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Old 06-10-2018, 18:53   #1
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Grib files via SSB

Hi there, I am just wondering if there is a way to receive Grib files through my SSB radio without having to subscribe to someone like Sail Mail etc I.e for free

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Old 06-10-2018, 19:03   #2
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Re: Grib files via SSB

If you are a HAM then yes using Winlink. But sail docs is a pretty good deal. And way faster and easier to use than Winlink.
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Old 06-10-2018, 20:32   #3
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Re: Grib files via SSB

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Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
If you are a HAM then yes using Winlink. But sail docs is a pretty good deal. And way faster and easier to use than Winlink.
Dan, could you explain the logic behind that statement? I assume that you really meant sailmail, not sail docs, 'cause saildocs is accessed by both systems, and then both Winlink and Sailmail use Airmail 2000 as the OS, don't they?

im
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Old 06-10-2018, 22:20   #4
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Re: Grib files via SSB

A summary: You can get GRIBs using any email service. Saildocs.com provides these for free -- you don't have to subscribe. There are other subscription GRIB and WX sources that may be simpler to use, but Saildocs works great for me.

SSB email can be free using Winlink (ham radio), or you can use the marine-bands with Sailmail and other paid services.

Sailmail requires that you use a pactor modem. There are various ham modem options, including Pactor, and a couple of free software modems that are built into Winlink's "Winlink Express" package (here is a comparison of Winlink-compatible programs: https://www.winlink.org/ClientSoftware). The Pactor modem (Pactor 3 and 4) are generally faster than the Winlink Express software modems, but the latest Winlink Express modems are still pretty good.

You can use the "Airmail" program with a Pactor modem with SSB Sailmail (etc) as well as with ham radio Winlink. Airmail has some nice built-in features that are designed for boats and GRIB work, but there are plenty of other ways to do the same job.

I find that the Sailmail / Pactor method is a bit easier and more reliable than Ham Winlink and the software modems, and the ham stuff needs a bit more work to get it up and running, but plenty of people use Winlink.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:38   #5
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Re: Grib files via SSB

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Dan, could you explain the logic behind that statement? I assume that you really meant sailmail, not sail docs, 'cause saildocs is accessed by both systems, and then both Winlink and Sailmail use Airmail 2000 as the OS, don't they?



im
Yes, I meant sailmail. Their sail docs feature is available freely to all. But Winlink is slower and less reliable. And I think the annual fee for sailmail is a really good deal. They have an impressive world wide network.

If you have the experience and ability to make Winlink work it is ok. I just find Sailmail less fiddly and a lot more reliable.
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Old 07-10-2018, 21:27   #6
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Hi guys,

Thanks for the info but I am still a bit confused. Currently I can access email, weather etc using my paid subscription to SailMail and my Pactor modem. I understand that Saildocs provides the GRIB files for free but how do access/ send the request to them through my SSB radio if I no longer have the SailMail subscription.

Thanks in advance,

Harry Pontikis
S/V Eleni
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Old 07-10-2018, 21:49   #7
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by harpon View Post
Hi guys,

Thanks for the info but I am still a bit confused. Currently I can access email, weather etc using my paid subscription to SailMail and my Pactor modem. I understand that Saildocs provides the GRIB files for free but how do access/ send the request to them through my SSB radio if I no longer have the SailMail subscription.

Thanks in advance,

Harry Pontikis
S/V Eleni
If you have a ham license and your radio will operate on the ham bands you can use Winlnk (free) instead of Sailmail. Otherwise, you need to have a subscription to Sailmail, Mailasail, or other marine SSB email service providers. I am not aware of any free marine SSB email services.
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Old 08-10-2018, 02:14   #8
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Re: Grib files via SSB

You can learn more about Winlink here:

https://www.winlink.org/

It is similar to Sailmail in that you run a program on your PC. It drives the radio to connect to a shore station and then it retrieves your email. You can still use saildocs to package your GRIB file into an email just as before. You can also use your Pactor modem but not as many shore stations support the proprietary III and IV protocol. Most support the Winmor protocol which is free to all. You must be a HAM and have a HAM frequency capable radio.
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Old 08-10-2018, 06:10   #9
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
Yes, I meant sailmail. Their sail docs feature is available freely to all. But Winlink is slower and less reliable. And I think the annual fee for sailmail is a really good deal. They have an impressive world wide network.

If you have the experience and ability to make Winlink work it is ok. I just find Sailmail less fiddly and a lot more reliable.
Just checked out the Sailmail website and one thing that caught my attention. There is a limit of 90 minutes per week for SSB access to Sailmail radio stations. Is that adequate for downloading GRIBS 2-3 times per week plus email?
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Old 08-10-2018, 06:40   #10
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Yes, it is more than adequate. The restriction is not an issue for text email. Most grib attachments will download in less than a minute in my experience.

It’s important to set up your grib area to encompass the region of interest rather than just the whole hemisphere (or world). John over at Attainable Adventures has excellent advice on how to get good grib data and advance the bounding box each day as your voyage progresses.

Unless you try to do web browsing I doubt you could use up 90 minutes in a month. But SSB Internet is not browser friendly. It is really useful for text based email and IRC chat.

Also, synoptic charts and text forecasts can be downloaded via SSB from USCG and other broadcasts. These are free for anyone and don’t use any sailmail time.
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Old 08-10-2018, 22:40   #11
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Re: Grib files via SSB

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Just checked out the Sailmail website and one thing that caught my attention. There is a limit of 90 minutes per week for SSB access to Sailmail radio stations. Is that adequate for downloading GRIBS 2-3 times per week plus email?
This limit is one good reason to upgrade to the fastest Pactor modem. But I've had perfectly good results with my Pactor-3 modem and Sailmail, I just have to be thoughtful about what I download, and know when to abort a deteriorating connection so I can try again later or on a different frequency. You don't want to burn up your connect-time on re-tries of bad packets.
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:27   #12
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Re: Grib files via SSB

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Just checked out the Sailmail website and one thing that caught my attention. There is a limit of 90 minutes per week for SSB access to Sailmail radio stations. Is that adequate for downloading GRIBS 2-3 times per week plus email?
We download GRIBs 1 or 2 times a day and grab email at the same time while on passage via Sailmail. Weve down this for weeks in a row. Never gotten close to the max time limit. If you have a valid reason such as an onboard emergency you can email Sailmail and get an extension.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:13   #13
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Thanks Dan and Paul and Paul for the replies.
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Old 09-10-2018, 18:26   #14
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Thanks all for your feedback. I thought that much, in that one needs a subscription in order to access the email. I am not a HAM. I have been using SailMail for a number of years and have been happy with it, I just don't need it as frequently and I was looking for a " cheaper" alternative.
Thanks again

Harry Pontikis, S/V Eleni, Sailing Whitsundays.
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Old 09-10-2018, 19:47   #15
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Re: Grib files via SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by harpon View Post
Thanks all for your feedback. I thought that much, in that one needs a subscription in order to access the email. I am not a HAM. I have been using SailMail for a number of years and have been happy with it, I just don't need it as frequently and I was looking for a " cheaper" alternative.
Thanks again

Harry Pontikis, S/V Eleni, Sailing Whitsundays.
I too would prefer a cheaper alternative. I do have an ICOM SSB but to spend another $1000-$2000 for a Pactor modem that I would use pretty much for weather only just seems excessive, at least until I win the lottery.
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