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Old 04-10-2018, 10:36   #16
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

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We will go next sailing season the same road with IridiumGO and the yearly prepaid subscription 1000 minutes / 750€ - should be enough I guess for weather on passages and short position messages home - and if necessary a voice call in a pan pan / mayday / medical advice situation.

.
One other thing... think about when you're going to use the GO and when you'll actually need it. If I remember correctly, you're in the med and going across the Atlantic via the Canaries next season. If so, you may only need the GO for a month or two around your Atlantic crossing. The run from Gibraltar to the Canary is so short you really don't need daily weather updates after you cast off. Once in the Caribbean, again, you'll get cell or wifi weather everywhere you go.

We bought a few SIM cards for the GO from BlueCosmos on Amazon for $10 with free activation. If we are crossing an ocean, we pop one in and start a new unlimited plan for that month or two only. For us, it works out financially.

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Old 04-10-2018, 10:53   #17
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

You can make antenna cheaply yourself and avoid cutting the backstay. Get some inslulated multi strand wire, heavy enough to not break easily. Make 2 equal lengths wire and connect the inner core of a coaxial cable to one end and screen to the other. The coax will then be in the middle of the two wires.This is called a center fed dipole. Run this wire ( If need be extended it with whatever.) from the top of the mast down and alongside the rear stay and run the coax to your radio tuner. I used this for my Icom for years and it worked well. A simple centre fed dipole is used by many amatuer radio enthusiasts.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:39   #18
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

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On my boat I have VFH, AIS, EPIRB, SSB (SEA 225), Skymate (satellite communicator), and InReach SE. Given your short time frame and limited budget I recommend InReach as a minimum. A second system for backup is a good idea as I had some issues with InReach returning from Hawaii and used Skymate but that may be too expensive for your budget. The SSB install is expensive and can be complicated, effective use takes practice, studying for the HAM license tests (Technician, General), backstay antenna install, etc...see what I mean for your time frame.

God Luck.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH


Thank you,
I m looking on an inreach explorer garmin as we speak
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:53   #19
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Thanks Matt,


regarding the SIM, you buy then one month unlimited with the activation for how much? There are a lot of GSM-less areas in the Caribbean I assume, so maybe it is a good Idea to have a communication device, that always works.

We plan to do the pacific too, there are a lot of remote places to hang out, so investing in a iridium go may be a good idea aniway. Mail and SMS are sufficient to talk to family at home from time to time.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:35   #20
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

One month would be $140 with activation for unlimited. I wish I would have better kept track of how many minutes we really used on the crossing to figure out if having a prepaid 1000 minute plan would be better.

One issue with the GO is that text and emails go to a specific iridium email address that cannot be accessed by wifi or cellular when on land. You have to use sat minutes to get your messages from the Iridium server. It's a stupid 'gotchya' that Iridium forces on users. A way to correct this is to set up a Hotmail email account and forward messages to your Iridium account.... but you want to limit who has access to this address so when you do use sat minutes, it's not downloading spam or large emails.

We have not done the Hotmail account, so have no idea if it adds complexity (and upload/download time) to the emails reducing your available minutes.

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Old 04-10-2018, 13:19   #21
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

OK. Just pulled up the invoice for June when we crossed. We used 766 minutes of airtime for emails with friends, weather (both GRIB and Weatherfax) and to read the news. We'd download much larger GRIB areas with smaller spacing than needed, but with unlimited data, figured 'why not?'.

You can download a respectable weather grib in under 2 minutes. Here would be our process if we were trying to save minutes:

We'd type our emails up for the day along with the grib request and hit Send/Receive from the GO. Depending on what emails we had coming in, this may use 1-2 minutes of the plan. We'd then type up responses to the emails that came in and hit send/receive again to send those response along with downloading the GRIB. This would use another estimated 2 minutes.

So, 4 minutes a day to get messages and weather. Usually, that would be good enough weather info for the days sail, but if a storm was coming or something, you'd do that a few more times. With 1000 minute plan, in theory you could check your messages and send things more than 250 days of the year. Not bad!

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Old 04-10-2018, 14:42   #22
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Hi Misticaldive, you might be interested, i have a SSB that i am not using for sale
My boat is in Ga. the SSB still in the boat, make an offer,
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Old 04-10-2018, 14:43   #23
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

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OK. Just pulled up the invoice for June when we crossed. We used 766 minutes of airtime for emails with friends, weather (both GRIB and Weatherfax) and to read the news. We'd download much larger GRIB areas with smaller spacing than needed, but with unlimited data, figured 'why not?'.

