Iridium GO! and UUPlus, Real World Use Review

I have already written extensively about Iridium hardware (both GO! and handsets) based on our extensive usage since we bought our first Iridium handset back in 2002.

This summer we are cruising Labrador, far from cell phone coverage, so we have once again pressed Iridium into service, both to stay in touch and as our weather reception solution. As in 2015, we are using a GO! instead of a handset.

And, while the GO! itself has not changed since we bought it two seasons ago, the major development is that UUPlus, our preferred satellite phone software for some 15 years, supports the GO!, and to put the icing on the cake, UUPlus now runs on Macintosh too, as well as Windows and UNIX.

Given that, at least in our opinion, the phone and tablet-based apps provided by Iridium to work with GO! are, to put it politely, clunky, buggy, impractical, and generally useless for serious work, the compatibility of UUPlus is way cool, and we are loving it.

Benefits of UUPlus

Let’s take a deep dive into what makes UUPlus work so well for us:

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Ronnie Ricca

For those of you who don’t read nerd, 400,000 bytes is about 390 kilobytes or .381 megabytes. And yes, I did look it up! (:

Great writeup John!

Regards,
Ronnie

René Bornmann

Convinced! Thank you.

Charles L Starke

Dear John
Are you sure there aren’t enough periods and a big enough pause after
“—of course this is based on hearsay since I have never asked a stupid question…”

Best wishes to you and Phylis!
Charles Starke
s/v Dawnpiper

Andy

Great info, but I still think an iPad is the way to go. My laptop stays in it’s drybag offshore, as it’s too valuable to me work-wise to risk dropping it or getting it wet. Our iPad does everything, and I’m hoping to illustrate how it does that in an upcoming AAC article. But I am intrigued by the GO! itself, so would love to find out more about how that can interact with an iPad in the way that we use the iPad for weather & email on Isbjorn.

Francisco Moreno

We cruise full-time and crossed the Atlantic in 2015. There is no navigation PC onboard, as we use our iPads. Our current charting programs in the Eastern Med are:

* MaxSea TimeZero (TZ) – “paper charts” (raster, official hydrographic office)
* Imray Navigator – “paper charts” (raster, Imray)
* Navionics HD – vector charts

For e-mail, default iPad Iridium GO! can only be used as a hobby, for the following reason: all e-mail you send will be sent from an Iridium GO! free-email account they give you. This e-mail account can only be accessed via satellite, not via land connections. This means that if you write someone and they reply, those messages are trapped in Iridium, unless you check your Iridium e-mail account… from your satellite e-mail connection. And if you cancel your account, any unread e-mail on the Iridium server is lost.

Workaround: use a third-party e-mail system that is able to send _your_own_ e-mail through the Iridium GO! We use Sailmail. Others use UUPlus. Some or all of these workarounds require a PC. Ugly, very ugly.

If your existing Redport can somehow connect to the GO!, then you are all set. After all, the GO! is just a satphone w/o mic, speaker, nor keypad. Of course, the GO! also does not have a physical communications port. Unlike other satcom phones, it can only talk to other devices via Wi-Fi.

Coco

Many boats that sailed west from Bora Bora this season had their IPads OS freeze demanding an “update” to function. No internet at sea was a prob.
All had LT fallback.

Francisco Moreno

Without additional information, it is difficult to speculate on what may have caused this.

I can tell you that iOS, like any other computing platform, does require the user to be mindful of certain administrative tasks. This is the recommended behaviour:

*** If coming from sea to a place with Wi-Fi, there are two alternate courses of action:
***ALTERNATIVE 1: Do not update anything. Under Settings > iTunes and App Stores > disable any and all automatic downloads. Furthermore, do not update anything automatically.
***ALTERNATIVE 2: Update everything. Update iOS under General > Software Update. Update all apps under App Store. Once you are up to date, “run”, “execute,” or “make use” (these are all synonyms) of each and every app you intend to use while at sea. This last step is critical.

It is doing half-way of alternative 1 and half-way of alternative 2 that gets people in trouble. By the way, I would suggest adopting the same rules with any other computing platform.

Cheers,

Colin Speedie

This makes for interesting reading – our Iridium phone has started playing up, and although we use mobile phone signal for most of our weather and internet connections, we still need some form of satellite system for remote areas. And it will be good to hear Andy’s arguments in favour of the iPad – one or our main options for the future, once we’ve got our hands around the various options.
Best wishes
Colin

Andy

Hi Colin,
I’m not necessarily arguing in favor of the iPad, but it’s what we use for email. So I’d like to know how the GO! works on an iPad. We use the 9555 handset that sends data through a REDPORT Optimizer wirelessly to the iPad. Works great, and has done for several years, but it’s clunky to setup. I like the idea of the GO! sending data directly to the iPad through it’s own onboard wifi – less to setup. But I’ve never used it.

In general, I like the iPad as my onboard computer precisely so I don’t need to us an actual computer onboard. More on that upcoming.

