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  #1  
Old 05-19-2013
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ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

For a cruiser doing the east coast of US,Eastern Carribean and west coast of europe ( in short the North Atlantic) what are the pros and cons of SSB with sailmail vrs. Satphone with mixed voice/data services.
?realize satphones and minutes are getting cheaper but will it ever be cost competitive.
?realize ssb is old school ?Will they ever drop weather services and emergency calling frequencies.
?will data speeds improve on ssb services.
?reliability between the two.
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Old 05-19-2013
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

Sat phone. Check out globalstar.

Sat phones give your family the ability to get ahold of you at any time. Does your mother or kids have a ssb? You can throw a sat phone into a ditch bad, not an ssb. Sat phones may keep you from buying phones in other countries and in some cases may be cheaper (check the price to get or send a call from bahamas to us). If there is an emergency, the ability to talk to someone in a moments notice can be priceless. You can get on the internet with a sat phone and pull email too.

My opinion.

B

Ps. Check out globalstar right now. Really good rates.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

With a SSB you can broadcast to many folks in your vicinity if you need near-term assistance and otherwise network with fellow cruisers. If you can live with email, you can stay in touch with family/friends cheaply.

A sat phone is the way to go if you have to talk to someone--especially on short notice, but you'll pay for the privilege.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

As someone ramping up for the big departure day, I keep bouncing back and forth on this question. I have not committed to either (or any) solution yet, although I must admit that I'm currently leaning to the HF option.

Here's how I'm balancing the question:

Sat. pros: Easy and somewhat cheaper to install (vs SSB), easy to use, direct communications (one-to-one), email, access to weather info via data downloads, portable, no license requirements.

Sat. cons: Significant operating costs, no access to cruisers' nets, no one-to-many communication, less durable (perhaps).

HF (SSB) pros: Small operating costs, access to cruisers' nets, one-to-one comms, one-to-many comms, weather info, data/email (pactor).

HF cons: Higher skill needed to use effectively, somewhat higher install costs (compared to sat.), no easy ship-to-shore comms, no shore-to-ship, not portable, licensing required.

As I say, I'm currently leaning to an SSB setup, but the biggest reason is due to the operating costs of satellite. Remove that impediment and I think I'd go sat.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

thank you- confirms what I've been told. thinking given tech for sat phones is moving fast and prices are coming down go with do the ssb pacnor thing only for now . may go on to the ham license for kicks and giggles. Initial licensing seems non problematic. Rent phone when needed and hold off buying. Think it's like the autopilot/windvane discussion be nice to have both. use ssb for weather,non critical email and chat. use satphone minutes only when really needed.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

I wonder how many minutes of sat phone usage you'd have to use before you surpassed the upfront costs of SSB.

Say your ssb with modem costs you $4K to install. A sat phone with modem cost what? 1.5K? Several dollars a minute might be hard to swallow but I wonder how it really stacks up over time?

Anyone with more knowledge on the subject want to run the numbers? It would be kind of like figuring out how many miles you'd have to drive in order to offset the costs of buying your hybrid car...

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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

I have used Sat Phone in Afghanistan....its not so reliable either. Calls were often cut short, didn't go through or person on other end couldnt understand...at times it was like they were in the same room.

It sure would be nice to have both onboard, but if I have to choose I would have a real Ham radio...not a marine band SSB unit only. I know both can be modified to work on all freq/bands but in emergency situations it is allowed that you can transmit on any band with any power.. If you transmit on a Ham station, someone somewhere will here you. Its a form of communication that has stood the test of time. Since I have been into the ham radio hobby, I have found it quite interesting and it doesn't take long to become familiar with how to use and setup.

I have been buy pieces for my onboard HF setup and so far I have a good tranceiver, tuner and coax. I have less than $400 in that setup. Many good used parts available if you look. I my tranceiver to check into 14.300(MMSN.org) all the time from my home. So it does not have to be expensive.

Good luck.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

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Originally Posted by Cruiser2B View Post
I have used Sat Phone in Afghanistan....its not so reliable either. Call were often cut short, didn't go through or person on other end could understand...at times it was like they were in the same room.

It sure would be nice to have both onboard, but if I have to choose I would have a real Ham radio...not a marine band SSB unit only. I know both can be modified to work on all freq/bands but in emergency situations it is allowed that you can transmit on any band with any power.. If you transmit on a Ham station, someone somewhere will here you. Its a form of communication that has stood the test of time. Since I have been into the ham radio hobby, I have found it quite interesting and it doesn't take long to become familiar with how to use and setup.

I have been buy pieces for my onboard HF setup and so far I have a good tranceiver, tuner and coax. I have less than $400 in that setup. I use it all the time from my home. So it does not have to be expensive.

Good luck.
Can you set up data/email more cheaply with ham stuff? I was surprised that everybody aboard seems to use the same "Pactor" modem.

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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

I have been waffling on this as well. But went with SatPhone. SSB is just too much pain. If you can live without the newest/greatest you can get used SatPhones very cheap. Do you really care if it is old when you need it to work. As CD said Global Star has some great voice plans if their coverage area is good for you. Here is my cost so far.
Used Phone 160.00 (like new), Activaction 50.00, current unlimited voice from GlobalStar 150.00. I use a SSB radio as backup for weather at lteast for now. Your choice but it is what I think is the best Bang for the buck. By the way It works great for both Voice and Data.
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Re: ssb v.satphone ?who's the winner

MedSailor,
As far as a modem goes..not too sure about that as of yet as I am just getting the basics . But what I have found is there are some very good ways to communicate via HF on the amateur bands. I have been talking all over the world with 50w on PSK31(basically text messaging) digital modes.

I have looked carefully for good used equipment. My setup so far consists of a $200 dollar TS 440 Kenwood, $50 MFJ Tuner, $50 Carolina windom( can not use on boat), $50 easy digi interface and old C600 dell laptop(free). I use this setup at 100w when using voice(SSB) and have made contact as far as Australia and Kuwait, Europe and Italy is almost always available. On my Alberg 30 I plan on running a Dipole 20m antenna in parallel with backstay. I understand that it will not be as effiecent as my home antenna setup but I maybe surprised. I got this idea for an antenna from Jame at Atomvoyages.com who has used this setup on a circumnavigation on a boat similar to mine.
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