Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 02-09-2017 Thread Starter
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Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

What do you like and dislike?
How do you currently use it?

This seems like it could be useful when offshore and away from civilization.
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post #2 of 20 Old 02-10-2017
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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What do you like and dislike?
How do you currently use it?
DISCLAIMER: I sell, among other things, satellite phones and terminals including the GO! and service plans.

One of the appeals of the GO! is that you can share a single satellite connection across multiple devices, using smart phones, tablets, and laptops for voice and data.

You will want XGate or one of it's variants (the Iridium apps are somewhat stripped down versions of the XGate apps, all developed by Luis Soltero).

You will definitely want an external antenna on your boat. No question. Performance is vastly improved. It doesn't get any faster but drop-outs go way down.

You'll want the wall bracket and the power cord for a fixed installation. Power is a pain since the GO! runs on 5 VDC and the options are a USB connection and a 117 VAC wall wart. There are lots of unfortunate ways to wire in a GO! and I think I've seen most of them on client boats. Your best bet is the car adapter with the cigarette lighter plug cut off and the wires hardwired to your boat.

You can configure access for owner (or captain) and crew (or family) with different privileges and access. That can help protect your minutes and thus your wallet. You definitely want to subscribe to XGate to keep your devices from phoning home over Iridium and burning through your minutes doing software updates. Think that isn't a problem? Think again.

It's really slow - 2400 bps (the Iridium rate, not unique to the GO!). One voice call from anyone cuts off data for all.

It's not part of GMDSS so not a life safety device.

It is very compact and has an internal battery.

It's sold as a convenient appliance but configuration can be fussy. I do configuration in my lab before shipping to clients and still have trouble calls as people try to get their devices to work through the GO! When I do the installation myself or sell a new boat computer with the GO! I can of course do more but there is still one person that can't meet me on the boat who struggles with their device. Setting the connections up seems to be non-intuitive for a lot of people.

I use it for H&W email, for confirmation of appointments with marinas and service providers, and position reporting (third party service). Clients often use it for text and GRIB weather data; I prefer synoptic charts over weather fax.

For convenience email, no attachments, no pictures and for text messaging it's fine.

On my boat I have an HF/SSB radio and Pactor modem and a Globalstar fixed data terminal (the Globalstar equivalent of the Iridium Pilot, not commercially available) and an EPIRB and a Spot messenger for long range communication. I use HF/SSB more than anything else. I hope I never have to use the EPIRB. *grin*
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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DISCLAIMER: Spot messenger for long range communication. I use HF/SSB more than anything else. I hope I never have to use the EPIRB. *grin*
Any suggestions,if you are just looking to get grib files and send and get a text without an $1000 initial investment when you're a couple a hundred miles offshore? Anything along the lines and cost of Spot or Inreach?
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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Any suggestions,if you are just looking to get grib files and send and get a text without an $1000 initial investment when you're a couple a hundred miles offshore? Anything along the lines and cost of Spot or Inreach?
Hence my interest in the GO.
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

As stated earlier, it is very slow to send or receive anything - often several minutes.
Connections are not always reliable, and there are periods where it will not connect at all.
Other times, it will drop in the middle of an upload/download, and you have to restart the process.
The plans are expensive, and so is the equipment.
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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Originally Posted by RegisteredUser View Post
What do you like and dislike?
How do you currently use it?

This seems like it could be useful when offshore and away from civilization.
The owners on the last two boats that I delivered (Cape Town - Brazil, Maui - Victoria) had Iridium installed. I was quite happy with it. Few problems with drop outs. My Samsung phone seems to have a problem with voice transmissions. Text was fine. We were able to download grib files, weatherfax and navtext from saildocs to a laptop without any issues.

In 2012 I had to use a sat phone to deal with a medical issue on board. We used the sat phone to contact Honolulu RCC who arranged for us to meet up with a container ship to which evacuate our crew member. SSB was not effective; VHF only worked to contact the rendezvous vessel at short distances.

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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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Any suggestions,if you are just looking to get grib files and send and get a text without an $1000 initial investment when you're a couple a hundred miles offshore? Anything along the lines and cost of Spot or Inreach?
The InReach is supported by the OCENs Spotcast. You get tiny weather forecasts 160 characters at a time. It just isn't very good. You don't get the really big picture to tell you what is coming and what might be coming.

Assuming you have a laptop your best deal is a small SSB-capable shortwave receiver, a bunch of wire as an antenna, and a cable between the radio headphone jack and the mic jack of your laptop. For less than $250 you can get weather fax. WAY better than GRIBs and free - no service plan, nothing but the weather information rolling onto your laptop.

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As stated earlier, it is very slow to send or receive anything - often several minutes.
Connections are not always reliable, and there are periods where it will not connect at all.
Other times, it will drop in the middle of an upload/download, and you have to restart the process.
The plans are expensive, and so is the equipment.
All long range communications devices within reach of the average cruiser are slow. Iridium is slowest with HF/SSB/Pactor III faster, Globalstar (when you can get it) a bit faster, and HF/SSB/Pactor 4 the fastest option. Iridium Pilot can be a good bit faster than that but starts to get rather expensive. Inmarsat C can get darn near civilized but the cost is high and the antenna starts to have really significant sail area - okay downwind I guess.

sail fast and eat well, dave S/V Auspicious

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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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The InReach is supported by the OCENs Spotcast. You get tiny weather forecasts 160 characters at a time. It just isn't very good. You don't get the really big picture to tell you what is coming and what might be coming.
We’ve been using InReach for the last few years. It’s great for basic communication at fairly cheap rates. Limited to simple texts. Their “free” forecasts (costs one message) are pretty useless, but I notice they now offer “premium” forecasts for an additional $1.29 CND, including a marine forecast.

Have you tried the marine forecast? I haven’t (yet). Worth it?

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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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Have you tried the marine forecast? I haven’t (yet). Worth it?
Not in my opinion. If you're familiar with the display of GRIBs it is like getting one wind barb. One. Just one. Did I mention one?

While it can provide 48 and 72 hour forecasts I would hope to be 300 or 400 miles away by then.

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post #10 of 20 Old 02-10-2017
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Re: Iridium GO experience...a go or no-go

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Not in my opinion. If you're familiar with the display of GRIBs it is like getting one wind barb. One. Just one. Did I mention one?

While it can provide 48 and 72 hour forecasts I would hope to be 300 or 400 miles away by then.
Kinda sounds like the results I'm currently getting with Airmail/Pactor. I need to see if there's a setting that'll show them smaller.

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