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Old 04-04-2011, 13:15   #1
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Weather Fax

Hi all,

We are getting ready to do some more extended (offshore) cruising this coming year, but I have an embarrassingly basic question about marine weather faxes.

In short: huh?

How are they received when offshore (HF?)? What sort of equipment is needed to receive the transmissions? For that matter, who does the transmitting? Can they be downloaded directly to a laptop, or are they typically actually printed? I assume if it's a receive-only piece of kit, I don't need to be licensed?

I fully expect that I'll need to teach myself to interpret these, of course, but I simply don't know how they're actually received...

Thanks in advance!

Rob
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Old 04-04-2011, 13:55   #2
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Hi Rob,

This is easy. Don't stress.

Hardware: you need a shortwave receiver that has SSB capability. The KA1103 is one of many. You need a good antenna - a big long hunk of wire you haul up to near the masthead and route to the external antenna jack of your shortwave receiver (make sure the radio you buy has such a jack). You need a small cable from the headphone jack of the radio to the mic or line-in jack of your laptop; Radio Shack has 1/8" mono male to 1/8" mono male cords that address most needs.

Software: JVCOMM from jvcomm.de is free and very useful. You'll be able to look at the weather fax on your laptop or print it at your discretion.

No license is required, and you'll have the absolute best source of weather information offshore.

If you have any trouble send me a PM and I'll walk you through.
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Old 04-04-2011, 14:09   #3
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
Hi Rob,

This is easy. Don't stress.

Hardware: you need a shortwave receiver that has SSB capability. The KA1103 is one of many. You need a good antenna - a big long hunk of wire you haul up to near the masthead and route to the external antenna jack of your shortwave receiver (make sure the radio you buy has such a jack). You need a small cable from the headphone jack of the radio to the mic or line-in jack of your laptop; Radio Shack has 1/8" mono male to 1/8" mono male cords that address most needs.

Software: JVCOMM from jvcomm.de is free and very useful. You'll be able to look at the weather fax on your laptop or print it at your discretion.

No license is required, and you'll have the absolute best source of weather information offshore.

If you have any trouble send me a PM and I'll walk you through.
Fantastic - much appreciated!
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Old 04-04-2011, 14:56   #4
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Re: Weather Fax ?

You need an SSB receiver with USB/LSB ability, a laptop and a piece of software. NOAA gives the world schedule on their website (a pdf download).

The alternative is to use a dedicated wefax machine that works just like any other fax machine minus the wire ;-). E.g. Furuno.

The third option is via a black-box SSB receiver (like e.g. ICOM).

We used:
- NASA receiver (the one with sound out is the better buy),
- JVComm software (we also used MSCan Meteofax), they will also take NAVTEX btw.

Start the receiver and tune into the frequency at the allocated time, make sure you are on the proper side of the band. Start the software and receive the fax. Some experimenting required initially but this is not a big deal since the properly tuned in signal sounds like - well - fax signal.

We never printed ours, just reviewed them on screen. Weather Wizard apparently overlays wefax on (cartography?). Very welcome feature if it delivers, but we have not tested this option yet.

Personally, I would hold on and wait / see what data transfer can be gotten of the newish Inmarsat handheld (as well as from the Globalstar expected this year). Given the negligent price difference it might be much more practical to download your wefaxes from the Internet.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 04-04-2011, 15:04   #5
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Re: Weather Fax ?

I forgot the link to the schedule and frequencies: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf
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Old 04-04-2011, 16:05   #6
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Or, you can actually buy a dedicated weather fax receiver like this:
Furuno FAX408 Weather Fax - 8'' Paper

used versions are available all the time.
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Old 04-04-2011, 16:30   #7
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
(...) and you'll have the absolute best source of weather information offshore.(...)
Looking outside second best!

(smiley, smiley, smiley)

;-)
Hugs,
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:32   #8
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Looking outside second best!

(smiley, smiley, smiley)
Point taken. A good point it is too.
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:58   #9
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Is JV Comm freeware now? I did the weather fax thing last summer for a while, and the demo had DEMO all over the picture unless you sent in something like 60 euro. I'll attach one I received.

I used the basic setup as previously described: Sony ICF-SW7600GR world band receiver, a copper wire for antenna that I haul into the lazy jacks when I want it up, and a patch cord to the laptop.

Nice to know and have, but I find I'm rarely out more than three days from an internet connection and the NOAA FTP is very quick for the same pictures (without the grain and DEMO!)

Good luck!
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:00   #10
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Weather fax works wonderfully and if you get a SSB transmit/receive like one of the ICOM units and a PactorII modem, you can get/send email anywhere on the planet. You don't even need a HF license. The SSB is also very useful for sailing nets and local HF weather and condition broadcasts.
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:26   #11
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troubadour52993 View Post
Is JV Comm freeware now? I did the weather fax thing last summer for a while, and the demo had DEMO all over the picture unless you sent in something like 60 euro.
The free version still has "DEMO" on it. I haven't found it an issue.

There are other free wefax demodulators. I'll do some digging and post a list.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:02   #12
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Quote:
You need an SSB receiver with USB/LSB ability, a laptop and a piece of software. NOAA gives the world schedule on their website (a pdf download).
Is anyone using this on a Mac, or do I have to revert to the dreaded PC?
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:07   #13
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Re: Weather Fax ?

What is a Mac?

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Old 05-04-2011, 08:08   #14
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Oh! An iPad?

Hmmm. Ask Jedi - I think he has one.

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Old 05-04-2011, 08:09   #15
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Re: Weather Fax ?

Marine Radiofax charts


Maps are received using a dedicated radiofax receiver or a single sideband shortwave receiver connected to an external facsimile recorder or PC equipped with a radiofax interface and application software.
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/radiofax.htm
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