Using an Iridium phone with Mac OS X

mailasailBritish company Mailasail, I am now agent in France for Mac users, provides tools to connect directly an Iridium to Mac OS X. A driver designed by them can now transfer data from a mail application in OS X, mainly Mail or Thunderbird, and surf the Internet.

We can make requests for weather files by mail from servers Mailasail, Saildocs, or Navimail. Subscription to Teleport-it provides several services : mail compression, access to the weather file server Teleport Weather (¹), possibility of creating a personalized blog. Added to this are two very useful applications : Teleport Firewall and Teleport Proxy.

At last, Mailasail had the good sense to provide a free trial subscription, to achieve all the configuration that follows, and to test mail sending/receiving following procedure described on its website.

The equipment needed

Iridium 9505

Beam Sat Dock ou Kit Data

Iridium 9505 / 9505a

These older models (1999 / 2002), still in use, can easily be bought second-hand, either from individuals, either from the rental specialist. It is essential, for optimum use, add their, either a dock station which includes an RS232 port for data transfers, microphone and speaker for hands-free, either the Data Kit, much cheaper but much less convenient, which provides accessories for minimum data transfers. An external magnetic antenna with 5' cable is provided standard.

Iridium 9555 / 9575

Model 9555 (end 2008) sold cheaper than the previous, brings significant technical improvements. It can also be used to find. With a USB data connector, it also comes with external magnetic antenna and AC/DC chargers accessories. As with the previous model, a dock station is recommended but not essential. Indeed, this model comes with an antenna connector and USB cable, as well as the latest Iridium 9575 Extreme.

Iridium 9555Installation

If you are using the latest models Iridium 9555 or 9575 Extreme with built-in USB, you must :

  1. Make sure the firmware is updated to version minimum 10001 (menu Phone > Information).
  2. Download and install on your Mac the driver Iridium all models.
  3. Restart your Mac.

If you use an older model, Iridium 9500/9505/9505a/9522, you must :

  1. usbserialConnect a Serial / USB compatible Prolific (Note : do not use the Keyspan model gives poor results).
  2. Download and install the driver on your Mac Prolific PL2303 choosing right version depending your operating system OS X version.
  3. Download and install on your Mac driver Iridium all models.
  4. Restart your Mac.

Mac configuration

1 – Iridium connection and operation

Connect your Iridium to a USB connector on the Mac, Iridium turn on and wait to have a link with a maximum of bars (3 minimum). The external antenna is required.

In Preferences > Network Mac OS X, create a new network configuration, choose User Interface = « usbserial "In the drop-down box and then enter a name for the service. Then :

Preferences reseau 1The phone number of the service is always the same : 008816000025. The account name and password are indifferent. In the window open with the button " Advanced… "Select the items above in the drop down fields, then click " OK ".

Preferences reseau 2Then click " Connect ". After a few moments, you see State: Connnected with indicators of packets sent / received. Configuration of Iridium is completed. Do not forget to check " Show modem status in menu bar ", This will allow you to connect again at any time easier.

2 – Create e-mail account

In the following example, the account is created in Mail 5.0. The settings of the account would be the same for Thunderbird.

iridium mail 1Account creation is classic. The servers receive POP and SMTP reception are both, the user name and password are those supplied to create the account on the website Mailasail.

iridium mail 2The receiving server is secure by default, the sending server must be authenticated (name and password).

iridium mail 3In the account Advanced settings, you disable "Use SSL" to the receiving server POP, returns to port 110. You must set the outgoing SMTP server : SSL disabled, port = 587, Authentication = password, non-secure transmission.

  • NOTE : I recommend, In this window, adjust the rejection of messages > 30 KB. This will avoid unnecessary use of connection time with attachments as image. On the other hand, if you wish to make weather forecast charts requests, as Navimail PREISO maps (110-120 KB), or satellite images (50 KB), leave this field blank.

Just close the window and save the settings. Perform all tests recommended by Mailasail before cast off, this will allow you to apply your settings and you will avoid disappointment.

My advice

  • Install your Iridium in its dock near the companion way, aside chart table. This will allow you to easily get magnetic flat antenna (1m50) on the roof or in the cockpit. An external antenna on stern pulpit or stern hoist is highly recommended for file transfers.
  • Experiment with different GRIB file requests you will use at sea. Do not exceed a size of 40-45 KB per file. File about 20 KB is 163840 bits. A 2600 bps (Maximum transfer speed in the best possible reception) this is 1mn03s communication. Check the real-time reception.
  • Before each connection, be sure to close all applications running in the background on your Mac. Even better, use the free application Teleport-Firewall proposed by Mailasail that lets you lock all outgoing connections on ports other than the mail.
  • If you have another personal email account, do not add it to Mail (or disable connections for Iridium), choose another mail as Thunderbird. If this second account may take the letters to each satellite connection and saturate your bandwidth, preventing you to send/receive your emails with Mailasail.
  • If your budget allows you to surf the web on the high seas, install essential Teleport Proxy for substancial money savings.

At last, I know that offers subscriptions to services directly Teleport-it Mailasail, and I can provide advice, installation (on board or remote assistance), training and support for France.

We talk on the net :

"Practice that is……………..- 23/08/2011 …

(¹) Application forms and automatic MailaSail Saildocs translated in French are available from my website.


7 Replies to “Using an Iridium Phone with Mac OS X”

  1. Hello,
    I wanted to test the procedure with my MacBook (OSX 10.7.1 updated) and my phone iridium 9555 to connect possibly Mailasail. Unfortunately I quickly come across a problem because after loading the iridium driver for all models I cannot install it because when selecting a destination disk the installer tells me "the phone plug-in cannot be installed on this disc. Please upgrade to the latest version of ISync using Software Update »or apparently all my programs are up to date. Or is the bug in this driver works there with OSX 10.7 ?
    Guillaume JC

    1. I found the problem was.
      There is a problem with Leo because to install the driver must iridium iSync installed on your computer, Golden Lion in iSync no longer If we do a clean install of Leo, iSync is no longer present and you can not install the driver iridium.
      On the other hand seems to work perfectly with iSync though Leo is not really useful.
      To get iSync can go to the link download and install on your computer. Then you can install the driver iridium.
      IT is beautiful.

  2. Comment posted by Jacques Louise from the 44 ° 35N 22 ° 14W :

    Mailasail works perfectly is very convenient and excellent compression ratio,
    connection times are very small.


  3. You seem to indicate that the supplied standard with iridium is sufficient for communication at sea; there would not need an external antenna to the mast ? Is this also true in Atlantic ?
    Thank you for your leadership.

    1. I rely on the experience of many users who use the open sea outside antenna magnetic. But the establishment of a fixed antenna, balcony, gantry or pole, certainly brings a better quality of reception.

  4. Hello,

    First of all thank you for your tutorial.
    I have a question. Does this configuration compresses the data to optimize the network connection times Iridium ?

    1. Express Mail service compresses mails, data included (Attachments).
      Express Service-Proxy is a web accelerator and compression of pages ad blocking.
      They work both independently. If you surf the web, Express-Proxy does not affect you.

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