Iridium GO HotSpot ?

DUTCH

Curmudgeon
Anyone used and have experience with the Iridium GO HotSpot?

I'm planning a trip to Alaska through British Columbia and Yukon Territories, and it would be nice to have a reliable emergency communicator. There's lots of no cell coverage up there.

Even to rent they aren't cheap.

Anyone?
 

rgallant

Adventurer
Call them, I did . I was told coverage can be spotty in deep walled canyons, or valleys under the canopy. But they can give you a better idea, I passed on one as I spend a lot of time in those kinds of places and the cost was too high for a it might not work. I have lost GPS reception on occasion too. All in British Columbia.
 

DUTCH

Curmudgeon
Call them, I did . I was told coverage can be spotty in deep walled canyons, or valleys under the canopy. But they can give you a better idea, I passed on one as I spend a lot of time in those kinds of places and the cost was too high for a it might not work. I have lost GPS reception on occasion too. All in British Columbia.
They are very up front about the fact that it needs a clear view of the horizon. It's also very slow - 2400 bps, which is slower than the old telephone dialups; so it's only good for voice, text and short emails.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
I'm a fan of the Delorme InReach over other devices - yes, it only provides 2 way texting... but that's all the GO is really good for anyways.
 

DUTCH

Curmudgeon
I'm a fan of the Delorme InReach over other devices - yes, it only provides 2 way texting... but that's all the GO is really good for anyways.
The GO is also good for voice telephone with your Android or iPhone, as well as email.
 
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pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
The GO is also good for voice telephone with your Android or iPhone.
I don't have experience with the GO, I'm just going by the reviews that said the phone on it was pretty useless. Glad you have had better experiences!
 

DUTCH

Curmudgeon
I don't have experience with the GO, I'm just going by the reviews that said the phone on it was pretty useless. Glad you have had better experiences!
The phone is your Android or iPhone linked through the Iridium GO App.

I plan to rent one for my upcoming trip to AK and back; and can report back my experience, if anyone is interested.
 
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pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy

DUTCH

Curmudgeon
Iridium GO Worked Flawlessly

Back from a trip through British Columbia, Yukon Territories and Alaska. I admittedly did not use the Iridium GO very much; but every time that I did use it, it worked flawlessly. I didn't even have to set it outside of the car. I just set it up on the dash under the windshield. In the rain, and we had a lot of it, that's a much preferred location.

I did have problems getting my Android phone to stay connected to the Iridium wifi hotspot, so I just paired my iPad and used it like a phone. Worked just fine to check my voice mail and to send text messages to our kids.

It's too expensive for everyday use, but is most useful when there is no cell phone coverage; and there's a lot of that where we were.
 

Antichrist

Expedition Leader
When I think of Sat phones and the like, I can't help but think about this:

Charlotte Kaufman
And they said, OK, we're going to talk to the doctor here. Leave your satellite phone on for a certain amount of time and we'll call you back. And when we hung up with them, the satellite phone never worked again after that call with the Coast Guard. We weren't able to reach anybody else. It just said SIM card error, SIM card error over, and over, and over.

Eric Kaufman
And I tried everything. I took the thing out, and cleaned it, and prayed to it, and begged it, and put it back in. And I tried dialing the emergency numbers, and then it was like, sorry, from where you are you can't dial the emergency number. And I'm like, this is so awesome.

Ira Glass
They found out later what happened. Apparently, a week after they'd headed out to sea, their satellite phone company changed the brand of SIM card that it used. And the company mailed new SIM cards to everybody who had a phone through the mail, the regular mail, even though people with satellite phones-- the whole point of a satellite phone-- is that you're not anywhere normal. Right? You're off far away on a mountain, or a desert, or anywhere that regular phones do not work.

Eric Kaufman
So they mailed us a new SIM card, and then they deactivated them a week after they mailed them. So there was just some guy in some office somewhere that was drinking his coffee, and at the exact same time I hung up the phone with the Coast Guard, he like, ba-dupe, pressed this little button, and then that's it. Game over.
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/525/transcript
 

LeishaShannon

Adventurer
Yes, I would be interested in hearing what it takes to make it work well if you figure it out! Most of the reviews out there are like this one - http://www.amazon.com/review/R2LZO8...&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=541966&store=pc
Sounds like a reception issue as they really do need a clear view of the sky to work. The satellites scream past at close to 27000km/hr so theres always one not far away if you have a limited view of the sky and an audible tone that plays when the device loses/gains reception. If I put it on my windowsill at home where it can only see "half" the sky because the house blocks the other half the reception drops out pretty regularly and might only be available for 60% of the time. Outside the availability is closer to 100% but during storms it'll still drop out occasionally. I'm going to look into external antennas to mount on the roof of the truck which might sort this issue out.

