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Old 11-11-2010, 18:20   #1
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Satellite Phone Models

I am looking at purchasing a sat phone mainly for weather downloads using X gate compression and buoy weather
I have a choice between iridium 9555 Newer, or and older model Iridium 9505A. what are the advantages if any of buying the 9555 when my application is generally weather only.

Any comments would be appreciated.
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Old 11-11-2010, 18:49   #2
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The performance should be similar. I've heard that the 9555 draws slightly more power, but even if true it should be so little that it makes no difference (I've got the 9505A, and it takes about 0.1A @ 12V when charging).

The 9555 is able to send and receive SMDS messages, and while these aren't going to be used for weather this might be a feature you want. The older 9505A only receives SMDS. There are newer versions of the 9505A that can also send SMDS, but I don't know where the cutoff is.

The 9505A has a very clumsy arrangement of stacking connectors for charging and RS232 data interface. You will need an RS232 adaptor to connect the phone to your computer. The 9555 has a USB port which makes data interface much easier. (Is this used for charging too? I don't know.)

The 9505A also has a clumsy external antenna connection. The 9555 looks cleaner, but I have not actually tried it.

Originally the 9555 had problems with XGate drivers, but it is supposed to work fine now.

For what it's worth, I use XGate with my 9505A and an external antenna. It works very well.
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Old 11-11-2010, 19:18   #3
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Trying to understand why you would consider buying a many year old technology model (9505A) when you can buy a redesigned new model (9555)?

I have a 9555 with an in cabin installation kit. You can use the phone right at the nav station with a hand set and outside antenna. The phone sits in a cradle. Just leave plugged into your computer. It is magic!!
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Old 12-11-2010, 21:50   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post

For what it's worth, I use XGate with my 9505A and an external antenna. It works very well.
Pls could you tell us which kind of antenna do you use and how it perform with XGATE?
Thanks
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Old 13-11-2010, 00:19   #5
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Pls could you tell us which kind of antenna do you use and how it perform with XGATE?
I've got the standard rail-mount (or pole-mount) antenna clamped to the stern rail:


The photo shows my original antenna. After several years it collected some water inside the housing and stopped working. I replaced it with something very similar. I have seen another antenna about the same size which is supposed to be more weather resistant, but the one I have has been holding up for a few years now.

I've got low-loss coax (I forget the exact cable type) from the antenna to the navstation, where it terminates in a bulkhead connector for attachment to the satphone.

It works well with XGate and for normal voice calls. Occasionally I can't make a connection, or the signal drops out mid-connection, but if I wait a minute or two the signal comes back. XGate does work as advertised. There may be alternatives though, but I haven't explored them. OCENS is re-branded XGate, so it should work in a similar manner.
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Old 13-11-2010, 00:47   #6
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More thoughts on the antenna: The main thing is that you want the antenna to have a clear shot of the entire sky and horizon. Of course on a sailboat this is impossible, but the fewer obstructions the better. I also carry the cartop "hockey-puck" style antenna as a spare, and it performed decently when I taped it against the plastic deck hatch.

You may get decent results with a below-deck antenna -- the signals are in the same general frequency range as GPS, and handheld GPS receivers often work down below. With GPS though, there are multiple satellites in simultaneous view. With Iridium you are connecting to one satellite at a time.
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Old 13-11-2010, 01:27   #7
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The newer, "Iridium 9555 also incorporates innovations such as an integrated speakerphone, improved SMS and email messaging capabilities, and an upgraded mini-USB data port."

The place I purchased the 9555 and marine installation kit bundle looks like it is no longer on the web. The marine installation kit was relatively cheap (compared to alternatives) about an extra $1500.

However, the www.iridium.com site shows the assessories I purchased.

1. SatStation IRI9555-HF hands-free docking station

2. AeroAntenna Fixed Mast Antenna

3. Antenna cable

4. Xgate data service

The above was installed in the nav station and connected to our laptop for 5 months of cruising this summer. We were very pleased with the reliability and functionality of the system.

The importance of the Iridium cannot be understated as GRIB files can be downloaded reliably anywhere on the planet. This means you can start to see weather trends up to 96 hours out and can plan accordingly.

We found our SSB to be unreliable (as did cruisers near us) and time consuming to use. We could not count on daily communication with Herb when crossing from Halifax to Ireland this summer. We lost him completely 7 days out of Ireland.
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Old 13-11-2010, 01:31   #8
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Just to add, with XGate if the link is dropped part way through a download the XGate software will resume the download where it was dropped and stitches the data file together. It doesn't try to start the download from the beginning again. This feature can save many minutes of airtime.
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Old 13-11-2010, 06:30   #9
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I have a 9505A with a cradle and remote antenna works great with xgate. I don't think, for your application, their would be a difference. The advantage of the older phone is lower cost. I got mine for $450. No problems going to Bermuda and back.

Good luck
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