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Old 16-06-2016, 20:39   #1
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Understanding and using boat electronics

Recently purchased a boat with more than average good electronics. SSB, VHF, AIS, Garmin GPS with radar, sonar, autopilot, wind etc all linked, WiFi "amplifier". Everything we have figured out works well ... I even sent an ipad planned route to the GPS wirelessly. Familiar with basic VHF operation and the GPS, autopilot but SSB is a mystery.

Are there professionals to hire, or courses to take to get up to speed with SSB - have ships and operators licenses, MMSI & EPIRB, PLBs registered but ... now what? Plan to do some offshore sailing so would like to have a reasonable proficiency ... how to use weather fax, communication protocol on SSB.... and understanding of where and how interconnection of devices is accomplished.

In Sthrn New England ...if anyone has any suggestions where we can find assistance please chime in.
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Old 16-06-2016, 23:58   #2
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Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

There are certainly people who can give you a good introduction and training in SSB, but you might want to start here: Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

Also search here on Cruisers Forum for SSB, Pactor, GRIB, and WFAX. You will find lots of good information.

Finally, feel free to ask here as well. We won't yell at you (usually), even if the question has been asked many times before. This stuff can seem overwhelming if you're new to it, but it's actually not that hard.
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Old 20-06-2016, 22:05   #3
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Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

Pearly,
1) In addition to Paul's recommend of reading the sticky...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)
Where you will find all the links/references you'd ever need regarding HF marine radios, I have some specific ideas for you...


2) Assuming you have at least internet connection better than dial-up, please have a look at these videos...

{please note that these videos show LIVE, real-world, use and explanations, of real Maritime HF communications, aboard a real 47' offshore sailboat....no simulations, no BS narrations, etc....just easy-to-see and understand displays and clear layperson explanations....but, as such, they aren't slick productions, and do have some abrupt edits, etc....
But, hey...they're FREE!!!}

These playlists are specifically designed so that you can watch the videos in order, and gain a decent understanding of how HF radio works and how-to use all the specific features of the radios, as well as gain a fair understanding of how-to more optimally use long-range radio communications, obtain excellent offshore weather info/forecasts, WeFax charts, etc......all starting from the basics and finishing with the details....with the average layperson sailor as the intended audience...
(if you watch 'em all, please know that there are some videos duplicated in the various playlists, for ease of explanation / clarification....so, you may skip or fast-forward thru the duplicate videos as you desire...)

Maritime HF Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2npivDjoFrC-8QKVyMb4tVr


Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2mPZAx2vWzdjTJjHlChruyY


Offshore Sailing / Atlantic Crossings
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nbwAGh5DKgTCj15iyl6qoY




3) Some specific answers...here in red....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearly View Post
Familiar with basic VHF operation and the GPS, autopilot but SSB is a mystery.
Please don't be afraid, nor embarrassed....
This is quite common....and remember, EVERYONE started out somewhere!!


Are there professionals to hire, or courses to take to get up to speed with SSB -
To be honest, not really for the average sailor/yachtsman...

Yes, for professional mariners there are courses....these are GMDSS courses, that don't completely correlate / translate to what the average cruising boat sailor needs, but they are good course nonetheless...
BUT..

But, two big facts here...
a) If you watch the videos referenced above, and sit by your radio with the videos on a laptop (yes, you can download them fro Youtube, they are yours to keep but NOT to sell), and play with your radio installation for an hour or two, while referencing the videos...
Fact is you will then know more than 95% of your fellow cruising sailors know about maritime HF communications and how-to use your radio!!!

b) If you also take the time to learn about the Amateur Radio Service ("ham radio"), and read/learn, and pass the exams needed to obtain an Extra Class ham license, you will gain a fair amount of "book knowledge" / "test knowledge" that can go a long way in understanding how HF radio communications work, and some knowledge of radio operations...
(please understand that just obtaining the license is the first step in a 1000+ step journey of communications knowledge...unfortunately many ham operators are ignorant of this fact, so we end up with many hams these days not only not being proficient operators, but also being quite ignorant of the basics of radiowave propagation, etc...)



have ships and operators licenses, MMSI & EPIRB, PLBs registered but ... now what?
Watch the videos referenced above....and read the sticky referenced above....
And, if you want more...stop by www.arrl.org and look into getting your Extra Class ham license...