You can download a respectable weather grib in under 2 minutes. Here would be our process if we were trying to save minutes:

We'd type our emails up for the day along with the grib request and hit Send/Receive from the GO. Depending on what emails we had coming in, this may use 1-2 minutes of the plan. We'd then type up responses to the emails that came in and hit send/receive again to send those response along with downloading the GRIB. This would use another estimated 2 minutes.

So, 4 minutes a day to get messages and weather. Usually, that would be good enough weather info for the days sail, but if a storm was coming or something, you'd do that a few more times. With 1000 minute plan, in theory you could check your messages and send things more than 250 days of the year. Not bad!

Matt
Can you not add a filter rule to auto-forward all incoming mails on your Iridium e-mail to a second external (mirror) mail account?
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Old 04-10-2018, 18:21   #24
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Mystical;
i cant speak to SSB, but i used the Garmin delorme in reach when offshore from Connecticut to bermuda.. i received text weather updates. i sent text messages using cell phone that was blue toothed to garmin device, so typing was piece of cake. Also provides you with website that your significant others/friends can follow your progress, real-time. I paid about $450 for device and $65 for 1 month of unlimited text messaging. then ended subscription. can re-start with just monthly fee when needed. less expensive monthly service i believe as cheap as $30/month. Be aware, no audio that you can get with SSB...also once fully charged battery lasts 4 days with typical usage. I am not a garmin fan, but have to say the unit worked as advertised and was reasonably intuitive to set up. if you buy one, be sure to use and get familiar with prior to shoving off..good luck in your voyage.
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Old 04-10-2018, 18:46   #25
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Satellite vs. HF, what it boils down to is, are you interested in HF propagation, ham radio, self-installation, speaking to other cruisers on nets, paying more money up front but then saving money in the long haul, since you won't have to pay the service fees for Sat?

OR, are you non-technical, not interested in nets, don't mind paying a monthly fee plus a moderate up-front cost, want the latest in safety features and instant data and voice access? Then go with Sat.

For hams the choice is obvious, you/we will have HF on the boat and maybe add Sat later. For everyone else, I can see the advantages of Sat. provided you could stop the monthly service with little or no penalty, when not on a passage.
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Old 04-10-2018, 19:14   #26
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Take a look at the weather offered by the Inreach.

https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?fa...rt8cg21ARUw0N8

It's really is very limited and not great for passage planning. Seeing just the wind speed and wave height in your immediate area doesn't tell me much.... How do you decide to go north, south, east or west based on that?

If only look at the device to keep in touch with friends, than the Inreach seems fine. You could buy that along with a cheap SSB receiver for Weatherfax, and you'd be golden. But, If you're spending the money anyway, go with one of the Iridium phones or the GO. Inreach plus a SSB receiver would be the same hardware cost as the GO and once you factor in the Inreach Marine weather fee ($1 per request) you're probably at the same monthly fee too.

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Old 04-10-2018, 21:12   #27
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

Install doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Use a Kissssb ground plane and a free standing piece of insulated wire attached to the mast head with some rope for an antenna. Correct length of course. This avoids a hole in the boat and those very expensive insulators.

SSB is still useful and really required for emergency. The nets are good fun, useful and a way to meet people

Good luck

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Old 05-10-2018, 00:32   #28
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

I do not see much benefit in installing a SSB radio on board. We have VHF and it has a range of 20..50nm, if you are 10-15nm away you barely understand the others because of poor voice quality, also the navigation warnings by VHF are not easy to follow, but it is good to talk to the next port or other vessel around or at anchor with the neighbors (if they listen). Most of the time it is just annoying, so you turn it off when not underway.

SSB will be probably even worse, much more irrelevant and unreliable transmissions, the people you are talking to are far away, you'll probably never meet them, for weather you need a pactor modem and it is a lot of fiddling around to get a reliable connection. Both communication partner must be online the same time at the same frequency to be able to talk and the frequency must be free. You need for both HAM and SSB different licenses when you install such a device on board.

