TECHNIQUE So you download SSB weather with a little radio and an offline app!

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weather-in-boat

Is it possible to receive weather reports on a boat in the middle of the sea, without having internet? Of course! Our Luigi Gallerani explains it to us, and if you have any doubts write to us at info@barcheamotore.com

Boat weather: how to have it in the middle of the sea without internet

After the first installment on how to defeat low-cost moisture aboard continues our column, dedicated to you who, like me, have always had the dream of living aboard. In addition to the many tips and seafaring culture found in the literature (Motor Boats also made its contribution with the manual Living on Board), we want to cover an extremely useful topic today: Receive marine weather reports in text format with only a small radio and a smartphone (no Internet!).

Shortwave radio, queen of maritime links

Unlike VHF, shortwave radio, or HF-SSB (High Frequency, Single Side Band) is the queen of maritime links, the favorite of the shipboard mariner. The shortwave range, up to 30MHz, can be hundreds of miles. SSB shortwave radio is almost always installed on board by ocean navigators.

What you need: Radio with SSB button and DroidRTTY

You need a portable shortwave radio that has an SSB button. Four models are on the market today, the Tecsun PL660, used for this article, Tecsun PL880, the Sangean AT-909X, and the Sony ICF-SW7600GR. Prices range from about 150 to 250 euros. No licensing required; these are receive-only devices. Costs are minimal compared to dedicated equipment.

The app to install on your Android smartphone is DroidRTTY, (about 5 euros), you can find it here:

Marine weather reports in RTTY text.

Transmitted with the very old (circa 1850) teletype technology, RTTY (Radio-TeleTYpe). For European seafarers, the broadcaster of choice is DWD (Deutscher WetterDienst), which broadcasts forecasts from Pinneberg, near Hamburg, for the Mediterranean, Atlantic coast, seas in the north, Baltic and Black, and tide buoy readings.

The detailed schedule with times in UTC, can be downloaded as a pdf here:

How it works: No wires, a chirp and the bulletin text appears!

Just tune the radio to a frequency of DWD: (4583kHz, 7646kHz, 10100.8kHz) and press the SSB-USB (upper side band) button. You will hear the ‘unmistakable chirping of the teletypewriter. Without connecting cables, you bring the smartphone closer to the radio. Through the phone’s microphone, the DroidRTTY application decodes the signal. The text of the bulletin appears character by character. And so you will have your boat weather without internet!

Luigi Gallerani

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