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View Poll Results: Your HF usage in the past year
I sail offshore and use HF/SSB as my primary means of over-the-horizon, two-way communications 14 21.54%
I sail offshore and use satellite as my primary means but find two-way HF/SSB useful also 15 23.08%
I sail offshore and use satellite as my only means of two-way over-the-horizon comms 12 18.46%
I am a coastal cruiser and find two-way HF/SSB useful 9 13.85%
I use RECEIVE ONLY HF/SSB for weather, time, or news and don't have or don't use transmit capability 10 15.38%
VHF, cellular, and EPIRB are all I need 15 23.08%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 14-01-2022, 09:30   #31
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

We don’t have a SSB radio, but have friends who do, and they wouldn’t be without it, they are constantly in use on their boats, we may pick up a second hand unit for ourselves, they don’t appear to be overly complex to install.

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Old 14-01-2022, 10:05   #32
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

If you stick close to land, even if you're going a few miles off-shore, you might be able to get by without an SSB. We sailed back and forth from VA to Lat 16 and below for four years and always used our SSB. We also used our SSB on our transatlantic crossing.

We had a sat phone, and it never worked when we needed it.

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Old 14-01-2022, 10:20   #33
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

Just covered this recently in another post. Yes, I like and use SSB in addition to Satellite. The nets are a great tool and social facilitator.
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Old 14-01-2022, 10:42   #34
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom and Maje View Post
If you stick close to land, even if you're going a few miles off-shore, you might be able to get by without an SSB. We sailed back and forth from VA to Lat 16 and below for four years and always used our SSB. We also used our SSB on our transatlantic crossing.

We had a sat phone, and it never worked when we needed it.

Maje
Strange, guess you need to have your sat phone repaired then or replaced. We never had any problem with ours
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Old 14-01-2022, 11:28   #35
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

HF/SSB/Pactor by choice. Email four times faster than Iridium. Weatherfax much better than gribs. I find the nets extremely useful and pleasant. Informal and formal fleet nets are very helpful if you're toward the back of the pack but helpful for the fast ones up front as well. Plus HF/SSB is part of GMDSS.

On delivery of boats without HF/SSB I carry a Tecsun PL-880 HF/SSB receiver for weather fax.

Satellite when I must. Clunky and slow. Direct dial makes a ton of sense if you have dependents in care or business interests ashore.

Iridium GO! in particular I find poor. No useful interface to a real computer so getting gribs (bad as they are) overlaid on navigation is untenable.

Starlink, when it comes for offshore (I think 2025), will be a game changer for cruising. Not sure I can make room for that in my go bag for delivery.
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Old 14-01-2022, 13:04   #36
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

We have a SSB here in NZ. Not many nets are in range, but I like to keep the SSB operational anway. Just replaced the high voltage cable with some new GTO15.

We have Pactor 3 for email and its setup ready to go, but only coastal at the moment so not subscribed.

Anyone who wants to try to connect to NZ on a good day from West Coast USA PM me.

What I can fathom is why second hand SSB sets hold there price so well since they seem to be dying out.
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Old 14-01-2022, 13:17   #37
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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What I can fathom is why second hand SSB sets hold there price so well since they seem to be dying out.
Because they work? Because they aren't dying out?

The US Navy has been adding HF/SSB back to warships.
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Old 14-01-2022, 14:45   #38
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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Because they work? Because they aren't dying out?

The US Navy has been adding HF/SSB back to warships.
You don't need to convince me. I was just wishing they were cheaper :-)
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Old 14-01-2022, 19:12   #39
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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So, serious question. Who's still using HF? What are you using it for? Are you glad you have it? Is it worth it?
Good questions, but not quite fair during these Covid times when those of us in SE Asia haven't been able to move much for the last 2 years. So my answers are for pre-Covid, more normal cruising times.
  • Yes, we've had an SSB for 20 years (& for 8 years in the 80s) & we use it, though not as much as we used to. Cell towers are much more ubiquitous these days when close to land.

  • We use SSB mostly for our all-important weather (GRIBs) sent over Winlink when on passage.

    But we also join the occasional rally, & there's often an SSB net so folks can keep track of each other & pass news of anchorages or issues they're having.

    In 2019 we went with 3 other boats from NE Indonesia over the top of PNG & into the Solomon Islands (& back). During the offshore legs we often got out of VHF range so we had an SSB net to make sure everyone was OK. Even when we weren't on passage, we didn't all sail together all the time, so we used SSB to keep in touch.

  • Certainly glad we have it. I have no other means to get GRIBs in the middle of the oceans, & that's been extremely useful.

  • "Worth it" is more of a personal decision. For us, safety is paramount, & it's a form of safety gear. As a HAM, I can get on one of the worldwide nets & have a doctor (or other specialist) on the other end of the line pretty quickly in an emergency.

    But also, we're pretty social, & we enjoy the social aspects of cruising, sharing information, & sharing the good times.

As a side-note, we also have an Iridium phone, but we haven't used it since 2004 as the rates just got too high ($750/yr for 500 minutes) & we didn't use it enough to justify that. But we're watching StarLink very closely. Looks like it's about a year out for boats mid-ocean. The increased bandwidth over Iridium might make it worthwhile, even at $1,200/yr.

