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Satnews Daily
April 10th, 2017

The Smallest and Mighty... Rock Seven's 2-Way SATCOM System with Integrated Antenna

Rock Seven rolled out the worlds’ smallest 'plug & play' two-way SATCOM system with integrated antenna during the Ocean Business in Southampton, United Kingdom.

RockBLOCK 9603 is an even smaller variant of the sophisticated RockBLOCK MK II IoT SATCOM technology platform, which already provides M2M data communication over Iridium’s global satellite network for thousands of professional users at sea and on land.

Using the latest Iridium modem technology, Rock Seven engineers have managed to shrink the already compact RockBLOCK form factor down to just 45 x 45 x 15 mm, including its powerful antenna. Compared to the standard RockBLOCK MK II dimensions of 76 x 51.5 x 19.0 mm, the new RockBLOCK 9603 is even easier to integrate on space limited scientific and commercial remote sensing and instrument platforms, while offering identical performance in terms of data throughput and link reliability anywhere in the world (including the Arctic and Antarctic). Weight has also been reduced, from 76 to just 36 grams, including the antenna. RockBLOCK 9603 is uniquely delivered as a complete system with electronics, antenna and power conditioning in a single compact module, ready for users to integrate in minutes.

The innovative RockBLOCK concept has been embraced by ocean science and marine equipment manufacturers due to the low-cost, straightforward approach to adding data connectivity to almost any research platform or commercial product. It interfaces seamlessly with all mainstream computing platforms from Windows, Mac and Linux through to the new breed of miniature computing hardware such as Arduino™, Raspberry PI™ and Intel Edison, which are widely used to power compact scientific and environmental research systems in addition to marine technology innovations such as smart navigation buoys and remote weather stations.

Considering that much of RockBLOCK’s core user-base is developing distributed multi-sensor station networks for scientific research or commodity products, many of which are classed as disposable due to harsh environmental conditions, the low capital outlay for RockBLOCK is essential... running costs are low, as well. RockBLOCK 9603 can send messages of 340 bytes and receive messages of 270 bytes using Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD).

The pay-as-you-go model gives ultimate flexibility and cost saving for development — however, other tariffs are available for users with large numbers of devices and who are willing to give airtime commitment for 12 months or more.

Nick Farrell, Director, RockBLOCK, indicated that with space at a premium on many of the core RockBLOCK applications, due in part to the environmental and financial restrictions system designers and integrators face, RockBLOCK 9603 enables engineers to introduce global M2M communication with even less impact on the required form factor of their sensing platforms and products. Likewise, the overall cost, from capital expenditure through to satellite airtime, is enabling users to do more with less, especially when integrating RockBLOCK in tens or hundreds of identical systems.