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Old 23-07-2019, 19:19   #1
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Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

Hi guys,
For cruising offshore, I'd like to know what are you thinking about using an Sat Phone like Iridium-Go unit for example, rather than SSB HF radio?
Thanks, Seb.
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Old 23-07-2019, 19:27   #2
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

Buy the Iridium-Go by all means but I would hang on to the SSB HF.....

Handy for weatherfax, cruising nets, etc etc....

What radio do you have?
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Old 23-07-2019, 19:31   #3
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

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Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
Buy the Iridium-Go by all means but I would hang on to the SSB HF.....

Handy for weatherfax, cruising nets, etc etc....

What radio do you have?
Absolutely
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Old 23-07-2019, 22:07   #4
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

I originally had an SSB with an Iridium satellite phone alongside. We got into trouble and called Maritime NZ on the SSB to make them aware of our situation. The very first question they asked after ďAre you OK?Ē was ďDo you have a satellite phone on board?Ē. When we said yes they got the number and called us. All communication from then on until the crisis was over was by phone and not by SSB.

Hence, I now have Iridium Go and to be honest, I donít think the SSB even works any more. I only communicate by telephone now. Not that Iridium Go is the greatest, data transfer speeds remind me of my first IBM XT. But reliability is much better than SSB.

The only reason I even keep the radio is because it simplifies things for a Cat 1 when leaving NZ
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Old 23-07-2019, 22:52   #5
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

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Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
Buy the Iridium-Go by all means but I would hang on to the SSB HF.....

Handy for weatherfax, cruising nets, etc etc....

What radio do you have?

I have a SEA 222 model (VEry old) that inherited from my boat purchase. It's not even connected anymore...
Plus HF would mean I need to learn how to use it but a Iridium-Go is just easier I would think.
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Old 24-07-2019, 08:31   #6
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

SSB requires your equipment and the equipment of the people you're communicating with to function.

Sat Phones etc. require your equipment, the other person's equipment and loads of equipment operated by global sat com's corporations to function.

The likelihood of the global sat com's equipment to fail is low, but sailors like to be independent, no? I like the idea of having both options available.
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Old 24-07-2019, 08:49   #7
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

I would think yes. The odds of getting through on SSB are iffy much of the time anyway. However, do you want to do email?
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Old 24-07-2019, 09:37   #8
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

SSB communications are poor now because of the low sunspot cycle. We are at the bottom of the cycle and it will get better.

Since your have the equipment installed why not just keep it. It is great for cruiser nets and listening to short wave radio (if your SSB is modern enough to have that feature).

When I was cruising we set up ad-hoc nets for ocean passages and we also had weather briefings from Herb on Southbound Two. There are still many weather gurus that run nets in various places.
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Old 24-07-2019, 09:51   #9
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

Satphones are great for communicating with people who have them, if you have their number. They're different from radios. If you get into trouble and need on-site help ASAP, you want to be able to communicate with anyone within listening distance, so they can respond and get to you ASAP. The boat that's only 15 miles away may not have a sat phone, but they're bound to have a radio. SSB increases your range, to make it perhaps more useful. Of course if it isn't working, it's of no use whatsoever.
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Old 24-07-2019, 11:27   #10
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

I took the advice from the old salts and invested in an SSB, Pactor 4 modem, and HAM license. What a mistake. I spent 2 years trying to get good connectivity. The voice transmissions are only decipherable half the time, and the data transmissions are incredibly slow. At first, I tried to use the HAM Winlink system. I would spend 2 hours trying to download a GRIB file. I then subscribed to the Sailmail service. The reliability of the connections to their stations was an order of magnitude better. I think the volunteer stations on the Winlink system don't keep their systems up to date. Also, Winlink just announced that Americans will no longer be able to use their system outside of North and South America due to licensing restrictions. Finally, I got an Iridium Go!. It is great. The data speed is another order of magnitude better than the Pactor 4 on Sailmail. I rarely use it for voice communications, which has significant delays when talking (perhaps 3 seconds). I use it for email, tracking, and Predict Wind (GRIB files). Also, don't believe them when they say that you can access the internet. I have tried and never gotten that to work. Still, with Sailmail and an Iridium Go! youcan download weather charts and forecast. You can also use it to monitor your other email accounts, which really helps when you are off shore for a couple of weeks. But don't use the Iridium provided email service. It is 100% dependent on their app working, which did not for several weeks. The Go! also has an SOS feature for emergency assistance. I still have my SSB, but it is the last device that I would reach for in an emergency (I don't think that many folks actually have them on, and what frequency do the monitor anyway?). The Go! will contact GOES, who can find the closest ship to come to your assistance. Make sure to get it from Predict Wind. They have a great service that really simplifies getting weather forecasts, but also their apps and support are much better than the Iridium ones. Frankly Iridium customer support sucks. Definitely pick the GO!
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Old 24-07-2019, 12:45   #11
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

