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Old 10-05-2021, 06:36   #1
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Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

Considering adding a stand alone weatherfax. Does it still make sense?
I know there are much more sophisticated options.
Donít have SSB or ham and not inclined towards that complexity.
Donít want something that needs a subscription or much computer expertise.
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Old 10-05-2021, 11:54   #2
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
Considering adding a stand alone weatherfax. Does it still make sense?
I know there are much more sophisticated options.
Donít have SSB or ham and not inclined towards that complexity.
Donít want something that needs a subscription or much computer expertise.
I'm fascinated by SSB systems. But as I read about them I'm convinced the complexity would force me to totally give up boating and focus soley on SSB.
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Old 10-05-2021, 12:30   #3
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

I'm adding it to my boat since the backstay was already insulated from someone's previous SSB installation. If you only want to receive and not transmit anything, it's pretty straightforward. I paid $200 for a used SITEX HF receiver to decode the signal. It goes straight into a laptop's microphone connection, and the software to decode and display the weatherfax is free. So my installation is $200, no subscription, and minimal computer hassles.
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Old 10-05-2021, 14:05   #4
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

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I'm adding it to my boat since the backstay was already insulated from someone's previous SSB installation. If you only want to receive and not transmit anything, it's pretty straightforward. I paid $200 for a used SITEX HF receiver to decode the signal. It goes straight into a laptop's microphone connection, and the software to decode and display the weatherfax is free. So my installation is $200, no subscription, and minimal computer hassles.
So that setup gives you a printe heat chart fax? or is it an audio transmission you can listen to?
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Old 10-05-2021, 14:33   #5
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

Weatherfax is a fax signal.

You can listen if you speak 1980's 2400baud modem, but a fax to image program might work better for you.

I haven't successfully done the entire thing from scratch yet, it's still a work in progress, but I've downloaded an audio file, and converted to a readable image using a downloaded driver.

And I've recorded a fragment of a fax signal from land using an SDR.

I finally bought a cheap SSB receiver, and an audio adapter to pipe to computer, but haven't tried that setup yet.

I abandoned SDR when I had problems with poor sensitivity, and difficulty receiving some HF bands. I ordered a "Ham it UP" frequency converter which should help, but it hasn't arrived yet.

So in short. Look up the frequency & time, and record the audio file from SSB.

Then use fax software to create an image, save as JPG, and view as needed.
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Old 10-05-2021, 14:38   #6
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

Oh and there are channels with spoken weather, VHF 1-5, and a couple SSB channels.

But I get lulled into dozing off hearing all the other regions, and by the time my region comes up i miss it.
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Old 10-05-2021, 14:51   #7
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

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Originally Posted by capn_billl View Post

I haven't successfully done the entire thing from scratch yet, it's still a work in progress, but I've downloaded an audio file, and converted to a readable image using a downloaded driver.

And I've recorded a fragment of a fax signal from land using an SDR.

I finally bought a cheap SSB receiver, and an audio adapter to pipe to computer, but haven't tried that setup yet.

I abandoned SDR when I had problems with poor sensitivity, and difficulty receiving some HF bands. I ordered a "Ham it UP" frequency converter which should help, but it hasn't arrived yet.

So in short. Look up the frequency & time, and record the audio file from SSB.

Then use fax software to create an image, save as JPG, and view as needed.
That is as appealing to me as a trip to the dentist office
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Old 10-05-2021, 15:21   #8
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

You can use a short-wave receiver (with a great antenna!) and use the audio from the receiver to the microphone of your computer, and free software to decode (to screen), from which you can send to printer. The actual audio that your ears hear from the receiver's speaker, with the microphone of your computer listening. Of course, best results are obtained with a "real" radio with a great antenna, wired directly to your computer. I've done the speaker held to microphone method and it works. I used FLDIGI software, which does much more than WeatherFax, as I'm an amateur radio operator, General Radiotelephone + RADAR, GMDSS maintainer/operator, USCG MMC Radio Operator, and use many other modes than WeatherFax. I'm sure you can find free easy to use software geared more toward WeatherFax.
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Old 10-05-2021, 15:23   #9
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

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That is as appealing to me as a trip to the dentist office
Yes. I'm looking for solution with a Caltech educated climate scientist on standbye 24-7 at my beckon call. Sort of like the Bat Phone. And it has to be FREE.
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Old 10-05-2021, 15:32   #10
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

Well, instead of a Caltech climate scientist, how about a rock? You know, if it's wet it's raining, if it's white it's snowing, etc., just as accurate for much less money, and it's there 24/7 (if it's not, you should probably put a reef of two in the sail...)
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Old 11-05-2021, 10:11   #11
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
Considering adding a stand alone weatherfax. Does it still make sense?
I know there are much more sophisticated options.
Donít have SSB or ham and not inclined towards that complexity.
Donít want something that needs a subscription or much computer expertise.
Let's be clear, your talking about a standalone weather facsimile machine that will automatically receive the HF signals you have selected and print out the NOAA weather charts on thermal paper, i.e. like the Furuno FAX480 and earlier models.

