Originally Posted by dive
I now will be making up to 3 week passages so want to be able to make long distance calls and I understand that they can also provide weather fax, and email as well? I would love to hear from anyone who has used the above on their thoughts. I also understand that you can buy a SSB/Ham combination as well so does the extra cash warrant that?
ALL HAM radios can transmit/receive ALL SSB channels. Not all SSB receives can transmit on HAM frequencies. You will need a license
to send on HAM frequencies but you can receive without a license
The first time you check-in with a HAM net, either via voice or data, they will check you call sign (e.g. mine is KI9NG which indicates I am an EXTRA class HAM and can legally transmit on all frequencies using any type of transmission
such as Morse, voice, or digital data) to verify you can legally use the frequency you contact them on. They will question you if they have any doubts. They can lose their license if they allow an unauthorized operator to use their net. Each type of license allows the use of different frequencies and broadcast modes.
Making FREE phone calls via HAM is done by making contact with a shoreside station (HAM operator) who then patches you thru their phone line to your intended recipient. It is a simplex conversation and both parties need to learn how to not talk over each other. Many HAM networks provide these phone patches and we used them several times a week to stay in touch with parents and family
There is NO, NONE, guarantee that a HAM will be available to make the patch at any given time and no guarantee that the frequency that the HAM wants to use (not the frequency the net is on) will be available or workable. The nets occur at very specific times of the day so your party at the other end has to know to be ready to receive the call.
AND - this is BIG - you can not conduct business on a HAM frequency. If the HAM doing the patch hears you conducting business he will be obligated to tell you to stop. We can lose our licenses over this matter.
The same NO business rule
applies to e-mail transmissions on HAM frequencies. I got in trouble because my financial manager was sending me weekly reports about the status of my accounts. Just data showing what I had sold or bought but the network managing my e-mail said - NO NO NO!
of Weather Fax data requires you to make contact with a station such as PT Reyes at the appropriate time and then stay connected for several minutes as the fax comes in.
Or, if you have a modem
you can use one of many services such as SAILMAIL or Winlink to request and receive weather fax and a lot of weather data. This is much more efficient and easier - once you have the modem up and running.
For example, sailing from Seattle
to San Diego
. I set up a 12-hour automatic weather fax update on Winlink. It keeps track of my position, course, and speed and then sends me GRIB files (wind, wave charts) for the 250 miles ahead of me (that is about 2 days in our boat). Each time on login to Winlink I receive a series of charts
and text messages about the upcoming 250 miles. All I have to do is turn on the radio, connect to a Winlink station, and receive the messages. Typically that takes less than five minutes but is automated so I can leave the radio and computer unattended while it is receiving.
SAILMAIL is SSB and does not require a HAM license but the frequencies do get crowded and it is often hard to connect to a station. Winlink requires a HAM license but has many more stations available.
I highly recommend going the HAM route
- it makes it very easy to send / receive e-mail, weather data, and phone calls
Plan on pretty intense study, installation
, practice for several months to learn how to use the SSB and HAM systems - once you get the necessary licenses.
Here is a good starting point http://www.latitude38.com/features/S...l#.UonNrNIqgT8
Here is a Cruising Forum thread about SSB and telephone at 99 cents a minute:
Public Correspondence Telephone Link By Marine SSB or Ham Radio