Colin Speedie

Hi Andy
in the field I worked in (marine life research) we were very early adopters of laptops aboard and I never lost one through wet or damp – but – I think I was very lucky. And I’ve been very impressed by iPads especially in waterproof cases, as they seem to bring so many advantages. With our installed sat phone (Iridium 9522 TP with a Red Box router) on the blink, this seems like a good time to review what we go for into the future, so this article and your future one are very pertinent to us right now – look forward to seeing it.
Best wishes
Colin

Andy

Hi Colin,
Yeah again, can’t talk high enough in favor of the iPad. What I like best about it in a waterproof case is that I can sit with it outside in the cockpit. I tend to write on my night watches when all is calm, and I can do that on the iPad while still sitting outside and paying attention to the boat. I don’t have an external keyboard (though that would be handy). But the portability/waterproof nature of it is it’s biggest advantage.

Regarding the GO!, I’d see that as an addition to a dedicated handset, to be used for fun stuff like sending blogs in, and for WX. The handset is still invaluable for real emergencies. Case in point, when I got appendicitis offshore last summer. Mis just picked up the Sat Phone and made a call to the USCG to get doctor advice and start the procedure of re-routing us into Newport for surgery. No need to setup anything or link the GO with an iPhone, and of course you can take it in a liferaft.

But, I am intrigued by maybe using the GO! for daily WX and blogs (with it’s data plan), then ALSO having the handset for emergencies and just have a minimum voice plan on it. I think over 5 years that might actually pay for itself, as the handset minutes, when used for data, are expensive. Need to find out if there’s an email client / GRIB app that will connect directly through the GO and not require the REDPORT.

Andy

Todd Huss

Hi Andy,

In terms of viewing GRIB files on the iPad, I believe PredictWind for iPad (and PC or Mac) can download GRIBs via the Iridium GO: https://www.predictwind.com/iridium-go/

I know Jamie and Behan on Totem (who I think you know) use PredictWind with the GO for their passage making weather so you might ping them on their experiences.

Todd Huss

I too am a dedicated iPad user when offshore. I have a dedicated nav PC but I’ve all but stopped using it on passages. I use an external keyboard with the iPad mounted on a removable mount. I connect via Bluetooth to a Garmin Inreach. The Go is in a different class in terms of being a more powerful communications tool but it’s also a lot more expensive. With the Inreach I can text message, send short emails, it auto-reports my position hourly for family to see, and I get very limited weather forecasts. I usually communicate with a friend ashore if I have more detailed questions since I can’t get grib files over inreach. Oh, and it’s a great emergency device since it’s small, has an sos feature, and you can be used standalone (without an iPad) for 2 way communication.

Colin Speedie

Hi Todd
thanks for the good and useful input on the Go and how you use it. I’ve no doubt that the cost factor will be a major issue for some users, especially if (like us) you’ve got to re-equip completely.
And I definitely would need to get over my mistrust of wireless connectivity on boats…
Best wishes
Colin

Todd Huss

Hi Colin,

I hear you about distrusting wireless on board but that’s also another benefit of the Garmin InReach is that it can be used completely standalone to send/receive messages, report your position, get OCENS marine weather forecasts, navigate with the built-in GPS, and declare an SOS. I’ve done everything (except declare an SOS) on our InReach without being connected to an iPad. It’s much more user friendly to use with an iPad and external keyboard but it works just fine standalone.

The InReach runs around $400 for the device and $65/mo for unlimited service (month to month, no contract). They also have lower monthly rates for annual contracts. The InReach uses the Iridium satellite network so the global coverage is excellent.

I think the Iridium Go sounds like a pretty great system too and read the article with interest. The email fetching of UUPlus from your regular email address sounds great!

In any case I just wanted to mention the less expensive InReach as one worth considering since while more limited in some areas (email/weather) it’s also more robust in other areas (as a backup EPIRB since the newer units are waterproof, backup GPS, or still being able to use it when you have a PC/iPad systems failure).

Charles L Starke

I also love the iPad with a waterproof case. We have four “Ram” ball mounts that hold the iPad in four places around the boat so we can choose where to use it: on a rail at the binnacle, under the hard dodger and at the Nav station. We run iSailor on the iPad fed by a Vesper AIS on Bluetooth, and a GPS position puck by wifi, as an emergency or alternate navigation plotter. The iSailor charts are superb.
Now I’ll bet you’re wondering where the fourth “Ram” mount is located. I can count too! It’s over our double berth so we can watch movies laying down in bed!
Best wishes,
Charles Starke
s/v Dawnpiper

Andy

Agreed. Specific to ocean passages anyway. Coastwise maybe a different story, as that’s a different set of requirements.

Andy

We have a YB Tracker that works kinda like the InReach in its messaging capability, but it also can’t get GRIBs, which means it’s basically ‘for fun’. Worth having though, we love it!

Todd Huss

Hi John,

Yep, I think that’s a fair assessment if you don’t have an SSB/Pactor already. I got by with the InReach provided OCENS marine forecasts on my last 25 day passage but I do have an SSB/Pactor that I can fallback to if the weather forecast starts to look iffy and I need to start tracking lows. I think there’s no question that the Go is a superior 2 way communications tool to the InReach but if you’re on a budget and either have shore support or already have an SSB/Pactor it feels like a pretty good compromise. Plus it’s waterproof and fully usable without a PC/iPad in a pinch so it makes a great emergency tool that you can take in the ditch bag.