A satellite device is much better, you use text messaging - async communication, it does not depend on the partner to be tuned in, you do not deal with licenses, frequencies and tuning. To communicate to buddies nearby you still have VHF, for longer distances you use text messages or e-mail. Weather gribs are easier to obtain at any time, and you can even make voice calls or get called / messaged by anybody with a phone, he do not need to have a SSB / HAM to talk to you.

Related the SSB groups - you can use social media / forums instead based on text messaging similar WhatsApp / mailing list with the advantage of async communication so you wont miss a call.

I think SSB is a declining technology for some enthisiasts, like RTTY or morse code transmissions in the good old days, I have talked to several sailors with a SSB antenna and asked them when they have turned on the transceiver the last time. Many of them do not use it at all.

Next point is emergency calling. I doubt you can take the SSB to your life raft or while hiking in a remote place with you and use it to communicate in a emergency situation, the Iridium GO or Inreach you can take with you everywhere you go.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:36   #29
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

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I do not see much benefit in installing a SSB radio on board. We have VHF and it has a range of 20..50nm, if you are 10-15nm away you barely understand the others because of poor voice quality, also the navigation warnings by VHF are not easy to follow, but it is good to talk to the next port or other vessel around or at anchor with the neighbors (if they listen). Most of the time it is just annoying, so you turn it off when not underway.

SSB will be probably even worse, much more irrelevant and unreliable transmissions, the people you are talking to are far away, you'll probably never meet them, for weather you need a pactor modem and it is a lot of fiddling around to get a reliable connection. Both communication partner must be online the same time at the same frequency to be able to talk and the frequency must be free. You need for both HAM and SSB different licenses when you install such a device on board.

A satellite device is much better, you use text messaging - async communication, it does not depend on the partner to be tuned in, you do not deal with licenses, frequencies and tuning. To communicate to buddies nearby you still have VHF, for longer distances you use text messages or e-mail. Weather gribs are easier to obtain at any time, and you can even make voice calls or get called / messaged by anybody with a phone, he do not need to have a SSB / HAM to talk to you.

Related the SSB groups - you can use social media / forums instead based on text messaging similar WhatsApp / mailing list with the advantage of async communication so you wont miss a call.

I think SSB is a declining technology for some enthisiasts, like RTTY or morse code transmissions in the good old days, I have talked to several sailors with a SSB antenna and asked them when they have turned on the transceiver the last time. Many of them do not use it at all.

Next point is emergency calling. I doubt you can take the SSB to your life raft or while hiking in a remote place with you and use it to communicate in a emergency situation, the Iridium GO or Inreach you can take with you everywhere you go.

Two properly equipped/installed HF stations operating on the proper band for the time of day and range, can easily understand each other from hundreds or even thousands of miles apart. There is a big difference in propogation between bands. When one doesn't work, try another. VHF, on the other hand, is pretty much the same on every channel. If you are not within range or there is a lot of interference (or a poorly installed station) then of course communications will be dodgy.

When underway on a voluntarily equipped vessel, (that means us) you are REQUIRED to listen on VHF channel 16. It is the law. Modern HF transcievers such as the IC-M802 can silently guard the distress calling frequencies and sound an alarm when a distress call is heard. Fully compliant GMDSS HF transcievers can all do this, too, of course. So you can guard the HF distress calling channels without listening to a bunch of static. Most sailing yachts will no doubt elect to simply turn the HF set off when not in actual use, to save the batteries. Trawlers should keep theirs on, since the current drawn is probably small potatoes compared to all the other electrical conveniences being ran off the generator or alternator. Note that MF distress frequencies (2182, 2187.5) are no longer monitored by most coast stations or ships. 4125, 6215, 8291, and 12290 kHz will still be monitored.

You do not need a PACTOR modem to receive weather reports. There are voice weather reports, and a very simple demodulator can be built for a few bucks that plugs int a serial (remember those?) port on a computer to allow onscreen display of weather fax, RTTY, SITOR, and other digital modes. You can also connect the audio of the radio to the audio IN jack of your sound card via an isolation transformer (not always required, but a very good idea!) and demodulate weather maps and teletype through software, if you don't have a stone age computer with a serial port. A PACTOR modem is nice but depending on your usage pattern, maybe not required. On the HAM bands, you can use the above mentioned software solutions for sending digital communications via AMTOR or RTTY. If you use a commercial email solution you will want a type accepted PACTOR modem, I believe, yes.

