Iridium GO! with PredictWind for weather and more

PW5

About one year ago, we purchased an Iridium GO! satellite wifi unit. This was a big decision as it is a significant expense and we had been happy using HF radio for years for all offshore communications. Seeds of doubt about radio connections while crossing the Indian Ocean swayed our decision; we did not want any compromise to our ability to have weather information. My desire for better internet connectivity (anticipating a stretch of about six weeks between ports with service) reinforced the choice.

This post updates one I wrote last February after our first big passage with an Iridium GO! on board, from Malaysia to Sri Lanka. We’ve learned a lot more across a year and an ocean, and with both the Iridium GO! and PredictWind warrant revisiting.

IridiumGo PredictWindWhat is the GO?

The Iridium GO! is a portable device satellite-powered wifi hotspot. Iridium GO! is not a “sat phone”. Instead, it works primarily through connecting tablet and smartphone apps, as well as some desktop apps, to Iridium’s satellite network. By limiting application access and working over reasonably priced unlimited data plans, the GO! puts anytime/anywhere  communication by satellite in reach for a broad new swath of cruisers.

Reality check: it’s good to understand upfront three things that the GO! is not. First, it’s not a satellite hotspot that brings beautiful internet to meet all of your mid-ocean browsing dreams. The GO! only supports applications specifically designed to work with it. Second, it’s not fast enough for anything remotely resembling “normal” internet use. Even when there’s a great connection, it’s VERY slow. It’s still pretty fantastic to get weather data, email, and update social media from the middle of nowhere. Last, it’s not a satellite phone that will just ring anytime Aunt Esther wants to call you. Placing a call through the app is straightforward, but you can only receive calls if the app is open and device connected to the GO.

PredictWind for weather information

We’ve been PredictWind customers for years. With the GO!, we used their Offshore App on a Windows laptop (Mac and iOS options available too). You need a subscription at the Standard or Pro level to work with a GO!. Prior to departing on passages, Jamie uses routing tools in Offshore to develop a plan. PW’s Offshore routing provides four different paths based on four different weather models. It also incorporates ocean current data. This is critical, as current was a significant factor for our passages this year. Overall, paying attention and having easy access to updates via Offshore gave us faster (and thus, in my view, safer) passages (see reflections on passages to Seychelles from Chagos, and Madagascar to South Africa).

Jamie chimes in: Weather routing software is a terrific tool, but NOT like Google Maps generating a route for a car! From a start location, routing software evaluates wind and current at time and place intervals. It uses “polar” data, which is a method to estimate boat speed for given wind velocity and direction. Offshore gives the user generic polar data and the ability to modify to best fit their own boat. Polar data must be relatively accurate to project an accurate forecast forward 1, 2, and 3 days along the route. And, weather it turns out is dynamic. We re-run routing software during passages to sync actual location with the latest forecasts, and adjust our plans as needed.

PW3

Using the GO! beyond weather

Email. We use the (free) Iridium email app , and gave the Iridium address to a handful of friends and family to reach us while we were at sea. We also forward email from our domain account and gmail to the Iridium inbox, where they’re received in plain text format.

SMS. Texting is an easy way to check in with other cruisers in the fleet while we’re underway. Many cruisers on sat devices, GO or otehr, have data plans that don’t incur incremental charges for SMS/texts. That’s great at sea, because texts are faster than waiting for the HF net or checking email. Friends and family at home could text us for free (up to 120 characters) from http://messaging.iridium.com with our sat number.

Internet browsing. Mixed review. This didn’t work for us at all for the first six months; Iridium has issues getting all the software platforms to play nicely together. Once it DID work, it was pretty amazing to be able to check in (slooooooowly) on news headlines and even load a Facebook page now and then. I’m able to do that using Opera Mini, a mobile browser with settings I can tweak to strip down a web page to text-only.

Twitter. GO! made it very easy to keep tweeting away, and I had fun sending messages from our passage as well as getting notifications for any pings, favorites, and retweets. You can’t tweet an image, just text.

Facebook. May 2016 update: After a lot of false starts, Iridium’s Facebook function is finally working again. It requires some setup, which is best outlined by PredictWind on their support site (scroll down to #6: Configure Facebook). This lets you post a status or low-res image to your Profile. It’s great that this is finally working, although what I really want is to post to Totem’s Facebook Page. Someday?

