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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a friend on a cruise in the Caribbean trying to use his
Globalstar sat phone for email. Looking at the sat availability for
his area he can only see a bird for about 10 or 15 minutes at one
time. He is using Vista on his laptop. When he gets a connection to
the satellite it starts the data exchange but when he looses sight of
the satellite the connection is lost and the computer crashes going to
the blue screen of death. The whole experience is quite frustrating to
say the least. Does anyone here know anything about this problem ?
should the phone be maintaining a data connection to the software and
then doing a "hand-off" to the next satellite as it comes into
view ?
Any help appreciated !
Bob
 

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Remember one thing about technology : it is very dumb.

Do not expect anything intelligent from a satellite.

Two things you can try.

1) separate your transmission into parts. this way your transmission will make it eventually.

2) slow the transmit rate of the modem as much as possible. MAYBE a slow transmit rate would give the time to the modem to leap to the other satellite.

-Léopold
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Globalstar's satellite array is failing and in the process of being replaced. This is well publicized.You simply cannot keep a long connection with Globalstar these days. This is why they are offering BELOW cellular phone type rates for the time being and offering unlimited calling. You need unlimited calling to bet through and finish a conversation! There is NO fix until the satellite array is in place.

Here's their notice to customers:
Constellation Update and Advisory
IMPORTANT INFORMATION Concerning the Globalstar Satellite Constellation Two-Way Voice and Duplex Data Services - Temporary Limitations
As previously announced, many Globalstar satellites are experiencing an anomaly resulting in degraded performance of the amplifiers for the S-band satellite communications antenna. The anomaly is adversely affecting two-way voice and data services. Customer service continues to be available, but at certain times at any given location it may take substantially longer to establish calls and the duration of calls may be limited. Until the new second-generation Globalstar satellite constellation is operational, Globalstar is offering its Optimum Satellite Availability T-tool (OSAT) on its Internet site, which subscribers may use to predict when one or more unaffected satellites will be overhead at any specific geographic location.

Simplex Data and Asset Tracking Services – Fully Operational
The Globalstar constellation is completely stable and fully operational in supporting Globalstar Simplex data satellite products and asset tracking services. Recent monitoring tests indicate that the Simplex data network is currently operating at a successful transmission rate of greater than 99 percent. And because Globalstar's Simplex data products are also designed to work with the second-generation satellite constellation, they are expected to provide customers with years of high quality reliable service well into the next decade and beyond.
Spare Satellites Launched and Second-Generation Satellites Scheduled for 2009
Globalstar has launched eight spare satellites for its existing constellation with a view to reducing the gaps in its two-way voice and data services pending commercial availability of its second-generation satellite constellation, scheduled for initial launch in the second half of 2009. Globalstar will continue to operate its existing satellite constellation to provide and support services until the second-generation Globalstar satellites are available for service.”





Suggest your friend finds a wifi connection somewhere. Also...when planning to use globalstar he should use this sat availability planning tool:

Globalstar USA :: Planning tool OSAT
 

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Just a little follow up. I used their planner and pretended I was near Grenada and here is ALL the availabiity for the next 24 hours. First column is start of availability...2nd is end. As you can see...connections are rarely for even more than 15 minutes and there are gaps of up to 1.5 hours in availability.
<table id="form1:dataTable1" rules="all" width="640"><tbody><tr class="list-row-even"><td>Jan 6, 2009 8:11:06 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 8:21:36 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 6, 2009 8:45:16 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 9:00:46 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 6, 2009 9:21:16 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 9:36:26 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 6, 2009 10:58:16 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 11:13:46 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 6, 2009 11:25:36 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 11:33:26 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 6, 2009 11:35:26 PM</td> <td>Jan 6, 2009 11:48:46 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 12:34:36 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 12:49:46 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:01:46 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:09:26 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:35:36 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:48:56 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:50:36 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:58:56 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 2:11:46 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 2:27:26 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 2:40:56 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 2:45:06 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 3:47:26 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 4:02:36 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 4:25:26 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 4:39:46 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 6:01:06 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 6:15:46 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 6:26:16 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 6:38:46 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 7:38:06 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 7:53:16 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 8:03:26 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 8:14:16 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 9:13:56 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 9:28:56 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 9:40:06 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 9:50:36 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 9:52:36 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 10:04:26 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 10:51:26 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:06:46 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:17:56 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:26:26 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:27:46 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:41:16 AM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 11:51:36 AM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 12:06:16 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-odd"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 12:54:46 PM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:02:36 PM</td> </tr> <tr class="list-row-even"> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:28:06 PM</td> <td>Jan 7, 2009 1:41:26 PM</td></tr></tbody></table>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for everything

