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Mandatory IsatPhone Pro Firmware Upgrade November 26, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat GSPS Isatphone PRO.
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Inmarsat GSPS IsatPhone PRO Satellite Phone

Mandatory IsatPhone PRO Firmware Upgrade before June 30, 2013

Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro phones that are not upgraded to Firmware version 5.2.0  by June 30,  2013, will no longer be able to register, make, or receive calls.  The features introduced by the new firmware are vitally important for the Inmarsat GSPS network as well as the IsatPhone Pro handset.  Fixes and enhancements include:

  • Twitter Application Improved Time Zone configuration
  • Fix to display of Class 3 SMS messages received from BGAN
  • Fix to restart problem after storing SIM Contact in Japanese
  • Japanese Character completion Typo on IsatPhone Pro Japanese

Pre-requisites for the upgrade:   Before doing the firmware upgrade, verify that the IsatPhone PRO handset is at least on firmware version 3.0.2 or above.  To do this go to Menu > Settings > About > Firmware version.   In order to upgrade the handset’s firmware you must have a PC running Windows 7, Windows Vista or  Windows XP.   Also, if you are using Windows 7, the latest version of the USB driver and the IsatPhone Pro’s firmware upgrade tool must be installed before the upgrade is performed.   You can download the firmware upgrade, the current USB drivers, and instructions here.    Inmarsat estimates that the upgrade process will only take about 15 minutes, but Outfitter Satellite customers can contact our customer service department at 615-889-8833 if they prefer to return the IsatPhone PRO to us to do the upgrade.

SkyFile Mail Premium November 9, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat BGAN, Iridium Satellite Phone.
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If you need PC-based email over your Iridium, Outfitter Satellite recommends that you purchase an AxcessPoint.  Another choice that is FREE is the popular Vizada SkyFile Mail 8.2 software (only available on selected plans).   SkyFile Mail provides reliable and cost-effective two-way email, fax and SMS messaging on Inmarsat, Iridium,  and Thuraya (though it is not available on Thuraya prepaid SIMs).

Vizada has just rolled out a new more powerful version of SkyFile.   To differentiate the two versions, Vizada is now naming the free version SkyFile Mail Classic and the new version SkyFile Mail Premium.   The new Premium version is not free but if offers powerful features for business users at a competitive rate.

Key benefits of SkyFile Mail Premium over Classic:

  • Works with some popular email clients like Microsoft Outlook
  • An automatic notification push feature allows emails to be delivered immediately without manual actions
  • Access over non-satellite connections (3G, WiFi, etc.)
  • SMS up to 1500 characters
  • Advanced call detail viewer & split billing file
  • Quarantine file for suspicious emails

Key benefits SkyFile Mail Classic & Premium

  • Ensures reliable and secure messaging
  • Compresses data by up to 90%, significantly reducing connection time
  • The integrated BDU access command allows users to automatically start/stop the IP-session from SkyFile Mail
  • API allows 3rd part application access, e.g.  ship management applications
  • Enhanced supervision of sub accounts
  • SkyFile works on any desktop PC.  Provides highly effective anti-virus, anti-spam filter and black & white lists.   SkyFile Mail can use Iridium Rudics to boost connection quality and bandwidth, reducing connection time by more than 50% (Iridium Prepaid does not have Rudics but many of Outfitter Satellite’s postpaid plans do).  SkyFile NOAD enables to create and transmit electronic forms required by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Call us for more information.


How to Use Twitter from Your Iridium Satellite Phone October 28, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat GSPS Isatphone PRO, Iridium Satellite Phone, Thuraya.
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Tweet from an Iridium Satellite Phone

Tweet from an Iridium Satellite Phone

Twitter  supports Iridium, Thuraya*, and Inmarsat* as mobile carriers.  Users of these satellite phone can send Tweets to all of their followers using the SMS messaging capability of their satellite phones.  They in turn will receive your Tweets moments later on their cell phones (if they have set up text notification).  You can also integrate your Twitter feed into a blog (like we have done in this blog).   Either way you are providing your followers a current timeline of your activities using only a handheld satellite phone. This is a great tool for people operating in remote locations.