Phone. GO! is not a handset, but you can make phone calls through the Iridium app on a tablet or smartphone. The “unlimited” data plan includes 150 minutes of call time – fantastic! We’ve made a few calls, and the quality is OK- kind of like Skype in the old days. Per-minute fees hike fast once you exceed them; there’s another level with even more if you need more minutes regularly.

Before you buy

Pick your source

We bought our unit from PredictWind. They sell the GO! competitively with a cruiser-friendly package, and can bundle the base unit with options I think are important: an external antenna, a quality cable to connect that antenna, and the SIM card you’ll want anyway. Getting your SIM and service through PW also means you’ll have access to PW’s support for the GO!, a significant bonus.

External antenna

The GO needs a wide view of open sky to connect; an external antenna (additional) facilitates this. Ours is on our solar arch, and I suspect that the adjacent wind turbine occasionally causes a problem. We’ve tried using our GO by just bringing it into the cockpit, but that wasn’t enough. And yes, although the device is rugged (e.g., you can take it on deck in weather), you wouldn’t want to leave it exposed to the elements, and we found it to be finicky without a full view of the sky. I’m happy to keep it securely installed on the bulkhead below deck.

One note is that GO! Has a built in GPS that is not part of the external antenna. So if you mount GO! with external antenna, you must keep in mind to locate the device in a spot that least impairs the GPS signal. Simply turn GO! on before mounting, and look to see it it acquires GPS signal without trouble.

Choosing a data service

Once you have the hardware, you need a data plan. Buyer beware: while “unlimited data” is one of the great features of GO!, not all data plans are created equal. Units purchased from PredictWind can sign in for month-to-month service. Others (like a service that I saw sold with Iridium GO! units sold on Amazon) present similar-looking monthly pricing but lock you into a 12-month contract. We don’t need to use the GO! for twelve straight months, and I value being able to save money by dialing back our service plan for months we don’t need it. Also, if you get your plan through PW, you not only get access to their customer service- which is awesome- but you get a custom tracking page unique to your boat, with hourly updates while GO! tracking is on. Boom, instant passage maps!

PW map

Be cautious of prepaid data plans, too. It may look like a good way to contain costs, but given the slow rate of data flow, minutes can add up surprisingly fast. Not to mention, SMS/texts go from free to as much as $0.42/each, which can add up–especially if you’re using the tracking page, which relies on automatically sent texts! The nightmare scenario, in my opinion, is running out of data mid-passage…when you want it most. In other cases, you may find shocking charges for minutes beyond your allotted plan. Unlimited data is great peace of mind, and as far as sat pricing goes, I think it’s quite reasonable.

20/20 hindsight

Weighed against other satellite systems, the ability of GO! to connect you more or less 24×7, and the ability to turn the service plan on/off on a monthly basis make it a flexible and reasonable choice for anytime/anywhere communication. With hindsight, we feel very good about our choice of Iridium GO! with an unlimited data plan (ours is $125/month when we use it; $50/month when we’re not), despite considering ourselves frugal cruisers with an existing pactor / HF radio setup. Staying closely dialed into weather conditions this year made our passages faster and safer. And, internet connectivity, even basic, during 6 weeks away from ‘normal’ shore-based access kept me sane!

My gripes

So…it’s not perfect. Here are a few considerations where GO! delivery doesn’t measure up.

Beta product. During our first year of use, the Iridium GO! felt like a beta product being tested at the cost of the consumer. The nuts and bolts of connecting to satellites worked, but I’m not sure there was any user experience testing on the software, and their documentation misses the mark. The biggest hurdle for us (and from what I hear, many other users) is getting a browser to work: you need to hit some magic nexus of compatible device OS, Iridium app version, and GO! firmware. A major firmware update last year fixed problems for a LOT of users, ourselves included, and I think is the primary reason behind gripes posted to forums. It’s too bad, because they’re likely not valid any longer but surely put people off.  I have to admit that finding that sweet spot where everything works as it should feels unpredictable enough that I am reluctant to make major OS version updates on a device before a passage.

Awkward email. Several aspects of email access feel half-baked.

