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Old 22-01-2021, 08:46   #31
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

Handy tip, thanks. Radio arrives today so will start the learning curve shortly.
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Your biggest problem with over the air WEFAX will be achieving a good signal to noise ratio. A number of onboard devices are potential radiators of noise that can markedly diminish the quality of WEFAX reception. The typical Danfoss compressor controller is a common contributor, as are LED driver circuits for cabin and navigation lights, and even your laptop computer itself. Of course, you can always shut most of those items off when trying to get your WEFAX. Atmospheric noise will also be an issue, and this will vary from day to day and from frequency band to band, usually being worse on the lower frequencies. Don't be discouraged when you test ashore or at the marina. Noise interference on land has become a huge problem worldwide, and all the electronic devices on boats in a marina are the worst contributors.
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Old 22-01-2021, 14:02   #32
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

Hi again. I have been thinking about your post here. Other sources seem to suggest that these issues are Why a specific antennae is a good idea. A length that is specifically geared to the wavelength, 7 to 10 metres of wire is suggested, increases the reception quality of the specific band range used by wefax and reduces the noise from other bands. As I intend to Rig a second backstay anyway do you think righing that also as antenna would be useful?
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Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
Your biggest problem with over the air WEFAX will be achieving a good signal to noise ratio. A number of onboard devices are potential radiators of noise that can markedly diminish the quality of WEFAX reception. The typical Danfoss compressor controller is a common contributor, as are LED driver circuits for cabin and navigation lights, and even your laptop computer itself. Of course, you can always shut most of those items off when trying to get your WEFAX. Atmospheric noise will also be an issue, and this will vary from day to day and from frequency band to band, usually being worse on the lower frequencies. Don't be discouraged when you test ashore or at the marina. Noise interference on land has become a huge problem worldwide, and all the electronic devices on boats in a marina are the worst contributors.
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Old 22-01-2021, 15:18   #33
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

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Originally Posted by MrChris View Post
Hi again. I have been thinking about your post here. Other sources seem to suggest that these issues are Why a specific antennae is a good idea. A length that is specifically geared to the wavelength, 7 to 10 metres of wire is suggested, increases the reception quality of the specific band range used by wefax and reduces the noise from other bands. As I intend to Rig a second backstay anyway do you think righing that also as antenna would be useful?
For reception in the HF bands below about 21 MHz, a tuned, or resonant, antenna will not confer an advantage in signal to noise ratio. A resonant antenna will deliver more signal to the radio, but also an equivalent increase in received noise, such that the signal to noise ratio remains unchanged and readability is not improved. At those lower frequencies, the radio is already getting more than enough signal with a random length antenna of reasonable length. At frequencies above 21 MHz (roughly, depending on the radio's sensitivity), a tuned antenna might help to get the signal above the radio's own noise floor, and that would help readability.

Almost all antennas, excepting a vertical one free of nearby conductors, exhibit directionality in reception/transmission. Using that directionality - if you know what it is, can improve signal to noise ratio and give you a better WEFAX image, but on a boat, with shrouds, stays, and masts interacting with your antenna, it can be hard to be sure what that best direction is going to be. Most likely the best direction will be opposite all of those conductors.

So, for reception only, the exact length of your long wire antenna is not going to be at all critical. Generally, the longer the better. A good ground might help reduce noise, it is worth experimenting.

Chip
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Old 22-01-2021, 15:35   #34
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

So the earlier advice to just connect to a chain plate, and so (I guess) utilize ALL the rigging is good?
The ground that you suggest trying - can you elaborate a little on the physical setup?
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For reception in the HF bands below about 21 MHz, a tuned, or resonant, antenna will not confer an advantage in signal to noise ratio. A resonant antenna will deliver more signal to the radio, but also an equivalent increase in received noise, such that the signal to noise ratio remains unchanged and readability is not improved. At those lower frequencies, the radio is already getting more than enough signal with a random length antenna of reasonable length. At frequencies above 21 MHz (roughly, depending on the radio's sensitivity), a tuned antenna might help to get the signal above the radio's own noise floor, and that would help readability.

Almost all antennas, excepting a vertical one free of nearby conductors, exhibit directionality in reception/transmission. Using that directionality - if you know what it is, can improve signal to noise ratio and give you a better WEFAX image, but on a boat, with shrouds, stays, and masts interacting with your antenna, it can be hard to be sure what that best direction is going to be. Most likely the best direction will be opposite all of those conductors.

