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Old 23-02-2019, 17:57   #1
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Iridium handset choice, cradles, antennas, and installation

What is required to get a good, usable Iridium installation?


Are the handsets alone sufficient, in practice, for use aboard? Or is a cradle and antenna required?


What has been the experience with the handsets from YB Tracking (formerly Yellow Brick)? Are their portable handsets useful in the marine environment, for sending short messages?


In general, to what extent to sails and rigging block signal? My work with RF in general tells me that wet sails are going to be a problem but not dry ones, but does anyone have real-world experience?
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Old 24-02-2019, 07:46   #2
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Re: Iridium handset choice, cradles, antennas, and installation

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What is required to get a good, usable Iridium installation?Are the handsets alone sufficient, in practice, for use aboard?
What has been the experience with the handsets from YB Tracking (formerly Yellow Brick)?
In general, to what extent to sails and rigging block signal?
A clear view of the sky is the key component - anything less than that begins to degrade the signal. Best solution I have found is to have a fixed-mount on-deck antenna that lets you use the phone from the quiet of inside the cabin. Wind noise in the handset's microphone can make the handset unusable, keep the handset out of the wind while using it. It's also difficult to write or take notes while using the phone from above-deck, it's nice to wedge yourself in somewhere down below where you can hold the handset while still using a pencil to take notes.

Do not put an antenna underneath a solar panel - that will degrade or block the signal. Carbon sails will block the signal, as will carbon fiber structures (possibly a problem most of us don't have) - otherwise I have not had problems with sails and rigging. Iridium can sometimes work through fiberglass, but the signal degrades. Don't mount the antenna near the mast on a spreader - they don't seem to work well through aluminum.

I have no experience as regards YB handsets.

- rob
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Old 24-02-2019, 21:28   #3
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Re: Iridium handset choice, cradles, antennas, and installation

Iridium phones work great. Even under my hardtop I can keep a signal. I had others that dropped calls all the time and were just horrible. I use a 9505a that works as good as a cell phone and the Iridium Go. The Go is nice for texting but I feel for safety sake the handheld in my ditch bag is a better choice and cheaper air time plans.
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Old 28-02-2019, 10:07   #4
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Re: Iridium handset choice, cradles, antennas, and installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
What is required to get a good, usable Iridium installation?


Are the handsets alone sufficient, in practice, for use aboard? Or is a cradle and antenna required?


What has been the experience with the handsets from YB Tracking (formerly Yellow Brick)? Are their portable handsets useful in the marine environment, for sending short messages?


In general, to what extent to sails and rigging block signal? My work with RF in general tells me that wet sails are going to be a problem but not dry ones, but does anyone have real-world experience?
Due to Iridium's use of L-Band, the impact of rain, clouds, water, etc is actually pretty minimal. I have successfully used my handset below decks at the nav station without an external antenna, however the Iridium Go's antenna is not as sensitive (in practice) as the handset antennas. I always recommend an external Iridium Antenna mounted outside with as good of a view of the entire sky as possible.

Keep in mind that the boat is moving, and the satellites are moving, so any interference from rigging, mast, etc is going to be very intermittent and very brief, to the point of not noticeable most of the time.

The Iridium Go is great as a data and text tool, but the Iridium handsets are very well made and perform well. Also in practice I seem to have had better data performance via a handset compared with an Iridium Go!.. But ultimately they are the same specifications, and the Iridium Go! benefits from an available unlimited data plan that is not available for handsets.

There are a number of cradles for Iridium phones, ranging from ~$200 on up to $1500+. The cheapest one is fine if you only want charging and an antenna connection. You don't really need a cradle, it just makes things easier to connect and mount at a nav station, etc.

If you plan to use a handset with email (such as Xgate) and also want a cradle, antennas, etc, there is even a cradle with a built in Redport Optimizer (satellite firewall) that makes the data connections super easy via wifi, and a handset that makes the whole thing like a regular desk phone.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:33   #5
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Re: Iridium handset choice, cradles, antennas, and installation

I would definitely recommend a docking station with fixed mast antenna installed to keep you out of the elements while you use the phone.

If you plan on using a 9575 for tracking as well you'll need to make sure you have a dual mode (Iridium/GPS) antenna with dual cable runs. With the Iridium cable you just need to have no more than -3dB loss on the entire assembly.
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