Unless you pay more (around $200 per year) for a third party service, email access is only to an Iridium inbox (user@myiridium.net), via an Iridium connection, on the Iridium app. Iridium doesn’t natively fetch either my gmail or our domain host email; we set up a rule to forward them. Awkward, but OK, except this…

Sends all mail from my Iridium address. So anyone we email when we’re using the GO! receives mail from our user@myiridium.net account, which 1) I’d like to control and 2) means they may later email me at the Iridium account when I *can’t* access it. [Summer 2017 update: FINALLY this was changed, and while mail is still sent from our @myiridium.net account, you can set a “reply to” address in the app settings. So when someone hits reply- it goes to my normal email. MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT.]

No normal internet access to the Iridium inbox. It is ONLY accessible via GO!. When you have normal, wired internet, you can’t access that inbox. Period. In addition to the problem above, where people could be mailing our Iridium account during months when we’re not using the GO!, that sets up a problem with…

Oversize mail handling. If a message forwarded from our domain mail is too big, it’s shunted to an oversize mail folder. These message then become effectively lost to us: too big to download over a sat connection, and inaccessible via wired internet when we’re back on the grid. Some domain hosts will keep a copy on the server to get later; ours doesn’t.  Adding to the annoyance, the email address is masked, so we unless we recognize the name of the sender there’s no way to inform them we can’t get their email. As far as they know, it was delivered!

As mentioned at the top: these issues of mine are fixed by subscribing to a third party service. But those services add cost and have other bells/whistles we may or may not want. Not a customer-friendly approach by Iridium.

What’s next?

Well- hopefully, lots of updates to the Iridium apps are what’s next, but that’s unknown. Here’s what we do know and are excited to try out:

Offshore app for i-devices. PW’s Offshore app isn’t just for desktop anymore: they also have apps for iPad/iPhone. It’s tuned to work with GO!, just like the desktop version, and brings new functionality to our iPad. May 2016 update: we made active use of the new Offshore app while sailing from South Africa to the Caribbean, and it was fantastic! For screenshots and information, see this post about Weather and Communications on a Passage.

Saildocs catalog. Now Winlink users can now access the catalog of products in Saildocs with GO!, using RMS expressGO! (it’s been available to Sailmail users with the latest version of Airmail software for a while). May 2016 update: unfortunately… not a win. RMSexpress works occasionally but not consistently. On the other hand, we can use our Iridium inbox to submit Saildocs requests, too.

[Summer 2017 update: a new satellite constellation is being put in place by Iridium, and new– faster— service is coming, probably sometime in 2018. It’s not clear what the pricing or hardware will be, but good to keep in mind if you’re making plans.]

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46 Responses to Iridium GO! with PredictWind for weather and more

  1. Carla February 1, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    Wonderful info, Behan, as always!! As new GO! users, we found PW is be very helpful with their customer service. However, a question about blogging using the GO! product was not helpful to date.

    Blog post request? How you are able to effectively write blog posts and upload them through your GO! Thank you, Carla. S/V Mahi

    • Behan February 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      Hey Carla. Most blogging platforms I know accommodate post-by-email. That means it’s very easy to post to your blog through the GO! because all you have to do is send an email to a unique address that results in a post to your blog. The specific way that’s accommodated varies based on your blog platform- WordPress, or Blogger, or whatever. That’s really a question for your blogging platform, not PW.

  2. Deb February 1, 2016 at 9:22 pm #

    This post comes at such a good time for us! We’ve been on the fence about this product. We learned this summer how annoyingly attached we are to instant weather information, and we really like the way PW lays out their data. The weather routing stuff would be super-helpful to our newbie cruiser brains, as well. But the cost has us hesitating, and we’d hoped they could fix their Facebook problem–we have more than one family member who would appreciate some kind of daily update, and Facebook would be the easiest way for us to do that. Most likely we’ll wait until we’re headed to low-internet lands (I’m looking at you, Cuba) before we pull the trigger. Thanks, Behan!

    • Behan February 1, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

      Hey Deb, glad this helped. Re: Facebook, this problem is that it’s not IRIDIUM’S problem. It’s Facebook. Iridium tried to piggyback on FB funcionality that was killed off. And FB, unfortunately, is data intensive: direct access via sat connection is just not a really great idea, and I wouldn’t expect Iridium to fix this (although I would expect them to remove dead functionality from their product software and literature after it hadn’t worked for more than a year!). But you CAN post to Facebook, you just have to look out of the box a little. Check out ifttt.com: you can set up a “recipe” that lets you post to FB through IFTTT. Or, if you use Twitter, set up Twitter to publish to your Facebook page or profile. There are a few ways to work around the limitations of direct GO to FB, basically, and it shouldn’t be a barrier per se.