Great article, and I always enjoy the thought provoking conversation in the comments of AAC! I think an interesting question would be when outfitting a new boat what would you carry? For me I’d probably go Iridium Go for onboard comms (as opposed to SSB/Pactor) with a Garmin InReach as a backup (as opposed to Iridium Handset). But I can arguments in favor of the handset as a backup to the Go as well…

Andy

Yes, BUT, how much of a leap is it to need both an iPad and a laptop? Is it worth the hassle to gain the other iPad benefits we’ve been discussing? Which one wins when you take into account the multi-function nature of either as a comms/nav/weather device? I know this is off the subject a bit, but worth looking at the big picture right? We need a device that balances all three of those things, IF YOU’RE LIMITED TO ONE DEVICE OR THE OTHER, for whatever reason. And then add simplicity/robustness/redundancy to further complicate the equation 😉 And would you recommend having iPad, computer & paper chart backups…? Not pretending to know, genuinely curious!

Andy

Point taken. I guess for us it’s simply a matter of budget. The iPad works well enough how we use it, and I don’t want to risk my ‘work’ MacBook on the boat, nor do I want to spend another $1,200 on a second computer – I just spent it instead on a new 31mm/1.8 camera lens ;). So it’s a compromise that I’m content with at the moment, though as you said, I simply might not know what I’m missing!

RDE

Hi Andy,
Why limit yourself to PadLove? I can’t buy the idea that for a back-up system you should only buy a new laptop for $1200 Applecoins. A 2012 Levano Carbon costs only $300 used, or an Apple Pro of the same generation about $70 more. Either has more computing power than an I-Pad and more connectivity ports. And it has the advantage of having proven itself by going through the first few months when the failure rate for electronic gizmos is highest. No reason why it shouldn’t spend many happy years nestled in its Pelican case—.

Andy

Hi RDE/John,

Sorry, but I’m an Apple junkie at this point! You make a fair point, but I’m too spoiled on Apple stuff to switch, whatever the cost benefits.

And yes John, you hit the nail on the head – we don’t use the nav software like you do, so that changes things.

Andy

Terry Thatcher

Have UUPlus and Microsoft come to terms so UUPlus will work with Windows newer than windows 7? Our our recent 10,000 mile eastern Pacific cruise , we did not use UUPlus for that reason and, for simplicity, we also paid for Predict Wind. My son , who ran the computer,, got frustrated with XGate email and Predict Wind, but worked around the glitches somehow. Where do you get 5 to 7 day wind and rain forecasts without Predict Wind?

Nick Olson

Hi Terry,

Were you doing email requests to get your weather from PredictWind? What Satellite device were you using? If you have a GO you can do direct downloads for weather, if you have any other satellite device you can use a Redport optimizer and do direct weather downloads with the Predictwind Offshore.
As this is another UUPlus fan article, the PredictWind Offshore will also create email requests which can be sent via UUPlus.
But in my opinion leave email for emails and just get your weather via direct download.

Nick Olson

Hi John,

With an Iridium GO, yes you are correct. How are you making the connection between Sat device and your computer or tablet?

Nick Olson

Not everyone wants to have to connect via cable, as you say it is technology from 15 years ago…. cant teach an old dog new tricks aye.

Brad Glazer

“if you are some kind of sicko and prefer Outlook,”. In my experience, Outlook works well for me and my business. I use a hosted exchange server from AppRiver. One of the best decisions I ever made. Rarely have I had a problem with Outlook, and I like what it does better than I like Gmail. AppRiver has the best tech support I have ever seen. A person always answers the phone and connects me right away to a high level very knowledgeable tech, who has always solved the problem for me, and most of my problems don’t concern AppRiver, but they help anyway. Worth every penny I spend for it. I can’t comment on Outlook you get off the shelf.

Geir ove

on our tripp to carib and back last year we started with a 9575 iridium and UUplus. on a macbook pro. worked fine on mail . on our retur from carib to Norway, i got a red boxes/Xgate, and mail from satphone, this set up i run for 30 days. and we had slower connect. used about 3 times as many min to download mails. so we went back to UuPlus. worked a lot better and faster.
So nexst time we will use UuPlus… 3 times cheeper then a redboxe/XGate, and satphone.

Andy

I’ll admit the Redport box is annoying to setup, and feels fragile, but in five years of use, it’s never let us down, and it’s the only way to connect an iPad to the 9555 handset, as far as I know anyway. So it might be interesting to look more in-depth at how the iPad can interact with the GO or the handset, for those of us still insisting on using it 😉

Nick Olson

Hi John,

What sort of download time are looking at for a 400kb file on UUPlus?

Nick Olson

Really? How so? I would’nt want you publishing incorrect information about PredictWind. Can you email this to me moc.dniwtciderp@noslokcin

Andy

I’m really interested in the 500MB stuff. This is one aspect of WX forecasting I have not dabbled in, so I hope you’ll go into a little detail on how and why it works, not just how to get it. Thus far I’ve been doing fine without it, but am always up for learning more!

