SSB vs Satphone

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44c
Posts: 1148
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Hervey Bay, Qld

SSB vs Satphone

Post by 44c » Fri May 18, 2012 8:46 am

I've recently been installing and trying to get working, a borrowed SSB for the trip to Vanuatu.

TBH, If I had shelled out the money for one of these, I'd be very unimpressed.

Listening to the radio "nets" all I hear are unanswered calls from various boats, trying to reach other boats, with no success.

And LOTS of static.

So far I can't say I've ever heard anyone actually communicating.

And you'd be looking at at least a few thousand dollars to set one up.

Because of this, we decided to also investigate satphones.

I expected high prices, and horrific call charge rates.

But guess what? You can buy an Inmarsat Isatphone pro for under $800. AND the government will rebate you half of that! Just fill out a form - if you're cruising full-time you almost certainly qualify.

Call rates? With a pre-paid plan we can pay less than $1 per minute. texts for 50c.

People can text us FREE.

Global coverage, no courses to do, no licenses to get, no knobs to twiddle. No antenna, groundplane, counterpoise voodoo....

We can download grib files, weather fax, whenever WE want, we don't have to work around the BOM's schedules, AND we can take it ashore, or in the dinghy with us.

I think SSB is going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

cruiserbill
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:04 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by cruiserbill » Sat May 19, 2012 12:34 am

I have used satellite phones from time to time. I had trouble connecting a lot of the time, but you just keep trying and eventually it connects. They do work pretty good though. The kind I used had a built in extendable antenna on it and the phone was sort of a small brick. Under a buck a minute is pretty good -- we were paying a whole lot more than that, something like $3-5 a minute.

Admittently, I have never used them out on the water though. I wonder if the water affects things like ground plane that you have on the dirt.

puremajek
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 7:36 pm
Location: Brisbane Australia
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Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by puremajek » Sun May 20, 2012 1:05 pm

44C

Really appreciate this.

We nearly bought one last year, they had them going for $680 and a similar pre-paid rate. Could you please keep us updated, we are still very much in the market and have too knocked the HF Radio on the head.
James
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http://www.diycatamaran.com
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cruiserbill
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:04 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by cruiserbill » Sun May 20, 2012 9:20 pm

After thinking about this, our phones were not Inmarsat, they are Iridium phones. They did work pretty good though, however, I have never used them for data.

I have used Inmarsat phones, but they were not hand held. Once set up, they worked well. I also have used Inmarsat's data service, but not in phone configuration either. It is horribly expensive and I think they are taking my government for a ride on this. I was pretty upset when I saw the bill. I usually don't see the bill for these things, but they ask me to verify that the service was used. I won't post the amount, but it would take 10 people just like me to pay an entire years taxes to pay the bill for 7 days of usage and it wasn't used for 3 of those day at all. :x

44c
Posts: 1148
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Hervey Bay, Qld

Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by 44c » Mon May 21, 2012 9:15 am

Yeah, you don't use a satphone for data. They are slow, so costs get out of hand.

But most telco's provide free or cheap e-mail compression services, and access to compressed GRIB files. Our one (ASTA) does. And our friends can text us FREE!

Fact is, without a Pactor modem (more $$$$!!!) HF radio isn't much good for data either.

Finally
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:24 am
Location: Cairns

Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by Finally » Mon May 21, 2012 6:40 pm

I have wondered about the need for a full blown HF Transceiver - simply because of the cost when I'll probably use it most of the time for weather updates (ie the receive rather than the transmit function).

Have you considered a HF Receiver? A quick eBay search shows cost at around $300.00. Even crusing along the Qld coast it would be handy when out of VHF range (NQ Coast / Kimberleys etc). And you won't need a Licence to operate it.

David

cruiserbill
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:04 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: SSB vs Satphone

Post by cruiserbill » Mon May 21, 2012 9:00 pm

I would like to clarify what every means by an "HF Receiver". Are we Talking about 10m or 2m -HAM- radios? Or 11M (CB) radios with SSB features?

Years ago I was a truck driver in the US and had a SSB CB radio. I had a blast with it and talked to all sorts of interesting folks. Didn't need a license and I (shhh, keep this quiet) "peaked and tuned" it. It was a pretty powerfull radio. It did not cost a fortune either. I had a version of a "Ranger". Galaxy is a great radio as well. Thing is, they are not marine quality though meaning I don't think they would last long in salt water environments. I had a Wilson 1000 antenna and 18ft (increments of 3ft) of quality coax with the antenna (Standing Wave Ratio; SWRs) tuned to the radio.

This was actually the reason I mentioned the ground plane in my earlier post. If you install one of those horizontal star looking ground plane antennas at the base of your main antenna, it can give you better performance in some situations. Maybe some of you out there know more about it than I do and can comment.

I found this on a website about No Ground Plane Antennas (NGP):
"If you’re installing a CB antenna on an RV, boat, or other vehicle that lacks a good metal chassis, you’ll most likely need an NGP antenna."

"NGP antennas need to be tuned just like ground-plane antennas to ensure optimal performance and to check for high SWR levels."

44C - I am not sure of the setup you were using, but it may not have been setup in the proper way or perhaps with the proper equipment and "peaked and tuned" properly. When I first read your post and you said that it had "lots of static" I was scratching my head about that statement. Sunspots, atmoshpere, Engines, Other Electronics, and a whole other host of anomolies can interfere with good transmission and reception. I have talked with folks that were clear as a bell and others you could hardly understand though. Its the nature of the radio I guess.

I hope I didn't insult anyones intellegence here, it's just my experiences and something to consider.

Right now I have a 2m handheld and a 10m radio sitting on my shelf that were my late father's radios. No license though so they just sit there.

CB

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