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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am thinking about adding a Pactor Modem to my recently installed icom 802 SSB.

Are there advantages to the newer modems or will an older version purchased on eBay suffice?

I recently heard at a boat show that the Pactor 4 could not be used in the USA but cannot find anything more about this. Any insight?

Any advice welcomed

Many thanks!

Mark
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I am thinking about adding a Pactor Modem to my recently installed icom 802 SSB.

Are there advantages to the newer modems or will an older version purchased on eBay suffice?

I recently heard at a boat show that the Pactor 4 could not be used in the USA but cannot find anything more about this. Any insight?
Hello Mark.

Pactor 4 is perfectly legal on the marine bands worldwide. All the Sailmail stations support Pactor 4.

Pactor 4 is not legal in the US on the ham bands. It is legal pretty much everywhere else in the world. The FCC is considering changes. We'll see.

Many Winlink (ham) stations have updated to Pactor 4 modems, including some in the US who use Pactor 4 on Mars and other government frequencies while supporting Pactor 2 and 3 on ham frequencies.

The newest SCS modems (Pactor IIIusb, Dragon 7400, and Dragon 7800) seem to be more efficient at Pactor 3 than the older modems. The data is anecdotal and no one claims a huge difference.

If your plans include Sailmail I would definitely get a Dragon 7400 if your means allow.

If resources are limited or you will only use Winlink in and around the US I would look hard at the used market for Pactor IIusb and perhaps Pactor IIpro devices. I would avoid the IIex (harder to integrate) and the IInet (paying for capabilities you don't need).

Let me know if I can help.
 

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That Pactor news link, once again, reminds me of how antiquated this whole SSB modem business is. There should be an app for that. Seriously. May require some interfacing hardware from the SSB to the tablet, but Pactor seems to find a large enough market as is.
 

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I am thinking about adding a Pactor Modem to my recently installed icom 802 SSB.

Are there advantages to the newer modems or will an older version purchased on eBay suffice?

I recently heard at a boat show that the Pactor 4 could not be used in the USA but cannot find anything more about this. Any insight?

Any advice welcomed

Many thanks!

Mark
s/v Cream Puff
Cream Puff
I would trust this business for correct information..

Farallon Electronics 415-331-1924

..and customer service
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello Mark.

Pactor 4 is perfectly legal on the marine bands worldwide. All the Sailmail stations support Pactor 4.

Pactor 4 is not legal in the US on the ham bands. It is legal pretty much everywhere else in the world. The FCC is considering changes. We'll see.

Many Winlink (ham) stations have updated to Pactor 4 modems, including some in the US who use Pactor 4 on Mars and other government frequencies while supporting Pactor 2 and 3 on ham frequencies.

The newest SCS modems (Pactor IIIusb, Dragon 7400, and Dragon 7800) seem to be more efficient at Pactor 3 than the older modems. The data is anecdotal and no one claims a huge difference.

If your plans include Sailmail I would definitely get a Dragon 7400 if your means allow.

If resources are limited or you will only use Winlink in and around the US I would look hard at the used market for Pactor IIusb and perhaps Pactor IIpro devices. I would avoid the IIex (harder to integrate) and the IInet (paying for capabilities you don't need).

Let me know if I can help.
Thank you so very much for the detailed response. This is one of those things with which I need to become better educated. I figured we'll have more time to understand once we start to cruise. Right now, we just need to get going. I will opt for the Dragon 7400,

Mark

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Thank you so very much for the detailed response. This is one of those things with which I need to become better educated. I figured we'll have more time to understand once we start to cruise. Right now, we just need to get going. I will opt for the Dragon 7400
Hi Mark,

I'm glad I could help.

Without knowing your complete circumstances, some quick thoughts:

- spend a bit of time understanding HF (SSB) radio propagation. Wikipedia is a good start. You might also try my webinars at Seven Seas U. It isn't at all hard but will make your experience with your new radio much more pleasant.

- go through the help file in Airmail when you set up your Pactor modem. You'll want to set the levels properly. Not hard, and there are step by step instructions. Oh - when you set up Airmail, tell it that your modem is a IIusb. Airmail will accept that and later change it to IIpro. Leave it be. It will talk to the 7400 just fine.

- get the right cables. Gary at Dockside Radio can sort you out. If you're in the middle Chesapeake Bay I can help. You'll find my contact information on the Sailmail website.

- aside from some minor regulatory things you have to learn, there is NOTHING in the Technician and General class amateur radio exams you shouldn't know anyway to be a self-sufficient cruiser. Get the ARRL guides and take them with you. Get your ham license.

- join SSCA.

- don't leave the dock before understanding how to use the 802, 7400, and Airmail to receive weather fax. Weather information is a life safety issue.

- get off the dock. I don't mean to seem contradictory but too many people spend too long "getting ready" only to discover that their priorities, driven by books, magazines, and advice, are different than expected. There is no substitute for figuring out what is important for yourself.

Enjoy.
 

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Thank you so very much for the detailed response. This is one of those things with which I need to become better educated. I figured we'll have more time to understand once we start to cruise. Right now, we just need to get going. I will opt for the Dragon 7400
I don't remember if the 7400 has the Bluetooth option but the 7800 does and it is my preferred way to connect.
 

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That Pactor news link, once again, reminds me of how antiquated this whole SSB modem business is. There should be an app for that. Seriously. May require some interfacing hardware from the SSB to the tablet, but Pactor seems to find a large enough market as is.
Yes, it's antiquated but still works. I mostly use the Pactor/SSB for back up now as the new Iridium GO and apps for my iPad and computer are just easier to use to get almost the same functionality though there is a significant difference in operating cost...
 

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I don't remember if the 7400 has the Bluetooth option but the 7800 does and it is my preferred way to connect.
You can get Bluetooth on any of the current SCS modems and many of the older ones.
 

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Is Winmor a usable alternative to Pactor these days?
That depends on your needs.

Winmor is only available on Winlink, so requires a General class or better ham license. Sailmail, CruiseEmail, Brunei Radio, and Shipcom have no current plans to support Winmor on their Marine HF/SSB networks.

Speeds using Winmor are approximately that of Pactor II.

The Winlink Development Team (WDT) including Rick Muething KN6KB who developed most of the algorithms for Winmor continue to recommend Pactor for critical communications links.

If all you want is incidental e-mail when out of WiFi and cell phone range and have or are willing to get a General class or above ham license (in the US, similar requirements in other countries) then Winmor may indeed be a usable alternative to Pactor. If you are crossing oceans I think Pactor is a better idea.

Winmor is also a way to get started and determine just what your real needs are while cruising. Note that while nominally "free" there is a shareware-style registration fee, a highly recommended outboard sound card like the Signalink USB, and some cables and connectors. All up probably $250US.

One of the greatest benefits of Winmor is that it pretty well puts the nail in the coffin of older Pactor I modems. Pactor I is unneighborly, rude, and uses more than one's fair share of the limited time on a shared resource. To my knowledge, Sailmail has dropped Pactor I support and many (not all) Winlink stations have as well.

Given the time of year, and regardless of whether you use Pactor or Winmor, if you use the Winlink system it is worth considering as you plan your end of year giving a contribution to the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc which is the tax-deductible means of supporting Winlink. See Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. .

No disclaimer as I am not a member of the WDT or ARSFI. I am an Extra Class ham and have used Winlink extensively offshore. I appreciate the support of volunteers to make the system available.
 
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