      • Deb February 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

        Thanks for the advice! So far, planning for this trip has pushed the boundaries of my tech skills more than my sailing skills. Maybe I’ll have to learn how to tweet.

  3. Jon February 1, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    Hi Behan,

    Thanks for the write-up. Not having SSB already installed I’m trying to decide between Iridium Go or installing SSB etc. These sorts of posts really help.

    Regarding email clients, have you taken a look into this: http://www.ocens.com/OneMail-Satellite-Email-App-P756C27.aspx

    I’m not able to recommend it personally as I’ve not used it, but it seems like it would solve at least one of your frustrations with Iridium Go for about 10 USD a month.

    • Behan February 2, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Jon, I have checked this out, and it’s not offering functionality I can use. I already get my gmail on the Iridium inbox when we’re offshore, and I don’t lose anything from the server like I do with our domain email; I can review/delete gmail messages as desired once we have wired internet. So, it’s $10/month or $100/year for what I do free! Maybe if it let me respond from my own address? I’m not sure that’s worth $100/year, though. And, I don’t think it even does that.

      • Jon February 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

        Hi Behan, I checked with their support team and indeed you can ‘send as’ your gmail address. This would be almost worth it as it would avoid you having to forward your email to the iridium address. Except you still have exactly the same problem as before with your domain email.

        Have you considered using a gmail account to collect your domain email and then setting up a ‘send as’ address in gmail to make it look like the mail is coming from the domain? I do it for a couple of my domains.

        Of course, this is still paying 100 USD a year for a problem that Iridium could fix easily by making their email accessible from the internet. A trivial task for a telecommunications company!

        • Behan February 3, 2016 at 9:26 am #

          Hi Jon, what support told you needs context. You can ‘send as’ from your gmail but ONLY if you have a 3rd party app, which is $$$ annually (depends on the service, they’re listed on the Iridium site, but around $200). So out of the box with the Iridium apps, it’s actually not possible to ‘send as’ your gmail. That aside, I ought to run domain through gmail as you’re suggesting. It’s on a cascading list of “stuff to deal with someday.” Meanwhile, I think it’s ridiculous that the Iridium inbox isn’t accessible from the internet! Maybe if we had money to burn (insert maniacal laughter!)…

  4. Victor Raymond February 1, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

    Behan,

    Another great post! I also purchased a Go! and PW services. However I did not purchase the Go! through them nor the monthly service just PW pro plan. I must say my results were not nearly as good. Yes, I could get SMS to work fairly reliably but the GPS never worked. Inside, outside, with antenna, without antenna. Nothing worked reliably enough to go offshore especially without the HF radio.

    Perhaps part of the problem was that we have an aluminum boat. Perhaps it was my penchant for trying to strike the best deal and therefore buying everything from one shop which gives excellent support.

    You are right in saying the Go! seems like a work in progress. The external antenna attachment port seems a prime example. It is certainly not robust enough for serious weather and boat movement as a result.

    Good luck and fairwinds on Atlantic crossing. Our boat has done it twice with the prior owner stopping once in St. Helena which sounds pretty interesting if the weather is OK.

    • Jamie Gifford February 2, 2016 at 9:01 am #

      Victor – When first installing Go! on Totem, I picked a convenient location below decks, but found GPS acquisition was very slow. I moved the device around until I found what worked well. So GRP cored deck had a considerable affect on GPS signal strength; certainly aluminum will. It should work outside without issue. If Go!’s GPS doesn’t connect when device is outside then the unit is defective. The external antenna doesn’t affect Go!’s GPS signal.

      We love our HF radio; and even with Go! need for further development, there is one significant benefit. On passage in regions with really dynamic weather, I can easily get weather updates with Go! during times of day when poor propagation hinders HF connectivity. This was especially helpful in the Western Indian Ocean.

      The Atlantic doesn’t offer many stopping points, but we’re very excited about Namibia, St Helena, and Ascension!

  5. Greg Davids February 2, 2016 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks for the great post. I am particularly interested in the routing features you mentioned. How do you enter the polar data and where did you get it from? Since we have the same boat as you (Hylas 47), I bet you can point me in the right direction.

