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#101 Makintrees

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 07:28 AM

AH FUCK!

#102 charrua

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 07:41 AM

as a guy that sailed every weekend for 15 years and stopped 4years ago i find it interesting that a mandatory rule can be thrown out of a protest because of a we tried excuse . if as i believe sailing is trying to attract more people to the sport and lose the rich man's sport tag . you have failed as quite a few people that do not sail have said money talks and bullshit walks .yes Bob owns an island that holds a very large regatta but the result of this protest has made a mockery of rules and penalties given i feel very sorry for the yacht and crew of swish that retired because of radio failure if they had just said we had tried that could have continued . good luck in attracting more people to a sport that at grass roots level is a good sport love and kisses chris

#103 SR CHIEF (RET)

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 01:04 PM

Humor aside, the comm check in with HF was a result of loss of life. The SI spells it out the safety and weather brief prior to the race was reinforced. Safety,safety, safety. HF comms suck at times, I'm sure WO and RAN will go to the room and plead their respective cases, but in the end all yachts are required to check in on the required freq., that the RC as well as the aus., and hobart cg are monitoring to assist if required. Score them as finishing, send them to the bottom of the list... All that being said, if they can show that the hf radio transmitter or ant., were degraded from the weather and used a backup source for check in nother matter. Bottom line these 2 owners have the bank for the very best comm gear and the very best minds to ensure that the required check in is complete...

Rich guys win...

#104 2XD

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 01:13 PM

Missed a sched?

No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.


winner

#105 Lono

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 02:03 PM

Yes. All of your bullets are up to shit.

When you're in Bass Strait and all fucked up and you grab that sat phone and call your pan or mayday to race control is the boat 2 miles east of you going to hear your call and be able to assist?


Or maybe even more importantly when the boat 2 miles away calls pan and you are unable to hear them, respond or assist....

Sounds like maybe a reasonable solution, the fact that they had made as if to retire until they "fixed" the HF sounds like a reasonable course of events. On the other hand, the cynic in me is astounded that the best prepared, most well funded boat and program in the world can't manage a working radio, which every small, soaking wet 40 footer managed to provide.

Ah well, such is life...

#106 jhc

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 04:39 PM

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Garry Linacre said:

“We'll now sit down at some stage and have a good look at the rule book and see what changes need to be made to the wording in relation to the use of HF (High Frequency) radio."

What do I win?

#107 Junkyard Dog

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:50 PM

OK, we got the story on Wild Oats. What was the deal with Ran?

#108 LeftSA

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:57 PM

Just to confirm - the advantage of HF over VHF is the low wavelength allows beyond visual range communication? What are the downsides? I find it interesting that similar races I have done like the Fastnet and Round Britain don't require HF (although the latter did, I think, require a satphone).

It seems harsh that missing a sked should result in a DSQ, but rules are rules.

#109 pogen

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:22 PM

In all this discussion HF is the same as SSB, right? Usually races in the US mandate SSB, with frequencies in the 4 - 10 MHz range.

#110 hawaiianPUNCH

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:44 PM

Missed a sched?

No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.



hahaha...sweet.

#111 DAK

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 09:26 PM

huh, I just thought HF was what they called VHF on the other side of the planet. If HF has better range, why do we use VHF at all?

#112 bowman81

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:33 PM

In all this discussion HF is the same as SSB, right? Usually races in the US mandate SSB, with frequencies in the 4 - 10 MHz range.



huh, I just thought HF was what they called VHF on the other side of the planet. If HF has better range, why do we use VHF at all?


Yes, in Australia, we refer to SSB as HF radio. If memory serves me our unit works over a range of 2-12MHz,. also we are required to be licensed to use any marine radio HF (SSB) or VHF. We have to sit a 2-3 nigths of a course with a test, teaching correct radio calling procedures now including the correct use of DSC.

There are issues with HF as stated by otheres including propagation which can cause lots of hassles which is why VHF is used for most short range (100Nm) communication. HF works by bouncing off the ionosphere which is what give it the long range capability while VHF is generally line of sight, although sitting in the marina the other day i was getting VHF weather forecasts from over 200Nm away.

