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Thread: LongPac Communications

  1. #1
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    Default LongPac Communications

    Today Jim Quanci performed the LongPac inspection on Xpression (thanks Jim!). Jim brought up communication requirements which I didn't consider. So the question is to rent a satellite phone or use other means of communicating.

    I'm checking out the SPOT-connect, which allows me to send messages (41 characters) over Satellite to e-mail using an iphone or ipad. This seems to be an easy and "cheap" solution.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks,


    Dirk - Xpression

  2. #2
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    Hi Dirk -

    I imagine it depends on cost, complexity, and using technology that you're comfortable with. Given we don't know what the requirement actually is other than to have an email or SMS sent to RC (we don't know how often to report in or what information is required in the report) it's difficult to determine what technology will be most cost-effective.

    I have an SSB and Pactor modem on board and this meets the requirement as we know it so far (assuming the equipment works for the duration of the race).

    If I did not have the SSB and modem I'd choose a technology that I'm most comfortable with; given I don't know much about blue tooth pairing (have never used it), don't own a smart phone, haven't used an iphone or ipad much, and know nothing about SMS I would not select the Spot mechanism as my first choice (seems rather complex to me). Instead I'd stick with a technology that seems simple to me - an Iridium sat phone. I've used them a fair bit and I find them easy to operate and not overly expensive for a week's rental as long as you keep the calls short.

    If you understand the Spot model and are comfortable with it - then that might be a good mechanism. The Globalstar satellite footprint should cover out to 200 miles off the coast, and maybe using the Spot is simple and quick for you. Would you rent or purchase (or borrow?) a Spot device, and what are the messaging costs?

    Aren't Spots capable of being set up to automatically send out a position report without having to use an iphone and blue tooth? e.g., set the Spot up to automatically wake up and transmit its position maybe every 6 hours (or whatever is needed) as that would be super. It would not be so much fun to remember to get up just to make a satphone call that often!

    - rob/beetle
    Last edited by tiger beetle; 05-31-2013 at 01:48 AM. Reason: added question about Spots

  3. #3
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    Dirk, I'm renting a Globalstar phone from the outfit in Miami that was mentioned in the earlier thread in the LongPac forum. Plenty of options were presented there by Rob and others; check it out.
    Max

  4. #4
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    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the input. I was originally thinking Sat phone. How will folks be using the sat phone? Creating an email or text message on the phone itself every 6 hours or connecting the sat phone to laptop?

    Lucie & Ben,
    Can we get more info regarding the communications plan? If we have to purchase or rent something, it would be nice if we don't have to wait until the skippers meeting.

    Thanks,

    Dirk-Xpression

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhusselman View Post
    How will folks be using the sat phone? Creating an email or text message on the phone itself every 6 hours or connecting the sat phone to laptop?
    I would use the sat phone to telephone a shoreside contact, pass along the information, and have the shoreside contact compose and send the email - this way I know the information got through to my contact, and hopefully they will follow through and actually send the email to RC (note that there's nothing in the rules about RC actually receiving the email, all the skipper has to do is send it).

    I've not used a sat phone to compose (and send) a text message - I just talk on the phone. I would keep things simple and not try to connect the phone to a laptop - just use it to verbally tell someone where you are and you're done. Maybe you can type a text message on the phone's number keypad, though a phone keypad is a really poor typewriter.

    If we're lucky, RC will have a voice mail number we can call and leave position reports on an answering machine.

    - rob

  6. #6
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    (Rob just said it too...)

    I don't think the Comm Plan will add much (nor does it need to). There's no specific communication equipment requirement in the LongPac RR&C's. Over in the NOR it says:

    "5.3 All entered yachts must be capable of communicating their location to the Race Committee on a to be specified periodic basis for the duration of the race through SMS (text) or email. The mechanism of communications is at the entrants choosing such as - but not limited to- an SSB or Ham call to a friend that sends the text or email, SSB Pactor modem direct email, SPOT SMS, SatPhone SMS, or any other means."

    In other words, no other comm equipment requirements are likely to be forthcoming. The only things to be added in the Comm Plan are how often they want to hear from you and what they want to know (besides Lat/Lon). How you send your data is up to you. If it was me, I'd rent a satphone for a week and call a shoreside contact, who sends the R/C an e-mail. (Pre-format an e-mail so all they have to do is enter the data and hit "Send.")

    The satphone is easiest to use, you can exchange phone numbers and talk to each other out there, call home, whatever, and it's probably the cheapest option. There's a place to enter your satphone number in Jibeset too - please do that in case the R/C or the CG want to ring you up.

    Rob has a good idea - As a backup you could use the SSS phone number (with its Voice-Mail) to receive your calls. Anyone on R/C can retrieve the VM messages as often as they wish. Caveat: Having listened to the VM messages from other races I can tell you - they aren't always intelligible. I'd call a shoreside contact who can read back your data to you, so you know they understood it.
    Last edited by BobJ; 05-31-2013 at 10:39 AM.

  7. #7
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    Hmmmm.

    May I suggest that inquiring minds...

    Whoops, here I am, getting dragged into another Forum when I have a 1700 hours deadline to meet!

    Back later, but you can peek at 2011 for a sample ComPlan.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the feedback. After research I decided to go with the DeLorme Inreach for mobile. This will allow me to send messages and location from my ipad or smart phone. It is 2way so guaranteed delivery of messages.
    It will also show a track on a map for folks to follow.

    I hope this will work as advertised.

    Dirk-Xpression

  9. #9
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    Ben told me that a voice message on the SSS number will meet the requirement. Can we get a confirmation on that? Since this seems to be the official place for information.

    Stephen

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tchoupitoulas View Post
    Ben told me that a voice message on the SSS number will meet the requirement. Can we get a confirmation on that? Since this seems to be the official place for information.

    Stephen
    Hi Stephen -

    I would strongly suggest that the SSS form is NOT a place for official race information.

    The race info is spelled out in the race documents (NOR, SI, rules and conditions, etc.). The only race information regarding equipment is listed in LongPac NOR 5.3, the relevant portion of which is:

    "5.3 All entered yachts must be capable of communicating their location to the Race Committee on a to be specified periodic basis for the duration of the race through SMS (text) or email."

    If there is a position reporting requirement for LongPac (which currently there is not), then that would have to be promulgated as an amendment to the NOR, or stated in the Sailing Instructions (which have not been published yet).

    That said, Ben is a race co-chair and if he says something will be so then it most likely will be so - after all, he ought to know!

    - rob/beetle

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