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Old 11-10-2006, 21:32   #1
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How do I set myself up with weatherfax?

Hi, I'm looking to set my boat up with weatherfax sometime soon so I can begin practicing for when I go offshore. My boat is equipped with a HAM radio (though I am NOT yet a licensed amateur) and I have a newer model laptop PC computer. What more do I need? Do I need an SSB transeiver specifically, or will the HAM radio work? What software do you recommend I purchase? Which software is the best blend of affordability/quality and reliability? Where should I go for this equipment? Any helpful info from those experienced in this area would be much appreciated! Thanks
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Old 12-10-2006, 06:31   #2
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Although it is somewhat slow, you can download weatherfaxes directly from your HF radio to your PC by connecting the audio output on the HF to the sound card input on the PC. Then use a fax program like Mscan Meteo

The faster performance, but more costly and complicated way is to install a modem like Pactor.

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Old 12-10-2006, 13:49   #3
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SSB is a type of signal. It happens that boating people say "SSB" when they really mean "marine band HF", because SSB is the type of signal that you use on the marine bands. Amateur radio ("ham radio") also uses SSB on HF.

In the US, you don't need a license to use that radio to listen. Quite a lot of amateur HF equipment can receive all across the shortwave frequencies, so it is likely that you can use your radio to receive weather fax, other marine HF channels, regular shortwave broadcast stations, HF aircraft bands, etc etc.

Get the manual for the radio and see if you can get it to tune to a weather fax frequency. The audio sounds rather distinctive. (You can find sound samples on some web sites, or just know that it is a tone that varies pitch as it scans the dots on the page. There is a distinctive half-second period to it.)

I have used the Windows program at - it is a free demo download, and if you want to keep it, you pay for a key that turns of the "demo feature". (Specifically, it stamps DEMO DEMO DEMO over parts of the received image. You can try it and see if it works with your computer and radio; if it doesn't you lose nothing. If it does, you pay for it and get a fully functional program.)

I was happy with JVCOMM when I was using it. It made remarkably good pictures, considering the radio setup I was using. (I had a regular AM shortwave receiver with BFO, which you can fiddle with to make it receive SSB though it doesn't do it particularly well.)
Mark S.
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Old 12-10-2006, 13:55   #4
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I agree with Mark, though we used JV Comm because George in the Caribe would also send slow scan TV images of weather as well. We used the marine SSB, ham will work just a well. Beside most of the cruisers we met only had ham radios and used it for ham and Marine SSB.

We just made a a connector of 2 8mm plugs and a length if wire so we could plug into the radio and the PC. It work great, was very cheap, and removed the expense the of the pactor and it related services.

Many of the cruisers we met had this setup. When we left the USA we only had a Sony Yachtboy reciever and had no problems with this either. We switched only after determining that a 2 way was not as luxury, but a safety item, but that is a different story.
Captain Bil formerly of sv Makai -- KI4TMM
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Old 12-10-2006, 14:51   #5
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Connector cord?

Thanks for the great replies guys. So If I'm not mistaken, the cord that you connect your radio to the PC with is simply a double-male audio cord? Or does it require some kind of USB connection on the PC end?
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