Covering the subject of staying in touch while cruising using Ham Radio, SSB and Email.
With communication technologies changing so rapidly in the last few years SOME of the information below may be outdated. Internet cafes are sprouting up almost everywhere in the South Pacific/Asia/Caribbean and most of the World. For example one can get fast Internet access even in the remote and tiny island of Niue. We now have better software, faster computers, radios and modems. The Winlink and Sailmail services have matured enough that they both seems to be the choice of most cruisers out there. For those who can afford it the satellite based systems like Inmarsat C, Inmarsat Mini-M, Skycell, Iridium etc. are the most convenient ways to go. It is still expensive to have an HF email system onboard (US$3500+) although using a modified Ham rig can cut the cost in half but it requires more technical knowledge and an Amateur Licence to operate, so for most budget cruisers we still rely on land based Internet cafes for now. One more complexities in our 'simple' cruising life. (March 25, 2003)
Links to Comapnies Offering Maritime Communications Services and Equipment
• Farallon Electronics
Specializes in system designs for yachting, marine and industrial electronic equipment and data over HF radio. Excellent and unbiased information on setting up Email on boats. Pactor modem dealer.
• Welcome to the
Amateur Radio Web Server
• W2X0 Home Page
C-Sat & BT C-Club Services
• Maritel Marine
• C. Crane Comapny
• Universal Radio
• Ham Radio Outlet (HRO)
• WOJOBILL and the NorthWest Boaters Net
• H.F. On Board
Discussion on selecting marine HF radio for email onboard but biased towards products that they sell.
WINLINK! 2000 Homepage.:
Utilizes enabling technologies†and sound operating practices to provide a full-featured radio digital message transfer system, worldwide.† Email transfer, position reporting, weather and bulletin services, and emergency communications are now available to the amateur radio community by linking radio to the Internet for free.
SailMail offer Email Services for Yachts
via Marine HF SSB Radio. The SailMail Association is a non-profit
association of yacht owners that operates and maintains an FCC
licensed,two-way, private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio
Service. The Association provides radioprinter (e.g.Internet email)
communications for its members on a cooperative basis. Subscriptions US$200/year.
Good resources for Maritime Ham Nets. Link
For Amateur Radio Maritime Mobile Links,
check out: http://www.rac.ca/boater.htm
SSB Frequency List:
Prepared by Anna Stockel. SSB LIST
HF and Ham Radio References for radio mods, manuals, service tips etc. (Disclaimer applies) Web Sites:
AC6V's Amateur Radio & DX Reference Guides. FEATURING OVER 700 HAM RADIO TOPICS & OVER 6,000 LINKS.
Mods.dk Repository of tips, tricks and modifications of Ham Rigs and Modems. List 725 models of radios and TNC's.
QRZ.com: Lots of Ham Radio Links.
The ICOM Page - Information about Icom and its products..
Icom Technical & FAQ Page: **Not affiliated with Icom Inc** .
ICOM Service Troubleshooting Guides
Going for your Novice/General HAM License?
The following websites provide questions from the required test question pools and other info on obtaining your HAM license.
- Amateur radio exam practice page.
Dxer.com - Information on
EXAM 2.0 Page - random test generator page
Marine SSB with your Ham rig?
Many Non-US based Sailing Hams have been "clipping" their
rigs so that they can transmit on Marine SSB frequencies. If you want to know how to
do it check out this web site. (Disclaimer: This is a violation of FCC Rules. Proceed at your own risk.) Radio Mods Database
Want to learn the basics of
John Adam's excellent and free basic
Guide To Electronics Page. Learn multimeter
ultra -basics, calculate series, parallel & combo
Macintosh Ham Software List
WD1V Macintosh Ham Software List
More Software Links NEW
Amateur radio on the Net.: Over 5000 links with great Ham resources, Classified Ads, News, Reviews
- Mac Pics: Links to tons of Macintosh OS web sites, Mac OS, shopping, Games, graphics, fonts, Software, news, reviews and E-zines etc.
