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  #1  
Old 12-03-2010
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Thoughts/feedback on "sailmail"?

I am thinking about this as our email option while cruising, anyone using it that can provide feedback?



SailMail

I have never used or owned a SSB. What is involved with owing one? Costs of hardware?

Thanks!
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Old 12-03-2010
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Sailmail works well. Equipment may cost a bit, as a SSB is not cheap ($2,000 to $3,000, new) and a Pactor modem is also around $1,500. but it is an excellent way of keeping in touch. If you get a General ham license, you can use Winlink which is free.
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Old 12-03-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windward54 View Post
Sailmail works well. Equipment may cost a bit, as a SSB is not cheap ($2,000 to $3,000, new) and a Pactor modem is also around $1,500. but it is an excellent way of keeping in touch. If you get a General ham license, you can use Winlink which is free.
Thanks, that's what I am looking for (free/cheap). I don't know anything about ham or winlink, I'll check that out. What are the cliff notes on that set up though?

I had no idea SSB + modem is so expensive. Wow.
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Old 12-03-2010
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The radio is not hard to install, but it is a lot more involved than a VHF. There is a transceiver and a tuner to install, and there is a counterpoise for the antenna. The counterpoise can be obtained by running a copper foil to a thru-hull. The antenna used by most is an isolated backstay. The modem for the most part is a plug and play depending on the radio.

Took me a weekend to install a ICOM M802, my rigger a couple of hours to do the backstay, and a couple of hours to download the software and work out the bugs.
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Old 12-03-2010
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Interesting, thanks for the info. I briefly googled ham and found that the lowest grade level license is "technician" and is only 35 questions, seems fairly easy to get into. What is an isolated backstay exactly?
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To use Winlink, you would need a General license. That's one step up from the Tech, but not hard. The FCC removed the Morse Code requirement which really made the test and upgrade easier.

On a backstay antenna, what they do is isolate the middle of the backstay by cutting the backstay and reconnecting it with two insulators. The antenna lead is then connected to the bottom insulator.
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Old 12-03-2010
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Interesting, thanks for the info. I am going to look into ham further.
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Old 12-04-2010
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Said this on a similar thread but unless you want to talk to captain of an oil tanker or bulk carrier HAM has to be the way forward.$300 or so will buy you a nice ham radio plus and antenna tuning unit;antenna and earths.
There is now a new software modem available(no longer need for Pactor which is a hardware unit and very expensive)Winmor/winlink.
The worlds oceans are covered by various sailing Ham nets-thats groups of likeminded individuals who maintain contact with one another;act as relays etc in worlds oceans.
Certainly here in UK getting a Marine SSB programmed to shipping chanels is expensive with Icom holding a virtual monopoly.Likewise the long range certificate to operate can cost you.. Over here you can licence the boat itself with call sign for free.
As in US in UK Ham operating licences are cheap although you are expected to show knowledge of how it works as well as useage.
If you know what you want e bay is full of Ham radios.
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Old 12-04-2010
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You can't use Sailmail legally on a ham radio as the frequencies are on the marine band. So if you want to use Winlink only, then you can go with a ham radio and save some money.

Winmor has just come out and doesn't require a modem. Will be interesting to see how well it works, as it seems to work on an audio stream through your soundcard. There are times I can get a digital signal, even through some pretty heavy background noise.
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