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Old 22-12-2014, 06:40   #16
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

Not to discourage you from using Winmor, which many use successfully, but here is one ham's description of the difference between Pactor and Winmor:

When it comes to weak signals, nothing comes even close to Pactor-II and Pactor-III. I have the SCS-PTCIIpro and it is the best TNC I have ever owned. Sure; it's not the cheapest but you want the best, you gotta pay for it. It's that simple.

This TNC is giving throughput when there seems to be ZERO propagation in the HF channel. It keeps the link when you absolutely do not recognize a signal coming from the speaker. Numerous times I have initiated a link to a HF Winlink node where I thouht: "too bad - Conditions do not allow a link today". To be astonished immediately thereafter, to see the PTC confirming an actual link - where there is nothing but noise being heard from the radio speaker! This box literally performs magic, it does things that seem to go against all laws of physics. An excellent job from the German SCS guys.

People often ask me - Why buy an SCS modem when we now have Winmor? Well, I have both capabilities installed in the shack here - And Winmor does not even come CLOSE when it comes to weak signal performance.
To be fair to the Winmor development team, they have created the best that is humanly possible given the limitations of a sound card and Windows unpredictable timing, which makes highly synchronous ARQ (like the SCS-PTCII does) impossible. Synchronous ARQ can only be done with dedicated TNC hardware (or by running a real-time operating system on your PC). The weak spot in Winmor is therefore the fact that the receiving station needs to re-synchronize on every individually received data packet, which is a severe penalty in the required S/N ratio for the system to function in very poor band conditions.

But I'm getting of track here. SCS-PTCII modems - the best there is. No question about it. I also have professional experience with military Stanag HF radio modems (the Harris modems), and I tell you - those Germans put our American engineers to shame. There is nothing better in the market today for HF digital communication within a smaller than 2.5 kHz bandwidth than the SCS modems. Plain and simple.

No, I have NO ties to the company whasoever.... All I am is a very satisfied customer.

SCS PTC-II Product Reviews

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Old 22-12-2014, 07:21   #17
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!


Dockhead pointed out something that I missed, that you are on a "tight budget"....
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
...the OP said he wants only the capability of sending short, text-only messages to family and friends. And it seems he's on a tight budget.
So, with that in mind....

Just read your detailed post....and now with that new info, I have a few
additional comments/recommendations....

--- Not the least of which is, June of 2016 is a LONG way off, so you have PLENTY of time!!!
--- And, a willingness to learn is also a BIG plus!!!

--- Also, with this further info, I'm even more convinced of my recommendations here (below)....

1) I would use the M-710 for Voice comms (both "one-way" weather and information broadcasts, and "two-way" comms to other cruising boats, the MMSN, etc.)
No additional cost here...

If you desire to keep family/friends updated to your progress along a voyage, you can simply check-in to the Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) on 14.300mhz daily....and have a net control station (or others) post your position and message/comments on shiptrak...
Maritime Mobile Service Network
ShipTrak v4.0

No additional cost here...

2) I would connect an audio cable from the M-710 to your computer (assuming you have a soundcard input), and use free software (JVComm, GetFax, etc.) to receive WeFax, text, and NAVTEX weather broadcasts....
Max cost here is < $10....
(If you have a tablet, some have even just placed the tablet next to the radio, and used the microphone of the tablet and a free / cheap WeFax app, to download WeFax charts, etc...not the best approach, but it does work and is cheap...)

For details, have a look here....
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

3) For e-mail your money and do NOT try to send/receive e-mails when at sea on passage....
Use cellular data plans and/or Wi-Fi, when in range of these systems, and forgo the "e-mail at sea" requirement....

Assuming that you already have a smart phone / tablet / laptop (with a data card or mi-fi device), and/or a decent Wi-Fi system on-board (an Alfa USB Wi-Fi device is ~ $30)....there is no additional costs here to you...

4) For safety communications....
a) A properly registered 406mhz EPIRB, with new/fresh battery...
Assuming you have one, so no additional costs here....(Additional cost here is a few hundred dollars, if you don't already have one...)

b) A VHF-DSC radio, with a good (new) masthead antenna and coaxial cable....(don't discount the need for making sure that your cable/connections are new, and good!!)
Assuming you have this already, no additional costs....if not, then a few hundred dollars extra...
{Note that the "DSC" functions are VERY important, and your MUST have a valid MMSI# programmed into the radio, in order to get the DSC transmit functions to work....and you should have the VHF-DSC radio connected to a GPS unit 24/7, a dedicated GPS is always a good idea here...}

5) If there is some other reason that you require e-mail connectivity / text messaging (or further tracking) at sea that I'm not aware of, then I agree with Dockhead about using Winmor, and/or a Delorme InReach, Yellowbrick, etc...
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
That would seem to eliminate Pactor and especially SailMail, which at $250 a year is by itself close to the cost of a Yellow Brick (or Delorme) subscription.

If he can get the radio working, it's not a great leap to Winmor and WinLink, which I bet will work for him.

Otherwise, you can't beat the Yellow Brick. Unlike HF radio, it's plug 'n' play, cheap, effective.

Please forgive my ramblings I wrote, I missed the part where you were on a tight budget...

Fair winds...

s/v Annie Laurie

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Old 22-12-2014, 16:40   #18
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
Since I don't have a pactor modem, nor a satphone, this leaves the winmor/winlink option from your list. Is this the option using the signalink USB interface? Or is no interface needed for this either?

