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"Nevis Nice"
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Things you can do with your SSB: listen to or participate in the various daily cruiser nets, download weather information and listen to forecasts, and send and receive text email. You can also make a general broadcast for help on it without knowing who might be out there to hear you.
 

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Yes and yes.

Many find as I do that SSB is still the favored mode for long-distance communications due to it's versatility for both voice and data communications on the marine and ham bands. There are many hundreds of stations on the marine bands and literally millions on the ham bands worldwide. Thus, if you know how to use the radio, and if it's well installed, you'll always be able to make contact.

Sat phones are useful, too. They are point-to-point, however, meaning that the only person who can hear you is the one you're talking to. That's useful sometimes (for private or business communications), and sometimes not (e.g., in certain emergency situations). Prices vary widely. The system with most coverage -- virtually worldwide -- is Inmarsat, but it's pricey. Less costly but less reliable and with less coverage is Globalstar, which has been having trouble with it's current constellation of LEO satellites. Still, like me, some find it's useful if you have some backup (like SSB) for emergency and other communications. And, one hopes, Globalstar can hang on long enough to get their new "hardened" satellites up next year.

What you choose depends on your communications needs and your cruising plans, as well as on your wallet.

Bill
 

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Telstar 28
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Ideally, you'd want both. However, some people get along without either of the two. :)
 

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As Bill says...it all depends. You can happily exist coastal cruising and in the Bahamas with only a VHF and cell phone connections or wifi for all your info and communications needs. Once you get out beyond the USA and close in destinations, then I think the SSB begins to be more of a necessity but if I had to CHOOSE one thing to take across an ocean it would be an Irridium phone for communication in an emergency AND for downloading test/weather. I would also carry a portable shortwave radio so I could listen to the nets without needing to communicate.
We lost our mast and thus the SSB in Ivan/Grenada and our Globalstar phone was our lifeline for two weeks as well as one for many other cruisers so I am perhaps a bit biased in favor of the emergency use of satphones.
One of my buddies lost his Ham Rig along with his mast as well but had a new jury rig antenna up and running in a day so I guess I am inclined to say you need one or the other when you are off the grid and I personally prefer the satphone as you can fit it in the life raft!
Having an SSB/Ham rig is a lot more fun though!!!
 

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Barking Dog
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think that I will add sat phone and SSB to my shopping list. After reading a very involved thread on the topic (active last March), I think that I am going to go for the icom M710 (read about problems with the M802), backstay antenna and I'll get progressively more aggressive on creating a counterpoise. I would like to start with some copper foil and a couple of through hulls. My boat has too many holes in it already for me to start with a grounding plate. I don't think that I can use the grounding plate that my loran ties into, can I?

Note - We will be crusing east coast, bermuda and caribbean.
 

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FWIW...I have owned both the 710 and the 802. I think the 802 problems have been solved at this point and I had NONE and really liked the radio...but both are good units. Trayfors is an excellent resource here as you think about your installation. Use him!! :D
 

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Is it still reccomended to install a SSB or do most folks just take along Sat Phones these days?
H.F. is not going to ever go away, for a number of reasons. Number One, being, it requires no infrastructure to work. Satellite systems require uplinks, downlinks, and the satellites themselves...all of which are incredibly vulnerable. For the same reason, LORAN has received funding through the next decade....GPS satellites CAN and DO go down.

Eric
 

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what is the advantage of the 802 over the 710 or 700 if all you do is listen to weather, talk on cruisers nets and want to be able to contact help in an emergency?
 

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sat phone over ssb sounds like cell phone over vhf. cell phones are nice but I wouldn't want to be without a vhf.

now if I could just get a good ssb for $100!!!
 

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Xort—

I'm sure you can find one on e-Bay or Craigslist... just don't expect too much out of it...;)
 

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Sck...I got mine for the ease of installation (2pc.) + the compatibility with Pactor which I used with SailMail. There are other differences as well which did not factor into my decision but perhaps might be important to you.
1. Input for GPS for DSC
2. Front mounted headphone jack...this ended up being important to me!
3. DSP for "better" punch through on talk. (I noticed no difference.)
 

