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Old 06-07-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
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hi folks,

was wondering if anyone could suggest an ocean going email/net system ?

any ideas welcome
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:14 AM   #2
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Best system is sailmail. It requires an SCS modem, station license (call sign) and a ssb radio. Very good world wide coverage and costs $250 a year.

Airmail uses the same free software but the service itself is free, provided by amateur radio (hams). As ham operators perform this service voluntarily, coverage is often poor. It also means getting a ham license which is today is very easy to accomplish.

You can also get free weather fax, weather forcasts, satellite images,and a host of other useful things with the modem and ssb radio. This interfaces easily to a computer.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:20 AM   #3
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Best system is sailmail. It requires an SCS modem, station license (call sign) and a ssb radio. Very good world wide coverage and costs $250 a year.

Airmail uses the same free software but the service itself is free, provided by amateur radio (hams). As ham operators perform this service voluntarily, coverage is often poor. It also means getting a ham license which is today is very easy to accomplish.

You can also get free weather fax, weather forcasts, satellite images,and a host of other useful things with the modem and ssb radio. This interfaces easily to a computer.
In parts of S.E. Asia and the Indian Ocean, SailMail is on a par with Winlink. They are both God-sends to cruising boats when spares are required and the suppliers email address can be found. The constraints are text only messages and not too long.
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Old 06-21-2011, 10:39 PM   #4
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I would add that the folks at Winlink have finally broken the obscene SCS modem prices with a "sound card" replacement called RMS Express. So you can save $1000 and get a reasonable approximation of the services
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:03 AM   #5
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I've started looking at options for email at sea for use in 2-3 years time when I do pull up the anchor for good.

Currently I have an ICOM M600 series HF set which works well but has no connectors for SCS, Pactor, etc. I could upgrade it to a newer M800 series model I guess, but that's added expense and I am reluctant to replace an otherwise perfectly good + working HF set. I'm not sure if the Winlink sound card would integrate with the M600 set or not, I think that the limiting factor is always going to be the HF <-> modem connection not the modem <-> PC connection which seems pretty stable and standard these days.

Satellite prices are dropping, and the cost of a sat phone + modem is starting to look attractive vs the cost of replacing HF sets and adding modems. If sat prices continue to drop then I think they will overtake HF one day as the preferred method for digital data at sea, but that day is not yet. Will that day arrive inside my 2-3 year time frame? Don't know.

Anyway, they are my thoughts, comments would be appreciated and taken in the good humour in which they are intended.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:56 PM   #6
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Satellite prices are dropping, and the cost of a sat phone + modem is starting to look attractive vs the cost of replacing HF sets and adding modems. If sat prices continue to drop then I think they will overtake HF one day as the preferred method for digital data at sea, but that day is not yet. Will that day arrive inside my 2-3 year time frame? Don't know.
This is actually kind of timely, I have been casually researching the same thing. I spoke to a fellow, who admittedly probably had old data, but he was quoting me some numbers for satellite bandwidth at stagering prices with a surcharge per minute (rounded up) of connectivity. Do you have a link to a competative firm so I can refresh my numbers? I had previously thought that satellite would be untenable so I was looking at the whole SnailMail thing. Having said that, I believe that would only be email - not surfing or Skype.

Kevin
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Old 07-02-2011, 03:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Currently I have an ICOM M600 series HF set which works well but has no connectors for SCS, Pactor, etc. I could upgrade it to a newer M800 series model I guess, but that's added expense and I am reluctant to replace an otherwise perfectly good + working HF set. I'm not sure if the Winlink sound card would integrate with the M600 set or not, I think that the limiting factor is always going to be the HF <-> modem connection not the modem <-> PC connection which seems pretty stable and standard these days.
With RMS Express there is no modem. That is its beauty. Yes, you will need to provide audio out and audio in between the ICOM and your PC, plus a way for the computer to switch the ICOM from receive to transmit, but these are all easy to do with specific instructions available on the internet.
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Old 07-13-2011, 10:42 PM   #8
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Another option is SkyMate ...... http://skymate.com/index.html
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:32 PM   #9
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Another option is SkyMate ...... http://skymate.com/index.html
What range does Skymate have for Email both ways ?
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:41 AM   #10
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Wow, that coverage map excludes looks pretty good. It does exclude a good chunk of Africa but but other than that only a piece of Greenland some of the Soviet successor states.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:31 AM   #11
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Wow, that coverage map excludes looks pretty good. It does exclude a good chunk of Africa but but other than that only a piece of Greenland some of the Soviet successor states.
Kevin, I noticed that there was apparently little information given regarding the tranceiving of Emails well away from VHF towers.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:33 PM   #12
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Could very well be. I was only looking at the map they had - I would be amazed if that entire area was full service full time. I also noticed that the site was still under construction which struck me as a bit of a red light. Would definitely want to hear more from the community fo sure. Time will tell.

