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posted by janrinok on Saturday September 11, @09:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the earth-control-to-major-tom dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

If you have devices out in the field, you probably want to connect with them. There was a time when that was hard to do, requiring telephone wires or specialized radio gear. Now cellular data is prevalent, but even cellular isn’t everywhere. If you have the cash, you can pay a number of satellite companies to carry your data, but that’s generally pricey and has its own challenges.

The age of satellite constellations is changing that. Of course everyone by now has heard of Starlink which is offering satellite internet via numerous satellites that are much smaller than traditional telecom satellites. But they’re not the only came[sic] in town.

A company called Swarm has put up a constellation of 1/4U cube satellites in low orbits. They offer a ground station that uses an omni antenna and a subscription access program for small amounts of data. They sent us a unit to review, and while I haven’t used the system in a real project yet, the kit was pretty impressive.

The Swarm “tile” is a tiny radio that can talk bi-directionally with small satellites in low Earth orbit. The little unit is made to mount on a PCB, can control its power consumption, and talks to your system via a standard 3.3V UART connection. It does, however, require a small antenna and maybe even a smaller antenna for its GPS module. Small, in this case, is about a mid-size handy talkie antenna. There is a half-wave antenna that doesn’t need a ground plane and a shorter antenna that does need a ground plane.

The system can get away with the small antenna because the satellites are in low Earth orbit. However, that also means you don’t always have a satellite overhead. The company claims they will eventually have more coverage but even then, the tile may hold on to your data until it finds a satellite. So for real-time data, this is probably not your answer.

Since these devices are made to go into the field, battery life is often a concern. According to the manual, the device uses up to 1A when transmitting, and up to 35mA on receive. In standby mode, the power draw drops to .022mA.

The tile itself costs just over $100. Then there’s the service. For $60 a year you get 750 data packets per device per month. Each packet can hold up to 192 bytes per packet. That’s enough for two packets a day for even the longest months. Of course, if you need more data or you need more frequent access, that’s something else. You can stack up to 4 data plans on one device, so $20 per month would get you 3,000 packets per month.


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  • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Saturday September 11, @11:51AM (12 children)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Saturday September 11, @11:51AM (#1176952)

    Judging from the "applications" on their webpage, it almost looks like they had this really cool idea of launching tiny sats into orbit... and then wondered what the hell one could do with something like that, and how to sell that to someone who doesn't already have an own sat in orbit.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:54PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:54PM (#1176973)

      They should try advertising in the Muslim Times... Mohammed al-Jihadi could probably use this technology to help in his efforts to spread the faith.

      • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by janrinok on Saturday September 11, @01:13PM (6 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @01:13PM (#1176981) Journal
        If you are going to bring religion into this, why not Buddists, or Hindus, or even fanatical Christians? Why did you choose Muslims?
        --
        It's always my fault...
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:38PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:38PM (#1176989)

          On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, you really have to ask that question?

          • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday September 11, @03:52PM (2 children)

            by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @03:52PM (#1177006) Journal

            So why didn't you say 'terrorists' then. Do you think that those 19 men represented all Muslims, or even a majority? If you do, then they have achieved their aim and you have already lost.

            --
            It's always my fault...
            • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:37PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:37PM (#1177045)

              The accuracy of non-white stereotypes doesn't matter until all non-whites are out of white nations. When they go home then i'll care how accurate people's discriminatory stereotypes are.

              Typical cucked, brainwashed white: enjoying what's left of your white civilization while you help the enemy destroy what's left of it for your grandchildren.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @08:14PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @08:14PM (#1177079)

              Well, technically the problem is with followers of Sharia. But since the overwhelming majority of self-professed Muslims support Sharia, it's reasonable to suspect them all.

          • (Score: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:40PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:40PM (#1177068)

            I guess he really does. Almost all the prominent terrorists attacks against the US over the last 20 years are home-grown good old Christian USA types, whether shooting up synagogues, driving cars into crowds, or killing cops and trying to overthrow democracy. By your pathetic brush, I think you need to kick all the Christians out before even giving any thought about the Muslims.

            By the way, some words spoken today from the most important person on 9/11:

            “We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. It is our continuing duty to confront them.”

            • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:16PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:16PM (#1177095)

              Curious George was wrong 20 years ago, and is wrong today.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:51PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:51PM (#1176990)

      Two whole packets, buddy! 384 bytes per day! How can you look down on that?

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:45PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:45PM (#1177000)

        [AC pats his FT-817 transmitting WSPR at 1.5 baud to anywhere in the world FOR FREE]

        hmm it's slight warm

        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Saturday September 11, @03:43PM

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Saturday September 11, @03:43PM (#1177004)

          Asking in ignorance and very off-topic 1.5 Baud would actually work for one of my projects. What frequency range and transmitter power level lets you get reliable globe spanning coverage?

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday September 12, @11:18PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 12, @11:18PM (#1177328)

      Its competitor is something like TheThings network (a terrestrial LORAWAN provider), but for more in the boonies where there's no hope of uplink other than satellite

      So whats the application thats too "in the boonies" for LORAWAN but close enough to civilization to drop a IoT device that someone would care about? Hmm.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ElizabethGreene on Saturday September 11, @03:27PM

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Saturday September 11, @03:27PM (#1177003)

    Looking at the two-way commercial service it appears very similar to Iridium's short burst data service at a significantly lower price.

  • (Score: 2) by stretch611 on Saturday September 11, @08:41PM

    by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @08:41PM (#1177085)

    For $60 a year you get 750 data packets per device per month. Each packet can hold up to 192 bytes per packet. That’s enough for two packets a day for even the longest months.

    Last time I checked... assuming 30 days a month, 750 data packs would be 25 per day... not 2.

    You can stack up to 4 data plans on one device, so $20 per month would get you 3,000 packets per month.

    Using better math to assume 100 packets a day, we get to 19,200 bytes of data. So for $20 you can get an average of 19k/day... or $20 for 640k; the equivalent memory of an IBM PC from the mid-80s (a little less than 40 years ago for the math impaired.)

    --
    I think; therefore, I am vaccinated.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @10:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @10:48AM (#1177202)

    Where this can be really usefull is in protoecting the enviornment.
    Setup in tree canopies or rocky features to monitor illegal logging, poaching and mining.

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