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thanks cam. I was wondering about the compatibility with weather faxes, etc. since on the website it claims they all can do it (or so it seemed to me). But having the 802 in two units would make it easier to install, esp. on a smaller boat. I hadnt thought about a front mounted headphone jack but that seems pretty obviously better.
 

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Another Very Good Resource

On this stuff is Tim Hasson. His website is TechYacht: Marine Computer and Communications Solutions.

He's a regular contributor to Blue Water Sailing Magazine, he's the main electronics and communications consultant to the Caribbean 1500 (and ours as well).

He's a very nice guy, and incredibly knowledgeable. I'm sure he'd answer questions just to answer them, because that's the way he is, but keep in mind that he's a consultant, so if you reach out to him, be mindful of his time. If you do decide to insall an SSB, I would urge you to hire Tim for the project. He will ensure that you get exactly what you need and want for what you plan to do with your setup, whether it be satphone, SSB or something else. He'll also configure everything for you, with you there so you understand it, so that once the item is installed it will work and you will know how to use it.

And I'll throw in that satphones have come a long way, the prices way down, and both those components only are going to continue to improve. Satphones can be used to get Internet connections (albeit not very fast), use voice, hookup for email, and to get faxes. The main downside is cost. Not for the phone (though they're not cheap, but still a lot less expensive than an SSB installation), but becuase you have usage charges whenever you want to use it. With the SSB, voice usage is free once you get it installed (though you do have charges for some other things, like certain email packages, weather, etc.).

I have been in this debate before, and my view is that it won't be long before SSB starts to go the way of Loran -- still works, but other technology will surpass it.

All that said, SSB today remains a very useful tool, and it's loads of fun for the reasons others have mentioned. Cruiser nets, weather, working out how to talk to some schmo on the other side of the planet via radio. That's all good stuff. Of course, all that can be done via the Internet too, and that's what I predict will happen once satphone technoligy and costs come in line, but doing it over SSB still is fun.
 

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From Someone who appears to know.

Got this from someone selling a radio:

Both the M710 & M802 radios provide great results. The advantage of the M802 over the M710 is the ability to scan frequencies as opposed to the need to key in a particular frequency. The second advantage is, when using a Pactor, the Pactor modem will control the frequency of the M810 as opposed to having to manually input the frequency into the M710 when accessing a Pactor station. The M802 also has built-in Digital Selective Calling (DSC) as well as Digital Signal Processing for significantly improved signal/noise performance.
 

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Telstar 28
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One thing to consider is the on-going costs, especially if you're on a restricted budget. SSB is basically free, except for the small fee for the sailmail service. Satellite phones are almost as expensive, in terms of initial investment, but also require an on-going monthly cost to use, as well as additional fees based on the amount of usage—either voice or data.
 

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Got this from someone selling a radio:

Both the M710 & M802 radios provide great results. The advantage of the M802 over the M710 is the ability to scan frequencies as opposed to the need to key in a particular frequency. The second advantage is, when using a Pactor, the Pactor modem will control the frequency of the M810 as opposed to having to manually input the frequency into the M710 when accessing a Pactor station. The M802 also has built-in Digital Selective Calling (DSC) as well as Digital Signal Processing for significantly improved signal/noise performance.
This is a bit misleading.

* The M710 can be frequency-controlled by a Pactor III modem, given the proper connecting cables and proper modem. I set one up for a customer on an 87' vessel last summer.

* Some versions of the M710 have a scan function, with three types of scanning.

* Some versions of the M710 have a removable front panel, just like the M802.

The M710 is a rock-solid very rugged performer, without serious problems that I know of. However, it is NOT a great radio for use on the ham bands since it doesn't have a VFO. It is possible to modify the M710 for easier frequency tuning (using EX-1726 cloning software and an Icom OPC-478 cable); however, this still isn't optimum for ham use.

If all you intend to do is to listen to, or participate in net operations on specific frequencies, do email with Pactor III, and communicate with other vessels and shore stations on marine channels, then the M710 is a fine choice. Great radio. But if you want more flexibility, and if you want HF/DSC operation, then the M802 is the way to go.

Bill
 
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