Readers may wonder how we’re able to communicate from one of the remotest places on earth, uploading blogs and images daily to our website and the Vancouver Sun. Well, it’s all done through satellite technology and a healthy dose of patience.

ADAIA Communications is instrumental in making our communication system what it is. They’ve helped us pull everything together and make what can be potentially a very confusing setup into something that’s easy to figure out and runs smooth.

The key to the whole system is the satellite phone and we’re using an Iridium 9505a model. Iridium has excellent coverage throughout the arctic and was the right choice for us.

Our computer is a Macbook Air laptop that’s compact and durable, with a solid state drive – no moving parts to break. All our blogs are written on this and all are images are uploaded to it too.

To make transfer easy from the computer we have a small wifi hotspot connected to the phone via a special connection device and cable. The wifi hotspot called the Optimizer has special drivers that take information received from the computer and process it so it can be sent as data through the satellite phone. It works like a charm.

We use a special email account through Ocensmail that facilitates connectivity through satellite phone. It monitors file size and allows files to be uploaded and dropped (happens all the time with a sat phone) and then to restart where they were left off. This is a very important point as some file scan take 20 minutes or more to upload. Having the call drop at minute 19 and not restart at this point can be extremely disheartening.

Sending text files is easy to deal with as they are small in size and can be cut and pasted into the body of an email but photos are a different beast altogether. The image size captured on our camera a Canon D600 is 24MB (24,000kb) per image. The realistic maximum size of photo I can send via a satellite data connection is 50kb. Needless to say some serious resizing needs to be done. I could send larger files but wait times would be onerous. As it stands a 50kb file will often take 15-30 minutes to be processed and sent across. This is why we don’t send lots of images and can’t send video.

The entire communication system is charged by a 12V battery that is being perpetually charged by solar. With 24hr daylight, this is proving a very good system.

Readers who have been following us on our website will have seen that we have a dynamic mapping program connected with Google Earth that shows our location as we move. This is done through a small device called a Spot checker that transmits our location via satellite. It uses minimal battery power and just runs away in the background keeping track of we’re going. It has an SOS component to it too.

Arctic Communications

- Kevin