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Old 18-09-2010, 04:46   #91
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SSB is Obsolete

We crossed this from Halifax to Ireland summer with a new Icom M802 and a new Iridium with Xgate. The Iridium was configured with an external antenna, fixed power supply, and handset for voice.

The SSB used an insulated backstay and a ground plane built into the boat. We bought the SSB a year in advance of the trip to learn how to use it.

We found the SSB was unreliable for listening in on Herb's weather routing. Additionally, communication with a yacht three days behind was unreliable. Some days he was loud and clear, some days marginal, and many days no communication. There were also a number of other issues arguably since we did not invest heavily into education on using the SSB may have been self induced.

With the sat phone I could call my wife once a day. I could communicate with work. To avoid the worst of 4 large storm systems we could download GRIBS reliably and plan our route. This kept us out of worst of a 970 millibar low at the end of June.

Getting weather on the sat phone was much quicker than using the SSB.

I did not have to go to class to learn how to use it. There were no glitches what so ever with the sat phone.

The SSB and Iridium costs were comparable plus or minus some change.

The bottom line is...if you want reliable communication when you are sitting in the middle of an ocean with impending storm systems the the sat phone is the only way to go IMHO. There is no messing around.

The SSB had its day in the sun but time marches on. New technology has made the SSB obsolete.
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Old 18-09-2010, 05:14   #92
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We crossed this from Halifax to Ireland summer with a new Icom M802 and a new Iridium with Xgate.

The SSB had its day in the sun but time marches on. New technology has made the SSB obsolete.
I'm interested. Could you please summarize the costs? Initial and running.
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Old 18-09-2010, 06:57   #93
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I believe Evans uses the Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception, which I also have.

Amazon.com

You can use this for receiving weather faxes on a computer by connecting the radio's audio output to the microphone input of the computer. You would run the JVComm32 software on the computer to decode the audio signals. Haven't done it myself.

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Originally Posted by akio.kanemoto View Post
I wasn't able to quote it - but Evans refers to a "Sony All Band" receiver in the first page of this thread - does anybody have any idea what he is referring to? A link to a product?

Are we talking about something that can be used to receive weatherfax transmissions (and plug into a computer etc for imaging etc?) Or is this just so Evans can listen to the news?
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Old 18-09-2010, 07:27   #94
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I'm interested. Could you please summarize the costs? Initial and running.
Fixed cost...
Roughly $2500 for the Iridium with in-cabin installation.
Roughly $2500 for the ICOM M802 SSB with antenna tuner

Recurring cost...
$1.30/minute for Iridium connect time
$10.00/month for XGATE (after activation)
$0.00

We interface a laptop to both the Iridium and the SSB.

I would estimate 5 minutes of air time to obtain a 50 kbyte GRIB. In summary, you could say that the recurring fee for the Iridium system buys you voice capability and reliability with no training.
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Old 18-09-2010, 07:37   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
We found the SSB was unreliable for listening in on Herb's weather routing. Additionally, communication with a yacht three days behind was unreliable. Some days he was loud and clear, some days marginal, and many days no communication. There were also a number of other issues arguably since we did not invest heavily into education on using the SSB may have been self induced.

With the sat phone I could call my wife once a day. I could communicate with work. To avoid the worst of 4 large storm systems we could download GRIBS reliably and plan our route. This kept us out of worst of a 970 millibar low at the end of June.
Interesting, and quite counter to my own experience. I have had the opportunity to be able to contrast the performance of SSB and sat phones side-by-side more than once. I have found SSB to be eminently reliable and in the end less frustrating than the sat phone with one single exception. The exception is being able to dial a number and speak to someone directly just like any other phone. Ship-to-shore connections through ShipCom is not as convenient.

On the other hand, weather routers like Herb Hilgenberg and Chris Parker are readily available over SSB, gribs are still available over HF e-mail, and wefax/Navtex beat gribs for useful information hands-down.

It does take some research and a little practice to understand enough about propagation to be helpful.

Governments, NGOs, commercial entities, and individuals worldwide will be quite surprised to here the technology is obsolete. All continue to use HF for operational purposes. Research facilities like DARPA continue to invest in advancing antennae technologies, propagation models, and modulations.
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Old 18-09-2010, 09:08   #96
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Sorry, I looked at his website and saw that Evans is using the ICF-SW77 radio and Weather Fax 2000 software.

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Originally Posted by JayH View Post
I believe Evans uses the Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception, which I also have.