    • Jamie Gifford February 2, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      Greg – In PredictWind you select/enter polars in ‘Routing Preference’ in the ‘Tools’ section. There, you can either take the basic approach – select ‘Sail’, then enter your sailing speed in 15 knots of wind for the designated points of sail. This takes a generic polar curve and scales it to your entered boat speeds. Alternatively, you can manually enter boat speeds for a broad range of wind velocities and relative angles. I’ve played around with both and found the basic setup can be reasonably close.

      Part of getting polars correct is knowing the boat. We’ve had enough time at it and being a racing sailor I tend to watch performance closely, so know what speed we should do in most situations. There are tools that can help as well. OpenCPN has a ‘polar’ plugin. Once installed, and assuming you can get wind metrics into OpenCPN, the plugin will record your best speed in wind velocity/angle segments and plot a curve. You can manually tweak the curve as well, since other variables such as sliding on or bashing waves affect boat speed. And there are high-cost products to do this as well, primarily intended to help racing sailors get the most performance out of the bathtub they happen to be sailing.

  6. Giovanni Testa February 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Ciao Behan,
    why you says “Last, it’s not a satellite PHONE. You cannot receive calls. You can place them, through an app, but people can’t call you” I can call from my home phone to GO/Iphone app. No problem.
    Or I have missundertood?
    Gianni
    SV EUTIKIA
    Thailand

    • Behan February 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

      You’re right Gianni- it IS possible (although not mentioned in GO! literature). I’ve amended that in the post. We’ve since received calls. Not hard but takes planning. I’m curious how it is for you? Thanks Gianni!

  7. tesla February 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Check [REMOVED] app for android. Just [-] euro for pro level weather routing with tons of options, And it works with GO!

    • Behan February 22, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

      This was posted with a fake email address, so basically, it’s a cheap attempt at marketing vs. genuine input.

  8. John Daubeny March 2, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    Hi Behan, we are being forced down the satellite path now since we need to ring NZ if there are any concerns about Braca’s health. So it would be emergency voice first off, occasional data second. Reviews of voice performance seem ok, but like Gianni, would be nice to confirm situation re incoming calls (most outgoing in our expectations).

    Also, somewhat stunned to read that the apps are ANDROID and IOS only? So basically, this device is for tablets only – all you laptop users out there have to sit on the sidelines…..

    Or have I missed something?

    • John Daubeny March 3, 2016 at 4:07 am #

      MIght have answered my own question – seems that the Web and Email applications are IOS/ Android only, but the Predictwind Offshore application runs on PC/ MAC and can connect to GO device.

      • Behan March 10, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

        We covered this via email but for “the blog record” – yep, that’s pretty much how it works. There are services that can open up other applications to access data via the Go, but in general it’s locked down other than specifically blessed software.

  9. Ellen May 11, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Behan, Thanks for this info (and your wonderful blogging)
    We love PredictWind and subscribe to the $499 a year feature to be able to run departure and weather planning programs. So we looked into getting the Iridium Go! last spring before we sailed east across the Atlantic – and were discouraged by the chandlery in St Martin which had it for sale. They said they needed to complete testing before they could responsibly sell it. So we relied on our SSB weather faxes crossing the Atlantic and it worked adequately.
    Now that we have two more ocean crossings in the next 12 months (East to West across the Atlantic this winter and across the Pacific next spring) we’re revisiting the Iridium Go! decision.
    Which subscription card do you recommend with the Iridium Go!?
    Did you buy any of the extras such as the antenna? Which accessories or package do you recommend?
    Did the GO! give you connectivity and weather downloads on PredictWind all the way across your recent crossing to Barbados? If so, we are going to order it.
    Thanks and fair winds to you, Jamie and your children (and stay clear of both Barbados crime and Zika!)
    Ellen
    sv Golden Glow
    http://www.svGoldenGlow.com
    If we do order it, is there an affiliate link or other way to give you a % when we buy ours?

    • Behan May 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      Hi Ellen, glad the info is helpful for you!
      1) I’m very happy with the subscription we have via our GO purchase from PredictWind. It’s through Atlantic Radio Telephone, $128/month for unlimited data (limit on talk time), we can switch plans on a month-to-month basis (e.g., OK to drop to metered data at lower baseline cost per month if we know we won’t use the device much). If you look at other providers, be clear on not just the monthly rate but the contract for # of months committed at that rate.
      2) PredictWind bundles the antenna (which I think is essential) –AND– a very high quality cable to connect it, which you also need. Just figure out the length from where you will insatll the antenna.
      3) Yes, our communication and weather data all across the Atlantic, from South Africa to Barbados, was 100% with the GO. First time we did not use our HF radio at all! Very pleased with the GO.
      –thanks for asking if there’s an affiliate link! I don’t have one. If you purchase from PredictWind, tell them we sent you, for the smile and goodwill!

