Announced on this blog in September (¹), the AxcessPoint box by Iridium company allow now request and receive GRIB weather files from iPad or iPhone offshore, into the wild, anywhere on the world.
Having implemented and tested this solution on a long journey, I can say that it is fully operational.
Iridium AxcessPoint creates a WiFi hotspot 802.11 b / g for connecting an Iridium phone (devices 9555 and 9575 Extreme) one – or more – iPad, iPhone or other device via WiFi, so that they can send and receive mail, including requests and receiving GRIB weather files, via Iridium satellite network. Announced WiFi range is from 20 up to 30 meters, there is no limitation on the number of connections.
Iridium Mail & Web application, free application for iPad / iPhone to download on iTunes AppStore, a mailing interface has been optimized for use between WiFi-enabled devices and Iridium satellite phones. We can write and view emails offline, set size to minimize the connection time. Iridium Mail & Web also allows you to automatically retrieve emails from personal accounts outside (use with caution). You can set the maximum size of files to send or receive. The application blocks pop-up, remove the ads, background images and compresses the web pages for download speeds of three to five times faster than uncompressed pages.
1 • Register to Iridium Mail & Web application
Once you have your AxcessPoint device, and an Iridium phone number (MSISDN), you have to register the service Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web application, unless another supplier offers an alternative. You will need to fill out the form, Choose a username who will be the root of your email account (in the form firstname.lastname@example.org), a password, and provide the phone number that was assigned to you. That's all, your email account is immediately operational.
From iTunes AppStore install Iridium Mail & Web application. Launch the application and type identifiers (username and password) on the page "Settings".. You can optionally opt for automatic sending of an SMS receipt mail, in order to be notified of the receipt of a GRIB file if you made the request.
Use with Weather4D PRO
1 • Create GRIB file request
In Weather4D PRO create a zone, choose the parameters (grid, steps, duration) and select the data you want to receive. Create a zone preferably determining a small file. In example 45 KB load at best 2,5 up to 3 minutes.
Create a SailDocs request ready to send by mail, Axcesspoint choose as the sender :
AxcessPoint application is automatically launched, one finds the request ready to send in Outbox :
2 • Find out the time of the next satellite passage
With Weather4D PRO, activate the Satellite mode to display Iridium constellation with a tap in the center of the screen to view display icons, tap the icon at the bottom "Satellite". Put yourself in the "Current Time" by tapping on the clock (iPad) or calendar (iPhone) , then start looking for the time of passage of the next satellite above your position a new tap on the icon "Satellite" to the right of the screen :
The window in the upper banner shows the start time of the next satellite pass over your location. You can start the Iridium connection from that time and so ensure an optimized communication, fast and seamless.
Two settings are available for selection of satellites, in the section Settings > Prediction options :
3 • Start the file request to SailDocs
At the time of the satellite arrival, make the connection with the Iridium phone. Connect it with the USB cable to the AxcessPoint activated device (switch to ON). Verify that the connection has well 5 maximum reception bars. (it happens that some satellites do not transmit, down or in maintenance). Connect your iPad/iPhone to the AxcessPoint WiFi hotspot.
The login window opens, displays an upload progress bar and shows the successive steps of communication :
Once finished, check the satellite position in Weather4D PRO. If you have been quick, you still may have enough time to immediately start receiving the mail containing the SailDocs GRIB file requested. In which case just type again on the button "Send / Receive". Otherwise look for the next satellite pass and repeat the procedure. Note that the SMS message received (if set up) sometimes long time after the file is available.
4 • Receive and open GRIB file with Weather4D PRO
GRIB file arrives as an attachment from SaiDocs in Inbox. A long tap on its name can open it in compatible applications, as Weather4D and iNavX.
And that's it :
NB. GRIB files received and opened with Weather4D can just as easily be opened in iNavX, for display on the map.