Amazon.com

You can use this for receiving weather faxes on a computer by connecting the radio's audio output to the microphone input of the computer. You would run the JVComm32 software on the computer to decode the audio signals. Haven't done it myself.
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Old 18-09-2010, 09:43   #97
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Fixed cost...
Roughly $2500 for the Iridium with in-cabin installation.
Sorry, this I do not believe - please break it down
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Old 18-09-2010, 10:03   #98
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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
Sorry, this I do not believe - please break it down
I believe it. To get reliable performance with sat phone you want the car kit, external antenna, and all the bits and pieces to wire it all into the boat. That also avoids having to drag fragile electronics (like the phone and a laptop) on deck.
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Old 18-09-2010, 15:11   #99
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Interesting, and quite counter to my own experience. I have had the opportunity to be able to contrast the performance of SSB and sat phones side-by-side more than once. I have found SSB to be eminently reliable and in the end less frustrating than the sat phone with one single exception. The exception is being able to dial a number and speak to someone directly just like any other phone. Ship-to-shore connections through ShipCom is not as convenient.

On the other hand, weather routers like Herb Hilgenberg and Chris Parker are readily available over SSB, gribs are still available over HF e-mail, and wefax/Navtex beat gribs for useful information hands-down.

It does take some research and a little practice to understand enough about propagation to be helpful.
Just not our experience and many others this June in the North Atlantic. Communication was very spotty with Herb. The last 7 days of our trip we could not receive Herb at all. Additionally, there were 3 or 4 days when we could barely communicate with Herb. Then it was at a 60% level. Add that to the fact that total information exchange with Herb was taking about 1 1/2 hours. The Iridium takes five minutes.

We had the same experience with a boat 3 days behind us. Many times we could not communicate at the appointed time using the SSB. Also, they had the same problems receiving Herb.

Knowing the physics of EM propagation does not change the actual propagation from point A to point B at a given time.

Our Iridium sat phone worked 100% of the time on a 20 day crossing both with phone calls and receiving GRIBs.

DoD may be doing research with SSB related EM frequencies but that has nothing to do with current state-of-the-art of reliable communication at sea.
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Old 18-09-2010, 15:14   #100
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Sorry, this I do not believe - please break it down
SatPhoneStore Look at the marine package.
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Old 18-09-2010, 17:01   #101
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Recurring cost...
$1.30/minute for Iridium connect time

I would estimate 5 minutes of air time to obtain a 50 kbyte GRIB.
Ouch! I download hundreds of GRIBs each year. Not to mention all the email from my fan club members. US$6.50 per GRIB would hurt. But the GRIBS are trivial to get from the SSB. I'd like the satphone for calling my daughter, any price would be worth that.

On trick to greatly increase the reliability SSB traffic is to be flexible. If you are having trouble try waiting 20 minutes or two hours. Whatever inaudible gremlin was giving grief will usually have gone away.
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Old 18-09-2010, 18:17   #102
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Fixed cost...
Roughly $2500 for the Iridium with in-cabin installation.
Roughly $2500 for the ICOM M802 SSB with antenna tuner

Recurring cost...
$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.
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Old 19-09-2010, 02:35   #103
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Ouch! I download hundreds of GRIBs each year. Not to mention all the email from my fan club members. US$6.50 per GRIB would hurt. But the GRIBS are trivial to get from the SSB. I'd like the satphone for calling my daughter, any price would be worth that.

On trick to greatly increase the reliability SSB traffic is to be flexible. If you are having trouble try waiting 20 minutes or two hours. Whatever inaudible gremlin was giving grief will usually have gone away.
Most of the GRIBS we download are via our 15 dB WIFI system. We only use the satphone when in an isolated anchorage or on a long crossing.

We buy fixed minutes for the satphone (like a phone card.) So on the first round we bought 1000 minutes for the couple years of cruising we plan on doing.
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Old 19-09-2010, 05:44   #104
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Post SSB far from obsolete

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
The bottom line is...if you want reliable communication when you are sitting in the middle of an ocean with impending storm systems the the sat phone is the only way to go IMHO. There is no messing around.

The SSB had its day in the sun but time marches on. New technology has made the SSB obsolete.
I can relate to the idea that for certain communications the satphone is perfect.

That in itself, however doesn't make SSB obsolete. We used the SSB during all our crisscrossing on the Atlantic, from the Canaries to the Carrib, from the Carrib to Bermuda, from Bermuda to Canada, and during our 6 month travels along the Eastern seabord.

Biggest advance over satphone? Group/buddy talk. While crossing with the ARC in 2008 we knew where everybody was, just by listening and talking on the SSB. We were able to email via winlink on all but one day and get grib files and weather info. We also received weather faxes from NOAA via the SSB. And all that for free.

However, were it not for the cost we certainly would have bought a satphone as well, as we believe in redundancy.
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Old 19-11-2010, 21:00   #105
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