Satellite Tracking Platforms

An attribute inherent in most satellite communications devices is the ability to use them for asset/personnel tracking. I will discuss the various satellite communications platforms and how to implement tracking with each one.

First is a brief summary on how tracking works. The device used for tracking needs to be able to perform two basic functions: 1) acquire a GPS position and 2) send the position report to the internet. Of course, if the position report is being sent, it also needs to be received on the other end. The internet makes this possible and most tracking platforms are web-based, including our own OTrak portal. The portal will receive the report, and plot each position report on a map, and can also perform a myriad of other functions such as geofencing, alerts, speed changes, altitude, heading, etc.

There are many GSM devices that can be used for tracking, but satellite tracking devices are used when GSM is not available or when an asset moves in and out of GSM coverage in order to provide consistent and contiguous reporting. Satellite devices have coverage virtually anywhere since all they need is a line of sight to the sky.

Within satellite platforms there are many different options, but we can break the whole group up into two broad categories: 1) Tracking as an “add-on feature” and 2) Dedicated tracking devices.

Tracking as an “add-on feature”

Several of the handheld satellite phones and most of the larger satellite terminals have built in tracking capabilities.

Handheld Satellite Phones

The Iridium 9575 Extreme is the only handheld satellite phone that can provide stand-alone automated position reporting. It has a built in GPS engine and uses the Iridium SBD (Short Burst Data) service to send position reports. It can also send reports manually via SMS. The Iridium 9555 is capable of sending position reports, but only in conjunction with a docking station that has a built-in GPS engine, such as the Beam 9555SD-G.

The IsatPhone Pro from Inmarsat, on the other hand, can send manual GPS position reports via SMS as a standalone operation and can perform automated reporting when used with a GPS enabled docking station, such as the Beam IsatDock Drive.

Fleet Broadband

Any of the Thrane&Thrane Fleet Broadband terminals can send automated position reports with the latest firmware version. You simply have to go into the tracking menu  in the User Interface (UI) and configure your terminal to report to the tracking portal and then register your terminal’s IMEI in the portal.

BGAN

Similar to Fleet Broadband, any of the Thrane&Thrane BGAN terminals can provide position reporting simply by setting it up in the UI. The Wideye Safari vehicular terminal can also provide reporting directly via the terminal.

 

Dedicated Tracking Devices

Iridium SBD

Iridium can provide dedicated tracking via its SBD service. Terminals are available from both ASE and Beam. The terminal requires an antenna, of which a large variety exist, and an antenna cable which connects the antenna to the terminal. The antenna needs to be installed so that it will have visibility to the sky and the terminal requires a DC power source.

Isat Data Pro

Inmarsat’s small packet data platform, the IsatData Pro, is also frequently used as a dedicated tracking device. The IsatData Pro is a one-piece terminal with a built in omnidirectional antenna and is available in three configurations: Marine, Vehicular, and Dual-Mode. The Marine terminal is slightly taller and provides lower look angles to account for pitch and roll, whereas the vehicular version has a lower profile antenna. The dual-mode terminal incorporates least-cost-routing with GSM as the primary service and satellite as the failover. The IsatData Pro is highly configurable so can be set up to receive and transmit a large variety of data input.

For whatever your tracking needs are, there is most certainly a solution to fit them. If you already have a satellite device and are not using it for tracking, then there is more than likely a way to utilize it as a tracking device in addition to any of the other functions it performs.

Please contact OCENS for more information and to get help with setting up your tracking services.

 

 

Critical firmware update for Fleet Broadband SAILOR and Thrane BGAN Terminals

OCENS has been informed by Inmarsat that the latest firmware version 1.16 will be feature critical for all Thrane & Thrane FB SAILOR 150, 250, 500 and BGAN units by 1st June 2013.

Terminals not upgraded to this firmware version will not be able to receive calls on the IP handset. Only the terminals listed above using the Thrane & Thrane/Cobham IP handset will be affected. Terminals with a standard two wire handset will continue to work as normal.

Other features included in this release:

•    Support for Fax and 3.1kHz Audio on SAILOR 150
•    Restoration of an open PDP context on a UT power cycle
•    Support to ThraneLINK, a sophisticated communication protocol that connects the SAILOR products in a network

To Upgrade your firmware, follow the steps below:

1.     Download from the link below the latest Thrane and Thrane firmware to a zip disk:

http://www.inmarsat.com/Support/detailsupport/FleetBroadband/Firmware/index.htm

FILE SIZE is approximately 7 MB. DO NOT download over your satellite connection. Download over wifi or other connection to an external zip disk and carry to the boat.

2.     Unzip and extract the contents of the downloaded file to a known location on the computer attached to your Sailor or BGAN terminal;
3.     Launch your web browser and load the Dashboard by typing into the address bar:

http:// 192.168.0.1

4.     Click on ‘Settings’ on the left side of the Dashboard
5.     Click on the ‘Upload’ menu and in the section ‘Upload Software to Terminal’, click on ‘Browse’ button
6.     Point your cursor to the location on your computer to which you extracted the file in Step 2 above
7.     Highlight ‘bganx_bdu.ao_1_16-0012-bganx_bdu.dl’  and select (Open)
8.     This returns you to the Dashboard. Click the ‘Upload’ button to the right of the Browse button.
9.     The system will upload the new firmware and restart your equipment. IF it does not restart the terminal automatically, do so manually.

After the terminal has restarted, return to the dashboard and confirm that the software version on the main page reads:

1.16, build 12