- Small Boat GPS: A shareware for download 2.5Mb.
The Mac Shack: an index of Amateur Radio software for the Macintosh.
- Macnet Ham Software List. Compiled by John WD1V
- Macintosh Amateur Radio Software Archive
- Ham-Mac mailing list reflector
One of the best places to find any Mac software
Ham radio softwareNEW
- AC6V's Ham links
†Find Out How To Send E-Mail
via Ham Radio
Go to Charles
Vollum's Web Page. He actually did it from a Peterson 44 from the
†COMMUNICATIONS IN EUROPEAN WATERS
Go to Yacht Reteats Web Page.A review of the methods available to keep in touch whilst cruising in European waters. Email, SSB, Phone, fax etc.
For amateur radio maritime mobile links, check out:
E-Mail in The Abacos
Last year in the Marsh Harbor,
Abacos area there was an estimable fellow who would receive and
forward e-mail to cruisers via VHF.
For Marsh Harbor send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the boat name as the subject. Mail will
be posted at Sapodilly's Bar and Grill.
To have e-mail forwarded via VHF, address it
to email@example.com (Man-o-War Marina), again with the boat
name as the subject. Man-o-War Marina will anounce any e-mail that
they have received on the cruisers net (0815 on channel 68).
One can also contact the marina directly on channel 16 request
Check out http://www.oii.net/index.html
for this plus additional infomation and tips on
cruising in the Abacos. Steve.
Obtaining HF Weather Fax
reception on a Macintosh computer
Yuri Munkki (a web search will locate him) makes RadFax, a
software package for the Macintosh that draws weather fax charts on
your Mac screen by converting the audio output data (which is fed
thru the microphone input of your Macintosh) from your SSB radio. The
program can be downloaded from ftp://mirror.apple.com and the
file is called "rad-fax-09.hqx".
Chris Smolinski's Radio Page (WX FAX software)
Smolinski's Radio Page contains information and some excellent links to Short Wave, Pirate and Amateur Radio sites. If you own a Macintosh and interested in decoding CW, RTTY,
FAX, including Weather Fax and more? Then check out Chris's shareware
Although some information below may now be outdated I'll leave them unchanged for nothing more than to remind us how difficult it was just a few years back to setup email on board (March 2003).
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Re: Ham nets
The Mississauga net can be accessed by US hams using their
Bahamian Reciprocal License, while in the Bahamas. Incidently it is
necessary to allow at least 8 weeks to process this application, so
cruisers planning to enjoy their Ham Radios in the Bahamas in '97,
should have sent in their applications, with copies of their US
license, a copy of a photo ID, and the $8 check (Cashiers or Money
Order as personal checks are no longer accepted). If you are
renewing, be sure to send in your original Bahamian License. Send
BATELCO, Radio License Dept. Attn: Mr. T. M. Devaux
Box N 3048, Nassau, NP, Bahamas
Phone for info: 809-323-4911, ST. 7553
Regarding 14.313 or 300, depends upon interference as to where the
Maritime Net meets, but this group is still an excellent means of
connecting when you are off cruising. Fuzzy Zulu and his cohorts have
not shut the net down yet!
Sean Holland S/V Spindrift
VE3PFT@ve3pft.ampr.org (P.F. Coppin) writes:
For those who are interested, there is also a maritime net on
14.121 at about 1100-1200Z. This is the mississauga maritime net
primarily set up to serve Canadian boats down south. Normally they
are not too snotty but boats have be clear of US territorial waters
to transmit to them (14.121 not in US phone bands). If you can work
split, they listen about 14.153, ...........
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 11:39:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Robert Goley
Subject: Re: Radio position reporting
The organization is "Waterway Radio and Cruising Club". It
operates every morning at 0845-0945 EDT. That "translates" to every
day at 1245-1345 UTC. Please note that is only until 1996- 10-27.