Nick Olson

You are correct its not perfect. That is why everyday we have a team of people working on making it better still. We are adding in a bunch more parameters at the moment. Not sure you will get your 500mb data, some prefer 850mb. You will be able to get gusts in the gribs, also Cape along with a whole lot of other stuff. Are you running it on your Mac?

Mickey Elam

This has been an interesting discussion, especially the misguided Apple love;)

There is a solution out there (actually a number of such solutions) that allow you functionality superior to an iPad (for the things it does well) and the functionality of a Windows laptop (for the things it does well). You should take a look at a Microsoft Surface Pro or similar tablet/laptop hybrid. You get the portability and battery life of an iPad and the ability to actually do things that a Windows laptop gives you all in one package; in fact, the only bit of functionality mentioned above that might not be available on a Windows hybrid tablet is a daylight readable display.

When it comes down to it, if you’re running navigation and weather on a device such as an iPad that does not have truly functional multitasking, you’re running a compromise solution; such a compromise might be completely useful and safe MOST of the time, but I would be extremely hesitant to trust my safety or life to such a device when the need arose to use multiple apps simultaneously in a high stress, urgent situation.

Andy

Hi Mickey,

We need to take safety out of this electronics discussion, in my opinion. This article started as an analysis of a satellite device (GO!) & an email client (UUPlus). The only thing that’s going to keep you safe in a ‘high stress, urgent situation’ is seamanship, practice & knowledge. I feel very strongly that if one can’t IMMEDIATELY and AUTOMATICALLY switch out of electronic mode & into analog (ie: old-school eyes, ears & senses) mode when sailing & navigating, that they need more practice before undertaking a voyage which may put you into a ‘high stress, urgent situation.’

I had a very interesting discussion about this with Skip Novak last week for my podcast (which will come out in October, for free btw). I asked him if his generation of sextant-sailors had an unfair advantage to folks new to the sport nowadays where all this tech is now the norm. Skip & those guys (and anyone offshore sailing in the 70s) HAD to learn the fundamentals of seamanship when it came to weather & navigation because there was no other choice. If you wanted to sail, you learned it, period. In one of my favorite parts of the interview, he describes recording the morse code weather reports over the SSB. Skip basically knew morse code then, but couldn’t interpret it as fast as it came over the airwaves. So he recorded it on tape, then played it back in slow-motion while taking notes! In the end, all it described was the dubious positions of macro-level weather systems – highs, lows & fronts – that they plotted on their passage chart.

Every piece of modern kit that’s been bandied about in this thread is GREAT – it makes it easier & FASTER to navigate & get weather. But I’d argue strongly that it doesn’t make it any SAFER, and maybe even the opposite. This is not an argument in favor of the old-school (plus, I’m only 33, so I can’t even speak to that outside of theoretically!). But it’s an argument in favor of FUNDAMENTALS FIRST. I like to use the electronics as a nice bit of convenience, but I also recognize them as such. When the sh*t hits the fan, fall back on fundamentals.

Andy

Andy

Hi John,

I see your point, but ‘paper charts & traditional nav’ isn’t exactly what I meant. I’m thinking more of the ‘intangibles’ you learn from experience that are hard to put into words. The sixth sense you get about weather and finding direction in general, and the leadership traits that evolve over the course of a lifetime. You can’t ‘hack’ those traits and skills like you can with the practical side of navigation. Meaning, there are no shortcuts. That’s what I meant by earning the fundamentals, if that makes sense.

We talk a lot in general on this site about the tools and kit needed to safely outfit a boat for adventure sailing, but we can’t forget the mental & physical side of preparing yourself to handle those ‘high-stress, urgent situations,’ regardless of the tech onboard.

Andy

Marc Dacey

Andy/John, I bought my first boat in 1999 (a 1973 sloop with a cathode ray depthsounder and…a lead line) and my first GPS in 2000. I learned “traditional” pilotage in classes over the winter and acquired hand-bearing compasses, dividers, sextants, the lot. I know this stuff, even though I have to practise it to retain those skills. The main benefit of knowing this stuff, of course, is not just the obvious one of “belt and suspenders seamanship”, but in the situational and holistic awareness not easily obtained from even the finest of screens. I would submit that the recent and multiple catastrophic failures of watchstanding in the U.S Navy versus Very Large Ships events may have in part a de-emphasis of actually using eyeballs and even ears while operating a vessel.

Mickey Elam

John,

You are, of course, correct about making the Surface Pro waterproof; that’s what I get for writing so late at night (or is that early in the morning?!?!). As the Surface Pro requires internal airflow for cooling, making it waterproof would also make it non-functional in short order. I also neglected the fact that a Surface Pro, at least the current versions, does not have GPS although I’d expect the Surface Pro 2017 version with LTE to have it.

Todd Huss

I have 2 Windows 10 PCs running TimeZero (one primary, one backup) synced to a Furuno MFD at the helm.

I have since added 2 iPads (the cellular kind so they have internal GPS). I keep them in Lifeproof Nuud waterproof cases so there’s nothing between your finger and screen so they are easy to use. I use Ram mounts in the cockpit and nav table and have a bluetooth keyboard at the nav table for typing on it.

