find some "skip zones" exist near sunset and after dark, so 6mhz would be secondary...
And, a 12mhz freq, if you desire longer range comms (beyond 500 miles daytime)...

8291.0khz is the international GMDSS Safety and Calling freq in the 8mhz marine band, and would be my suggestion for monitoring, if you only have the capability to monitor onw HF freq....
This would work well for contacting other vessels that also choose to monitor this freq (they would all need to know ahead of time), that are within a few hundred miles of you almost 24/7....
Also, this freq is monitored by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority (and USCG), and would work well, for those boats not equipped with HF-DSC, when in range of those stations...
Australian marine comms

The maritime radio service for New Zealand - Maritime NZ

HF Marine Communications in Tasmania - MAST MAST

Brunei Bay Radio - HF/SSB radio email for isolated locations in SE Asia, the North West Pacific and Indian Oceans. The low-cost and reliable alternative to satellite email for isloated or remote locations, islands, communities, tourism, conservation,

About the GMDSS - Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

HF Marine Radio Services





But, like all things in life, there are some trade-offs...
In order to make an exact recommendation, this is where I would need to know where you are sailing and who else may be around, and how far away they would be...
Tough questions, as everyone sails a different course, different speed, etc. and everyone departs at different times....

So, in order for you to figure this out on your own....here are the general rules-of-thumb:
--- 16mhz for long-range daytime comms...(700 - 5000+ miles)
[16420.0khz is the 16mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]

--- 12mhz for long-range comms, across oceans, etc. (500 to 5000 miles, daytime....usable in early evenings as well)
[12290.0khz is the 12mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]

--- 8mhz for medium range comms, regionally (0 - 500 miles, daytime....200 to 5000 miles, nighttime)
[8291.0khz is the 8mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]

--- 6mhz for medium range comms, especially early morning and near sunset (0 - 300 miles, daytime....100 to 3000 miles, nighttime)
[6215.0khz is the 6mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]

--- 4mhz for shorter-range comms (0 - 200 miles daytime, 100 to 3000 miles, nighttime)
[4125.0khz is the 4mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]



So, you see....if all you desire is to maintain an HF Voice SSB radio watch for other boats like yours, in your regional area, who would want to stay in contact (and/or are not equipped with HF-DSC), then 8291.0 is a good freq to maintain watch on....and once you've made contact there, you'd move off to 8294.0 or 8297.0 (or some other band if necessary) for further traffic...
If you desire to contact / maintain an HF SSB Voice radio watch, for boats traveling farther than a few hundred miles, try 12290.0khz....
(although, for my personal taste, for those sailing across the Atlantic, we used to use 12359.0khz...which was Herb's weather net freq....but, since he's retired, if all you wish is to have a radio watch freq, NOT a net freq, then use 12290.0khz...)

Have a look at these YouTube playlists...

HF-DSC Comms...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Maritime HF Comms...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


And, if you(and/or anyone else) desires a video explaining freq/channel choice....have a look here...


And, for explanation of the GMDSS SSB voice freqs...




I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 31-10-2016, 21:20   #15
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Re: SSB Watch keeping while at sea

Well, even after contacting Cruiser's Forum admin, I was prevented from correcting a typo above, and was unable to get them to correct it either...
Since this could be a serious problem, putting life and safety at risk, I thought corrective editing would be appropriate, but CF admin thinks otherwise...so...

So, please note my typo and correction!
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
--- 8mhz for medium range comms, regionally (0 - 500 miles, daytime....200 to 5000 miles, nighttime)
[8281.0khz [this is wrong!] is the 8mhz international GMDSS Voice SSB Safety and Calling freq]
The correct freq is 8291.0khz....

Sorry about the typo!

Fair winds...

John
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