Because the Eastern Time Zone (US) changes to "Standard" time from
"Daylight Savings" time, on 1996-10-27 and thereafter (till April
1997), I believe the operations shift to 1345-1445 UTC (-0500 instead
of -0400). The broadcasts are on SSB, on lower SB at 7268 (kHz?).
In addition, I received the following email addresses:
A phone call may also be made to Fort Myers, Florida, USA. The
number is Area Code 941, 590-0949.
Hopefully, the person sailing south next month can find them
Lt. Bob Goley, AP Rockville (MD) PS firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 1996 10:46:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: Larry DeMers
Subject: Re: Powering PC From Ship's Batteries
I have done some research into the problem of powering the laptop
from the ship's batteries. The temptation to design a use-specific
circuit and to package it for sale was strong, but then my research
proves this to be unnecessary, as there are numerous sources for
circuits that will work very well in the application that we have in
A DC to DC converter takes 12vdc (actually 9-18VDC) and applies a
switching technique to arrive at a regulated 12 VDC output capable of
providing up to 5A to the load. The source that I am looking at right
now is Polytron Devices Inc. (201-345-5885)
They offer full input/output isolation; 86% efficiency; short
circuit protection; over current protection; epoxy encapsulation; 6
sided shielding against RFI.
Voltage Accuracy +/- 1%
Line Regulation +/- .1%
Load Regulation +/- .5%
Ripple/Noise +/- 50 mVp-p
I would however, add a dual pi output filters to the output. This
is to smooth out the ripple content due to the switching circuitry.
This is a simple five component circuit, which can be built in place
(without a printed circuit board). It consists of 4 capacitors and an
Sample prices are below: Contact me for more info or to answer
CURRENT MODEL SIZE
WATTAGE (MA) NUMBER (in.) PRICE
--------- ------- ------- ---------- ---------- -------
25W 2100 KW25-12S12 2.9 X 2.7 $99.00
40W 3400 KW49-12S12 3.9 X 2.8 $104.00
60W 5000 KW60-12S12 3.5 X 5.5 $159.00
Larry DeMers Cray Research Inc/SGI
S/V DeLaMer Dev. Circuits & Components Lab
Cape Dory 30 Sailing Lake Superior
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 1996 07:48:33 -0800
From: Sean Holland
Subject: Re: Global Wireless
In a previous article, email@example.com (Dick Guckel) says:
>Mats Fagerstrvm wrote:
>> Preparing for an extended cruise from Sweden to West
Indies and onwards I am researching e-mail possibilities from our Lap
Top on board. Satellite is too expensive and a sailing yacht is no
stable platform for the antenna. GPS telephone is an option in Europe
and some other countries, but not far out from land. Globe Wireless
are operating a new system for global e-mail through SSB. Does anyone
have any practical experience. The cost per e-mail seems to be very
high. And how reliable is the system. My SSB is an ICOM M-800 - has
anyone tried to use it for data communication or weatherfax?
Mats Fagerstroem Stockholm, Sweden<<
>I have a similar decision to make. After considerable thought
I have decided to use land telephone lines either via direct
connection or using an acoustic coupler. I am attaching some
correspondence from users of these two methods:
Cap'n Dick s/v Charles Ogalin (Vancouver 32)
My new coupler came from a firm in England called TeleAdapt, and I
now know they have phone, fax and e-mail numbers in the USA as
If you go the coupler route, and find that you too have to dial
manually, you will probably also find that your modem refuses to
co-operate at first, and maybe a message on the screen saying No Dial
Tone, or similar. The answer is to add either X1 or X3 to your modem
initialisation string. X1 disables both dial tone detect & busy
tone detect; X3 disables only dial tone detect. Both have the effect
of telling your modem not to expect a dial tone. In some of my
session settings, I have X1, and in others X3 (don't ask me why
now!), and I don't even have them in the same places in the strings.