[QUOTE=psk125;2938109]If you get into trouble and need on-site help ASAP, you want to be able to communicate with anyone within listening distance, so they can respond and get to you ASAP.

Immediate help is much more useful than a few hours at best!
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Old 24-07-2019, 12:45   #12
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

Options are good when the dominos start to break the wrong way offshore. Personally I like having every possible option at my disposal. If you have functioning SSB rig then what do you gain by ditching it?
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Old 24-07-2019, 13:14   #13
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

No doubt that the Iridium Go is easier to use and more immediate. If you are in trouble you send a quick message to friends and family with your position and they can organize the rescue while you are attending to the boat. You get a confirmation within seconds.

SSB is more of a hobby. When it works, it is great. When it does not work, you don't know if the problem is with your installation, connection, propagation or that simply there is no one on the frequency. If you agree it is a hobby and are willing to invest some time then you need the following:

- Install and test using voice, typically try 14.300 MHz if in the US
- Get Winlink with Winmor, VARA and a Pactor modem if you can find/afford one
- Make sure you can get some local connections and learn about propagation.
- Most of the time you will be getting GRIBs via email, Winlink is fine for that
- Next, get Fldigi and play with the MT63 digital mode through a soundcard. You will need to learn a lot and find other friends who use SSB/MT63 but what you will find is that using this mode you exchange short messages to pretty much anyone anywhere. It is an extremely robust mode that always gets the signal through. Typing speed.
- If you still have not given up, try emergency communications via PC-ALE
- Lastly, for your radio, get a program called PersonalDSC that will give you semi DSC

When all done, enjoy and go back to using Iridium Go to talk to friends and family.

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Old 24-07-2019, 13:48   #14
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

We are just on a break from cruising in the Marshall IS and Micronesia

We have an ICOM M 710 and Pactor III, and just added Iridium Go x the last year. Here is what I found:

The Iridium Go is excellent for emails, and weather. We also pay for Predict Wind that has been great for viewing GRIB files, and overall pretty good for weather routing. Reliability of the equipment, ability to connect and support from Predict Wind has been very good

We were happy to find that the SSB still has a value in connecting to cruising nets. We found the Yokwe net out of Majuro to be a great source of local info, check ins while on passages and a really good way to be part of the cruising community. Admittedly it is harder to rely on for real emergencies and fewer folks are listening. The Yokwe net also has reached out to local stations in the islands so that cruisers heading out to the outer islands have a contact and info when they arrive.

All that said if I had reasonable access to adding SSB I would still do it, maybe not on the Pactor is Iridium seems to be handling the communication work.
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Old 24-07-2019, 14:14   #15
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Re: Can I ditch my SSB radio for an Sat Phone type Iridium Go?

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Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
Satphones are great for communicating with people who have them, if you have their number. They're different from radios. If you get into trouble and need on-site help ASAP, you want to be able to communicate with anyone within listening distance, so they can respond and get to you ASAP. The boat that's only 15 miles away may not have a sat phone, but they're bound to have a radio. SSB increases your range, to make it perhaps more useful. Of course if it isn't working, it's of no use whatsoever.
To be fair, sat phones as they were 15 years ago are already redundant. Iridium Go! is a significant step forward from an Iridium telephone in that you donít call just another Iridium number, you call whoever you want, anywhere on the planet straight from your smart phone.

And if you have only an Iridium phone, all of the emergency agencies have Iridium numbers, just put the appropriate ones into your contacts on the phone and youíre into one-touch dialling which easily trumps trying to get through on SSB.

FYI, if you have both a phone and a Go!, the same SIM card works on both. Just the call rates for Go! which are less expensive revert to phone rates (more costly) but if the Go! stops working, the phone can take over by simply swapping the SIM. Since I already have both I keep them charged and ready.
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