Rockblock – Scaling Down Satcom For Research & Commercial Applications
By enabling a plug-and-play satellite communication link from literally anywhere on the planet, the innovative RockBLOCK system has become the unsung hero of countless marine research and commercial applications. Developed by the UKʼs Rock Seven, the RockBLOCK concept is beautifully simple—provide an open platform to enable data communication in a small and low-cost form factor.
RockBLOCK can be used with a wide range of platforms from Windows, Mac and Linux to Intel Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
RockBLOCK costs just $200—and with data as little as $0.04 per message, it offers the lowest-cost satcom airtime available today. It integrates with almost any platform, including Windows, Mac, and Linux, in addition to “miniature computing systems” such as Intel's Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. RockBLOCK features an open API so data can be delivered by e-mail or injected directly to the user's own web service.
RockBLOCK is a proven, reliable, and low-cost way to integrate two-way communication into sensor and measurement- based research projects. It sends messages up to 340 bytes in size and receives messages up to 270 bytes using Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD), which offers global, pole-to-pole coverage. At just 76.0 x 51.5 x 19.0 mm, the system can be integrated into any sensor station, vessel equipment, or offshore platform.
RockBLOCK is available as a PCB or encapsulated product and features an integrated antenna and power conditioning with the option to use external antennas for greater flexibility.
RockBLOCK is application agnostic and can be used for anything that requires an Internet connection. It embraces the emerging concept of Small Data, where the goal is to achieve more with less. RockBLOCK's low cost, small size, and ease of use make it far more accessible than other types of satcom in the market.
RockBLOCK has been integrated on specially developed wave buoys deployed onto sea ice floes in the Arctic and Antarctic by NIWA.
Small Data Applications
RockBLOCK's inherent flexibility is reflected by a diverse user-base. It has been used to deliver data from near-space aircraft and balloons, oil wells on land, and countless maritime solutions. In the commercial arena, one innovative application already tested is environmental monitoring in diver rescue chambers and hyperbaric lifeboat cabins.
RockBLOCK's ability to deliver a reliable data link is also being leveraged by environmental researchers worldwide. In the Antarctic, it's used by a team from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – New Zealand (NIWA) to measure effects of storm waves on sea ice. RockBLOCK is integrated on wave buoys deployed onto sea ice floes where it transmits GPS position and signal strength data every hour, enabling movement of the ice to be plotted against wave data.
In the Northern hemisphere, RockBLOCK is used by the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research as part of Rock Seven's RockFLEET system (which also offers vessel tracking functionality) to support measurement of glacier and ice cap dynamics across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
The common theme across the research and commercial applications enabled by RockBLOCK is that unlike traditional maritime satcom uses, projects don't require a high bandwidth VSAT link to connect to the web and social media, millions of dollars of sensing technology, or access to a corporate LAN. What is needed is a flexible, hard-wearing, and low-cost way to transmit data. In this area of satcom innovation, RockBLOCK's low-cost, compact design, and open architecture prove that small is most definitely best.
Visit www.rock7.com/rockblock to learn more. Rock Seven is offering 10% off the cost of RockBLOCK until February 2017. Use code ONT10.