It makes no difference - as long as one or other of them in is the
middle of the string somewhere, you should find that the modem is no
longer expecting to hear a dial tone and goes ahead and emits its
tones or pulses anyway. It then waits patiently until it hears a
modem (which of course it does after you have now dialled manually,
connected to the other modem, and clamped on the coupler).
Timing seems to be important. If your manual dialling results in
getting connected before your modem has done its own (now
ineffective) dialling, waiting for the other modem long before your
manual dialling has usually screw up the other modem). And if your
modem finishes and starts waiting for the other modem long before
your manual dialling has connected, that too can often screw things
up. Recently in Turkey, I could not get results through Istanbul. So
I usually went through Greece, and learned to wait 15 seconds after
I'd finished dialling Athens manually before I hit Enter to get my
own modem started. But if Greece was bad for some reason and I
changed to London, I had to hit Enter about half way through dialling
London because the London connection went through almost immediately.
I got into practice with this eventually, but you can imagine how
nights which were bad got worse when I was first discovering it!
Subject: e-mail while cruising
>Hi Cap'n Dick;
We are currently in Chipiona, Spain. Will soon be up the river to
Sevilla for the winter.
In reply to your note: I use a Toshiba laptop that runs on batteries
or 12 volt or 110AC. Since we have an inverter aboard I usually use
AC. When I take the computer ashore, I fully charge the battery ahead
of time, and run it off battery power. However, my particular Toshiba
has an internal inverter as well, and can use any power source
world-wide. I therefore purchased a conversion kit of electrical
plugs for countries we plan to visit, so that if I do want to plug in
to the electricity ashore I have the correct plug. Also have a
portable ink jet printer, runs on batteries or AC.
For the e-mail itself I choose a modem that plugs directly into a
telephone jack (will not work on pay telephones). Again, I purchased
a convertor kit of phone jacks for countries world wide, since the US
phone jack style is not always compatable. The convertor kits for the
electrical plugs and telephone jacks are available via a company
called Magellan. I found their ad in a laptop computer magazine.
So far plugging directly into phone jacks has not been a problem.
Most marina offices let me use their phone line. However, since we do
not go into marinas too often, I have to be creative. I take the
computer ashore, and look for likely spots - stores,post offices,
tourist information centers, cafes, real estate offices, travel
agents, etc. Hotels don't work because their lines are usually on a
switch board. I explain to the person that I need aprivate line, and
what I want to do. I make sure not to disturb their business, since I
will tie up the telephone while I am on-line.
I did not buy an acoustic coupler because of the advice of another
cruiser. He had big problems, (especially all throughout Europe)
because the phone systems in many countries world-wide did not
recognize the tones his coupler produced. Also, when attaching the
coupler to a pay telephones, you need lots of local coins coins to
feed the machine. Often the connection can be lost for want of a
coin. To pay for the calls when plugging directly into the wall jack,
I set a price with the person whose line it is ahead of time. Many
people enjoy watching the process, and have not charged me. Since my
laptop also has a speaker, they are amazed when it says "You have
mail". Marina personnel seem to understand the concept, and sometimes
charge the same rate as sending a fax. Since I am calling a server in
the country we are in, the charges are minimal. I have a list of aol
world wide servers.
There are other ways of connecting, but as far as I can tell are much
more costly than the method I use. One is via a world wide cellular
telephone. Purchase the cellular phone, set up the shore account for
this phone, and get the modem that works with it. Another method is
via SSB or ham radio. Again, set up the shore account, and buy the
software and modem to connect to the radio. Aside from the cost of
this method, there is also the problem of the tuning and radio
reception. The cellular telephone method might be good if cruising
one specific area for a long time. We met a USA boat cruising the UK
for over a year who purchased a UK cellular telephone and account and
used that method - so they had e-mail and telephone as well. Depends
onfinances. We aren't that flush.