#113 TPG

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:38 PM

Yes, in Australia, we refer to SSB as HF radio. If memory serves me our unit works over a range of 2-12MHz,. also we are required to be licensed to use any marine radio HF (SSB) or VHF. We have to sit a 2-3 nigths of a course with a test, teaching correct radio calling procedures now including the correct use of DSC.


Technically in the US you're supposed to be licensed to operate an SSB and VHF.

#114 Somebody Else

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:57 PM

Or maybe even more importantly when the boat 2 miles away calls pan and you are unable to hear them, respond or assist....

I understand the safety aspects of the SSB broadcast model, but the example you just provided above is not a good one.

None of the boats are required to monitor the HF radio and so none do because it takes personnel and battery power.
So unless the emergency just happens to coincide with a schedule, there is a high probability it won't be heard.

On the topic of HF SSB in general:
I'm a licensed Amateur Radio operator and I understand the design, installation and operation of HF SSB. Next to using wind and sails for propulsion, it is the most outdated, anachronistic piece of equipment on any yacht. They are less reliable than any of the other communications gear on board, take more training in proper use and are power hogs. What technology can we use to provide broadcast/network capabilities without the drawbacks of HF? The hams have been using microwave nets via satellites for a while now. 1% of the power requirements coupled with clearer audio and easier use seem like a good direction. How do we move ahead on this?

#115 Somebody Else

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 12:36 AM

1. HF is "High Frequency", so named in the early 1900s or so. Today it would be considered at the low end of the useful radio spectrum and even then, only for specialized communications requirements. The only lower frequencies used are for communicating with submarines under water and are extremely low-bandwidth, use antennas 100 kilometers in length and require many Megawatts for power. I think I remember the rough rule of thumb is the band designations in order of magnitude like 3MHz - 30MHz = HF; 30MHz - 300MHz = VHF; 300MHz - 3000 MHz = UHF; 3000MHz on up = microwave.

2. SSB is "Single SideBand" which refers to the mode of transmission -- what part of the carrier wave is modulated. SSB is not limited to HF and is used whenever the maximum range is desired from the least amount of power. For example, audio with the Apollo moon missions was VHF SSB. As a result of SSB's incomplete waveform it has a characteristic "twang" to the audio -- you know it when you hear it.

3. Marine HF uses SSB mode exclusively but it is technically incorrect to refer to marine HF radio-telephony only as SSB; technically it should be referred to as HF or HF SSB. I recognize that "marine HF SSB" is popularly referred to as SSB in recreational boating and I'm fine with that but just want people to know that the terms do not mean the same thing and they are not exclusive to each other.

HF radios used to be the standard on boats but when VHF radios were developed to the cost-effective stage they replaced HF for the following reasons:
  • They are much cheaper to mass-produce.
  • They are more reliable.
  • The audio quality is better.
  • They are much easier to install.
  • They are much easier to operate.
  • They use much less power -- typically less than 10% required by HF.
The extra range of HF is not guaranteed. HF DX is dependent on weather conditions, the level of ionization in the upper atmosphere, the amount of sunspot activity. Different bands give different distances depending on the above plus the time of day. I have not read the Sydney to Hobart SIs, but I assume there are alternate frequencies and bands to use in the event that the primary frequency is not open for DX.
_______

The above is offered as an explanation and clarification of some incorrect information I was reading in this thread. It is not meant in any way whatsoever as a condemnation of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the SIs or marine communications in general.

#116 pogen

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 01:02 AM

The hams have been using microwave nets via satellites for a while now. 1% of the power requirements coupled with clearer audio and easier use seem like a good direction. How do we move ahead on this?



So tell us more, O sage. Educating sailors (and especially race committees) would seem like a good start. Do you need a dish or directional antenna to use one of these microwave nets? Are they broadcast in the sense that a whole fleet (grouped within a ~100 nm radius patch of ocean) can hear any boat transmitting? What is the hardware cost, do you need to fuss with an extensive groundplane as one does for HF/SSB? Srsly, thanks.

