Thursday, November 4, 2010

Keeping in touch from anywhere in the world - IRIDIUM SATELLITE

20101118 update:

You can ask to use the ship's equipment but most adventurers prefer to have their own communications equipment.

Of course you have your cellphone unlocked and your account authorized for International calls - contact your service provider for details. When you are in foreign ports you need your cell phone to be active.

Back to staying in touch be it voice (phone) or data (email / ftp) - I suggest IRIDIUM satellite service.

You need a transceiver - the old Motorola 9500 still can be bought on eBay for $500 with the accessories such as 110vac, 12vdc, external antenna adapter and data adapter.  The newer Motorola 9555 cost more - is smaller but does not achieve a better signal etc just fits into a smaller space, i.,e. the 9500 is about the size of a marine VHF radio while the 9555 is the size of first generation digital cell phones.

Iridium service is world wide - its going to be the best service at such a high latitude (70N) for satellite communications - you can send weekly email using the ships system else you could consider buying your own transceiver 'walki-talkie' and I'll help you get a SIM-card for a good airtime rate (~$1/minute) - just walk out on deck so the satellite can see the handheld transceiver antenna and dial... also I can show your significant other ashore how to send text to your handset for free... start watching eBay for a Motorola 9500 Iridium satellite phone like this: (note - these links will stop working once expired or the item is sold)

also if you can get a data adapter connector that connects your Iridium transceiver to your notebook PC for email


Remember the old way was a serial cable between the radio and notebook so your notebook needs a DB9 serial port else a serial to USB cable - not all cables work so you have to buy and try it - best to buy it locally or when you get to the boat and I'll help you - remember there are BEST stores nationwide so you can return it if it does not work for you.

All that is needed then is a SIM card (prepaid airtime smart-card slides into the phone which I'm a dealer for so I can help you get a fair rate)

I also suggest a special email account - its free - it uses compression technology - this will save you over 50% in airtime charges - you are up and running... only thing I'd recommend is looking for an external antenna so you get the strongest signal all the time... I'll help you mount it on the boat so it works OK.

I'll search now and see what is on eBay - minute checking

Here is the antenna adapter connector you need:

another antenna adapter

External antenna (this one is low gain - it works but would like to find a higher gain one though this one is handly and compact - must be located so there are no blockages when communicating with the passing satellites.)

This antenna is better:

This one is good too

Hope that gives you the additional information so you can watch for good buys online - check craigslist et al.

I'd also watch for a 12vdc cigarette charger to compliment the 110vac power adapter - you need both to cover the different possibilities. Two batteries are better than one - especially with the old 9500 - batteries tend to stop charging but will keep the handset online with the 110vac adapter,

Questions?  Here is ok if it is likely that others might ask the same question otherwise email me directly.

Iridium Satellite Service Provider:

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