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smurphny 01-16-2013 06:56 AM

SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
I'm in the process of getting a HAM General License to be able to access HAM bands on the SSB. Have been using Sailmail for email service and will be able to use Winlink as well with the Ham cert. Am wondering what the comparison is between these two systems for email transmissions. Is one preferable to the other? Is Sailmail $250 bucks better than Winlink? What are the actual benefits you've found of being able to transmit on Ham frequencies?

windward54 01-16-2013 10:46 AM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
I use Winlink, with Airmail2000 software. The main advantage for me is that the system is free to use. The only drawback is that with ham radio, you can't use the email to conduct business. Also if you enter a country that requires a reciprocal fee, such as Mexico, you have to pay up before transmitting on any ham band. I have heard that coverage was a little better with Sailmail. But the friends that I talk to that went on extended cruises told me that they rarely had trouble finding a Winlink station.

smurphny 01-16-2013 01:39 PM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
Thanks. That's good to hear. I'm familiar with the Airmail program, using it for weatherfax and Sailmail. Will have to figure out how to use it to access the Winlink system. I understand there are ways to transfer data through a sound card that don't even require the Pactor. Sounds like a good backup should the Pactor go down.

windward54 01-16-2013 03:43 PM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
Airmail2000 use to have a version that had tabs for both programs, but I think it can be added to your existing software after the fact. You would have one tab with the ham settings and one for Sailmail. The audio version is Winmor, and that uses a different software, RMS Express. It is slower than most PACTOR usage, and I don't think they have as many base stations set up as they do for PACTOR, but the numbers are growing.

zedboy 01-16-2013 05:38 PM

sound card modulation
My father is a longtime ham, he was just showing me his HF packet setup. The soundcard modulation runs about 100 baud (think, "slower than typing" - remember 14400 modems?)

The pactor box was about 4X as fast

smurphny 01-16-2013 08:49 PM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
Just got back from passing the Technician exam. One to go, the General level exam which allows use of most all of the frequencies, including the frequencies used to access Winlink. My Airmail 3.4 version has the hf tab and is set up to do Ham bands. Actually, that's the choice in the drop-down window: Sailmail or HAM. I just need to figure out how to configure it and make it shake hands with the Winlink system. That, I guess, will have to wait until summer. It'll take a while to get my call sign in the mail from the FCC to enter into the program anyway. That audio card Winmore system is really interesting. Am definitely going to experiment with it as well. For simple emails, without pictures or attachments, the pokey baud rate is not too big an issue.

btrayfors 01-18-2013 01:51 PM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
Congratulations on passing the Tech exam. The General isn't hard to get; I'm sure you'll have it next try.

I think the $250 per year charge for SAILMAIL is an incredible bargain. Here's why:

1. faster and easier connects;

2. ability to do business transactions;

3. no need to get a reciprocal ham license when visiting foreign countries; and

4. many/most SAILMAIL PMBO's have Pactor 4 capability....about 2X as fast as Pactor 3 (P4 is not permitted on the ham bands at present).

You said earlier, "if the Pactor goes down". I've never heard of that happening. The SCS modems are extremely robust and reliable.

With respect to item #1 above (fast connects), I believe this to be a function of the dedicated clear marine frequencies and the lower traffic rates. Remember, if the Winlink station you're trying to connect to is working traffic on another of its frequencies, it will not respond to your call. There's no easy way to know, and many calls are carried out while the station is busy elsewhere.



smurphny 01-18-2013 04:29 PM

Re: SSB Winlink vs Sailmail
Thanks. If I had studied a little for the General test, probably could have passed it but I want to KNOW the stuff, not just cram to pass a test. So, figured it would be better to take it in steps.

I meant if MY Pactor modem got knocked out from a lightning event, or got stolen, etc. I think the Sailmail system is great. I've used it in the past and never had any problem. BUT free is better if the same results can be obtained. We'll see. The reciprocal agreement PITA is probably enough reason to re-up with Sailmail. Even the Bahamas has a lot of hoops to jump through to get recip. permission. I have the Pactor PTC PTS II-usb with a Pactor III upgrade. Don't know if I can go to Pactor IV for the higher baud rate. I'm certainly not going to spend another $1400 bucks for this simple, proprietary piece of equip.

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