The RockBLOCK 9603 allows you to send and receive short messages from anywhere on Earth with a clear view of the sky. It works far beyond the reach of WiFi and GSM networks. Maybe you want to transmit weather information from mid-ocean? Or use it to control your robot in the middle of the desert? Perhaps you need to communicate in an emergency, when other networks might not be available? RockBLOCK can help you.
RockBLOCK 9603 is the smaller version of our standard 'RockBLOCK' product. It has the same capabilities, but is specifically designed to be as small and light as possible. The RockBLOCK 9603 is targeted primarily at systems integrators and product developers where space inside your enclosure is at a premium.
It has a small form factor Molex connector to link the serial, power and signalling lines to your controller. This may be marginally harder to use for hobbyists than the 0.1" dot pitch header used on the standard RockBLOCK product.
At the heart of RockBLOCK 9603 is an Iridium 9603 modem. The RockBLOCK hosts the 9603 and provides it with an antenna, and its power supply requirements. It exposes the modem’s serial interface via a breakout connector over serial, and also offers an SMA connector for external antenna usage.
|Powered By||Direct Header Connector, 5v|
|Built in Antenna||Yes (or use optional SMA connector for external antenna)|
|Weight||36 grams including antenna|
|Size||45.0 x 45.0 x 15.0mm
|Waterproofing||RockBLOCK 9603 is not waterproof. If you need a waterproof unit, look at the RockBLOCK+|
|Ideal For||Integration into existing devices
Line rental is paid in blocks of 1 month, and allows the RockBLOCK to exchange information with the Iridium satellite network. You only pay for months in which you wish to use the RockBLOCK. No annual contract is required. Line rental costs £10.00 per month and includes access to The RockBLOCK management system for managing your devices.
Credits are used each time you transmit. 1 credit is used per 50 bytes (or part thereof) of message sent or received. 1 credit is also used if you check your mailbox and there are no messages waiting (A mailbox check). Credits do not expire unless you do not use your account at all for 12 months. Credits are shared/pooled between all of the devices on your account
Please note, whilst our pay-as-you-go tariffs offer great flexibility for development purposes, we know they are not suitable for everyone. If you are planning a large deployment of devices (100+) and are willing to commit to airtime contracts of 12 months or more, please get in touch. We have access to various tariffs which may suit you better.
|Bundle||per Credit||Bundle Price|
Iridium is the only satellite network that allows transmission of information from any point on Earth – other networks have no coverage in the polar regions, and have intermittent or no coverage in other marine and land areas.
Iridium has 66 satellites in orbit around the Earth, allowing coverage anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No other satellite network has truly global coverage. Messages sent via Iridium take just seconds to reach you, via e-mail or directly to your web-service.
The sleep signal is internally pulled high on the RockBLOCK and RocKBLOCK+ products, so you can leave it disconnected if you want to leave the modem 'awake' all of the time.
To turn 'off' the modem, pull the line to ground.
If you are using the SBDRT command, and the modem appears to 'hang' when you issue the command, it is probably due to flow control configuration. The default state for the RockBLOCK and RockBLOCK+ units has flow control turned ON in the modem. When running in 3-wire serial mode, flow control should be turned OFF, which will ensure you get responses to your requests.
Use the command AT&K0 at the start of your command sequence. This turns flow control off, and should solve the problem.
RockBLOCK uses the Iridium Satellite network. Specifically, it uses an Iridium service called ‘Short Burst Data’ (SBD). There’s some official info here. At the heart of RockBLOCK is an Iridium 9602 modem. The RockBLOCK hosts the 9602 and provides it with an antenna, and its power supply requirements. It exposes the modem’s serial interface via USB (or directly – PCB assembly version only). Full documentation for the 9602 modem can be found here: Iridium 9602 SBD Transceiver Product Developers Guide.
RockBLOCK takes its power from the direct header connector, or alternatively via the optional FTDI/USB adaptor. If you’re using the PCB assembly version with a direct header, your host needs to supply a minimum of 100mA @ 5V.
340 bytes FROM RockBLOCK.
270 bytes TO RockBLOCK.
Testing shows that it generally takes around 20 seconds from power-up to successful transmission, with a perfect view of the sky. With a very restricted view, it may take several minutes.
You should be able to complete an Iridium SBD session roughly every 10 seconds, assuming a perfect view of the sky.
Yes - there is a version of the RockBLOCK available with an SMA connector (instead of the built-on antenna) which allows you to attach an external Iridium antenna
Almost certainly. If you have purchased the optional FTDI-USB adaptor then you will need to install the FTDI drivers. You can check on their website (http://www.ftdichip.com/FTDrivers.htm), where you will find drivers for Linux, Mac, Windows, Android and others.
The RockBLOCK appears as a serial interface, and you can talk to it using a simple set of AT commands. It is expected that you'll be able to integrate it into your own software with minimal effort.
There is a Node.js library available and an Arduino library which you can get via the RockBLOCK page - There is also an excellent Python project for Raspberry Pi, which would make a great starting point for any Raspberry Pi users which can be found here - We're working on publishing some samples for other languages soon.
Messages sent from RockBLOCK can either be delivered to your chosen email address, or sent to your own web service as a simple HTTP POST. The message data will be hex encoded so there are no character set problems. Full details of our web service are available in the Web Service Guide.
You can make a simple HTTP POST to our web service. The message is queued on the satellite network almost instantly, ready for RockBLOCK to download (on your command).
Yes, as long as you configure it correctly. Check the 9602 documentation for the 'Ring Alert' feature.
Very! The RockBLOCK+ is a completely encapsulated design, so it is at least IP68 (submersible for extended periods). Just don't expect it to send messages from under water!
The RockBLOCK does not have a GPS chip inside it. It‚Äôs invisaged that if you want position reports, you would use an off-the-shelf GPS module with your solution, and get position data from that. However, it is worth noting that with each Iridium transmission we do get an approximate position report - this varies in accuracy from 100km to 1km, and therefore cannot be relied upon for very accurate tracking, but we do provide this information for you (along with the approximate accuracy, 'CEP' in km) with your messages. If you are looking for a dedicated tracking satellite tracking device, then you might want to consider our RockSTAR product.
Our billing is flexible, and allows you to pay only when you are using your devices. Line rental is sold in one-month blocks, and credits are bought in packs. If you have several RockBLOCKs, credits are shared from a credit pool amongst all your devices ‚Äì you don't need to buy separate packs of credits for each device. Similarly, if only some of your devices are being used at any one time, you don't need to pay for line-rental on those which aren't in use.
Yes. Rock Seven Mobile Services have been an Iridium Partner since 2008. We've been developing all sorts of products, but most famously we're the people behind YB Tracking.
Learn about how Epsom College integrated RockBLOCK into their autonomous vessel to compete in the Microtransat Challenge
RockBlock was used as a command and control module, to enable the ground team to send commands to the high altitude rocket when out of GSM coverage
The pupils at Sutton Grammar School made an ocean drifter to to measure wave parameters and currents. RockBLOCK sends the data back from the middle of the ocean.
Andrew Ashe together with Mikal Hart (author of the fantastic IridiumSBD library for Arduino) has successfully tracked a balloon, and been able to recover its payload thanks to RockBLOCK.