I have installed a new sat phone in readiness for the ocean passages that my wife and I are planning. The phone I chose, after much deliberation, was the Iridium 9555. I will be posting my impressions of this phone and the real experiences and costs of using it soon, but this post is simply about the fact that Iridium sell you a £1,000 phone – but they do not supply a mounting bracket so you can actually mount it securely!
I think this is a really disappointing omission. I realise they want to sell the mounting kit separately and at huge cost – but really – what an omission for such an expensive device.
|Docking station for $649||Many more expensive options..||My solution for £5.99 from eBAY|
You have to remember most of us are buying this phone to use on a boat on the high seas not in a marina cafe. We are not interested in “hands free” we are interested in robust and resilient designs.
There are some realities to take into account when using this phone on a boat:
1. The phone will just not work effectively unless it has a very good signal i.e. 5 bars. I will justify this in a later post – I am collecting more data….but just trust me – on a boat you MUST connect an external antenna such as the Iridium Tough AD510 .
2. To connect the external antenna cable –which is a very stiff RST933 cable – you MUST put the phone in its adaptor. This adaptor is a wafer thin piece of plastic with a very thin piece of wire coming out the back and terminated in a TNC connecter.
3. Screwing this fragile cable on and off the very stiff external cable is virtually guaranteed to break the cable… what were Iridium thinking when they designed this !. Is this how you design a rough, tough, satellite phone for use in remote and challenging situations… never mind on a rocking boat far out at sea ?
4. Once the phone is connected by its tiny life line to the thick external antenna cable – there it lies – rolling about the nav table.
Your £1,000 does not get you a cradle that you could fit to a wall or a dashboard – incredible!
So here is a solution that I created for £5.99 plus two screws….
|This shows the Iridium 9555 with its adaptor.
The adaptor is well designed to connect the phone’s antenna jack to the supplied desktop antenna….
BUT, it is also the only way to connect the phone to your boats external antenna …
|After some hunting around, I found a car phone holder that could hold the Iridium, without obscuring any of the controls or sockets on the side or at the base of the phone.
Don't forget you will want to connect the mini USB socket to the USB on your laptop to do emails and download GRIB files.
The holder is actually designed to hold the Nokia 5800…but it turns out to be a perfect fit for the Iridium 9555 sat phone…and very cheap…
|You will need to dismantle the arm from the base in order to drill two holes in it.
This is done easily by taking the knob of the lower part of the arm…just make a note how it comes apart … it took me 15 minutes to work out how to re-assemble it….another senior moment
…having dismantled the arm
…drill two holes for self tapping screws
….I decided not to glue the holder to the side of the nav table in case I ever wanted to move it or replace it…
…simply fit the holder to a convenient surface at or near your chart table….and your laptop
|this shows a another cable I had made up so that I could avoid connecting the stiff external antenna cable to the phone directly thereby reducing the strain on the cable and the cradle, and allowing me to be able to lift the phone out and operate the keyboard if I wanted to ….|
This shows the whole installation
A = the very stiff external antenna cable that runs to the Iridium Tough AD510
B = Short extension cable, shielded, but thinner and flexible, so I can pick the phone up but still have it connected to the external antenna
C = Fragile, thin, cable connecter that comes in the phone adaptor
Final handy tip – buy yourself a spare Iridium antenna adaptor from eBAY for £35…. you are definitely going to break the one that ships with the phone !!