Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 09-04-2013, 21:58   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Currently cruising
Boat: Fountaine Pajot Helia 44
Posts: 14
Send a message via Skype™ to Hideaway34
Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Hi everyone,

I'm dying for a way to access weather forecasts when we aren't in range of internet without spending a bajillion dollars on a lot of equipment.

I bought a Kaito 1103 SSB portable receiver because it seemed to be a recommended favorite on this forum, and yet, frustratingly, it does nothing but give me crappy, fuzzy almost-Chris Parker reports that I cannot understand.

An SSB transceiver would be a lot of money, a lot of installation and a lot of trouble. A satellite phone would be less money (but still a lot) and no trouble at all. So I'm thinking of going satellite.

I wrote a post on my blog about this, airing my frustrations and decision: Weather, SSB and the 21st Century | Turf to Surf

And it seemed to rile up those who are firm believers in the benefits of an SSB transceiver (though no one has yet firmly defended SSB receivers which can't transmit).

Does anyone out there have a receiver that actually works at sea? Far from internet access? What type is it? Does anyone have a Kaito that has worked for them?

Just wondering if I'm crazy for hating my SSB receiver so much...and for wanting a satellite phone so I can have nothing to do with SSB anything...

Tasha (Turf to Surf)
__________________

__________________
Hideaway34 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2013, 22:08   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,016
Images: 4
I use SSB daily. 100% reliable on a daily basis. Somewhat less reliable at any random hour. It's a proper typical sailboat installation.

That said, SSB is at the end of its days. Buying now a SatPhone would be the way forward. There are ways to use a weather service that can help with the connect time.
__________________

__________________
daddle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2013, 22:46   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: sailing south
Boat: Ericson 35-2
Posts: 324
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

I don't know about your specific receiver, but one thing that should make a big difference is an external antenna. You are dealing with wavelengths between 10 and 100 meters. The built-in antenna on your portable rx is simply too small to be efficient on HF frequencies.

Also, are you using the fine tuning control? Tuning into an SSB transmission is a bit of an aural skill.
__________________
RedHerring is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2013, 23:01   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
rebel heart's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 6,190
Images: 3
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
I use SSB daily. 100% reliable on a daily basis. Somewhat less reliable at any random hour. It's a proper typical sailboat installation.

That said, SSB is at the end of its days. Buying now a SatPhone would be the way forward. There are ways to use a weather service that can help with the connect time.
I don't really agree that SSB is at the end of its days. It certainly isn't the unchallenged king anymore since satellite phones showed up on the scene. We have an Icomm m700pro and an Iridium smartphone with a decent plan; they both have their advantages.

To the original poster, the built in antenna is fairly junko and an external helps a lot. If you decide to get a transceiver, you can buy a used model for roughly the same cost as a new satellite phone (~$1000). The difference is that you can easily eat through a couple of hundred dollars a month with your satellite phone.

You'll spend another few hundred putting in backstay insulators and getting a ground plane or counterpoise setup, all of which sounds much more complicated than it really is.

I think it's pretty accurate to say that for typical use in a year's time you'll have spent as much on your satellite phone and air time as a decent used SSB with installation would cost.

We have both, and they're both great. If you're out sailing you know that so much is about community and keeping track of people. Having an SSB and being on a net is a really handy way of doing that. There's no way you can come close to the "one to many" broadcasting capabilities of a short wave radio.

I could ramble all day but they're both great. Your receiver probably just has the crummy built in antenna. That's a $30 fix.
__________________
rebel heart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2013, 23:28   #5
Senior Cruiser
 
Lancerbye's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Ladysmith,BC, Vancouver Island , Canada
Boat: Lancer 44 Motorsailer
Posts: 1,758
Images: 32
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Agree with everything rebel heart said, adding one note. If you are in a marina or close to a city you can end up with a lot of electrical noise because of the lower frequencies you operate on. Get out and away from the crowd and your reception increases due to the ability to tune out unwanted signals.
__________________
The basis of accomplishment is in never quitting
Mengzi Meng-tse
Lancerbye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 01:07   #6
Senior Cruiser
 
roverhi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
Posts: 6,006
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Buy a used ICOM 718 ham transceiver. Should be able to find one for around $500 or $700 new. That will give you a very good HF receiver that can be used as a transceiver when the need hits.

To transmit you'll need to get a HAM General Class License. Should be able to pass the tests with a couple of serious days study on the internet prep. sites. You'll need to add an antenna tuner, $300 or so for an ICOM AH4 or an SDG 230 if you want the best for a 1/2 boat unit. Add one insulator to the backstay and a KISS Ground Plane and you should be up and talking.
__________________
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 01:25   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2013
Boat: 45' CC ketch
Posts: 332
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hideaway34 View Post
I bought a Kaito 1103 SSB portable receiver because it seemed to be a recommended favorite on this forum, and yet, frustratingly, it does nothing but give me crappy, fuzzy almost-Chris Parker reports that I cannot understand.
I wouldn't be surprised. This particular model is a cheapish toy for listening, with proper tweaking it may give you satisfactory listening results, but getting reliable data from it is something that I would not expect. You get what you pay.
__________________
Sea Frog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 02:27   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Probably in an anchorage or a boatyard..
Boat: Ebbtide 33' steel cutter
Posts: 3,542
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Frog View Post
I wouldn't be surprised. This particular model is a cheapish toy for listening, with proper tweaking it may give you satisfactory listening results, but getting reliable data from it is something that I would not expect. You get what you pay.
Not my experience, I had near perfect wfax from Carib - UK using a 1103. New orleans, Boston then northwood. Just using the car radio FM antenna croc clipped to a jack into the radio. Great little box, huge bang for the buck. Not as good as a $1,000 set but plenty good enough.

