I'm smiling as I read your question...
Originally Posted by DreaminFred
Can you detail your WeFax system? Can you suggest an inexpensive solution that doesn't involve SSB
'Cuz you write "WeFax", "inexpensive", and "doesn't involve SSB" (assume that refers to HF radio
This reminds me of the old racing adage: "you can have 'fast', 'reliable', and 'cheap'...pick two"....or in the realm of radio
transmitters "clean, reliable, and cheap
I will point you to a good deal of info / "detail" of not only "my WeFax system", but of my entire Offshore
Weather info/forecast system and of my on-board communications
1) First off, please read both of my posting
above again...as there is a good deal of info there, in a couple brief postings...
2) Then, have a look at some pics here....
a) Where you'll see my primary Furuno
FAX-408 (which replaced my older, but still working, Alden MarineFaxIV), and I use this as my primary HF We-Fax receiver...it uses an insulated aft-lower shroud
(~ 22' long) as its antenna
is also used for HF-DSC receiving....connected to my M-802's DSC
receive antenna jack)....
While the FAX-408 can be programmed (via its internal timer) to tune to specific frequencies, at specific times, to receive and print some specific charts....all without operator involvement, allowing you to get the weather charts you desire, all the time / everyday....(but, I prefer manual operation....turn it on when the charts I desire are to be broadcast, and let it print out what I want...then turn it off...)
This allows me to get the "gold standard" of offshore/hi-seas weather info/forecasts (the weather charts drawn by seasoned, experienced maritime meteorologists...as well as print out the hi-seas text forecasts / SafetyNET forecasts)....worldwide....for free...
But, be aware a Furuno FAX-408 costs a little more than $2000.....so, many don't go to the extremes that I do....rather they use some free software
(such as JVComm or GetFAX, etc.) on their laptop
(or some use a tablet...and some use other software
on their tablet, like BlackCat, but I've never actually see BalckCat work)....and all that is needed is to connect their laptop's microphone input to the audio output of an HF receiver, whether a full-fledged MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radio
(like an Icom
M-802, etc.) costing from $700 to $2500, or some just use a simple/inexpensive (~ $150) portable shortwave receiver (which has "SSB" capability)....
Remember that ridding your boat of RFI, and using a good antenna, are the important parts
of the system....along with your own knowledge/ability/expertise in HF communications
, specifically your knowledge of HF Radiowave propagation!
I've explained over the years, that while a resonant antenna is not needed for HF receiving....and hence exact lengths aren't important, as anything from 12'-15' up to 45'-50' long will work
well....but, I've also mentioned that there are reasons I choose something at the shorter end of this range (as much of my HF We-Fax reception
is from the 12mhz band, with 8mhz and 9mhz secondary....and some at 6mhz or 4mhz.....and with most HF-DSC comms being 8mhz and 12mhz....a length that presents a decently efficient antenna at those freqs, is about 18' to 27' long....and my aft-lowers are about 23'....so, that's what I chose....I have the coax running from a coax "T" to the chainplate, and have an excellent HF receive antenna, easy-peasy, without another antenna cluttering things...
But, some will use their entire rig (mast, shrouds, etc.) as a random-length antenna....and they usually have good results.....except that they sometimes have a higher incidence of receive RFI to track-down and eliminate...
(remember that it is receive signal-to-noise ratio that is the key to successful HF communications....ridding your boat of RFI is the key here!!! and, the less money you spend on your HF receive system, the more important ridding your boat of RFI becomes!)
b) You'll also see one of my M-802's (I have a complete spare M-802 system stowed on-board, with spare tuner, antenna wire, etc.)....
I have all the pertinent HF We-Fax frequencies programmed into my M-802's....so, I can easily just plug
the headphone output into my laptop
, and receive my We-Fax charts that way (yes, I have JVComm in my laptop)....
I can also use the M-802 to receive NAVTEX...
In addition to a VHF cockpit
mic/control....although, not shown in the pics, I also have extension cables
for my M-802 mic and headphones, allowing me to fully use the M-802 in the cockpit
when needed, etc..
c) My pics don't show it either, but in addition to my spare M-802, I also have a portable SW receiver (that costs about ~ $150) that I can use with my laptop (and the free JVComm software), to receive HF We-Fax charts....
[I suspect that this is what you were referring to, when asking about We-Fax reception
that is "inexpensive"? Please understand that while you could use the internet to access these We-Fax charts (such as when you're at home, prior to departure), and of course some will use their email
system (whether sat phone
or PACTOR) to request/download these We-Fax charts (using saildocs, etc.).....the least expensive way is to receive these charts is
via HF radio
using SSB mode....
Whether you use your MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone (such as Icom
M-802) or you're using a Katio, Sangean, Tecsum, or Sony ShortWave receiver to receive the We-Fax broadcasts using the "SSB" mode, there is nothing cheaper than receiving them via SSB mode....
Remember reception is FREE, worldwide.....and, if ~ $150 for a portable SW rec, or ~ $1000 - $2500 for a full-fledged MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, is not in your budget
, I don't know what else to recommend, as these are the least expensive ways to receive these charts, when at sea / offshore
, away from cellular/mobile network, away from wi-fi, etc...it's via HF radio / SSB Radio!]
d) BTW, also not shown in these pics, and not talked about too much by me, is that I also have an Iridium 9555 sat phone, car charger
, ext antenna, etc...
I use this only for important phone calls, but can use it for some very, very slow low-speed data comms (2.4kb....yep, that 2400bps....compared to normal DSL of 3,000,000bps....and to what most consider "broadband speed" 10 to 100 times DSL speeds....)
3) Please have look here at these videos....where there are quite a few details on my We-Fax system, including LIVE We-Fax chart reception and use...
They are all free, and nobody is trying to sell you anything, nor influence you (well, not much, anyway...LOL)....just pass on some great info / advice...
BTW, my videos are all done LIVE as-it-happens, in the real-world not a lab (no simulations)...just like everyone does it in real life....
(btw, please forgive my poor editing and occasional repetition....I did these myself, with no script, no director, no notes....just me, my fingers, my radios, and my extemporaneous narration...all while on-board my offshore cruising boat)
And, for other videos on other maritime communications systems, etc....have a look here:
Generic Maritime HF comms
Icom M-802 Instruction Videos
VHF-DSC Comms (some of these are not my videos, and hence are done in a lab/classroom)
I also have some info on the GMDSS, and our pleasure boat use of it, etc...as well as some info on weather reception (but, I do need to update it some)...
And, if you want to read more details, on HF We-Fax, maritime HF comms, etc., please have a look at these "stickies" here:
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / properly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)
HF-SSB Radio, Proper Installation Tips/Techniques, etc.
I do hope this helps.