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Old 24-03-2023, 17:18   #1
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HF WxFax software options

Can anyone advise ?
I have an SSB with an older Pactor2 modem.
Iíd like to receive scheduled HF wxFax charts.
What software should I use on my PC.
I really donít need SailMail email, so Iíd prefer not to purchase their subscription.

Thanks
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Old 24-03-2023, 21:52   #2
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Re: HF WxFax software options

You can download the Airmail p[rogram and use it to receive and decode weather faxes without having a Sailmail subscription.
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Old 24-03-2023, 23:15   #3
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Re: HF WxFax software options

I used a handheld shortwave receiver (with an antenna -- basically just a long wire -- hoisted up the mast) on my last boat to receive WeFax data with some success. I would just plug in a 3.5mm audio cable into the audio out port on the receiver, and either plug it into my computer, or into an audio recorder.

To decode, I used Fldigi: W1HKJ Software

None of it is super convenient, especially not compared to all the satellite alternatives now available, but might be handy in a pinch/back-up/ or if you just like to tinker.

I made a video a while back on the way I did it:
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Old 25-03-2023, 04:12   #4
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Re: HF WxFax software options

There is also a Plug-in for OpenCPN which can decipher these audio files and overlay them on your nav charts...
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Old 25-03-2023, 04:46   #5
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Re: HF WxFax software options

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
You can download the Airmail p[rogram and use it to receive and decode weather faxes without having a Sailmail subscription.
That would require an Amateur Radio license, General or higher..there’s no mention by the OP if he has one..just say’n
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Old 25-03-2023, 14:07   #6
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Re: HF WxFax software options

Thanks all,
I took a closer look at my modem. To attach to a laptop Iíd need the old screw down pin connector like the old hdmi.( not sure what the official name is.)
Probably hard to find a working laptop with that type of port as well.
Iíll try the app that you put your iPad close to the SSB speaker and it produces the radio fax product . Should work if the engin isnít running.?
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Old 25-03-2023, 15:26   #7
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Re: HF WxFax software options

Some clarification might be in order. WXFax can be received in 2 ways.

Strictly speaking, to receive a weather fax all you need is a radio receiver, no license, no modem. At the scheduled time you tune the receiver to the correct frequency, connect the audio of the receiver into your laptop microphone input, and your laptop decodes the fax. The receiver could be an SSB radio, or a cheap radio like Ryban talks about.

The second way, which utilizes 2-way communication, the pactor modem, and does require a license, is that you setup Sailmail or another similar SSB email service. You then make a request for a fax by emailing saildocs, and saildocs will email you the fax.

The second way, aside from needing the more expensive SSB radio, modem, and a license, allows you to receive a fax when it is convenient for you, instead of you needing to standby and receive it when it is broadcast. It also provides a clear fax with no distortions or missing pieces, as will often happen because of interference or poor reception during a scheduled broadcast.

So, you need to decide what way you choose to receive it. If the first way take a look at https://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Softw...ather_and_FAX/
or a newer more modern program:
https://www.blackcatsystems.com/soft...ather_fax.html

If you want the second way (which is far superior IMHO) then you need to look into Sailmail or it's alternatives. Winlink is free, and will work for what you need. Both require a license, Sailmail a Ships Station License, and Winlink a HAM license.

The connector you are looking at on you modem is a DB9 RS232 port. There are cheap adapters to convert that to USB. There shouldn't be any issue connecting it to a modern laptop. https://www.cdw.com/product/tripp-li...122006?pfm=srh
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Old 25-03-2023, 15:46   #8
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Re: HF WxFax software options

If you just want to receive weather fax, the optimal way is to have a portable SSB radio, connected via a microphone cable to an old phone that runs a weather fax app, for example the HF Weather Fax app available for android and iPhone. In this setup, you will draw about 200 mA for the radio and about 150 mA for the phone, so you can leave the combo on 24 hours a day with little impact on your batteries.

If you want to improve on this, you can have an SSB transceiver + your Pactor II modem. You connect to the modem via a serial port (you need a USB to serial cable that then plugs into that round connector on the modem). You then control your model via a command line interface (easy) and the modem receives the faxes and stores them in its memory. You can then retrieve the faxes from a computer or phone. Total current draw will be around 1-1.5A for the radio and 300 mA for the Pactor, so it can become significant over time. If you connect a laptop, it will be a little easier to manipulate the images on a bigger screen but the current draw will kill you. In this case, it is better to get Winlink and just download the images that you need. Alternatively, you can set up a schedule and log in at specific times when the faxes of your interest will be broadcast but it requires discipline.

This is where an InReach becomes so valuable. You can request weather at a specific location ahead of you and it comes immediately. Very low power, very efficient.
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Old 25-03-2023, 16:20   #9
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Re: HF WxFax software options

Thanks again all!
I think you have covered everything.
On the ships I used to work on we relied on the wx fax from the old furuno thermal paper unit. And email through sitor. But it certainly has been a while.
Since my boat has the SSB and modem Iíll give it a go.

Appreciate it.

Doug
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Old 30-03-2023, 17:09   #10
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Re: HF WxFax software options

Doug,
Okay, that you've got it sorted-out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Norma Mae View Post
Thanks again all!
I think you have covered everything.
On the ships I used to work on we relied on the wx fax from the old furuno thermal paper unit. And email through sitor. But it certainly has been a while.
Since my boat has the SSB and modem Iíll give it a go.

Appreciate it.

Doug
But, just in case you desire some more info, recent real-world use examples, etc....have a look...


Good HF WeFax Reception, on-board at the dock, March 2021 (real world)
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ld-248424.html


Offshore Weather videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY









Yes, I use a new Furuno FAX-408....replaced my older Alden MarineFaxIV....

I hope this helps?

John
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