To the OP, getting anything in a marina can be a struggle, where is the boat moored? Also, just play around with any old bit of wire hauled up on a halyard into the ext antenna input on the 1103.

It does work

Also, laptops can be very noisy if plugged into the radio and a charger, 12v chargers seem to be a bit quieter or best just off the battery.

Fridges are awful for noise, ime

Good luck & stick with it.
__________________
conachair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 05:30   #9
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Cruising NC, FL, Bahamas, TCI & VIs
Boat: 1964 Pearson Ariel 'Faith' / Pearson 424, sv Emerald Tide
Posts: 1,531
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Frog View Post
I wouldn't be surprised. This particular model is a cheapish toy for listening, with proper tweaking it may give you satisfactory listening results, but getting reliable data from it is something that I would not expect. You get what you pay.
Ever used one?
__________________
s/v 'Faith' is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 05:43   #10
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Cruising NC, FL, Bahamas, TCI & VIs
Boat: 1964 Pearson Ariel 'Faith' / Pearson 424, sv Emerald Tide
Posts: 1,531
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

I am listening to Chris Parker as I type this on my kaito 1103. It is a great radio, just need to work out using it.

I have a "properly installed" Icom M700 pro sitting 12" away that sits unused. The Kaito works very well with the installed antenna, I have run the long wire antenna up the spin halyard, but mostly gotten more static that way.

Most people I talk to with problems (big topic cruising in the Carib) learn their installed systems are causing noise. I had a ticking sound this morning, so I switched off my depth sounder,,,, fluorescent lights cause such grief that the signal will be unreadable.

For some reason, one day passing by Puerto Rico my Engle fridge started causing a very hard to understand signal.

So, while a good reliable signal is coming in try turning off some electrical devices one at a time and you may find you have better luck.

Chris Parker at 0630 on 4045 or at 0700 (eastern) is a good place to try. Turn the radio on, directly input the q by pressing 4045 and press the bottom right button to enter. Press the SSB button to toggle to the SSB mode. Set the filter on the right side of the radio to "wide" and then turn the fine tuning dial on the right side until Chris stops sounding like a Martian.

Good luck, you have a good radio, just need to work out using it.
__________________
s/v 'Faith' is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 05:49   #11
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Cruising NC, FL, Bahamas, TCI & VIs
Boat: 1964 Pearson Ariel 'Faith' / Pearson 424, sv Emerald Tide
Posts: 1,531
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

I also use it with the ipad app "hf fax" and receive excellent faxes.... Just letting the mic hear the signal, no cable required (but it would help if you are in the cockpit with wind noise). I really like the update to hf fax that added the tuning feature.

Btw, the Kaito receives better then the Sony 7600 I had onboard and I sold my si-Tek (same as Nasa) receiver 6 years ago when I got my kaito... The kaito just worked better.
__________________
s/v 'Faith' is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 06:12   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Beaufort, SC
Boat: 2004 Hunter 41 AC
Posts: 308
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Hideaway, I had the same experience with the Kaito. Mine was a piece of crap and I could never get anything on it. Thought about selling it but I didn't want to take someone's money for it. The manual was undecipherable, and the new and improved version was not any better.

I'm now in the ham/SSB/satphone quandry. My gut feel is that I'll end up with a satphone. It might be next year before I decide since we just bought wind and solar and we need a new dink this year...

Scott
__________________
s/vPainkiller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 07:31   #13
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Oct 2007
Boat: Endeavour 42CC
Posts: 1,182
I also had problems with my kaito. Used ext antennas, etc.

Bought a used ssb transciever for well under $500. No tuner yet. Easy to clip to side stay for antenna for receive only and hear quite well.

You do need to turn off lots of other equipment. My refer and wind gen must be off. Located in a marina can be very difficult as well.
__________________
gettinthere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 08:04   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2013
Boat: 45' CC ketch
Posts: 332
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v 'Faith' View Post
Ever used one?
Degen 1103 is sitting on my shelf, it is the very same thing. I like the receiver, in voice mode. Did not get meaningful results with data, however, you and conachair above correctly said about possible noise issues. Didn't get deeped into it, probably should.But like I said before, for voice mode it is OK
__________________
Sea Frog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2013, 08:32   #15
Registered User
 
transmitterdan's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2011
Boat: Valiant 42
Posts: 4,034
Re: Are all SSB Receivers crap, or is it just mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hideaway34 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm dying for a way to access weather forecasts when we aren't in range of internet without spending a bajillion dollars on a lot of equipment.
:
:
Just wondering if I'm crazy for hating my SSB receiver so much...and for wanting a satellite phone so I can have nothing to do with SSB anything...

Tasha (Turf to Surf)
Hello Tasha,

Everyone has already said the right things about noise sources on and near your boat. You really need to get away from an urban area, turn off every other electronic item and try listening to things that are sent by local government first. In the US there are stations in New Orleans, Boston, California that transmit weather fax. WWV transmits audio time information on 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000. Try listening for these before trying for SSB nets in the Carib.

Time of day, frequency and distance all matter a huge amount. That's why the fax transmissions are on various frequencies and various times of day. At dawn and dusk conditions change rapidly so you have to check different frequencies to see what works best. Once it is solidly night time or day time at both the transmitter and receiver location the need to change frequencies will tend to go away.

I presume you know that fax transmissions are tuned 1.9kHz different from the published frequencies. This is often overlooked and the fax cannot be received until the receiver is tuned for this difference. It is noted in the online publications of the USCG how to tune the radio. Your weatherfax software can make a big difference too. Try different ones to see which you like best.

HF weatherfax isn't a plug-n-play proposition but it can and does work for thousands of boats. Many of them with receivers like yours.
__________________

__________________
transmitterdan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
ssb

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 15:48.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.