Associate your Iridium Phone with your Twitter Account:  The first step is to associate your satellite phone with your Twitter account.  To do this login to your Twitter account using a web browser.  Go to your Twitter account settings.   If you are not familiar with Twitter, there is a drop down list identified by a  “gear” symbol in the full version of Twitter that lets you access the account settings.  If you are using mobile.twitter.com, “Settings” is a hyperlink at the bottom of the main page.

  1. Select “Mobile” settings.  If you already have your cell phone attached to the Twitter account you will need to delete it before associating your satellite phone to the account.
  2. Under “Country/region” list  select “Iridium
  3. Below that next to “Phone number” enter your Iridium phone number starting with 8816.
  4. Click the “Activate phone” button.
  5. Keep the Twitter webpage open because you will need it again. Take your Iridium satellite phone outside and register with the Iridium network.   Send an SMS message to short code 40404 with “Go” as the message content.   Notes:  If you have a Thuraya, the short code is 1888.  The short code for Inmarsat is 898.
  6. Now go back inside and return to your Twitter webpage and confirm that Twitter has verified your Iridium SMS settings.   Once registration is successful, you will see a message on your Twitter page that states “Your phone is verified”.   Select your mobile notifications on the screen to complete your enrollment.

Use your Iridium Phonebook:   Outfitter Satellite suggests you create a stored Phonebook entry on your Iridium phone for “Twitter” and program the 40404 messaging address.   Once this is programmed, Tweets sent to your Iridium Phonebook’s Twitter entry will automatically post on your Twitter account.  Your Iridium phone will store a maximum of  30 messages sent and received.   Once you reach that limit, additional messages will need to be deleted to accept or send new SMS messages. You will be notified when you have reached full capacity.  Standard SMS rates apply to outbound tweets.

Cool GPS stuff with your Iridium 9575 Extreme:   If you have the new Iridium 9575 EXTREME, you can send your GPS information as a Tweet.   This would allow your Twitter followers to click a link and see your GPS position as a function of time.    You can even set the Iridium 9575 EXTREME to send the GPS tweets automatically at even time intervals, as you walk along.

If this article helped you, please let us know by giving us a comment.

How to Upgrade your Firmware on your Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone October 26, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Iridium Satellite Phone.
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First, determine what firmware version you are currently on.  To do this, click the “Menu” button on the phone. Then select “Setup”. Then select “Phone information”. This page will show the current firmware on the phone. As of November 2011, the current firmware version is HT11001.

If you need to upgrade your firmware, you can download the Iridium 9555 firmware upgrade tool by  clicking here.

You will need a USB data cable to perform the upgrade.  The upgrade process can take 20-30 minutes so make sure your computer and the Iridium 9555 are connected to external power during the upgrade so that the upgrade process is NOT interrupted once it begins.  Carefully follow the instructions on the PDF included with the upgrade tool.

Outfitter Satellite can perform the firmware upgrade for you for an $89 inspection charge plus shipping costs.

Changing the SIM in your Iridium 9505A or 9505 October 26, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Iridium Satellite Phone.
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Removing the SIM Card from an Iridium 9505A: The first step is to remove the antenna and the battery. The SIM holder is underneath the battery. If you are looking at the SIM holder with the top of the phone pointed up, the SIM holder can be “gently” slid back and forth from the left to right. Use your thumb to “gently” slide the SIM holder to the left which is the “unlocked” position. Then simply use gravity to let the SIM holder swing out so that the SIM itself can be pulled out of the SIM holder.

Inserting the SIM Card: Putting in the new SIM is the reverse process. Put the SIM in the holder and “gently” push it flush so that the “gold contacts” point down. Then use your thumb to “gently” slide it to the right “locked” position. You should feel a subtle click. You are done.

