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Old 08-04-2011, 08:01   #31
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Originally Posted by SV Escape Plan View Post
While Im here can anyone recommend a specific radio and external antenna source? I have looked at some of the Grundigs but was hoping someone here might have an opinion on a specific model? On the antenna is this something thats easily just made yourself? What sort of wire/cable?

Thanks
I have one of these which works well - Degen DE1103 Product Reviews
Carib - UK last year i just used the fm radio aerial which is at the top of the mast, worked fine. Weatherfaxes all the way. About $50 on ebay.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:04   #32
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
So, is the Wfax signal just running through the Pactor modem? If the Pactor should malfunction, is the Wfax still available directly with the cable from SSB to computer? Will the Airmail/Getfax software still work without the modem?
The SCS PTC modems have a hardware fax demodulator in them. Airmail/GetFax can take the data-stream and generate the image we expect to see.

If for some reason the modem should fail (something I have never seen or heard of), a cable from the radio headphone jack to the laptop mic jack and suitable software (like JVCOMM or the alternatives listed on the NOAA site Gord linked to) will allow you to continue getting weather faxes.

In my experience the weak link is the laptop, not the radio or modem.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:27   #33
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Does anyone here use the winlink system for email?

http://www.winlink.org/userPositions
Seems fairly popular.
After a red wine and ebay incident a few weeks ago ( ) I now own an Icom 706 , so would be interested in how effective it actually is.
Ignoring getting a full license (which is interesting anyway) and sorting out an antenna i should get offshore email working for the same cost as 14 months iridium line rental, not including any calls.

hope it works

The line rental was the killer for me cruising with an iridium satphone, when you might not use it for maybe a year and a half.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:31   #34
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Does anyone here use the winlink system for email?
Yes, regularly. It works quite well. I've never missed a day, coastal or transoceanic.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:40   #35
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Yes, regularly. It works quite well. I've never missed a day, coastal or transoceanic.
THANKS

Thats heartening, the prospect of shelling out so much cash on a pactor has always been a bit daunting.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:52   #36
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Thats heartening, the prospect of shelling out so much cash on a pactor has always been a bit daunting.
I agree. I made the decision that I'd rather make a capital investment and have a free (or nearly free for Sailmail) service than bleed money (my opinion) into a sat phone account. With time I learned that the total installation cost for a real sat phone (handset, car kit, marine antenna, data connect, etc.) was about the same as the cost of a good SSB and SCS-PTC Pactor modem. It's mostly a matter of biting it all of at once or torturing yourself with something that doesn't work until you throw more money at it.

I used Winlink every day crossing the Atlantic and the same gear for receiving weather fax. I'm a firm believer in the approach.

I also do a lot of deliveries. From my experience I'm much happier getting on a boat with SSB and Pactor than one with a sat phone. YMMV.
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:27   #37
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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I respectfully disagree. I have seen lots of folks buy a sat phone as the cheaper option, and by the time they get data cables and car kits and marine antennas the cost is pretty much the same as an SSB and Pactor modem. Those who started with a handheld phone and data cable and tried to work in the cockpit sometimes found themselves replacing a wave soaked phone AND laptop which makes the cost pretty high. You really do want to have a dry, below-decks installation if you are going to use any comms setup for mission-critical functions like weather.



Again, I disagree. The one-to-one connection of e-mail (or ftp over e-mail) is a waste of resources when radiofax is available. Pactor is a great solution to one-to-one functions like e-mail, but unnecessary for weather products that are available on radiofax and Navtex.
I too will respectfully disagree:

You do not need any car kits nor fancy cabling - as far as I remember both IsatPhone and Iridium connect via USB (the modem is buiolt into the unit).

Marine antenna is a huge plus though and I would get one (at least for Iridium, but maybe less so for IsatPhone or Globalstar network). When I chcecked gear prices last time (maybe a year ago) the total cost of a SSB/Pactor based kit versus a satellite based one was way above a sat kit. This may, however, reflect our locations. I am in EU. SSB radios, etc. are very pricey here.

I also not quite see why one would take all the hassle of tuning in at sometimes not quite reasonable times of the day to get the wefax while with a Pactor setup you can simply request it via e-mail and pick it up at any time of the day. Note that via e-mail you can request ANY FILE from the server - not the case with SSB / fax method.

And if you claim SSB/Pactor is not the way to receive a wefax - then why have SSB/Pactor at all? A simple SSB receiver and a laptop will also receive a wefax - at a fraction of the cost of a SSB/Pactor/tuner/ground/antena/batteries cost that you need for the SSB/Pactor setup.

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Old 08-04-2011, 09:30   #38
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Re: Weather Fax ?

