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Old 04-13-2012, 11:47 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2009
Home Port: St. Augustine FL
Vessel Name: Linnupesa
Posts: 189
Default E-mail and wefax aboard

Hi all key-board savvy navigatorii

Although I'm a radio ham I'm a bit daunted by the learning curve to put together a useable wefax/sailmail/pactor type setup. There seems to be a plethora of software and new gee-whiz stuff out there, not to mention the evermore expensive Pactor system.

My Q's are:

1 Can a relatively simple ham transceiver without crystal/PLL stability and DSP/filtering adequately receive wefax and winlink etc.? I'm thinking Atlas 210, TenTec Scout 555, Icom 706. I prefer the older/simpler units with discrete parts as these generally can be fixed in the field. Or fugeddaboutem?

2 Do I need a synthesized rock-solid unit with very sharp and narrow bandwidth filters on it? Of course with DSP, built-in computer interface and maybe a microwave oven as well?

3 Can ham-domain 'decoder boxes' like AEA and Kantronics products do essentially the same as the kilo-$ Pactors? Some claim they can do just about anything, but do they really? Pactor has the marine$ multiplier and some cachet attached, but is it any better? I do not care if the software is all one-touch control and dices and slices, as long as I can send and receive intelligible copy.

4 If there are units out that can do it, which are they and what else do they need, software and perhaps subscription wise?

5 Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, so is data from older posts a wasted effort? Perhaps it is not and I should look over the old posts on this topic on this forum. There are quite a few but I'm not sure how current the info is. ( current is always important to sailors )

6 What computing power is needed? I'm thinking a laptop and USB suffice but perhaps a dedicated Ipads is now de riguer.

Looking forward to your comments most humbly and appreciatively

Fair winds, smooth seas

73 KI6S

Ivo sv Linnupesa

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Old 05-06-2012, 11:56 AM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 39

Hi, lots of questions there let me answer just the ones I know for sure on our old boat.
Old sets, ours IC-M700, work just fine for sailmail, weatherfax, and has for years with just a low powered dell laptop with usb to serial converter. we did get a Pactor 11e 10 years ago, and got the upgrade to 111. All works well.
Just a note, however, as a backup, which is now the primary, an Iridium phone, with good client, for about 80 cents, gets us weatherfax, Nandi fleet report, etc and sends and receives a few emails (not dead yet report to granny, etc, while underway) and no waiting to get hooked up, dial, and 47 to 57 seconds later, all done....and nearly no amp draw, so the backup has become the primary, and we use HF way less than in the past.
One other thing that rocks, is the Frampton GPS driver that allows use of Goggle earth and puts your position on it very accurately. 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet gives you crystal clear air view of coral, sandy spots to anchor, reefs, way better than charts, chartplotters anything else we have used in 40 years, including sitting on the spreaders conning. Bonus, if the view is not perfect in the current year, you can back up a year or two to when the view was good....caching Fiji took about 2 hours, so plan ahead when internet is good....
fair winds....

Louiesails is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2012, 06:36 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2009
Home Port: St. Augustine FL
Vessel Name: Linnupesa
Posts: 189

OK Louie

good info there, thank you. What were you using prior to PACTOR ? I'm not even sure if that is the name of a proprietary German box or software or some specific type of packet mode only. AEA PK232 claims to also run pactor and I just got a used later model box off ebay but did not yet download a manual.

Hear tell that a free-ware "PC Pakratt for windows" with the ubiquitous ver. 2 or 2.1 makes a user manual superfluous. Well, at least that's the hear-say. I'll dork around with it a bit first and see.

The Iridium sounds like a good back-up. In some locations you may not pick it up, but again, that info may be obsolete by now.

These aerial peeks via google-e sound like a real winner. Almost like having your own personal drone aboard. ( apologies to any spouses/mates/partners who may feel impugned by this remark )

It seems you need a wifi link either before or at the actual location to use that feature, or does the sat-phone link it up? The Sat-phone cost you mention is that a per-minute use fee, but is there not quite a hefty base-line cost as well? Then also, how long does a weather download typically take with set-up and connection etc. ? I know, too many Q's...

Thanks for your diesel-use reply too and yes, I'd love to get some hard data from you. I've had a feeling the 1400-1500 rpm range was just sipping from the hydrocarbon but I guess it is the whole configuration that matters, as MMNETSEA had pointed out so well earlier.

Multo obligado

Ivo s/v Linnupesa
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