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Old 07-15-2011, 03:44 AM   #13
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The site says satellite, not VHF. The coverage looks pretty similar to the early Inmarsat systems. It would be interesting to see a cost comparison between the various satellite and HF options. I may start working on a spreadsheet over the next week or so.

If anyone has links to other satellite / HF email providers along with costs (including equipment and data plans) then post them here and I'll do a collate.
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:54 AM   #14
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Further digging on the web site says:

SkyMate uses the ORBCOMM low-Earth orbit satellite system.

ORBCOMM satellites are a reasonably recent low orbit deployment, using the VHF band for earth / satellite communication. Hopefully more systems like this will come on board over the coming few years bringing the cost of satellite bandwidth down.
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Old 07-15-2011, 10:31 AM   #15
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Del,

That is a new development - Up until last year my Email a nd Internet was transceived by Satellite. If there were black clouds or rain between me and the sat = no transmission. If my dish wass moved even 1", no transmission.
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Old 07-16-2011, 03:17 PM   #16
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Yes there's a fairly significant difference between what's commonly known as "terrestrial" satellite, which uses a dish as a receiver/transmitter (and also occasionally as a receiver only, with transmission being done over a land line such as a regular modem), and "mobile" satellite. The former is usually an order of magnitude cheaper, has much higher bandwidth, but does require that the dish remain stationary and pointed directly at a satellite in geostationary orbit. Hence usually fairly expensive installation costs as well. Mobile satellite usually uses a lower frequency baseband signal and requires an antenna rather than a dish and of course can be mobile. This is the basis of most satellite mobile phones which of course would be useless if they had to be tied to a fixed dish to be used. I'll try to include a summary of the two different technologies at some point as well although there are a few web sites where you can dig for the information.
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Old 07-16-2011, 08:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Kevin, I noticed that there was apparently little information given regarding the tranceiving of Emails well away from VHF towers.
SkyMate does not communicate via VHF towers .... it uses VHF direct to satellites .... the coverage map on their website would not be possible if they were limited to land-based towers ...

Their system lets you send & receive text-only emails & weather ...

The hardware is simple to install, relatively cheap (compared to an SSB assembly or sat phone) & plugs into a PC or laptop with a USB cable ... you can rig a dedicated VHF antenna or use a splitter ...

The subscription packages are reasonably priced compared to sat phone charges ... the basic service works for me even with the send/receive limits ... all the people I email know that when they reply to my emails they need to generate a new email instead of just hitting the reply button because that sends your outgoing email back to you as part of their reply & makes a big hole in your send/receive quota ...
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:03 AM   #18
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OK, so here is my first comparison:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21366000/com...comparison.pdf

I will expand this over time and so keep checking the link. There's a boat show here in Sydney in the next few weeks at which I hope to get some more information from some of the newer providers. I haven't included services like fleet broadband yet but I will slowly get to those over time, there is a lot of material to be read (some of which is contradictory) and obtaining simple facts isn't always easy even through the providers' web sites.

If anyone has any comments or corrections, please feel free to comment here.

If anyone wants a dropbox referral (useful for sharing files like this) a 2GB account is free: http://db.tt/BDobmUu (if you go via my referral link then we both get 250MB bonus space).
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:07 AM   #19
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Can someone using WinLink please answer the following question as I have been unable to get an answer from the Winlink people themselves: On the Winlink web site it talks about having to have a HAM (amateur radio) license to use Winlink. Is this correct for Marine HF users at sea, or is a standard marine HF certification and call sign OK (e.g. in Australia that would be a set license from the ACMA, after which ACMA issue a call sign, and a marine radio operator's certificate of proficiency from AMC)?
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Old 07-20-2011, 01:22 PM   #20
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Winlink is the HAM radio operator's service, using HAM operators worldwide to connect to a land-based provider, be it telephone or a LAN. Thus, those using the service must be licensed HAM operators.

The comparable service for marine HF radio is SAILMAIL
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