For me they feel safer since I find I spend less time mucking with the iPads than I do trying to do the same thing with the MFD/PC. When I have crew with me it also feels like the iPad requires less training than the MDF/PC. The iPads use a tiny fraction of the power that my MFD/PC use so that’s been a nice bonus in terms of not needing to run the genset as much offshore when the solar output is poor.

My long-term plan is to remove the Windows PCs, however, I still use Windows with the SSB when offshore for Grib files. This article on the Iridium Go has gotten me seriously thinking about one for my next trip since it appears you can use PredictWind on the iPad with the Go to get Grib files.

I’m certainly not advocating this as an approach for everyone since we all need to make our own decisions about what setup works best for us. For me switching from PC/MFD to iPad has been a win. I’m not an Apple nut but I do think the iPad makes a pretty great MFD/PC replacement. We’re not far off from being able to do everything one would need offshore or inshore on an iPad (or maybe tablets in general). Maybe with the Iridium Go we’re already there?

Francisco Moreno

Todd & John,

Yes, you can get GRIBs from the GO! directly to the iPad, no other hardware necessary.

On the PredictWind app (PW), you can do a direct GRIB request, which will go straight from the GO! to PW. In this case, your GRIB files are only available to PW and cannot be extracted. You can also tell PW to e-mail you the GRIBs to an off-shore accessible e-mail you specify or to the free GO! e-mail account. If you opt to receive the GRIBs via e-mail, then you can see the GRIBS on PW, on any other GRIB viewer installed on your iPad, or both.

Very important: there are two free iPad PW apps. One works with broadband or cellphone service. Only the “PW Offshore” app works offshore with GO!, Pactor, Redport Optimizer, etc.

Now, on the subject of complex routing… we use MaxSea TZ (Time Zero) on the iPad. Creating, editing, moving or inserting waypoints, and executing routes on it could not be any easier or faster, regardless of the complexity of the route.

Nick Olson

John,

I cannot wait to hear what YOUR perceived limitations are of the PW software are? PredictWind works very well on iPad, in fact all iOS devices along MAC, PC and Android. The PredictWind Offshore is a great piece of user friendly, software that can be used by any level of user to easily get top end weather data and analyse it in depth along with cloud based weather routing which has massive advantages for those on Satellite connections.
So far as device usage goes your stance of computer only is pretty out of touch with actual usage numbers in the marine market. I know this as I have usage stats from our tens of thousands of users.

Nick Olson

The point over usage is that right or wrong you can’t control what users do or what they want to use. We are rolling out versions that display Gust and Cape over the next week for Mac and iOS, PC and Android shortly after. We are always going to disagree over upper air data, for meteorologists or true experts sure they might get something from it in certain situations. But for most users it is just confusing and you are essentially saying you are smarter than weather models, run on super computers, interpreting all the factors that determine weather in a weeks time.
As for time spent, we have 5 developers working full time on the 7 different platforms you can use PredictWind on. I’m the Marketing Manager, it is my job to watch what you are saying and correct you.

Charles L Starke

Hi Nick
I agree with John and think you are out of line! You are not marketing very well if you argue about John’s position and the use of the 500 MB chart. The 500 MB chart is one of the most useful pieces of guiding information about future weather. Try reading Lee Chesneau’s book or take his weather course before presuming to correct other people with a lot of experience and knowledge.
Your position on such a well respected website does not well represent PredictWind or encourage its use. Thousands of sailors read this website and look up to John for his expert opinion.
Sincerely,
Charles L Starke MD FACP
USCG CAPTAIN
s/v Dawnpiper

Nick Olson

Hi Charles,

With full respect you are entitled to your opinion and so is John. But so am I. To presume I do not understand the implications of this would be completely wrong. I also have a lifetime of on that water experience and live and breath weather every day, I dont believe I need to revisit Lees book thanks. Its not just my opinion, my colleagues who have more sea miles than most and some are also meteorologists. It is the Meteorologists who actually disagree with you the most.

Andy

Hi Nick,

Usage-wise I couldn’t agree with you more that you can’t help what people use. But the point of this site, as I understand it, is to create a small niche in the already niche world of ocean sailing where we ferret out the BEST ways of doing things. The greater sailing world operates on a closed feedback loop sometimes when it comes to outfitting & boat buying specifically. For example, the ARC Rally runs a survey every year among skippers on types of boats and types of gear they’ve outfitted for the Atlantic Crossing. Yachting World mag analyzes and publishes that survey annually. Then the next crop of ARC sailors reads it and goes & buys the gear they read about. It’s insane!

So I think AAC’s goal is to break that feedback loop, and try to find the best solutions, not just the most common. Another good example is the type of boats people choose – if you did a survey, stats would likely show a larger percentage of production boats crossing oceans than any other. Doesn’t mean it’s the BEST choice, but doesn’t mean you can’t do it either.