#117 Somebody Else

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:05 AM

The hams have been using microwave nets via satellites for a while now. 1% of the power requirements coupled with clearer audio and easier use seem like a good direction. How do we move ahead on this?

Do you need a dish or directional antenna to use one of these microwave nets? Are they broadcast in the sense that a whole fleet (grouped within a ~100 nm radius patch of ocean) can hear any boat transmitting? What is the hardware cost, do you need to fuss with an extensive groundplane as one does for HF/SSB?

I don't know the details, only the general lay of the land. I'm sort of out of the loop on the current state of the art. I stopped being active in ham right as satellite was starting big -- about 25 years ago.

Synopsis:
It's not simply a matter of building the equipment and using it; commercial, political and military interests all play a part.

The Details:
I know that the electrical requirements are roughly equivalent to sat phones on boats with which we are familiar. I'm pretty sure hams are using UFH handhelds similar in size and cost to our popular ICOM M36 handheld to uplink to satellites. There are dual band handhelds that allow full duplex conversations (like a phone -- no more "over"). Something like uplink on 220MHz and downlink on 440MHz, but for all I know, those freqs could be ancient history by now. The ground plane is a non-issue -- part of the rubber ducky antenna. The units the hams use are definitely smaller than the Iridium handheld sat-phones and they use smaller antennas.

All radios -- both receiving and xmitting -- benefit from better antennas. Marine HF SSB definitely benefits from a directional design like a yagi or log periodic (remember old-school TV antennas? log periodic) and the commercial and government land stations use those (plus big power) which compensates for the sub-optimal antennas and lower power used on boats.

The nets can be configured to be one-to-many (like HF and VHF radios we use now or commercial broadcast radio) or one-to-one like telephone. I think the satellite reception range is rather large, closer to 1,000 nm radius. But again, due to the nature of microwave propagation, this is highly configurable and you can make very narrow directional antennas if that is your intent.

These types of nets can also be easily used for digital data such as email, weather GRIB files, etc. while simultaneously being used for voice. The technology is fairly stable and is used extensively (exclusively?) by the US Military. I can think of several obstacles to adoption for the marine community including commercial interests, political interests, military interests and spectrum allocation. Exploitation of the radio spectrum has typically gone something like this: the FCC and international agencies give hams the junk frequencies that they can't use. The amateurs figure out a way to use the junk bands. The bands become commercialized and the hams lose a portion of what used to be exclusively theirs. The hams move on to the next "unusable" band or bands. The politics of spectrum allocation is pretty major. It is a finite resource. But the good news is, the higher the frequency, the fatter the pipe, meaning the more data you can cram down a given bandwidth. The downside is that the higher the frequency, the more precise manufacturing needs to be to use it. But our ability to engineer reliable circuits pretty much parallels our ability to engineer computer microprocessors so we're doing OK in that respect.

The cost issue is simply an issue of scale. The more you manufacture, the cheaper they become. There is no reason for the shipboard sets to cost any more than our common marine VHF sets if they are manufactured in the same quantities. Same price as a cell phone.

I would be very surprised if there were not already standards committees on several different levels (government, marine industry, commercial carriers, etc.) working on a recreational and commercial marine satellite system if indeed they are thinking on that small a scale. But these things do take time. VHF was a viable medium for a decade before it was adopted as the replacement for marine HF SSB for everyday line-of-sight communications. Cell phones were several decades in the making as the technology continued to improve, standards agreed upon and spectrum allocated and purchased. And remember when satellite navigation was expensive and not 100% coverage? Now we can buy GPS receivers for less than 1 percent of the cost of those early units and they work way better. You know the three most expensive parts of your handheld GPS? The most expensive is the data -- the maps -- because those are privately compiled, packaged and sold to the mfgs. That's not even real physical material; it's an idea! The second most expensive part is the battery. These continue to be developed into smaller, longer-lasting cells. And third is cost is the screen. The circuits? about the same cost as the plastic case.