As far as weatherfax and navtex go, do I understand it correctly if you don't need an interface for this at all? Does an interface make this process easier at all?
I've had winlink working via winmor on an icom ic 7000 through a signalink, you could do it without but the signalink is a great box to have for any kind of digital transmission. For digital having a dedicated volume pot from the computer to the radio makes all the difference. It takes care of switching the radio into transmit as well when you want it to. I've yet to transmit / receive emails in anger offshore but have had a connection in the middle of London surrounded by buildings so hopeful that reception on the ocean wave should be OK.
The signalink helps with receiving wfax, though a lot of the time offshore something like a degen 1103 will do the job fine for hardly any power. Navtex might not be worth the bother.
Not sure about frequency control with your radio though, mine it's all done on the laptop through the rms software. It gives you a list of what stations should work best at your time and place and you click through them to find a free one which works. You could tune by hand but bit of a drag.
So it works, not as fast as pactor but much cheaper
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Old 22-12-2014, 18:26   #19
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

Thanks guys I am going to look up the links on Winmor and Winlink, sound interesting. For Orchidus, Might be worth looking at Spot Connect. Not to pricy, works as an EPIRB and allows one way SMS messages via an android phone or tablet. Uses the satellite network not SSB. Very simple to use and reliable. I used one to relay position fixes and updates when crossing and other than a few times in very poor radio conditions worked every time.
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Old 22-12-2014, 19:45   #20
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

Whoa there Roland!!!
Nothing wrong with using a Spot for tracking and/or sending short messages....BUT...

But, a Spot device is NOT an EPIRB and does not work like an EPIRB..
Please have a look at this thread, and follow the links and read them (especially the COSPAS-SARSAT links, and the Cruising World links), and I think you will see why I'm so strident in making sure that sailors are not left with inaccurate info....
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Might be worth looking at Spot Connect. Not to pricy, works as an EPIRB and allows one way SMS messages via an android phone or tablet. Uses the satellite network not SSB. Very simple to use and reliable. I used one to relay position fixes and updates when crossing and other than a few times in very poor radio conditions worked every time.
Please excuse my bluntness, I mean NO offense....

But, by your own words it was not reliable....

Again, nothing wrong with using a Spot to send a few short messages, or for others to follow you for fun...
But, it ain't an EPIRB...

Fair winds...

s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 24-12-2014, 05:57   #21
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!


as we have discussed seperately over email, you need some kind of interface between your computer and the transceiver for your application which is very similar to PSK- alike digimodes.

- certainly to switch the "PTT" function to make the tranceiver transmit (and receive if not switched (although you might even do that with an actual switch like your microphone's PTT button....
- preferably an "indirect" connection for audio in and audio out which can be done over small transfo's

I have one from Buxxcom but that still uses the computers soundcard and I need a (software-) serial to USB convertor to be able to use it with my laptop.
I have schematic drawings of similar designs, a lot to be found also on the internet, but I suggest you do not try to build it surely that will be cheaper but before you have found and bought all components, connectors and a housing you will have spent many hours.....

The Signalink USB is advised by Winmor and indeed it seems to replace also the computers soundcard and offering the necessary pot's to finetune in- and out- signals strength.

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Old 24-12-2014, 09:29   #22
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

Expanding on my earlier note....

When orderd for use with a Icom m710 radio, the SignaLink USB will come with a cable to connect it to the ACC(1) socket on the back of the radio. It will use that connection to send and receive audio with the radio and to switch the radio between transmit and receive. The SignaLink USB will have another cable to connect the SignaLink to a USB port on the computer.

In addition you will also want a second cable to allow the computer to set the radio frequency and mode. That is most easly done with a programming/clone cable which can be bought on ebay. USB Programming Cable Icom IC M710 IC M700 OPC 552 GM 110DSC Marine Radio | eBay It connects between a USB port on the computer and the 1/8" clone socket on the back of the radio.

You may also wish to make up a cable to connect the number 3 and 4 pins of the REMOTE socket on the back of the radio to the microphone or input socket of a voice recorder. With that you can record voice weather to transcribe later.

With RMS Express software you can send email and SMS text messages using the Winlink network. The software will fully control the radio switching rapidly from transmit to receive as packets are sent, received, and corrected. All you need do is select a station from the ones that the software recommends, listen to make sure the frequency is clear, then start. RMS Express will also give you access to GRIB weather files and some internet weather forecasts. You can also post position reports on the internet.

With SeaTTY software you can receive weather FAX, SITOR, and NAVTEX transmissions after manually tuning the radio to the correct frequency. There is nothing special about SeaTTY. There are other similar applications,
It is the one I use.

With the "Icom M710 Control Panel Application by W5SMM & KA6IQA" that is available in the Files / Software section of the Icom 710 Yahoo group, you can use use the computer to control the radio. This is a great help on the Ham bands where a VFO makes tuning much easier.

With the programming or clone cable and with software from the Yahoo group, you can re-program the radio to give access to the Ham bands if your radio is not already 'unlocked'.
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Old 31-05-2015, 13:12   #23
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Re: USB interface and IC-M710 - HELP!

OK, Relinda and I are new to SSB. in fact its not installed yet (M710&AT120 in the mail). this thread is providing lots of info and will require time to research and digest. Fortunately, I have a buddy in the communications field I will beat on a lot. However the one question that we have is does anyone use the ssb/email/internet connections for banking?? Currently we do almost all banking and bill pay on line. Simple enough to do with cell phones on land but will it work on the water with the SSB and needed components at a cost effective rate??? What additional equipment would be needed or would hookup to laptop work. This may be simple stuff to a lot of you, but we have no experience and would like some help.

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