So, for reception only, the exact length of your long wire antenna is not going to be at all critical. Generally, the longer the better. A good ground might help reduce noise, it is worth experimenting.

Chip
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Old 22-01-2021, 15:59   #35
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

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So the earlier advice to just connect to a chain plate, and so (I guess) utilize ALL the rigging is good?
The ground that you suggest trying - can you elaborate a little on the physical setup?
I would definitely recommend trying a chain plate. As for an RF ground, I can't remember if the PL-880 has a convenient attachment for that. I have one but I can't remember and I'm out of town for a bit so can't check. You would run a wire from the radio to a bronze through-hull, the engine block, or a metal water tank. For noise reduction purposes, that wire should be as thick and short as possible, but anything you can do might help.
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Old 22-01-2021, 16:02   #36
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

Thanks! I will experiment and let you know.
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I would definitely recommend trying a chain plate. As for an RF ground, I can't remember if the PL-880 has a convenient attachment for that. I have one but I can't remember and I'm out of town for a bit so can't check. You would run a wire from the radio to a bronze through-hull, the engine block, or a metal water tank. For noise reduction purposes, that wire should be as thick and short as possible, but anything you can do might help.
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Old 22-01-2021, 16:30   #37
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

I should clarify that the ground wire to the radio would attach to something in contact with the chassis, which is usually electrically connected to the negative power supply. Donít attach to the antenna wire itself.
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Old 22-01-2021, 16:41   #38
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

The boat 12v system is all connected, how about direct to battery negative? I was thinking ground should be direct to sea. No reason except a feeling. . . .
The engine is directly adjacent so can get a wire to that simply enough and I have an 18 inch long battery cable that would fit.
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I should clarify that the ground wire to the radio would attach to something in contact with the chassis, which is usually electrically connected to the negative power supply. Donít attach to the antenna wire itself.
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Old 22-01-2021, 17:09   #39
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

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The boat 12v system is all connected, how about direct to battery negative? I was thinking ground should be direct to sea. No reason except a feeling. . . .
The engine is directly adjacent so can get a wire to that simply enough and I have an 18 inch long battery cable that would fit.


RF ground ideally direct to sea. Connection to house bank negative terminal might not be as good for noise mitigation.

Experimentation is your friend.
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Old 25-01-2021, 08:16   #40
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

If you can pick up a radio in Wichita KS, I will make you an incredible deal. I just don't want to mess with shipping. ICOM 710 RT with matching ICOM antenna tuner. $400. Pay when you pick it up. I have bench tested with long wire antenna for receiving and dummy load for checking transmission. Used SWR meter and frequency counter. To get internet, you will need to add a modem. I do not have a modem. Suggest you do much homework before making a purchase. If you get a HAM license, you can get free internet, but then you need a HAM rig, not a marine rig. Both have benefits and disadvantages. Marine vs HAM: there is no legal cross over. Different rigs, frequencies, and licenses.
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Old 25-01-2021, 08:26   #41
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup goeasy123 advice?

Hello,

Just noticed this old thread...

As a retired US Merchant Marine Radio Officer I would like to comment
goeasy123's advice on inexpensive SSB reception. The Sony ICF-SW7600GR
was always my recommendation to my shipmates for the best small portable
shortwave receiver. One can usually be had on Ebay for $100>$150 or a bit
less if one is patient.

Having tested many small portable receivers I believe the 7600 is the best.
Using one while on the ship I was able to get good reception and WEFAX charts
using my laptop and an old style decoder. More modern radio/computer interface
alternatives work even better and are cheaper.

In addition to being useful for WEFAX the Sony is fine for picking up what
international shortwave broadcasts that are still available. Very good on AM
broadcasts and even stereo on FM if run through an external amp/speaker setup.

Just my 2 cents worth...