Troubleshooting Power Problems on the Thrane & Thrane EXPLORER 700 October 25, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat BGAN, Thrane and Thrane.
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EXPLORER 700 Inmarsat BGAN terminal by Thrane & Thrane

Thrane & Thrane EXPLORER 700 Inmarsat BGAN terminal (optional Bluetooth Handset also shown)

When you power on the EXPLORER 700  terminal, is the display blank?   This does not necessarily mean the terminal is not working.   The EXPLORER 700 may be in Stealth Mode.      Stealth Mode turns off all the displays, indicators and sounds on the terminal and is  typically used for night-time military applications.    Press C+OK on the display keypad to toggle the Stealth Mode on and off.

There are a few other easy things you can check before deciding your EXPLORER 700 needs to be returned for repairs.

  1. Can you see the EXPLORER 700 Web Interface?    To do this connect an Ethernet cable between your computer and the EXPLORER 700 LAN #1 port.   Open a web browser on your computer and in the address field enter  and if the EXPLORER 700 web interfaces comes up, then you know the terminal is not completely dead.  It is possible that the contrast setting on the LCD screen is set too low.   You can adjust the contrast setting directly from the EXPLORER 700 Web Interface.  Click on SETTINGS and under CONTRAST, we suggest setting AUTOMATIC to YES.
  2. Verify that the  AC/DC adapter is connected to a wall outlet that has power.
  3. There is a GREEN POWER INDICATOR LIGHT next to the EXPLORER 700 LCD display.  A short flash every 2 seconds means the terminal is on,  a steady green light means the battery is charging, a rapidly flashing green light indicates a charging error, and OFF means no power or Stealth mode.    If you have power connected to the terminal, you should either see a short flash every 2 seconds or a steady green light.   If the Green Power Indicator is flashing rapidly, you have a charging problem which could be caused by problems with the external power, problems with the AC/DC adapter, or a defective battery.    If you are using a DC Car Charger, it may mean that the voltage input to the DC Car Charger is below 9 Volts.
  4. Remove the battery and check it for damage.  Are the contacts dirty or bent?   If the battery appears OK, re-insert it into the terminal and make sure it is firmly in place and not loose.   Can you start the terminal now?   If not, try step 3 again.

You can find additional guidance on the use of the EXPLORER 700 Web Interface on pg 82 of the User Manual.  There is a valuable Trouble Shooting Guide on page 163 of the User Manual.     If you are still not up and running,  you need to call for technical support.

Connecting your iPhone over an HNS-9201 Inmarsat BGAN terminal: October 15, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat BGAN.
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HNS-9201 Inmarsat BGAN terminal

An iPhone can be connected directly to your HNS-9201 BGAN.

Many of our customers have asked if it is possible to use their iPhone or iPad with their BGAN.   If you have a Macintosh computer connected to a BGAN, normally you can share the connection with your iPhone or iPad.   It is possible to connect an iPhone directly to some BGAN terminals.   Outfitter Satellite tested the iPhone (software version 5.1.1.) over the HNS-9201 (firmware version and were able to browse the web and send and receive email.    Hint: If you are in an area with cellular coverage, remember to turn off the cellular data on your iPhone so you know you are running over the BGAN.   Here are the steps:

1) Enable WLAN feature on the HNS-9201 using LaunchPad:  Under the “Terminal” menu select “WLAN interface” and enable wireless access.  Set the Network Name to “BGAN”.  Set Region to “Rest of World”.  Set channel to “11”.  Select 128-bit encryption and use a network password with at least 13 characters.   We used: Outfitter123#.   Click “Apply” and “OK”.  The WLAN LED on the terminal will now be GREEN.  A WiFi capable computer will now see “BGAN” as one of the available wireless networks.  Notes: The WLAN LED blinks if the terminal is on battery power and turns RED if no devices are accessing the HNS-9201 using the WLAN.

2) Connect the iPhone to the HNS-9201 via Wi-Fi:    In your iPhone 5.1.1 go to “Settings” and click “Wi-Fi”.  If Wi-Fi is off, turn Wi-Fi on using the slider switch.  Under “Choose a Network”, you will see a network called “BGAN”.  Select it and enter the password Outfitter123# and press the “Join” button.   You should see a check mark next to the “BGAN” network.

