Email via Single Sideband HF RadioTraditionally HF SSB (high frequency single sideband) radio has been widely used for long distance communication by boat owners. This has allowed boat to boat and (via commercial shore stations) expensive boat to land telephone calls. The equipment was also used for receiving voice weather forecasts and (in conjunction with a computer) weather facsimile pictures. Nowadays boaters are turning more and more to email for communication. Close to marinas this has been fairly easy, but offshore, email has either been difficult or expensive. The advent of Pactor (invented by SCS GmbH) has changed all that. Pactor is the name of the system by which the digital data of the email is converted to modulation of the SSB signal for transmission over long distances. The device that does this is called a Pactor modem.For boaters who already have SSB onboard, they simply need to purchase a Pactor modem to hook up between their computer and the SSB. They can then send email via HF radio to a number of shorestations, who then feed the messages into the internet and on to their destination.The most popular shoreside provider is Sailmail (www.sailmail.com). For around $250 per year this not for profit organisation will provide the shoreside facilities to send and receive email via SSB. Licensed radio amateurs are able to use the Winlink network run by other radio hams for free. All the pactor modems will work with both systems.SCS GMBH have been continually making improvements to the system, Pactor was improved upon with the release of the Pactor II system. More recently Pactor III has shown speeds up to 5 times those of Pactor II.. All later systems are backwards compatible with the original Pactor.

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