SSB vs sat phone for weather reports - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 23 Old 07-31-2012 Thread Starter
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SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

Can anyone help me update my systems to receive weather reports when more that 20 or 30 miles off shore? I am ready to update and seem to be technology challenged. Any help, opinions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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post #2 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Both. Even the Iridium doesn't have full coverage. SSB radios although archaic to some, offer a dimension to your boat's communication not offered by a sat phone. Costs are similar to purchase however sat phones require minutes to be purchased. Sat phones fit into a ditch bag, not the SSB. Internet capabilities come with a sat phone not with the SSB. SSBs can be programmed do HAM functions. Cost for internet is high for the sat phone, Sailmail for the SSB is about $250 per year. WeatherFax is available on both, yet a computer and printer are required. A ships licence and a registered MMSI are required for the SSB, which is a good thing. I'm sure there's more but you can search previous posts.
There are previous posts on this topic as well as multiple threads with as many opinions.
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

I would also like to get more info on the SSB. can someone explain what is required to use it and how to obtain those items?
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

That is a fine setup for sure and one to be proud of. I myself have spent about two months tinkering with how I would handle weatherfax and being a technophile I came up with a couple of solutions.

The objective of my first solution (in the evolution of solutions) uses a world radio rig. After talking with a good many long haul cruisers, a majority of the many mile/cheap budget vessels get it done this way. It involves purchasing a inexpensive weatherized AM/FM/SHORTWAVE radio with ssb capability. Yes just like those $10 old timey radios you see at garage sales. You can buy them new anywhere from $30-200 depending on how slick you want it. The radio is used to tune to a weatherfax frequency you need (like New Orleans 8503.9 kHz) then you run a patch cable from the headphone out of the radio to the mic input of your computer/laptop. Then you run one of many free programs on your PC (like JVComm32) and sit back and watch the magic unfold on your screen as you get the full weatherfax.

This solution has its drawbacks. Your radio must be rugged to survive long term exposure to the environment or you will be buying a new/used one every so often. Your laptop has to be on long enough to catch the weatherfax at the transmit times (or schedule it being on at those times)

The plus side is this solution can be inexpensive and easily maintained.

I am still experimenting with my 2nd solution evolution. So far so good but I want it to be easily repeatable in instruction form so anyone can use it without being a techie.
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post #5 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

I,m old school I guess, I prefer getting my weather fax and reading the map/ forecast for my self
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

" I prefer getting my weather fax and reading the map/ forecast for my self "

Often, if you've been reading the wx maps for a specific locale for a long time, or if you are simply good at wx, you can look at the map and be fairly sure "that stuff will be here tomorrow" or "that's a mess, no telling which way it will go" and the local weatherman often just gives you their best guess--without telling you how LIKELY it is. I know, they say 40% chance of showers...which could also be 60% chance of a nice day...but sometimes just looking at what is developing, you can tell the weatherman is fibbing and really has no idea what is going on.
Or, you can be Real Damned Sure of what's coming.
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-01-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaQuinn:903918
I would also like to get more info on the SSB. can someone explain what is required to use it and how to obtain those items?
Your SSB needs to be registered to a ship, but first it needs an MMSI. There are a number of ways to do it, none of them too complicated, just Google MMSI. Next you need to set up a ship's license and this is done through the FCC. Then you'll need to program the radio with the MMSI. Then you'll need to get an RROP operator's licence, again from the FCC. I could certainly be more specific but get online and do some research.
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-22-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

I've been using an Icom 802 for many years when cruising offshore and I could give you some benefit of my Rig and experience; however, you would be better off purchasing a good book on the subject, of which there are many, I have most.
I recommend the Book by Cmdr Terry Sparks that specifically covers the Icom 802. Listed for Sale on Amazon.
To save cost for Email I suggest you obtain a HAM license, not necessary now to be proficient in Morse.
Good Luck.
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-22-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

This is a good place to get started.
Icom SSB Radio Kits & Components

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post #10 of 23 Old 08-22-2012
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Re: SSB vs sat phone for weather reports

The boat we recently bought came with an SSB radio so I am assuming that it is already licensed or registered to the vessel. I will look into what I need to learn and do to be able to operate it. Does it still require a ham radio license?
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