Don't think you need this kind of info for local use but an offshore passage does required more detailed weather forecasts.

I looked into this a few years before my trip to Hawaii and found the overall costs (total install) to be high. More practical options to the same information are available today.

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Old 11-05-2021, 13:20   #12
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

You can buy an older marine service radio for about the same money as a good Short Wave Radio. It is no hassle at all.

I've had a Sony ICF-2010 (receiver) since the early 1990's. Most of the time, I can get the Weather Fax stations on it. I also have an ICOM IC-M710. It is no longer manufactured, having been replaced with newer models with more options. On the M710, I can receive Weather Fax broadcasts every day, with clarity and without hassle. It is much better than the Sony.

I brought the M710 home from the boat this winter to play with it and thanks to the great members of this forum, I was able to solve almost all setup issues and source appropriate software. I've been downloading the Weather Faxes for fun since January.

So here is what I do:
1. Icom IC-M710 (could be any SSB Sortwave Radio)
2. Laptop running:
a. Remote Control Software (I use M710 Control) could be Ham Radio Deluxe with a newer radio https://www.hamradiodeluxe.com/
b. Fax receiving software (I use JVComm32 - which does a great job)
3. USB audio dongle - or you can use the microphone input if your laptop has one.
4. audio cable going from M710 to the laptop's sound input port. (USB or mic)
5. 12 vDC power cable going to ships power or a power supply at home.

The Remote Control Software is optional, but I find the radio more enjoyable if I just tune it from the software. It also allows you to set a frequency/time schedule where the radio jumps to the FAX stations to receive the report.

The FAX report schedule is published, so you know what area is transmitted at what time on specific frequencies. There are also a range of reports available, such as wave heights and even satellite images. If you use the scheduling software and don't mind leaving the radio and laptop running, you don't need to be on the boat when these reports are received.

So with JVComm32 running, and the USB audio (microphone port) selected, leave it in FAX mode with the radio turned on/tuned to the right frequency and when the transmission starts, JVComm32 will decode it saving the image to a file in the location of your choosing.

The reception from the ICOM is way better than the Sony receiver. The M710 and all Marine Service radios will have the Weather Fax frequencies programmed into memory channels, so you can just twist the knob to bring up all the FAX frequencies on the radio or use the Remote Control software to achieve the same thing. Having the ICOM also has the added benefit of making it possible for you to participate in "Nets", which are a version of a Zoom call without the video...

I focused on Marine Service radios here for simplicity but you could use any high quality HAM HF radio to accomplish the same thing. You just can't transmit on the HAM frequencies without taking a test and getting your Amateur ticket and call sign. They don't require you to be able to do Morse Code anymore, so the Amateur ticket is very do-able.

Sure a satellite radio is always an option, but I find the radio weather fax fun. I am glad that I did this at home for a while. I had fun playing with it in the evenings and didn't have to worry about running the boat, while I'm learning and tweaking the setup.
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Old 11-05-2021, 14:00   #13
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

As a FYI to the great suggestion StoneCrab shared: You not only can't transmit on amateur frequencies unless licensed, you can not use an amateur radio legally to transmit on marine frequencies, even with marine operator permits or amateur radio licensing. This may only apply to U.S. boats, but the amateur radio is not FCC type rated for the marine frequencies, and additionally the manufacturer has likely made the radio where it will not transmit outside amateur frequencies.
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Old 11-05-2021, 15:17   #14
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

The stand-alone fax receivers were lovely for a short-handed boat because you could "tell" them, "Listen on these frequencies at that time," and then walk away. From a cold-start for minimum money, I’d look at one of the smart phone weather fax apps. I bought one for maybe $5. I hang the microphone in front of the radio speaker and it produces surprisingly good results. Short wave listening radios don't have to be expensive either as some others have pointed out.
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Old 11-05-2021, 16:03   #15
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Re: Stand alone weatherfax still make sense?

I have a stand alone wefax.


How often will you sail off shore out of cell phone range for more than 2 days?


Are you going to do that without an SSB or satellite phone?



If the answers are often and yes, then maybe a wefax makes sense. It's works, but it is 1980s tech and pretty much every newer option is better.
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