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Old 22-06-2016, 18:13   #1
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What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

I am about to go long term cruising in the Pacific on a Valiant 40. We have an SSB (no pactor modem) as well as an Iridium 9555 sat phone. We intend to primarily use the sat phone for data connections. While out, we will want to pull gribs, send/receive basic emails and post to a blog.

My question is what I need (and don't need) to complete the system.
Ideally, someone here can map out the system components, as I'm having a very hard time conceptualizing all the steps. More specifically ---

1. Redport optimizer -- GMN would really like me to buy their red port optimizer. Do I need that? From what I understand, it acts as a firewall and optimizer to limit the data transferred. It also gives us "wifi", which is a pretty nice feature -- worth it?

2. Xgate -- this appears to compress email and serves as the platform for sending/receiving data. It seems expensive to me at $240 per year. Is there another service out there that is comparable/better? Do I need it? I read that it integrates with predictwind -- worth it?

3. Sailmail -- is this instead of or in addition to Xgate? It looks like I use airmail to view mail, saildocs to get weather, viewfax to view weather and sailblog to post on a blog. $250/year. Seems prevalent in the sailing community.

4. NavX -- we already have NavX, and I believe I can overlay our weather onto it. Do I need anything special to do that?

5. Blogging -- I'd like to integrate whatever blog system we use (sailblog?) into a more substantial website, so when we're in port I have a more robust platform. Any experience there?

6. What am I missing?

I am not looking for the age-old SSB vs Sat phone debate here. I'm really looking for someone that has experience using an Iridium sat phone as their data connection and can shed some light on the best system before I spend too much money in trial and error. Thank you!!!
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Old 22-06-2016, 18:55   #2
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Hi,
We've used an Iridium 9555, a USB cable, and UUPlus to do email. It is easy to setup and use, and works very well. An external antenna is very nice, to keep the laptop out of the cockpit at sea and get more solid data rates and voice quality.

I post to our Tumblr blog by sending an email. This is the whole reason I use Tumblr. With some work one can also configure WordPress to accept posts via email.

A reasonable quality photo is about 25k and takes about one minute of satellite airtime to send. With some preplanning I can upload photos while downloading similar sized GRIB files at no additional cost.

We fetch GRIB files by email, through Saildocs. This is a free service that is made by the Sailmail folks. I do not feel it's necessary to pay for a separate GRIB service.

Matt
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Old 22-06-2016, 19:40   #3
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

I would get a top grade external antenna for the phone. I have found lack of good antenna a major problem with beginners.

Expect pretty low rates. Blog posting yes, images upload - learn to optimize image files for upload (image size, color depth, file compression type, mostly).

Email compacting / filtering service a major bonus.

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Old 22-06-2016, 22:16   #4
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Thanks for the responses - that is good info.
I do have an external antenna for the phone.

Does anyone have experience with the redport optimizer and/or xgate that can address that part of my questions?

Thanks!
Becca
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Old 23-06-2016, 10:29   #5
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Hi Becca,

I second using UUplus with your phone direct connected to your computer, and an external antenna.

We do this with a 9575 with great ongoing success.

We haven't found a need to use anything else because since UUplus uses the Iridium RUDICS data optimization service, nothing else is faster...

More details about our reasoning, technical info, and our set-up is in this write-up if you are interested.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 23-06-2016, 11:16   #6
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Based on my recent experience, an Iridium 9555 won't work with Windows 10. I tried to get Saildocs for Expedition software with it but it won't work without Redport of some outer optimizer.
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Old 23-06-2016, 11:41   #7
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
Based on my recent experience, an Iridium 9555 won't work with Windows 10. I tried to get Saildocs for Expedition software with it but it won't work without Redport of some outer optimizer.
We don't use Windows 10, but according to the tech guys at UUplus:
Quote:
There is a bug in the Iridium USB driver for the 9555/9575 that messes up the RUDICS connect on Win10. No problems with Win8 and Win7 [and Mac OS X] (we no longer support XP). Iridium knows about the bug but hasn't updated the driver since 2012.
FYI In case anyone is interested...

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 23-06-2016, 16:53   #8
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Thanks -- sounds like the optimizer and xgate are upsells I don't need. Wonderful! Bill, I appreciate the info on your site as well - very useful.

It looks like UUPlus Personal is $357 per year, does that sound right?
Does UUPlus act as a firewall as well to block other programs from accessing the internet?

If I have UUPlus, do I not also need a saildocs subscription?

Thanks for fielding all of my questions!
Becca
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Old 24-06-2016, 06:17   #9
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bec.chandler View Post
Thanks -- sounds like the optimizer and xgate are upsells I don't need. Wonderful! Bill, I appreciate the info on your site as well - very useful.

It looks like UUPlus Personal is $357 per year, does that sound right?
Does UUPlus act as a firewall as well to block other programs from accessing the internet?

If I have UUPlus, do I not also need a saildocs subscription?

Thanks for fielding all of my questions!
Becca
Hi Becca,

Thanks for letting me know some of our information is useful. I appreciate it.

RE: UUplus subscription: I always tell people to figure the subscription at US$1/day. Since we usually dial in once or twice a day when satellite is the only option, it saves us at least a minute or two of sat time each session. Therefore [for our usage] it easily pays for itself several times over each year in sat time saved... And it works so well one has to add some value to the no hassle factor as well...

