CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®


Data Acquisition Blog

Data Acquisition

The Data Acquisition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about signal conditioning components and systems, digital and analog I/O modules, signal and data conversion and data acquisition software. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: The Coming of Smart Microphones   Next in Blog: Liquid Volumetric Displays of 3D Images
Close
Close
Close
14 comments

Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

Posted January 13, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

A bold plan conceived in the late 1980s almost didn't happen. Iridium, a worldwide satellite-based communications system, is a project so large and audacious that its backers misread market realities despite achieving astonishing technical success. This article chronicles the story of the system and the struggles it faced.


Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Data Acquisition eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2914
Good Answers: 115
#1

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 3:11 AM

Duplicate post. This piece was also posted on 12/22/2016

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8173
Good Answers: 753
#2

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 10:18 AM

I worked for a company that used Iridium cell phone systems for a short while.

Damn things were the near polar opposite of a normal cell phone. Most anywhere a normal phone worked they didn't making them largely useless unless you wanted to stand out in a parking lot on a clear day every time you had to make a call.

Indoors, in a vehicle, under a large tree, under a power line, heavy cloud cover or hard rain no good. Might work or might not or maybe work just enough to make you hate them.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5280
Good Answers: 513
#3

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 11:31 AM

It's funny they designed it with 77 satellites and named it after the element with 77 electrons, only to redesign with fewer satellites. But Iridium is a snappier name than Dysprosium.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2914
Good Answers: 115
#8
In reply to #3

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 5:34 PM

Still iridium; just heavily ionised.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5280
Good Answers: 513
#13
In reply to #8

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/15/2017 8:58 PM

Ir+++++++++++

Nice!

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2914
Good Answers: 115
#14
In reply to #13

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/15/2017 9:03 PM

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 4011
Good Answers: 218
#4

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 3:02 PM

In reality the system doesn't hand off calls very well when the one satellite that you are connected to starts to 'exit' the sky. My experience with Iridium was a lot of dropped calls, even being in an open area with very few trees. Very few . . . .

Given the excellent coverage, it is a useful tool for getting the message out when the excrement contacts the moving blades . . . but if you are trying to carry on a long, involved conversation, it can be maddening.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8173
Good Answers: 753
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 3:26 PM

That's what I thought about it as well. That and the phones we used didn't handle our climate in the winter well either. 2 - 5 minutes out of an inner pocket and they shut down due to false 'low battery' issues from getting too cold as well.

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 4011
Good Answers: 218
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 4:36 PM

Yeah, lithium ion batteries don't like YOUR kind of cold. Brrrrr . . . .

Maybe they could use a remote battery that stays in the pocket when the phone comes out?

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8173
Good Answers: 753
#7
In reply to #6

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 5:06 PM

They could just use better quality batteries with monitoring systems that actually work below freezing point too. I doubt it would cost them an extra $1 or to add to a phone they sell for several hundred dollars. Other manufactures have no problems with cold weather operation so it obviously a doable engineering feat.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2914
Good Answers: 115
#9
In reply to #7

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 5:41 PM

Oh quit whinging; you know as well I do most metals are superconductors at your temperatures there in Minot. Just store the charge in that. A copper loop or something.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8173
Good Answers: 753
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 8:34 PM

Yea I know.

Years ago I had to get certified for cryogenic liquid handling for one job I had.

On the paperwork it asked if I had any previous experience with cryogenics.

I put down yes. I grew up in North Dakota and we consider cryogenic temperatures a good crisp winter night.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2914
Good Answers: 115
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/13/2017 8:45 PM

Did you tell them that before you can breathe the oxygen there, you have thaw it out first?

I don't know you put up with it. That's just too cold for me.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5280
Good Answers: 513
#12
In reply to #4

Re: Iridium: The Audacious SatComm Network That (Almost) Couldn't

01/14/2017 9:02 AM

It's probably the best thing available in places like Antarctica with poor cell coverage.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 14 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Andrew Westman (5); Brave Sir Robin (2); Rixter (3); tcmtech (4)

Previous in Blog: The Coming of Smart Microphones   Next in Blog: Liquid Volumetric Displays of 3D Images

Advertisement