Receiving weather fax at sea (without SSB transceiver)

Useful information regarding antennas for SDR products.
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Rnio1
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Receiving weather fax at sea (without SSB transceiver)

Postby Rnio1 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:36 am

FWIW, I've had good luck receiving weather fax via a world band receiver and a smartphone or tablet.

My current setup: Kaito KA1103 Worldband Radio, a Nexus 7 2013 running Android, and a 3.5mm 2-pin to 3-pin audio cable.

About the cable: You don't really need the cable if you are in a quiet environment as the phone or tablet can use it's mic to hear the fax transmissions sounds emitted from your receiver's speaker, but this method is subject to interference from background noise not to mention you also have to listen to that constant fax sound in the cabin. Using the cable from your receiver audio out to your computing device audio port makes everything silent and the images higher quality. It's worth noting that the audio port on your mobile device does need to also function as audio in, such as a when used with a hands free headset. The Nexus 7 2012, for instance, did not have a mic channel in it's audio port. Most any smartphone and laptop with a single audio jack works well as they are designed for headset use. Should you have a dedicated mic port on your laptop, you can just use a standard 3.5mm male-male stereo cable. Mono cables probably work equally well.

Software: Also needed is the software for the phone, tablet, or laptop. Black Cat Systems appear to have the bases covered for iOS, Android, and OSX. NOAA provides a list of PC applications here. I believe Weather Fax 2000 is one of the more popular ones. I have only used the HF Weather Fax For Marine app on Android so I can speak only to it's usefulness. It's a simple program that does a great job of capturing the images and helping you fine tune your radio for best reception. It also has an auto mode so that it runs in the background and silently listens for the start and end signals from the radio to automatically record the images. Combine that with the Kaito's ability to be programmed to turn on and tune in to specified frequencies at specified times and you have an automated setup that should provide sets of weather fax images for you each day.

Broadcast times and frequencies can be found at NOAA.

Online weather charts, weather fax user guides, and more info can be found at this NOAA page. The Black Cat Systems link above is also chock full of WxFx goodness.

The final piece is an antenna. The Kaito comes with a 30 or so foot wire antenna that I run up the flag halyard. As Greg mentioned last night, a spare can be purchased for about $10.

The Kaito receiver can also be used to listen to news and other broadcasts from around the world, not to mention regular AM/FM bands. I believe it should also be able to tune in other sailors who are broadcasting on SSB, but I have yet to try this. If anyone can recommend specific frequencies to monitor from the slip, I would love to try this out before the race. Even better, would anyone with an SSB transceiver aboard be up for a radio check? That would be great.
Last edited by Rnio1 on Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am, edited 0 times in total.
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glovisol
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Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 6:42 pm
Location: Piedmont, Italy

Re: Receiving weather fax at sea (without SSB transceiver)

Postby glovisol » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:58 am

Being a sailor myself and if you really need to RELIABLY receive meteofax on board, you should be better advised to get at least an RSP-1A SDRplay receiver. Even though a consumer type receiver can work, is very hard to tune and it is not easy to get consistent results. See a detailed story here.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3861

Cheers,

glovisol

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