Lucky Lars
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Old 25-01-2021, 08:34   #42
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

What about using an InReach and getting weather info from a pro (Chris Parker) or the folks back home?. Could you also have a portable SSB radio like the Grundig Yachtboy 400PE and receive weather faxes via the Black Cat App that prints them on your tablet?
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Old 25-01-2021, 08:58   #43
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

I soent $7,000 on an Icon 710 20 yrs ago. It has a pastor modem to send and receive sail mail. It saved my keisrer in a storm once but I have not used it in years. I recommend a sat phone instead. Look at SPOT and other Sat based systems fir weather and short messaging. Also be sure to have a epirb or personal sat emergency messaging system.
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:13   #44
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

Consider getting your amateur radio operators (HAM) license. In addition to learning about radio, it's a great hobby that you can practice from ashore or when underway.
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:15   #45
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Re: Cheapest SSB setup

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I am aged and electronically ignorant. After some research in this confusing subject I am heading toward SSB for weather faxes, and I also think at this point that I need an antennae which I may achieve by utilising the second backstay I am installing anyway (double duty for single outlay)
I can not afford all the things I might ideally need and anyway I intend to keep blue water stretches to the minimum but still need cheapest solution to weather info. I do not necessarily need to send except in emergency.
I would be most grateful for advice in regard to the simplest cheapest solution and recommended instruments?
Keep in mind that if you only want SSB for WEFAX, then you do not need a radio that is type accepted for marine use, and in fact you do not even need a transciever. You can use a HAM rig that receives all HF/MF frequencies. You can use a SWL (Short Wave Listening) receiver. You can even use a SDR (Software Defined Radio) and those are in order of decreasing cost. Then you will need software (some is free) and a simple interface, either an attentuator/isolator setup for a sound card solution, or a simple demodulator made from an op amp IC and a couple of diodes. Talking as little as around $20 for that. It is not as technologically involved as it sounds. You can get your foot in the door VERY cheaply, maybe about $300 all in, not counting a tired old laptop running maybe a Linux distro or an older version of Windoes or DOS. Even a Raspberry Pi. You might also look for a dedicated one-trick-pony WEFAX receiver.

Personally I would look for a good buy on an old Icom M-700 Pro transceiver or similar. An automatic tuner is highly recommended to match your antenna, even if you think you will never transmit. The nice thing about the M-700 Pro is it can be used as a HAM rig, as well as for SWL, Marine communications, WEFAX and RTTY and voice weather forecasts. You might enjoy listening or participating in nets, too.

There are a lot of SSB haters out there who will tell you it is a waste of time and money. Well, your boat is a waste of time and money, too, but you enjoy it anyway, right? So knock your own thing and walk your own way on this. You don't need to spend $3k+ in order to have full Marine SSB capability. You don't need to spend $1k+ for a decent SWL radio or a HAM rig, with WEFAX capability. You don't need to spend $300+ for a SDR setup. There are a lot of budget options that vary in cost pretty much in proportion to system capabilities and extra functions. And just because you have full or limited SSB capabilities does not mean that you can't also spring for a satellite communication system. They two are not mutually exclusive. Both offer advantages that the other does not have. IMHO if you are cruiding, you are probably best served on a low budget with an Iridium GO and a M700 PRO with an automatic tuner. No, the M700 does not have modern distress calling. However, it does give you the ability to communicate with multiple stations once they are alerted through the GMDSS system which can be initiated via your Iridium, I believe. The advantage of open frequency communications when surrounded by other vessels only minutes or a couple of hours away, should be obvious. But without DSC distress calling, you need satellite to initiate a distress message that will be received by GMDSS capable ship and shore stations in your area. Even if you opt for a full DSC radio like the M802, satellite communications can still be useful. Communications is a good area for belt and suspenders type thinking, and a completely illogical place to divide into two warring camps.

Now that the Icom M803 is out, you might start seeing M802 pulls on the market for a decent price. I recently bought an M802 and it is quite a nice radio, The M802 has one trememdous advantage over the M700 Pro radio, and that is DSC distress calling. There is no longer a USCG listening watch, AFAIK, on 2182 kHz any more. Old school radios won't be nearly as useful as more modern radios, for distress calling.

The M803 looks like an incredible radio, but not on a tight budget. Still, wow. Check out reviews online for all three of the radios I mantioned above. Also you might find an old SEA 222 or an old Sailor SSB for chimp change, but again talking about no GMDSS capability and awkward HAM or SWL operation. Read up on these old "boat anchor" radios and what you are getting into when you pick something like that.

Your boat. Do it like you feel it.
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