We have been cruising for about 6 years. I have used e-mail for about
a year and a half. It has been worth what we spent for the modem many
times over. Before, we called or faxed, and often got answering
machines, etc. - or waited while on hold for the person we were
calling. I do much of our business by e-mail. The bulk of personal
communication is now e-mail. We still like to talk, but arrange the
time to call in advance via e-mail -that way no wasted money on
answering machines, person not there,etc. It has worked out
beautifully, and our long distance telephone bill is almost nil now
Hope this answers your questions. If I can help with anything else,
let me know.<<
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997
From: Steve Boadwine
Subject: Ham Radio Gateways to the Internet
Well, I don't know if this will be of much assistance to the
non-ham, but here is living proof you can e-mail via amateur radio to
the internet and vice versa....
I picked this up from the WEB-the unfortunate thing--he doesn't
have an H-F port on his gateway, but I do believe there are gateway
operators that do....
*****WORLD WIDE WEB USERS..***NOTE**** THIS
DOCUMENTATION IS FOR THE E-MAIL GATEWAY ONLY, NOT FOR THE WEB PAGE!!
The e-mail gateway is for gatewaying e-mail to and from packet
radio and is a seperate system from the World Wide Web page packet
The addressing scheme below does NOT apply to the Web page. The
Web page uses "normal" packet addresses.
That said ....... Here is the documentation for the E-mail
TO MAIL FROM INTERNET TO A PACKET STATION:
1. Get the complete packet address of the station to which you
wish to mail.
2. Replace the "@" in the packet address with "%" .
3. Mail to the resulting address, adding "@w2xo.pgh.pa.us"
Packet address to be mailed to:
TO MAIL FROM PACKET TO INTERNET
1. I have to have a callsign or alias in my database for this to
2. Mail to that callsign or alias at the internet host
If W3AAA is in my database as "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Mail to: W3AAA@W2XO.#SWPA.PA.USA.NOAM
(the mail will be forwarded to "email@example.com" NON-HAMS get
"3rd Party Aliases" like "3PTY01", which will fit in the 6 character
space of a ham packet header. These are used just like calls. If you
are a non-ham, please ask for a 3rd party alias and I'll give you
NOTE: *****VERY IMPORTANT******!
E-mail from non-hams to hams, or E-mail from ham to ham through
the gateway , where the message enters the packet radio network at
W2XO, from a country that does not have a 3RD PARTY TRAFFIC AGREEMENT
with the US is illegal and could put my amateur radio license in
jeopardy. A list of countries with 3rd party agreements with the US
follows. Please don't ask to use the gateway if
you are not either in the US or on this list. I regret this
policy, but it is US Radio law.
Countries that share third-party traffic agreements:
V2 Antigua/Barbuda / V6 Federated States / HP Panama
LU Argentina / of Micronesia / ZP Paraguay
VK Australia / C5 Gambia / OA Peru
V3 Belize / 9G Ghana / DU Philippines
CP Bolivia / J3 Grenada / V4 St. Christopher/Nevis
PY Brazil / TG Guatemala / J6 St. Lucia
VE Canada / 8R Guyana / J8 St. Vincent
CE Chile / HH Haiti / 9L Sierra Leone
HK Colombia / HR Honduras / 3DA Swaziland
D6 Comoros / 4X Israel / 9Y Trinidad/Tobago
TI Costa Rica / 6Y Jamaica / GB United Kingdom *
CO Cuba / JY Jordan / CX Uruguay
HI Dominican Republic / EL Liberia / YV Venezuela
J7 Dominica / V7 Marshall Islands** / 4U1ITU - ITU,Geneva
HC Ecuador / XE Mexico / 4U1VIC - VIC,Vienna
YS El Salvador / YN Nicaragua
* Limited to special-event stations with callsign prefix GB (GB3
excluded) and informally to stations number on Pitcairn Island
** The Marshall Islands are independent, but the FCC currently
honors the previous agreement until a formal agreement can be
The gateway cannot be used to or from a
country not on the above list.
Steve and Jeannie Boadwine
S/V Miss Kate
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