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Old 04-01-2022, 23:22   #1
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To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Hi folks,

Happy New Year to you wherever you are!

I'm about to buy my first boat! Pretty exciting! And oh so daunting!
The boat sits in French Polynesia, I thought it's a good starting point. Plenty of water in all directions. The vessel only has a DSC VHF radio, but eventually I will have to cross large distances of water and I will obviously need other means of communication. Does it still make sense to install a HF SSB radio and a Pactor modem, or can I do without and solely rely on an Iridium GO?
Any advice and opinions very welcome.

Thank you in advance
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Old 05-01-2022, 00:51   #2
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

This has been discussed many times in different threads. Do a keyword search to find them.
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Old 05-01-2022, 01:10   #3
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Thumbs up Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Good idea, will do.
Thanks
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Old 05-01-2022, 06:08   #4
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

So you don't have to run around looking for an answer, I will give you my opinion.

Satellites have a limited life span. Once the die, they are space junk. New satellites are going up all the time with new technology. Eventually you will have to upgrade your terrestrial based system to meet the new requirements. It could cost more, or maybe cost less. But probably new firmware may not be a solution.

HF runs on an 11 year cycle. But even when at the bottom of the cycle one can still communicate. The distance might be limited, but it can still be done. We are moving in to cycle 25 with a peak expected in 2025. This means communications will start to improve, peak, then start to decline with a bottom around 2031 or so. New technologies for HF Data is always improving, but the old technology is still available. Upgrades to radios are slow to come out, new radios are also slow to arrive. So the old Marine SSB you have will still work. Possibly the only thing your older radio might be missing is DSC.

So if you already have SSB, AND, Iridium Go, you should be fine. Adding is more of a redundant thing that is good. With IG, you really don't have anyone to talk to unless you call them. With HF and the bands open, you might hear other boaters chattering and you can always chime in. We humans need to hear other humans and interface with other humans.

JMHO
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Old 05-01-2022, 06:20   #5
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Just buy an iridium Go. Forget all that 1960s HF nonsense.

Dave EI2GMB .
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Old 05-01-2022, 08:09   #6
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

All HF radio installation requires some vudu and black magic sciences... It can be tricky sometimes to establish a very sloooow data connection. Once it works, it does not cost much though.

On the other end, satellite communication is almost instantaneous. Remember the Kevin Escofier Vendée Globe sinking episode? But this comes to a price.
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Old 05-01-2022, 08:13   #7
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Just buy an iridium Go. Forget all that 1960s HF nonsense.

Dave EI2GMB .

As an active ham radio HF enthusiast, I unfortunately have to agree. Conditions on the bands now are absolutely terrible 95% of the time. They should have improved by now according to all predictions, but they have not, by my observation.

I'm comparing this to conditions in the 90's when we could talk clearly on 28MHz 10 meter ham band all the way from CA to China, and the 14MHz Seafarers Net helped us across the Pacific with excellent comms every evening. Those days we could hear every boat, not just the net controllers with their high power and beam antennas.

To communicate on HF takes experience and patience. As a new boat owner with no HF experience you won't have time for this - you need to get yourself and the boat seaworthy. Satellite approach can be used anytime you want, has a very quick learning curve and is cheaper if you only pay for when you will be at sea.
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Old 05-01-2022, 08:27   #8
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Just buy an iridium Go. Forget all that 1960s HF nonsense. I have an SSB trassceiver on board and yes I will activate it. Expenses for activting 600+ USD with new antenna, baloun and installations. A good Pactor itself is around 1000 USD.

Furthermore it will take weeks and weeks to learn how to operate it.
So before I go through this I'd buy an iridium go and use predictwind or such.
Nontheless this SSB is called amateur radio.

