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Old 21-11-2017, 13:40   #1
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Current state of affairs for HF

I searched the forums and some other sources but all the information I could find is badly out of date.

What is the current state of HF radio for people who are new to cruising? Does it remain a widely deployed technology?

Are people still setting up sailmail accounts?

What satellite services are available to individual cruisers, that are replacing HF? How do the costs compare, currently? Does anyone have current pricing from Shipcom for public correspondence service?

Are the amateur radio cruising nets drawing new cruisers?

Did Icom ever start selling HF marine transceivers in the US again, after their spat with the FCC? If not, are there any lawful ways to buy a new HF transceiver for a US-flagged vessel?
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Old 21-11-2017, 14:11   #2
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

HF is on the brink of a comeback. As global militaries and crisis response personnel recognize the dangers of VoIP, satellite, etc., they are taking a fresh look at HF.
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Old 21-11-2017, 14:25   #3
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Current state of affairs for HF

Every time a hurricane comes thru the US the FCC is reminded they don’t want to take any spectrum away from the hams.

I don’t think HF is going away any time soon.

Cost comparison is going to depend on how long you expect to use the system, how complex a system you build and whether you can maintain it yourself.
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Old 21-11-2017, 14:28   #4
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

I have a 802 on board but never use it anymore...Garmin Inreach is my goto now.
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Old 21-11-2017, 14:48   #5
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

I have HF and a pactor modem. It's pretty great.
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Old 21-11-2017, 14:58   #6
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Cost comparison is going to depend on how long you expect to use the system, how complex a system you build and whether you can maintain it yourself.
I know a thing or two about radio.

Mainly I'm wondering about recurring costs for satellite vs. shore station charges.
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Old 21-11-2017, 17:05   #7
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

I got my HAM licence so my email over my ICOM 802 Pactor modem is free. That's how I get my weather info as well.
Crossing the Pacific with the daily Pacific Seafarers Net was very comforting.
Talking to buddy boats on passage was good as well.
I believe that ICOMs are being sold legally again in the USA.
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Old 21-11-2017, 17:23   #8
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

On our recent Atlantic passage I had a working SSB for the first time and was pleased to have it mainly to listen in on weather routing advice that other boats had subscribed to, as well as join nets. It was interesting, and fun, and I liked the peace of mind that it was a backup to my sat phone. There's a good community of users.

I used the sat phone for daily weather/routing updates, email, and text. There's no sense of community with a sat phone, but it's great for staying in touch with home.

I just checked and Defender is selling the Icom 802 online, so the FCC issues must have been sorted out.

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Old 21-11-2017, 18:29   #9
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

We spend 5 or 6 months a year on our boat in the SE USA and in the Bahamas. www.irish-eyes-to-the-bahamas.blogsport.com

We have an Icom IC-m710 aboard and use it daily. It is licenced as a marine radio station and I am a ham. Here is how we use it.

We regularly sign in to the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club (ham) reporting our position which our children and grandchildren can follow on the internet.

We occasionally listen to the Cruiseheimers Net (marine) and less frequently speak. They are great about answering questions about the boat or providing local knowledge.

We get the biggest part of our daily voice weather information over HF from Chris Parker (marine), BASRA (marine or ham), or the USCG (marine).

We can receive weather fax by HF with the radio and a computer when we do not have the internet to get to Gulf and Tropical Atlantic WX Briefing Package .

We can send and receive email by HF using Winlink/Winmor (ham) with the radio, a SingnaLink external sound card, and a computer when we do not have internet access. We can also get weather information including GRIB files this way.

We use the HF radio to talk to our friends who are outside of VHF range (ham and marine).

The HF radio is a handy thing. I would not be without it.
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Old 22-11-2017, 09:52   #10
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

HF is alive and well....there are about 750,000 licensed hams in the US alone.

I love PSK31 digital as well as Olivia.

Lots of fun. Get your license, not that hard. Code is no longer required.