we have been using the program you suggested to determine best time to connect to sat. The problem is that Vista keeps crashing and then you do not know what has been sent,and also by the time you reboot the laptop the sat is gone. It seems that talking to others using XP they do not have these problems. Boat is presently in South Caicos and are heading to Luperon today, if weather holds and will continue to Puerto Rico. They hope to get a copy of Linux there and see if that will solve the Vista problem. The best solution would be a work around with Vista if one exists.

Thanks again for your information, Bob
 

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Well...probably will have to wait for PR for a fix...not much in Luperon...but there is an internet cafe at the phone office.
Ponce on the south shore of PR is probably the first city where computer services can be found. Nice town!!
 

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Good in-depth information! I am now convinced not to re-activate my Globalstar for my summer cruise through the Bahamas. Instead, I will start looking into purchasing a BATELCO sim card and re-activating my Pocketmail text messenger.
 

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Cam beat me to it with the Globalstar availability.

This is another example of why not to buy Globalstar. My Globalstar gets horrible coverage even in Maryland, but my Iridium has a full signal always.

I can't help the OP with his issue, but this is a warning to others in the market for sat phone comms. Do your homework on the systems and expect to pay for good service. There is a reason why Globalstar service is cheap, because it is unavailable most of the time.

I am not affiliated with any satellite phone manufacturer or service provider other than being a customer and having experience with both Globalstar and Iridium.

Constellation Update and Advisory: News Center: Globalstar Corporate

Globalstar is only good for simplex data (Spot Personal Tracker), and that still has coverage limitations.
 

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Just would point out that if you need a phone for brief periods the 19.99 per month fee for unlimited use (when you can get it) is pretty damned attractive. Bahamas availability looks a BIT better than further south.
Compare this with $35/month access fee and AT LEAST $1.19 a minute with the TOTALLY reliable Iridium and the casual user may well be better off with a Globalstar.
Also...you can buy a Globalstar phone for $299 vs. $1200+ for an Iridium

Definitely NOT touting Globalstar here...just trying to lay out the options.
Of course with wifi and skype and cellular there are others as well.
Alan...LOL...didn't realize pocketmail was still going. We used it in 2000-1. I wrote and article for Bluewater Sailing on how to use one to get NAVTEX FORECASTS FROM NWS! So much has changed but ya still have to find a working Batelco phone!
 

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You can ask VISTA to execute a program as if it was under XP.

Find the program file then right click with your mouse.

There is an option there that allow you to tell VISTA to simulate another operating system but do not expect miracles.

I do not remember how excatly it works but I did this for my brother who insisted to use EUDORA MAIL and I had to install the software while telling VISTA to simulate XP. Btw, you can always try to reinstall your software that way too

-Leopold
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"The problem is that Vista keeps crashing" Bob, it sounds like the GlobalStar communicaitons software--or whatever software your friend is using--is built for XP, not Vista. And that's an old story, if the software isn't written for the OS, it often WILL crash, with no solution.

You can set the properties in the software, as Leopold mentions, to tell Vista to run it in "compatibility mode" and sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't, in which case you can use VirtualPC to run a "virtual" computer with XP or another OS on the laptop. A bit of effort, but VPC is free, and that's one way to keep Vista but run XP on the same machine. It probably will support the software--but that's not for certain either.

Your friend might find it simplest to "do the math" and just curtail his file size. If he's got a 15 minute window at 9600bps, that's about 3.4mB of file transfer time. If I had to look forward to that, I'd probably try to shoot for a 2.5-3mB file size, maximum.