Yes, unfortunately both stations DO have to be on the air at the same time to talk to one another. How does this differ from VHF? Or cell phone, for that matter? But on Amateur bands you can always set up an AMTOR Auto Respond, and read the original call onscreen at your convenience. I believe there are amateur email portals in operation, too.

You only need both Marine and HAM licenses if you use both services (highly recommended, though). The HAM license is practically free. The Ship Station License costs a significant amount. I think $220 now. The Restricted Radio Operator Permit is a lifetime license, never expires, $70. The HAM license is a station license as well as an operator license. Don't know the current cost but it is peanuts.

Voice calls to those ashore with only a landline or cell phone are still possible over HF. The cheapest way (free) is to use a phone patch provided by some friendly HAM ashore. There isn't much that you CAN'T do over HF radio, come to think of it. You can even fax pictures back and forth... for free.

The most important characteristic of HF is that ANY station guarding your calling frequency can hear you. If my boat is on fire 500 miles from land, I want as many people hearing my distress call as possible. How about you? Would you rather be communicating with a Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center over a dodgy satellite connection and relying on them to call vessels in your area and relay your distress message to them? Lot of things to go wrong, there. It is a good system, but has many inherent failure points. Same as HF. Both are viable and useful and having BOTH is a VERY good idea. Given the choice between one and the other, though, my money is on HF. If it sounds too technologically complicated for you, or you simply don't have the space for a HF station onboard, then perhaps throwing all your eggs into the satellite basket is the practical way for you to go. Then again, there are some guys who simply refuse to pay a monthly or per kB charge to use the airwaves, reasoning that they go to sea to get AWAY from greedy billers and other such shore based unpleasantness. I guess that is me. The next time I venture beyond VHF range of shore, a properly installed and licensed HF station will be my primary means of distress communication. Satellite? Yeah, maybe. Probably not, but maybe.

Why attempt to discourage others from using a proven, workable, and useful system like HF radio? It sounds like you are for some reason desperate to justify not having a HF station on your boat. Don't bother. Most boats don't. You are not alone. Even a well used transceiver and antenna tuner can cost more than a used Iridium phone, and much more than the equipment associated with many of the other solutions such as GO, SPOT, etc. It is a judgement call. Maybe anything more complicated than pushing a button is scary. Maybe you want a completely portable, handheld solution? Maybe you LIKE paying a monthly bill... anyway You can usually cancel the service when you aren't going to use it for a month or two or more. Totally your choice to have or to not have HF, or satellite, or both.

I will say this, regarding satellite communications. An EPIRB is right at the top of my shopping list. EPIRBS are not a perfect solution either, but they have a track record of saving quite a few lives. Team up an EPIRB, a SART, and a waterproof handheld VHF and you have a pretty good solution for those crazy situations where there isn't even time to hit the Distress button on the radio before the boat sinks from under you or burns your hiney on the way over the side. And like HF radio, no monthly bill. Just EPIRB and VHF without a SART is a viable solution, for that matter. SARTs are maybe a bit overrated for those of us not requred to carry them. EPIRB? I will never again venture outside VHF range without one, I don't think. All the little yellow toys with monthly bills attached are pretty cool, I guess, but frankly they are a bit low on my list.
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:27   #30
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Re: SSB radio, what are the best ‘cheap’ and easy to install solutions? Any reliable

I agree, SSB / HAM is a nice hobby. You can enjoy it on the water too.

If I am in distress or need immediate help, however, I would rather use a professional reliable dedicated system, like EPIRB, distress DSC call or emergency call on the Sat-phone.

That ensures, the first person I talk to is knowledgeble, capable and dedicated to manage the resque or help required. A MRCC knows who to contact and how and can organize or delegate the mission to the nearest possible vessel or institution.

On SSB / HAM I must rely on to find somebody who is capable and knowledgeable enough to relay my request. I would waste a lot of time what I desperately would need to fight the situation instead of searching frequencies and contacting possible buddies.

To chat, exchange opinions in a relaxed athmosphere SSB is nice, also to receive / transmit some data over voice on the ether.

SSB would not be my first choice of communication in distress. Also not to stay in touch with family and friends. With the SAT brick I can communicate to anybody with a phone or mobile phone and send/receive SMS text messages. SSB and HAM is something, nobody I know has at home running.

On a limited budget I would opt for SAT first, SSB optional / nice to have.
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