Cruisers Forum

  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on Cruisers Forums. Advertise Here
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 03-03-2011, 19:57   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Olympia, WA
Boat: Transpac 49 "Pearl"
Posts: 27
trying to understand ssb

My head is swimming from trying to learn what we need for an ssb system. We are planning to sail from Washington to Mexico and spend a year or two cruising Mexico and possibly south to Panama. We are on a strict budget. We would like to have a good/reliable radio for offshore, but have no need for email while out at sea. We would however like to "see" the weather and not just hear it over the radio. Do we need a pactor, weather fax, or neither to get this info while offshore? I've read that a computer can be hooked up somehow to the ssb to get weather info (but really don't fully understand it). Any input would be much appreciated!

s/v Pearl
A rich person is not one who has the most, but one who needs the least.
sailor12 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 20:09   #2
Senior Cruiser
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29° 49.16’ N 82° 25.82’ W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 16,306
Re: trying to understand ssb

I'm not the ultimate expert but can answer some of your questions.

First, there are two main weather reports used by sailors. Weatherfax gives you a map similar to what you see on the TV weather. The centers of the highs, lows, fronts etc are shown and I think also isobars.

Then there are GRIBS that show wind arrows for the area of the map.

Weather fax can be received by plugging the output of the SSB into the sound card of a computer and, with appropriate software, show the weather map on the screen or print.

GRIB files with current technology, will require a pactor modem to receive the file, then sent to the PC.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
Sometimes it's necessary to state the obvious for the benefit of the oblivious.
Rust is the poor man's Loctite.
skipmac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 20:36   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Seattle
Boat: Cal 40 (sold). Still have a Hobie 20
Posts: 2,927
Images: 7
Re: trying to understand ssb

Do you mean basics like transceiver, antenna tuner, antenna? There's a lot of details about good power to the transceiver and antennas are very important, but on boats are usually a compromise. Are you going to have it installed or do it yourself?

Previous poster is correct, take a cord from the audio level out to a sound input on your computer with a free program gets you wfax.

Here's some info on usage and bands

Latitude 38 - Idiot's Guide to Marine SSB

cal40john is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 20:39   #4
Registered User
Jon Hacking's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Currently cruising the Philippines, just got back from PNG & Solomons
Boat: Wauquiez 45' (now 48') catamaran
Posts: 994
Images: 1
Send a message via Skype™ to Jon Hacking
Re: trying to understand ssb

Skipmac is correct. I'll add that WeatherFax (WeFax) shows a few (but only a very few) wind-barbs (speed & direction arrows) in addition to the fronts & etc. WeFax is also the product of trained weather professionals. GRIBs are simply computer models, with NO human input. They are what weather professionals often start with, & they need significant interpretation. They also do not show fronts (unless you're very good at interpreting them).

So, WeFax does not need a Pactor modem, but can be received with just an SSB connected to a computer's sound card & displayed with free software. WeFax is also the product of weather professionals & needs minimal interpretation. GRIBs need much more interpretation & also a Pactor modem.
-- Jon Hacking s/v Ocelot
Jon Hacking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 23:53   #5
Moderator Emeritus
roverhi's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1976 Sabre 28-2
Posts: 7,505
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Re: trying to understand ssb

If you want two way SSB communication as cheaply as possible, get a Ham radio. You can pick up a used ICOM 718 and tuner for around $600 if you are patient. New will set you back about $650 for the radio and another $250 to $500 for the tuner. Antenna and counter poise/ground will run another $200-$400 or so. You can study for the Ham license using the online sample questions with a day or two of intense study.

If your question was how to get weather, the others have answered that question.
Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 00:44   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 35
Re: trying to understand ssb

I believe to receive the WeatherFAX charts you do not need an SSB transceiver; all you need is an HF (shortwave) receiver ($100 or so), a PC with a sound card and the WeatherFAX software
micheck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 03:08   #7
CF Adviser
Moderator Emeritus
Hud3's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Virginia
Boat: Island Packet 380, now sold
Posts: 8,942
Images: 54
Re: trying to understand ssb

To be more specific...

Download JVComm32, which is an example of the software you need to convert the WeFax transmissions into images on your laptop. Read the instructions.