      • Ellen May 27, 2016 at 1:58 am #

        Thanks so much, Behan. Your post and response were very helpful and if we buy one, we will definitely give credit where credit is due, which is to you!

  10. Libertalia June 1, 2016 at 1:31 am #

    Hey, just a quickie to say that you can actually download the large emails. It just doesn’t do it automagically. You can configure the threshold at which it will only download the header, and there’s an option somewhere to download the mails in your ‘too big’ folder. We used the Android App, so maybe it missed the iOS boat? We were using the Go! last season with all the same gripes… except this one. I’m going to try using a limited data plan starting again this month.

    • Libertalia June 1, 2016 at 1:45 am #

      One more thing… I’m very happy to hear that Facebook posting might be working now. We are too busy (or lazy?) to have a blog, so FB is our only real way of sharing our adventures with family & friends. You should definitely be able to set the Go! up to post to your boat page though… You’ll just need to do it when logged into your boat page, not your personal page. Now that you’ve done it, you’ll probably just need to wait for the 60 days to expire. I will plan to set this up as soon as my new SIM is activated.

      • Behan June 2, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

        Yeah, the problem is that the way the GO authenticates with Facebook is that it’s automatically done to your Profile, not a personal Page. If you find a way to get around this I would LOVE to know about it!

    • Behan June 2, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      Right, so we could do that in iOS also, but it’s just completely impractical to ACTUALLY download them. It would mean connecting for literally hours! (If I’m understanding you correctly?) That’s why I want a way to access the big mail folder from “normal” internet.

      • Libertalia June 2, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

        OK, I’ve just set it up and made a successful Facebook post to our boat page.
        I just made sure I was logged in to the boat facebook page, not my personal page when I clicked the fb.myiridium.net link. It all seems to work swimmingly now… except I’m already starting to wish I was on the unlimited plan 🙂
        Note: Our boat page is a ‘person’ called “SV Libertalia”. I notice your boat page is not a person… maybe this could cause you issues, but I suspect it’s just about who is logged in on the browser that you use to set up the authentication.

        • Behan June 2, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

          Right, because your “boat page” is not a Page, as Facebook calls it, but a Profile… this works for you. It still doesn’t work with Pages (Facebook definition), the authentication is different and unfortunately Iridium hasn’t provided it through Iridium GO at this point. The only way to post to a Page for now is workarounds like tweeting from the Go and setting up Twitter to auto-post to the Page (but no images, because Iridium left that little chestnut out when building the app–it’s text update only), or post directly on the Page with a browser (which still means text only, no images, because they’ll time out and fail).

  11. Phil June 2, 2016 at 5:40 am #

    Hi There,

    I’m heading off to Fiji on Saturday and have the iridium go all sorted. PW works, and mail and messages are great.

    How did you get Opera to work for web browsing? I can’t find away to make the GO connect. I tried Iridums Axcess Point software but it wouldn’t authenticate.

    Regards,

    Phil Bishop

    • Behan June 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      Hi Phil- does Safari work, just not Opera? (Assuming you’re on an iPad not Android or you’d use xweb.) Any chance you haven’t adjusted the Opera settings to “mini” (no images / max compression)? Not having that set could mean pages are too data intensive to load. At least that’s my gut reaction! Did you contact Iridium support? If you bought through PredictWind, their support is terrific. And even if you didn’t, check their GO support info on their website, it’s better than Iridium’s.

      • Phil June 2, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

        I’m trying to access the web via a PC.

        • Libertalia June 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

          Good luck with that. The only way to do that is with the extra software that the OP says is $200/year. I vaguely recall it being a bit more, but I just plain object to paying again just to use the product!

        • Behan June 2, 2016 at 10:36 pm #

          Phil- like Libertalia says, Opera doesn’t fly with OOB Iridium GO on a PC.