There are a few more obstacles. The way cell phones are able to handle large volumes of traffic is by redundant arrays of small inexpensive cells operating on low power. As you drive in your car, you are being handed off from cell to cell seamlessly. Satellites are much more expensive to deploy than cell towers. Plus the topography makes cell isolation difficult. Bottom line: less traffic can be supported by a satellite-based system than a land-based system. I don't see that as a major problem in our application but I may be ignoring a larger picture. For example, there may be a future network that handles land, air and sea comms seamlessly and in all modes -- one-to-one, one-to-many, encrypted, plain-text, etc.. The technology exists today but the commercial development of it could be hung up on any of the snags I mentioned above... or it could be humming along towards implementation as we type. When I was working at the university I was fascinated by the volume and depth of research which is being conducted in telecommunications. Developments on the largest scales as well as the smallest details such as how many bits should be dedicated for digital error correction. The colloquium topics are frequently so specialized and arcane I can only guess at their significance. All the commercial communications giants are working with research universities around the world and a lot of these PhDs spin off new companies to exploit the new technology as it becomes viable. The explosion of computer technology we saw from 1970-1990 is about to repeat as telcom technology this decade.

#118 Somebody Else

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:38 AM

Antennas and Grounds

As a point of clarification, the ground plane is the negative part of the antenna. It is engineered to be a multiple of the wavelength, just like the radiator (the part we call the antenna). They can take virtually any form. The ground plane for most sailboat VHF antennas is a coil of wire enclosed in a little can at the base of the antenna about 3cm in diameter and about 4cm tall but those dims can vary a lot. In our VHF handhelds, the ground is enclosed in the rubber antenna. The relationship of the ground plane to the radiator determines the shapes of the lobes of radiation pattern. The art and science of antenna design centers around the length of the elements and their interaction. You can increase the range of your handheld by adapting the meter-long whip antenna and base loading coil of a masthead unit to your handheld connector. Of course this make the unit much less convenient! Plus the radiation pattern of the half-wave whips means it is more dependent on being truly vertical for best range. The inertia of a long whip on a handheld can also break off the connector on the handheld and that would not be covered under warranty. As a ham I used to run a 5 watt handheld to a collinear stacked array of two 5/8th wave antennas which produced VERY flat lobes, still omni-directional. I think it was something like 9dB gain which is about like running 50 watts. In almost the exact same band as marine VHF I could communicate clear as a bell for over 50 miles with that rig at 5 watts.

The satellite dish we all recognize is mostly an RF reflector that collects the RF and focuses it on the actual antenna element, typically just a few centimeters in length at the center.

Radios are all about the antenna. This is why some people can receive radio broadcasts through the cavity fillings in their teeth. The size of the lump of metal coincides with the frequency of the xmission. For every frequency and desired radiation pattern there is one ideal length and shape for the antenna. For radios picking up multiple freqs (like on our boats), the antenna is necessarily a compromise, optimized towards the center of the desired spread of freqs. Our VHF sets cover a very narrow band of freqs and thus one size can fairly effectively fit all. Our HF sets cover much broader and multiple bands and so we have to fake out the signal by artificially changing the length of the antenna via the antenna tuner. Antenna tuners are a poor solution to the requirement for carrying multiple large tuned antennas and this is why HF sets aboard yachts typically work better on one band than the others. It's all about the antenna. The rest exists just to make it more predictable and easier to use and sound better.

It's all the antenna. The most expensive xceiver in the world won't work worth crap without a good radiator and ground. Conversely, the tiniest radio can be a giant-killer if run through a good antenna. Another neat thing about antennas is they use no power. All that extra range -- in both receiving and transmitting -- comes at no extra use of electricity. All you are doing is making the system more efficient. It is way cheaper and more effective to optimize antennas than to try to solve a radio problem by adding big amplifiers.

Antennas can be very easily sabotaged. If you just stick a pin through the coax so it contacts the shield and center conductor you can really mess it up.

#119 Greyhawk

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 12:13 PM

My dad is a Ham who has played with the UHF networks (2 meter band?), but I think they're using land-based repeaters (operated by other hams), not satellites orbiting in space -- at least for the networks that he's been playing with.

#120 ropetrick

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 01:32 PM

Thanks for the education Somebody Else.