Predict Wind is in a position as a software company to solve both problems – make it simple & straightforward for the ‘masses’ that use mobile, but also incorporate features for the hardcore user that has a higher level of understanding & wants to learn more as they us it, across any platform. Count me in that group. I wrote a lengthy piece for this site (coming soon) about using Weather 4D 2.0, my favorite program for WX routing. But it’s a French program and has a frustrating UX and confusing manual. So if PW ever came out with the feature set of WX4D in a more user friendly way, I’d love to check it out.

Andy

Nick Olson

Hi Andy,

I’d love to chat about ways we can make our product even better. As you can probably tell we are not fans of the feedback loop you discuss above otherwise we would just add every feature ever mentioned. With platforms you need to support multiple platforms to be successful in a competitive market. We engage our customers and listen to feedback and discuss it weekly which does shape our development path. All of us at the front end of the business are experienced sailors so the discussions are robust to say the least:)
I have used weather 4d 2.0 and nearly every other piece of routing and grib software out there, I look forward to reading your insights. You are of course welcome to check out PW now, I’m more than happy to facilitate that if you would like.

Andy

Hi Nick,

I’d be interested in taking it for a test-drive. One more trip on Isbjorn this year starting this weekend, then I have another delivery in November to do on US east coast. Email me via 59-north.com to get in touch.

Andy

Nick Olson

Done.

Nick Olson

The upper air data has been discussed a lot internally. For the experts sure, some, may want it, but for most users the feeling is it can easily be misused and misinterpreted and add confusion for the great majority of users. We have the upper air parameters for all the models but are not convinced this will lead to better, safer outcomes for users.

Charles L Starke

Hi Nick,
You are further out of line. Computer models are dangerous without the ability and information to interpret them correctly. If PredictWind has no interpreted input, it completely relies on computer models which can be very erroneous and haphazard. The NDFD gribs and charts are the only ones with interpreted output and the charts to be most trusted. But the 500 MB chart gives the most information to interpret weather charts and computer models about future tendency for boat and personal safety on a passage.
With the 500 MB charts in hand, John is smarter than the computer models in predicting and interpreting the computer models and weather charts.
You are doing an atrocious job if you think you are helping to market or represent PredictWind. Don’t bother arguing with John; he knows more than you.
Sincerely,
Charles L Starke MD FACP
s/v Dawnpiper

Nick Olson

It is widely recognised that the ensemble approach gives better outcomes for interpretation, which is why we have 4 models displayed. As for the best weather models, just google it. ECMWF comes out on top every time. But all models should be interpreted compared and contrasted. In nearly every piece of our tutorial literature we also recommend using the GMDSS text forecasts which are written by meteorologists for the region you are in which is easily downloaded in our software.
I don’t think anyone is beyond reproach, even John.
As for representing PredictWind, I would rather not be here, but I’m not going to stand by and have our product misaligned.

Andy

Charles, Nick has commented here with respect & offered insightful, knowledgable opinions without berating anyone personally. Please let’s not let this devolve into what the rest of the internet looks like. Keep it classy guys.

Andy

Francisco Moreno

Weather 4D… I purchased the “Pro” version back in 2014. Its display of GRIB files downloaded from PW or from other sources is spectacular… when one gets it to work, the display really helps to visualize what the weather is doing and where is it going.

But like Andy says, it «has a frustrating UX and confusing manual». I really wanted to make a go of it, but after a few weeks of frustration, gave up. There are easier tools to compare against PW “Standard”-level f’casts, which in coastal navigation are often less than-to-be-relied-upon, and currently the favorites are Ventusky and the old standby, Windy.

Until Andy mentioned, I did not realize there is a “2.0” version of Weather 4D.

Cheers,

Larry Green

Great wide ranging discussion which seems to have strayed pretty far from the original title of this post. Iridium Go and UUPlus. The discussion about what hardware is best for which purposes, weather data and weather programs etc. is truly fascinating yet nowhere in this post or the subsequent one on Reacting to the Weather have I seen any discussion on one in my view issue with Iridium. The issue is connectivity, i.e. how much time does it take to connect to the Iridium network or put another way why does my Iridium 9575, with its external antenna spend much of its time “Searching for Iridium” In April we sailed from Panama across to the Marquesas, via the Galapagos Islands. About two days out it became increasingly difficult to connect to OCENS mail or weather programs, to the point where I switched back to SSB and Sailmail for weather and communications with family and friends. We are currently in Raitea (with expensive but reasonably fast Wi-Fi) and I have pretty much given up on asking my current provider and or prospective providers what is possibly wrong in my setup that gives me such intermittent access to Iridium. We will be spending the Pacific Cyclone season in New Zealand where I hope to get it sorted out. Some of the cruising boats we have met along the way use Iridium GO units and have told me their connectivity is not always great but not as bad as what I describe. If any AAC members have any insight I would love to hear it.

Nick

Hi Larry,
What have you tried? Your phone is using the exact same network as the people with the Go. So you need to look at your hardware. Have you disconnected from the external antenna and taken the phone out on deck when you have this problem? Would be good to isolate if it’s the phone of the external antenna and cable. Does your external antenna have a clear view of the horizon? Satellites are picked up from 8 degrees off the horizon so anything blocking that will be a problem. Do you have a radar near the external antenna? Or anything else that could interfere?