    • Libertalia June 2, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      First up, I totally agree that the inability to access mail from the Internet, or to configure a reply-to-address, or to just simply have an imap connection is ludicrous! I use the product, but it regularly makes me furious!
      Anyway… if you are on the unlimited plan, what do you care if it takes hours to download the large emails? Just set, and forget. Thats what I used to do… but I’m going to try a limited plan… even though Iridium give you no way to check your usage.

      • Behan June 2, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

        The ‘set and forget’ sounds great in theory, but I don’t want to tie up the device on hours and hours of download that way. That’s happened (by accident, when I posted an image that was only about 300k but took hours and multiple connects to finally send. And that’s not exactly “big mail”, 300k). And about those multiple connects- that’s wehre it’s also not quite so simple because the connection will time out and disconnect. It will pick up where it left off again while you reconnect, you can’t just walk away from it for an afternoon.

  12. Libertalia June 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    I’m like a Totem fanboy… posting like a crazy guy!
    Anyhooo… I’ve just re-setup my Iridium Go, and I noticed that my “Big Mail” does, in fact, tell me who the emails are from.
    I can see the email Subject in big bold letters, then the senders name and email address, and the size of the email (kindly expressed in bytes – eg. 1875207 bytes).

    • Behan June 2, 2016 at 10:43 pm #

      LOL fanboy! 😉 So you’re getting the email address too? I guess I better check my Android app again (I only use it rarely… bigger iPad screen soooo much easier to work with than Android smartphone). iOS app only gives the name and subject and size… but the critical piece, that email address so you can tell whoever it is to resend text only please! Good to know– thank you.

  13. Eileen July 30, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    I am still learning a lot about marine communication. Can u explain what a SIM card will do with this device? Sorry for the stupid question!

    • Behan July 30, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

      Hi Eileen – a SIM card is that little piece of plastic (size of your pinky nail) in any telecom device that provides a unique identifier (e.g., your phone number!) and stores some data. It doesn’t necessarily come with the device, but they can be ordered together. The SIM card gives your Iridium GO a sat phone number, and allows the GO to be activated for service. You can’t have service, unless you have a SIM card. Hope that makes sense!

  14. Dennis October 25, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    Hi Behan
    Following your website with joy.
    Have now had the GO! For a couple of months and are happy with it. Have problems with the sms functionality.
    – seems that their is a number of sms that don’t reach the receiver.
    – when looking back on sent sms they all seem to scramble together. All threads are mixed together. If sending a sms to one receiver, the same text appear under other receivers threads.

    Trying to google the problem but no success so far.
    Anything you have experienced?

    • Behan October 25, 2016 at 9:53 am #

      Hey Dennis, we didn’t SMS a whole lot, but we *do* use that function (especially on passages), and I don’t recall ever experiencing a problem like that. Are you getting any help from customer service? I’d be curious to see what you learn. Do you ever have trouble with other messages being delivered (or not)? Hope it’s not hard to resolve!

  15. Drake Roberts December 9, 2016 at 3:21 am #

    Hi Behan, Thanks for the great article about Iridium Go! We’re considering getting one primarily to receive GRIB files while sailing from Faroe to Svalbard next Summer. I think we want to use the WeatherTrack app on iPad with an unlimited data plan.

    Do you know if the voicemail capability works well with iPad? I’m wondering if we will be able to conveniently check for voicemail every day while underway, and if we got one to listen to it and then return the call. Many thanks!

    • Behan December 10, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

      Hi Drake, glad you found the information helpful. Faroe to Svalbard, that sounds fantastic, I want to go! Re: voicemail, I haven’t tried it so I can’t really comment. But since sound quality isn’t always perfect, it might be better to rely on getting messages by text vs voicemail. Tell you what, we’ll probably turn our GO service on again in just a few weeks, if you want to do a test I’m game!

    • Behan December 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm #

      Drake, follow up. I found this with a quick search, on the website used by our Iridium service provider, referring to the GO: “Voice mail and text messages are only saved in the Iridium network for 24 hours.” I have to admit: what if you missed the 24 hour window? You’d have to check at EXACTLY the same time every day to be sure you aren’t missing any messages, which seems unrealistic. Anyway, just a thought. Seems imperfect as a feature, since the general assumption on something like voicemail is that it’s there till you delete it.

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  1. On-board communication: satellite phone or SSB? | Sailing Totem - April 4, 2016

    […] 2016 update: the Iridium GO has pretty much taken over for our onboard comms. It was brilliant in the Indian Ocean. Our Pactor stopped working when we left South Africa, and […]

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