RE: 'Does UUPlus act as a firewall as well to block other programs from accessing the internet?'

By its nature, the answer it yes. UUplus is an email client that dials-in whenever you request it to [manually- as we do- or automatically if you prefer] and uploads and downloads email, then hangs-up.

It is not a client for connecting to the internet. It is an email and document/data retrieval mechanism with some extra bells and whistles specific to, and optimized for, sat phone comms.

The irony is as advanced as sat comms are, the data side on these relatively low budget sat systems we are discussing [phones, and Iridium GO! for that matter...] are archaic by today's internet standards. [i.e., Back to the days of (very) slow modems and dial-up phone connections...]

RE: Saildocs: [which is free, and not to be confused with Sailmail- which is a subscription email service for use over Marine SSB radio.] You can use Saildocs with any email account you have.

Since the sat phone version of UUplus [they have VHF and SSB versions also...] works with any internet connection [cell and WiFi in addition to sat phone...] we just stick with it for all our Saildoc requests. [And because UUplus has a vast library of pre-configured Saildoc requests...]

Basically you have two learning curves to absorb if you adopt the same approach we did: UUplus and Saildocs. Neither is difficult, and since Saildocs works with any email service, you may want to start there. It is very powerful and useful. We pull all our weather, news, etc. using Saildocs.

In hopes this is helpful.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 24-06-2016, 09:22   #10
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Note that you can use Sailmail for satphone email, as well as the usual SSB email (PACTOR modem required for SSB). I've not tried Sailmail with my satphone though, I use XGate with my Iridium Extreme.

Bill, that's great satphone info on your blog. Thanks! Now I need to go research RUDICS...
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Old 24-06-2016, 11:30   #11
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
Note that you can use Sailmail for satphone email, as well as the usual SSB email (PACTOR modem required for SSB). I've not tried Sailmail with my satphone though, I use XGate with my Iridium Extreme.

Bill, that's great satphone info on your blog. Thanks! Now I need to go research RUDICS...
Thank you for reminding me that Sailmail is now internet agnostic. I had forgotten about that important, fairly recent enhancement [as a non-subscriber at present...]

Sailmail was a lifeline for me during my coconut milk run in the late 80s and 90s- before sat phones... and un-dithered GPS...

This relatively new connection flexibility makes it an easier choice for those using multiple devices and desiring a single service. [e.g., Marine SSB radio, Sat and cell phones, Sat IP devices like the Iridium GO!, etc.]

Regarding Iridium's RUDICS data optimization service: As I understand it [and I'm not presuming I do...] I believe Sailmail needs to integrate RIDICS service with their hosting software for Iridium connections only; and I'm not sure that is possible over PPP connections... [But I may be wrong...] Sailmail is the authority on that question...

Thank you also for your very kind remarks about our blog. It is always good to hear that some of what we share is useful.

We gain so much from this forum, I'm afraid our efforts to give a little back are feeble in comparison.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 24-06-2016, 11:52   #12
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

That's great! Thanks. We will start with a UUplus subscription and saildocs (which I have been playing with some already). Looks like that is an affordable and user friendly option for getting weather, sending/receiving emails and posting text to the blog.

Do you use sailblog for posting on the go? I see one contributor uses tumblr, I don't have experience with either. Any insights on that piece? I'd love a website that incorporates more sophisticated content we can post when we've got wifi, a map that shows our lat/long path, and text posts via sat phone when we're underway. Am I asking for too much?

Becca
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Old 24-06-2016, 12:37   #13
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

I guess I need to read up on this UUPlus stuff. I have just connected the 9555 to my laptop via usb and with an external antenna gotten gibs and faxes from viewfax. For email (rarely do this offshore as I find txt just fine) I simply used MS outlook and manually requested/sent mail. Of course Im lucky in that nobody sends me big files and such and like I said we almost never do email offshore.
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Old 24-06-2016, 12:53   #14
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bec.chandler View Post
That's great! Thanks. We will start with a UUplus subscription and saildocs (which I have been playing with some already). Looks like that is an affordable and user friendly option for getting weather, sending/receiving emails and posting text to the blog.

Do you use sailblog for posting on the go? I see one contributor uses tumblr, I don't have experience with either. Any insights on that piece? I'd love a website that incorporates more sophisticated content we can post when we've got wifi, a map that shows our lat/long path, and text posts via sat phone when we're underway. Am I asking for too much?

Becca
Hi Becca,

We use Blogger, and post via email. I suspect you will find most blog hosting services offer email posting capability...

I believe Wordpress is more sophisticated than Blogger, with a seemingly friendlier user interface. I would give it a thorough evaluation if I were starting from scratch...

Regarding maps, we use Farkwar. [free/donation service created by yet another cruiser...] You simply send a formatted email with your coordinates and comments and it is posted on a Google map, which you can imbed on your website/blog. [See our blog for an example... Where's the boat?]

Hope this helps.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 24-06-2016, 13:46   #15
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Re: What do I need from the sat phone to the computer?

another vote of thanks to Bill and interest in Denali Rose blog.
fair seas, Bill!
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