Plan to do some offshore sailing so would like to have a reasonable proficiency ... how to use weather fax, communication protocol on SSB....
Here again, watch the videos referenced above....and read the sticky referenced above....
And, understand that experience counts!!! The more you use the radio, the better you will get at it!!


and understanding of where and how interconnection of devices is accomplished.
In addition to the videos and "sticky"....you can specifically have a look at the Sailmail Primer....download it, and keep a copy stored in your docs folder...
The Sailmail Primer is an excellent reference for SSB installation and optimization...
https://sailmail.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/smprimer.htm

https://sailmail.com/category/installation/

https://sailmail.com/category/problems-installation-faq/


In Sthrn New England ...if anyone has any suggestions where we can find assistance please chime in.
Watch the videos referenced above....and read the sticky referenced above....
And, then come back here and ask some specific questions!!!
I do hope this helps...


Fair winds...

John
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Old 21-06-2016, 05:40   #4
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Thumbs up Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

Many thanks, took a quick look and this is just the kind of help I was looking for!

Now if we can find a location where we can connect to wifi with the boat... Might be worth a night at a slip!
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Old 21-06-2016, 08:52   #5
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Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

I would try to induce a well versed sailing friend into giving me a basic training. Then see what else is missing and learn it on my own (asking plenty of questions at CF, likely)

If you are active on the SSB / ham front, talk to tour local ham/ssb club - these people can be awesome source of education and know-how!

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Old 21-06-2016, 11:22   #6
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Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

Pearly,
You're very welcome!


{Now, if I could just get Icom, etc., the OCC (who think everyone needs to learn on their own), the SSCA (who wants to charge people money fro FREE knowledge), etc., as well as the sailing media (who are totally ignorant themselves), to actually recommend the videos, well there would be a lot more happy sailors, more radios sold, and more activity on the air....
Btw, to their credit, Practical Sailor has recommended these videos to all...but that's it as far as the sailing press is concerned!}

As for not having good enough internet...sorry about that...but remember they are just standard definition Youtube videos, and Youtube will reduce your resolution based on your connection speed...

Also, remember to check out public libraries, etc. where you can get free Wi-Fi and sit for hours undisturbed....as well as Starbucks, McDonalds, etc...

Of course this does beg the question: is your "Wi-Fi amplifier" really doing much for you??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearly View Post
Recently purchased a boat with more than average good electronics. SSB, VHF, AIS, Garmin GPS with radar, sonar, autopilot, wind etc all linked, WiFi "amplifier". Everything we have figured out works well...
Is everything really working well??
The reason I inquire is that even with just a $20 USB external Wi-Fi bridge (such as the Alfa) you should be picking up many Wi-Fi signals from the boat (and some should be "open")....and with your typically-installed Ubiquity Bullet or Groove system, you should be getting decent Wi-Fi signals from a couple miles away, and certainly some of those will be "open" (libraries, Starbuck, McD's, etc.)...after all its summertime in S. New England, there are people everywhere, yes???


But, until you can get decent internet, how about a suggestion for one video that might get you started?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearly View Post
Now if we can find a location where we can connect to wifi with the boat... Might be worth a night at a slip!
While there isn't "just one" that tells it all, if you only have enough bandwidth to check out one video, try this one (where there is a lot of info packed in)




And, remember, you CAN download these videos from Youtube, and store on your computer for your own use (just don't sell 'em, or try to make money from them!)...
So, if you do get an overnight...simply download 'em and watch them all when you have the time...
I recommend SaveFromNet....but others might work well too...


Fair winds..

John
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Old 28-06-2016, 08:34   #7
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Re: Understanding and using boat electronics

I am going to check out your starter video suggestion... An download.

Huuummmaybe the Groove is not working that we'll have never seen more than 3 locked wifi signals come up. Not even restaurnt less than a mile away?

Thanks agin for help.
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