The Iridium satellite constellation is a mesh of low earth orbit satellites that move rapidly across the sky, providing truly global coverage anywhere on the planet. With a suitable satellite modem (like the Iridium 9602) that’s in the RockBLOCK, we can send and receive small amounts of data (a few hundred bytes) to/from your embedded system or computer. Iridium is used widely across many industries, it’s especially salient in military, shipping and logistics applications.
Iridium products work best with a clear view of the sky, but will work in more occluded locations (usually after a few attempts!)
Once you’ve sent a message from your RockBLOCK it will be brought back down to earth, via one of the Iridium Ground Stations. It will then be processed by the Rock 7 core system, which can be configured to automatically dispatch the message to your own web-server or e-mail address, all within a few seconds!
Here are a few key points that i’ve learnt:
- RockBLOCK != Mobile Phone
- Iridium is super reliable and works anywhere in the world (its even used by the military)
- Works best with a good view of the sky (i.e. outside), but will sometimes work inside
- You are charged based on the amount of data transferred (typically a few pence/cents per 50 bytes sent)
- By virtue of the above, it’s not possible to send photographs using the RockBLOCK
- You can send 340 bytes at a time, or receive 270 bytes – so keep your messages short!
- Messages are not “pushed” to the RockBLOCK you have to request them
- It’s super simple to use with a Raspberry Pi