3) Use the HNS-9201 web interface to start an internet session:

  1. Use the iPhone’s Safari browser to go to the HNS-9201’s web interface by entering
  2. Initially you are on the “Properties” page of the web interface.   On the mobile version of the HNS-9201 web interface, you will find a green bar at the bottom of the page under which are the various pages that are available.
  3. On the Properties page, if you are not already registered, you can click the “Register with Network” button.  After it registers you will see “Registration Status:  Registered with Home network”.
  4. On the “PDP Contexts” page, select a unique CID value between 1 and 11 for each device that will be using the BGAN. Make sure the APN is set correctly, e.g. XANTIC.BGAN.INMARSAT.COM for Stratos SIMs or VIZADA-USA.BGAN.INMARSAT.COM for Vizada SIMs.  Requested QoS should be set to “Background” which is best effort Standard IP data.  No username or password are needed for the APN.   Press the “Create Context” button.  The page will refresh.  Press the “Activate” button. The page will refresh and show the Local IP address, Global IP address, and DNS server addresses.   There may or may not be error messages displayed in red above this, but if you hit the “Update” button the error messages will clear off.
  5. OPTIONAL: ACA refers to Automatic Context Activation.    On the ACA page  under “ACA Settings for TEs Using DHCP Assigned IP Addresses” you may want to enable ACA by selecting the “On” radio button.

4) When you are finished using the internet, remember to disconnect:    When using a BGAN, you need to be mindful of the cost and be careful to avoid unexpected usage, e.g. automatically downloading emails coming in on your iPhone.  It is a good practice to power down the BGAN when not using it.   Another approach would be to deactivate the iPhone’s PDP context which can be done by going to the HNS-9201 web interface on the “PDP Contexts” page and pressing “Deactivate”.

Long-Term Storage of Your Iridium Satellite Phone Battery: July 31, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Globalstar Satellite Phone, Inmarsat BGAN, Iridium Satellite Phone, Thuraya.
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Li-Ion high capacity battery for the Iridium 9505A satellite phone

Li-ion battery for Iridium 9505A

Storing Your Satellite Phone Battery:

Satellite phones are often used under harsh temperature conditions and stored for extended periods of time. This can be stressful to your phone’s battery.  The following guidelines will result in maximum battery performance.

  1. Avoid excessive heat.  Don’t store your battery in a vehicle.
  2. Unlike older NiCad batteries that had “memory” and needed to be fully discharged, Li-ion batteries can be recharged at any charge level, and you should actually avoid letting them discharge below 20%.
  3. If you intend to store the satellite phone for more than two months, make sure that the Li-Ion battery has about 50% charge remaining and then put the battery in a re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator or other cool place. Place the phone and its other accessories in a cool dry place.  When you take the battery out of storage, be sure it is back to room temperature before exposing it to moist air.  Remove any condensation before putting it back in the phone.

Using the Iridium AxcessPoint on Windows July 23, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Iridium Satellite Phone.
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Iridium 9555 with Iridium AxcessPoint

Iridium 9555 with AxcessPoint

Outfitter Satellite’s customers have generally given the  Iridium AxcessPoint Wi-Fi Hotspot device great reviews on its email performance for use with the iPhone, iPad,  Blackberry, or Windows computers.   If you absolutely need to browse the web, use web sites optimized for low throughput data connections such as ‘mobi’ sites.  For most applications, web access over the Iridium network is just too slow to visit typical websites such as Google or news sites — even with the powerful compression provided by the AxcessPoint Mail and Web software.

POWER ISSUES:   You need to charge the AxcessPoint battery for atleast  4 hours and the only method is an AC wall charger.  The AxcessPoint does not charge from its USB port.  This means that once you are in a remote location, you will need an external power source such as a battery pack with an AC inverter.    The AxcessPoint has an ON/OFF switch so be careful to remember to turn it OFF when not in use.