BTW for those who are into just email offshore the SkyMate can be an option.

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Old 08-04-2011, 09:42   #39
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Re: Weather Fax ?

If I buy a Sony shortwave receiver and a 3G Ipad will I be able to get wefax? Since I now have only a VHF radio I will be starting from scratch into the SSB world. Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:45   #40
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
So, is the Wfax signal just running through the Pactor modem? If the Pactor should malfunction, is the Wfax still available directly with the cable from SSB to computer? Will the Airmail/Getfax software still work without the modem?
The Pactor modem demodulates the Wfax audio signal from the radio, and sends the digital data to the Getfax (or other) program. The audio signal does not just run through the Pactor modem, and Getfax will not get Wfaxes without the modem.

A soundcard demodulator is different: The receiver audio out is connected to the computer (soundcard) audio input. The demodulation is done in software, and the demodulator program displays the Wfax. JVCcomm is typically mentioned as a soundcard demodulator, but I haven't actually used this method so may have some of the details wrong.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:51   #41
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Originally Posted by nial View Post
If I buy a Sony shortwave receiver and a 3G Ipad will I be able to get wefax? Since I now have only a VHF radio I will be starting from scratch into the SSB world. Thanks.
nial
You need to make sure that the receiver has SSB (receive) capability. Many of the receivers meant for the shortwave listener market only provide AM and FM.

Sony does make some workable low-cost receivers. I've been playing with the Kaito KA1103, which costs about US$90 and seems to do a good job of receiving SSB signals.

I don't know about WFAX on the iPad. That would be cool, though. Does the iPad have an audio input connection, or would you need to use the built-in microphone? And of course, is there a WFAX demod app?
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Old 08-04-2011, 13:16   #42
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Re: Weather Fax ?

OP here. Thanks to everyone - fascinating discussion. Clearly, satellite connectivity's pricing and technology are just now getting to the point where things are getting interesting. I just ordered this bad boy today: http://etoncorp.com/upload/contents/...ecs_122210.pdf

I've decided to keep it simple - the receiver into the laptop running JVComm. If I were ever to throw away my dock lines for good, I'll likely pick up a satellite phone for email and voice calls, but like Auspicious my natural inclination is to keep recurring costs to a bare minimum and right now I'm only interested in getting the Wfaxes...

Any suggestions as to the external antenna? Is this just copper wire? Insights into what gauge, how long, how to deploy? Is there such a thing as semi-permanent antenna for this that won't require me to climb that big pointy thing I tie the sails to...?
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Old 08-04-2011, 13:35   #43
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
You do not need any car kits nor fancy cabling - as far as I remember both IsatPhone and Iridium connect via USB (the modem is buiolt into the unit).
I'm just telling you what I have seen and sold to customers. People get tired of waving their phone at the sky to get a good signal, having the battery die at inopportune times, and risking their laptop to the sea and weather in the cockpit. That's what sells car kits and marine antennas and installations. You'll find some folks who cope but most get frustrated and spend the extra money.

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I also not quite see why one would take all the hassle of tuning in at sometimes not quite reasonable times of the day to get the wefax while with a Pactor setup you can simply request it via e-mail and pick it up at any time of the day. Note that via e-mail you can request ANY FILE from the server - not the case with SSB / fax method.
I leave my radio and laptop turned on with a scheduler running. The software tunes the radio appropriately (really just a night and day frequency) and captures the wefax as it comes in. Once or twice a day I sit down at the laptop and look at the latest information. I look when I want and don't have to wait for stuff to download at glacial speed.

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Any suggestions as to the (SSB) external antenna? Is this just copper wire? Insights into what gauge, how long, how to deploy? Is there such a thing as semi-permanent antenna for this that won't require me to climb that big pointy thing I tie the sails to...?
The easiest thing for most people is a big piece of bell wire hosted on a spare halyard or topping lift. For something a bit more robust you can use a length of small stainless steel wire (like the 1x19 used for lifelines). Again hoist it on a halyard and run the lead in (perhaps through a dorade) to the radio. It's only slightly more complicated to use this arrangement (called an "alternate backstay antenna") for an SSB transceiver.
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Old 08-04-2011, 15:39   #44
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If your shroud chainplates are available you might try attaching to this for an antenna. It may or may not work well for you, but maybe worth a shot.
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Old 08-04-2011, 16:59   #45
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Re: Weather Fax ?

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If your shroud chainplates are available you might try attaching to this for an antenna. It may or may not work well for you, but maybe worth a shot.
Using the rigging can work well. If your chainplate is connected to a bonding system you'll want to lift the wire at the chainplate you connect to.
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