That said when someone calls you they go onto a queuing system with the message "we're trying to connect your call" until the device is in range, so missing a call would be difficult unless the caller gives up without waiting a minute or two. SMS are queued and delivered when in range so no problems there.

Data calls are... very expensive from the Australian reseller we use @ $2.20/minute and just not worth it for us. I believe the US has an unlimited data plan available for $150/month which would be much more reasonable.

Its possible to connect the device to a 3rd party wifi router to extend the range - we have a Ubiquity Bullet titanium access point paired with a 15db omnidirectional antenna on the roof of the truck which allows our phones and laptops to work up to 1km away from camp.
The protocols used between the device and their iOS/android app are pretty basic so its possible to integrate satellite status, messaging and even voice calls with 3rd party onboard systems (automation, security, etc) with a bit of work.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the device and hoping the external antenna will help with the drop outs.
 

Matt_OCENS

Observer
Sounds like a reception issue as they really do need a clear view of the sky to work. The satellites scream past at close to 27000km/hr so theres always one not far away if you have a limited view of the sky and an audible tone that plays when the device loses/gains reception. If I put it on my windowsill at home where it can only see "half" the sky because the house blocks the other half the reception drops out pretty regularly and might only be available for 60% of the time. Outside the availability is closer to 100% but during storms it'll still drop out occasionally. I'm going to look into external antennas to mount on the roof of the truck which might sort this issue out.

That said when someone calls you they go onto a queuing system with the message "we're trying to connect your call" until the device is in range, so missing a call would be difficult unless the caller gives up without waiting a minute or two. SMS are queued and delivered when in range so no problems there.

Data calls are... very expensive from the Australian reseller we use @ $2.20/minute and just not worth it for us. I believe the US has an unlimited data plan available for $150/month which would be much more reasonable.

Its possible to connect the device to a 3rd party wifi router to extend the range - we have a Ubiquity Bullet titanium access point paired with a 15db omnidirectional antenna on the roof of the truck which allows our phones and laptops to work up to 1km away from camp.
The protocols used between the device and their iOS/android app are pretty basic so its possible to integrate satellite status, messaging and even voice calls with 3rd party onboard systems (automation, security, etc) with a bit of work.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the device and hoping the external antenna will help with the drop outs.
Thank you for this post! It is refreshing to hear from someone who is well versed and experimented in the technology.

In regards to the coverage via an external antenna, you will likely get similar or better results to that of when you have the phone outside. The handheld Iridium phones come included with a small "hockey puck" magnetic antenna, although the GO does not. You can see this style of antenna here. These work well, however, I don't recommend them for a more permanent installation--they are best used for temporary situations since they will eventually degrade with a lot of weather and UV exposure. For a more permanent installation, I would recommend something like this which is available as a bolt on or magnetic mount. It is hermetically sealed and marine rated, so it will hold up in any type of condition. Plus, you can add whatever length of cable you need to it. Just remember that the GO always requires the GO specific antenna adapter.

In regards to the data calls, I would agree that the rate you are paying is very expensive. FYI, we offer the Unlimited Plan to anyone in the world, and there are no restrictions on it geographically speaking. This plan is just $129.95/month.
 

LeishaShannon

Adventurer
Thanks, unfortunately it'd cost my clients a fortune to call me using your service... with the Aussie one I have a normal Australian mobile number thats practically free for people to call me. I might consider it when we leave Australia though.
 

Matt_OCENS

Observer
Thanks, unfortunately it'd cost my clients a fortune to call me using your service... with the Aussie one I have a normal Australian mobile number thats practically free for people to call me. I might consider it when we leave Australia though.
Thanks for the feedback. We can actually get an Australian number for your Iridium phone as well. It just costs an additional $10 per month.
 

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