INITIAL REGISTRATION:    Each AxcessPoint user is assigned an email address which is ‘username’@myiridium.net.   To get your username and password you need to register at the Iridium web site and supply the MAC address of your AxcessPoint (found on the device).   You are then given instructions to download the AxcessPoint Mail and Web (APMaW) software for your Windows machine (or iPhone, iPad, or Blackberry).  Follow the installation instructions.

WHY YOU SHOULD STICK WITH THE DEFAULT SETTINGS:    Though it is possible to use the AxcessPoint without the APMaW software, Outfitter Satellite’s view is that the main benefit of the AxcessPoint is not the WiFi access but the APMaW software itself which keeps your airtime usage costs down by pre-compressing the email and web traffic and automatically turning the Iridium data connection on and off as you actually need it.  This keeps your Iridium airtime costs down.


STEP ONE:  Plug the Iridium phone into the AxcessPoint using the USB cable provided.  The AxcessPoint should be switched OFF until step three.

STEP TWO:  Set up your Iridium 9555 or 9575 phone in an outdoor area with open access to the sky and adequate signal strength prior to use.  You will need at least 3 bars of signal on the Iridium phone to have good success.

STEP THREE:  Turn your Iridium AxcessPoint device switch ON.   Open Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web on your Windows computer and login with the username and password provided during registration.

When two of three lights on the Iridium AxcessPoint device are green, you can connect your Wi‐Fi enabled device and use your Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web to send emails and browse the Internet.

ONE PITFALL:   If you connect the AxcessPoint (in its default configuration) to the Iridium phone — without first having gained control of the AxcessPoint from the APMaW software, then the AxcessPoint (by default) will dial out and make a data call.  You will see “USB Data Call in progress…” on the LCD screen of the Iridium phone.   This just wastes airtime.   We know because we wasted a bit of airtime during our initial tests of the AxcessPoint.     Recommendation:  Don’t let much time elapse between switching the AxcessPoint ON and connecting your computer wirelessly to the AxcessPoint and logging into the APMaW software. 

Controlling Costs on an Inmarsat BGAN July 5, 2012

Posted by outfittertech in Inmarsat BGAN.
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One of the most common issues that comes up with our Inmarsat BGAN customers is that they use more megabytes (MB) than they expect.    The reason for this is that people don’t realize that simply going to Google.com can use around a quarter of a MB.  Most popular news sites have a lot more graphics and even animations which will use up a lot of MBs.  When you are using a conventional broadband terrestrial internet service for which you only pay a fixed monthly fee, it doesn’t matter how many MBs you download.   When you are using an Inmarsat BGAN in Standard IP data mode, you pay for each MB you transfer.

Here are a few simple ways to reduce unnecessary data usage:

  • Most computers that have been setup for terrestrial broadband internet connections use the internet constantly to check email, run instant messaging, update virus definitions, update the operating system, run back up services,  etc. etc.    All of these processes transfer enormous amounts of MBs.  So, when you are done with your internet activity, HIT THE DISCONNECT BUTTON on Inmarsat Launchpad to end the internet session.
  • Keep emails text based and avoid uploading or downloading large attachments with photos or graphics.  A typical photo using a digital camera may be several MBs or larger.    
  • The overwhelming majority of data transfer that occurs during web browsing is used to download graphics.    If you enable Picture Placeholders  in your web browser,  it prevents your web browser from downloading  the graphics on the web site you are browsing — unless you  specifically right click on a particular graphic that you want to see.  We have included instructions below for Internet Explorer 9.0 but similar capabilities exist on other browsers.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 controls
    First click on the GEAR symbol


Using Picture Placeholders on Internet Explorer 9.0: 

  1. From the IE 9.0 Web browser, click on the Gear symbol (see right).
  2. Select “Internet Options”.
  3. Click the “Advanced” tab.
  4. In the “Settings” area uncheck the following:  “Show Pictures”, “Play Animations”,  “Play Sounds” as shown below:
Advanced Settings in IE 9.0

Advanced Settings in IE 9.0