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Old 10-11-2017, 05:08   #1
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Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

The boat we are purchasing has the following existing electronics:


B&G 4G Radar, Touch 12 Chart Plotter, V50 VHF Radio with Wireless Remote (Remote Charger mounted at Helm Station) (NEW 2015).

ICOM IC-M700 Pro SSB with Pactor Modem, AT130 Antenna Tuner, Antenna integrated in to Port Shroud. (ICOM does not appear to work)

Globalstar Satellite Phone with Car Kit and External Antenna.

Si-Tex Class B AIS Transceiver (NEW 2015).


12 Volt Marine Grade Computer/Monitor (NEW 2015)

Wx-Worx XM Weather Receiver (NEW 2012).

Ubiquity Wireless Amplifier with antenna mounted on aft arch

GoFree wireless to view chartplotter onIPad


Our immediate plans are to cruise from Texas around Florida then to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, the current owner never used/doesn't know anything about the above equipment.

We're trying to decide what to keep and what to replace for receiving weather/minor text communication. Wondering if some of you might have an opinion whether we should try to use the existing equipment or ditch most of it in favor of an InReach or something similar.

The SSB does not appear to work, although I am by no means qualified. I've tried to watch some videos to get a basic understanding, but they are mostly using the 802 and hard to draw parallels. It powers on but I can't get it to receive anything but static.

Of course, we need a reliable way to get weather - the WxWorks on Water XM based software looks OK, but it requires a $50 setup fee and $29.99 per month. Anyone use it? I hate to pay the setup and year subscription if it's a dud. I don't see much discussion of it online so maybe it's outdated?

The Globalstar phone looks operational, but again, I'd have to buy a plan to test it. Looks like it's powering a OCens email account on the computer. From online opinions, Globalstar is probably not a "first choice" for sat phones.

So, bottom line, I think this setup worked for a previous owner several years ago....but we hate to try to make ancient systems work when there may be MUCH better solutions out there.

Opinions?











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Old 10-11-2017, 07:27   #2
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

You have a fine suite of very suitable electronics for your planned use/itinerary. If the manuals for all of your equipment are not with the Ship's Papers (they should be) they available on line and can be found with relatively simple searches. (Gordon May, another subscriber on this forum is the "Guru" of search and can certainly help you if necessary.) Reading them will give you about all you need to know. The oldest piece of gear you have seems to by the M-700 Pro SSB but that is a very robust and reliable piece of equipment and not difficult to use. Read the manual.

FWIW...
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:53   #3
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

If you can't figure out the old equipment, you will have the same issues with new stuff. A marine SSB radio installation is a bit more complex than a couple of blister-packed FRS radios from WalMart. If you expect it to work when needed, you WILL need the manuals (available from the maker or online) which will require some reading. And, more reading for the integration with the tuner (a critical part) and the antenna (also critical). Your best bet with that may be to find a local marine electronics tech who does already know the equipment, to come out and check it all and fix it up as needed. You'll still benefit from reading the manuals before they come out, so you've got a better idea of what they are doing.
Likewise with the rest of the gear. For many users, GlobalStar and Iridium will be "just the same". In some locations, Iridium will be better. That can also be researched more online.
But since what you've got isn't terribly old, or horribly obsolete, and you know that it probably DID work at one time...If there are no manuals, get them, in print or online. If you get them online, laser print them, it is more durable than inkjet. It is very easy to misconfigure all these things, or have one simple wire fail and manage to take them all down. The equipment itself rarely just dies, unless there was something crucial like a lightning strike on the boat, which should leave some visible traces.
Again, the electronics tech won't be cheap--but will cut many hours off the learning curve. Sometimes, years of hands-on experience and training is worth the price.
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Old 10-11-2017, 13:47   #4
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

Wow! Your kit is a generation ahead of ours/ no, two generations. As others have said, get the manuals and learn to use what you've got
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:49   #5
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

Incidentally from my experience SSBs don't work in marinas due to other masts and rigs affecting them, we'll at least mine wouldn't.
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:55   #6
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

Thanks for that info - I'll check that out.
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Old 11-11-2017, 10:00   #7
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

2015 is "ancient"? Hmm.

Most marine electronics are used for at least 7 to 10 years -- longer than consumer electronics. And often much longer than that. 2 years old is fine -- use it and enjoy.

For simple text communications, buy a Yellow Brick or Delorme In Reach. Excellent, cheap communications which work anywhere.

For weather -- there are a multitude of means. See the forum archives for details. If it were me, I would pull down wefax and navtex from the SSB.

If the SSB doesn't work, then you can fix it. If you feel like playing with it, the you can join SailMail and send and receive email with it, besides participating in the nets. But there's not all that much more you can do with plain text email over SailMail, which you can't do with a DeLorme, so you don't have to wrestle with this if you don't have time or inclination.
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Old 11-11-2017, 18:18   #8
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

The B&G radar is excellent, but, again, read the manual and practice in good visibility.
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Old 12-11-2017, 04:43   #9
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

You asked for opinions so here is one person's.

Given the plans I would just use the internet over a cell phone. If you want something easier to read then you can turn on as a Hotspot and use your computer or tablet. I tend to use PredictWind.com and Windyty.com the most. This was my primary WX source from California to the Chesapeake over a two year period and never had a problem. Sometimes getting wifi was harder, but the whole world has it now so never a real issue. SSB or Iridium is good way to reach wx routers for offshore legs.
.

If you are coast hopping I doubt you will ever be out of coverage, and even if so would be for short periods. Your VHF radio probably sounds an alarm if the NWS issues any warning for wherever you are.


Have heard good things about the Siuirus/XM wx program but never personally used it.

Both InReach and Iridium GO are good for texting although the InReach wx is not that good IMHO. Iridium GO seems very good although pricerer than InReach. We never had a problem using the unlimited InReach texting when at sea. The tracking feature is nice as friends on shore can easily follow your progress. I have an EPIRB on board but the InReach and SSB would be used before I would ever think of activating the EPIRB in an emergency since you can communicate the issue with those instead of just sending an SOS.


I have never heard anything good about Globalstar so I would lighten ship with that equipment. . SSB is totally overkill for along the coast. If offshore you can download faxes from USCG broadcasts (viewfax lets you see them and integrates with OpenCPN on a computer).

There you are. Just emember, sinmetimes free advice is invaluable, and sometimes it is worth what you paid for it. :-)
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Old 13-11-2017, 21:18   #10
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Re: Keep existing electronics for weather/comm? Or buy new?

Fairly obvious from the nature of his inquiry and the recent vintage of most of his electronic gear, that OP would not be too interested, and probably overwhelmed, to try to sort out all this by reading manuals. Probably needs serious time with a pro tech or very knowledgeable friend followed by a lot of study and use of all equipment on his own time.

I speak humbly. I know that evaluating this much gear would take me a few weels of my time and lots of patience.
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