Believe me bringing up WF, NAVTEX and SAT is a pain in the ...
Think I will buy a good Navtex receiver too.

willi - OE1WMR

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Old 05-01-2022, 11:24   #9
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

I am with everyone else except for the first response. Iridium GO and forget about the SSB. But, I do have a portable (Texsun?) SSB receiver on board.
I also have an old SSB on the boat but will not use it to transmit because of the voodoo in order to learn how to use it. We also have a ships station license (I heard it is required in some areas). I am of a simple mind and find it easier to work the Iridium Go instead of learning the SSB.
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Old 05-01-2022, 12:18   #10
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Quote:
Originally Posted by moseriw View Post
Just buy an iridium Go. Forget all that 1960s HF nonsense. I have an SSB trassceiver on board and yes I will activate it. Expenses for activting 600+ USD with new antenna, baloun and installations. A good Pactor itself is around 1000 USD.

Furthermore it will take weeks and weeks to learn how to operate it.
So before I go through this I'd buy an iridium go and use predictwind or such.
Nontheless this SSB is called amateur radio.

Believe me bringing up WF, NAVTEX and SAT is a pain in the ...
Think I will buy a good Navtex receiver too.

willi - OE1WMR

Same with boats, just buy a motor boat and turn the key and go, it will take you weeks and weeks to learn the voodoo of sailing, and no having to mess with sail trim or other time wasting things.

The vast majority of people only sail (or motor) within a few miles of where they keep their boat, or they motor up and down the intracoastal. no need to buy an Iridium, just use your cell phone.

M
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Old 05-01-2022, 12:25   #11
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

SSB/Ham is for the hobbyist....it requires a lot of knowledge, a lot of equipment and a desire to twiddle a lot of knobs.

Back in the day, a requirement to get a Ham license was the ability to do morse code. The higher the grade of license, the more words per minute of code as was required.
This has long since been done away with, as so few people still have an interest in Ham.

So too, are the SSB High Seas Operators, in bygone years, they were the old standby for offshore communications. All the High Seas Operators went off the air over 20 years ago.

By all means install one, just know the expense and learning curve involved. Besides the radio, you will need an antenna, an antenna tuner, and a good ground. $$$$$$
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Old 05-01-2022, 12:29   #12
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Quote:
Originally Posted by captmikem View Post
Same with boats, just buy a motor boat and turn the key and go, it will take you weeks and weeks to learn the voodoo of sailing, and no having to mess with sail trim or other time wasting things.



The vast majority of people only sail (or motor) within a few miles of where they keep their boat, or they motor up and down the intracoastal. no need to buy an Iridium, just use your cell phone.



M


Unless you’re hobby is radio. Why bother with HF. Sailing is my hobby not mobo
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Old 05-01-2022, 13:00   #13
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

Well, since everyone wants to create another thread on this topic I will repeat myself from past threads.

Ham and Marine SSB still have their purpose. Social contact. If you plan to cruise you will probably make friends with other cruisers. Radio nets pop up for ocean crossings, weather and other needs. You can go with Iridium or other services but you will miss out on knowing what boats are near you, their conditions and much much more.

Unlike what MicHughV wrote above Ham radio has more licensed operators now than ever before - about 750,000 licensed in the US. The Morse code requirements are gone but the Ham bands are loaded with Morse operators. Many have learned code for the fun and challenge of it. Winlink is a very good way to keep in touch with friends and family. There are hundreds of stations to connect to. Recent restrictions have been put in place requiring there to be third party traffic agreements for the RMS station countries but that isn't much of a problem. There are also new modes that eliminate the need for expensive Pactor modems. With Winlink or Sailmail you can download weather faxes and other reports that are interference free.

Yes I am a "radio head" because it is fun. I have talked to cruising friends thousands of miles away using both Ham and Marine SSB.

73 (best regards), Brian N7BMW / WAT3217
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Old 05-01-2022, 13:00   #14
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

"Just buy an iridium Go. Forget all that 1960s HF nonsense."

Can also explore a small and relatively inexpensive inReach, which may meet your needs as well.
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Old 05-01-2022, 13:15   #15
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Re: To SSB, or not to SSb...that is the question

I was going to go sat only. Have since reconsidered.
I notice that older but decent quality radios are affordable from Aliexpress, not sure about quality but if mine fails I might test it out. I got an older used but still good quality radio rather than a new but lower quality one.
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