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Old 22-11-2017, 11:39   #11
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

I have an M802 on my boat. I mainly use it with a Pactor modem to download GRIB files and get weather forecasts by email. I keep in touch with family by email too. I have to say that I don’t think the technology is worth the time and expense. The connectivity is hit and miss and the sound is the usually too distorted to have a “conversation“. I went to the trouble of getting my HAM license, but I found the Winlink system to be almost impossible to get a connection long enough to download a GRIB. I did switch to Sailmail and have had a lot more success using it. Meanwhile satellite technology like the Iridium GO just keeps getting better and cheaper. SSB’s can be quite difficult to troubleshoot if they aren’t working and there are few “experts” to get help from. If I had it to do over again, I would pick a satellite based communication system - save money on the purchase and apply it to service minutes.
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Old 22-11-2017, 17:04   #12
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

HF is a live and well, 14300 is active every day to help cruisers. The FCC allowed a waver for the M802 as it is the only real marine MF/HF SSB radio cruisers can afford. Here is what they said in the waver approval.


FCC Documents: DA-17-960A1.pdf


If you are deciding on an M802, ham radio or Sat phone, you should read what the FCC states in the waiver section 8:
8. Based on the record before us, we conclude that grant of the requested waiver is in the public interest. The record before us indicates that without the M802, there is no affordable MF/HF DSC radio for vessels not subject to the GMDSS requirements. Use of a DSC radio—even one that does not perform all of the parallel automated procedures required by ITU-R M.493-13—offers important advantages over non-DSC alternatives. For example, satellite radios communicate on a one-to-one basis,
so distress calls will not be heard by surrounding vessels. Similarly, non-DSC distress calls likely will not be heard by DSC-equipped vessels, which are required to monitor only the DSC distress channel.
Consequently, grant of a waiver will contribute to the safety of vessels in distress.

Clearly being able to contact ships at sea is the primary advantage of DSC. The can be close contacts, within a 100 miles when off shore a long way. If all you can afford is a Ham rig, get a Sat Phone it will be much better than a Ham Rig as only the US Coast Guard is listening to other than DSC. As long as you program the numbers in for help you should be OK for coastal sailing. If you plan to cross an ocean, wait until you can afford the proper tools, at least an ICOM M802. There are better units, but they cost almost double. T
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Old 22-11-2017, 17:12   #13
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

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Originally Posted by TLSparks View Post
. . . If you plan to cross an ocean, wait until you can afford the proper tools, at least an ICOM M802. There are better units, but they cost almost double. T
I don't think that an HF radio and/or SatComm are required tools therefore I don't think that not having either is a reason to wait.
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Old 22-11-2017, 17:31   #14
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

Jim is the ham on our boat, and he is still active. There is a partially marine mobile, partially land based, net on 40 m. here on the East Coast of Oz. Tony's Net is still active, the last I heard, based in NZ. The Maritime Service net is still going as well.

When we are out of internet range, Jim uses the ham radio and the Pactor to do both text messaging and getting grib files for the weather. At Sea, we communicate with the other yachties via ham radio, and also with land based stations.

When you are out of range of the land based sources of weather information, which is much of the time, during a Pacific crossing, SSB provides usable weather information, and is also a way of communicating with family and friends "back home."

In a sense, it is not necessary, as one adjusts to whatever weather one encounters. On the other hand, knowing there's a low forming up in the Solomons, days before it becomes a cyclone, does give one the opportunity to get out of its way.

Satphone can provide the information, too, but some people have had difficulty with subscriptions to it, and it is rather pricey. However, it is certainly more modern than ham radio.

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Old 22-11-2017, 17:34   #15
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Re: Current state of affairs for HF

Get the M802 and other items that go along with it and a HAM General Ticket.
Since you will have the General Class ticket you can have the M802 opened up for the HAM frequency.

The others that were mentioned (not by brand) start out at price of just over $7 grand.
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