Buy a mono (not stereo) 1/8" patch cable from Radio Shack.

Buy a SSB receiver (click on the link in my sig line to search CF archives for threads on which is best)

Figure out which radiofax channel is right for the area you're sailing in: NWS Radiofax

Connect the receiver to your laptop with the patch cable (earphone jack in SSB to Mic jack on laptop).

That's it.

BTW, the NWS also transmits text weather forecasts on the same freqs as the radiofaxes. Just check the schedules.
Hud3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 04:22   #8
Registered User
Mark1977's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Halifax, N.S Canada
Boat: Tanzer 26, Walk22
Posts: 930
Re: trying to understand ssb

Another download for the pc is SEATTY. I just downloaded it and am starting to learn how to use it aswell. I am using a cheap grundig right now but seems like a pretty simple download to use.
Mark1977 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 05:57   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Boat: Morris 1996 46' Lexington
Posts: 382
Re: trying to understand ssb

I am learning. I have a ICOM 802 and Pactor II usb and a computer. I am planning on requesting weather info via email. I have looked at NWS web site and gotten list of the different weather files that I can request. I have not figured out how to tell if a file is test or a weather chart graphic. Can anybody tell me if there is a code in the file name that distinguishes the type? Can any body tell me a file to request that would give me a weather chart of the eastern half of the US land and the coastal area?
RDW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 06:02   #10
Registered User
AnchorageGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wherever the boat is!
Boat: Marine Trader 34DC
Posts: 4,619
Re: trying to understand ssb

Shari, For the type of cruising you will be doing you will want a transceiver and not just a receiver. But these will not give you real time weather, you will need very expensive satellite equipment for that. The SSB will get you all of the information you will need. You will have to be able to interpret that information on your own. Captain Marti Brown has an excellent book on the basics of SSB for a boat called Marine SSB for Idi-Yachts and it is a good start. Learn how to use weatherfax and take some basic weather forecast training. Chuck
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
AnchorageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-03-2011, 07:23   #11
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 4,033
Re: trying to understand ssb

Originally Posted by RDW View Post
. I am planning on requesting weather info via email. I have looked at NWS web site . . . and
I hope you have found saildocs, viewfax, and airmail (and Expedition if you want some fancy routing capability) - by far (IMHO) the easiest/best cruiser way to get all sorts of weather (but especially gribs) by e-mail.
estarzinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-03-2011, 09:41   #12
Registered User
doug86's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Between Block Island and Bahamas
Boat: Marine Trader 40' Sedan Trawler, 1978. WATER TORTURE
Posts: 715
Re: trying to understand ssb

Here is the kind of image you would get from receiving free weather fax only kind of information:

You don't really get anything more local than that from WeatherFax. WeatherFax signals can be received for free with a SSB radio, and free software can be installed on your computer to display the incoming data. These kinds of maps are transmitted about 4 times per day and are generated by the Nat Weather Service.

IF you want more localized weather data and forecasting than that, you will need to have a modem that attaches to your SSB radio so you can receive email messages via SSB. Then you can subscribe to various weather services (many are free, but you pay a fee to the company that sends the email) that will email you scheduled forecasts that would be far more detailed than just a picture like the one above. You could get a picture of the winds forecast like this one:

Similar maps can be generated for Rain, Waves, etc, and can forecast about a week ahead.

good luck!
"When one is willing to go without, then one is free to go." - doug86
doug86 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-03-2011, 09:46   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Muscat, Oman
Boat: Roberts, C45 Spray - EDM
Posts: 84
Re: trying to understand ssb

Go and attend a HAM radio course... It will lift the fog of SSB/CW RG58 RG5 etc...

You will get a far better feel as to what you will need/use/want.
deepstar is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
SSB, or . . . what ? pdnervo Marine Electronics 11 16-02-2011 20:22
Sorry, I Don't Understand How to . . . Jacques2 Forum Tech Support & Site Help 13 25-11-2010 05:45
I Don't Understand Rigging unbusted67 Deck hardware: Rigging, Sails & Hoisting 5 28-09-2009 12:32
Land Dwellers, Just Don't Understand JusDreaming Flotsam & Sailing Miscellany 29 21-09-2009 10:16

Advertise Here

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 00:56.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.