SSB offers a form of communication that's different from (& often better than) internet posts, texts, or even phone-calls to a single other person. You can talk to a whole group of interested folks at once, & the quality of your voice transmits more than just written words on a messaging app.
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Old 14-01-2022, 19:44   #40
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

We are now coastal cruisers but our coastal cruises often take us out of cellular or VHF range.

Our SSB still does what it has always done:
  1. Receive grib files
  2. receive other voice and text weather broadcasts
  3. Allow us to participate in SSB radio nets, and exchange traffic requests
  4. Send and receive email in which our contacts can keep using our regular email addresses
  5. Receive text versions of world and local news.

When in Cell range, we use cell. Outside of that we use the SSB.
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Old 15-01-2022, 01:33   #41
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
HF/SSB/Pactor by choice. Email four times faster than Iridium. Weatherfax much better than gribs. I find the nets extremely useful and pleasant. Informal and formal fleet nets are very helpful if you're toward the back of the pack but helpful for the fast ones up front as well. Plus HF/SSB is part of GMDSS.

On delivery of boats without HF/SSB I carry a Tecsun PL-880 HF/SSB receiver for weather fax.

Satellite when I must. Clunky and slow. Direct dial makes a ton of sense if you have dependents in care or business interests ashore.

Iridium GO! in particular I find poor. No useful interface to a real computer so getting gribs (bad as they are) overlaid on navigation is untenable.

Starlink, when it comes for offshore (I think 2025), will be a game changer for cruising. Not sure I can make room for that in my go bag for delivery.
If you want that speed on HF you will need pactor4. The price of this modem + HF rig + antenna setup + proper grounding are exorbitant in price… iridium GO is a very affordable and very reliable much much cheaper alternative
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Old 15-01-2022, 03:55   #42
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

I’m puzzled that the discussion is over two different paradigms. Radio is broadcast. Anyone can hear. Sat is specific point to point. HF and local VHF do not require infrastructure. (VHF relay does). Sat is an amazing leap forward but if there is a world crisis satellites and infrastructure are prime targets, either physically destroying or programmatically disabling.
That’s why military all over the world are returning to HF (and also celestial navigation).

HF is somewhat like life jackets, and fire extinguishers, and flares. If you need ‘em they’re there and no one can take them from you.
Maybe we’ll be lucky and there’ll be no international crisis. But when all else fails, HF will allow you to talk to someone/anyone else - somewhere - without depending on any other infrastructure.
In the big Venn diagram they are quite different but share significant overlap.

In my view Satellite is best, while it works, and costs a pretty penny, but HF is free, and will always be there. You can’t really compare them.
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Old 15-01-2022, 05:20   #43
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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If you want that speed on HF you will need pactor4. The price of this modem + HF rig + antenna setup + proper grounding are exorbitant in price… iridium GO is a very affordable and very reliable much much cheaper alternative
The numbers I used are for Pactor IV. Pactor III is still 2.5-3 times faster than Iridium.

I don't know where you get exorbitant. That last time I ran numbers the payback time for increased upfront capital cost of HF/SSB over satellite (increased running cost) was about three years.

Iridium GO! has a lot of drawbacks. Single account, difficulty moving weather information to other devices, Chiclets keyboard on phone or tablet. You are including the GO! car kit in your accounting? Because GO! is not so reliable if you don't.
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Old 15-01-2022, 05:50   #44
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

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The numbers I used are for Pactor IV. Pactor III is still 2.5-3 times faster than Iridium.



I don't know where you get exorbitant. That last time I ran numbers the payback time for increased upfront capital cost of HF/SSB over satellite (increased running cost) was about three years.



Iridium GO! has a lot of drawbacks. Single account, difficulty moving weather information to other devices, Chiclets keyboard on phone or tablet. You are including the GO! car kit in your accounting? Because GO! is not so reliable if you don't.
3 year payback even considering the SailMail subscription? The numbers don't look like that for my use case

I love radio, am an Extra Class radio amateur, love my ICOM M802 and Pactor III, and successfully get weather data with it. I love different things you can do with HF radio you can't do with satellite comms. However, having used Iridium Go for a summer in the Arctic, I have to say, Go is much more efficient for weather and text email. It just works, with no futzing around, and you don't need the external antenna if you put the unit under your spray hood. Transferring gribs and other data to the navigation computer is trivial. Typing emails with a Bluetooth keyboard is as easy as with any other device.

Since the change of rules, U.S. licensed amateurs can't use Winlink for most email communication, which means you need a SailMail subscription for email. A year of SailMail (minimum subscription) is not much cheaper than a summer of unlimited Iridium data.

So even having all the HF radio equipment already, Iridium Go makes a lot of sense and I'll probably acquire another one this Spring (I sold my previous one after the Arctic trip).
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Old 18-01-2022, 06:44   #45
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Re: It's 2022. What have you used your HF (SSB) for lately?

Use SSB all the time, find it very useful.
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