Terry Thatcher

We ran the same set up you describe from Mexico to the Marquesas. Once we were in the Marquesas, there were some days where for hours, we had bad connectivity. Once we started sailing north again, we had fewer problems. I admit that I did not track closely enough to know what time of day was qthe problem, or if it was random. It made no sense to me, but it almost felt as if Iridium satellites are less effective south of the equator. Maybe their coverage is not truly universal?

Larry Green

Nick and John
Thanks for both your comments. First what I have tried is taking the handset out of the dock and using the hockey puck external antenna that came with the phone in the hope that would eliminate the antenna and cable (factory built). Since I was just troubleshooting my only goal was to try and connect to the network with enough bars to be able to transfer data. There was no discernable difference in the ability for the handset to find the network. It may be useful to know the hockey puck was sitting on top of the dodger, just forward of the cockpit with a clear view of most of the sky. The main boom would obstruct part of the view within a few degrees of the horizon.
In terms of other gear near the antenna there is lots of it, but most of it has been there since 1999. The only addition has been a wind generator which is physically reasonably small (it is a Silent Wind) and does not appear to make enough electrical noise to cause an issue. I say that with some confidence since when using SSB turning stuff off or on is pretty easy to hear. Also tried with Radar transmitting and turned off with no change. The Iridium antenna sits on a pole on the Starboard stern quarter, the wind generator is about 4 feet inboard and close to 3 feet higher, the radar and GPS antennas are slightly higher than the wind generator and about 6 feet further away from the Iridium antenna. The antenna also is above the Bimini and the dodger so the only physical impediment to a clear view of the sky is the mast and boom. It is difficult for me to rule out any electrical noise except by intuition which suggests that the very intermittent nature of the problem could be isolated by systematically turning stuff off, which I have done. The one thing I have not tried is using a different handset. Virtually all the cruisers I have encountered in the Pacific use the GO and not a handset since the data pricing is so much better. I also do not know if there is a way to troubleshoot the phone using a Wi Fi connection instead of the network. One of the major providers of satellite gear has suggested maybe an upgrade to the Iridium Pilot, a very expensive solution which may or may not solve the problem. I really appreciate your thoughts on the issue.

Larry Green

Really good advice John, thanks. I will definitely borrow a GO and try it with my setup. There are two things about the Pilot that has me thinking about it. One is the Pilot antenna is active vs passive and there is an array of 7 (I think) antennas in their dome. The other is my cynical view suggests to me that Iridium may make more bandwidth available to the Pilot than their handsets which I think would make connections better. (Full disclosure; I do not have any technological basis for thinking more bandwidth would make for better connections nor any basis for thinking Iridium could or would control bandwidth availability by customer type)
The Pilot would represent an investment north of $5000 US so being talked into it is unlikely, though several have tried. That would definitely fall into the category of prove this will solve my problem before I succumbed to the sales pitch. Also I would agree that the Pilot will become, if not already, obsolete soon. The question is the definition of “soon” and would existing units become inoperable or just not as good as whatever they are replaced with. Getting a straight answer on that question is probably next to impossible.

Robert Muir

All of these different softwares become confusing to a newbie. I’m fairly computer literate, but without subscribing to all of these services, it’s difficult to see which combination would work best for me. That’s why I subscribe to Morganscloud and really appreciate John’s experienced take on everything.

I have the IridiumGO with “unlimited” data and I use Gmail for my regular email.

My understanding is that Viewfax is part of Airmail.
Airmail is used to retrieve email over the GO from Sailmail.
UUPlus sounds similar to Airmail except that it has built-in email? UUPlus is more efficient than Airmail/Sailmail? Is efficiency the only difference?

If using UUPlus for email, one uses Airmail’s built-in Viewfax to view the weather files that UUPlus retrieves?

UUPlus is $357 and Sailmail is $275/yr and OcensMail is $200/yr. (I’m also investigating Ocens’ WeatherNet service.)

Probably in a future article, but Saildocs is not the same as Sailmail or UUPlus, but a way to retrieve files via either Sailmail or UUPlus?

Perhaps you could make a chart or something to show what applications connect with what service, etc.

Robert Muir

Thanks John, a big help!

I’m not sure how UUPlus is “more powerful” at retrieving email.
– Super better compression?
– Super better at connecting over sketchy GO connections?
– Super better at re-starting from the drop point automatically as opposed to completely dropping the connection or having to start a transmission from scratch?

Just want to understand why UUPlus is worth the extra bucks over Sailmail, especially if subscribing to Sailmail also helps support Saildocs.

Robert Muir

No, I don’t need a Consumer Reports comparison and I did read your review. Sorry it sounded like that’s what I was asking for. Having never used any of these services, it isn’t easy to absorb the information or to know what to ask.