#121 Somebody Else

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:11 PM

My dad is a Ham who has played with the UHF networks (2 meter band?), but I think they're using land-based repeaters (operated by other hams), not satellites orbiting in space -- at least for the networks that he's been playing with.


I am just writing from my experience and there are people that know far more about this stuff than I do. Some may even read Sailing Anarchy.

2 meters is the most popular ham band and is VHF. It just slightly lower than the marine VHF freqs. The hardware is cheap and plentiful.

Ham 2 meters: 144 - 148 MHz.
Marine VHF: 156 MHz - 161.925 MHz.
AIS: near 162 MHz.
NOAA weather: 162.4 - 162.550 MHz.

The Ham and marine services are smack-dab in the middle of ITU VHF band and share identical propagation characteristics and, in a pinch, can even share antennas. The hardware is built by a lot of the same the same companies and the difference in transceivers is typically just a programming choice and user interface. Hams use actual frequency designations and can freely tune to any freq within the parameters set in the hardware/software and agreed to either formally or informally. Marine radio-telephony uses "channels" which refer to specific frequencies which is a more concise way of speaking ("channel 16" as opposed to "one hundred fifty-six point eight oh MegaHertz") and make tuning slightly simpler (50 choices as opposed to 1,000 or so.)

Land-based ham repeaters remain popular due to their installed base and because they are cheap to build, install and configure.
Satellite-based repeaters are of course more expensive to build and install into orbit.

I just checked in at http://www.amsat.org which is The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation and noticed that most of their hardware is in the VHF and UHF bands with some work being done at 1.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz. The most popular service is the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program where you can communicate directly with people on the ISS. AO-51 looks pretty cool. I was surprised to see that progress on the Amateur front was less than I expected after being away for 25 years. But then satellites are expensive and hams are notoriously cheap as a demographic! :lol:

There are no technical hurdles to overcome. Sirius, XM, DISH, Direct TV are doing essentially what we need right now, seamlessly, with near 100% up-time. Uplink from a land station to the satellite network then broadcast back down to... everywhere.

As I write this crap I keep searching for and discovering resources for all this. Of course the ITU has a web site! www.itu.int and, as I touched upon earlier, all this stuff is mired in committees and conferences. It's not an easy job because decisions made now will have long range technical and financial impacts. When we established TV standards half a century and more ago, look how fractured we made the market with NTSC, PAL, SECAM, etc. and how long it took to transition to HDTV and how even that is still in flux and evolving.

You can Google military satellite communications and wallow in 8 million hits there. See how the research started back in the '40s! The military are using -- today -- the exact services that we as mariners want. Here's a pretty cool history of mil sat comms: click

There can be no doubt that satellite comm nets will eventually be available to all of us, as easy as GPS is today.
Of hell, you can buy them off the shelf right now: Incident Communication Solutions.

#122 Somebody Else

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:18 PM

I apologize for hijacking this thread.

The topic of the future of marine communications should be in its own thread.

#123 GRUMPY

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:23 PM

And the result of the protest suggests you're correct.

(not meant nastily, good idea)

#124 Junkyard Dog

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:25 PM

OK, we got the story on Wild Oats. What was the deal with Ran?

Update on RAN from the race website:

Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán was also protested by the Race Committee; but, at a subsequent hearing it was found that Rán had satisfied the requirements of the rule and the protest against the 72-foot mini maxi was dismissed.



#125 Kero

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 01:56 AM


OK, we got the story on Wild Oats. What was the deal with Ran?

Update on RAN from the race website:

Niklas Zennstrom's Rán was also protested by the Race Committee; but, at a subsequent hearing it was found that Rán had satisfied the requirements of the rule and the protest against the 72-foot mini maxi was dismissed.


I'm surprised the RC didn't protest Wild Thing for being off the course and in the spectator area when they hit the media boat (you can see them pass the wrong side of a yellow marker just after they hit the boat). Kioni got a DSQ for doing that last year.

#126 solosailor

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:42 AM

Technically in the US you're supposed to be licensed to operate an SSB and VHF.

You need a license for a SSB but there is no test or classes, just need to pay the fee. None required for VHF. HF Radio does require a test to operate.




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