Roughly $2500 for the Iridium with in-cabin installation.
Roughly $2500 for the ICOM M802 SSB with antenna tuner
$1.30/minute for Iridium connect time
$10.00/month for XGATE (after activation)
Your initial cost for an ICOM m802 installation may be low. The M802 is going to cost about $1800 at discount, an ICOM tuner around $450, an insulated backstay at least $300, a ground plane and installation cost. That just gets you out on voice but you will need a Pactor Modem
if you want email
and grib files. That's another $1,000 or so.
I went with a used ICOM 718 ham radio
, SG 230 Tuner, a used Pactor
IIe with Pactor 3 upgrade, copper strap for the ground plane, and did the backstay myself with Norseman insulated terminals. Total cost would have been under $1700 all up and ready to go. I say would have been because I ended up with an interface problem with the ICOM AH4 tuner and the ICOM 718 radio. Ended up costing me another $1,000 to hire a tech to discover the problem between the tuner and radio and buy the SG230 tuner. Problem turned out to be an open circuit inside the used radio that didn't send the proper signal to the tuner. The radio worked fine in all other respects so the SG230 which doesn't require anything but the rf output from the radio to tune was the quick fix to get me on my way. If anyone needs an ICOM AH4 Ham tuner in perfect condion let me know.
I thought of going with a Sat Phone but it just wasn't cost efficient. I didn't find any minute plans that worked for me. I was doing a TransPac so only needed the comm. for 2-3 weeks. The plans all were prohibitively costly and required multiple months service
. I was in a hurry and might have been able to find a better service
plan if I'd had more time to do research. The per minute cost of the SatPhone just didn't add up, actually added up way too fast, for me. Initial cost was another factor as going the Ham SSB route would have been way cheaper even if I'd bought a new ICOM 718 radio.
As far are reliability of contact, I was able to get through to the Pacific Maritime Mobile net every day of the passage
from SF to Hilo. The stations on that net came through like they were sitting in the cockpit
. Every time I looked for voice communications
just for the fun of it, was able to find a station to talk to. Had contacts with people from Oz to the Carribean and everywhere in between. You do have to be aware of propagation factors to get optimum use of an HF radio
, however. With my Ham Ticket, all communications
were free including email and Grib files.
Email was a bit problematic as there were a couple of times during the day when I couldn't get out because of propagation to the Winlink stations. Still was always able to get through at least twice a day with an email to my wife and get my daily Grib File update.
SatPhones are a non starter for me because of the monthly charges. I'll live with the minor inconvenience of HF radio
because the ongoing costs are right, FREE.