The Iridium offers a fairly small amount of bandwidth, and as a result it's rather sensitive to the internet dialup setup being anything other than perfectly correct. Unfortunately the limited bandwidth magnifies the effect of any setup issues and the end result will appear as

  • slow and irregular download speeds
  • download often stopping for even minutes at a time before continuing (error messages such as "Server has not responded for 60 seconds")
  • sometimes even failing to allow you to connect to the server at all (errors such as "Server unexpectedly terminated the connection")

However, because many of these error messages sound like "Server Problems", many customers (incorrectly) assume that the problem is at our end and completely overlook the possibility that it might be their configuration. To fix these issues you need only work through the instructions in our Documentation section, especially the section on Disabling Background Programs

Additionally we have designed a final set of "validation" tests which should help to confirm that the PC is all setup correctly. These tests are valid no matter what internet connection you use

Background

First some background terminology and pre-requisites:

  • Make sure you have already worked through all the normal setup documentation and especially the section on Disabling Background Programs
  • Timing needs to be measured consistently. Unless stated otherwise measure all timings from the point the internet dialup connection is fully connected (pops up "Connected 9,600 baud" in the task bar)
  • Connection speed is MASSIVELY affected by signal strength - Iridium performance is fastest with full signal, loosing one bar of signal drops performance to around 50%, loosing just two bars of signal drops performance to around 10% of normal speed... Consider an external marine antenna
  • Test logically and methodically (one test at a time). Change only one thing at a time
  • If you need help then it's essentially to report any error messages exactly

Test 1 - Send small emails to yourself

Procedure

It is perfectly legal and valid to send an email to yourself, it's a great test and tests both sending AND receiving at the same time

So to test simply send 3-10 emails to your own email address. Keep them small, but the point is to send more than just a single email.

Expected Result

  • You should receive back as many emails as you send.
  • Note that you will likely need to press the Send/Rcv button more than once - usually you need to click it once to send emails and a second time to receive them - it's beneficial NOT to hangup the Iridium phone each time (deselect the "Hangup when finished" option in Outlook Express / Windows Mail), however, it simply costs more if you don't, the test is still valid.

Test 2 - Receiving Small Binary Attachment

Procedure

We have setup an autoresponder which will reply a specific standardised test message when you send it an email. This allows you to test receiving a message knowing how quickly it should download on a specific internet connection.

In this test we will download a smallish attachment, this should highlight many setup problems without costing a load of airtime.

Simply send an email as follows:

TO: autotest@mailasail.com
SUBJECT: autotest2

Quick link: mailto:autotest@mailasail.com?subject=autotest2

Expected Result

  • Your request email should be sent out promptly
  • One email will be received back again with an attachment.
  • This reply should take approximately 1min 20secs (give or take 30%) to download over Iridium. It's deliberately impossible to compress so that performance should be similar over any internet connection

NOTE: YOU ARE DELIBERATELY NOT EXPECTED TO BE ABLE TO OPEN THESE ATTACHMENTS!

Test 3 - Receiving Larger Binary Attachment

Procedure

In this test we will download a significantly sized attachment, this should highlight many setup problems and simulates downloading a reasonable sized GRIB file. However, it will cost a couple of minutes of airtime over Iridium and so you should ensure that your setup is well checked before progressing to this test

Simply send an email as follows:

TO: autotest@mailasail.com
SUBJECT: autotest3

Quick link: mailto:autotest@mailasail.com?subject=autotest3

Expected Result

  • Your request email should be sent out promptly
  • One email will be received back again with an attachment.
  • This reply should take approximately 2mins 45 seconds (+/- 30%) to download over Iridium. It's deliberately impossible to compress so that performance should be similar over any internet connection

Test 4 - Testing Compression

Procedure

In this test we will download a significantly sized attachment, however, the trick is that it's (deliberately) easy to compress. In this way we should be able to clearly see whether compression is correctly working in your setup because the download speed will be dramatically faster.

Simply send an email as follows:

TO: autotest@mailasail.com
SUBJECT: autotest4

Quick link: mailto:autotest@mailasail.com?subject=autotest4

Expected Result

  • Your request email should be sent out promptly
  • One email will be received back again with an attachment.
  • This reply should take approximately 5 seconds (!) to download over Iridium if everything is configured correctly. Otherwise it should take around 60-120 seconds to download over an uncompressed connection
 
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