Inmarsat C terminals are a good safety resource onboard, providing free reception of satellite safety messages and weather, as well as worldwide text messaging via Inmarsat costing about 1 penny per character(including spaces).
The system connects to your laptop via a serial port or USB to serial converter and allows you to send short email messages and even small binary files like photographs, short videos and audio clips.
It is useful when all else fails, and you need to get a short message to someone via email from anywhere in the world, when you are out of cellular or GSM mobile phone range.
It can also be used for automated scheduled position reporting.
The older systems, designed for DOS, require special software like Nebula
to be used with PCs running windows.
You would need to set up an accounting authority to handle the billing for the service via one of Inmarsat's resellers, for the rare occasions when you might use it.
The system is required by commercial vessels under GMDSS certification and provides worldwide distress calling with position reporting. The system has a built in GPS that has an output that can be used to drive a chart plotter or other systems.
The system has two buttons, that if depressed for 5 seconds will send an international distress message with the current latitude and longitude.
In order to receive email messages, you need to set up permissions for friends and family to send to you. You pay to send and receive, so you don't want any unsolicited mail.
Inmarsat C is quite complicated to use, and it is essential to that your email is in the correct format for it to work.
Vizada has a new system called Skyfile C that is meant to simplify the process and allow Inmarsat to GSM messaging. Take a look at Vizada.com
for further information.Howard [ Just Imagine ] 31-Dec-1969
Nebula Software (Technical)
Older Inmarsat C systems like the Trimble Galaxy Inmarsat C, that can be bought used from E-Bay and other sources, are designed to be run on DOS and need special software to run on windows systems.
This software, developed by Jim Corenman(developer of winmail SSB mail), can be purchased from airmail2000.com
Nebula is not freeware, and requires registration in order to be fully functional. Without registration, the download operates in a demo mode with Galaxy communications disabled. Demo passwords are available for a limited period via email (the address is in the Help/About window). The cost to register the program is US$50, payable by check to "Sirius Cybernetics" at the address in Help/About window, or by credit card via Fax: the area code is 360 and the number is 378-4392. Address the fax to "Sirius Cybernetics", include the usual credit card details and both your Inmarsat Mobile# (9 digits starting with a "4") and the 10-digit Inmarsat Serial# (on a label on top of the Galaxy box).
Howard [ Just Imagine ] 13-Mar-2008