I think it would be best to sign up for UUPlus and begin there. Then I’ll be able to easily merge into your next articles. In the meantime I can practice scripting gribs. 🙂

simon currin

Robert,
Getting very little (or no!) exposure in this thread is OneMail which I have used for two summers with my Iridium Go and it is easy to configure with your Gmail account. There are one or two drawbacks if you are interested but I found it fast and reliable.
Simon

Nick Olson (PredictWind)

Hi Robert,
It is not a prerequisite to have a satellite email service (paid or free) to get gribs files through your Iridium Go. If email comms are important to you while at sea, then sure look at a paid sat email provider. You could use the Iridium Mail App for free, which also allows you to to email grib requests from your chosen source.
PredictWind does direct downloads via your iridium go, no email requests required, it is a paid for feature though.

Robert Muir

Thanks Nick!

I just saw the TOC on the right, and it appears I really should dig into this book from the very beginning. It looks like I’m getting ahead of myself.

Larry Green

John,
Back in late September we engaged a really helpful exchange regarding Iridium hardware, while I was having real difficulties with my handset installation. Since the comments steered me away from the Iridium Pilot (thankfully) and I was unable to pin down the real cause of my problems I continued looking until I stumbled across the Iridium GLOW. Global Marine Networks had it on their products page so I looked. It is predominately a GO where the guts of the unit are placed in a small dome (about 7″ x 7″) and it connects either via Wi-Fi or by a Power over Ethernet cable. It uses the same airtime plans used by the GO and because of it’s connectivity I can use either my laptop without any special app, or my phone or tablet with the app. To use the voice option I do need a phone or tablet with the app.
I ordered it from GMN for $1795.00 plus airtime. I also ordered the Redport Optimizer which is somewhat redundant but I wanted a physical connection inside the boat to maximize the units wi fi capability and I did not want to connect the PoE cable directly to my laptop. I mounted the dome where the old Iridium external antenna had been, ran the beautifully thin PoE cable plugged it in and it works.
It actually took more effort and time to pull the old fat stiff cable for the handset out than it did to install the GLOW. I think the GLOW was originally marketed as the Redport Aurora and sold to commercial vessel operators.
That was about six weeks ago and since we have made the 1300 nm passage from Tonga to New Zealand and it worked flawlessly. About half the time (I seemed) the signal strength was 100%, the rest it varied as you might expect. Anywhere above 40% it would connect and send/receive. One bit of information I saw somewhere while researching Iridium was that if you had little to no signal give it about 5 minutes by which time a satellite would be high enough to provide a good signal. In my experience that turned out to be quite true. If the signal strength was under 40% the call would time out, I would wait 5 minutes or so and every time on the second try it would connect. Incidentally, for weather and GRIB files I used both PredictWind and Saildocs.
Also tried and really liked running the GRIB files from Saildocs on Open CPN. What was very helpful was to see the GRIB files overlaid on a real chart with the boat, my track and course. This particular passage was very weather focused due to a strong low moving around the northern end of New Zealand, so I was updating weather at least twice a day.
The bottom line of this is that I think the GLOW is the best of all possibilities currently available. By getting all the hardware in the dome both the GPS signal and communications are much cleaner than running a low powered signal through a cable. I do not seem to have any issues with noise from wind generator, radar or anything else back there. Last is I still do not know exactly why the handset was so troublesome and think it a combination of antenna, connections, and the handset. I am sending the handset for an overhaul and will keep it for use in the ditch bag when I get it back.
Larry Green
S/V Cailin Lomhara

Larry Green

No doubt it can be done, and there are lots of people out here with that setup and they seem pretty pleased. If I had had a working satellite connection I would not have changed it. Anyone who does not have a working arrangement may want to consider the GLOW versus the GO for ease of installation and the ability to use a laptop to fetch weather. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Bob Muir

The GLOW looks like a nifty kit. If I had known about it back in June, I would definitely have gone with the GLOW.

After installing the external antenna and running the thick coax cable, my Iridium GO does the job, however, discovering the fact that the GPS antenna is inside the base unit was extremely annoying. Fortunately for me, the deck above the nav station where I have the GO installed doesn’t seem to block the GPS signal to the unit. But it would have been much more reassuring to have it built into the external unit. Much easier running a POE cable than an LMR400 coax also.

Bob Muir

Also, I wonder if the GLOW, by way of the ethernet cable, can be connected to your current Wi-Fi network. Connecting back and forth between the boat’s wi-fi and the GO’s wi-fi is a pain.

Andrea

Hi John,

you totally sold me Uuplus.
Just one question – if you have enough experience using Sailmail to address it.
Do you think that using Uupls, as opposed to Sailmail, might result in saving a few $$ at the end of the year (due to faster connections, better at dealing with interruptions, etc)?
I use an Iridium handset and my email traffic would be quite limited – weather mainly!

thanks
a

Richard isted

Hi John hope all is well. Do you use UUPlus for your connecting between your iridium GO and Maxsea for downloads. Thank you

Richard isted

Thanks John I will study your advice. I purchased maxsea a few years ago might as well use it. I would to set up a system to down load grib files for it thru go. I believe iridium have launched the satellites you mentioned. I also have nimble navigator and open cpn but alas not being computer literate I am going to understand one program at a time. Spoke to some mates at home in Bermuda yesterday they are all moaning about the cold 55f thanks Richard

Charles Warren

Have you looked at Xgate for use with IridiumGo?