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Old 09-06-2001
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E-Mail for Sailors

I'm looking for a wiring or block diagram for a generic onboard e-mail system, components, interfaces, etc. I especially want to know what ports a laptop must have. Can you help?

Sue & Larry respond:
We're not sure exactly what you mean by generic onboard e-mail system.Cruisers today employ several different technologies to send and retrieve e-mail from the boat. There's no magic bullet yet in this department; we're all still waiting for the next wave of technology to simplify on board e-mail.

If you're traveling in areas of good cell phone coverage, you can send and retrieve e-mail via cell phone. You'll need a cellular modem, which is usually a slide-in PCMIA card sort of modem. Then, you'll need to cable the modem to a cell phone. The cable will vary depending on the type of modem and the exact phone you're using.

Many cruisers send and receive e-mail from their boat using either their SSB or HAM radios. This allows you to travel the globe and communicate from virtually any location. For this type of e-mail, you'll need an SSB or HAM radio along with an antenna, ground plane and tuner, a laptop with a serial port, and an HF-Modem like a PTC-II. There are three cables required to hook the modem to the radio. Also, you'll need a data cable to the computer, an audio cable to the radio, and a power cable to a 12-volt supply.

For more technical information about HF e-mail, it's components, and how to connect it all together, you may want to check out www.Sailmail.com. This website will offer a 39-page manual designed to be printed out and kept on board as a members' guide.  

For additonal information, see E-mail Options by Paul and Sheryl Shard.


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