If his software installs as a standard network connection (under XP or Vista or even Windows2000) it should have an option to show the network icon in the system tray, and if you bring that up it also shows the number of bytes transferred in any session, so he can see what actually makes it, or how long it takes to send one megabyte, etc.
 

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Cam,

Looks like Pocketmail is still in business. I started using one in 1999 and still have one of their Composer units. I used the heck out of mine in the Bahamas, the Keys, and all across the country when I was traveling. It never gave me a moment's problem.

If I can expand on this thread a bit, communication is probably one of the talked about discussion topics among cruisers. Solutions can be complex and costly (SSB), costly (Iridium), not too expensive (Globalstar), or rather inexpensive (Pocketmail), just to name a few.

(For those unfamiliar with Pocketmail, it is a Blackberry-sized text messenger which allows you to send and receive an unlimited number of text messages up to 5K (?) in length. All you do is dial an 800 number to contact PM, hold the unit up against the phone receiver, press the send button, and it will send and receive all your messages. Cost of the service is less than $20/mo.)

When I started cruising, I evaluated all of these options and ended up with a Pocketmail, as my cruising budget didn't permit the purchase of anything more expensive. It worked fine for us at the time, because we were always close to civilization and could access a public telephone. It worked well for us in the Bahamas, as long as we were close to a BATELCO pay phone. When we were offshore or tucked into some deserted anchorage, we couldn't use it.

My next great thought was to purchase a Globalstar phone so I could transmit my Pocketmail text messages via satellite, no matter where we were located. Big disappointment! The satellite coverage was so spotty and fleeting, that I finally gave up on this idea and went back to looking for a land line in order to use my PM.

Skip forward to 2009. Cell phone coverage is becoming nearly universal. What's to prevent matching a PM with a working cellphone and transmitting and receiving data this way. As long as there is a cellphone signal, you can talk and text anytime you want. Also, the speed of its data transmission means you won't use up too many cellphone minutes.

This is the direction I plan to explore this summer and would like to know if anyone out there has found this to be workable approach. If it is, at a cost of $99 for the unit and less than $20/mo. for unlimited service, PM may be a very cost effective way to stay in touch while cruising. All I'll need in addition to the PM, is a Bahamas-ready cellphone and a calling card.

Anyone out there who's tried this already?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
thanks

thanks guys for all the tips, I'll pass them on to my friend to see if he can improve things. The problem appears to be Vista related, perhaps one of these ideas will sort it out,
The phone itself seems to work quite well when he can see a bird. He has called me and it is a crystal clear connection, just can't get into a 30 minute discussion !
Thanks again, Bob
 

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Skip forward to 2009. Cell phone coverage is becoming nearly universal. What's to prevent matching a PM with a working cellphone and transmitting and receiving data this way. As long as there is a cellphone signal, you can talk and text anytime you want. Also, the speed of its data transmission means you won't use up too many cellphone minutes.
If all it does is send text messages can't you do that with just the cell phone? Never dealt with cell phones outside of the US so not sure how it works but seems like it should.
 

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Skip forward to 2009. Cell phone coverage is becoming nearly universal. What's to prevent matching a PM with a working cellphone and transmitting and receiving data this way. As long as there is a cellphone signal, you can talk and text anytime you want. Also, the speed of its data transmission means you won't use up too many cellphone minutes.

This is the direction I plan to explore this summer and would like to know if anyone out there has found this to be workable approach. If it is, at a cost of $99 for the unit and less than $20/mo. for unlimited service, PM may be a very cost effective way to stay in touch while cruising. All I'll need in addition to the PM, is a Bahamas-ready cellphone and a calling card.

Anyone out there who's tried this already?
I have two thoughts on this. First, if you can get cell service, then that means a true Blackberry will work, and will provide much better service and functionality than Pocketmail for a host of reasons (sadly enough, at this point in my life a Blackberry is as much a necessity as is food). Second, just plug your cell phone into your laptop and you can access the Internet and email that way. You'll need an ISP, but that's not really a problem. It won't be fast (unless you're in a 3g area), but no slower than using a satphone, etc. Just my 2 cents.
 
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